February 21st, 2019 | Updated on March 22nd, 2023
Cricket is a religion in some of the countries and people clamour to get a glimpse of their favourite cricketing stars. Naturally, these cricket players are also treated as gods in human’s garb by such people.
Any information about them is devoured and religiously matches are watched both on the ground and off it too.
Some players definitely have left their strong impression in the cricketing world and no one can replace their achievements. As a tribute to them, we bring a detailed list of the Best Cricketers of All Time.
These cricketing geniuses have left a mark in the cricketing world and hence their contribution cannot be forgotten just like that. Have a look at the list and find out whether your favourite is in it or not.
1. Sir Don Bradman
Sir Donald George Bradman, AC, often referred to as “The Don”, was an Australian international cricketer, widely acknowledged as the greatest batsman of all time. Bradman’s career Test batting average of 99.94 has been cited as the greatest achievement by any sportsman in any major sport
Sir Don Bradman remains the only Australian cricketer to have been knighted for his services. It has been more than 70 years since Sir Donald George Bradman played his last Test match and 18 years since he breathed his last, but he still continues to be the most revered figure in the cricketing world. His influence on the gentleman’s game has remained undiminished despite the years having gone since his passing away in 2002.
Born on 27 August 1908, Bradman made his Test debut at 20 against England at Brisbane. He made a modest 18 in the first innings as the hosts collapsed for 122 and added just one run in Australia’s second innings, which folded up for a mere 66 as England romped home to a 675-run win.
Dropped for the second Test, the world got a good look at Bradman’s batting prowess in the third Test of that Ashes series as he notched up 79 runs in the first innings, before scoring 112 in the second at Melbourne. The hundred made the 20-year-old the youngest centurion in Test cricket. And that would prove to be just the beginning of a plethora of records that Bradman would go on to make his own, over a distinguished 18-year-old career.
Some of the cricketing records that he notched up still remain out of bounds. Here are 10 facts about the Australian great on his 110th birth anniversary.
2. Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is a former Indian international cricketer and a former captain of the Indian national team, regarded as one of the greatest batsman of all time. He is the highest run scorer of all time in International cricket.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is a former Indian international cricketer and a former captain of the Indian national team, regarded as one of the greatest batsman of all time. He is the highest run scorer of all time in International cricket.
The cricketer seemingly emerged fully formed when he first picked up a bat. So too perhaps did the luminary. He has such staggering numbers in both Tests and ODIs that it’s conceivable some of those records may never be broken.
Regarded as one of the greatest batsmen ever, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is the mainstay of Indian batting line-up for more than two decades. He is the world’s leading run-scorer in both Test (14,692) and ODI (18,111) cricket. In 2011, Tendulkar finally achieved his dream of winning the Cricket World Cup at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. It took six World Cup appearances for the ‘Little Master’ to win the coveted trophy.
Tendulkar is the leading century maker in both Test and ODI and has so far scored 99 (51 Test + 48 ODI) international centuries. He also has played highest number of Test and ODI matches. Among many laurels he had won – the most prominent ones are: Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award, and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, India’s highest sporting honour. Surprisingly after playing for more two decades, Tendulkar won his first ICC cricketer of the year award in 2010. Tendulkar described ‘2010’ as among the best ever in his cricketing career.
In February 2010, he became the first batsman to break the 200-run barrier in the one-day cricket. Tendulkar made his Test debut as a 16-year-old against Pakistan at Karachi in November 1989. He then played his first one-day match against the same team in the next month.On May 27, 2017 released the sports docudrama, Sachin: A Billion Dreams, the ‘authorised’ biopic of Sachin Tendulkar.
The film was by James Erskine and produced by Ravi Bhagchandka, and captures Tendulkar’s cricket and personal life in detail. The film also reveals a few aspects of his life which have never been heard of or seen before.
3. Gary Sobers
Sir Garfield St Aubrun Sobers, AO, OCC, also known as Gary or Garry Sobers, is a former cricketer who played for the West Indies between 1954 and 1974, and is widely considered to be cricket’s greatest all-rounder.
Cricket is an illustrious guest, which has basked in the royal company of quite a handful of legends. The versatility personified Garry Sobers, once described as a ‘five in one cricketer’ by Donald Bradman himself, was a legend in the truest sense of the word. With wicket-keeping aside, there was nothing he couldn’t pull off on a cricket field. Then happened the emergence of Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev and the more recent, Jacques Kallis but Sobers would arguably tower over every other claimant to the title of the greatest all-rounder of all time.
Sobers was a batsman of rare genius, a wily bowler – who could deliver left-arm orthodox spin as well as left-arm swing. Oh wait, add left-arm wrist spin to the list too. He was a super agile fieldsman to boot. Believe it or not, Garry Sobers displayed the same gladiatorial intensity at multiple fielding positions. What’s more? He was an aggressive skipper as well.
The fifth child in a typically large West Indian family, Sobers threw himself to beach cricket with his siblings. After making a sound statement in school cricket and the Barbados Cricket League thanks to a string of all-round displays, Sobers propelled himself to the international stage at the age of 17, donning the cloak of a man at a period when most of his peers were packing their bags for school.
Sobers made his Test debut against England at Jamaica, predominantly as a bowler. In his early days, bowling was his leading suit with batting playing the sidekick to it. As his glorious career progressed, the roles reversed – an indication of Sobers’ adaptive abilities.
His batsmanship reached its peak when he struck an imperious, unconquered 365 versus Pakistan at home, a record that stood for 36 long years as the highest individual score in Test cricket until Brian Lara snatched the honour in 1994. It marked the beginning of a Bradmanesque run as Sobers piled up 500+ runs in each of the subsequent five series with the cover-drive and hook standing out among an array of other shots.
Sobers nailed three centuries on the tour to India in 1958-59, taming Subash Gupte like how a ringmaster does his animals. He did not miss out with the ball either, efficiently exploiting the Indian surfaces with his googlies and chinaman. Next, he elevated his game to an even higher plane against the John Snow-led English bowling unit in the Caribbean. He churned out 709 runs at an average of 101.28, including an epic 226 in a 399-run association with Frank Worell, which lasted a total of nine and a half hours.
The Aussie challenge came calling and Sobers was at it again. He cracked 132 in the fairy-tale Brisbane Test – the first ever tied Test- before the counter-attacking 168 at the SCG in 1961. His finest bowling figures (6-73) also arrived against Australia when he opened the bowling at Brisbane in 1968-69.
Notably, his fitness came to the fore in the ‘Tied Test’ series where Sobers sent down 22-8-ball overs on the bounce amidst sultry conditions in which several other players were caught napping.
Following the departure of Sir Frank Worell, Sobers was enlisted with the task of leading the team. He had considerable success as a captain, leading West Indies in 39 Tests until Clive Llyod rose to take his tally to 74.
Having established himself as a man for all seasons, it came as no surprise that Sobers was sought after outside the Caribbean too. Sobers represented Nottinghamshire in addition to his stints with Radcliffe Cricket Club and Norton Cricket Club in the UK. He also served South Australia with distinction, becoming the first cricketer Down Under to boast a rare double of 1000 runs and 50 wickets in the same season in 1962-63. His multi-dimensional skills, which were worth its weight in gold, drew massive crowds in Australia.
However, it was in English County cricket that Sobers hit a perfect 6, smashing 36 runs off a Malcom Nash over for Nottinghamshire against Glamorgan in 1968, thus adding another first to his hefty CV.
Deservedly, he was knighted in 1975, shortly after his final Test against England. After being anointed as the National Hero of Barbados by the Cabinet of Barbados, Sir Garfield Sobers was named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the century in 2000.
- Sobers had an extra finger that was removed at the time of birth.
- Post-retirement, he authored a children’s novel about cricket, Bonaventure and the Flashing Blade.
4. Sir Vivian Richards
Swagger. That is the word used extensively to describe the batting style of Sir Vivian Richards. Aggressive batting was not a very common sight in the 1970s and 80s, but the term aggression is an understatement when it comes to describing Viv’s batting. Devastating would be a better term. With just a cap on (he never wore a helmet), he would slowly walk into the crease accompanied by huge cheers from the crowd, who demanded nothing but entertainment from him. Entertain he did, and poor bowlers from across the globe were reduced to mere bowling machines and the fielders to ball-boys who would run to the fence and fetch the ball.
But Viv Richards was not a slogger. 8000+ Test runs at a 50+ average with 24 centuries cannot possibly come from mere slogging. Add to that the 5 centuries he made in World Series cricket, and Richards will comfortably fall into one of the all-time best Test batsmen. He made his Test debut in 1974 in India, and scored an unbeaten 192 in his very second game. Just 2 years later, in 1976, Richards scored 1710 runs at an average of 90 with 7 centuries from 11 Tests. It remained a record for almost 30 years, until it was broken by Mohammad Yousuf in 2006. He also scored the fastest ever Test century, when he smashed a ton in just 56 balls against England in 1986.
In ODIs, Richards had a strike rate of 90+ when he retired, a feat which wasn’t too easy in those days. He was part of the World Cup winning West Indies sides of 1975 and 79, and even scored a century in the latter edition’s final to help his side to the title.
The name Viv Richards is often associated with his destructive batting style (and rightly so), but not many remember him as one of the best captains for West Indies. In the period between 1984 and 1991, when he was the captain for 50 Tests, West Indies never lost even a single series. He was also widely respected for refusing a blank-cheque offer to play for the rebel West Indies tour to South Africa during the Apartheid period in 1983-84.
Richards also played County cricket in England for the Somerset team. He is one of the 4 non English batsmen to make 100 first class centuries. In 2000, he was named as one of the 5 Wisden Cricketers of the Century.
Interesting facts: Richards also played international football for Antigua, having represented them in the qualifying matches for the 1974 World Cup.
You knew when he was coming. The outgoing batsman would already have disappeared into the pavilion, and the expectation of what was to follow filled the air. Viv kept you waiting… time to ponder. Then he appeared, sauntering, swaggering, arms windmilling slowly. He would take guard, and then, head tilted back slightly and cudding his gum, he would walk a few paces down the pitch to tap it while looking the bowler in the eye. It was calculated menace and magnificent theatre from arguably the most devastating batsman of all time.
How to bowl to him? Get him to the other end, perhaps. Hold your nerve, do not take what might follow as personal. Occasionally he was vulnerable early on if his desire to dominate overwhelmed him. But he had no weakness until his eyesight infinitesimally but inevitably started to let him down and those eye shots became harder.
His strengths were on the front foot. So far forward could he get that he was able to plant that left foot outside the line of off stump, at once eliminating lbw and creating his own leg stump line from where he would flick bowlers relentlessly through midwicket. Or he might send a similar ball skimming through extra cover. Straighten the ball down the line of the stumps and the bowler stood a chance, but he rarely missed and they ran a terrible risk.
His power was awesome, he hooked devastatingly and never wore a helmet, rocking back from his front-foot base to take the ball from his eyeline in front of square. Occasionally, for no apparent reason, he would block an over in immaculate fashion, seemingly in defensive position before the ball had left the bowler’s hand. Then, refreshed, off he would go again.
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5. Kapil Dev
Kapil Dev Nikhanj, better known as Kapil Dev, is a former Indian cricketer. He was named by Wisden as the Indian Cricketer of the Century in 2002, Dev captained the Indian cricket team that won the 1983 Cricket World Cup. He was India’s national cricket coach between October 1999 and August 2000.
When a prolific batsman comes along from the production hub that is India, it isn’t particularly surprising. India wouldn’t blink if the successor to a Tendulkar or a Kohli comes along tomorrow. However, tell them that at one point, Test cricket’s highest wicket-taker was one of their own, and they will give you a blank stare of disbelief. Or perhaps ridicule you. Kapildev Ramlal Nikhanj, arguably India’s best fast bowler, and certainly India’s best all-rounder, will always be remembered for leading the country to the title that changed Indian cricket into phenomenon it is today: the 1983 World Cup triumph. As Kapil Dev lifted that chalise of champions, several young cricketers, including a frizzy-haired Mumbaikar, watched in awe.
Kapil Dev was known for his energetic curved run-up and lethal outswingers as a result of that open-chested action. With the bat, he was an aggressive lower-middle order batsman who could cause carnage with the bat in an era before helmets, monster bats, or T20s. On the field, he was known for his inspirational leadership and athletic fielding. Perhaps the fittest and most disciplined man in the Indian dressing room at the time, Kapil is still remembered for that backward running catch of Sir Vivian Richards. Furthermore, Kapil Dev never missed a Test match due to fitness issues. It would be fair to say that his value to the team lay beyond numbers, but even the stats bow down before him: he remains the only man in the history of the game to have taken 400 wickets and scored more than 5000 runs in Test cricket – making him one of the greatest all-rounders of all time.
Kapil made his debut in 1978 and gradually started to produce performances of substance, especially in Test cricket. In his early years, he came across as a raw talent who was keen on just ‘ripping his shoulder off’ every ball, and ‘tonking the leather off the ball’ when he had the bat. The approach saw him score India’s fastest Test half-century (off 33 balls) against Pakistan in his very third match. He came of age in the home series against Pakistan in 1979-80, where his all-round performances (32 wickets and 278 runs) helped India win 2 Tests. In the series, he became the youngest player to reach 100 wickets and 1000 runs in Test cricket. For the next two seasons, steady performances with the ball and useful contributions with the bat made him a certainty in the side and a viable candidate for captainship. Perhaps due to the nascent stages of the format or his priorities stacked up in favour of Test cricket, his ODI performances didn’t quite live up to his antics in Test cricket.
And then, it happened. Kapil Dev replaced Sunil Gavaskar in the 1982-83 season and was appointed the captain for the 1983 World Cup to be played in England. He played one of the best ODI innings of all time in a must-win match against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells, where India were reeling at 17 for 5. Without any official telecast of the match due to a BBC strike, Kapil strode out and tore apart the Zimbabwean bowling to hammer 175* off 138 balls – a lesson in counter-attacking cricket, and a lesson decades ahead of its time. The scarcely believable knock gave India the momentum which they seized, and went on to win the coveted vessel of victory for the first time, beating the West Indies in the league stages, the hosts in the semi-final, and finally, edging the mighty West Indies yet again in a low-scoring final at Lord’s.
In the hangover of the World Cup triumph, a slump in Kapil’s batting form meant Gavaskar would return to captaincy briefly. However, he regained his leadership role and led India for the title defence in the 1987 World Cup at home. India reached the semi-finals but lost unexpectedly to England. Furthermore, in a league game against Australia, Kapil Dev agreed with the umpires to increase Australia’s total from 268 to 270 as one boundary had mistakenly been marked as 4 instead of 6 by the scorers – India went on to lose the game by 1 run, and Kapil came to rue his generosity. Kapil Dev took responsibility for the semi-final loss upon himself and never captained India again, although he continued to be India’s first-choice pacer until he retired in 1994 as Test cricket’s highest wicket-taker.
After retirement, Kapil Dev became India’s coach for a brief period. A 0-3 loss against Australia, a 0-2 loss to South Africa and accusations of match-fixing saw him step down from the post in tears as he announced that he was leaving the game forever. However, he was cleared of all charges and went on to win the accolade of the Wisden Indian Cricketer of the Century, ahead of Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar. He joined the National Cricket Academy in 2004 but was removed from the chairmanship after he joined the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) in 2007. He continues to be a popular critic and commentator to this day.
6. Imran Khan
Imran Khan, in full Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi, (born November 25, 1952, Lahore, Pakistan), Pakistani cricket player, politician, philanthropist, and prime minister of Pakistan (2018– ) who became a national hero by leading Pakistan’s national team to a Cricket World Cup victory in 1992 and later entered politics as a critic of government corruption in Pakistan.
Khan was born into an affluent Pashtun family in Lahore and was educated at elite schools in Pakistan and the United Kingdom, including the Royal Grammar School in Worcester and Aitchison College in Lahore. There were several accomplished cricket players in his family, including two elder cousins, Javed Burki and Majid Khan, who both served as captains of the Pakistani national team. Imran Khan played cricket in Pakistan and the United Kingdom in his teens and continued playing while studying philosophy, politics, and economics at the University of Oxford. Khan played his first match for Pakistan’s national team in 1971, but he did not take a permanent place on the team until after his graduation from Oxford in 1976.
By the early 1980s Khan had distinguished himself as an exceptional bowler and all-rounder, and he was named captain of the Pakistani team in 1982. Khan’s athletic talent and good looks made him a celebrity in Pakistan and England, and his regular appearances at fashionable London nightclubs provided fodder for the British tabloid press. In 1992 Khan achieved his greatest athletic success when he led the Pakistani team to its first World Cup title, defeating England in the final. He retired that same year, having secured a reputation as one of the greatest cricket players in history.
After 1992 Khan remained in the public eye as a philanthropist. He experienced a religious awakening, embracing Sufi mysticism and shedding his earlier playboy image. In one of his philanthropic endeavours, Khan acted as the primary fund-raiser for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, a specialized cancer hospital in Lahore, which opened in 1994. The hospital was named after Khan’s mother, who had died of cancer in 1985.
7. Ian Botham
Sir Ian Terence Botham, OBE is an English former cricketer and current cricket commentator. Widely regarded as one of the greatest all-rounders in cricket history, Botham represented England in both Test and One-Day International cricket.
Ian Terence Botham OBE was born November 24, 1955, in Heswall, Cheshire. He later moved to Yeovil, Somerset where he began playing cricket – playing for Somerset under 15s. As a youngster he was also a talented footballer – for a short time, he played for Scunthorpe United, before settling on cricket as his chosen sport.
After leaving school early, he played for Somerset, making his first-class debut in 1974, aged 18. After 12 seasons of playing for Somerset, he resigned in 1986, in protest at the sacking of his West Indian friends Sir Vivian Richards and Joel Garner. He later played for Worcestershire, Durham and Queensland in Australian cricket.
He gained his Test debut for England in 1977. He went on to an illustrious international career. He took 383 wickets at an average of 28.4 and scored 5,200 runs at an average of 33.54. The figures on their own are not spectacular, but Botham frequently made a big impact in important games. He could also score at a quick rate and some of his innings were memorable, even if didn’t score a century. He had tremendous power and could hit the ball out of the ground, though he also had a good technique. His swing bowling was effective for his ability to move the ball – even when his pace slowed down in later years, he could make a big difference.
Ian Botham was always a big character in the team, he became as famous for his on-field exploits as his off-field exploits. He had quite a few run-ins with the more ‘stuffy establishment.’ – especially the members at Lords. For example, he got into trouble for smoking cannabis in 1986. He also fell out with other players, notably Geoff Boycott – who Botham once famously ran out for scoring too slowly.
In 1980, Ian Botham was made captain of England. However, it was not a success. He lost form, England didn’t do well, and not everyone in the dressing room was enamoured of Botham’s style. After first two tests in the Ashes series of 1981, Botham resigned the captaincy, with England trailing 1-0 and struggling to have any hope of winning series. In the second test at Lord’s Botham scored a pair.
In the third test at Headingley, Brearley was made captain. The test got off to a bad start for England. Australia scored a big innings total 401-9. But, in reply, England could only make 174 – with Botham top scoring on 50 not out. In the follow-on on Saturday, England’s top order again failed. On Saturday evening, bookmakers offered odds of 500-1 for England to win.
On Sunday, Botham came to the crease when England were 105 for 5. But, England then lost Boycott and Bob Taylor, leaving England on 135-7. Defeat looked inevitable. No-one in the ground expected England to have the faintest chance. But, as Graham Dilley joined Ian Botham in the middle, Botham let fly and played an innings of superb quality and attacking flair. Hitting the ball over the ground, he accelerated to 149 not out. He was ably supported by the England tail (Dilley scored 56) and Chris Old (29).
Still, England’s lead was just 129. There was only a faint chance of winning, but Botham had restored England’s pride. However, Bob Willis bowled with exceptional talent to bowl out the Australians for 111. Willis finished with 8 for 43. England had won a classic game by just 18 runs. It was only the second team to win a game after following on. Botham was the hero. It was a huge psychological boost for England. At the time, the economy was in deep recession, and the headlines about England cricket and been unrelentingly critical, but this turned the whole mood of the nation. A packed Headingley celebrated the most unlikely of wins.
In the next test match, England won by 29 runs – helped by a spell of bowling by Botham where he took 5 wickets for 1 run.
England won the ashes in the Old Trafford test, where Botham again was the Man of the Match with a peerless 118, which included six sixes, including two off the fast bowler Lillee. England won the final test at the Oval to take the series 3-1.
Botham was named the man of the series, scoring 399 runs and taking 34 wickets. He was awarded BBC Sports Personality of the year in 1981.
As well as his cricketing career, he was a prolific charity fundraiser. To raise funds he undertook gruelling walks. Several times he walked from Lands End to John O Groats. These walks received high publicity and raised substantial funds. His motivation for undertaking charity walks occurred when he went to a hospital in Somerset to receive treatment for a broken toe. By mistake, he took a wrong turn into a terminally ill children’s ward and was moved by the fact many children had only a few weeks to live.
After retiring from cricket he worked as a commentator for Sky Sports, becoming a regular voice on TV.
He married Kathryn Waller (Kathy, now Lady Botham) in 1976. They had three children Becky, Sarah and Liam.
Significant Awards Include:
- 1978 – Elected one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year.
- 1992 – Awarded OBE
- 2004 – BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.
8. Dennis Lillee
Dennis Lillee, considered by many to have been “the complete bowler”, was the heart of Australia’s attack for more than a decade. Through a combination of ability, showmanship and sheer hard work he won the loyal following of the nation’s crowds, who often roared his name as he ran in to bowl. And Lillee repaid their faith with interest – he was the type of character whom captains could rely on to bowl “one more over” at the end of a long spell, and often made breakthroughs when success seemed unlikely. Armed with a copybook action, Lillee broke Lance Gibbs’ world record of 309 Test wickets and finished with 355 dismissals from just 70 matches to underline his status as one of the all-time greats. Since retirement he has also retained a high profile through his commitment to developing new generations of fast bowlers.
When Lillee came on to the international scene, he bowled with frightening pace. In December 1971 he decimated a powerful World XI side in Perth, taking 8 for 29 in the first innings, and went on to claim 31 Test wickets at 17.67 during the 1972 Ashes tour. Many believed his career was over after he broke down with spinal stress fractures the following year. However, Lillee made a famous recovery following a regime of intensive physiotherapy.
In the mid-1970s Lillee was teamed up with express paceman Jeff Thomson. They became the most feared bowling pairing of the era and inflicted greatest damage on England: rattling the tourists’ batsmen in the 1974-75 series in Australia; and then setting up (with Max Walker) an away series win a few months later in the first Test at Birmingham.
Throughout his career, Lillee also had a superb partner behind the stumps in wicketkeeper Rod Marsh. The dismissal “caught Marsh, bowled Lillee” appears 95 times on Test cards, a record pairing which has yet to be seriously challenged.
After a match-shaping performance in the 1977 Centenary Test against England, Australia’s Test team temporarily lost Lillee’s services to World Series Cricket. During this time, Lillee continued to work on his fitness, and honed the efficiency of his approach and delivery action.
Further fine performances after his return to Test cricket and through to the early 1980s reflected Lillee’s increased ability to outwit batsmen. He had lost some of the pace of his youth but continued to exploit batsmen’s weaknesses utilising clever variations in length, pace and movement.
His best Test figures were achieved in a remarkable match against the West Indies in 1981. To the delight of the MCG crowd, Lillee sent opener Desmond Haynes and nightwatchman Colin Croft back to the pavilion late on day one, and then bowled Vivian Richards to leave the tourists stunned at 4 for 10 at stumps. Lillee – who passed Gibbs’ wicket-taking record with Larry Gomes’ dismissal the following day – ended up with 7 for 83 in the first innings and 10 wickets for the match, and Australia recorded a famous upset win.
Lillee, who was named in Australia’s Test Team of the Century and the Hall of Fame, now has an international reputation as a fast bowling coach. Until recently he also continued to bowl for the ACB Chairman’s XI against touring sides, and remained a challenge to Test-class batsman. In 1999-2000, the 50-year-old bowed out of these matches in befitting fashion, with Dennis and his son Adam taking three wickets apiece against a Pakistan touring side.
9. Jacques Kallis
Jacques Kallis is a former South African cricketer, and, a former Test and ODI captain. As a right-handed batsman and right-arm fast-medium swing bowler, Kallis is regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all time and one of the game’s greatest all-rounders.
Arguably South Africa’s greatest ever player, the Sydney Thunder were able to sign him for the BBL. Having played for over 20 years, Kallis is a man-mountain on the world stage and since his recent retirement will travel playing T20 cricket exclusively.
His record with both bat and ball is spectacular, closing in on 4,000 runs and 100 wickets in more than 150 matches in the shortest format. A former Test and ODI captain, Jacques Kallis brings a wealth of knowledge to the Thunder line-up and will no doubt be amongst the wickets and runs.
166 Tests (45 centuries) and 328 ODI’s (17 centuries) with an average of 55.47 and 44.36 respectively with the bat says it all. He also took 292 Test and 273 ODI wickets to go along with 331 catches in both formats. A true champion of the game.
10. Muttiah Muralitharan
Skill, magic and determination are words that clearly define the career of this spin wizard from the island of Sri Lanka. Born and brought up in the cultural capital of the island, Kandy, this right arm off spinner with a rather unorthodox bowling action made quick inroads into the national side playing his first Test at the age of 20. Known for his ability to turn the ball on any given surface and his continuous enthusiasm for the game, Muttiah Muralidaran was quickly nicknamed the “smiling assassin”.
“Murali” broke into the scheme of things in 1992 in a Test against Australia where he picked up wickets of batsmen of the repertoire of Mark Waugh and Tom Moody, and also featured in the 1996 world cup winning side. He rocked the cricketing world in 1998 when he took Sri Lanka to their first Test victory in England against the home side with figures of 7 for 155 and 9 for 65 at the Oval.
The maestro continued his brilliance with the ball as he took 6 for 87 and 7 for 84 against South Africa at Galle in the year 2000 dismissing all eleven batsmen over two innings. Murali played a crucial role with the ball to take his side to the finals of the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup. All was not rosy in the cricketing life of Muralidaran as he was pulled up for a suspect action on several occasions.
Muralidaran’s most striking facet is his bowling action which features a combination of shoulder strength, a quick arm and wrist, and a slightly bent elbow. The action has been bitter-sweet for the off-spinner making him susceptible to allegations of bowling with an illegal action and reaping rewards in the form of 800 Test wickets. Murali’s delivery the ‘doosra’, the one that doesn’t turn but goes straight on is one of the biggest reasons for his overall success as a bowler and has been his weapon of mass destruction.
Following the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, he announced his retirement from international cricket. He has plied his trade for all the domestic T20 leagues worldwide and remains a hot property till date. Muralidaran was then signed by the Bangalore for the fifth season and they retained him in the seventh season. Muralidaran was also a part of the now-defunct Kochi team previously.
11. Shane Warne
Shane Keith Warne is an Australian former international cricketer, and a former ODI captain of the Australian national team. Widely regarded as one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the game, Warne was named one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in the 1994 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.
When the chubby Shane Warne made his Test debut in 1992 against India, one wouldn’t have presumed the tremendous potential the leg spinner possessed. 145 Tests and 15 years later, the man had 708 victims in his kitty, taking over 1000 international wickets, only second to Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan. His useful lower-order batting fetched him more than 3000 runs in Test cricket, without a single century. The more interesting part was the way he went about plotting the downfall of the batsmen, outwitting and out-thinking them into submission. Mike Gatting received what they later called the ‘Ball of the Century’, and for years after that, the Englishmen treated Warne as if he was a ticking bomb, waiting to explode. His bowling was a blend of simplicity and accuracy.
However, like any great cricketer, Warne had one Achilles Heel, and that was in the form of Sachin Tendulkar, for whom he once famously claimed that he had nightmares of Tendulkar dancing down the wicket and hitting him for a six. “Warney” as he is nicknamed, had his moments of glory but one thing that he would always regret is that despite being a solid performer, his controversies ensured that the Test captaincy was never going to be his. Warne and controversies always went hand-in-hand. In 2003, he was found guilty of breaching ACB’s drug code and a one-year ban was imposed on him. He returned to competitive cricket in 2004, which became the better phase of his career.
If anybody thought that one of the Wisden top 5 cricketers of the 20th century couldn’t get any better, well, they had another thing coming. Warne’s comeback in 2004 was as beautiful as the northern lights in the night sky. This was where he brought some variations into his bowling, with the flippers and the zooters and the sliders adding to his repertoire. His ability to adapt to the changing game helped him have a terrific end to his international career. Despite having an arsenal of deliveries in his armoury, he largely relied on his two old mates – the impeccable leg break and threatening accuracy. Shane Keith Warne was a real joy to behold during the last 2-3 years of his career.
Warne’s international retirement came in 2007, after Australia reclaimed the Ashes series of 2006-07, which was his ultimate goal. In March 2008, he signed to play for the Rajasthan in the Indian T20 League as their captain and coach and led the team to the title glory. Later, in 2011, he was retained by the Royals for both the roles, following which he announced his retirement from all forms of the game in 2012. His aggressive captaincy and superb man-management skills were so brilliant, that experts and former players alike went on to say that he was the greatest captain Australia never had. The man himself admitted in his autobiography that not captaining his country was one of his greatest regrets.
12. Wasim Akram
A dream cricketer. At his best Wasim Akram plays like most of us would wish to. He has complete mastery over swing and seam, and sometimes moves the ball both ways in one delivery. All this comes at high speed from a quick, ball-concealing action, and is backed up by the threat of a dangerous bouncer or deceptive slower delivery. Akram is rated by many as the best left-arm fast bowler of all time, and his career record certainly bears that out – along with the high regard of his contemporaries.
He hit like a kicking horse, but batsmanship was one skill in which Akram underachieved, despite a monumental 257 against Zimbabwe in Sheikhupura in 1996-97. He was the natural successor to Imran Khan as Pakistan’s leader and captain, but the match-fixing controversies of the 1990s harmed him, blunting his edge and dimming his lustre.
Though he reached the 500-wicket landmark in ODIs in the 2003 World Cup, he was among the eight players dumped after Pakistan’s miserable performance. He retired shortly after, following a brief spell with Hampshire.
13. Brian Lara
One look at Brian Charles Lara’s Test scores, and there is no doubt in one’s mind that here is a batsman with a vociferous appetite for runs. In the year 1994, he broke his countryman Gary Sobers’ long standing record for many decades by scoring a brilliant 375. As if to prove that this was not a fluke, he followed it up with an unbeaten 501 in a first class match for Warwickshire the following season. In 2004, Lara became the first batsman to reclaim the highest individual Test score record by scoring a 400 against England, in the process breaking Hayden’s 380.
Lara’s attitude towards cricket can be best described as moody brilliance. To go with the above records, he is probably the only batsman to have tackled Murali the way he did, scoring 600-odd runs in a three match series in Sri Lanka, his innings epitomized by quicksilver feet movement. And then there were times, when he looked good to be anywhere but the batting crease, almost as if his mind’s not on the job. As if to drive home a point, Lara’s overall Test average of almost 53 is not too dissimilar from his 51 against the Aussies, and it was only 41 against NZ.
Brian Lara’s ODI record of more than 10,000 runs at an average of almost 41 was equally great, but somehow, his amazing Test innings overshadowed the same. Incidentally, Lara became the second batsman, after Sachin Tendulkar to score more than 10,000 runs in both forms of the game.
On retirement, Lara is one of the few cricketers, whose Test average was more than his First Class one!
14. Ricky Ponting
Easily among the finest players to have graced the game, Ricky Ponting was the proper definition of a typical Australian – aggressive, in-your-face and a man with immense self-belief. Academy coach Rod Marsh once described Ponting as the greatest teenage batsman that he had ever coached. Having made his first-class debut at a tender age of 17, ‘Punter’ as he is fondly called, got blooded into the Australian national side in 1995 as a 20-year old. He had a fairly good start to his ODI career that saw him getting drafted into the Test squad the same year. Ponting was unlucky to miss out on a century on debut in the five-day format but he had announced himself well to the cricketing world.
In his initial years, Ponting batted more as a middle order batsman before moving into the iconic number three slot that he made his own. There is no denying the fact that he had disciplinary issues early in the career but as he aged, Punter started maturing gracefully. It’s from the year 2002 that his career spiked upwards in a drastic fashion, having been appointed captain in ODIs. It was an extraordinary purple patch that saw him rack up runs in superhuman manner.
From Jan 2002-Dec 2003, Ponting blasted 18 international centuries in just 92 innings. He seemed to enjoy the leadership role and loved to lead by example. Subsequently, he got the Test captaincy as well.
His transformation from a very good batsman to the elite league coincided with Australia’s golden period during which they proved invincible across formats. Ponting’s maiden World Cup as captain ended in glory for the Australians with him rattling up a blistering century in the Cup final as his side outclassed India to successfully defend the trophy. What made the title win stand out was the fact that the Aussies were unbeaten throughout the tournament – a feat that they would repeat in 2007 as well – to make it a hat-trick of titles. Having an excellent set of players definitely helped Ponting’s cause as a captain but his impact as a leader wasn’t any lesser.
It seemed that Ponting relished captaining in the 50-over format more than in Tests where he did have some difficult moments, including three Ashes series defeats while also suffering series defeats to India and South Africa during his tenure. The shorter format suited Ponting’s tactics a lot more than the five-day format where he often relied on the experience of his bowlers to pull the side through. Nevertheless, he had immaculate success as captain in both formats as the Aussie juggernaut rolled on in the 2000s. Apart from the World Cup titles, Ponting’s Australian team also won consecutive Champions Trophy silverware in 2006 and 2009.
It won’t be wrong to say that Australia’s dominance in world cricket halted towards the later years of Ponting’s captaincy. The Ashes series defeats and the quarterfinal exit from the 2011 World Cup were signs that the Aussies weren’t the dominant force they used to be. While the home Ashes loss saw Ponting’s Test captaincy coming to an end in slightly controversial fashion, he himself chose to give up the role in ODIs after the World Cup. His last year in international cricket was a bit of struggle although two centuries (including a double ton) and three fifties against India boosted his statistics a bit. He retired from the longer format in the home series against South Africa in 2012 after having been dropped from ODIs earlier in the year. He played just two games in the 50-over format after leaving captaincy.
Even after international retirement, Ponting continued to be active in the domestic circuit, topping the subsequent Australian season. He then moved to Surrey for a County stint and racked up a club record for the highest score on debut. A flamboyant shot-maker with almost all the strokes in the book, it were Ponting’s pull and hook shots that went on to be his signature strokes. At the time of his retirement, he ended with over 27000 international runs and 71 centuries – second only to Sachin Tendulkar by both yardstick. As a captain and player, he went on to set innumerable records, several of which will be extremely tough if not impossible to better in the coming years.
He didn’t have too much success with franchise leagues although he was part of the 2013 Mumbai squad that won the Indian T20 League. He then became the head coach of the franchise and under his guidance, they registered their second title in 2015. Although not officially a part of their staff now, Ponting still involves himself with the team. A premier batsman, successful leader and an exceptional fielder, the only thing that Ponting couldn’t ace was probably bowling which he didn’t care much about. His fielding was a delight to witness as he threw himself around the field with aplomb. Fair to say that he was an invaluable asset to Australia and a key member during their dominant era.
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15. Sanath Jaysuriya
Deshabandu Sanath Teran Jayasuriya is a former Sri Lankan cricketer and a former captain of the Sri Lankan national team. Considered one of the greatest One Day International players of all time, Jayasuriya is well known for his powerful striking and match winning all-round performances in ODI cricket.
Ever since he first stepped into international cricket, Sanath Jayasuriya has become one of the strongest pillars of Sri Lankan cricket, redefining the concept of class and talent.
For most of the initial stages in his career, Jayasuriya was considered more of a bowler than a specialist batsman. However, as time passed, he became the most suitable opener Sri Lanka ever produced. He first opened during the Hero Cup in 1993 and went on to cement a firm place in the side. It was his rattling attacks on the bowlers in the 1996 World Cup that proved his potential as a batsman, helping the Islanders clinch their maiden WC title. Later, he crept into the Test side as well and began to display his batting prowess, notching one hundred after the other. Jayasuriya dominated the cover and point region and was an exponent of brilliant hand-eye co-ordination. Just like any other cricketer, he had his own share of lows, but every time critics pointed a finger at him, he would respond with his bat. Also, his astute bowling coupled with his sound batting made him the perfect all-rounder in the game. Soon, captaincy came knocking and it was gladly accepted by Jayasuriya, as he guided his team to a semi-final berth in the 2003 World Cup.
Retirement plans were announced in 2006, only to make a comeback within weeks. Few months later, Jayasuriya hung his whites, whilst continuing to exhibit the coloured clothes. Once again, he was a significant contributor to Sri Lanka’s place in the 2007 CWC final and steered his team to an Asia Cup win in 2008. However, age caught up and he failed to duplicate his magic from the Test and ODI arena to the T20 format, particularly the IPL. He still made it to the 30-man squad for the 2011 CWC, and made a surprise comeback to the ODI side when he was named for the one-day series against England. Immediately, he decided to hang up his boots after the first ODI.
16. Glenn Donald McGrath
Glenn Donald McGrath, byname Pigeon, (born Feb. 9, 1970, Dubbo, N.S.W., Austl.), Australian cricketer who took more Test wickets (563) than any other fast bowler in cricket history during a career than spanned 1993–2007.
McGrath was brought up in Narrowmine, Austl., where he was discovered by former Australian batsman Doug Walters. He progressed quickly through school, grade (club), and state cricket to the Australian Test team, making his Test debut against New Zealand in November 1993 and his one-day international debut the following month against South Africa.
McGrath was not a true fast bowler in that he did not rely on pure speed to take wickets. His average pace was medium-fast, but at 6 feet 5 inches (1.95 metres) tall, with a near-perfect upright delivery stride and metronomic action, he generated bounce and movement from the most docile pitch. Above all, he was a master of psychology, regularly predicting the results of Test series before the start and targeting individual batsmen for particular pressure.
A gentle and humorous man off the field, on the field McGrath was an unsmiling competitor—with the accuracy of his bowling and with the acidity of his tongue—who never let any batsman relax. McGrath relished wearing his Baggy Green cap, the symbol of the Australian team, and delighted in battles against the best batsmen in the world—particularly the much renowned West Indian Brian Lara.
McGrath became the second fast bowler (after Courtney Walsh of the West Indies) to take 500 wickets, at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London in the first Test of the 2005 Ashes series, which England unexpectedly won 2–1. Less than three months later, in the Super Test at Sydney, he surpassed Walsh’s 519 wickets. McGrath took time away from the game during the 2006–07 season (which proved to be his last) to help his wife, Jane, recover from cancer; however, even at age 36, he came back strongly to lead the attack as Australia reclaimed the Ashes 5–0 in the southern summer of 2006–07.
His Test farewell was eclipsed by the departure of his more charismatic teammate, leg-spin bowler Shane Warne, but McGrath could be sure that Australia would miss him equally. (Often working in tandem, he and Warne took 1,271 Test wickets between them, while McGrath alone took 563 wickets in 124 Tests at an average of 21.64 runs per innings.) McGrath crowned his international career by helping Australia win the 2007 World Cup, in which he was the leading bowler, with 26 wickets.
With his wife he founded the McGrath Foundation, an organization that supplies funding for breast cancer research and education, in 2002. In 2008 McGrath became a Member of the Order of Australia.
17. Javed Miandad
Javed Miandad is the greatest batsman Pakistan has ever produced. There was little doubt in the mind of Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Pakistan’s first Test captain and influential administrator, when he first laid eyes on him as a youngster in the early 70s and famously predicted Miandad “the find of the decade.” He wasn’t wrong, as a stupendous debut series against New Zealand in 1976 started to prove.
Miandad was not of the classical school of batting, though he possessed a beautiful square cut and most shots in and outside the book: he was a fine early reverse-sweeper. But he worked the angles and spaces equally well; he knew above all how to score runs in almost any situation. These qualities presented themselves through his entire career and uniquely, not once did his career average fall below fifty. No Pakistani has scored more Test runs than him and, Inzamam-ul-Haq aside, probably no batsman has won as many matches for Pakistan.
There was often a touch of genie or genius about his finest innings, like his two hundreds in successive Tests in the West Indies in 1987-88 or the big double hundreds against India and England. Problems on the bouncy pitches of Australia or the swinging ones of England were overcome with time and, if people questioned his record against the West Indies, they never did after that 1987-88 series.
He was versatile as well, as evidenced by a marvellous ODI career. Here his supreme running – it is said that he was one of the early pioneers of aggressive ODI running – shot placement and mental strength produced outstanding results. All qualities came together in a near-miraculous ODI century against India in Sharjah which won the Australasia Cup for Pakistan in 1986. He often saved his best for India, never more so than when he smote Chetan Sharma for a last-ball six to win that final. The match led to years of Pakistani domination over India, particularly in the deserts of Sharjah. In 1992, battling age and back problems, Miandad played a lead role in Pakistan’s only World Cup triumph, with six half-centuries.
He was also Pakistan’s youngest captain and always considered to be the most tactically astute. Imran Khan often acknowledges the role Miandad played as vice-captain with key on-field decisions, though the two were chalk to the other’s cheese. But as captain possibly he was too abrasive to get on with all of his players, as at least two player revolts against his leadership suggest. And coinciding with the leadership of Imran, he never captained in as many Tests as he might have done. As with most subcontinent greats, he possibly lingered for longer than might have been advised, finally bowing out in 1996 after, ironically, a loss to India in the World Cup.
The problems of captaincy re-emerged when he became Pakistan’s coach, where he had his ups and downs. Results were mostly positive but constant bickering from players about his excessively hands-on approach wasn’t so good. After three stints in charge, he parted company with the team in 2004 to make way for Bob Woolmer after being blamed for Pakistan’s one-day and Test losses to India. In October 2008, Miandad declined an offer to become Pakistan’s coach again, but he has soon appointed the PCB’s director-general, possibly a role of even greater influence. The move was hailed by many Pakistanis but it didn’t last long – Miandad quit the job in January 2009, after differences with the board over the exact scope of his role.
18. Shaun Pollock
Son of celebrated bowler, Peter Pollock and nephew of the celestial batsman, Graeme Pollock, Shaun was a mix of both. But expectations run high when you hail from a family of legends. So how do you mark your arrival? Easy, you take 4 wickets in 4 balls.
Born on 16th july 1973, Pollock became the only the second bowler to achieve this record in a List A match playing for Warwickshire and the world laid eyes upon a new rising star.
Debut : He snared his first five-wicket haul in his debut test series against England in 1995. On his ODI debut, Shaun scored 66 batting at number eight, and even went out to scalp 4 wickets.
He is among the few to hold the record of scoring a fifty and taking four wickets on ODI debut.
After his debut, Pollock was out of the team due to an ankle injury in 1996. However, he returned with full vigor and was an integral part of the bowling attack along with Alan Donald in the latter half of the 1990s.
Rise To Glory: After a steady beginning, Pollock had the world’s attention when he took 69 wickets in 14 test matches in 1998, which included his career best figures of 7/87.
His uncanny accuracy and ability to move the ball both ways were the pedestals to his consistent performance.
He was handed the onus of test captaincy in 2000. Unlike many other captains, his performance flourished with the burden of captaincy and he took his first and only 10-wicket haul during this period, against India in 2001-02.
Fluctuating form : After a convincing start of his captaincy, things turned sour when South Africa suffered a whitewash against arch rivals, Australia in 2001-2002. Pollock was blamed for his country’s early exit from the 2003 World Cup, which eventually cost him the captaincy.
With a back injury in 2006, statistics showed that his bowling speed had decreased but his accuracy still remained brilliant.
However, he performed brilliantly in the Champions Trophy in 2006, taking his team to the semi-finals. He continued his form in the series against India that followed and was awarded Man of the Series award for both ODIs and tests.
The ODI series against Pakistan after that was no different, and he was again the Man of the Series, sustaining his consistent performance.
Retirement : However, he struggled with form and injuries after this before announcing his retirement from Test cricket midway through a match against West Indies. He declared his retirement from ODI cricket in the series that followed. He retired at the age of 35 in the year 2008, playing 13 years of international cricket.
Shaun Pollock continues to remain the highest wicket-taker for his country, although his record might be broken by Dale Steyn in the upcoming series against India. Pollock has the record of being the only player to have scored 3000 runs and taken 3000 wickets in both tests and ODIs.
19. Wally Hammond
The judgment of cricket history is that the greatest batsmen the game has known are – in order of appearance, only – WG Grace, Jack Hobbs, Walter Hammond and Don Bradman. Others may come close indeed to those four but do not quite take place with them. It is, of course, coincidence that two of them played for Gloucestershire; but without doubt Hammond, although he was not a native of that county, succeeded by right and without question to the eminence there previously occupied solely by Dr Grace.
Wally Hammond was a most exciting cricketer, perhaps the more so for the hint of an almost Olympian aloofness. He was also – and the two do not always go together – a naturally-gifted athlete who could excel at any game he cared to play; today he would be brought up as a rising football star. He had that physical stamp; he moved easily, with an ease which yet promised that, at need, he could launch himself into a tiger leap. Even as late as 1951, when he made his last first-class appearance and after he had put on a considerable amount of weight, his movement was poised, assured, and graceful.
The instant he walked out of a pavilion, white-spotted blue handkerchief showing from his right pocket, bat tucked underarm, cap at a hint of an angle, he was identifiable as a thoroughbred. Strongly-built, square-shouldered, deep-chested, with impressively powerful forearms, it seemed as if his bat weighed nothing in those purposeful hands.
His figures are convincing evidence of his quality. Between 1920 and 1951 he scored 50,493 runs, with 167 centuries and an average of 56.10; in Tests 7249 runs (22 centuries) at 58.45, as a bowler, 732 wickets (average 30.58); and he held 820 catches. Like Jack Hobbs, he might have achieved even more impressive figures if he had been able to play throughout his career. For instance, he first appeared for Gloucestershire (where he had been to school at Cirencester for five years) in 1920; but Lord Harris, piqued that he would not play for Kent, the county of his birth, quibbled about his qualification. So, effectively, he did not enter county cricket until 1923; he missed the entire season of 1926 through an illness contracted in the West Indies (he came back to start the next season by scoring 1000 in May); of course, he lost the 1940 to 1945 seasons when he was on a high plateau of achievement; and played only two first class matches after he returned from Australia in March 1947.
A natural player, he was virtually never coached until he had become a county player, when George Dennett used sometimes to advise him. Instinctively basically correct, he was sound in defence, but never defensively-minded. Like most outstanding batsmen, he was primarily a front-foot player who, with the years, operated more off the back. His great power lay in his driving, which was pure textbook in style, clean, apparently effortless but, through the combination of innate timing and immense strength, often achieving immense velocity.
As a young man he was a dashing strokemaker; willing to tilt at all the bowlers of the world. He remained superbly stylish, his cover-driving, from front foot or back, utterly memorable. In those early days he cut, glanced, hooked and lofted the ball quite fearlessly. With his early maturity, he became a thinking batsmen. When he went to Australia under Percy Chapman in 1928-29, although he was only 25 he had worked out exactly how he would make his runs. Eschewing the hook altogether and, largely, the cut, he decided to score – off all but the obviously punishable ball – within the V between extra cover and midwicket. He succeeded with a new record aggregate for a rubber of 905 runs at 113.12 in the five Tests; which has still only once been exceeded (by Sir Donald Bradman, of course).
Even in his cricketing middle age, his footwork flowed like that of a young man. He would be down the pitch – two, three or four yards – with unhurried ease and, as he reached the length he wanted, the bat moved with languid certainty through the ball, which flew, with that savage force which was the measure of his hitting, to the place he wished.
Of the four great batsmen he was physically the finest and most powerfully equipped. He was a superb fast-medium bowler who often, as Sir Donald Bradman once remarked, “was too busy scoring runs to worry about bowling.” When he was roused – as he once was by Essex bowling bouncers at the Gloucestershire batsmen – his pace could be devastating. “I never saw a man bowl faster for Gloucestershire than Wally did that day,” said Tom Goddard, “and he not only battered them, he bowled them out as well.”
At slip he had no superior. He stood all but motionless, moved late but with uncanny speed, never needing to stretch or strain but plucking the ball from the air like an apple from a tree.
Statistics cannot tell all: but revealingly they show of Wally Hammond that he made 167 centuries and reached fifty without making a hundred 184 times, in Tests 22 hundreds, only 24 fifties without reaching three figures; in each case almost even money on 100 if he got halfway.
He became an amateur in 1938, and captained England as well as both Gentlemen and Players. It is some measure of his quality that in 1946, at 43, he was top of the first-class averages with 1783 runs at 84.90 – 16 ahead of the next man. He had a sad tour as captain of England in Australia 1946-47. He was miserably afflicted with arthritis, had acute personal problems, could make runs in State matches but not in Tests, England were roundly beaten and, on his return to England, he announced his retirement. He mistakenly allowed himself to be persuaded to appear in one match in each of the 1950 and 1951 seasons. A quiet – some thought introverted – man, but a loyal friend, he retired, hard-up and unhappy, to South Africa. There he died in 1965, mourned by more admirers than he may have guessed. By then he was, unchallengeably, one of the cricketing immortals.
Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack
20. Jack Hobbs
Jack Hobbs was, quite simply, the most prolific batsman in cricket. His Test record is imposing enough – he finished with an average of almost 57, and was, at the time of retiring, the highest run-getter in Tests – but his overall first-class record continues to be quite staggering. Here are a few of his records, which will probably never be surpassed:
With a gigantic tally of 61,760 first-class runs, Hobbs is the leading run-getter by far, and the only one to go past 60,000. England’s Frank Woolley comes in next on 58,959. (To put things in perspective, Sachin Tendulkar’s first-class tally is 22,336, and no one who has played beyond 1952 has an aggregate of more than 50,000.) It boggles the mind to think of what Hobbs’ tally would have been had he not lost six years due to the Great War.
Along with the record for most first-class runs, he also holds the record for most first-class hundreds, with 199. Patsy Hendren is next on 170, and only four others have more than 150.
Hobbs scored his last Test century – 142 against Australia in Melbourne in 1929 – when he was all of 46 years and 82 days old, which remains a record. Hendren comes in second again, at 45 years and 151 days, while the oldest since 1980 is Geoff Boycott, at 41 years and 63 days.
Those are records that will almost certainly stay forever, not least because of the nature of the game in the modern era. While some of those first-class stats are staggering, his Test record is outstanding too, with 15 centuries in 61 Tests at an average of 56.94.
Hobbs started his Test career with 83 against Australia in Melbourne, but he didn’t exceed that score till his 10th Test, when he made an unbeaten 93 against South Africa. In fact, in his first 11 Tests Hobbs had eight fifties but not a single hundred. That landmark only came in his 12th Test, when he scored 187 against South Africa. That was the beginning of a prolonged prolific passage for him: of the 12 years he played between 1910 and 1929 (there was no cricket between 1915 and 1919), only once, in 1921, did his average for the year slip below 50. In 44 Tests during this period, Hobbs’ average soared to more than 65, and his conversion rate improved dramatically too, with 15 hundreds and 17 fifties.