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Comparing players across eras is a futile exercise

No one has come close to Sir Don Bradman, and no one ever will. (AP Photo, File).
Roar Guru
27th November, 2017

Cricket fans all over the world love to compare players across eras, but while this is good for a fun debate, it’s ultimately futile.

The only batsman who escapes any such comparison is probably Sir Donald Bradman, as no one in any era has come close to what he achieved. The rest of the players though are not that privileged.

A comparison of players can never be done based on stats alone. Bowling attacks and pitch conditions are hard to replicate to make the comparisons valid.

For example, there is no way to prove if Virat Kohli would have been so successful in previous eras, in the same way we cannot definitely say that Sachin Tendulkar would been as dominant in the current era.

Until 1995-96, West Indies were still a force, easily winning a tri-series featuring a strong Pakistan and South Africa in 1993, and taking out Test series against England, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. They had a great bowling attack even until the mid-nineties. Viv Richards averaged 47 in ODIs at a strike rate of 90, in an era when rates were in early and late 60s.

How do we quantify such things when we say AB De Villiers is the best ODI batsman ever or Steven Smith is the best batsman to play Test cricket.

Players need to be left alone and just be accepted as they are. Smith, Kohli and De Villiers are greats of the game, similar to how Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar were of the previous era.

There need not be one great player of all time, it can never happen and we can never say with certainty that it is the case. There are great players in every era and we need to accept that fact and move on.

Smith is definitely the best Test batsman in the present era and Kohli is probably the best limited-overs player. There is no need to bring the players of the past and crunch some numbers to suit our agenda.