BestXI: Best Test batsmen of all time

By March 28, 2020

The argument regarding the players who should be ranked among the best of all time gets harder and harder as cricket evolves.

Batsmen are more dynamic and harder to contain these days, while bowlers had more advantages when you look back at it. There was even a time when pitches were uncovered and therefore much more of a nightmare to bat on.

Despite the ever-changing circumstances that most certainly impact the nature of performances over the decades, SportsMax’s editors have still been hardpressed to avoid the addiction of coming up with the answers to the age-old question of who is the greatest of all time.

As usual, we’ve come up with XI of them.

Now, the most challenging form of cricket is undoubtedly Test cricket. There might be a debate about which form of the game is best to watch, most profitable, which is the future of the game, all that. But there’s no argument that Test cricket has lived up to its name and is the hardest. This is why our XI will only have players who have played the longest format of the game.

Best XI

 

Don Bradman (Australia)

While many of the experts of the game today, never saw him play, it is still generally accepted that Sir Donald Bradman, with 29 centuries and 13 half-centuries from just 52 Test matches, is the greatest batsman to ever walk the planet. His average of 99.94 in Test cricket will likely never be matched. Interestingly, Bradman only hit six sixes in his glittering Test career.

Sachin Tendulkar (India)

If Bradman was the greatest, Sachin is the most complete batsman to ever play the game. The little magician’s batting is considered by those who wrote the textbook on the subject, to have the perfect mixture of balance, economy of movement, precision stroke-making, and most of all, anticipation. Sachin put all those together more often than not to average 53.78 from his 200 matches, getting to a century on 61 occasions and to a half-century on 68 others. Those statistics meant he amassed a mammoth 15,921 runs, by far the most of any batsman.

 

Brian Lara (West Indies)

Whenever the conversation about who is the greatest of all time comes up, the name Brian Charles Lara is never far away. Undoubtedly a genius, Lara still holds the world record for the most runs ever scored in a single Test innings. Lara’s 400 not out was not the first time the left-hander was putting together a score that nobody else had. Australia’s Matthew Hayden scored 380 against Zimbabwe to pass Lara’s first world-record effort of 375 against England but the diminutive left-hander would not be satisfied without breaking that record all over again. Lara’s first record-breaking effort bested Lara would score 34 centuries from 131 Tests at an average of 52.88. The Trinidad & Tobago native also scored 48 half-centuries, getting to 11,953 runs before he called it quits.

Vivian Richards (West Indies)

Sir Vivian Richards, the Master Blaster, turned Test cricket on its head with his brand of aggression. In a time when bowlers were the aggressors with the insistence on pace and bounce, Viv, changed the game, making bowlers quake at the sight of his nonchalance in the face of searing pace and his penchant for taking bowling attacks apart. Viv played 121 Test matches and ended with an average of 50.23 despite a long lean spell toward the end of his career. His highest score was 291 but his 24 centuries and 45 half-centuries were remarkable instances each time. There is many a bowler who, throughout the ‘80s hated to get wickets against the West Indies because that would mean the man who brought ‘swagger’ to cricket, would walk to the crease.

George Headley (West Indies)

Depending on where you hail from, George Headley is either the Black Bradman or Bradman is the white Headley. In 22 Tests, Headley scored a remarkable 10 centuries and five half-centuries including a highest score of 270 not out. Headley was the only batsman that stood between West Indies and regular capitulations. In fact, between 1929 and 1939, Headley did not have one bad Test series, scoring eight centuries against England and becoming the first immortal at Lord’s. Sir Len Hutton, a man who could easily make this list as one of the first batsmen who could be called a superstar, said he had never seen a batsman who played the ball later, making him a nightmare to set fields for.

 

Garfield Sobers (West Indies)

Sir Garfield Sobers is likely the finest all-rounder of all time, taking 235 wickets in his 93 Tests and scoring more than 8,000 runs in his 93 Tests. But his efforts as a batsman are by themselves, worthy of making him a certainty for this list. Sobers scored 26 hundreds in Test cricket but his first is something the game will never forget. In 14 previous Tests, Sobers had a highest score of 66 and averaged just 32.54. Though his talent was undeniable, Sobers was just not getting over that hump. Then Pakistan came calling. Sobers went into the third Test at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica having scored three half-centuries (52, 52 and 80) in the previous two. Walking in at number three with the score on 87-1, Sobers and Conrad Hunte would take the West Indies to 533-2 when Hunte fell for a brilliant 260. Sobers would keep batting, getting to 365 not out before the skipper Gerry Alexander declared the innings on 790-3. Until the era of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, the argument for the greatest batsman of all time stood between Bradman and Sobers. Sobers also became the first man to hit six sixes in an over

 

Rahul Dravid (India)

Many of the great innings the world experienced from Sachin Tendulkar were made possible by the man known as ‘The Wall’. Steadily, Rahul Dravid created the reputation for being one of the finest batsmen in the world and started the Indian revolution, helping them become a team that was dangerous, not just at home.

His technique and robotic-like concentration would help him to 36 centuries and 63 half-centuries from his 164 Tests. His 13,288 runs have made him legendary in India but around the world too. Himself and Sourav Ganguly formed the backbone of a formidable Indian batting line-up and every team knew, that without getting out either or both, India were likely to come out the winning side.

 

Sunil Gavaskar (India)

The first man to get to 10,000 Test runs and score 30 centuries, make him most undoubtedly one of the greatest batsmen of all time. But Gavaskar has an even more interesting legacy. He is the man who made Indian cricket what it is today, teaching his teammates and the country of now over one billion, the importance of a professional approach to cricket. But outside of that, Gavaksar must be credited as one of the few batsmen to be able to score significantly against the West Indies all-pace attack of the 1980s, scoring 13 centuries against them. In fact, Gavaskar played five Tests at the Queen’s Park Oval, averaging 99.12 at the ground. Gavaskar was a fine opener, averaging 51.12 over the course of 125 Tests, scoring 34 centuries and 45 half-centuries with a highest score of 236 not out against the West Indies in 1983.

 

Jacques Kallis (South Africa)

Jacques Kallis is the only man to threaten Sir Garfield Sobers as the greatest allrounder of all time, and like his West Indian predecessor, his batting makes him a good fit for this list of some of the greatest batsmen of all time.

Kallis played 166 Tests and averaged 55.37 on his way to scoring a mammoth 45 centuries and 58 half-centuries on his way to putting together 13,289 runs. Kallis was part of South Africa’s second rebirth after being let back into international cricket and along with young skipper Graeme Smith, he led a fight-back to international prominence by performing at a remarkably high level for a long time.

 

Steve Waugh (Australia)

Steve Waugh is not the batsman that a ground outside of Australia might fill up to watch and it was largely agreed that his brother, Mark Waugh, was the more talented of the two batsmen. However, Steve’s drive to do well, mixed with hard work and a fine ability to read a situation from the middle of the pitch made for a career that was more than something to be proud of. Waugh led Australia to becoming the most dominant team in World cricket throughout the early 2000s, overtaking the West Indies for that title, with a symbolic 2-2 draw in the Caribbean. Interestingly, Waugh made that draw possible with a double century in the final Test at Sabina Park in Kingston that kick-started a spree of run-scoring that would not be halted until his retirement.

Waugh would play 168 Tests at an average of just over 51. That double century in Kingston was his highest score on the way to 10,927 runs. His 50 half-centuries meant there were very few times Waugh didn’t contribute to Australia’s eventual totals. Like Dravid and Ganguly were for India, Waugh was the rock that held the team together, the talented batsman evolving over time to a player who had eliminated risk from his game.

 

Kumar Sangakarra (Sri Lanka)

Kumar Sangakarra came into the Sri Lankan team on the back of careers like that of Arjuna Ranatunga and Asanka Gurusinha, who paved the way for dismissing the myth that batsmen from that area of the world could be blown off the pitch by good aggressive pace bowling. Sangakarra was decidedly a battler, but he added quite a bit of grace to the role, cementing his place in the side for 134 Tests in which he averaged 57.40. Sangakarra would end his Test career with 12,400 runs, 38 centuries and 52 half-centuries. Interestingly, nobody, not even the great Sachin Tendulkar, made it to 10,000 runs more quickly, the two being joint quickest to the milestone.

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

Related items

  • 'I'm up for the fight' - Roach ready to put in hard work needed to take Bangladesh wickets 'I'm up for the fight' - Roach ready to put in hard work needed to take Bangladesh wickets

    West Indies fast bowler, Kemar Roach, insists he is ready for the challenge of trying to take wickets on Bangladesh pitches, despite the surfaces being more suited to spin-bowling.

    Despite the presence of several spinners in the squad, the 32-year-old is expected to lead the West Indies bowling line-up, along with fellow pace bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph.  If the dominance of spinners in the One Day International series, on pitches that offered very little assistance to pace bowlers, is anything to go by they will certainly have their work cut out.

    Having been in Bangladesh on two prior Test series, Roach would know first-hand what it takes to succeed on spin-friendly terrain.

    In 2011, he claimed 0 for 52 off 9 overs and 1 for 49 off 13.2 overs in the second Test of the series.  When he returned in 2018, he claimed 1 for 74 off 18 overs in the first Test and 2 for 61 in 25 overs as Bangladesh made a mammoth 500 in the second Test.

    “It mostly favours the spinners but I think there is enough there for fast bowlers to get something as well.  It’s just about having your plans, executing, and being disciplined,” Roach told members of the media via a press conference from Bangladesh on Tuesday.

    “It’s going to be tough, we know we have to bowl a lot more overs to get our rewards but once you are willing to put the work in you can get some rewards over here…so it’s going to be tough but I’m up for the fight.”

    The Windies have had recent success with pace bowling in Bangladesh with Tino Best claiming a five-for in 2012 and Fidel Edwards claiming 8 wickets in the 2011 series.

     

  • 'Extra time helps us prepare for 'difficult' conditions' - WI spinner Cornwall grateful for long lead-up to Test series 'Extra time helps us prepare for 'difficult' conditions' - WI spinner Cornwall grateful for long lead-up to Test series

    West Indies spinner, Rahkeem Cornwall, believes the unusually long preparation time before the start of the Bangladesh Test series has been beneficial for players needing to get used to ‘difficult’ conditions.

    The regional team arrived in Bangladesh on January 10 and was required to quarantine for 7 days based on the country’s COVID-19 protocols.  Since clearing that hurdle, however, the Test team has been free to train and will not start the series until February 1.

    The Asian team is known for being particularly difficult to beat on their home turf and easily dispatched the West Indies 2-0 on their last visit in 2018.  One of those advantages is said to be the team’s pitches.

    “It has helped (extra time) you have to adapt to these conditions. These conditions are difficult to play in, so the more time we get to understand the conditions is the better it is for us,” Cornwall said.

    “It spins a bit more here.  It is always going to be drier than the Caribbean.  So, we just have to adapt to it and play to the best of our ability,” he added.

    The inexperienced West Indies team will be hoping for a better showing than in the recently concluded One Day International (ODI) series where the team was summarily swept aside 3-0.  The ODI batting line-up found the top class Bangladesh spinners on the surfaces a difficult task to cope with.   

  • CG Insurance Super 50 bowls off Feb. 7 with Hurricanes versus Volcanoes CG Insurance Super 50 bowls off Feb. 7 with Hurricanes versus Volcanoes

    The CG Insurance Super50 Cup bowls off on Sunday, February 7 with the Leewards Hurricanes taking on the Windwards Volcanoes at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only 19 matches will be played in the tournament scheduled to conclude on February 27.

    According to Cricket West Indies, the health risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruption to all domestic cricket since late March 2020, with no competitive cricket allowed regionally except for an abridged version of the Caribbean Premier League which took place last August in Trinidad.

    This year’s annual CG Insurance Super50 Cup will provide a platform for the region’s six major cricketing rivals to clash in 19 action-packed 50-over matches starting from Sunday, February 7 when Leeward Islands Hurricanes host the Windward Islands Volcanoes.

    The tournament will come to an exciting climax when the new champions are crowned on Saturday, February 27.

    The 2019-20 champions, West Indies Emerging Players, are unable to defend their 2019 trophy due to COVID-19 constraints, however, several of those players now feature in the squads of the six competing franchise teams, one of which will emerge as the CG Insurance Super50 Cup champions.

    Each team will play each other on a round-robin basis with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals and the opportunity to reach the grand final.

    Matches will be played at Antigua’s two international cricket venues - the Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) and the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium (SVRS). There will be 13 matches at CCG including the semi-finals and final, and six matches at SVRS.

    West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said it was good to have regional cricket back after a one-year break.

    "It is very good that cricket is coming back to the Caribbean ... players will get the opportunity to showcase their skills and entertain our fans. It has been a trying 2020 for cricketers and the whole Caribbean, so it is really good that we have the CG Insurance Super50 Cup being played at this time and hopefully it can unearth some new talent,” he said.

    CWI has been working closely with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Sport in Antigua & Barbuda to orchestrate logistics and agree the safety and medical protocols for the commencement and duration of the tournament.

    All players, support staff, match officials and supporting professionals will be tested with negative COVID-19 results before their arrival into Antigua. Players, support staff and match officials will operate within a bio-secure bubble and will be tested at regular intervals during the tournament with assistance from the local Ministry of Health and CARPHA.

     

    “A huge amount of planning and work has been put in to ensure that the Super50 Cup can return and CWI would like to offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, title partners CG Insurance, our host broadcasters ESPN Caribbean and our colleagues at the Leeward Islands Cricket Board and the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association, for all of their support in helping to stage the tournament during these unprecedented times,” said CWI CEO Johnny Grave.

    Meanwhile, Naz Farrow, CEO of CG Insurance said the company was happy to be able to continue supporting regional cricket.

    “CG Insurance is proud to sponsor the CWI Super50 Cup and thrilled to be a part of the first tournament of 2021. We are happy to support the many players and organizers involved and recognize the major efforts that have gone into the preparation of this event during these unique times. By partnering with the CWI series, we have the opportunity to support our various Caribbean nations and to showcase that we are stronger together,” he said.

    The CG Insurance Super50 Cup is the marquee 50-over event in the West Indies featuring the six long-standing territorial rivals– Barbados Pride, Guyana Jaguars, Jamaica Scorpions, Leeward Islands Hurricanes, Trinidad & Tobago Red Force, and the Windward Islands Volcanoes.

    This is the second edition of the Super50 Cup featuring CG Insurance as title sponsors, and the event promises to stage big performances and memorable moments as the teams go in pursuit of winning the coveted CG Insurance Super50 Cup and being awarded the Sir Clive Lloyd Trophy.

    Below is the match schedule for the CG Insurance Super50 Cup

     

    Sun, Feb 7 - Leewards Hurricanes v Windwards Volcanoes (day match)  - CCG

    Mon, Feb 8 - Guyana Jaguars v Barbados Pride - CCG

    Wed, Feb 10 - Leewards Hurricanes v Barbados Pride - CCG

    Thur, Feb 11 - Jamaica Scorpions v Trinidad & Tobago Red Force - SVRS

    Fri, Feb 12 - Leewards Hurricanes v Guyana Jaguars - CCG

    Sat, Feb 13 - Windwards Volcanoes v Trinidad & Tobago Red Force - CCG

    Sun, Feb 14 - Jamaica Scorpions v Guyana Jaguars - CCG

    Mon, Feb 15 - Trinidad & Tobago Red Force v Barbados Pride - SVRS

    Tue, Feb 16 - Windwards Volcanoes v Jamaica Scorpions - CCG

    Wed, Feb 17 - Leewards Hurricanes v Trinidad & Tobago Red Force - CCG

    Thu, Feb 18 - Windwards Volcanoes v Barbados Pride - SVRS

    Fri, Feb 19 - Leewards Hurricanes v Jamaica Scorpions - SVRS

    Sat, Feb 20 - Guyana Jaguars v Trinidad & Tobago Red Force - CCG

     

    Sun, Feb 21 - Barbados Pride v Jamaica Scorpions - CCG

    Mon, Feb 22 – Windwards Volcanoes v Guyana Jaguars - SVRS

    Wed, Feb 24 - SEMI-FINAL 1 - CCG

    Thur, Feb 25 - SEMI-FINAL 2 - CCG

    Fri, Feb 26 - Fifth placed v Sixth placed -SVRS

    Sat, Feb 27 – FINAL - CCG

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.