50 Greatest Batsmen in the History of Cricket- Part 2
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.