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I’ve discussed their best batsman and their best bowlers, so now it’s time to take a look at the all round viewpoint. Here are the best West Indies cricketers of all time.
Who is the Best Cricketer from the West Indies?
Statistically, Brian Lara is the best cricketer that the West Indies have ever produced. Several years after his retirement, Lara still holds the records for both the highest individual score in test matches and also in first class cricket.
Lara finished his career as the leading test scorer for the West Indies with 11,912 runs. He’s also second on the ODI list, just behind Chris Gayle.
15 Best West Indies Cricketers
Brian Lara has twice held the record for the highest individual score in test cricket. After his effort of 375 was overtaken by Australia’s Matthew Hayden, Lara claimed the record back with 400 against England in 2004.
He had an insatiable appetite for run scoring and was one of the best batsmen of all time, not just for the West Indies. Across test matches and ODIs, he scored more than 22,000 runs with no fewer than 53 centuries.
Sir Vivian Richards
The original ‘Master Blaster’, Viv Richards was a devastating batsman and he also enjoyed a productive spell as the team’s captain. He liked to dominate an opposition bowling attack and famously never wore a helmet when he walked out to bat.
He would still take on the short pitched bowling, rather than duck out of the way, and he did this to great effect. When he retired in 1991, Richards was the West Indies’ leading scorer in tests with 8540 runs and a highest score of 291. He also added 6721 runs in 187 One Day Internationals.
Along with his new ball partner Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh continued to fly the flag for great West Indian fast bowlers. Over a long career, he would become the first West Indian to pass 500 test wickets and his total of 519 in this format remains a national record.
Walsh also heads the national list for most wickets in ODIs. His 227 victims came in 205 matches and he has the incredible best bowling figures of 5/1.
Sir Curtly Ambrose
With Curtly Ambrose bowling at the opposite end to Courtney Walsh, there was no respite for the unfortunate opposition batsmen. Curtly had height to add to his pace, so there was additional bounce for those opponents to deal with.
Ambrose played in 98 test matches and his total of 405 wickets is second only to Walsh in the national list. He also sits in second place in the Windies’ ODI list with 225 wickets from 176 games.
He had an awkward stance at the crease, but it was certainly effective for Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Shiv was incredibly hard to dismiss and his patient approach made him one of the most prolific batters in world cricket.
He could score quickly in limited overs cricket too, and Chanderpaul made some useful contributions in the shorter formats. In no fewer than 454 international games, Shivnarine Chanderpaul scored 20,988 runs with 41 centuries and a top score of 203.
He will largely be remembered as the best captain that the West Indies ever had, but we shouldn’t forget that Clive Lloyd was also a great batsman. He was a powerful left hander, who’s attacking approach to each format of the game epitomised West Indian cricket at the time.
Lloyd played in 110 tests, scoring 7515 runs with 19 centuries and a top score of 242. In the early days of One Day Internationals, he led the team to victory in the first two editions of the World Cup in 1975 and 1979. Clive Lloyd also scored 1977 ODI runs with a highest score of 102.
A powerful left hander, Chris Gayle sums up the new generation of franchise batters. He looks for the big shots from the very first ball and he holds the record for the highest individual score in all T20s.
We shouldn’t forget that Gayle was a force for the West Indies in all three formats and he’s one of only four players to score more than one triple century in tests. Gayle played in 483 international matches, scoring over 19,000 runs with a top score of 333.
Sir Garfield Sobers
Garry Sobers is probably the best all-round cricketer that the West Indies have ever produced. He was a hard-hitting left handed batsman who held the record for the highest individual score in tests for more than twenty years.
He also bowled a mix of left arm seam and spin, and Sobers led the West Indies test team for a time. He scored 8032 test runs which was a record for the Windies at the point when he retired. Sobers also added 235 test wickets with best figures of 6/73.
Dwayne Bravo focused on limited overs cricket for the latter part of his career and he became one of the best death bowlers in the game. Some nine years after he played his last ODI, Bravo remains the third highest wicket taker for the West Indies in this format – behind Walsh and Ambrose.
He is, however, at the very top of the list for leading West Indies wicket takers in T20is. Dwayne Bravo claimed 78 wickets in this format and is clear of the chasing pack. In total, he took 363 wickets across the two formats. Bravo was also an accomplished batsman and he scored five international centuries with a top score of 113.
There are many who feel that the late Malcolm Marshall was the best of all the great West Indies fast bowlers. His figures tend to back up that suggestion and, when he retired in 1991, Marshall was the leading West Indies test wicket taker at that time.
He claimed 376 wickets and those victims came in just 81 tests. That’s a seriously impressive wickets-to-games ratio. Marshall was one of the quickest of all time and that pace also helped him to claim 157 wickets in 136 One Day Internationals with best figures of 4/18.
Sir Frank Worrell
Any of the ‘Three Ws’ could have been included on this list, but I’ve opted for Frank Worrell over Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott. He had an exceptional record as a batsman and also led the West Indies with some success during a brief period in the early 1960s.
In 51 test matches between 1948 and 1963, Worrell made 3860 runs with nine centuries and a top score of 261. His average of 49.48 is superb and it confirms his star quality over a long test career.
West Indies teams of the 1980s liked to attack from the start of the game. It didn’t matter what the format was; if they went on the offensive from the first ball, the opposition would be on the back foot for the rest of the match.
Nobody characterised this approach better than Desmond Haynes. A power hitting opening batsman, he could take the game away from the opposition in the early overs of a West Indian innings.
The 1980s were his heyday, but Haynes enjoyed a long test career lasting from 1978 to 1994. He played in 116 matches and made 7487 runs with 18 centuries and a top score of 184.
In One Day International Cricket, Desmond Haynes added 8648 runs from 238 games and that was a record for the West Indies at the time. He scored 17 hundreds in this format with a best of 152 not out.
Along with Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge formed a prolific opening pairing at the top of the West Indies order. They were similar in style, both looking to attack, and Greenidge would eventually end with more test runs.
He also enjoyed a long career, making his international debut in 1974 in a test match against India. Gordon Greenidge made 93 and 107 in that game and that brilliant start led to a 17-year career.
He played in 108 tests and 128 ODIs, scoring 12,692 runs in the two formats with 30 centuries and a highest score of 226.
If you’re ever compiling a pub quiz, you may find it useful to know that George Headley is the only test cricketer to have been born in Panama. More importantly, he was such a classy and productive batsman that he earned himself the nickname of the ‘Black Bradman.’
His first class career batting average of 69.86 is the third highest of anyone who has played 100 or more matches. In tests, Headley was a vital batsman for the West Indies in 22 games between 1930 and 1954. He scored 2190 runs in that time with 10 centuries, an average of 60.83 and a top score of 270.
Of the many great West Indian fast bowlers of the mid-1970s, it’s tough to choose a clear favourite, but I’ve gone for Michael Holding here. One of my earliest cricketing memories involves travelling to the Oval in 1976 to see Holding blow England away with a devastating spell of bowling.
He was known as ‘Whispering Death’ due to his rhythmic, light footed approach to the crease, which ended with him unleashing the ball at ferocious speed. Michael Holding played in 60 tests and 102 ODIs in his career, taking 391 wickets across the two formats with best figures of 8/92.
There are some exceptional cricketers on this list and many would be genuine contenders for an all-time World XI. The West Indies have also been one of the most entertaining sides to watch during my lifetime and some of the players here take a lot of credit for that.
The national side isn’t quite as competitive in the modern day: The Windies keep producing a number of talented franchise cricketers, but the test team has a tendency to struggle. Hopefully that trend will be reversed and we will start to see some new additions to this round u in the near future.
For now, this is my list, but feel free to add some comments if you feel that I have missed anyone out.