50 Greatest Batsmen in the History of Cricket- Part 4
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!