There are many exceptional cricketers in history. Let’s look at the greatest cricketers to ever grace the game of cricket. This does not reflect their individual greatness. It’s about their achievements as great cricketers. The list does not consider a player who is better than another. The list is solely based on your cricketing skills.
1. Gary Sobers is the most famous cricketer to ever have played the game. This was according to many who are interested in the game. He was able to play test cricket for 365 runs, score six runs in a single over, have a test average greater than most of the great cricketers, and be a good fielder. This is what makes him both the greatest all-round cricketer and the best cricketer. His batting alone could have earned him a spot in any great team. He was a skilled and versatile bowler. It is known that he could bowl slow and fast. He was a good bowler and a great fielder. All rounders are like being an extra player in the team. Take a look at the number of cricketers who have scored a triple 100 in test match cricket. Six sixes have only been hit in one over of International and first-class cricket. In the history of cricket, there have been only three players who can be called an all-rounder of substance and class. Gary is one of these. The list goes on. You can keep going.
2. Don Bradman: Perhaps as strong as Gary Sobers, Bradman is likely to be the greatest ever cricketer. Don Bradman is a remarkable cricketer because of his impressive test average of nearly 100 runs. Don Bradman is the greatest cricketer ever, considering his rare feat of scoring almost 100 runs per game. Gary’s greatest strength is his ability to play in all aspects of the game. Other than that, I don’t see any difference between Gary Sobers or Don Bradman as being the greatest cricketers ever. You have to wonder what he is capable of to average 100 runs an innings. The average run rate of all the great batsmen who have played a lot of games has been in the 60s. Most of the greats have averaged between 50s-60s. It is impossible to beat the best in your field by more than 40% in any sport. Don Bradman is, in this sense, not only the greatest cricketer but also the greatest athlete of all times. He scored almost 100 runs an innings during those hostile pitches with raw equipment. We all know how cricket equipment and bats have changed over time. It is easy to see the difference in bats between today’s bats and those of 20 years ago. It is hard to imagine what kind of bats Don Bradman used. Many people believe that Don Bradman played on very few pitches, so he has a poor record. Even the worst pitches, among all the grounds where cricket is played, must be better than those Don played on. If this was the case, then it is not surprising that no player from his era managed to reach 70s on an average. With all the modern bats and other equipment, it is possible to manage an average of 50 runs on benign pitches. Even though the pitches were more difficult to bat on than the ones we see today, they are still very challenging to use. This is a good indication of the pitch Don must have batted on. He is still the only player to score 300 runs in a single test match.
3. Imran Khan: Gary Sobers can do anything in cricket, but Imran Khan could be even better as a captain. Imran Khan, a great fast bowler and a potential captain for any team, could have been a good bowler. He was also as good as any international batsman. He was also a skilled fielder. He was able to win matches using his bowling and contribute significantly as an a batsman. He is considered to be the greatest among the greatest all-rounders of his generation, who are also among the most successful cricketers of all times. He is the only bowler who was better than him. Not many other bowlers are as well-known for their batting abilities. Wasim Akram was a better bowler that Imran, however Imran was a more reliable batsman than Akram. Richard Hadlee may have been a better bowler, but Imran certainly excelled as a batsman and as a captain in the all-rounders category. I think Imran Khan is better than Vivian Richards, but many people will disagree. My logic states that if Gary Sobers can be more than Don Bradman then logic dictates that Imran Khan must be better than Vivian Richards as an cricketer. It is difficult to measure the talents of the players and their contribution to the team. You can easily put Gary Sobers ahead of Don Bradman. Vivian Richards could be ranked ahead of Imran Khan. Because of Imran Khan’s tremendous contribution in every area of the game, Imran Khan was voted #3 on the list of greatest cricketers.
4. Vivian Richards was the most destructive batsman in history, at a time when attacking style batting was rare. We have had the privilege of seeing the likes Sehwag, Jaysurya and sometimes Shahid Afridi destroy the bowling attack in modern times. But none of them is as intimidating as Vivian Richards. The man is known for having the fastest test hundred with an average score of over 50 and in one-dayers an average run rate of 47 runs, which speaks volumes about his ability. Vivian Richards’ 47 runs per innings average is more than the 40 of these destructive batsmen. Many other great batsmen have a lower average than Viv’s 47, and a much lower strike rate than Viv. No matter the match, he never changed his style of batting. Vivian Richards is the best one-day batsman in the game. He also scored 50 runs in tests, scoring them at a fast pace. He was also a great fielder and occasionally bowled. Imran Khan, one of the most outstanding fast bowlers of his generation, said that Vivian Richards was the only batsman to have scared him. Vivian Richards is the only player who could play the game like him. He was the best cricketer of all time and he deserves fourth place on the list.
5. Adam Gilchrist: Adam Gilchrist was almost Vivian Richards’ batsman. He would also double up as a wicketkeeper. In this sense, I was tempted by Gilchrist to be ranked ahead of Vivian Richards. But Viv is such an intimidating batsman that I chose to keep Viv at #4. Adam Gilchrist is still one of the most outstanding cricketers of all-time. Adam Gilchrist is one of the best in both formats of cricket and has an average that matches the best. Adam Gilchrist is one of the key reasons that Australia cricket has dominated the past decade and a half. Adam Gilchrist was one the key players in the talent-rich Australian team. He is a wicket-keeper batsman and will certainly add to the team’s strength. Some of his most memorable innings were played during his career. He played a remarkable hundred against Sri Lanka in 2007 World cup.
6. Wasim Akram: Wasim is a dream cricketer that many great cricketers wish to be reborn. Many former greats, including Allan Donald and Mohammad Azharuddin, consider Wasim to be the best natural bowler. He was said to have been able to bowl six types of balls in a single over. He was able to turn the game around with his explosive batting. England was utterly defeated by those two wickets, which he took on consecutive deliveries during the 1992 world cup final. It was a great opportunity to deliver two of the finest deliveries of his career. The greatest cricketers will rise to the occasion on the biggest stage. A player like Adam Gilchrist is a great example of this. He plays extraordinary cricket on huge stages such as the World Cup 2007 against Sri Lanka, and seals the win for his team. Wasim Akram is the only international bowler to have won hat-tricks four times. Wasim Akram has won many games for Pakistan unassisted. Waqar Younis and he formed a formidable bowling team that tore apart many batting lines. McGrath was the other great bowler at his time. McGrath described Wasim Akram himself as a better bowler than him. McGrath would be proud of Wasim Akram’s bowling ability. Also, when you think about what he could do using the bat, you will see the value of Wasim as a cricketer. He was instrumental in setting the challenge total for the 1992 World cup final with his quick and explosive batting. He scored 33 runs from just 19 balls towards the end of innings. It was a great occasion for a man of Wasim’s calibre to rise for his country and his team. It is not known that Wasim also scored a six in the final ball to win the Nehru Cup for Pakistan. Miandad hit a six in the final ball to win the Nehru cup for Pakistan. This was when only four runs were needed from the last ball. Pakistan needed six runs to win the Nehru cup final. Wasim Akram scored six runs off the first ball and won the cup for Pakistan.
7. Richard Hadlee: Undoubtedly the greatest New Zealand cricketer to date. He was a great bowler and one of the greatest cricketers of all time. When Richard Hadlee was in New Zeeland, there were very few match winners. Hadlee was often their match winner. Richard Hadlee brought New Zeeland cricket more laurels than any other great cricketers have brought to their country. He is one of the ten best bowlers of all-time. He was also a skilled batsman, perhaps the best in the New Zeeland team. He was one of the four great all-rounders in the 70s and 80s. Many considered Richard Hadlee to be the greatest bowler of all the four great all-rounders. Richard Hadlee’s bowling was a disaster. His batting won and saved many matches for New Zeeland. He was a match winner who is very competent.
8. Jacques Kallis: Many consider him the greatest cricketer ever, ahead of Gary Sobers. Others rate him the greatest South African cricketer. Kallis is a Rahul Dravid, Srinath and all-rounder. Kallis is a reliable, technically sound batsman, and an excellent bowler. Kallis is South Africa’s additional fast bowler and batting lynchpin. Kallis has been a steady and quiet leader for the South African team for about ten-and-half years and appears good enough to continue his role for at least two to three more years. His statistics could be staggering by the time he retires. One statistic that is more important than Brian Lara or Sachin Tendulkar in test and one-day cricket is his higher average. Sachin is an opener in one-dayers, while Kallis is a middle order batsman. It’s quite remarkable that Kallis has a higher average than Sachin Tendulkar. Although Kallis is not as flair-oriented in one day games, he has been crucial to the success of the one day team. Jacques Kallis is an excellent fielder. He was a frequent slip fielder for South African. I can still recall his catch against Pakistan in Sharjah. He ran from extracover to just near the boundary, then had to run at the last moment to make the distance with the ball. Gary Sobers from a different type.
9. Kapil Dev: Kapil dev was India’s greatest cricketer. He was equally adept with the bat and the ball. He was the greatest all-rounder of his generation and probably the best batsman. His batting was what carried India through the majority of the 1983 World Cup. Kapil was also the first true fast bowler of Independent India, considering Mohammad Nissar’s test career was over before independence. However, he continued to play first-class cricket for a while after independence. Kapil Dev, a very hard hitting batsman, was the leader in India’s bowling attack for nearly a decade and a half.
10. Walter Hammond: Walter Hammond is an attacking batsman who was able to play long innings with consistency. He was one of those batsmen who scored consistently high and had an impressive strike rate. He nearly had every chance. He was a skilled hitter who was able to make big runs when needed. He was a great cricketer, with a test average of 58.45 and 167 first-class hundreds. Also, he took two five wickets in test cricket.
11. Brian Lara: Brian Lara is undoubtedly one of the greatest batsmen ever. These are not ordinary feats to achieve scores of 500, 400 and 300. Brian was one of the few cricketers to achieve such incredible scores. This is a testament to his exceptional abilities as a cricketer. Brian probably underperformed because he was part a weaker West Indian side. The strength of a team and its performance can often have an impact on a batsman’s performance. This is what I can confirm. You can see Ponting’s performance when Australia was the strongest, and Ponting’s performance now with an Australian team that is declining. Sachin’s performance this year has been remarkable, despite the overall improvement of the Indian team. Brian Lara is a remarkable batsman and one of the best. He is the only first-class cricket player to score 500 runs. Brian Lara has several entries that rank near the top in the list for most runs scored per over. Brian Lara has more big runs than any other player in the history. Sachin, despite being a much better cricketer, has never scored 400. Lara achieved this feat twice in test and 500 in first class. Even though he has played fewer games, Brian Lara has more double hundreds than Sachin. Sachin Tendulkar’s one-day International record is better because he opened the innings, and had every chance to play all 50 runs.
Shane Warne is the greatest slow bowler ever. The greatest exponent of leg spin bowling. Shane Warne was a master of leg spin bowling and often achieved magical feats with the ball. Mike Gatting’s famous ball to Shane Warne, which came in sharply out of his leg side to dislodge the bail, is considered the ball of the century. When Australia needed them most, he has provided crucial breakthroughs. One example was the 1999 Semi-final match against South Africa. South Africa, which was chasing Australia’s total, was one course. The South African openers were off to a flying start, with Gibbs particularly. Shane Warne was called in to the attack and immediately got Gibbs with a peach delivery that stunned Gibbs and dislodged him stumps. South Africa fell by the wayside from that point. Shane Warne was among the top three cricketers of that Australian invincible side, with Adam Gilchrist (second) and Glenn McGrath (third).
13. Sanath Jaysurya. It was Sanath Jaysurya’s promotion to the opening spot during the 1996 World cup which transformed the Sri Lankan cricket side from one of the worst in the world to one that became one of the most successful. Although Jaysurya did not make it to the finals or semi-finals of the 1996 World cup, his performance during the first part of 1996 World cup gave the Sri Lankan team the momentum they needed to win the World cup. Sri Lanka has been one of the most powerful teams in the world since then. Jaysurya was a skilled and attacking batsman. He also had a great spin bowling ability and fielding skills.
14. Muthiah Muralitharan is the best off-spinner in the game and Shane Warne is the greatest slow bowler of all time. With his clever deliveries, Muthia Muralitharn is able to bamboozle all the batsmen. Murali is the most successful bowler in both formats of cricket. He is the greatest Sri Lankan cricketer who has actually defined Sri Lankan cricket.
15. Virender Sehwag is the main reason India is ranked #1 in ICC rankings. When he retires from International cricket, Virender Sehwag should be able climb this list. Sachin Tendulkar is now his batsman, and he is the second most successful cricketer after Kapil Dev. He could be among the top 10 greatest cricketers by the end of his career. He is a consistent striker that can do more than most, even against poor bowling and on a difficult pitch. Bishen Singh Bedi has rated him the best spin bowler in India.
16. Glenn McGrath: I was often struck by the impression that Glenn McGrath was harder to play than Wasim Akaram when I watched him bowl. This speaks volumes about the man’s abilities. Glenn McGrath was all line and length. McGrath was one of three major players in the dominating Australian team of late 1990s and much of the 2000s. McGrath was an intimidating bowler and completely destroyed any opposition. This was one of the reasons Australia won the three world cups in a row.
17. Sachin Tendulkar: Sachin Tendulkar may be the first Indian batsman to consistently outpace fast bowlers. Sunil Gavaskar was the original Indian batsman to look into the eyes and see the fastest bowlers. Sachin Tendulkar is undoubtedly one of the greatest batsmen the world has ever witnessed. Sachin Tendulkar, a child prodigy, captured the attention of the cricketing world at the tender age 16 when he made his debut on the International stage. His batting records include many in both formats of the game. While some may argue that Tendulkar was better than the others on this list, I believe the people above Tendulkar were either more talented or more successful than him. Sachin Tendulkar, despite his great talent, has failed to excel when it matters the most. Although he is a great batting talent, he cannot cope with the pressure as a cricketer. He was a great batting talent but he can only get to 90 runs when he is close to 100. The entire series between Sri Lankan and Indian was witnessed by me. Tendulkar was about 100 runs behind Brian Lara, and all the attention was on Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin Tendulkar failed in every series. Sachin Tendulkar performed exceptionally throughout the 2003 World Cup, but he failed to make it to the final when everyone expected him. His batting record is impressive, which is a testament to his batting talent. However, his average winning match wins is well below the likes of Bradman, Inzimam and Steve Waugh. Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis are just a few examples. If we don’t consider the minorities of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, Sachin Tendulkar has a lower average than other great batsmen of our time. While he has performed well in the first innings of a match, he has not been able to live up to his expectations in the second or third innings. His average in the third and forth innings is not comparable with that of other modern batting legends.
18. Malcolm Marshall: Wasim Akram considers him the greatest fast bowler of all time. However, McGrath was a clear winner due to the pin-point accuracy of McGrath’s bowling. He was shorter than the other West Indian fast-bowers but was the fastest of them all. When he was on the stumps, he was almost incomparable. He was able to run through the opposing batting line many times and could have had more wickets if not for having to share the wickets of three other outstanding fast bowlers from the 1980s West Indian team.
19. Javed Mandad: Javed MIandad was one of the most formidable players on the cricket pitch. His never-to-say die attitude makes him an standout cricketer. Javed Miandad is a skilled batsman who can play long innings. He is one of the most prolific double-century scorers. Javed Miandad is the only test cricket player to have a run average of over 50 throughout his career. Javed Miandad has a run average of over 41 in the one-day format of the game, batting in the middle. His key role was in many victories for Pakistan. His significant contribution to the 1992 World cup win for Pakistan was crucial. Javed’s last ball six against India, when only four runs were needed to win, will always be remembered. Without Javed Miandad, no World XI or all-time list would be complete.
20. Ian Botham: Ian Botham was one of the greatest all-rounders of the 1970s and 1980s. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest England cricketers. Ian Botham remains the top wicket taker in England test cricket. He has been at his best and produced some of the most memorable performances with both the bat and the bowl. Botham’s entire career can be broken down into two halves. He was a great all-rounder in his first half, and might have been even better than them. But he finished at the bottom of the list of great all-rounders his time. He was still very skilled with the bat and ball.
21. Jack Hobbs: Jack Hobbs is a great batsman and one of the most important that England has produced, along with Walter Hammond. He holds a test average 56.94 runs and has amassed countless runs in first-class cricket. He was just short of a double century of 100s in first-class cricket. He is one of the greatest batsmen ever. Wisden, a leading cricket magazine, ranked him among the Top Five Cricketers All Time.
22. Keith Miller: Keith Miller is Australia’s greatest and most successful all-rounder. Keith Miller was one of very few all-rounders with almost identical skills in both bowling and batting. He was equally proficient with both the bat and the ball. He was a good bowler as well as a good batsman, making him an excellent all-round cricketer.
23. Dennis Lillee: Dennis Lillee was fast and one the most powerful bowlers of all-time. He and Jeff Thompson formed one of the greatest bowling teams of all time. Rodney Marsh, wicketkeeper, also shared a world record partnership that saw him enact the most bowler-wicketkeeper-wicketkeeper-releases for being caught by a keeper while being bowled by an a spinner. He was also included in Bradman’s all-time XI as well as ESPN cricinfo’s all time World XI. However, I would prefer a Richard Hadlee, an Imran Khan or a Dennis Lillee in all-time XI.
24. Greg Chappell: Greg Chappell is one of the most outstanding batsmen of all-time. Greg Chappell is a great batsman. He ranks just behind Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, and equal with Sachin Tendulkar. Greg Chappell was a master at both pace and spin bowling, on both ends of the wicket. He put in some of the best performances against the most formidable attack in World Series Cricket. He is undoubtedly the best. Greg Chappell could also contribute with the ball as a medium pace bowler.
25. Sunil Gavaskar: Perhaps the first Indian cricket megastar. He is believed to have inspired many Indian batting stars that emerged in the 80s and 1990s. He is Dilip Kumar in Indian cricket. He was the first Indian cricketer to be able to see the eyes of fast bowlers. His greatest innings were against the most skilled fast bowlers of his era. His record against Australia, Pakistan and West Indies is impressive. These were the three countries with the greatest fast bowlers at the time. His victories against the West Indian team have been legendary. He was the find of the tournament when he made his test debut against West Indies. Sunil Gavaskar’s ability to bat against Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding and win back-to-back hundreds speaks volumes about his abilities as a player. Other greats such as Vivian Richards and Gary Sobers rate him highly. This is a good indicator that he should be higher up on the list. He was a technician and not a stroke player. He would not be able to meet modern-day one-dayers’ requirements and would not have been suitable for T20. This is precisely why he is at 25, not at 10, on this list.