Left Handers: There’s more of them now than when I started watching the game in the 1970s but who are the greatest left-handed batsmen in the history of cricket?
Who is the Greatest Left-Handed Batsman?
Statistics don’t lie when it comes to Brian Lara, who is unquestionably the greatest left handed batsman. The West Indian top batter holds the world record individual scores for both test and first class cricket. Each of those innings were undefeated and the milestones of 400 and 501 may never be beaten.
10. Graeme Pollock (South Africa)
South Africa’s Graeme Pollock only played 23 test matches but he would have undoubtedly featured in many more had it not been for his country’s exclusion from international sport. The curtain came down on his career in 1970, by which time he had made seven hundreds in tests at an average of 60.97.
9. Saeed Anwar (Pakistan)
Pakistan’s only representative on this list, Saeed Anwar played just 55 test matches which seems like a waste of his talent. His best score of 194 was a record for ODIs at the time and he scored 31 centuries across both formats.
8. David Warner (Australia)
Originally thought of as just a one-day slogger, David Warner has been hugely successful in the test arena where he has 24 centuries and a best of 335. He’s also passed three figures on 19 occasions in the short forms of cricket.
7. Sir Garry Sobers (West Indies)
One of the first truly great left handers to emerge in the game, Garry Sobers is the only man on this list who was equally effective as a bowler. With the bat, he averaged a mighty 57.78 in tests and hit the highest score – and also his maiden century – in the format at the time – 365 not out against Pakistan in 1958.
6. Matthew Hayden (Australia)
Before David Warner came along, Matthew Hayden was Australia’s big hitting opening batsman who was equally at home in the test and one day arenas. Hayden was another uncompromising left hander who hit the ball a long way and it’s a shame that T20 cricket arrived late on in his career.
In total, Hayden hit 30 test hundreds at an average of 52.88 and he also passed three figures on 10 occasions in ODIs.
5. David Gower (England)
David Gower’s reputation for giving away his wicket easily with a careless waft outside off stump masks his true quality. The former skipper averaged 44.25 in 117 tests and was England’s highest run scorer at one point in an era when his team struggled against strong West Indies and Australia sides.
4. Adam Gilchrist (Australia)
Adam Gilchrist was made to wait for his test debut and eventually appeared in Australian white at the relatively advanced age of 27. The wicket keeper-batsman made up for lost time with 33 centuries across all formats and a respectable test average of 47.60.
3. Sourav Ganguly (India)
India produced many brilliant batsmen from 1990 onwards but only one left hander really stands out. A highly respected and successful captain of one of India’s greatest ever sides, Sourav Ganguly accumulated over 7,200 test runs with 16 centuries and an average of 42.17.
2. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
There are a number of players who turned Sri Lanka into a world class team from the late 1990s onwards. In terms of batting, Kumar Sangakkara was, in my opinion, the best to watch and he’s certainly the most effective of his country’s left handers.
His stats are phenomenal with 63 international hundreds. Sangakkara averaged over 40 in ODIs and an impressive 57.40 in tests.
1. Brian Lara (West Indies)
We’ve already highlighted Brian Lara’s stats at the top of the page and they are quite remarkable. To record the highest scores in both test and first class cricket is, perhaps, the biggest achievement that any batsman can reach and that’s part of the reason why he’s the best left hander of all time.
The former West Indian captain’s averages may not come in as high as the man at number ten on this list but Lara has more consistency over a much longer period. In 131 test matches, he scored just under 12,000 runs at an average of 52.88 with no fewer than 34 centuries.
Best Left-Handed Batsmen Statistics
Although the above top 10 list is strictly subjective, we still have some figures to back up our choices. The chart below shows the most important stats of each of the previously mentioned left-handed batters in the same subjective order as seen above. David Warner, the only player still active is highlighted, and his data is updated regularly.
|Graeme Pollock||1963 - 1970||23||2256||274||7||60.97|
|Saeed Anwar||1989 - 2003||55||4052||188||11||45.52|
|David Warner||2009 - 2021||86||7311||335||24||48.09|
|Garry Sobers||1954 - 1974||93||8032||365||26||57.78|
|Matthew Hayden||1993 - 2009||103||8625||380||30||50.73|
|Sanath Jayasuriya||1989 - 2011||110||6973||340||14||40.07|
|Adam Gilchrist||1996 - 2008||96||5570||204||17||47.6|
|Sourav Ganguly||1991 - 2008||113||7212||239||16||42.17|
|Kumar Sangakkara||2000 - 2015||134||12400||319||38||57.4|
|Brian Lara||1990 - 2007||131||11953||400||34||52.88|
|Last updated: 22.11.2022.|
As yet, no one is officially batting with both hands in professional cricket. The closest we’ve come to someone who comfortably plays as a right and left hander is Australia’s Mike Hussey who batted right handed as a youngster but switched to left when he saw Allan Border on TV.
Ambidextrous players have been in the game for a while, in the sense that there are many who bat left handed and bowl right arm (and vice versa). David Warner is one example from this list, for those who remember his occasional right arm leg spin.
More recently, Sri Lanka’s Kamindu Mendis has bowled with both his right and left arms in international cricket. There are other bowlers, both in the men’s and women’s games. In India, Akshay Karnewar also bowls spin with both hands while Pakistan’s Yasir Jan bowls pace with right and left.
As for the lack of ambidextrous batsmen, few of us would be surprised if that changed in the near future.
Controversy Over Left-Handed Batting
When is a left hander not a left hander? It’s quite a controversial discussion point. Kevin Pietersen was the man who truly developed the ‘switch hit’ and it didn’t go down too well with everyone.
What is Switch Hitting in Cricket?
Switch hitting involves the batsman changing their stance at the last minute so a right hander would play a left handed shot and vice versa. It’s considered by many to be unfair to the bowlers and even Pietersen describes the switch hit as a ‘bit naughty.’
There’s something about the style of a left handed batsman that makes them stand out. Growing up, David Gower was one of my heroes and the elegance in which he played his shots was the main reason for this.
I was happy to see Gower on this list but let’s not forget the other nine who have blazed a trail for lefties by becoming the best of all time.