12 Best T20 Batsmen of all time – Ranking the Greatest Cricketers

T20 cricket is the newest form of the game and we’ve seen some devastating batters rise to the top. Here are 12 of the best.

12 Greatest Batsmen in T20 History

1. Chris Gayle

The man with the highest individual score in T20 cricket is the brilliant West Indian Chris Gayle. With a best of 175 in this format, it’s no surprise that the Universe Boss is at the top of the list.

That incredible knock, made for Royal Challengers Bangalore against the Pune Warriors at the IPL in 2013, is just one of a number of T20 records that Gayle holds. The powerful left hander has scored no fewer than 22 T20 hundreds and is the only player to have hit more than 1,000 sixes in this format.

While there are some dangerous batters on this list, Chris Gayle’s returns in the shortest form make him the number one by some distance.

2. David Warner

A powerful player in all three formats, David Warner’s statistics are second only to those of Chris Gayle in the T20 form of cricket. As he entered the 2022 IPL, the Australian left hander had scored eight hundreds in T20s and was reaching a strike rate in excess of 141.

He may not be the most consistent player on this list but Warner has a tendency to make big runs when he is in form. His highest score is 135 and that impressive list of eight T20 centuries underlines that fact. He may be approaching his mid-30s but David Warner will remain an effective T20 player for a few more years.

3. Virat Kohli

The most reliable of India’s T20 batsmen over the years, Virat Kohli tends to excel in the IPL with his Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise. Back in 2016, he came close to scoring 1,000 runs in an IPL season and, while he ultimately fell short, his final tally of 973 remains a record.

Kohli has also been prolific at international level and his contributions have helped India become a real force in T20s. At the start of the 2022 Indian Premier League, Virat Kohli had made five T20 centuries with a high score of 113. His strike rate of 133 is relatively modest but his average, in excess of 40, is exceptional and it proves why he is such a valuable batter.

Virat Kohli
EDGBASTON, ENGLAND – June 15 2013: India’s Virat Kohli during the ICC Champions Trophy cricket match between India and Pakistan at Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

4. AB De Villiers

He was known as Mr 360 for his ability to hit shots all around the wicket and that’s a brilliant quality to have. South Africa’s AB De Villiers was a force in all forms of the game and he featured for a number of global franchise teams in a long career.

When he retired from professional cricket, De Villiers had a strike rate in T20s of 150.13 and those are seriously good numbers. He averaged 37.24 and recorded five centuries with a best of 133 not out. ABD scored at a rapid rate and he appears on lists for fastest 50s and tons in both limited overs formats.

12 Best T20 Batsmen of all time - Ranking the Greatest Cricketers
AB de Villiers (SA) and L Chandimal (SL) during an international one-day cricket match between South Africa and Sri Lanka (SA won the match), Bloemfontein, South Africa, 17 January 2012

5. Brendon McCullum

Brendon McCullum was one of the first batsmen to score at a high tempo in all forms of the game. He was the first player from New Zealand to hit a triple hundred in test cricket, but he will mostly be remembered for his contributions in T20.

McCullum holds another ‘first’ and, in the IPL’s inaugural season of 2008, he scored the first century in the history of the tournament. His 158 for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore remained a record for the competition until Chris Gayle passed it five years later.

Brendon McCullum actually made an identical score of 158 playing for Warwickshire in 2015. In total, the Kiwi made seven centuries in this form of the game and he made those runs at an impressive strike rate of 136.49.

6. Kieron Pollard

Kieron Pollard announced his retirement from international cricket in April 2022 and it was a surprise to hear that news in a T20 World Cup year. That would certainly be a loss for the West Indian team but we can expect to see Pollard feature in franchise cricket for a few more years.

He’s classed as an all-rounder, but Kieron Pollard makes the most impact with a bat in his hand. As he announced that international retirement, he had made 1569 T20i runs at a strike rate of 135.14.

His numbers improve considerably in the domestic game. Overall, Pollard’s strike rate lifts above 150 and his highest score of 104 came in 2018 when he was playing for St Lucia Stars against Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League.

7. Dawid Malan

He might not be the most natural T20 player. Dawid Malan is more of a traditional stroke player rather than an innovator but the ICC rankings have suggested that he’s one of the best T20 batters of recent years.

Malan is one of only four players to have hit a T20 hundred for England and he also has an unbeaten 99 in the international format. It’s perceived that he scores too slowly at times but, while his overall strike rate at around 127 may be modest, Malan has an impressive five centuries in T20s with a best of 117.

8. Kevin Pietersen

T20 cricket is evolving all the time so it’s a testament to Kevin Pietersen’s ability that he remains on this list. He last played a T20 match in 2018 but wasn’t featuring regularly in the game at that point.

Despite being retired, his batting numbers are so impressive that he will be hard to shift from his number eight slot. Pietersen’s average in T20 international matches sits at 37.93 and that’s the highest of anyone else mentioned here.

Strike rates are considered to be more important and KP stacks up well here too with a mighty figure of 141.51. Overall, Kevin Pietersen made 5695 T20 runs with three centuries and a best of 115.

9. Aaron Finch

Australia’s Aaron Finch currently holds the record for the highest international T20 individual score. His 172 made against Zimbabwe in 2018 just fell short of Chris Gayle’s overall record and this was the second time Finch had passed 150.

Back in 2013, Finch scored 156 in a T20i against England. He has an impressive eight centuries in this format and remains a destructive batter at international and domestic levels.

Aaron Finch
Aaron Finch

10. Andre Russell

The man known as Dre Russ is, perhaps, the most destructive ‘death overs’ batsman in world cricket. In the T20 format, Andre Russell will often come in with less than ten overs left but that doesn’t prevent him from compiling some high individual scores.

Russell has compiled two centuries in this form of cricket, and he has a highest score of 121. His average at around 26 may be modest but his strike rate, which is close to 170, is simply phenomenal. As a batter who scores quickly at the final stages of an innings, he’s arguably the best of his kind.

11. Alex Hales

Alex Hales may never feature for England again but he has already made his mark at international level. The Nottinghamshire opener made a 99 early on in his England career before becoming the first English batsman to score a century in a T20i.

His 116 against Sri Lanka in 2014 remains a national record and it’s one of five hundreds that Hales has scored in this format. While an England recall seems unlikely, his strike rate in excess of 146 means that Alex Hales will continue to feature in franchise T20 cricket for many years to come.

12. Glenn Maxwell

The man known as the Big Show also likes to deal in big T20 scores. At the start of 2022, Glenn Maxwell made an unbeaten 154 playing for the Melbourne Stars against the Hobart Hurricanes to complete the highest individual score in the Big Bash.

Maxwell also currently holds Australia’s third highest score in this format. Against Sri Lanka in 2016, he hit an undefeated 145 from just 65 deliveries. As of April 2022, Glenn Maxwell has five centuries in T20s and his strike rate of 151 is an impressive one.

How Did We Calculate the List of Best T20 Batsmen?

You might have been expecting to see other names in this roundup so let me explain how the list is compiled.

ICC Rankings

There are a number of factors used in determining the names on this list. The ICC rankings are an excellent gauge of a player’s capabilities and the ratings have played a part in this analysis.

Historic rankings have been used to cover a batter throughout their career. It’s not just about where they are in the current ICC rankings, they have to have returned consistently strong stats if they are to be included here.

Player Role

A player’s role in the team has also helped to determine who has made the final cut. We have a good mix in this section of power hitters who can come in at the top of the order and take advantage of the fielding restrictions in the opening six overs.

Behind them, there are batters who are involved in the middle order, accumulating runs from overs 6 to 14 before upping the tempo in the final six.

Others, most notably Andre Russell, don’t often feature until those death overs get underway. It takes a different kind of batsman to accelerate from a standing start at this late stage of an innings and those qualities also need to be taken into account.

Performance

This is an obvious factor to take into account. A player’s performance over the course of their T20 career should determine their position on this list. Key statistics to assess include strike rate, batting average, totals runs scored and highest score.

Also, as we have seen, a number of the players on this list have the ability to turn those centuries into big ‘Daddy Hundreds‘.

Style

There is a mix of styles in here too. A player such as Glenn Maxwell looks to hit every ball for six. It’s a strategy that he openly admits to and, while he’s not the most consistent player on this list, it’s no coincidence that he’s made some of the biggest scores in T20 cricket.

In contrast, we have a batter such as Dawid Malan who prefers a more cautious approach at the start of his innings. As the game develops and he gets his eye in, Malan can score more quickly in the later overs.

Virat Kohli may be similar in style to Malan while Alex Hales would be a better comparison with Glenn Maxwell. If you’re compiling a team or a list of this kind, a mix of styles is important.

Reputation

Reputation may not count for everything but it’s another point to consider. When a team sees any of these players step up to the crease, they know that this is a crucial time of the game.

If they dismiss the batter early, the bowling side has an advantage but, if that man stays at the wicket for ten overs or more, the game may well be gone.

Each of the batters on this list has backed up their reputation with seriously good statistics but that presence at the crease is another important factor to take into account.