Monthly Archives: January 2012
In part 3 of the Greatest Batsmen in the History of Cricket, we looked at numbers 30-21. Today, let us glance at the next ten batting greats.
20. JAVED MIANDAD (PAK) Right Hand Batsman, Leg Break Bowler (1976-93)
Tests- 124, Runs- 8832, Avg- 52.57, 100s- 23, High- 280*
ODIs- 233, Runs- 7381, Avg- 41.70, 100s- 8, High- 119*
28,663 FC runs with 80 centuries at 53.37
When the father of Pakistan cricket, Abdul Hafeez Kardar called a 16-year old from Karachi the find of the decade, eyebrows were raised. But Javed Miandad exceeded all expectations to fulfil his potential as the greatest batsman ever from Pakistan. His best innings came in demanding situations against tough opponents, like back to back hundreds against the mighty West Indies in 88 and a double ton against Kapil Dev’s India. His versatility made him an excellent one day cricketer as well and he was the first player to play in six different World Cups, a record since equalled by Sachin Tendulkar. But for all his accomplishments, Miandad will always be best remembered for his last ball six of Chetan Sharma to register a memorable win in Sharjah.
19. SIR EVERTON WEEKES (WI) Right Hand Batsman, Leg Break Bowler (1948-58)
Tests- 48, Runs- 4455, Avg- 58.61, 100s- 15, High- 207
One of the best attacking batsmen of all-time, Everton Weekes was a part of the most formidable middle order line-up in Test cricket history along with Worrell and Walcott. Through the 50s, Weekes led the revival of Caribbean cricket as it emerged from the shadows of Australia and England and became a force to be reckoned with. It is no mean feat that in an era that included greats like Sobers, Walcott, Harvey, Hassett, Compton, May and Graveney, Weekes was still good enough to be called the best of the lot. On the 1949 tour of India, he hit a world record five consecutive hundreds and followed it up with over 2000 runs on the tour to England next year. Tragically, Weekes retired early- at the age of just 33, plagued by ill health and recurring injuries.
18. RAHUL DRAVID (IND) Right Hand Batsman, Off Break Bowler (1996-2012)
Tests- 162, Runs- 13206, Avg- 52.82, 100s- 36, High- 270
ODIs- 344, Runs- 10889, Avg- 39.16, 100s- 12, High- 153
The wall, India’s Mr Dependable and the dream number 3 for any Test captain, Rahul Dravid is all this and much, much more. Today when the Indian media demands his blood (and his retirement by default), they forget that he has been the greatest match-winning (and occasionally match saving) batsman they have ever had. Overshadowed by the aura of Sachin Tendulkar, Dravid accumulated runs in both formats of the game at a speed rivalling the great man himself. While the world celebrated the wins and tons of the Tendulkars and the Pontings and the Kallises, Dravid excelled where others failed, covering up for others failures- selflessly and silently.
17. ALLAN BORDER (AUS) Left Hand Batsman, Left Arm Orthodox (1978-94)
Tests- 156, Runs- 11174, Avg- 50.56, 100s- 27, High- 205
ODIs- 273, Runs- 6524, Avg- 30.62, 100s- 3, High- 127*
27,131 FC runs with 70 centuries at 51.38
Border’s reputation as one of the finest captains the game has ever seen often overshadows his phenomenal skills as a batsman. He was the embodiment of Australia’s fighting spirit, a true gutsy cricketer. It was this spirit that enabled him to lead the Aussies to a phase of world domination, both through his captaincy and batting. Border’s gameplay was not attractive, nor fluent. His strokes were more about graftiness and fight than aesthetics. He built his game around a single principal: “never give away your wicket cheaply.” His contemporaries regarded him as the best Australian player of spin since Bradman and his attacking strokes in one-dayers were second to none.
16. WG GRACE (ENG) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Bowler (1880-99)
Tests- 22, Runs- 1098, Avg- 32.29, 100s- 2, High- 170
54,211 FC runs with 124 centuries at 39.45
To the English, Grace is cricket and cricket is grace! He represented the pure, amateur and gentlemanly aspect of the game; just as it was before its rampant commercialization. To say that he was a giant in the game would be like saying Burj al-Arab is a tallish tower in the desert. He was a colossus indeed; the game’s biggest superstar and the most respected batsman of his time. His iconic status aside, Grace was a marvellous batsman as well. In a career spanning a phenomenal 43 years, Grace became the first man to score 50,000 first class runs as well as the first to hit 100 centuries, and he did all this on those ropey pitches that no modern cricketer would dare play on.
15. GRAEME POLLOCK (RSA) Left Hand Batsman, Leg Break Bowler (1963-86)
Tests- 23, Runs- 2256, Avg- 60.97, 100s- 7, High- 274
Unofficial Tests- 16, Runs- 1376, Avg- 65.52, 100s- 5, High- 197
20,940 FC runs with 64 centuries at 54.67
To say that he belongs to a family of cricketers would be a massive understatement. His father and uncle both played first-class cricket; his brother was one of the best fast bowlers in the world in his time and his nephew would later prove to be the finest fast bowling all-rounder of his generation. Naturally, cricket was in Pollock’s blood. In a short but brilliant Test career (cut short due to the apartheid ban), Pollock scored at a rate faster than all but the Don, competing with the likes of Sobers (and later Lara) to be the finest left-hand bat ever. Even after the ban, Pollock was the top scorer in the unofficial tours by England, Sri Lanka and Australia, averaging 65 at the age of nearly 40.
14. SIR LEN HUTTON (ENG) Right Hand Batsman, Leg Break Bowler (1937-55)
Tests- 79, Runs- 6971, Avg- 56.67, 100s- 19, High- 364
40,140 FC runs with 129 centuries at 55.51
Hutton ushered in the era of professionals in world cricket by becoming the first professional to captain the English side. Cricket pundits consider him the most technically correct English batsman since the Second World War. Wisden called him one of the two greatest English batsmen of all time alongside Sir Jack Hobbs. His maiden first class century came at the tender age of 17 and throughout his teens, he gave consistent performances for his county Yorkshire. He scored his first Test century in only his second Test. Four games later, at the age of 21, he broke his captain Hammond’s world record of most runs in a Test innings by scoring a mammoth 364. The world took notice; a great had arrived.
13. VICTOR TRUMPER (AUS) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Medium (1899-1912)
Tests- 48, Runs- 3163, Avg- 39.04, 100s- 8, High- 159*
16,939 FC runs with 42 centuries at 44.57
Before the first Great War, Trumper was the greatest batsman the world had seen, and certainly the most brilliant. Before judging Trumper on the basis of his numbers, one should remember that the wickets he played on resembled minefields more than cricket pitches. The greatest of batsmen in those times had averages in the 30s. Trumper was the first batsman to dominate bowling, and he did it in an era that included great bowlers like Barnes, Aubrey Faulkner and Wilfred Rhodes. His expertise was in playing on pitches where others would give up all hopes of scoring. In one of his final series against the South Africans, he signed off in style by scoring 662 runs in 5 Tests at a Bradmanesque average of 94.
12. GREG CHAPPELL (AUS) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Medium (1970-84)
Tests- 87, Runs- 7110, Avg- 53.86, 100s- 24, High- 247*
WSC Matches- 14, Runs- 1415, Avg- 56.60, 100s- 5, High- 246*
ODIs- 74, Runs- 2331, Avg- 40.18, 100s- 3, High- 138*
They say that has he not joined Kerry Packer’s rebel World Series Cricket in 1977 (a decision that caused him to miss two years of international cricket), Greg Chappell could well have been the greatest Australian batsman ever after Bradman. He is the only batsman ever to score centuries in his first and final Test matches. His world record for most runs in an ODI series (686 at an average of 68.6 in the World Series Cup, 1981) still stands, over three decades after it was set. His greatest moment though, came in the World Series Cricket only, when playing for the Australian XI, he pummeled 620 runs at 69 against a might Caribbean attack that included Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Colin Croft.
11. RICKY PONTING (AUS) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Medium (1995-2012)
Tests- 160, Runs- 12,912, Avg- 52.70, 100s- 40, High- 257
ODIs- 370, Runs- 13,686, Avg- 42.63, 100s- 30, High- 164
They called him the best Australian batsman since Bradman, and not without good reason. Ricky Ponting burst on to the scene in 1995 as a prodigious talent, a 20 year old with an insatiable appetite for runs. For the next decade, he epitomised the Australian dominance in the Test and one day arenas with one record breaking performance after another. From overcoming an alcohol problem to becoming the most successful Test captain in history, the punter has indeed come a long way. And even now, after almost 17 years of nonstop cricket, neither has his appetite lessened, nor has his talent dimmed.
Next time around, the grand finale- the ten greatest batsmen to have played this glorious game!
Well here is the third installment in our series of the 50 greatest batsmen ever to have played the game of modern cricket. Last time around, we looked at numbers 40 through 31. Let us take our countdown forward and look at the next ten batting greats.
30. MOHAMMED YOUSUF (PAK) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Off Break (1998-2010)
Tests- 90, Runs- 7530, Avg- 52.29, 100s- 24, High- 223
ODIs- 288, Runs- 9720, Avg- 41.71, 100s- 15, High- 141*
The first decade of the 21st century was perhaps the most chaotic time period for Pakistan cricket. Even by their own mercurial standards, Pakistan cricketers often bordered on the extreme edge of lunacy, dangerously flirting with the line between eccentric and moronic. Amidst all this was Mohammed Yousuf (formerly Yousuf Youhana), one of the most elegant, calmest and hungriest batsmen that world cricket has ever seen. At his best, Yousuf was as intimidating an opponent as any. His immaculate technique and phenomenal powers of concentration were matched only by his insatiable appetite for runs. It’s quite safe to say that if not for Yousuf, Pakistan cricket would have been in tatters throughout the 2000s.
29. BARRY RICHARDS (RSA) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Offbreak (1970-83)
Tests- 4, Runs- 508, Avg- 72.57, 100s- 2, High- 140
WSC Matches- 5, Runs- 554, Avg- 79.14, 100s- 2, High- 207
Unofficial Tests- 6, Runs- 252, Avg- 25.20, 100s- 0, High- 65
28,358 FC runs with 80 centuries at 54.74
Barry Anderson Richards played only four Tests in his career and it was more of a loss for cricket than for Richards himself. He made an explosive start to his international career against Australia in 1970. However, immediately after that series South Africa were forced into a 22 year long exile from international cricket, which meant that Richards was forced to squeeze in his enormous talent in the first-class circuit and occasionally in unofficial tests as well as the World Series Cricket. But wherever he played, Richards excelled magnificently. For Hampshire and South Australia, he was nothing short of an icon in the 70s. No other cricketer has been able to give rise to such speculation about their potential in a career of merely four Tests.
28. KUMAR SANGAKKARA (SL) Left Hand Batsman, Wicketkeeper (2000-12)
Tests- 106, Runs- 9347, Avg- 55.97, 100s- 28, High- 287
ODIs- 311, Runs- 9910, Avg- 37.96, 100s- 12, High- 138*
With close to 20,000 international runs and 40 centuries, Kumar Chokshanda Sangakkara has come a long way from being a wicketkeeper who could bat to being one the most feared and respected batsmen around the globe, as well as the most consistent. He made his debut as wicketkeeper and a handy lower order batsman in 2000, but found his true calling as a batsman half a decade later, when he gave up the gloves to focus on his batting. As a non-wicketkeeper, his batting average in Tests is a phenomenal 69.22, next only to the great Bradman. With a few good years still left in him, this gutsy southpaw from Matale will surely scale new heights in the years to come.
27. MATTHEW HAYDEN (AUS) Left Hand Batsman, Right Arm Medium (1993-2009)
Tests- 103, Runs- 8625, Avg- 50.73, 100s- 30, High- 380
ODIs- 161, Runs- 6133, Avg- 43.80, 100s- 10, High- 181*
24,603 FC runs with 79 centuries at 52.57
Most batsmen rely on technique, while some bank on their timing. For Matthew Hayden however, his greatest strength was strength itself. This giant of a man could hit the ball harder and farther than most people who have played this came and could do that with a mindboggling and remarkable consistency. During the decade when Australia dominated world cricket, Hayden was their mainstay at the top order, providing explosive starts match after match in both forms of the game. A big game player, he was the top scorer in the 2007 World Cup that Australia won and for a brief period in 2003, held the world record for the highest individual score in Test cricket.
26. ZAHEER ABBAS (PAK) Right Hand Batsman, Off Break Bowler (1969-85)
Tests- 78, Runs- 5062, Avg- 44.79, 100s- 12, High- 274
ODIs- 62, Runs- 2572, Avg- 47.62, 100s- 7, High- 123
34,843 FC runs with 108 centuries at 51.54
During the height of his powers, Abbas was known as the Asian Bradman. Such was the greatness and beauty of his gameplay that he not only scored runs all around the park, but he did that in a way that paralleled a musical concert, carefully structured and marvellously orchestrated. A master of the lyrical, fluent art of batting, Zaheer was the first great one-day batsman and the torchbearer of Asian batsmanship before the emergence of the Gavaskars and the Miandads. His penchant for scoring against world quality seam bowling attacks on bowler friendly pitches made him the lifesaver for the ever so mercurial Pakistan team throughout the 70s and early 80s.
25. KEN BARRINGTON (ENG) Right Hand Batsman, Leg Break Bowler (1955-68)
Tests- 82, Runs- 6806, Avg- 58.67, 100s- 20, High- 256
31,714 FC runs with 76 centuries
Elegant, wristy and graceful, Barrington epitomises English batsmanship like no other player can. He was the flag bearer of English batting following the exit of stalwarts like Hutton, Compton, Edrich and Washbrook. With a staggering record, Barrington merits his place in the pantheon of the game’s greatest. Naturally, his best came out against arch-rivals Australia, where he regularly flayed the bowling of McKenzie, Davidson and Co. His batting prowess combined with the bowling of Trueman, Stahtam and Bedser to make England a world-beating side in the 60s. Barrington is very much the hero that cricket forgot.
24. DENNIS COMPTON (ENG) Right Hand Batsman, Slow Left Arm (1937-57)
Tests- 78, Runs- 5807, Avg- 50.06, 100s- 17, High- 278
38,942 FC runs with 123 centuries at 51.85
Compton’s rise in the world was during England’s golden age of batting. One of the finest post-war batsmen in the world, Compton was a national icon in his time; a figure that transcended the game and acted as an inspiration for millions. He emerged on to the scene as a 19 year old sensation and went on to achieve great success both for his national side and for his county Middlesex. Throughout the late 40s and early 50s, Compton formed one-half of the great cricketing rivalry between him and Len Hutton for the title of the greatest batsman of their time.
23. HERBERT SUTCLIFFE (ENG) Right Hand Batsman (1924-45)
Tests- 54, Runs- 4555, Avg- 60.73, 100s- 16, High- 194
50,670 FC runs with 151 centuries at 52.02
Sutcliffe was a giant of the game who stood his ground as others around him overshadowed by the phenomenal talent of his contemporaries. He played alongside or against some of the greatest batsmen the game has ever seen in Hammond, Hobbs and Bradman. But even then, Sutcliffe proved time and again that he too was a force to be reckoned with. His defensive patience and run accumulating skill were great complement to the mesmerising stroke play of Hobbs, with whom he formed cricket’s most successful opening partnership. In a career hindered by the two wars, Sutcliffe’s greatest victory was that even he could not outshine his English contemporaries in reputation; he did so statistically by securing a Test batting average greater than both Hammond and Hobbs.
22. SIR CLYDE WALCOTT (WI) Right Hand Batsman, Wicketkeeper (1948-60)
Tests- 44, Runs- 3798, Avg- 56.68, 100s- 15, High- 220
During the 50s, cricket in West Indies meant just one thing- the three W’s, namely Worrell, Weekes and Walcott. Phenomenally talented and amazingly skilled, Walcott was a huge human specimen, resembling a heavyweight boxer more than a middle order batsman/wicketkeeper. He shot to the scene by scoring a first class triple century as a 20 year old and reaching his maiden Test ton with a six two years later in the sweltering heat of India. In the home series against Australia in 1953-54, Walcott smashed five hundreds in five tests including a century in both innings of a Test twice. That season, he scored an astounding 1525 runs in just two series. It was only fitting that this Caribbean giant exited the game in grand style, scoring his last ton in his penultimate game.
21. RANJI (ENG) Right Hand Batsman (1893-1920)
Tests- 15, Runs- 989, Avg- 44.95, 100s- 2, High- 175
24,692 FC runs with 72 centuries at 56.37
Ranji was not just one of the finest batsmen ever due to the runs he scored, but also because of the new strokes he introduced to the game. Before Ranji, no one ever scored in the square region on the leg side. He introduced what was later called the leg glance; a shot that would later propel the likes of Neil Harvey, Allan Border and VVS Laxman to international stardom and ensure immortality in the cricket folklore for its inventor. Batting on those minefields of wickets, Ranji scored at a phenomenal average of 56 (45 in Tests) when all others trotted around the 40 mark. Twice he scored 3000 runs in a single season and was the first batsman to score over 1000 runs in a single tour of Australia, a feat he achieved in 1897-98.
In the next installment, we disclose numbers 20 to 11 in our list of the 50 greatest batsmen in the history of cricket.
Well social networking is in and since the BCCI hasn’t banned the Indian cricketers from tweeting or posting facebook updates while on tour, the young cricketers are making full use of the privileges (utilizing the extra time that they have since most matches don’t even last five days.) Hatter went undercover to snoop around the goings on of the heroes from Team India and here is what the (almost Indian Test) batsman Rohit Sharma has posted today.
Last time around, we looked at numbers 50 to 41 in our countdown of the 50 Greatest batsmen in the history of Cricket. Let’s follow up and take a look at the next ten batting stalwarts in part 2 of the series.
40. SIR GEOFFREY BOYCOTT (ENG) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Medium (1964-82)
Tests- 108, Runs- 8114, Avg- 47.72, 100s- 22, High- 246*
ODIs- 36, Runs- 1082, Avg- 36.06, 100s- 1, High- 105
48,426 FC runs with 151 centuries at 56.83
No other player has perhaps had such an illustrious yet lonely career. Yorkshireman Geoffrey Boycott was known for his impenetrable defence and exquisitely timed stroke play. But throughout his long and prolific career, he was dogged by controversy. As journalist Ian Woolridge once put it, “Boycott, in short, walks alone.” A key feature of English batting through the 1960s and 70s, Boycott was one of the finest opening batsmen of his time. However, between 1974 to 77, Boycott made himself unavailable for 30 Tests over a captaincy feud with Mike Deness. While many argued that his promising career was over, Boycott silenced one and all with a smashing 107, followed by an unbeaten 80 in the two innings of his comeback Test against arch rivals Australia.
39. VIRENDER SEHWAG (IND) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Offbreak (1999-2012)
Tests- 94, Runs- 8088, Avg- 51.51, 100s- 22, High- 319
ODIs- 240, Runs- 8025, Avg- 35.66, 100s- 15, High- 219
With minimal footwork, limited range of stroke play and an extremely aggressive temperament, Virender Sehwag came to the scene as a poor man’s Sachin Tendulkar. Not many expected him to last long in the Indian team. Certainly, no one expected him to one day outshine his more illustrious team mates. An average of over 50 in Tests with a whirlwind scoring rate of 81.93 (bettered only by Gilchrist) is evidence of sheer batting genius. And then there is the little matter of two triple tons as well. Even in ODIs, he has an enviable record with one of the highest strike rates in the game (104.62) and a world record for the highest ODI score, a record he quite fittingly snatched from his idol Tendulkar.
38. NEIL HARVEY (AUS) Left Hand Batsman, Right Arm Off Break (1948-63)
Tests- 79, Runs- 6149, Avg- 48.41, 100s- 21, High- 205
The Darling of Australia, Neil Harvey was one of Australia’s favourite cricketing sons as well as one of the most gifted left-handers the game has seen. He first found success as a 19-year old in Bradman’s invincibles by scoring six centuries in his first 13 innings and the athletic southpaw never looked back. An electrifying batsman and a great entertainer, Harvey enthralled an entire generation of Australian cricket fans, who were looking for a new hero following the retirement of the great Bradman. Harvey was the perfect balance of attacking instincts and concentration, and there truly was never a dull moment when he was on the crease.
37. MICHAEL HUSSEY (AUS) Left Hand Batsman, Right Arm Medium (2004-12)
Tests- 68, Runs- 5435, Avg- 51.76, 100s- 16, High- 195
ODIs- 166, Runs- 4862, Avg- 51.17, 100s- 3, High- 109*
“That’s Mr Cricket to you!” Mike Hussey has become synonymous with the true Australian grit and fighting spirit that has been the hallmark of his short but explosive international career. For those who believe that Hussey became an overnight star, they need to know that he toiled on the domestic circuit a full 11 years for his first chance, waiting in the ranks as the likes of Hayden, Langer and the Waugh twins shone for Australia. But when he did get his chance, Hussey grabbed on to it with all four limbs like a baby chimp grabbing on to mommy dearest. Oppositions across the world know that as long as Hussey is on the crease, the match is far from over.
36. ANDY FLOWER (ZIM) Left Hand Batsman, Wicketkeeper (1992-2003)
Tests- 63, Runs- 4794, Avg- 51.54, 100s- 12, High- 232*
ODIs- 213, Runs- 6786, Avg- 35.34, 100s- 4, High- 145
Perhaps Andy Flower’s greatest misfortune was that he played for minnows Zimbabwe, when his phenomenal talent was enough to earn him a place in the first XI of any side in the world. During 2000-01, Flower hit a Bradmanesque purple patch in his career. He scored close to 2000 runs in 18 Tests during this period at a phenomenal average of 84.5 with 6 centuries. He remains the only Zimbabwe player to top the ICC rankings, a feat he achieved in 2001, displacing the great Sachin Tendulkar. But for all his records, Flower will always be remembered for his brave protest against Zimbabwe’s autocratic Mugabe government that drew curtains to a phenomenal career.
35. BILL PONSFORD (AUS) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Medium (1924-34)
Tests- 29, Runs- 2122, Avg- 48.22, 100s- 7, High- 266
13,819 FC runs with 47 centuries at 65.18
Ponsford made his first class debut at 22 and despite scoring a century in his second game; he had to wait another two years for his next game. He made up for the lost time by scoring a world record 429 in just over a day. He made an equally explosive foray into Test cricket, scoring back-to-back centuries in his first two Tests against England. In 1927-28, he scored an unprecedented 11 consecutive first class centuries including two Test hundreds and another world record – 437. For Australia, he formed a formidable opening partnership with Woodfull and partnered Bradman in many memorable top order stands. When he retired at the age of 34, he held the records for the highest first class individual score, highest first class average and the highest Test partnership for any wicket with Bradman.
34. SIR FRANK WORRELL (WI) Right Hand Batsman, Left Arm Fast-Medium (1948-63)
Tests- 51, Runs- 3860, Avg- 49.48, 100s- 9, High- 261
Most people choose to remember Sir Frank Mortimer Maglinne Worrell as West Indies’ first black and possibly greatest ever captain; as well as one of the three Ws of Caribbean cricket. However, Worrell was also a fine batsman as well. Overshadowed by his more illustrious colleagues, namely Messrs Walcott, Weekes and Kanhai; Worrell was the bedrock on which the Caribbean middle order rested throughout the 1950s. His batting prowess and magnetic personality were instrumental in popularising cricket throughout the Caribbean. West Indies cricket does owes much of its later successes to this small man from Barbados.
33. GLENN TURNER (NZ) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Off Break (1969-83)
Tests- 41, Runs- 2991, Avg- 44.64, 100s- 7, High- 259
ODIs- 41, Runs- 1598, Avg- 47.00, 100s- 3, High- 171*
34,346 FC runs with 103 centuries at 49.70
Many players are born with a natural ability to play cricket but only a few work on those skills to become world class. Turner was the epitome of the hard working cricketer. He dedicated himself to the game at a very early age, honing his skills in the Kiwi backwaters, and later on the English county circuit. His record for New Zealand would have been much more impressive had he received an ounce of support from his other team mates. But even then, Turner was a giant in the 70s and one of the first greats of ODI cricket. Till date, he remains the only Kiwi player to have scored a hundred first class centuries and can boast of one of the highest ODI averages of all time.
32. INZAMAM-UL-HAQ (PAK) Right Hand Batsman, Slow Left-Arm Orthodox (1991-2007)
Tests- 120, Runs- 8830, Avg- 49.60, 100s- 25, High- 329
ODIs- 378, Runs- 11739, Avg- 39.52, 100s- 10, High- 137*
For a man of his size, power is almost given, but what is surprising is that Inzamam could play the sublime and deft strokes with equal ease. This gentle giant took over the mantle of Pakistan’s premier batsman from the evergreen Javed Miandad and carried forward his legacy with grace, panache and a carefree swagger that would have looked more at home in a Clint Eastwood western. His record aside, the most remarkable aspect of Inzy’s career was his remarkable consistency, considering he played alongside egos the size of icebergs and in a team that was as consistent as Liz Taylor’s love life.
31. SHIVNARAINE CHANDERPAUL (WI) Left Hand Batsman, Leg Break Bowler (1994-2012)
Tests- 137, Runs- 9709, Avg- 49.28, 100s- 24, High- 203*
ODIs- 268, Runs- 8778, Avg- 41.60, 100s- 11, High- 150
Chanderpaul’s success has given cricket coaches all over the world sleepless nights. He boasts of one of the crabbiest techniques in cricket history and yet has managed to craft close to 20000 international runs at an admirable average. He might not have filled the void left by one Brian Charles Lara, but he has managed to ensure that in the absence of quality players, the West Indies at least stay competitive in the Test arena. Many would say that he has done nothing significant to merit a place so high in this list of elites. But one look at his record would reveal that in over a decade and a half in international cricket, this tiny Guyanese has had only two lean periods. A truly remarkable achievement for a grossly underrated player!
Lots of batting greats still to come. Next time, we chart out the route from numbers 30 to 21 in our list of the 50 Greatest Batsmen in the History of Cricket.
Batsmen have always dominated the game of cricket. Through their elegant stroke play and ruthless hitting, they have captivated the hearts of many a fair maidens (read: Sharmila Tagore, Neena Gupta, Sangeeta Bijlani, etc.) and have given countless bowlers sleepless nights (for more info, google Shane Warne). Batsmen are undoubtedly the crowd pullers in the game, the big-ticket draws, the heavyweights of the game and even though a bowler might silence a roaring MCG or Eden Gardens by rattling the off-stump of a Ponting or breaking the jaw of a Ganguly, it’s the batsmen who have the power to command the 50,000 odd in attendance (or the dozen sultry cheerleaders) to go berserk after every boundary or six. This is my magnum opus- a tribute to the best batsmen to have wielded a willow, regardless of the form or era. So here is an exhaustive list of the 50 greatest batsmen in the history of cricket.
50. KEVIN PIETERSEN (ENG) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Off Break (2004-12)
Tests- 78, Runs- 6361, Avg- 50.48, 100s- 19, High- 227
ODIs- 123, Runs- 3903, Avg- 40.23, 100s- 7, High- 116
Hold your hats, it’s Kevin Pietersen. KP is the youngest member of this elite club of batting stalwarts. In his brief yet sparkling career, this South Africa-born dashing right hander has shown immense potential silencing many critics and demolishing several world-class bowling attacks. His heroics in the 2005 Ashes are what legends are made of. With superb timing, immaculate footwork and a boldness to die for, KP looks set to conquer many English batting records by the time he hangs his gloves.
49. CLEM HILL (AUS) Left Hand Batsman, Leg Break Bowler (1896-1912)
Tests- 49, Runs- 3412, Avg- 39.21, 100s- 7, High- 191
17,213 FC runs with 45 centuries at 43.57
Clem Hill was one of the very first Australian greats and arguably the first true great southpaw in international cricket. At 16, he shot to prominence with a triple century in an inter-collegiate match, giving the world glimpses of his immense talent at a very early age. After the turn of the century, Hill combined with opener Victor Trumper to become the mainstay of the Aussie batting. During this period, he outshone his English counterparts such as Ranji and Archie MacLaren and even the much more illustrious Trumper. In the era of uncovered pitches, his average of 39.21 was nothing short of phenomenal. An expert at batting with the tail, he still holds the Australian record for the best eighth wicket partnership, a full century after his last Test appearance.
48. GORDON GREENIDGE (WI) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Medium (1974-91)
Tests- 108, Runs- 7558, Avg- 44.72, 100s- 19, High- 226
ODIs- 128, Runs- 5134, Avg- 45.03, 100s- 11, High- 133*
37,354 FC runs with 92 centuries at 45.88
Destruction was Greenidge’s middle name it would seem. Although he was often overshadowed by his more flamboyant team mates like Viv Richards, Richie Richardson and Desmond Haynes, Greenidge was a more accomplished batsman than his statistics show. One of the greatest one-day players of all time, Greenidge was no bunny in the longer version of the game as well. Through the 80s, he formed cricket’s most memorable opening partnership with Desmond Haynes, racking up 16 century stands in Tests- the most by any opening pair. Greenidge’s ability to launch brutal onslaughts against quality bowling contributed majorly in making the West Indies the dominant side that it was in the 1980s.
47. PETER MAY (ENG) Right Hand Batsman (1951-61)
Tests- 66, Runs- 4537, Avg- 46.77, 100s- 13, High- 285*
27,592 FC runs with 85 centuries at 51.00
Tall, handsome and the epitome of English batsmanship and sportsmanship, Peter Barker Howard May was an exemplary captain, perhaps the greatest England have ever had. But before all that, Peter May had been the best young thing English cricket had seen since Hutton. By 18, he was the best schoolboy cricketer in the country. He exploded on to the international scene with a century on debut at the age of 21. However, it was only after 1953 that May really found his golden touch. During 1955-58, May captained England and scored over 2200 runs in 30 Tests at 54 with 10 centuries. England did not lose a single series during this period.
46. ARTHUR SHREWSBURY (ENG) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Bowler (1882-93)
Tests- 23, Runs- 1277, Avg- 35.47, 100s- 3, High- 164
26,505 FC runs with 59 centuries at 36.65
When WG Grace was once asked to name the one player he would definitely want in his side, he simply said “Give me Arthur.” In a time when pitches resembled the pothole filled roads of Indian countryside, Shrewsbury was the best in the world. He towered above rivals like Grace and Australia’s Billy Murdoch, especially on the sticky wickets where his peers were found lacking. Shrewsbury dominated world cricket before the advent of Australian giants like Trumper and Hill and was still averaging 50 in his final first class season in 1902 at the age of 47. He was the first player to cross 1000 Test runs and held the record for most Test runs and centuries for over a decade.
45. STEVE WAUGH (AUS) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Medium (1985-2003)
Tests- 168, Runs- 10927, Avg- 51.06, 100s- 32, High- 200
ODIs- 325, Runs- 7569, Avg- 32.90, 100s- 3, High- 120*
One of the most successful captains of all time and the grittiest and most resilient batsman of his generation, Steve Waugh was the model cricketer for one and all. Waugh had a baptism with fire when he was thrown to the wolves at the age of 20, making his debut against the mighty West Indies. He did impress as a flashy middle order batsman and a useful medium pacer but it was in his second innings as a more patient patriarchal figure in the Australian team that he achieved new heights. It was only fitting that he exited the international stage with a performance befitting his reputation- a fighting innings that prevented India from winning their first ever series down under. Even in his last act as captain and batsman, Waugh was the embodiment of courage.
44. HANIF MOHAMMED (PAK) Right Hand Batsman, Right Arm Off Break (1952-69)
Tests- 55, Runs- 3915, Avg- 43.98, 100s- 12, High- 337
The original “Little Master”, Hanif carried the mantle of being the subcontinent’s greatest batsman through the 1950s and 60s. Known for his rock solid defence and flawless technique, Hanif could give seminars on patience in batting. His 16-hour long marathon 337 against the fiery West Indies is testimony to that. The fact that he scored that as a 22-year old only adds to the legend of this tiny man from Junagadh. His penchant for making huge scores brought him a then world record 499 for Karachi in 1959. Probably one of the most innovative and versatile batsmen ever, it was him who invented the reverse sweep (popularised by Andy Flower four decades later). He could also keep wickets and at one point, bowled both right- and left-handed in Test cricket.
43. SOURAV GANGULY (IND) Left Hand Batsman, Right Arm Medium (1992-2007)
Tests- 113, Runs- 7212, Avg- 42.17, 100s- 16, High- 239
ODIs- 311, Runs- 11363, Avg- 41.02, 100s- 22, High- 183
The Prince of Kolkata has to be one of the most colourful characters to have graced this gentleman’s game. Not many have the cajones to wave their shirts from the Lord’s balcony. No single player has had cricket pundits so much divided in their opinions. Some swear that he was a sucker against the short delivery while others have hailed him as the God of off-side. For some he was the arrogant and ill-mannered batsman who would resort to biting nails in tricky situations. Others remember him as India’s greatest Test captain. But despite all this, no one can deny the enormous batting talent of Sourav Chandidas Ganguly. That he managed to stay and prosper in a team filled with greats like Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid is nothing short of an achievement in itself.
42. SAEED ANWAR (PAK) Left Hand Batsman, Slow Left-Arm Orthodox (1989-2003)
Tests- 55, Runs- 4052, Avg- 45.52, 100s- 11, High- 188*
ODIs- 247, Runs- 8824, Avg- 39.21, 100s- 20, High- 194
Like all Pakistani batsmen, Anwar relied more on stroke play than brute force. However, this did not mean that he could not provide the team with some whirlwind starts as arch rivals India found out all so often. One of the greatest one-day specialists the game has scene, Anwar cemented his place as an all-time great with his mind-boggling 194 against India in 1997. With time, Anwar achieved the same amount of success in the Test arena as well, averaging a healthy 45 and scoring 11 tons in his 55 Tests. During the 90s, Anwar’s majestic timing and placement were what provided Pakistan the perfect starts to their innings.
41. ADAM GILCHRIST (AUS) Left Hand Batsman, Wicketkeeper (1996-2008)
Tests- 96, Runs- 5570, Avg- 47.60, 100s- 17, High- 204*
ODIs- 287, Runs- 9619, Avg- 35.89, 100s- 16, High- 172
One of the most devastating batsmen of all-time, Adam Gilchrist embodied the Australian steamrolling agenda in the late 90s and early 2000s. One of the most exhilarating stroke makers in the history of the game, Gilchrist holds the records for most Test runs and centuries by a wicketkeeper. What is even more amazing is the rate at which he got them- an average of 47.60 and a tremendous strike rate of 81.95 (the highest in Test cricket). In ODIs, Gilly was an even more accomplished juggernaut as he shredded bowling attacks to smithereens with partner-in-crime Matthew Hayden, forming one of the most feared opening partnerships of all time.
More batting greats to follow. Next time, we take a look at nos. 40 to 31.