World Cricket Feature

The 10 Greatest Batsmen Ever

85 Comments 15 October 2009

Who are the greatest batsmen ever – Part 2 (10-1)?


Continuing off from the Greatest Batsman of all time article, which counted down the best batsmen from 20-11, here are numbers 10-1 in reverse order, with an additional comment at the end for those Test countries not represented in my list:

10. Victor Trumper (Australia) – 48 Tests, 8 100s, 13 50s, Average 39.04, HS 214*

Widely acknowledged as the best Australian batsman before Bradman, Trumper was both stylish and versatile with a penchant for playing match-winning innings on treacherous wet wickets. After scoring 135 not out against England at Lord’s in 1899, Grace gifted Trumper his own bat with the inscription “From the present champion to the future champion.”

9. Herbert Sutcliffe (England) – 54 Tests, 16 100s, 23 50s, Average 60.73, HS 194

Sutcliffe’s name always seems to be inexplicably left on the margins when discussions as to who is the best ever English batsman. Perhaps this is because his he opened the batting with Hobbs and played in the same era as Hammond. Whatever the reasons, Sutcliffe deserves recognition in his own right – the fourth highest Test match batting average of all-time for players with at least 20 innings, a fantastic record against Australia and prodigious run scoring for country and Yorkshire alike.

8. Brian Lara (West Indies) – 131 Tests, 34 100s, 48 50s, Average 52.88, HS 400*

The man with the highest Test and First Class scores of 400 not out and 501 not out respectively, Lara is the fourth of six West Indians on the list. When he started his career, West Indian dominance was on the wane. By the time he finished it, his side was in the doldrums and as a result he spent most of his time trying to keep the West Indies afloat making his record even more impressive. Perhaps his best achievement was in 1999 in the home series against Australia, when he single-handedly won the second and third tests with scores of 213 and 153 not out after his side had been obliterated in the first test. He scored a century too in the fourth and final test, but couldn’t prevent Australia squaring the series.

7. George Headley (West Indies) – 22 Tests, 10 100s, 5 50s, Average 60.83, HS 270*

Like Brian Lara over 60 years later, Headley had to keep a struggling side afloat. He managed this scoring a staggering ten centuries in his 22 Tests with his scoring feats leading to him being dubbed the ‘Black Bradman’. Headley was noted for his phenomenal back foot play and the time he seemed to have to play the ball, with such a shrewd judge as Len Hutton declaring that he had never seen a batsman play the ball later.

6. Ricky Ponting (Australia) – 136* Tests, 38 100s, 48 50s, Average 55.88, HS 257

The outstanding batsman playing the game today, Ponting is widely acknowledged as the best Australian batsman since Bradman – high praise indeed. One of Ponting’s main strengths is his versatility in that he can score quickly, counter-attack or tough it out when the situation demands. Other strengths include his consistency and his habit of playing match winning innings.

5. Vivian Richards (West Indies) – 121 Tests, 24 100s, 45 50s, Average 50.23, HS 291

Regarded by cricket aficionados as probably the most devastating batsman in the history of the game, King Viv was absolutely unstoppable on his day. His style was a mixture of swagger and intimidation and most bowlers seemed to visibly cower when faced with an on-song Richards. It is befitting that he is the scorer of the fastest-ever Test century, from just 56 balls against England in his home island of Antigua during the 1986 tour.

4. Jack Hobbs (England) – 61 Tests, 15 100s, 28 50s, Average 56.94, HS 211

Popularly referred to as ‘The Master’, Hobbs scored more runs (61,760) and more centuries (199) than anyone else in the history of the sport – and but for the Great War these figures could have been more spectacular still. His opening partnership with Herbert Sutcliffe is considered to be the best England and maybe the game has seen. Hobbs made his first class debut against a side captained by W.G.Grace who presciently observed that “He’s goin’ to be a good’un”. Even the learned Doctor could not have realised how ‘good’ Hobbs would become.

3. Walter Hammond (England) – 85 Tests, 22 100s, 24 50s, Average 58.45, HS 336*

Throughout his career, Hammond was often compared to Bradman, which is testament to what a great player he was, and he was included in the Don’s all-time XI. His seven Test double centuries has only been surpassed by Bradman and Brian Lara, and Hammond certainly had an ability to get big scores. His most notable series came on the tour of Australia in 1928-29 when he scored an incredible 905 runs at 113.12 in the five Tests. This has only been surpassed once – by Bradman, of course.

2. Garfield Sobers (West Indies) – 93 Tests, 26 100s, 30 50s, Average 57.78, HS 365*

Widely regarded as Cricket’s greatest all-rounder, Sobers was so good with the bat that he also ranks behind only the immortal Bradman on this list. Sobers mixed elegance with power and for a long time held the record for the highest Test score until he was usurped by his fellow West Indian Brian Lara. Perhaps his best innings though came for the Rest of the World against Australia in 1972 when Sobers played an innings of 254 which was described by Bradman as “probably the greatest exhibition of batting ever seen in Australia”.

1. Donald Bradman (Australia) – 52 Tests, 29 100s, 13 50s, Average 99.94, HS 334

Who else? No self-respecting list of the greatest batsmen ever could have anyone else at its head. Has anyone dominated their sport as much as Bradman? It almost defies belief that his average of 99.94 is almost 40 runs higher than the second best for 20 completed innings (Graeme Pollock at 60.97). Of his many staggering batting feats, here are three examples. First, his consecutive triple centuries at Headingley in the Ashes tests of 1930 and 1934. Second, his 974 runs in five tests during the 1930 Ashes series in England including three double centuries – both records. Finally, his second innings knock of 270 during the Third Test at Melbourne during the Ashes series of 1936/37, which was rated by Wisden as the best test match innings of all time in 2001. It enabled Australia, who were two down in the series, to win the match and they completed a remarkable turnaround by winning the fourth (Bradman making 212) and fifth (Bradman, 169) tests – still the only time a team has come back from two down to win a test match rubber, and Bradman was the captain of course.

So, there we have it. Six West Indians, six who represented England, four Australians, two Indians and one each from South Africa and Pakistan. Obviously, a number of great players failed to make the cut and as I said yesterday it was an agonising process to get down to the final 20. Indians, South Africans and Pakistanis may feel aggrieved that their nations do not have a higher representation. Rest assured that Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Dudley Nourse, Barry Richards (ruled out by the virtue of having only played four tests), Zaheer Abbas and Inzamam-ul-Haq were all there or thereabouts.

From England, no place could be found for Denis Compton, Peter May, Ted Dexter or David Gower. On the other side of the World in Australia, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Neil Harvey, Stan McCabe and Adam Gilchrist all failed to make the cut. And those swashbuckling West Indians Frank Worrell, Gordon Greenidge and Clive Lloyd also deserve a mention.

For those countries not represented, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Aravinda da Silva were all considered from Sri Lanka, as was Andy Flower from Zimbabwe and Martin Crowe, Martin Donnelly, Glenn Turner and Bert Sutcliffe from New Zealand. Bangladesh have yet to produce a great batsman, but undoubtedly they will as they continue to improve in the Test match arena.


David Green

David Green - who has written 199 posts on World Cricket Watch.

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85 Comments so far

  1. Hello,

    I came across this list of 10 All time Greatest Batsmen today and I am aghast at seeing Sachin R. Tendulkar being out of Top 10! That’s little harsher for the Greatest Ambassador the game has ever seen. Even Bradman wouldn’t argue that!

    I would have ideally liked to see Sachin at number 2 behind Don Bradman. Obviously Don will always remain numero Uno. But Sachin has raised his game above his contemporaries and above all those who had played before and exception being Bradman himself.

    Sir Viv Richards has himself admitted that Sachin R. Tendulkar is the greatest Modern day batsman and second greatest of all time.

    Just a few days back, Pakistan’s yesteryear elegant batsman, Zaheer Abbas has backed Sachin to be the Greatest Batsman of all time.

    Even Gary Sobers would admit that in terms of sheer batting prowess, Sachin R. Tendulkar is an automatic choice at Number 2. That should be the end of the debate when these all time Legends themselves believe that if Sachin can be compared at all, it would be only with Sir Don Bradman himself. That itself is a huge compliment to the Gulliver of World Cricket.

    Even Don Bradman would put him ahead of all others on the list as far as Test Matches are concerned.

    If you take ODIs into account, his record speaks for itself. He has amassed runs and more importantly, he has given unbridled joy to the world over.

    He is the greatest ODI Batsman of all time on par with Viv Richards.

    And I happened to miss out on some equally elite names such as Sunil M. Gavaskar, Clive Lloyds, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Zaheer Abbas, Inzamam Ul Haq, Steven Waugh, Mathew Hayden & Adam Gilchrist.

    Obviously, it’s not right to compare players from different eras. But from the sheer talent that Sachin possesses, he is head and shoulder above almost anybody who played cricket in this era or any bygone eras.

    Sachin Tendulkar would have dominated any bowler from any era either in this era or that respective era. He is once in a lifetime Cricketer.

    On the contrary, if most of the players could have played for 21 straight years shouldering the responsibility of a Billion die hard fans! I believe not!

    Ask Mathew Hayden, he famously quipped, “I have seen God bat. He bats at No.4 for Indian Test Team.”

    I have been a die hard Sachin R. Tendulkar fan all my life. Not just for his prowess on the field but for his simplistic, down to earth demeanor off the field as well!

    To me, he is the Ultimate Batsman who has ever graced this earth just next to Don Bradman (Don is numero uno just for his amazing average of 99.94.)


    David Siddall Reply:

    Thanks for your comment Samar. I couldn’t agree with you more. My own opinion is that the list has too much of a historical skew meaning players from the modern era aren’t as high as those players pre WWII. Sachin has proven himself to be better than Ponting and Lara and is definitely the finest batsmen of the modern era for longevity, adaptability, strokeplay, and consistency. Just a little “what if” thought…. how great would it have been to see Tendulkar face up to the great Windies pace attack how Gavaskar did???

    Food for thought…


    AJ Reply:

    David, i have been following your commnets on the greatest batsman ever.

    You seem to have rated many players who played in the 30′s to 70′s amongst the modern day greats. I feel that the greatest bowlers of the world have played during 80′s and 90′s. Considerig that i feel you should have looked for batsmen who played during the same period.

    Again you also seem to be determined not to rate Sachin above his contemperories. Common,let’s not be biased, you need to give to the man for remaining the most sought after wicket in world cricket. His technique, mental toughness, consistency and natural ability is a level above his contemperories. The only player who could match him is Lara. Ponting never had to face an Australina attack and they were the best in the world. Moreover, Tendulkar and Lara had to shoulder the responsibility of their teams from a very young age and for the major part of their career. Were as Australia were always blessed with exceptional batsmen and bowlers. I have never seen the Don play, but for the average i rate him high. I would say Tendulkar might just come above Lara for his mental toughness and tighter technique. It would be followed by Sobers, Richards, Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Mathew Hayden, Steven Waugh etc


    David Jegan Reply:

    Mr. David Siddall, you only agreed that “Sachin has proven himself to be better than Ponting and Lara” then don’t you think this list of top 10 is a crap list??? Common….don’t be so silly. Let me tell you one thing, “whether you like it or not, you have to accept the fact”.


  2. rAhul says:

    on what basis u have made this all bullshit..
    u hv rankeed batsman like hammond , ponting nd haddely ahead of sachin.
    it seems like one’s list nt on any analysis.
    do analysis den publish d things.
    be precise nd responsible 4 such a lists.
    think on it.


  3. Melson says:

    SACHIN TENDULKAR is no.1 Batsman ever

    If Bradman had 99 average, Sachin will have 100 Centuries


  4. Harsh Thakor says:

    Today is the 75th birthday of the West Indian Stalwart Rohan Kanhai.For sheer batting prowess and creative prowess he would defeat even Tendulkar and Bradman.Kanhai’s statitics never did him true justice and in the modern era ,considering the docile nature of the pitches and the weaker fast bowlers Kanhai might well have averaged 55+and scored over 10000 runs.Kanhai could combat pace bolwing better than Lra or Tendulkar and at one down he averaged 53+,that too 58+ in winning test matches .In his days som experts rated him even above Gary Sobers.

    I wish to quote some experts.
    Ian McDonald, cricket writer and historian wrote : “If I had to choose , I would have chosen above them all Kanhai. This batsman has something of all the greatness and, in their total combination, I believe surpasses all the others”. ( he named Bradman, Gary Sobers, George Headley, Brian Lara, Viv Richards, Steve Waugh, Sachin Tendulkar ).
    Writers Michael Manley and Donna Symonds wrote in their “A History of West Indian Cricket”:: “ No more technically correct batsman ever came out of the West Indies than Rohan Kanhai .”

    Sunil Gavaskar: “Kanhai’s gigantic batting feats have not only eugolized him in calypso but also immortalized him in a manner second to none, said this of Kanhai: “Rohan Kanhai is quite simply the greatest batsman I have ever seen. What does one write about one’s hero, one’s idol, one for whom there is so much admiration? To say that he is the greatest batsman I have ever seen so far is to put it mildly. A controversial statement perhaps, considering that there have been so many outstanding batsmen, and some great batsmen that I have played with and against. But, having seen them all, there is no doubt in my mind that Rohan Kanhai was quite simply the best of them all. Sir Gary Sobers came quite close to being the best batsman, but he was the greatest cricketer ever, and could do just about anything. But as a batsman, I thought Rohan Kanhai was just a little bit better.”

    Albert Baldeo :”His creative genius surpassed any other batsman in the game, and his flamboyance was spellbinding. There were times in his batting artistry where he touched heights of batsmanship beyond the reach of any batsman, such as in the execution of his unique “roti shot,” or falling hook shot, sometimes played off the eyebrows, the half-pull, half-sweep style stroke, the flick off the toes which dissected the on-side field, the reverse sweep off the leg stump or the late cut off the off stump. Cricketers like him invented and pioneered many innovations to the game which have made it richer and dearer to spectators.”


  5. Sreekanth S says:

    This list is not published after a good analysis. How can you place The Greatest Sachin Tendulkar in 11th place.Thisaffordab is unaffordable for the people who know cricket well. The one and only Batsman,who can compete with Sir Donald Bradman and Viv Richards.


  6. shurland pierre says:

    i totaly respect the views of the top ten batsman.but i think that “sir.Brian Charles Lara” is the best batsman that the world have ever seen.considering the pressure that he had to encounter as an individual in the west indies team,and were able to overcome all those pressure and still able to manufacture some incredible inning.


    joshy Reply:

    u r correct


  7. considering the amount of matches Brian Lara has played,test matches to be presise.which is 131.and score a total of 11,953 runs,in 232 inning at an avg of 52.88.if we are to back track on those innings,especially the 1992 series [W.I VS AUS]IN AUSTRALIA.He difinitly dominated that series.But he was had done with some terrible decsision.not only in that series but many.and i think if he was’nt had done at the end of his carier he could of had a total of about 16 to 17 thousand test a highier avg.


  8. Sam Mervyn says:

    I’m not even Indian but it has to be said that the lack of a Tendulkar in a top ten list of test batsmen is a singularly unique mystery. I know that its an opinion based list but in that case its an opinion that is either biased or simply a poor one.

    He’s been a thorn in the side of every test playing nation for a period spanning over two decades. Even in his 21st year of domination he’s averaging above 50 while other batsmen who have been hailed as greats are simply melting away in terms of effectiveness.

    No one in the world has scored more test runs than him. The man is an absolute genius, adapting his game day in and day out to stay at the top of the food chain. His consistency and technique are meticulous and he personifies hard work and dedication in his game.

    I dont think he’s the best batsman in the world, but for the top ten, absolutely a shoo-in.


  9. sridhar says:

    How the hell u can leave the god of cricket (Sachin Tendulkar)in the top ten list. This is really stupid and unacceptable.


  10. Sathya Iyer says:

    Wait? You seriously left sachin tendulkar out of the top 10?!

    This is just mistifying. I know lists like these are opinion-based, but leaving not putting tendulkar in the list is baffling.
    I don’t need to mention any of his batting records or statistics because to be honest everyone knows what he’s achieved. He holds virtually every major batting record.

    What most people outside asia don’t know is how unreasonable our expectations from sachin are. Literally every time he goes out to bat, one billion people not only hope, and pray, but EXPECT him to get a hundred. And we indians also have the shortest memory spans of any nation. If he doesnt play at his best for a few matches, inevitably, the media starts doubting his ability.

    Several times, he’s been asked not-to-politely by the media to retire. There was even a famous article named “Endulkar?” posted a few years ago when he was struggling with his form due to the tennis elbow problem. But as always, he silenced his critics in the same manner he’s done for 20 years, with his bat.

    Another incredible thing about him is that with the ridiculous amount of pressure on him to perform, he never loses his head, and has remained more humble and dignified than any of his peers. Tony greig recently called him “the most well-behaved cricketer of the modern era”

    For me, all these factors, humility, composure, class, and of course his brilliance with the bat combine to make him easily one of the best batsmen ever. Personally, he is my number 1 favorite batsman ever, but thats probably beacuse im an indian. But even non-indians cannot in their right mind argue that he isnt in the top 3 of all time atleast.


  11. Michael ahern says:

    No complaints about bradman and sobers being 1 and 2, my own top ten would be


  12. Ankit says:

    stupid list.
    tendulkar is the greatest batsman in the world,not for his runs and centuries.but for his technique and strokeplay. at one point of his career he has had the best stroke ever,any stroke defensive or attacking barring the hook.which was wonderful though not the best. rest of the strokes no one can even touch him.


  13. joshy says:

    yeah i completly agree with the author
    tendulker desreves only 11 position but u missed one name Jaques Kallis in this list & Brian Lara should come at No 2


  14. Amigo says:

    Chill out folks.
    There’s only ever a hair’s breadth separating batsmen of this calibre. I think there’s way too much emphasis on statistics; most people read statistics like they are directly comparable with each other.
    In reality, there has never been (and never will be) a true common frame of reference that makes all statistics directly comparable.
    Trust me, I am a statistician for a living, and you can justify completely opposite points of view from the one set of numbers; it’s all about interpretation.
    Do I think Sachin belongs on any list of top 10? Sure. But the same can be said about a dozen other batsmen, for one reason or another.
    Just enjoy these lists for what they are; a platform for discussion.
    David Green: Keep it coming, mate.


  15. ADITYA says:



  16. nitesh says:

    he is in mumbai………….hahahahahaha


  17. nitesh says:

    stupid list …………….sachin is the number one batsman in the world.


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