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How Wisden determined the top cricketers of all time

David Lord Columnist

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Popular article! 24,292 reads

    Under the heading Shane Warne is still our best spinner, it was also mentioned that he was named one of the five greatest cricketers of the Twentieth Century.

    The ultimate accolade has to be bestowed upon four knights – Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs, and Sir Vivian Richards – along with the likeable larrikin, Shane Keith Warne.

    That was 11 years ago, with Warne, the only current player, at the peak of his leg-spinning powers.

    Let’s turn the clock back to how Wisden – the cricketer’s bible – formatted this intriguing exercise.

    There were 100 selectors: a mixture of former Test cricketers, cricket-writers, and historians;

    * England (28) – Jonathan Agnew, Trevor Bailey, Jack Bannister, Sir Alec Bedser, Scyld Berry, Dickie Bird, Brian Close, Lord Cowdrey, Ted Dexter, Matthew Engel, Alf Gover, Tom Graveney, Frank Keating, Tony Lewis, George Mann, Vic Marks, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Derek Pringle, Nette Rheinberg, Mike Selvey, EW Swanton, Bob Taylor, Freddie Trueman, Crawford White, John Woodcock, Ian Wooldridge, and Peter Wynne-Thomas.

    * Australia (20) – Greg Baum, Percy Beames, Richie Benaud, Bill Brown, Richard Cashman, Ian Chappell, Mike Coward, Alan Davidson, Gideon Haigh, Murray Hedgcock, John Inverarity, Bill Lawry, Peter McFarline, Jim Maxwell, Arthur Morris, Bobby Simpson, Cec Starr, and Steve Waugh.

    * South Africa (11) – Ali Bacher, Eddie Barlow, Colin Bryden, Russell Endean, Trevor Goddard, Norman Gordon, Michael Owen-Smith, Peter Pollock, Krish Reddy, Peter van der Merwe, and John Waite.

    * West Indies (11) – Gerry Alexander, Tom Becca, Sir Carlisle Burton, Tony Cozier, Esmond Kentish, Clive Lloyd, Reds Periera, Allan Rae, Donna Symmonds, Sir Clyde Walcott, and Sir Everton Weekes.

    * India (10) – Mihir Bose, Dilip Doshi, Sunil Gavaskar, Ayaz Memon, Ramesh Mohan, Nirum Prabhu, Raj Singh, Kris Srikkanth, Polly Umrigar, and Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan.

    * New Zealand (9) – Dick Brittenden, Don Cameron, Walter Hadlee, Don Neeley, John Reid, Bert Sutcliffe, Lindsay Weir, and John Wright.

    * Pakistan (8) – Arif Abbasi, Fereshteh Gati, Hanif Mohammad, Intikhab Alam, Javed Burki, Mushtaq Mohammad, Omar Kureishi, and Qamar Ahmed.

    * Sri Lanka (3) – Stanley Jayasingha, Ranjan Madugalle, and Gerry Vaidyasekera,

    * And Zimbabwe (1) – Dave Houghton.

    The brief was simple: name five cricketers each, in any order. Don’t concentrate on your own country or own era. No selector could vote for himself – and the infamous Englishman WG Grace was to be considered ineligible as Wisden regarded him as a cricketer of the 19th century.

    Pretty straight-forward, but the net results were anything but straight-forward. Controversy raged for months.

    Interestingly, not one of the 100 selectors nominated the final five, and among the maximum 500 votes, only 49 were nominated.

    * 100 votes – the max – Sir Donald Bradman. How he would have loved to sneak in an extra four runs in last Test dig at The Oval in 1948 to average a career 100, instead of 99.94.
    * 90 votes – Sir Garfield Sobers, how he missed out on 10 votes defies description.
    * 30 – Sir Jack Hobbs.
    * 27 – Shane Warne.
    * 25 – Sir Vivian Richards.
    * 19 – Dennis Lillee, and Sir Frank Worrell.
    * 18 – Wally Hammond.
    * 14 – Denis Compton.
    * 13 – Sir Richard Hadlee, and Imran Khan.
    * 11 – Syd Barnes, and Sir Leonard Hutton.
    * 10 – Bill O’Reilly.
    * 9 – Sir Ian Botham.
    * 6 – Harold Larwood, Ray Lindwall, and Sachin Tendulkar.
    * 5 – Richie Benaud, George Headley, amd Kapil Dev.
    * 4 – Graeme Pollock, Wilfred Rhodes, and Victor Trumper.
    * 3 – Godfrey Evans, Malcolm Marshall, and Wassie Akram.
    * 2 – Sir Alec Bedser, Clarrie Grimmett, Freddie Trueman, and Frank Woolley.
    * 1 – Curtley Ambrose, Colin Bland, Allan Border, Bernard Bosanquet, Bhagwat Chandrasekar, Ian Chappell, Lord Constantine, Allan Donald, Tich Freeman, Lance Gibbs, Stan McCabe, Bruce Mitchell, Maurice Tate, and Sir Pelham Warner.

    The glaring omission? Brian Lara, the world record holder for the highest Test and first-class scores in cricket history, with 400 not out and an unbeaten 501. Not one vote in 500?

    And you’d think the dashing Keith Miller was worth a vote. So, too, Greg Chappell, Graham Gooch, Hanif Mohammad, Barry Richards, and Jim Laker.

    But not one vote between the seven of them. And the reason why the controversy will rage for many years to come.

    That’s the beauty of the beast.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (79)

    • May 4th 2011 @ 8:15am
      sheek said | May 4th 2011 @ 8:15am | ! Report


      There were 28 Englishmen voting – that would tell you something!

      Don’t get me wrong, the English are lovely people, but their idea of what constitutes the best is well, eccentric.

      The English journalist John Woodcock compiled his list of 100 most influential cricketers (probably a deliberately misleading title in itself) for the Times & gave the most valuable position to some obscure (to the rest of us anyway) pre-Test English county cricketer. And his list was full of Englishmen just to let the rest of us know how England shaped the game, even if by the 1990s they were no longer any good at it.

      Just recently I came upon the Bleacher Report whereby the author named his greatest rugby players in each position (about 3 years ago). As a history exercise, frankly, it was sheer rubbish.

      Take the flyhalf position. Jonny Wilkinson was named greatest ever flyhalf. Now Wilko might be England’s best ever, & a great kicker, but he’s not the greatest flyhalf of all-time. And guess who was no.4? Neil Jenkins.

      Give me a break – Neli Jenkins! He would be lucky to be ranked the 4th best-ever Welsh flyhalf, let alone all time. What about Cliff Morgan, Barry John, Phil Bennett & Jonathon Davies to name just 4 other Welsh flyhalfs.

      And come to think about it, I don’t think either Morgan or Ireland’s Jackie Kyle made the final 10 list of the Bleacher Report anyway. And I won’t even begin to mention the other positions except that it was not in reality with expressing the dominance of New Zealand & South Africa over 100 years. Again, there were a plethora of Brits.

      My mentioning yesterday of Viv Richards was designed to provoke discussion on the mental process that makes people choose particular people in these sorts of exercises. Is it based on stringent fact or is there too much emotion involved?

      Don’t get me wrong, I loved the way Viv Richards played, but I was trying to point out his strength – his awesome self-confidence, arrogance & aggression – was also his weakness. He overcooked the attitude too often, falling to bowlers he should have had for breakfast.

      Ultimately, this affected his final stats. Richards is like Greg Norman in golf. If Richards was to bat for your life, would you want him to go out & bat with reckless intimidation, or with measured aggression? Would you want him to burn in flames like Norman famously did at Augusta in 1996 on the final day?

      By contrast, Bradman never made this kind of mistake of over-confidence. He was relentless.

      Even among Windies batsmen, Sobers, Headley, Weekes, Walcott & Lara have superior averages, & none of these guys were shrinking violets. And Worrell was just behind, being also the most venerated captain in Windies cricket history.

      There’s only 4 middle order berths available (for a Windies all time XI), & Sobers & Headley have two of them sown up.

      This leaves Richards, Lara, Weekes & Walcott battling for the remaining two possies. Richards is no sure thing to secure one of the remaining two spots, yet apart from Sobers, none of these other guys made Wisden’s final 5.

      Richards is great, but was he really THAT great…..?

      • May 4th 2011 @ 8:44am
        David Lord said | May 4th 2011 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        Morning Sheek, must agree with you on Vivian Richards, would far rather have Barry Richards in my side for run reliability, and at a rapid run-rate. BAR was robbed of a stellar Test career by isolation, just happened to be around at the wrong time.
        There are a lot of other observations I’d like to make on the Wisden 100, but I’m waiting for the punters like you to have a crack first. Let’s see what the day brings.

        • May 16th 2011 @ 9:02pm
          Harsh Thakor said | May 16th 2011 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

          Sheek and David Lord I wish to assert that Viv Richards could have broken any of the batting records if he wished to.No batsmen in the history of the game,including Sir Don Bradman played pace bowling with equal skill and contempt.He tore the greatset attacks like a tiger tearing flesh and his impact was like a bomber destroying an enemy airbase.Brian Lara,Sachin Tendulkar or Ricky Ponting could not change the complexion of agame to the extent of Viv.In Packer Cricket Viv decimated the likes of Dennis Lillee and Imran averaging 96.2 in the first years in 1977-78 and 11 for the World11.From 1976-1981 Viv Richard’s batting performances were the best since Bradman if you remember his domination in the 1976 English summer aggregating a record 829 runs.Viv has a better record against quickies than Sachin or Lara.In the modern era he may well have averaged 60 +considering that the wickets are loaded in favour of the batsmen and the bowling attacks weak.Barry was technically a champion but at his best did not surpass Viv’s sheer genius.Viv is the greatest -match winning batsmen after the Don and is arguably the greatset cricketer and match-winner after Gary Sobers..

        • October 27th 2013 @ 10:33am
          kalai ezhilan said | October 27th 2013 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          in don bradman’s era. there was no other great players like him and also there was no any competitionand also there was no famous and such a great legendry and dangerous attacking bowlers to be bowled to vivan richard’s w.indies always never depended on vivan richards and also there was no great fast and attacking bowlers and spinners. but we should hav to say SACHIN TENDULKAR-The true God of Cricket. he has lots of competions in his period. he has won most of the matches for indiasingle handedly against difficult and dangerous bowlers.till 2008 whole team was depended on him only.he won some matches as a attacking spinner. his shots in cricket are extreme perfect and he is also the great perfectionist. he has also played against 3 generation players of past,present and future.he has faced the bowling attacks of all time great legendry and dangerous attacking bowling of akram,waqar yunis,warne,imran khan,ian botham,mcgrath,walsh,ambrose,muralidharan,caddick,allan donald,akthar,vaas,lee,shane bond,shane pollock,steyn,morkel and etc. SACHIN has smashed and destroyed those bowling attacks even at early 40 age. he becme the 1st man on the planet to reach 200 in odi history ever at the age of 37 against mighty south african attacks of steyn,morkel,tsotsobe,kallis,botha and harris.and stayed at the crease for cmplete 50 ovrs and cme to the field with out sub.and fielded for 50 ovrs cmpletly. even lead to the wc 2011 final at the age of 38. this is the true sports man. salute the master and salute the God.and the inspiration of billions

          • June 9th 2014 @ 4:05pm
            Sean said | June 9th 2014 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

            All this helps him get to the top 10, maybe top 5 cricketers ever… but he needs more to get past Bradman.

            • June 12th 2014 @ 10:42am
              GregL said | June 12th 2014 @ 10:42am | ! Report

              More runs, yeah and will need to improve his average to say, gee I dunno, 100 PLUS. Mate no one will ever come even close to the DON.

          • June 12th 2014 @ 10:49am
            GregL said | June 12th 2014 @ 10:49am | ! Report

            Yeah of course Kalai, bowlers like Alec Bedser and Maurice Tate and Learie Constantine were pure garbage weren’t they ???, I am being very sarcastic by the way. No matter how you try to word it Bradman is the greatest, and has no clallengers ever. By you theory all the top batsmen back then should be averaging at least 85.00, please get over yourself, you never see Sachin running around comparing himself to the DON, he is humble and realistic, unlike you however. You should be asking, who is the number two batsman of all time instead of making a fool of yourself. Number two is highly debateable, we have Hobbs as main contender but there are others, like Hammond and Sachin and others that could make that shortlist. The Don is the best of all time, in fact almost twice as good as anyone else, accept it, build a bridge and move on.

          • June 12th 2014 @ 10:53am
            GregL said | June 12th 2014 @ 10:53am | ! Report

            You also forget one very very important fact. Pitches in Bradmans time were nowhere near as reliable as modern pitches and conditions, he had to play on wet almost unplayable wickets often like all his mates and predecessors, YET HE MADE tons like clockwork and destroyed every attack out there. Tendulkar has made most of his runs on dead, flat pitches and played against many very weak bowling outfits like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. You see we can also use stats to argue against your “theories”.

      • May 5th 2011 @ 5:02am
        amazonfan said | May 5th 2011 @ 5:02am | ! Report

        Blasphemy! 😀

        Seriously, I think that Richard’s selection was an example of how statistics isn’t everything. Bradman averaged 99.94, Hobbs scored more first-class centuries than any other cricketer, Warne took 708 test wickets, Sobers averaged 57.78 and had a highest test score of 365. Richards was less statistically impressive than Lara, Tendulkar, Miandad, Ponting, Hammond etc… However what made him extraordinary was his attitude and his style. As such, I think his selection is justified.

        • May 11th 2011 @ 11:07am
          Bayman said | May 11th 2011 @ 11:07am | ! Report


          Conversely, Richards selection may be an example of how we remember things better than they were. The strut, the arrogance and, yes, the courage and skill were memorable and, oddly enough, each of the selectors could actually remember him and in the recent past.

          Sheek is correct when he says that, if you were able to ask people from across the century, Richards would be fighting for a spot in the Windies best side given Sobers and Headley have two of the top six spots sewn up. Then you’ve got Weekes, Worrell, Walcott, Hunte, Kanhai, Lara, Richardson, Lloyd, Greenidge, Haynes, for example, fighting with Richards for the other four positions. It might have been even tighter if Collie Smith hadn’t been killed in a car accident. I’m not even thinking about Rowe, Kallicharran, Fredericks etc.

          Personally, I always thought Greg Chappell was at least as good as Richards (and a nicer guy to boot) so Viv’s selection in the top five of all time, from all-comers, was no certainty from my point of view but clearly, recent memory played a part for the selectors.

          If it’s attitude you want then Sid Barnes must be unlucky. A test average of 63 but ultimately ignored by Australia for “reasons other than cricket”. Perhaps attitude is not everything.

          As for the “other” Richards, Barry, I had the good fortune to see much of that summer of 1970/71 with South Australia. In my view a better player than Viv but then a better player than just about everybody so no shame for Viv there. Imagine Mark Waugh with a killer instinct.

          During the recent Adelaide Ashes test I had reason to catch up with a former SA opening bat for coffee. He mentioned a couple of mates might join us, did I mind? Five minutes later in walks one of those mates, one Barry Richards, of SA, SA, Natal and Hampshire fame. Me, I didn’t mind a bit. One of the best hours I’ve ever spent. If it had been a candy store, I’d have been the kid!

          • May 25th 2011 @ 8:13am
            amazonfan said | May 25th 2011 @ 8:13am | ! Report

            Yeh, you’re probably right. When it comes to Richards, my views are certainly impacted by his swagger and arrogance, however I think you are right that he wouldn’t even have been a certainty for a spot in the WI’s greatest ever side.

            “During the recent Adelaide Ashes test I had reason to catch up with a former SA opening bat for coffee. He mentioned a couple of mates might join us, did I mind? Five minutes later in walks one of those mates, one Barry Richards, of SA, SA, Natal and Hampshire fame. Me, I didn’t mind a bit. One of the best hours I’ve ever spent. If it had been a candy store, I’d have been the kid!”

            Amazing!!! 😀

            • June 9th 2014 @ 4:11pm
              Sean said | June 9th 2014 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

              I think you’ll find he’s a probable for a world XI and a certainty for the Windies XI. Why? Walcott and Weekes had very high averages, but no one puts them ahead of Richards – they simply didn’t destroy attacks the way Richards did. Moreover, Michael Holding commented in ESPN’s legends of cricket doco that Richards could have made a great deal many runs more, except that he simply didn’t need to. Yet he still did plunder some huge scores.

              No, leaving Richards out of a Windies XI is akin to leaving Chappell out of an Australian XI even with the Windies wealth of batting talent.

              • June 12th 2014 @ 10:57am
                GregL said | June 12th 2014 @ 10:57am | ! Report

                Oh but I would certainly leave Chappell out of of my Aussie XI, I rate Ponting and Waugh a long way ahead of Chappell and also dare I say it, Clarke and Hayden and Gilchrist and Border.

              • June 12th 2014 @ 10:59am
                GregL said | June 12th 2014 @ 10:59am | ! Report

                Chappell was great but lets not go overboard, on his day he was amazing and the equal of Richards, just not quite with the same level of destruction but he sure could grind an attack into near suicidal tendencies.

              • June 12th 2014 @ 11:24am
                Sean said | June 12th 2014 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                Rubbish. Chappell is the better than border and waugh. Take a look at the era he played and what the nearest batsman averaged. He is a league above.

                As Geoff Armstrong wrote: ‘In the 1970’s and 80’s scoring runs was a tough time… …but not for Greg Chappell’

    • May 4th 2011 @ 9:30am
      sheek said | May 4th 2011 @ 9:30am | ! Report


      Barry Richards was a childhood hero, even if he was South African. he might have only played 4 tests but he proved itself against the best. During WSC he hit 207 against Lillee, Pascoe, Walker, bright & others. He also hit another unbeaten century against the Aussies the following season.

      From memory, he & Greg Chappell were the two outstanding batsmen over the two seasons. Viv Richards came in 3rd. Viv had an outstanding first season, but was less successful the following season.

      And what about Barry’s performance for South Australia in 1970/71? He hit a century against each state, including 356 against WA, which had an all-test (past, present, future) bowling attack of Lillee, McKenzie, Mayne & Lock. He also hit 224 & 146 against the touring Englishmen & averaged about 110 for the season. Very Bradman-esque!

      Since following cricket from late 60s, B.Richards is the best opener I’ve seen. India’s Gavaskar & Sehwag can toss a coin to see who joins Barry!

      • October 18th 2013 @ 7:04pm
        Cliff said | October 18th 2013 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

        Richards swagger, arrogance and disdain really shouldn’t even be mentioned. I think cricket is about entertainment and that extra elicited intangible of awe one can only get from a K.P. or a Viv. Their technique are other wordly and one instinctively knows impossible to emulate. Shane Warne is a mystery selection when compared to murali for me. They operated in the same era against the same opposition, let the stats determine. Murali had no macgrath or lee to assist psychologically and always operated under a false cloud of surveillance. And still delivered! Also Malcolm Marshall or wasim, that je ne se quios. That, feeling emanating should determine the greatest. Wonderment, amazement and knowing only talent could produce suchlike. A Frederick’s or greenidge squarecut!

        • June 9th 2014 @ 4:15pm
          Sean said | June 9th 2014 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

          Murali was helped massively by prepared pitches in his own backyard. Warne is the true champion. Oh, and while the Australians were taking wickets, Warne was still able to snear more than his other great contemporaries.

          Plus, his first ball in England….

    • May 4th 2011 @ 9:46am
      sheek said | May 4th 2011 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      Regarding the list above, like you said, how could 10 people NOT vote for Sobers?

      And as I argued previously, Viv Richards made the top 5, but I’m not sure he’s even a shoo-in for a spot in the Windies all-time XI, especially when you consider the competition for middle order berths – Sobers, Richards, Headley, Lara, Weekes, Walcott, Worrell.

      Even Worrell isn’t a certainty for the Windies alltime XI, although I’m prepared to select him at opener with Hunte (& ahead of Greenidge) just to have him for his captaincy ability. Being the unique organisation they are, the Windies need a strong leader, even in an all-time XI!

      Besides, Worrell did open for Windies a couple of times, & his average is superior to rated openers Hunte, Greenidge, Haynes, Fredericks, Stollmeyer & Rae.

      Richie Benaud pulled 5 votes, & is a great statesman, plus a very handy cricketer. Yet if you were selecting all-time Aussie XIs, Grimmett would be selected ahead of him purely as a leg spinner. And Hugh Trumble, although an off spinner, was also superior purely as a spinner. And the much maligned Arthur Mailey probably spun the legbreak more wickedly than any of them (including Warne & O’Reilly).

      Of the 49 above who received a vote, 16 are Englishmen – one third. You see, the English aren’t going to let us forget they invented the game, even though they might not play it as well as other countries anymore.

      And Sir Pelham Warner got a vote – why? He might have been a famous administrator, but he was only a steady test player, & that might be the best I can say about his test career!

      • May 11th 2011 @ 11:29am
        Bayman said | May 11th 2011 @ 11:29am | ! Report


        Good comment but then that’s probably because I agree completely. If we presume the selectors were meant to pick the top five cricketers of the century then even one vote for “Plum” Warner is extraordinary but then the same could be said for Colin Bland (great fieldsman though he definitely was).

        On the score of extraordinary selections, I imagine only the Englishmen could have voted for Godfrey Evans three times. In my life time alone both Knott and Taylor were not just streets but whole suburbs ahead of Evans as a keeper. It’s the Viv Richards (recent memory) thing again. People clearly remember Evans acrobatics without understanding that it was required because his footwork was average. He missed as many chances as he got but some of his gets were spectacular – because they had to be. On his worst day, Don Tallon was a better keeper than Evans on his best. If Evans had played for a northern county he may never have been heard of.

        I saw Evans, I saw Knott and I saw Taylor. Trust me, if I was a bowler I’d want one of the last two named.

        Still, it highlights the massive problem of picking “best ever” sides. Most of the players tend to come from personal memory so the last fifty years get more reps than the first fifty. Stan McCabe played three of the great innings in Test cricket but got only a single vote, largely because he didn’t play that many Tests and he played pre-War (the second, that is).

        One surprise is the voting for Graeme Pollock. No favours done by South Africa’s exclusion from Test cricket following the summer of 1969/70. If Pollock wasn’t just as good as Viv Richards I’ll eat my hat. Of course, I’ll have to buy a hat.

        • May 11th 2011 @ 11:56am
          sheek said | May 11th 2011 @ 11:56am | ! Report


          It didn’t receive much press at the time here in Australia, probably because of the political heat, but when Graeme Pollock retired from first class cricket in 1987, at the grand age of 43, he received a telegram from Sir Don Bradman congratulating him on his exceptional career.

          Bradman went further, claiming Pollock was the greatest left-hand batsman in the history of the game. Now considering Bradman had a very soft spot for Gary Sobers, this praise cannot be taken lightly!

          I think there are a few “givens” when considering the best of all-time.

          Imran Khan is the next best batting all-rounder after Sobers, & perhaps on a par with Jaco Kallis. Mike Procter just behind them. Aubrey Faulkner was the best batting all-rounder who bowled spin, ahead of Wilfred Rhodes & Vinoo Mankad.

          Don Bradman is the greatest test batsman of all-time. George Headley was the “black Bradman” or as Caribbean folk preferred, Bradman was the “white Headley”. He is also up there.

          Graeme Pollock was the best left-hander in history, just ahead of Gary Sobers, who in any case, is the greatest batting all-rounder in history.

          As for the greatest bowling all-rounder in history, that would almost certainly be Sir Richard Hadlee.

          Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest test batsman of the modern era, but could he break into the all-time middle order of Bradman, Headley, Pollock & Sobers? Modernists say “yes”, but it’s debatable.

          By rights, there is no room for Vivian Richards in an all-time 1st XI.

          Jack Hobbs is the greatest opener in the history of the game. And Sunil Gavaskar probably deserves to be his partner. This leaves Len Hutton, Barry Richards, Virender Sehwag & Herbert Sutcliffe competing for the 2nd & 3rd XIs.

          Another Englishman, Sydney Barnes, is the greatest fast bowler in history, although he didn’t bowl much above medium pace. But his control of line, length, variety & strike power was unparalleled. He was referred to retrospectively as the “bowling Bradman”.

          As for out & out pacemen, there are plenty of contenders. Dennis Lillee & Malcolm Marshall probably head a list of about a dozen. Choosing your poison could come down to personal preferences.

          Shane Warne & Muttiah Muralitharan are the best two spinners in history, way ahead of the rest, probably led by Bill O’Reilly.

          Adam Gilchrist is the best batsman who could also keep wickets competently, but Alan Knott is the best keeper who could also bat competently!

          • October 18th 2013 @ 7:18pm
            Cliff said | October 18th 2013 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

            How does sehwag ever get mentioned? Have you guys ever batted? Not following proper technique and getting a result can only be construed as lucky, no matter how many times you succeed. A Marshall or a Hadlee would eat sehwag for lunch. These were properly thinking bowlers. People like Gayle etc shouldn’t be mentioned as batsmen. Batting is too sublime to be contaminated with those of poor techniques.

          • December 18th 2014 @ 10:49pm
            stephen wright said | December 18th 2014 @ 10:49pm | ! Report

            Hey sheek

            If Barnes was the greatest bowler how come you haven’t mentioned his greatest adversary: not Hobbs but

            Wilf Rhodes played tests for the Old Dart between 1890s and 1930s. He was asked in his twilight who was
            the greatest batsman he faced: not Bradman, Hobbs or Hammond. Your guessed it-Trumper!

            Get it right-they all learnt from Trumper


      • June 9th 2014 @ 4:16pm
        Sean said | June 9th 2014 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

        Richards is definatley a shoo-in in a windies xi

    • May 4th 2011 @ 2:09pm
      Gulu Ezekiel said | May 4th 2011 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

      David, you mention Brian Lara’s 400 not out. But that was scored in 2004 and the poll was taken in 1999. For that matter, what about Sachin Tendulkar? Not one vote in 500 either

    • May 4th 2011 @ 2:38pm
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | May 4th 2011 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

      David, Sheek,
      If I was a selector my Top 10 would be:
      1. Gavaskar 2. Bradman 3. Sobers 4. Tendulkar 5. Lillee 6. Warne 7. Worrell 8. Hutton 9. Hazare 10. Hobbs.
      I know, I know. You are going to say that my Indo-Aus background has influenced my selection.
      But look at the attack Gavaskar faced: Roberts, Holding, Lillee, Thomson, Marshall, Garner, Imran, Akram, Snow… And still he averaged over 50 despite opening for a weak batting team. Who else has faced such bowling without wearing a proper helmet and succeeding? Or wearing a helmet?
      And Hazare WHO, you may ask? When India was 4 down for 0 runs in the 1952 Leeds Test against England’s Trueman and Bedser, he saved India. Two months later India was 5 down for 6 runs and Hazare came to the rescue against a rampaging Trueman AGAIN. But wait, there’s more. In the 1948 Adelaide Test Hazare scored 116 and 145 against Australia’s Miller and Lindwall. Despite this India lost by an innings. Bradman was full of praise for this incredible Indian, incredibly modest cricketer.
      Sadly, experts have such poor memory!

      • May 4th 2011 @ 4:09pm
        sheek said | May 4th 2011 @ 4:09pm | ! Report


        I agree Sunny did wondrous things, especially against the Windies attack of the 70s & 80s, but Bradman is so far in front, it’s a no-contest.

        I’ve said before, even if you found sufficient reason to cull Bradman’s batting average by a third, at 66-67 it would still be way ahead of G.Pollock, Headley & Sutcliffe who all managed 60.

        And speaking of Vijays, isn’t it true that Merchant perhaps more than most players from most countries, suffered because of WW2. He is little known even in his own country. Pre-WW2, because India were just starting out in test cricket, he had few opportunities to demonstrate his obvious class.

        By 1945, when WW2 ended, he was already 34, with his very best years behind him.

        We’ll have to discuss this further at lunch……….

      • May 16th 2011 @ 9:50pm
        Harsh Thakor said | May 16th 2011 @ 9:50pm | ! Report

        I appreciate your list Kersi,but how can you rate Gavaskar the greatest as a cricketer?He may be the best of batsman but for no 1 cricketer to me it is only between Sobers and Bradman.Their closest contenders are Hobbs.Shane Warne,Imran Khan,Viv Richards and Tendulkar.

        Kersi,I agree Sunny was one of the greatest but remember that he could not change the complexion of games like a dynamite exploding in the manner of Viv or Barry Richards nor posesse the genius of a Brian Lara or Victor Trumper.Infact in Sunil’s era it was Vishwanath who was the superior artist and better performer as a match-winner.True Gavaskar faced the best bolwing attacks ,but he did not play on pitches as treachorous as Hobbs before the World War who scored 12 centuries against Australia,winning almosta ll his games after scoring ahundred.Imagine alos aggregating 197 first–class centuries and participating in 166 century partnerships.Hobbs virtualy defined his era.Tendulkar is more complete than Gavaskar if you consider his innovative abilty to destroy any type of bolwing.It must also be noted that lot of Gavaskar’s hundreds were not against the bset West Indies bowling.

        The greatest debate is whether to rate the great alllrounders ahead of the best batsman or bolwers or vice -versa.In my list the likes of Tendulkar,Imran Khan ,Gray Sobers etc would rate above Gavaskar and as pure batsman the likes of Viv Richards,Brian Lara,Tendulkar or Hmamond would nose ahead with Bradman still ahead by amargin.Would not Bradman have averaged atleast around 70 if he had played in the 1970’s and 1980’s?Remember Bradman played on unprepared pitches.To me Gavaskar is the eighht best batsman of all ,just edging out Headley,Hutton,Greg Chappell and Graeme Pollock. As acricketer overall he would be at about 22nd place,very close to Ian Botham.

        I feel with his great record Jacques Kallis should be given greater consideration.Statistically,he is the best al-rounder of all and has weathered a storm as a batsman better than Gray Sobers.He also has a big run and wicket aggregate in one day Internationals.To me Adam Gilchrist is also right up there,being the greatest match-winning cricketer at his peak,averaging over 60 at one stage and scoring at an 80+strike rate.

        My cricketer list is
        1.Don Bradman
        2.Gary Sobers
        3.W.G Grace
        4.Shane Warne
        5.Jack Hobbs
        6.Viv Richards
        7.Imran Khan
        8.Sachin Tendulkar
        9.Dennis Lillee
        10.Adam Gilchrist
        11.Muthia Murlitharan
        12.Malcolm Marshall
        13.Walter Hammond
        14.Sydney Barnes
        15.Ian Botham
        16 Jacqies Kallis
        17 Keith Miller
        18.Brian Lara
        19.Richard Hadlee
        20 Glen Mcgrath
        21.George Headley
        22Sunil Gavaskar
        23.Wasim Akram
        24.Len Hutton
        25 .Kapil Dev

        • December 25th 2011 @ 11:59pm
          Steve Van Der Sheer said | December 25th 2011 @ 11:59pm | ! Report

          Great list, and your absolutely right about the treacherous pitches that were uncovered in Hobbs and Bradman’s time. Oh and finally some appreciation for Kallis, cheers for that.

        • October 18th 2013 @ 7:30pm
          Cliff said | October 18th 2013 @ 7:30pm | ! Report

          Great list, tangentially has anyone seen Carl Hooper bat? Disdain is the only description surfacing. Much like a Viv or a KP, I salivated everytime. I know he shouldn’t be here but his batting was sometimes simply rediculous.

        • June 9th 2014 @ 4:20pm
          Sean said | June 9th 2014 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

          Good list, but Kallis shouldn’t be there

    • May 4th 2011 @ 2:57pm
      Kersi Meher-Homji said | May 4th 2011 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

      Gulu, You are wrong about Tendulkar. He got 6 votes, same number as Larwood and Lindwall.
      If the poll was taken now, it would have been over 60.
      It is the under-rating of Gavaskar which angers me.

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