50 Greatest Batsmen in the History of Cricket- Part 3
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.