There’s limited-overs specialists and one-day superstars – and then there’s Michael Bevan.
The Belconnen-born middle-order batsman played 232 ODIs for Australia from 1994 to 2004, and was the catalyst for some of the era’s most remarkable victories.
Along with six centuries and 46 half-centuries in the colours, Bevan boasted the phenomenal average of 53.58 – the best of any batsman from a top-tier nation until eclipsed by South African great AB de Villiers (53.63).
Bevan’s stunning average is largely thanks finishing not out 67 times – many of those featuring clutch efforts that got Australia out of jail.
The most famous example of his coolness under pressure came on New Year’s Day, 1996 in a World Series clash with the West Indies at the SCG. Chasing 173 from 43 overs for victory, Australia were on the rack at 6/38.
But Bevan produced a spellbinding 78 off 88 deliveries, including a brilliant last-ball four down the ground to snatch a nerve-shredding one-wicket victory.
Two weeks later he thwarted Pakistan in similar circumstances. After claiming 3/36 and forcing a run-out, Bevan’s 79 not out led Australia to a three-wicket win with three balls left.
His 65 was crucial to Australia’s epic 1999 World Cup semi-final win, while the left-hander came up with another heroic performance against New Zealand at the MCG in 2002.
The Black Caps set a target of 246 and the hosts slumped to 6/82 in the 22nd over, but Bevan’s 102 not out off 95 balls steered Australia to another unlikely result – a two-wicket win with 15 balls to spare.
A second World Cup success followed in 2003, but his international career was over less than a year later, controversially cut from Cricket Australia’s contract list but retiring with an astonishing highlights reel.
Despite boasting 68 first-class centuries in a career that encompassed stints with Kent, Leicestershire, NSW, South Australia, Sussex, Tasmania and Yorkshire, Bevan’s Test opportunities were limited.
He played 18 Tests from 1994-98, and looked at home across five days during the 1996-97 home series against the West Indies.
In Adelaide Bevan coupled his 85 not out with a 10-wicket haul as Australia romped to an innings victory, and averaged 55 with the bat during the series. But tough away series against South Africa and England that year saw the whites permanently packed away, leaving behind a decent record of 785 runs at 29.08 (including six 50s) and 29 wickets at 24.24 (including one five-for and one 10-wicket match).
But it’s in the green and gold ODI uniform that created Bevan’s legend, among the 50-over format’s greatest-ever exponents and one of international cricket’s brightest stars of the 1990s and early-2000s.