Cricket as a sport is largely seen as a contest between bat and ball. But, the gentleman's game has numerous aspects which make the sport what it is today. And, while a match is contested between two teams, with eleven players on each side, the role of a twelfth man is equally important.
Far away from the spotlight and fanfare, a twelfth man might have missed out on making the cut for the playing XI, but he is as crucial as any other player in the team. For starters, he gets the first preference of coming out on the ground and contributes towards his team through fielding, if required. And, when that isn't happening, he is tasked to keep the on-field players refreshed with drinks.
Over the years, we've seen numerous cricketers acting as the 'twelfth man' and bringing drinks, towels, gloves, bats and other things to their teammates on the field. But, time and again, the sport has witnessed some of the most popular individuals shedding their star status and serving drinks on the field. Let's take a look.
From his lightning-quick glovework, finishing ability with the willow or impeccable leadership skills, there are numerous things MS Dhoni is famous for in cricket. But, while his cricketing exploits have earned him multiple records, Dhoni's humility has earned him respect from fans and pundits alike.
Thus, there is no surprise to see Dhoni in the list of most popular waterboys in cricket. It's a job Dhoni has done not once, but thrice. In 2012, he was seen carrying energy drinks for the Indian batsmen during the Tri-Series featuring Australia and Sri Lanka. Five years later, he served drinks again during a warm-up match at the Champions Trophy. In 2018, he carried drinks and kit-bag for players during India's 2nd T20I against Ireland.
The 2017 Test series between India and Australia was a tournament that probably no cricket fan could've afforded to miss. Team India taking on one of the best sides in the world was a contest fans dread for. And, to make things a little too exciting, Virat Kohli was at the helm of affairs.
The four-match series was evenly poised at 1-1 (including a draw in the 3rd Test) when Kohli was forced to sit out of the series-deciding 4th Test due to a shoulder injury. Despite Kohli's availability, India romped to a eight-wicket win and a subsequent 2-1 Test series triumph. But, the 4th Test did witness a contribution from Kohli, this time, as a waterboy. The Indian captain was seen bringing drinks for his teammates on the field during the game.
Sachin Tendulkar needs no introduction when it comes to cricket. The 'Master Blaster' arrived on the international circuit at a tender age and, by the time he was done, Tendulkar had a plethora of records and feats to boast of in what turned out to be a glorious career. While his batting capabilities earned him plaudits, Tendulkar's humble nature made him a fan-favourite.
During a 2005 charity game between ICC World XI and Asia XI, Tendulkar was seen carrying drinks on the field for the latter side. Following the dismissal of World XI captain Ricky Ponting at the hands of Anil Kumble, Tendulkar walked out on the field, bearing refreshments for his teammates on the field.
Arguably one of the most uncompromising cricketers of his generation, Ricky Ponting won over fans, pundits and even the opposition players on the back of batting genius. With multiple records and achievements under his belt, the Punter will always be remembered as one of the greatest to have ever graced the gentleman's game.
While his batting and leadership skills aided Australia during his playing days, Ponting's respect and dedication towards the game was thoroughly highlighted in his duties as a waterboy in 2011. During the practice match between Australia and Sri Lanka Board XI that year, Ponting didn't shy away from carrying drinks and a towel for his mates on the field.
Sir Don Bradman
At a time when the majority of the world was getting used to a sport called cricket, Sir Don Bradman was busy hammering opposition bowlers all around the park, shattering one record after another. The right-hander slammed 29 hundreds and 13 fifties in a mere 52 Tests. And, the fact he scored over 28,000 runs in 234 first-class games goes on to highlight why he is still considered the greatest batsman the game ever saw.
But, that's not all there is to Bradman. Apart from aiding Australia with his batting masterclass, Bradman also successfully carried on the chores of a waterboy for his teammates. In 1928, following a dismal Test debut against England at Brisbane, Bradman was dropped from the Australian playing XI for the 2nd Test.
In that game, Bradman was seen carrying drinks for his Australian mates who were toiling hard on the field. After serving drinks, Bradman also went on to field throughout England's innings after his teammate Bill Ponsford broke his little finger.
Oz PM Scott Morrison
This one is a special addition to this list. While we have seen prominent captains and some of the biggest players serving as waterboys in cricket, Scott Morrison is definitely the only Prime Minister to have ever done this job. The Australian PM had become the talk of the town after he was seen carrying drinks for the Australian cricketers during the practice match between Prime Minister's XI and Sri Lanka at the Manuka Oval in 2019.
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