Cricket has evolved as a sport in the last few decades. Back in the 1950s, Test cricket was the only form of the game. However, as the years have passed, the organizers have introduced several new formats of the sport. T10 and T20 have revolutionized cricket, but one thing that remains the same is the prominence of openers.
The opening batsmen need to deliver strong starts to their team to ensure that their side can put up a high score on the board. Many successful openers started their journeys as middle-order batsmen. However, they only achieved success when the team management promoted them to the top of the order. Here’s a look at the five batsmen who succeeded only after becoming openers.
The first name to feature on this list is of the right-handed batsman from Delhi, Virender Sehwag. Many fans would know that the Indian team used Sehwag at various positions before promoting him to the first position. He batted between number 3 and number 8 for 33 times in his ODI career, but he could only score one hundred and three fifties in those innings. Once he began opening the innings, Sehwag never looked back. He aggregated over 7,500 runs in just 212 innings, recording 35 fifty-plus scores. He also registered a double century while opening for the Men in Blue.
Former New Zealand skipper, Brendon McCullum batted in the lower half of the team’s batting order in the initial phases of his career. Very few fans would know that he even scored two half-centuries while batting at number 9 for the Kiwis. However, McCullum could not play with proper consistency in the middle-order. Once he became an opener for his team, Baz decimated the opposition bowlers with his clean hitting. In 107 ODI innings, he scored 3,363 runs at an exhilarating strike rate of 102.75.
Sri Lankan all-rounder, Tillakaratne Dilshan, was one of the biggest match-winners for Sri Lanka. He batted at the number six position in 87 ODI innings before the team management promoted him. During his time in the middle-order, Dilshan could score only one hundred in 127 innings. But, after taking over the opening responsibilities, Dilshan scored 21 centuries in 176 innings. His average rose to 46.04, whereas his strike rate also improved a lot.
ICC Champions Trophy 2013 was the turning point of Rohit Sharma’s career because MS Dhoni promoted him to the first position in that tourney. Before that, Sharma was just a talented player who could not convert his starts into a big score. After forming a partnership with Shikhar Dhawan at the top, The Hitman broke several international cricket records. He has three ODI double hundreds to his name while he also holds the record for the most T20I centuries.
Another Sri Lankan all-rounder to feature on this list is the explosive left-handed batsman, Sanath Jayasuriya. The Sri Lankan great batted 50 times between the number three and eight positions in his ODI career. His highest score was 65* when he came out at those positions. The backroom staff allowed him to open the innings, and that changed the game for him. Jayasuriya opened 383 ODI innings for the island nation, scoring over 12,500 runs at a phenomenal strike rate of 92.48.