Best Test Batsmen of All Time
This article takes a look at the careers of some of the best test batsman through the decades. Who really is the best batsman of all time?
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There are so many players who could be mentioned in with this list. However I have selected five batsmen who I think are more than worthy of this award-
Don Bradman (AUS)
Innings – 80
Runs – 6996
Average – 99.94
Highest Score – 334
100+ scores – 43
If you are looking for an incredible batsman, you don’t need to look much further than the late, great Don Bradman. He scored nearly 7000 runs in just 80 innings @ an incredible average of 99.94.
Born in 1908 in New South Wales, he spent much of his youth alone in his garden, working on his batting technique. He hit his first century at the age of 12 playing for his school team.
On his first class debut for New South Wales, he hit a century on debut, to start a career that continued in much the same way. On his international debut, his first match ended in disappointent, scoring just 19 runs in both innings. He was then dropped to third man for his second match, but after a injury to a fellow batsman, he grasped the opportunity to shine, and become the youngest player to hit a century in international cricket. His talents led to England creating the infamous “Bodyline” tactic in order to get Bradman and his fellow Australian team out. This consisted of bowling short, and on leg stump, and putting the majority of fielders behind square on the leg side. This cut off scoring, and proved incredibly successful until new laws were introduced to cricket.
One amazing statistic was his scoring conversion rate. He scored just thirteen 50’s, but achieved 43 scores of 100+. Once in, he was a ruthless batsman, and this stat shows this.
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Viv Richards (WI)
Innings – 182
Runs – 8540
Average – 50.24
Highest Score – 291
100+ Scores – 27
Following Don Bradman is never an easy task, but Viv Richards was an incredible cricketer himself. In an illustrious career, he finished his career as a select few that averaged over 50 runs per innings. Just as Don Bradman, Richards was known for his attacking, powerful style of batting, and is regarded by many as the most destructive batsman of all time.
He was born in 1952, and made his international debut in 1974 against India in Bangalore. He currently holds the record for fastest century – just 56 balls. This is a record that came under threat during the 2006-7 Ashes series when Adam Gilchrist hit 100 runs off of 58 balls.
1976 was a special year for Richards. He scored 1710 runs @ 90.00. This was the record for most test runs scored in a calendar year, until Mohammed Yousuf broke it in 2006. He was also a handy legspin bowler, taking 373 wickets in his First Class Career. On top of this, he was recently voted as the all time best One Day Batsman scoring over 6700 runs @ 47.00.
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Garfield Sobers (WI)
Innings – 160
Runs – 8032
Average – 57.78
Highest Score – 365*
100+ Scores – 29
Staying in the Carribean, Garfield Sobers was another incredible batsman who deservedly earns his place in this list of awesome test batsmen. The statistics speak for themselves. With an amazing average of 57.78, and a highest score of an unbeaten 365 runs, it is clear why he is in contention for this prestigious title. A little known fact is that he was born with six fingers on each hand, a problem he sorted himself at childhood with the aid of a catgut and a sharp knife. At an early age he showed he had natural talent – not just in Cricket – but also basketball and football.
He made his test debut at the age of 17 against England. He scored 14* and 26, and took 4 wickets. His batting career started fairly slowly, averaging under 30 in 9 tests. He found himself in the test team as a bowler, and often batted down the order at 8 or 9.
His batting career did take off in 1957. In his next 24 tests, he scored 2250 runs @ 93.75 – an exceptionally high average. He was later given responsibility of West Indies captain, winning over two thirds of matches.
As mentioned, he was also an exceptional batsman. Because of this, and his athletic fielding, he was voted as the Best All Rounder Of All Time. His left arm spin brought him 235 test wickets @ 34.03.
Off the point but a fun statistic – despite his reputation for being a great batsman, his average in ODI’s was 0.00. He played one innings in 1973, and was out for a duck
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Ricky Ponting (AUS)
Innings – 224
Runs – 11150
Average – 56.31
Highest Score – 257
100+ Scores – 42
Perhaps this list needs putting into context. Ricky Ponting may be a surprising entry for some. However, he is by far the highest ranked player who is still playing today – he ranks 4th in the all time list. He is one of eight batsmen who have passed 10000 runs in test cricket, and is closing in on Tendulkar’s record of 12000+ runs.
After leaving his family to join the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide, he quickly showed his talents, becoming the first Tasmanian to score a first class century.
His international career started with him playing in ODI’s, but made his test debut in 1995 against Sri Lanka. He hit 96 on debut, forming a 121 run partnership with Stuart Law (also on debut) to make the 9th ever century partnership by two debutants. By the end of 1998, he had played in 22 tests, scoring 1209 runs @ 36.63.
His career hit a barren spell, including a tour of India which saw him score just 17 runs in the whole series @ 3.4. Despite this, he was promoted to No. 3 in the batting order. After a slow start, Ponting has averaged 64.34 batting at 3.
His successful career continues, and perhaps in years to come, he will be looked back on and be compared with the greats already mentioned in this article.
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Sachin Tendulkar (IND)
Innings – 261
Runs – 12773
Average – 54.59
Highest Score – 248*
100+ Scores – 46
Sachin Tendulkar is one batsman who has no problem blending in with this list of greats. The Little Genius – at just 5″ 5′, scored 12773 runs @ 54.59 during his test career. With 53 50’s and an impressive 43 centuries, he was voted as the second greatest test batman of all time by Wisden – after Don Bradman.
At a young age, he was encouraged to work on his cricketing abilities. His elder brother often played with him and Sachin would spend hours in the nets perfecting his strokes. His coach would often place a one rupee coin on top of the stumps, and if any bowler could dismiss him, they would take the coin. If Sachin could bat the session without getting out, he would keep the coin. He now values the 13 coins he won as some of his most prized possessions.
In his test career, he was quickly brought back down to earth by an extremely hostile Pakistan attack. However despite scoring just 15 runs, he was recognised to face and deal with the numerous blows he suffered by the bowlers. His maiden test century came against England at Old Trafford in 1990. From then on, his career went from strength to strength.
Sachin achieved so much in his test career – it is impossible to mention everything. He holds the record for most runs in test matches (as well as ODI’s). He has scored the most centuries in test cricket (a record he also holds in ODI’s) and remains to be one of an exclusive list of players that still play international cricket today, who started his career in the 1980’s.
There are many other batsmen who could make this list. Below, I have listed a few.
Brian Lara (WI)
Innings – 232
Runs – 11953
Average – 52.79
Highest Score – 400*
100+ Scores – 45
Currently holds records of only quintuple century in First Class cricket – 501* for Warwickshire against Durham. He also holds highest test score with 400* against England. He is the only player in cricket history to have scored a century, double, triple, quadruple, and quintuple centry. Impressively, he has hit a century against every single Test nation, and holds the record for most centuries for West Indies.
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Sunil Gavaskar (IND)
Innings – 216
Runs – 10122
Average – 51.12
Highest Score – 236*
100+ Scores – 38
Widely regarded as one of the best opening batsman of all time. He set records for most centuries and most runs in his career, until both records were beaten by Sachin Tendulkar. He was renowned for his technique against fast bowling, averaging 65.45 against the vicious West Indies attack of the time.
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Jack Hobbs (ENG)
Innings – 102
Runs – 5410
Average – 56.95
Highest Score – 211
100+ Scores – 16
Finally an England player in the list! Jack Hobbs played 61 tests for England between 1908 and 1930. He scored 5410 runs in this time @ 56.95. He is the only English cricketer (and opening batsman) to appear in Wisden’s list of top 5 cricketers of the 20th century. As a first class batsman, up until today, he holds the record for most centuries than any other player in the history of the game
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That concludes my list of the best test batsman of all time. This list is by no means exclusive. There are many other great batsmen who didn’t make this list. Just a post note, notice how the majority of the records are scored against England – most notably the two fastest centuries of all time.
It may be true that Test Cricket is becoming less and less popular with the introduction of the shorter form of the game, but if players continue to play the game of the same class of those mentioned in this list, the beauty of Test Cricket will live on, and the legacy of these players will continue to be etched into cricket history.