Many debates in cricket may go unanswered. Who has the upper hand? Lara or Sachin? Sachin or Bradman? Who was the quickest? Shoaib, Brett Lee, or Shaun Tait? And who is the finest finisher of all time? If the finisher role was created by Michael Bevan, then MS Dhoni perfected the art of winning matches.
The contrast in their playing eras makes a definitive comparison difficult. Michael Gwyl Bevan’s one-day international career began in 1994 against Sri Lanka in Sharjah and lasted until February 2004, when he played his final match against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
On the other hand, MS Dhoni made his debut at Chittagong against Bangladesh in December 2004. He stopped playing Test cricket in 2014. However, he still represents India in the shorter overs format.
Bevan played in a period when ODI cricket had a 15-over fielding restriction at the start. Stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya, and Adam Gilchrist were redefining the role of an opener. The bats were standard sized, boundaries were larger, and the entire game was played with a single ball which allowed reverse swing.
MS Dhoni enjoyed the good fortune to play in a timeframe when two balls are used from different ends. Moreover, he further had an advantage of smaller boundaries alongside heavier and better bats. Both are regarded as the finest finishers of all time, here is a small comparison of the two legends.
The generational gap
The generational gap between MS Dhoni and Michael Bevan’s respective careers has made the debate a bit tricky.
Bevan played at a time when securing a victory required more running between the wickets and striking fours than going all out in the final stages of the innings. Bevan excelled at hitting the rare boundary and running between the wickets.
Historically, especially on the Indian subcontinent, the pitches were quite spinners friendly. Moreover, scores were usually between 220-270 and hence the required run rate even in the death overs was no more than 7-8, which suited Bevan’s game.
On the contrary, MS Dhoni is a power hitter who enjoys hitting sixes and frequently ends the game with one. He has benefited from batting-friendly pitches, small, compact fields, heavy bats, and batting friendly field restrictions.
Bevan ended his career with a strike rate of 74.16. Whereas Dhoni makes runs at a strike rate of 88.40. Additionally, Dhoni has hit 217 sixes compared to Bevan’s 21 sixes, a significant difference.
As a result, Dhoni has a significant advantage over Bevan in terms of hitting ability.
Despite the fact that Bevan often took Australia past the finish line from unwinnable situations. MS Dhoni was responsible for a steady shift in Indian players’ attitudes toward batting second. Along with inspiring players such as Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, and Hardik Pandya to become secondary finishers, he demonstrates that he did not pursue goals solely for himself.
India had trouble catching runs prior to Dhoni, typically in crucial matches. They cherished batting first and defending targets later. However, a lot has changed since Dhoni’s arrival.
Exactly who is the better?
Both of them are the best in their respective fields. Bevan set the standard and paved the way for others to follow. Others adopted the model he created and succeeded in their own careers. They both excel at playing with the lower middle order and lower order batters, and were particularly good sprinters between the wickets.
However, MS Dhoni beats out Bevan as the greatest finisher of all time for two significant reasons.
MS Dhoni continues to play efficiently and has more impressive statistics than Bevan. Compared to Bevan, he has a longer professional history and has the additional duty of maintaining wickets.
Moreover Dhoni, who served as the best chaser in the limited-overs format throughout his reign, has prepared a younger group to succeed him in the finisher’s role. As a fine man once said that there is just one role of a leader, i.e. prepare young leaders.
Hence, MS Dhoni will undoubtedly be recognized as the greatest finisher in the limited-overs cricket history, an honor he deserves.