I’ve already looked at great batsmen from individual countries but now it’s time to consider the overall list and ask who is the best of them all?
Who is the Best Batsman of All Time?
Most cricket followers will say that Don Bradman is the best batsman of all time and I would agree with that assessment. His numbers are just incredible and he is some way clear of every other batter on this list. In terms of his average, runs scored and number of centuries, he really has no equal so Sir Don Bradman is a logical choice to be the best batsman in the history of cricket.
10 Best Batsmen of All Time
1. Donald Bradman (Australia)
Let me back up my assessment of Sir Donald Bradman by looking at his batting statistics. The Australian played 52 test matches in a long career that lasted from 1928 through to 1948. In 80 innings, Bradman scored 6996 runs at a scarcely believable average of 99.94.
If he’d scored just four runs in his final test innings against England, he would have finished with a ‘perfect’ average of exactly 100. He was famously dismissed for a duck but that mark of 99.94 is still a significant milestone and it’s clear of the chasing pack by some distance.
Bradman also made 29 centuries with a best of 334 and we can add a further 13 half centuries to his tally. That meant that he passed 50, on average, in more than 50% of his test innings. Had it not been for the outbreak of World War Two, the Australian would have had the opportunity to make those figures even better.
Those are outstanding numbers nevertheless, and it’s tough for anyone to argue against Sir Donald Bradman being the best batsman of all time.
2. Sachin Tendulkar (India)
In the modern era, India’s Sachin Tendulkar was by far the most consistent batsman. The man known as the Little Master played an incredible 200 test matches and that’s a record that may never be beaten.
Another remarkable feat saw Sachin hit exactly 100 international centuries – 51 in test matches and 49 in ODIS. He’s also one of a select group of players to have hit a double ton in One Day Internationals.
In total, Sachin Tendulkar hit 15,921 test runs at an average of 53.78. There may be higher averages on this list but those are remarkable numbers over such a long period of time.
3. Viv Richards (West Indies)
The original Master Blaster, Viv Richards had a swagger at the crease and an unquenchable belief in his considerable ability. His mere presence was enough to strike fear into most opposition bowlers and he quickly began to dominant test batting in his era.
Richards made his debut in a test against the Indian cricket team in 1974 and he was part of the West Indies team that won the inaugural World Cup a year later. In test cricket, he made 8540 runs at an average of 50.23 with 24 hundreds and a best of 291. His ODI figures we’re equally impressive with 6721 runs with a highest score of 189 among 11 centuries.
4. Garfield Sobers (West Indies)
As an all-round cricketer, there are many who believe that Sir Garry Sobers was the best in the world. Certainly, he was one of the best batsmen of all time. Don Bradman may have been the superior batsman but Sobers, with his 235 test wickets, was the best all-rounder of all time.
But we’re here to talk about batsmen and Sobers’ record certainly stands up. In 93 test matches and 160 innings, he scored over 8,000 runs and achieved an average of 57.78. Of his 26 centuries, Garry Sobers’ undefeated 365 against Pakistan in 1958 was a record that stood for 36 years until it was beaten by Brian Lara.
One of the incredible points to note about that effort was that this was Sobers’ maiden test hundred and there would be many more.
5. Brian Lara (West Indies)
As a man who holds the world records for the highest individual scores in test matches and all first class cricket, it’s impossible not to include Brian Lara on this list. The stylish left handed West Indian Brian Lara is the only man to have hit 400 runs in a single test innings and that’s another record that will prove tough to beat.
Lara had originally broken Sobers’ test record in 1994 when he made an undefeated 375 against England. After Matthew Hayden had overtaken that mark in October 2003, Lara snatched the record back within six months, making his undefeated 400 against England in Antigua.
Both of those high scores were unbeaten so it’s no surprise that Lara has one of the highest test averages here at 60.51. He made 11,953 runs in test cricket plus a further 10,405 in ODIs and reached a hundred on 53 occasions.
6. Ricky Ponting (Australia)
One of the most successful captains in cricket history, Ricky Ponting’s efforts as a batsman often get overlooked. His average and his sheer weight of runs underlines the fact that he is one of the best batters in the history of cricket.
The man with the nickname ‘Punter’ made his international debut against South Africa in an ODI in 1995. He made an instant impression in that game, making 98 not out from just 55 balls. Ricky Ponting would go on to break a number of records in a 168-test career. When he bowed out against South Africa in 2012, he had made over 27,000 international runs with no fewer than 71 centuries and a highest score of 257.
7. Jack Hobbs (England)
There is plenty of competition on the national list but Jack Hobbs is England’s number one for many reasons. He made his test debut in 1908 and, until Don Bradman came along, he was the dominant batsman of his age.
Hobbs made 83 in his first test innings at the MCG and that was a promising sign of what was to come. He would go on to play 61 tests, with a highest score of 211 among 15 centuries.
It has to be remembered that very little test cricket was played in Jack Hobbs’ day and, if we add in his first class statistics, we can start to understand just how brilliant he was. Taking responsibility as an opening bat, Hobbs simply made more first class runs than anyone else. He made 61,760 runs with 199 centuries and those are both records that may never be broken.
8. Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
South Africa’s Jacques Kallis is surely second only to Garry Sobers in terms of cricket’s greatest all-rounders. He was capable of turning a game with bat or ball but his batting stats are enough to put him in eighth place on this list.
Kallis made his debut in international cricket for South Africa in a test match against England in Durban in 1995. By the time he retired from the game in 2014, he had scored 13,289 test runs which remains the third highest total of all time.
Jacques Kallis was another batter who could adapt his game to the state of the match, scoring quickly when the situation demanded. It’s no surprise that he was a force in ODI cricket too with 11,579 runs at an average higher than 44.
It was a remarkable career and it’s worth noting that Kallis has more Player of the Match awards (23), in tests, than anyone else.
9. Wally Hammond (England)
England’s Wally Hammond played in a golden era for batsmen and is another player who doesn’t always get the credit that he deserves. Once again, his statistics tell the full story.
Hammond scored big runs and he liked to get them quickly. His 336 against New Zealand in Auckland in 1933 was a test match record at the time and it came from just 318 balls. 295 of those runs came in a single day and that remains the second highest tally in the history of test cricket.
In a career which lasted from 1927 to 1947, Wally Hammond played in 85 tests, scoring 7,249 runs at an average of 58.45 with 22 centuries.
10. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
All of the batsman on this top ten list made serious runs but for me, Kumar Sangakkara was the most elegant. A left hander, the Sri Lankan could adapt to all forms of the game but he was perfectly suited to test match cricket.
Sangakkara made his debut against Pakistan in an ODI in 2000 and he would go on to play an incredible 404 ODIs in 15 years. The left hander made over 14,000 runs in this format but it’s his test numbers that really stand out. In 134 games and 233 test match innings, Kumar Sangakkara scored 12,400 runs with a highest score of 319 among 38 hundreds.
Another remarkable statistic to note is that Kumar Sangakkara passed 200 on 11 occasions in tests and that record is second only to the great Don Bradman.