Batting May 7, 2009

The great Test batsmen - a look across 132 years

This is one of the most awaited analyses and has been in the pipeline for long

This is one of the most awaited analyses and has been in the pipeline for long. Many readers have asked for this analysis and finally I have been able to complete the same. I have given below a summary of how I have gone about this complex analysis process. This is based on my own observations and comments raised by a number of readers over the past few months.

1. There has to be equal weight given to Match performances and Career achievements. The match analysis should deal with the specific match-related measurable situations only.

2. The batsman's longevity related measure such as career runs scored has to be recognised, but at a lower weighting level, no more than 15-20% of the total.

3. There has to be a clear recognition of the quality of bowling faced by the batsman in every match. A hundred against Australia has to be valued at a much higher level than a hundred against Bangladesh or New Zealand in 1933.

4. The batting average should be considered the most significant of the career-related measures. However this has to be adjusted based on the par batting average(s) of the period(s) spanned by the batsman's career. A pre-WW1 batsman's average has to be adjusted upwards for the low batting averages prevalent during these period while a current batsman's average has to be adjusted downwards in view of the high batting averages prevalent. If a batsman's career spans multiple periods, there has to be proportionate adjustment.

5. The batsman's career strike rate has become an important measure. This should be recognized, if available. For those batsmen whose strike rate information is not available, this parameter will not be included. If the strike rate is available for part of the batsman's career, it will be considered for that part only. This is explained in detail later. There is a case for the innings strike rate to be incorporated in the Match Performance calculations. However this revised methodology necessarily requires the strike rate to be a career-based calculation rather than match innings based.

6. Non-measurable cricketing factors such as bouncers, helmets, uncovered pitches et al cannot be incorporated. Nice for healthy discussions, but not beyond.

A lengthy introduction, however the weighty topic required this. Now let us look at the details.

First a minimum criteria is to be established. I have decided to keep the minimum runs required at 2000 runs so that great batsmen such as George Headley, Greame Pollock, Ponsford, Macartney, Hazare, O'Neill, McCabe et al would come in for consideration. If I had raised the bar to 3000 runs, all these wonderful players would have missed out. It is also true that in a different era and political situation they would have played more Tests.

Now for the Ratings methodology.

The Match Performances would carry a weight of 50 points, based on the methodology explained below. Career Achievements will carry a weight of 50 points, based on methodology explained later.

Match Performances:

The following factors are considered.

Base for calculation will be Runs scored. Other factors are explained below. Each of these is a multiplicative parameter, ranging either side of 1.00. For certain parameters such as result, home/away, runs added with late order et al, there would not be a below 1.00 value.

1. Pitch type.
2. Quality of bowling - weighted by actual balls bowled by each bowler.
3. Position at batsman entry (5 for 1, 100 for 2, 24 for 3, 325 for 4 et al).
4. Runs added with late order batsmen (no. 8 onwards).
5. Innings type (1/2/3/4, Score faced, Target et al).
6. Match result, taking into consideration relative team strengths.
7. Match location (Home/Away).
8. Match importance (Series status).

The points for each innings are computed, summed and divided by the number of matches played to arrive at the Match Performance Ratings value. The highest Match Performance Ratings value is 40.03 achieved by Bradman. George Headley is the next best in this category with 28.48 points followed by Lara with 27.31 points. Thus the limit of 50 we set has worked out well.

Career achievements:

The points allocation, totalling to 50 points, is explained below.

1. Batting average: 20 points (for an adjusted average of 100.00).

Adjusted by the years spanned by the batsman career and the average Batting Average during the period. The adjustment is done proportionately. Most of the adjustment has been downward, between 1% and 6% (for the 2000s batsmen). The highest adjustment has been 20%, for batsmen such as Hill, Trumper whose entire career has been before Pre-WW1.

The highest adjusted average is that of Bradman, whose average of 99.96 has been adjusted down to 96.75. He gets 19.35 points and is followed by Hobbs (61.68) with 12.34 points and Weekes (61.06) with 12.21 points.

2. Runs scored: 15 points (for scoring 15,000 Test runs).

Away runs are given a slightly higher weight as explained. Scoring 1050 home runs gets one point for the batsman while 950 away runs will be enough to get one point. The differential of 10% seems very reasonable. This is the only longevity-based measure and carries a weight of only 15%.

This is a straight-forward calculation. Tendulkar is the highest and gets 12.85 points followed by Lara with 11.93 and Border with 11.16 points.

3. Scoring rate: 10 points (for a scoring rate of 100).

The full 10 points (and a total of 100 points) will be the base for batsmen like Sehwag, Hayden et al, whose career strike rate is available in complete. For batsmen such as Bradman, Hobbs et al, there will be no points taken, consequently the total points for consideration of the Ratings points % will be 90. For batsmen such as Lara, Tendulkar et al, proportionate points, out of 10, will be considered, consequently the total points for consideration of the Ratings points % will be between 90 and 100. This delicate tweak was suggested by Shyam (Ananthanarayan).

Among those whose complete data is available, Gilchrist leads in this measure with 8.20 points followed by Sehwag with 7.87 points and Pieterson with 6.32 points.

4. % of Team runs scored: 5 points (for scoring 25% of team runs).

Bradman is the leader in this measure, having scored 24.98% of the team runs. He gets 4.99 points, followed by Headley with 4.32 points and Lara with 3.79 points.

Now for the Top-20 table.

The best Test batsmen of all time

No.Cty Batsman        Mat  Total Rating Match BatAvg Runs BatSR %-TS   Max
Pts   Pts    Perf  Pts   Pts   Pts   Pts   Pts

1.Aus Bradman D.G 52 (71.27) 79.19 40.02 19.35 6.91 .... 4.99 90.00 2.Win Lara B.C 131 (58.44) 59.40 27.31 10.43 11.93 4.98 3.79 98.38 3.Ind Tendulkar S.R 159 (53.68) 54.59 22.43 10.69 12.85 4.60 3.11 98.33 4.Aus Ponting R.T 131 (54.46) 54.46 23.95 10.85 10.88 5.91 2.87 100.00 5.Eng Hobbs J.B 61 (48.53) 53.93 27.07 12.34 5.49 .... 3.64 90.00 6.Win Sobers G.St.A 93 (48.14) 53.49 25.48 11.48 8.03 .... 3.16 90.00 7.Eng Hutton L 79 (47.78) 53.09 25.85 11.35 6.93 .... 3.66 90.00 8.Ind Gavaskar S.M 125 (47.40) 52.51 23.81 10.02 10.12 0.11 3.35 90.28 9.Win Headley G.A 22 (46.98) 52.20 28.48 12.00 2.18 .... 4.32 90.00 10.Ind Dravid R 134 (51.80) 51.80 23.58 10.11 10.92 4.17 3.02 100.00

11.Aus Hayden M.L 103 (51.71) 51.71 24.47 9.85 8.54 6.01 2.84 100.00 12.Win EdeC Weekes 48 (45.83) 50.92 25.65 12.21 4.44 .... 3.53 90.00 13.Saf Kallis J.H 131 (50.73) 50.73 22.51 10.56 10.23 4.42 3.01 100.00 14.Eng Barrington K.F 82 (45.63) 50.70 23.72 11.71 6.81 .... 3.39 90.00 15.Aus Border A.R 156 (46.62) 50.40 21.50 10.07 11.16 1.01 2.89 92.50 16.Pak Mohammad Yousuf 79 (50.37) 50.37 24.50 10.60 6.81 5.26 3.20 100.00 17.Slk Sangakkara K.C 80 (50.09) 50.09 24.23 10.33 6.73 5.59 3.21 100.00 18.Aus Chappell G.S 87 (45.27) 50.04 24.31 10.54 7.01 0.24 3.17 90.48 19.Ind Sehwag V 69 (49.69) 49.69 23.59 9.40 5.77 7.87 3.06 100.00 20.Win Richards I.V.A 121 (44.67) 49.39 22.81 9.90 8.65 0.31 2.99 90.45

Any doubts as to the position of Bradman at the top should disappear after this analysis. Bradman is the best in three measures (Match Performance, Batting Average and % of Team Score). He is ahead of the next best batsman by a whopping 25%. A series average of 57 by Bradman was considered to be a failure. It is necessary to agree, once and for all, that Bradman is and was the best Test batsman who ever played. Note the qualification, "Test", however. Who can forget the 334, 304, 270, 173* that Bradman scored.

Lara's second position again should not surprise any one. Playing for a weak team, mostly with inconsistent support, he essayed some of the best Test innings ever. 153*, 213, 277, 375/400 should figure in anybody's list of Top-20 innings. He also scored at a fair pace. Finally has there ever been a better batsman's Test series than the one, away, against Sri Lanka when he scored 688 runs, all in a losing cause. Lara is way behind Bradman but is very comfortably ahead of the next batsman.

The third and fourth positions should be looked together. Tendulkar and Ponting are separated only in the second decimal, that too because of Ponting's below-average series aginst South Africa. Two wonderful batsmen, capable of saving or winning Tests, fully deserving of their high place in this table. If Tendulkar is a more all-round batsman with an outstanding technique and no weakness, Ponting is the more attacking batsman but with a known weakness against top class spinners.

Hobbs is in fifth position, deservedly so, no doubt aided by the upwards revision of his batting average. He played on a number of bowler-friendly pitches and it is difficult to think of a better opener other than the one who appears slightly below him.

The top-10 is completed by Sobers, Hutton, Gavaskar, Headley and Dravid. Every one of these batsmen deserves his position. Headley is in the Top-10 despite playing only 22 Tests and scoring 2190 runs. This is a vindication of the Ratings methodology in that a batsman who has scored only a fifth of the runs the others have scored can still come into the Top-10.

Richards' position at no.20 might be questioned by some. The problem is that Richards, with his carefree attitude alternated great performances with very average performances in his Test career. This is clearly shown in the Match performances points, quite low at 22.81. Also his adjusted average is below 50. Finally a simple indicator is the fact that he has taken 121 Tests to score 8540 runs (71 runs per Test) as compared to Lara, 131 Tests and 11953 runs (91 runs per Test) or Hayden, 103 Tests and 8625 runs (84 runs per Test). It is also true that he never faced the most fearsome bowling attack at that time.

Similarly Hammond's 22nd position (Pieterson is at no.21) must also be looked at with surprise. This is explained by the fact that a fair proportion of his runs were scored against very weak New Zealand attacks and average South African and West Indian attacks.

To view the complete list, please click here.

The support information for the Top-20 batsmen is given below.

The best Test batsmen of all time: Support data

SNo. Cty Batsman       Mat Rating Runs Batting (Adj)  BatSR   %-TS Career
Pts        Average  (%)                BowQty

1. Aus Bradman D.G 52 79.19 6996 96.75 (0.97) .... 25.0% 36.1 2. Win Lara B.C 131 59.40 11953 52.15 (0.99) 59.4* 19.0% 35.4 3. Ind Tendulkar S.R 159 54.59 12773 53.46 (0.98) 55.2* 15.5% 37.1 4. Aus Ponting R.T 131 54.46 10956 54.26 (0.97) 59.1 14.4% 37.0 5. Eng Hobbs J.B 61 53.93 5410 61.68 (1.08) .... 18.2% 35.7 6. Win Sobers G.St.A 93 53.49 8032 57.40 (0.99) .... 15.8% 33.4 7. Eng Hutton L 79 53.09 6971 56.73 (1.00) .... 18.3% 38.4 8. Ind Gavaskar S.M 125 52.51 10122 50.10 (0.98) 38.5* 16.7% 35.6 9. Win Headley G.A 22 52.20 2190 60.02 (0.99) .... 21.6% 32.6 10. Ind Dravid R 134 51.80 10823 50.54 (0.96) 41.7 15.1% 37.0

11. Aus Hayden M.L 103 51.71 8626 49.27 (0.97) 60.1 14.2% 37.3 12. Win EdeC Weekes 48 50.92 4455 61.06 (1.04) .... 17.7% 36.1 13. Saf Kallis J.H 131 50.73 10277 52.79 (0.97) 44.2 15.1% 37.1 14. Eng Barrington K.F 82 50.70 6806 58.55 (1.00) .... 17.0% 36.0 15. Aus Border A.R 156 50.40 11174 50.33 (1.00) 40.5* 14.4% 34.0 16. Pak Mohammad Yousuf 79 50.37 6770 53.00 (0.96) 52.6 16.0% 38.7 17. Slk Sangakkara K.C 80 50.09 6764 51.65 (0.94) 55.9 16.1% 39.4 18. Aus Chappell G.S 87 50.04 7110 52.70 (0.98) 50.8* 15.8% 33.4 19. Ind Sehwag V 69 49.69 5757 47.02 (0.94) 78.7 15.3% 36.0 20. Win Richards I.V.A 121 49.39 8540 49.52 (0.99) 68.1* 15.0% 33.8

'*' means only part strike rate information is available.

The values are self-explanatory. The Batting Average shown is the adjusted figure and the figure in brackets shows the adjustment done. To view the complete list, please click here

One final note on the quality of bowling faced. For correct cricketing reasons I had incorporated this measure in the "Match Performance" segment so that a 100 scored against a strong Australian attack would carry a lot more weight than a similar innings against a weak Bangladeshi attack. However I have also done another complicated exercise, to provide an analytical answer to those who had mentioned that Bradman faced weak bowling attacks.

I considered every innings played by a batsman, multiplied this by the weighted bowling quality for the particular innings, summed this value and divided by the total number of runs scored. There cannot be a better indicator of the quality of bowling faced than this. The last column above indicates this weighted bowling quality indicator for the top-20 batsmen.

It is clear that Bradman faced as good a bowling attack, on an average, as any one else in the Top-10. In fact he faced a better bowling attack than Tendulkar, Ponting, Hayden and Dravid. So that argument should be put to rest.

Amongst the top batsman the batsman who faced the most powerful bowling attack was Graham Gooch, Alec Stewart, Atherton et al, around 30. This is quite understandable, considering the quality of West indian bowlers Gooch faced.

The least powerful attack was faced by Ames, Hammond et al, with around 45. If one looks at the 1932-33 New Zealand attack (sum total of 29 career Test wickets) we can understand this. Then come Sangakkara, Atapattu and Jayasuriya. Understandable considering the tons of runs scored by them against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

To view the complete bowling quality list, please click here

If an analysis is made combining both Tests and ODIs, which I would do later, it is almost certain that Tendulkar would be no.1, although I expect that Richards, Lara and Ponting would run him close. We obviously have to exclude great batsmen such as Bradman, Hobbs, Sobers et al from this exercise.

Based on the requests from readers an illustration of the Match Performance Ratings calculation will be posted at the earliest.

Match Performance Ratings - Illustrative example

This innings is one of the top-3 innings ever played (might even be the best ever).

Laxman V.V.S
Ind vs Aus, Kolkatta, 2001
Runs scored: 281
Base points: 70.25
- Runs multiplied by 0.25. Really does not matter, can be
anything. 0.25 has been selected since there is no need to
do any scaling up/down later.

Multiplicative indices

Bowling quality: 1.109 (Range: 0.75 to 1.25)
- Weighted bowling average determined by summing product
of bowler's average and balls bowled in the match by
each bowler and dividing by team balls.
- Strong Australian attack. Well above average.

Pitch type: 0.899 (Range: 0.80 to 1.20) - The pitch characteristics for the concerned year. - Very good batting pitch.

Entry: 1.075 (Range: 1.00 to 1.15) - Complex formula based on the innings position at batsman entry. 1/2 innings dealt different to 3/4 innings. Openers dealt with in a special manner. - 3rd innings, 222 in arrears at 52 for 1.

Match situation: 1.30 (Range: 1.00 to 1.30) - Various conditions such as which innings, arrears faced, target in front of team used. Notional target in case of 3rd innings and Actual target in case of 4th innings. - Follow on 274 behind - Still in arrears.

Runs with Late order: 1.00 (Range: 1.00 to 1.30) - Runs added with batsmen 7-11. - No runs with late order. No change.

Win bonus: 1.09 (Range: 1.05 to 1.10) - Result after considering the relative team strengths. - Win against very strong team - 21% better.

Home/Away: 1.00 (1.00 to 1.05) - Away bonus only if win is against good teams, not weak teams (e-g), Ban/Zim/Nzl(1920s) et al. - Home. No change.

Series status: 1.04 (Range: 0.98 to 1.06) - Complex analysis based on series status. Maximum for deciding tests and minimum for dead rubbers. - 3 test series, trailing 0-1.

Match Performance Rating points: 110.88 (70.25 x 1.5784).

For each batsman, the MPR points are added and divided by the number of innings played to arrive the Match performance Ratings Index.

If anyone thought that I sit and do these individually (and so can modify figures as I wanted), think again. There have been 67438 innings played until now. I have complex computer algorithms for each of these parameters and these are automatically worked out with no manual intervention.

Just to give the readers an indication of the validity of method let me compare two innings by Lara (same batsman chosen to avoid 20 comments). The 400* gets a MPR value of 65.20 points while the 213 carries a MPR value of 73.83 points.

If you are interested in perusing the "C" program code for just one index, just mail me. I will send you the code. It is not made available to all in view of the highly technical nature of the same.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vishant Patil on March 7, 2010, 8:50 GMT

    I guess you must have changed your opinion now after the magnificent from great Sachin... If not, the I guess we should keep you alone with your opinion. [[ The complete absence of even the most common basic sense that people like you lack is amazing. The article you are referring to was on test batsmen. The innings you are referring to was an ODI innings. But then when you want to say something such subtleries do not concern you with your one track mind and blinkered views Ananth: ]]

  • somaie on February 5, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    Everyone has their favorite way of using the internet. Many of us search to find what we want, click in to a specific website, read what’s available and click out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s efficient. We learn to tune out things we don’t need and go straight for what’s essential.

  • yaanni on December 24, 2009, 0:45 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    after doing so much number crunching, don't you get irritated when you receive hundreds of comments on the lines of X obviously should be in the top 10 or X is obviously better than Y or when people question your rationale or even your integrity?

    I am a new reader of your blog and found it hilarious that some of the readers accuse you of being very subjective(really?) in these various analyses and then start of with their own little theories of Mr. J was so much better on this count and that count so was the best or was better than Mr. K.

    I also really appreciate the fact that you try to post individual replies to several of the deserving posts.

    Btw, I read somewhere else that you have a database that you maintain yourself. All along I was thinking that you were using Statsguru. Do the 2 databases differ a lot? And how can I access it?

    Your analyses are quite exhaustive & Fair. Thanks for them all. Good Luck. [[ Yaanni I do these tables using my own database. Unfortunately the database is a desktop one and has to be downloaded and updated often. Let me look at ways of distributing the same to all interested readers. Ananth: ]]

  • Aloe Vera Distributor - on October 1, 2009, 8:53 GMT

    AloeVera and Cricket analysis - nice combination Hello there. I have something to say, about aloevera, something about which you wrote above, about health and cosmetics... For a long time, I and my friend use the products of the forever living. We every time see the nice results and also we make money for our families and we are happy. My friend works with Aloe Vera in the company of flp has more than 5 years (My friend works ONLY in the FLP Company and has a wife and three children). I know Aloe Vera products for beauty for a long time, but a year ago, began working as a distributor in the forever living products company. Of course, this job is not easy, but in no other case, you can earn so much much money with so much much fun and smiling faces around.. So if you want to discuss something about which you wrote above, and about my experience with Aloe products for weight loss management, I'll always be glad to talk. Best regards from Washington and have a nice day! Andrew - Aloe Vera Distributor

  • KINGOFKINGS on June 28, 2009, 13:15 GMT

    some person [adrian halim] in one of the first posts has said that sachin suceeeded against mcgrtah and lara didnt as mcgrath dismissed him 15 times...

    for the kind information of such people mcgrtah dismissed lara 15 times in 24-25 tests and and tendulkar 9 times in 15-18 tests i think....moreover check out the avges of lara and tendulkar in these tests against mcgrtah....lara avges 47....sachin 37...check cricinfo statsguru and u will know this...thirdly mcgrtah rated lara slightly ahead of lara played mcgrtah better than anyone from his era...

  • Neil on June 16, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    Contd: 5)So, say if the Don had continued for another 30 matches and his avg. then fallen off considerably, would the longevity factor “compensate” for this reduced performance? 6) Or, whether say a Gavaskar, who retired when still “on top” will come out better on your points? I.e. how critical do you feel the date on which a player decides to retire is to your point system?

  • Neil on June 16, 2009, 9:56 GMT

    Ananth, Further to my previous comment (not posted as yet), Along with Tendulkars points if he retired on 01/01/2003, could you also put up Richards points assumed he had retired say 3 years earlier than he did? This would reveal some useful insights such as: 1) Would their points hence positions on your list as per your system have been higher? 2) Does playing longer albeit with a reduced performance level improve a players rating? 3)Or does the longevity factor produce diminishing returns as compared to a shorter but more “peak” sort of career? 4)So, does this further imply that a player would have been better served as per your system if he had retired before his powers started waning or if he continues at a lower level?

    Etc, etc….this data would be most useful. Thanks.

  • Neil on June 15, 2009, 14:05 GMT

    @Ananth, Considering that Tendulkar was way ahead till 2003, I wonder how many points he would score as per your system assuming he retired on say 01st jan 2003? Would it be possible for you to post this out of curiosity?

    @El torro Never mind Chanderpaul. Did you see the Indian batsmen struggle against some hostile short pitched stuff? Big discussion about this going on in Ananths follow up post and how scoring runs is much easier now as compared to a while back.

  • El torro on June 14, 2009, 20:15 GMT

    Well Well!!! you did'nt pick chanderpaul (Lord Shiva)for the IPL, and you all still can't play 20/20. Chanderpaul!! scored 10 in the last two balls.

  • Phil on June 1, 2009, 10:28 GMT

    I don't think longevity in terms of matches and career span carry enough weight. It is a lot easier for someone like Hussey to average high as he made his debut at an age where most batsmen are at their peak. Whereas as people like Tendulkar started their career so young. Would Hussey's average be as high if he debuted as 16 or 17? I think not. Therefore, longevity must be given for more weighting. When are you doing this for bowlers? Or has it been done? I can't seem to access the whole list of batsmen? Did Mark Waugh get a good rating for the number of matching winning and saving innings he played. How can I access this excel spreadsheet?

    Anyway, well done on this attempt.

    Regards Phil

  • Vishant Patil on March 7, 2010, 8:50 GMT

    I guess you must have changed your opinion now after the magnificent from great Sachin... If not, the I guess we should keep you alone with your opinion. [[ The complete absence of even the most common basic sense that people like you lack is amazing. The article you are referring to was on test batsmen. The innings you are referring to was an ODI innings. But then when you want to say something such subtleries do not concern you with your one track mind and blinkered views Ananth: ]]

  • somaie on February 5, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    Everyone has their favorite way of using the internet. Many of us search to find what we want, click in to a specific website, read what’s available and click out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s efficient. We learn to tune out things we don’t need and go straight for what’s essential.

  • yaanni on December 24, 2009, 0:45 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    after doing so much number crunching, don't you get irritated when you receive hundreds of comments on the lines of X obviously should be in the top 10 or X is obviously better than Y or when people question your rationale or even your integrity?

    I am a new reader of your blog and found it hilarious that some of the readers accuse you of being very subjective(really?) in these various analyses and then start of with their own little theories of Mr. J was so much better on this count and that count so was the best or was better than Mr. K.

    I also really appreciate the fact that you try to post individual replies to several of the deserving posts.

    Btw, I read somewhere else that you have a database that you maintain yourself. All along I was thinking that you were using Statsguru. Do the 2 databases differ a lot? And how can I access it?

    Your analyses are quite exhaustive & Fair. Thanks for them all. Good Luck. [[ Yaanni I do these tables using my own database. Unfortunately the database is a desktop one and has to be downloaded and updated often. Let me look at ways of distributing the same to all interested readers. Ananth: ]]

  • Aloe Vera Distributor - on October 1, 2009, 8:53 GMT

    AloeVera and Cricket analysis - nice combination Hello there. I have something to say, about aloevera, something about which you wrote above, about health and cosmetics... For a long time, I and my friend use the products of the forever living. We every time see the nice results and also we make money for our families and we are happy. My friend works with Aloe Vera in the company of flp has more than 5 years (My friend works ONLY in the FLP Company and has a wife and three children). I know Aloe Vera products for beauty for a long time, but a year ago, began working as a distributor in the forever living products company. Of course, this job is not easy, but in no other case, you can earn so much much money with so much much fun and smiling faces around.. So if you want to discuss something about which you wrote above, and about my experience with Aloe products for weight loss management, I'll always be glad to talk. Best regards from Washington and have a nice day! Andrew - Aloe Vera Distributor

  • KINGOFKINGS on June 28, 2009, 13:15 GMT

    some person [adrian halim] in one of the first posts has said that sachin suceeeded against mcgrtah and lara didnt as mcgrath dismissed him 15 times...

    for the kind information of such people mcgrtah dismissed lara 15 times in 24-25 tests and and tendulkar 9 times in 15-18 tests i think....moreover check out the avges of lara and tendulkar in these tests against mcgrtah....lara avges 47....sachin 37...check cricinfo statsguru and u will know this...thirdly mcgrtah rated lara slightly ahead of lara played mcgrtah better than anyone from his era...

  • Neil on June 16, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    Contd: 5)So, say if the Don had continued for another 30 matches and his avg. then fallen off considerably, would the longevity factor “compensate” for this reduced performance? 6) Or, whether say a Gavaskar, who retired when still “on top” will come out better on your points? I.e. how critical do you feel the date on which a player decides to retire is to your point system?

  • Neil on June 16, 2009, 9:56 GMT

    Ananth, Further to my previous comment (not posted as yet), Along with Tendulkars points if he retired on 01/01/2003, could you also put up Richards points assumed he had retired say 3 years earlier than he did? This would reveal some useful insights such as: 1) Would their points hence positions on your list as per your system have been higher? 2) Does playing longer albeit with a reduced performance level improve a players rating? 3)Or does the longevity factor produce diminishing returns as compared to a shorter but more “peak” sort of career? 4)So, does this further imply that a player would have been better served as per your system if he had retired before his powers started waning or if he continues at a lower level?

    Etc, etc….this data would be most useful. Thanks.

  • Neil on June 15, 2009, 14:05 GMT

    @Ananth, Considering that Tendulkar was way ahead till 2003, I wonder how many points he would score as per your system assuming he retired on say 01st jan 2003? Would it be possible for you to post this out of curiosity?

    @El torro Never mind Chanderpaul. Did you see the Indian batsmen struggle against some hostile short pitched stuff? Big discussion about this going on in Ananths follow up post and how scoring runs is much easier now as compared to a while back.

  • El torro on June 14, 2009, 20:15 GMT

    Well Well!!! you did'nt pick chanderpaul (Lord Shiva)for the IPL, and you all still can't play 20/20. Chanderpaul!! scored 10 in the last two balls.

  • Phil on June 1, 2009, 10:28 GMT

    I don't think longevity in terms of matches and career span carry enough weight. It is a lot easier for someone like Hussey to average high as he made his debut at an age where most batsmen are at their peak. Whereas as people like Tendulkar started their career so young. Would Hussey's average be as high if he debuted as 16 or 17? I think not. Therefore, longevity must be given for more weighting. When are you doing this for bowlers? Or has it been done? I can't seem to access the whole list of batsmen? Did Mark Waugh get a good rating for the number of matching winning and saving innings he played. How can I access this excel spreadsheet?

    Anyway, well done on this attempt.

    Regards Phil

  • Arjun N on June 1, 2009, 6:38 GMT

    This is regarding Bowler Quality. a ) Will it make any significant difference if the Bolwers career to date figures without involving the batsman concerened are used ? A batsmen shouldnt be penalised if he was mainly responsible for high average of bowlers For Eg.Sachin vs warne (esp. in 90's), Ponting vs Harbhajan. Harbhajan's average will be significantly higher if his figures for balls bolwed to all batsmen except Ricky. If data of balls faced by different bowlers are available, then this could be possible.

    b )Bowlers' figures can also be adjusted depending on batsmen whom they bowl. Murali has huge amounts of wickets from ZM and BAN. Bowlers figures can be adjusted to some weighted means of batsmens' average. This will also lead to an vicious loop of scaling batsmen's average with respect to bowlers faced and again scaling bowlers average with respect to batsmens' bowled to. I guess if we use the adjusted bowler's data with respect to batsmen average, it might be significant.

  • Harsh Thakor on May 31, 2009, 13:06 GMT

    Overall the analysis has been a commenadable effort as it has not given one-sided emphasis on match-winning but related it to several factors,like state of pitch,situation,opposition etc.To me however no statisical analysis can give an accurate picture.No batsman could change the complexion of a match more than Viv Richards and still his rank comes down to 20.I suggest an analysis is made counting the performances of the World Series Supertests. I feel Brian Lara is not as much ahead of the other batsman as assesed.Tendulkar has been more consistent ,while Viv Richards and Gary Sobers faced better pace bowling.Although Gavaskar faced great bolwing it must be said the majority of his run scored against West Indies was not against their best attacks,like in 1971 and 1978.Greg Chappell should run him close as he was also prolific against the West Indies.(Adding Packer games)In the modern era pitches are batsman friendly which is an important factor and the bowling attacks are weaker.

  • Harsh Thakor on May 31, 2009, 12:35 GMT

    Incidentally yesterday on May 30th it was Sir Gorge Headley's 100th birthday.Had he played in the teams of Bradman , in the 1970's or in the modern era he may well have become the 2nd best batsman of all time. I feel Javed Miandad deserved to come in the top 20 and he was the greatest ever Pakistani batsman.He was a champion in a crisis and on bad wickets who had a better average than Inzamam Ul Haq. Graeme Pollock ,with his phenomenal batting average agaisnt great bolwing should have also come in the top 10. Sunil Gavaskar gets his deserved position but I feel he was not a match-winer Like Vishwanath or Viv Richards.Iam happy that Everton Weekes has been placed high because his batting reminded one of Sir Don.Graham Gooch has been given his deserved position as he faced the greatest West Indian bowlers and so has Kanhai deservedly been placed above David Gower,Colin Cowdrey Etc. Another surpise to me was Dennis Compton and Herbert Sutcliffe placed so low,despite high averages.

  • Ananth on May 29, 2009, 13:53 GMT

    Mr.Kalverts This mail is specially for you. You have bombarded me with many long mails with figures which I cannot post because I am not sure whether these are correct as evidenced by the following obviously erroneous table. Debut-2003 Ten : 169 i; 8811 @ 57.6 ;31 100s Lara :157 i; 7572 @ 49.5 ; 8 ? Pont : 99 i; 4246 @ 48.8 ; 4 ? I do not have the time to check the correctness of all these numbers. Where you sent a text mail I posted the same. I would appreciate if you avoid sending any more numbers-based comments. Make your point in short paragraphs. If these make sense and add value, these will be posted. Alternately keep your ammunition for the follow-up article. Thanks you. Ananth

  • Ashish on May 29, 2009, 7:17 GMT

    Now, second aspect of the problem with this would have come in if we did have strike rates for Gavaskar. If we did somehow project Gavaskar's strike rate, and factored it into equation, (say at 3.85 points for SR assuming his strike rate held), then we would have rated him at 50.14 rather than 52.51 currently assigned. That would have put him below ML Hayden. While Hayden was a good (my opinion - you can differ and call him great) opening batsman, he then is ahead of Gavaskar purely due to strike rate - which would have caused 2.16 points difference alone. SOmething that is basically a product of generations - in Gavaskar's time, opening batting was about seeing off the shine of the new ball and laying the foundation - in Hayden's, setting the tempo as much as seeing off the shine. Isnt that then unfair to penalize Gavaskar on doing best what he was needed to do in those times?

  • Ashish on May 29, 2009, 7:07 GMT

    Ananth - Good to hear that SR is excluded in second version - as I mentioned earlier, in my opinion using that here goes against the point of Test Cricket to some extent. My point on "unfairness" in treating old gen players was more about the intellectual and analytical correctness rather than anything else. Lets take Gavaskar and Border as examples. In case of Gavaskar, you do not have complete strike rate data - but we know he wouldnt have set any stages alight with pace of scoring (barring a few occasions like his maiden ODI hundred). As a matter of fact, where we have data, he seemed to have scored at SR of 38 - which would have fetched him 3.8 points on a 10 point scale. Your approach though (best as it may be given the lack of complete data)gives him the benefit of the doubt and gives him 5.22 on 10 (effectively - 5.11 incremental due to scaling over and above the 0.11 already assigned). Isnt it a little unfair to Dravid then that we have his strike rate? (contd.)

  • Ashish on May 29, 2009, 2:31 GMT

    Ananth - Batsmen, like most men, are a product of their times. As a result, a cricketer in a given era, plays like the norm at that time is. I dont think your analysis, comprehensive as it is, quite captures that. For example, the strike rate component. Batsmen from the 60s-mid 90s, would probably be disadvantaged because of that. For batsmen like Sunny Gavaskar, Allan Border,and other notables of the time, they get hit for batting within confines of the game at the time. Its almost like changing the rules of the game. Given that you have factors like Match result, bowling quality and batting performances, I wonder if batting strike rate is even relevant here. To extend the argument further, even in modern times, its not very surprising to see Rahul Dravid and Jacque Kallis, probably two of the best No. 3 batsmen game has seen, getting hurt by the strike rate - when all they were doing was answering the need of the hour (No. 3 batsmen often come under pressure of early wicket, ball doing a bit and so on). Further, innings like the one Gautam Gambhir played recently in NZ to save the second test, while boring to T20 lovers, were a delight for a true Test Cricket enthusiast. Innings like that one count against the batsman then, which isnt quite fair. As I said in my last comment, I wonder if Strike Rate has a place here. Further, if you have to include Strike rate, shouldnt it be in context of the game? Playing fast because you have played in conditions/eras that are conducive for that give batsmen unfair advantage. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. [[ Ashish I have already decided to exclude strike rate from my follow-up article. Even otherwise there was nothing unfair about the current analysis. If the strike rate was not available for batsmen such as Bradman, Gavaskar, Hobbs et al, they are evaluated on a 90 point basis while someone like Sehwag/Smith is evaluated on a 100 point basis. Someone like Tendilkar/Lara was evaluated to the extent strike rate was available, between 90 and 100. Ananth: ]]

  • Harsh Thakor on May 28, 2009, 16:27 GMT

    The most important criteria is the ability to dominate bowling combined with the ability to perform on bad wickets or in a crisis.In that respect I would place Brian Lara ,Sachin Tendulkar and Gary Sobers as the best in order.Lara is rightly placed second as he has the highest average percentage score since Bradman and Headley..Viv Richards was the greatest match-winner but always played for a champion team.One batsman who could have been in the top 25 was Ian Chappell who was the best batsman in a crisis.If Greg Chappell's Supertest performances were added he would perhaps be in the top dozen.Rightly Miandad,Dravid and Border are ranked high as well as Graham Gooch who combated the greatest West Indian pace attack. .No batsman had more prowess than Kanhai who should have come in the top 20.Greenidge should have also come in the top 30 as well as Clive Lloyd. Overall Bradman is correctly rated the greatest as his figures place him simply on another pedestal- a champion in any era.

  • PB on May 28, 2009, 9:55 GMT

    Ananth, congratulations on the time and effort you've taken to put together this detailed analysis. Really interesting to read.

    The great thing about lists like this is that they open up debate. While everyone may not agree with your ranking system, it achieves precisely what I believe it sets out to do - provide some thought-provoking analysis which encourages all of us cricket tragics to discuss our mutual passion - inspirational batsmen!

    I for one spent many of my formative years watching Allan Border play a lone hand against withering international pace attacks in some very lacklustre Australian sides. I was thrilled to see him in your top 20 and I daresay if you could quantify "heart" he'd no doubt scratch his way a bit further up the list, just as he grafted his way to so many memorable scores in the face of adversity.

    Thanks again for your blog and keep the analysis coming, will make for a great discussion at work tomorrow!

  • Harsh Thakor on May 28, 2009, 4:33 GMT

    1.No batsman punished great pace bowling to such an extent in the history of the game as Sir Viv Richards.In the Packer era in Australai in 1977-78 he was more punishing than Bradman.Of course he had the advantage of playing for the best ever side.

    2.No batsman has handled pressure ahead of Brian Lara or Sachin Tendulkar.Since Sir George Headley no batsman has championed the cause of such aweak tem as consistently as Lara.Overall however Sachin has been more consistent and also championed the cause when the chips were down. 3.Rohan Kanhai played great bowling and has a high test average in test matches his team has won. 4.Jack Hobbs and George Headley played better on wet pitches than Bradman.Hobbs also scored 12 centuries agains Australia with a vry high average in match-winning games. 4.Sir Walter Hammond was unfortunate to have played in the era of the Don. 5.To me World Series Packer records must be added.

  • Harsh Thakor on May 27, 2009, 12:38 GMT

    I can't understand how Viv Richards does not make the top 5.Arguably he was ahead of Tendulkar,Lara and Ponting as he dominated the best fast bowlers.I agree Tendulkar and Lara contest in a photofinish with Lara being a better batsman in a crisis.Rohan Kanhai should also get a place in the top 25 batsman as he played the best of bowling like a match-winner.Sir Jack Hobbes and Gary Sobers get their deserved place in the rating.Wlater Hamond definitely comes in the top 10,ahead of Sunil Gavaskar or Len Hutton.He dominated bowling like an executioner.I feel Packer Cricket performances should have been taken into account which would have elevated Viv Richards and both the Chappell brothers. Overall statistics just does not tell the true story.

  • Mohanlal on May 26, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Sir,one of the essential requisite of greatness w.r.t a batsman is his ability to score at least a 100 vs as possible great contemporary bowling combinations , i feel.BCL in this regard lags SRT.i feel that this ability also needs to be evaluated and given marks because that indicates the overall technical ability of a player to adapt to diferent bowling variations. What's ur opinion on this ? Also eagerly expecting your overall anlysis (test & ODI combined )of batsmen. [[ Mohanlal What you suggest has already been done. Every innings has been weighted by the bowling combination, that too career-todate. One reason why Tendulkar's 248* against Bangladesh is valued at less than half of his own 241 against Australia. Ananth: ]]

  • Fahad on May 24, 2009, 0:58 GMT

    Excelent analysis! but I think you should have give more importence on the type of the pitches than the quality of bowling because on a bowling friendly pith an ordinary seemed bowling attack become very difficult for the batsmen and similarly on a batting friendly pitch a very strong looked bowling attack become quite easy for the batsmen

  • Rob on May 23, 2009, 19:55 GMT

    The limit of 2000 runs has left out 2 batsmen who I like to see this analysis applied to. The 2 in question being the infamous WG Grace, and (in my biased opinion) the superior Arthur Shrewsbury. Both scored epic innings against the best attacks on good and poor wickets, and pioneered Test cricket. It would be interesting to look at those 2 individuals as special cases and see where they came. Unfortunately I suspect evidence and information to put into the algorithms may be a little lacking. [[ Rob Within the next few hours I will do a special analysis I do a la Faulkner and post the results. Ananth: ]]

  • aditya on May 23, 2009, 7:20 GMT

    mr. ananth, Unfortunately,statistics do not always tell the true story.In terms of longevity and consistency tendulkar is way ahead of lara.u can dish up any amount of useless numbers but thats the truth.

  • dguru on May 23, 2009, 1:04 GMT


    Some possible meaning of greatest - most dominant, most dependable, best suited for a task, batsman you'd want on your team, batsman you want in the crease with you; most entertaining in runs scoring; most graceful / not beaten by the ball often in an innings; most skillful (command of different bowling, conditions); rises to the big occasion the most; batsman you'd least like to bowl to; etc. Would it be more useful to explore these sub-categories of best? Eg, batting average many be close enough to most dependable, athough one can ask 'depend on to score fast runs and win a match or bat long hours' etc. But clearly defining best and doing the appropriate stats may be needed first and then some statistical average done to fuse the sub-categories. Some definitions, you may need opinion polls, lol. Then you can tweek these categories for special issues like batting with the tail etc. NB, Most skillful may not equate with greatest since talent alone does not make one succeed.

  • asif on May 22, 2009, 19:40 GMT

    Maybe you should start to simply ignore the trolls who keep posting on Tendulkar being greater and all instead of getting defensive (I know it is hard to remain sane after the zillions such comment questioning your sanity). I for one appreciate your integrity to put Richards where he is. I am one of the those that still prefer a good test match over T20, and a good statistical analysis that can be justified over aesthetics/pressure/random-arbitrary-opinion-to-get-Tendulkar-higher. More strict filtering of the comments section would make it much easier to read through. Thanks, again just wanted to mention that there are plenty of us who like your analysis just the way it is, and can see it for what it is. [[ Asif Thanks. I try my best to accommodate all comments but, let me tell you, to keep a balanced view is not easy. What is not appreciated is that one good mail citing facts and figures is worth 20 with vague statements, not based on facts. Ananth: ]]

  • Ari on May 22, 2009, 11:00 GMT

    Yes Ananth,

    I agree with you. But I’m afraid my actual point was a different and finer one. I agree luck cannot be “quantified”. But what are we attempting to do here in the first place? - To put up a list of best “BATSMEN” (NOT innings)…The least we can then do is try to reduce the effect of it and team factors.

    Also, I agree that in judging the intrinsic worth of an “innings” several or all of the parameters you use apply. But if I may point out: The various parameters may not actually imply an equivalent quality of batsman. The difference is subtle.

    If we are trying to put up a list which is essentially “ batsman” vs. “ batsman”, a lot of the parameters you have used require either to be discarded or modified. If we are putting up a list of “innings” vs. “innings” the parameters apply. So, if you use “innings” parameters and then place a 50% weightage to them the balance shifts to “innings”.

    With a 100% weightage you may as well take out the “Wisden” Top 1000 “innings” list, add up the innings points and print them out changing the title to best “batsmen”.

    As I said the difference is subtle but distinct. Because the result and course of an “innings” depend of factors which cannot be directly compared to another “innings” by a “batsman” who may be as good in every way but in an entirely different team. With your current methodology you are equating all “innings” parameters to “batsman” to a very high degree. In team sports this distorts the picture.

    Also , when using parameters such as quality of tail, we can simply modify “batting with tail” depending on the actual quality of the “tail”. The “tail” as currently used is a fixed unchangeable concept not varying over time, teams or continents. With the current configuration if both Viv Richards and Chris Martin were batting at No.9 it would show up as the same.

  • Ari. on May 22, 2009, 6:49 GMT

    Ananth, I think Lara's 153 was a great inn. too but if you look at it in totality and dispassionately several things become clear: Campbell and Jacobs put up a good first inn. total, Walsh/ Ambrose decimated the Aus batting in the 2nd inn. hence even making possible a chase/ WI actually had a great start in the 2nd inn before things went bad/Ambrose did a great "tail" job. Actually Lara played about 12 of the last 20 overs with Ambrose/Walsh. the Great Australian bowling couldn’t get Ambrose/Walsh for almost 8 overs. So Lara hardly nursed or farmed the strike since the No.10 and 11 played out almost 8 of 20 overs.What he did was up the scoring, knowing it was all or nothing – so all in all it was also a great TEAM performance, sprinkled liberally as we know with good doses of luck.

    This leads me to two points which may reduce the amount of "romance" involved and make it more applicable to stats: 1) Use innings performance instead of match performance (as some have suggested). As you say I don’t know if it will make a difference mathematically. 2) If batting with "tail" use % of strike taken. This shows whether a batsman is actually shielding the tail or simply increasing his scoring rate feeling since he is going to run out of partners( as most batsmen would do). This would also bring out the calibre of the tailenders and their contribution… instead of a blanket parameter “batting with tail”. [[ Ari There is no information available on % of strike. I understand your point. Let me take another example. Without Harbhajan's bowling, Tendulkar's timely strikes and Dravid's support, Laxman's 281 would not have been on the winning side. Should these factors lower our perception and valuation of Laxman's great innings. No one wins a match by himself, possibly Laker excepted. even there Richardson, Shepherd and Cowdrey were needed. The point is that we are evaluating batting performances. why bring in bowlers, umpires and other factors. Should the facts that an umpire did not give Lara out at 0 or a catch was dropped by Healy a few runs before the end lower our scorecard-based valuation. Many great innings are played in the third/fourth innings, Botham, Atherton, Laxman, Gooch, Bradman, Gavaskar et al. Everything cannot be reduced to "great team wins, so let us ignore the individual performances". Team is composed of individuals. Of course luck plays its part. Luck was Richards' arrogant shot in 1983 (but Kapil had to catch the swirler) or Misbah not playing a conventional shot in the last ball in 2007 or the stupid rain rule which helped England defeat South Africa in 1992. Luck cannot be quantified. It is part of all sporting performances. Ananth: ]]

  • N.J on May 22, 2009, 3:30 GMT

    Ananth I feel strongly about certain points (and disagree with both you and “Jonathan”): 1) Longevity as “ugly hunk” states is actually a primary requisite for “greatness”. Any sportsman in any sport who aspires to “greatness” must not only be very good but necessarily be very good for very long as well. Many many players in many sports have had the odd good year (or even few years) here and there. How do you differentiate the flash in the pans from the real gold then? Surely the batsman who scores consistently for a longer period has to be ranked as “better”? Simply taking a handful of innings here and there, which besides skill depend on umpteen factors including pure providence, and then proclaiming someone as the best on the basis of those is absolutely nonsensical. 2) As some persons have said, one thing statistics cannot quite capture is the mode of dismissal. Besides several examples given how do you statistically capture Lara flat on his stomach after being yorked by Younis or bowled around his legs by Bond. Surely, even the greatest of batsmen are occasionally beaten for pace. But there are several dismissals which stand out as clear indicators of weaknesses and are actually embarrassing for a supposedly “great” player. Obviously all batsmen, including Bradman, get out. It is just that one feels that the greats simply shouldn’t look silly while doing so. [[ Your first point makes a lot of sense. But I have never indicated that the longevity based measure will not be considered. It has a very fair 15% valuation. Your second point is completely meaningless in this context. Ananth: ]]

  • Jonathan on May 22, 2009, 2:42 GMT

    Usually I have the greatest of respect for your calculations, but this is just alphabet soup. For a start, it's not mathematically sound - there's a strong whiff of figures being used in the service of conclusions.

    Adjustments to the batting average should only be employed to incorporate factors that the average does not cater for. Adjustments for weak attacks are simply cancelled out by parameters such as 'match result' and 'scoring rate'.

    May I suggest:

    a) Longevity not be regarded quite so highly. Objectively, there is little difference between an 80-test career and a 130-test career. b) The system of adjustments be simplified. I can't for the life of me imagine what bearing 'batting with the tail' could have on 'greatness'. Home/away is also irrelevant - by your criteria, the recent English centurions in the Caribbean recently would be rewarded for batting on featherbeds simply because they were foreign. If a player isn't scoring away runs, the average will reflect this. [[ Jonathan If we look at greatness in batting only through the Cardusian interpretation, wonderful it is I agree, any numbers-based exercise would look like alphabet soup. When Lara came in at 78 for 3, against a very good bowling attack, batted with the tail, farming the strike, batting attackingly when needed, nursing them from 240 for 8 to 313 for 9 and essay an unlikely win against a strong team, this innings becomes one of the greatest ever. Then, in a microcosmic way, this innings contributes to the batsman's greatness as does Atherton's defensive classic or Bradman's strategic masterpiece of 270 or Sehwag's attacking 309. The point that should be understood is also that Lara's 375 and 400 have contributed way below this 153* to his overall match performance figures. Finally how does one go about such analysis other than hanging one's hat on certain pegs, getting responses, selecting the useful ones and redoing the analysis. If this is unacceptable, then as I have mentioned earlier, we can only go back to Cardus/Robinson/James/Frith/Fingleton et al. Longevity gets a weight of only 15%. I am sure you will agree that is not high. Can be reduced to 10%. But to totally ignore it is certainly not correct. Ananth: ]]

  • Zeeshan Ahmed on May 21, 2009, 10:00 GMT

    Please find below some more which I think is new as compare to previous comments As we both know that WISDEN selected 100 best bowlers of the test cricket history in which Murli is the best. None of them took less than 100 wickets in test. All six bowlers (100 or more wickets) Sir Don Bradman faced were qualified in the list of 100 easily. In the list criteria is on the basis of talent not leading wicket takers only. Like Imran is ahead of Walsh but Walsh took more wickets as compare to him. I believe in the list as almost same expected results came. I believe in your list of top batsmen as well as almost same expected results are there. Brian Lara faced 25-30 bowlers from the same list and Gavaskar also 25-30 bowlers form the same list of WISDEN. In my eyes all three are legendS of cricket and we can put the name of these batsmen in golden words in test history very easily. Tendulkar played more bowlers from list than Lara as in his part so many bowlers of W. Indies also came

  • uglyhunK on May 20, 2009, 15:53 GMT

    Players from different eras can be compared only if their stats could remain more or less same in every era. For example, I strongly believe that Bradman's average would not be 99 if he played in a different era. Comparing players from the same era would make sense as it has minium variables to factor in.

    Low weight to the longevity of a batsman's career is a flaw. Long successful career is the only proof that a batsman can cope up with all the challenges thrown at him and play in all the possible conditions. With due respect to Greame Pollock, calling him one of the greatest of the all purely judging from 23 tests is wrong. After 30 tests, Mike Hussey was averaging about 70, Gilchrist around 65. With time, their avgs have come down and would have been the case with Pollock.

  • Ananth on May 20, 2009, 7:35 GMT

    I think it has come to a stage where I have to take some decisive step as otherwise the whole thing is going out of hand. We have had posts on a single issue repeating the same thing again and again so much so that I have to stop posting most comments. One gentleman has sent more than 30 responses mostly on similar lines. I have posted quite a few of these but now I feel it is going out of hand. I have got direct mails to me indicating so. Henceforth I will post only if a new idea idea is offered or suggested. Whether you support one modern great player or another, these rules will apply. There will be no sides taken on this. One thing I can tell the readers. This is not a popularity contest nor a reality show. Just by bombarding me me with mails you cannot achieve what you want. I am certainly aware of readers' views and will make my follow-up article after taking into consideration all valid and logical comments.

  • Faisal on May 20, 2009, 5:39 GMT

    One of the best research on this topic. Whenever any one will do research, problem will always arises like Richard at no. 20. I think your research is excellent with almost same expected results. For those who are saying that Lara lost his wicket 15 times against McGrath are neglecting the fact that Lara faced him in 24 test matches. Lara lost his wicket six time against Warne in 20 test matches and against MaGgill four times only in 15 test matches. It is showing that how he can easily tackle leg spinners. He lost his wicket only five times against Kumble in 14 test matches. He played four test matches against Mushtaq Ahmed and he took Lara wicket not even single time. Afridi took his wicket one time in two test matches. It means that he is mind blowing to face leg spinners. Murli took his wicket five times in eight test matches but he scored 1125 runs in these test matches. It means that he can easily tackle spinners. In modern players he is the best as per me and your research.

  • K.Singh on May 20, 2009, 3:27 GMT

    Hardik,eddy If you think Lara was under pressure. Well, Then what do you call what tendulkar faced? Arguably more pressure than any sportsman in history. The current Indian Capt. Says he started playing bcoz of Tendulkar and switched off otherwise. Now this is not some hyperbole from some regular fan like me. Lara fans were much more rational. Sure ,if Lara got out ,they felt bad…but the reaction was more along the lines of “Oh, the ball round and it’s only a game Maaan”. You have NO idea how Indian fans feel. As regards “Sheer mastery” I wonder if u have seen Lara master Donald, or get his toe broken by akram or etc etc. KJH The most basic ASSUMPTION being made here is Lara scored against strong teams but tendulkar against weak teams. The strongest team over the last 20 yrs is Aus. Tendulkar has the BEST record against them over the longest period. Case rested. The ONLY reason Lara/ponting are in the same frame is tendulkars injuries. So Lara fans can thank that. But “ Sachin is a genius, I’m a mere mortal”. That is something us fans will always stand by.

  • Abrar Hussain on May 19, 2009, 19:55 GMT

    Dear Ananth, Nice once again. Whenever we put any formula from Mathematics or Statistic Bradman will remain no. 1. His average is 99.94 but he played his 79% of innings against same team in a very limited circumstances and for other teams like Africa or W. Indies all ten matches are timeless. For India, all five matches are six days. Bradman scored 29 centuries with 4 centuries in every eleven innings. This is not the case of others. Here people neglect the fact that in timeless match every player will try to score century in first or second inning. Even in third or forth innings they will also try the same. In a five days matches, circumstance are limited to score big knocks as compare to timeless matches. Hammond played only 15 timeless matches as timeless matches played only in Australia not in England. It means his only 18% career is timeless against strongest Australia. Bradman played 26 timeless matches it means half career is timeless in which ten matches agst weakest teams

  • KJH on May 19, 2009, 1:36 GMT

    @ Ali. Facts are facts. They may indeed be interpreted in many ways, but that doesn't change their fundamental identity (we're not talking quantum particle physics here Ali, but rather runs etc). Eddy made a point that should resonate with you as fact; Lara made his runs in less appearances at the crease. Take away the easy games against Zim & Bang and the gap increases. You are right though, my opinion of Lara is "emotional", hence the qualifier of "Personally" that I added to MY opinion. And your earlier statement that surely Sachin would've "filled his boots" if he was uninjured in '03 applies equally to Lara's fitness/mental state, and is surely just as "emotional". Salim Mian said it the best, Lara accumulates like the Don, compares to Sachin, & entertains like Viv. And even though it may not be his best performance, 400 is sheer genius, something I feel separates Sachin & Lara.

  • dguru on May 18, 2009, 21:11 GMT

    @ Ali I'm glad you consider me to be the amongst the 'most rational men on the planet' lol. Science is about how useful something is, not Gospel truth. To me this blog is as close as you can get to an Open Science Notebook. I do not know the right answer, none of us do, I think the work is beautiful because it does what people would off the bat say USELESS and leave it at that. We navigate the unknown by our instincts, even as we acquire data, i.e. intuition guides our stats (and this was wonderfully attempted here). I am not a stats person, but I think Ananth can further develop what he has done/doing to create a set of acceptable 'rules' that do give a useful comparison for systems similar to this. Also, calculate the ratio of number of times a batsman was clearly wrongly given out to the number where they were wrongly given not out during the period we have such techniology and see for yourself where Lara stands and how freakish the stats. It happened, its not make believe.

  • M. Shariq on May 18, 2009, 20:15 GMT

    If we collect your all articles then one booklet can easily be maintained. Bradman one of the best or may be no. 1 batsman of the history of test cricket. His average almost twice than others. Nearest one to him is Lara. In my opinion if Bradman no. 1 then Lara no. 2, they do not have too much differences or perhaps Lara is the best. Bradman played 80% cricket against the same team that is England. Lara only 22% against England. Bradman maintained almost 1.75 times more average against other teams as compare to England. 1968 / 14 = 140.58 and 5028 / 56 = 89.78. 140.58 / 89.78 = 1.74. Lara played only six innings against weak teams out of 232 innings. Pace of cricket was too much slow as 52 test in 20 years. Pace of cricket was very fast 131 test in 17 years in case of Lara. Hammond played 31 test matches against Bradman but in case of regular bowler only one bowler played more than 15 test matches that was Verity whose bowling average was 35 in Australia with striking rate 113.

  • KNM on May 18, 2009, 16:23 GMT

    @eddy oh ,and please let us know where you did the "digging"...because Tendulkars strikerate is not known. As you know that requires the number of balls faced. So,since you already have the info perhaps you can provide it to "cricinfo" so that they can complete their database? [[ Mr.Mishra Exact Strike Rate information for over 80% of Tendulkar's runs scored (83.9% to be precise) is available in Cricinfo published scorecards. For around 25 matches during the early part of his career the data is missing. This is summarized below. 10638 runs scored in 19272 balls at 55.2 For 2135 runs there is no S/R available. Ananth: ]]

  • hardik on May 18, 2009, 15:37 GMT

    good job ananth

    no use comparing a lara and tendulkar

    both were absolute greats of the game

    for me both are on a equal footing

    but tendulkar at no2.

    why:-sheer mastery of the game.......

    played under pressure most times'

  • Andy on May 18, 2009, 15:25 GMT

    Anath, quick thought while considering the quality of bowling; is the bowler's average considered for overall career or at the time of the innings being considered for match performance?

    Thanks, Andy Andy This is undergoing a change fromCareer to Career-to-date and also the change which Arjun Hemnani has suggested. Ananth

  • Mohsin Khan on May 18, 2009, 14:37 GMT

    Remarkable and one of best article on all blogs. So many in favor of Bradman and so many are not in favor of him. He is a legend and one of best, on this there is no doubt and every one accept it. Hammond is only 60% maximum of him, this is also the fact. He was second best at that time. Hammond had to face two great leg spinners from Australia and also Iron Monger as well. Bradman played 80% of his cricket against the same opponent that is England. 63 / 80 innings = 0.79. Never faced any opponent at their home grounds except England, Hammond faced others on their grounds also like Australia, New Zealand, Africa and W. Indies. Bradman runs per inning was 79.81 against England 5028/63 = 79.81 whereas him only 49.2 but he faced strongest Australia. Bradman played only 52 matches whereas Hammond 85. In this way Bradman played only 60% of him. Bradman had to face England's captain whereas he had to face Australian captains. Beside these facts, Bradman is no. 1 and Hammond is no. 2

  • Salim Mian on May 18, 2009, 13:18 GMT

    Those of us that have actually played the game of cricket, (I have at a club level in Pakistan, england and Trinidad)) will understand this fully.. When you play a limited overs game of 40 or 50 overs, and you are a opener you have a fair chance of scoring a ton or maybe even a ton 50. Throughout the season of 25/30 games a very good batsman may score 1500/2000 runs with 18 or so tons. With 2 or three day games the chances of scoring tons (and big tons) increase. As we all know it only takes one ball to remove even the greatest batsman. HUndreds are always there.

    Ive played sunday friendly games and pre-season warm-up games against under 21, 18 and under 15 kids cricket teams and believe it or not they get adults out and usually fair 'ok'. Now this is my point ........we all could bat for ages against 10 year olds and rack up run after run after run. We will no-doubt make one mistake, taking one chance too many, or taking the p against weaker opposition. what boggles my mind is how someone can make 501 without getting out once. Any batsman out there will understand what i mean. 500 is what teams make! 400* is also a case in point. Ask any pro player (and i have, a.Stewart, d. haynes,) and they truely dont understand how these kind of runs can be made.

    IT DOESNT MATTER WHAT PITCH or TEAM you are up against scoring 500 or 400 is genius.

    All crit's of these knocks do not understand batting at all, even Ponting hasnt got a clue about making runs of this kind.

    ONly Bradman and Hanif M could tell you what it takes.

    why has no-one ever scored 500 in a 1st class match? why has no-one ever scored 400 in a test match?....

    because it's almost impossible!!!

    Ask Tendulkar about 501 and 400 and im sure youd hear a true and honest and humble comment of someting he is in awe of.

    Lara can only be compared to three batsman, Bradman, Richards and Tendulkar. Lara had the huge ton making of bradman, the runs scored comparison of Tendulkar and the attacking attitude and flamboyance of VIV.

  • eddy on May 18, 2009, 12:41 GMT

    Dear Ananth, being one of the first people to read and respond and have my words published (10th), it has been fasinating to see the feedback to your amazing analysis. We have seen the expected indian response (Tendulkar should be higher than Lara) We have seen the expected W indian response (Lara was better than Sachin, maybe better than Bradman) And the general response that Bradman was a freak of cricket (Although some question the time he played, bowlers he faced, etc)

    However two things have stood out the most for me. firstly the reaction to Sir v Richards place in the table. This appears to be across the board with Indian, Pakistani, W INdian, Aus etc mostly agreeing that this position just didnt feel right, hence bringing into question the whole exercise.

    secondly, many , many months ago i wrote a blog to Rob or Rajesh or Charles (cant quite remember), regarding Tendulkar's 232 inning (Lara's retirment inning total) At this time they had scored the same number of 50's with Tendulkar having 4 more tons and Lara 433 more runs. Hence Lara had a better run per match, and Runs per inning record. I also threw in the fact that during this period Tendulkar had played Zim 9 times and scored 3 tons and Bang 5 times scoring 3 more tons. 6 tons in 14 matches against the weaker teams. In the same time Lara had played 2 against Zim and 2 against Bang scoring 2 tons.

    I was slaughtered by Indian fans responding.

    I commented again when Tendulkar finally overtook lara's 11953. It had taken Tendulkar 3 more years. In test match terms it has taken him 21 more matches and perhaps more importantly and more relevantly 15 MORE innings.After a bit of digging it also appeared that Lara also faced less balls than Tendulkar and had less minutes at the crease.

    Again i was slaughtered.

    With your analysis i get the impression that the Indian/tendulkar fans are more thoughtful and considered, verging on acceptance. This cant be true, can it? Eddy The one placement which I myself feel quite strongly about is Richards. I have no problems with the numbers nor with the analysis. These have been verified. It is just that the numbers do not justify the magnitude of the great man's achievements. The real reason is the lacklustre later half already explained by me. It is similar to Kapil Dev's last 20 tests. I am also uncomfortable with Javed Miandad's and Compton's low placements. Again the numbers do not reflect their achievements. Finally can any numbers do justice to Stan McCabe As far as your last para is concerned, no way. In 100 years this will not happen. And I am not going to fudge my figures just to get the acceptance of one section of readers. I know there are enough readers who understand and appreciate the analysis. Ananth

  • Dnyanesh N on May 18, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    Brave,almost to the extent of being foolhardy to attempt such a task. May I congratulate you on that. The result also proves that there was no point that sought to prove, no controversy you wanted to rake. Just pure stats and over a long period of time...stats do tell a story.

    One thing you can probably look at is that cricket in the Don's days wasnt so hectic and monotonous as it has become today. Probably If a Sachin or a Lara had the freedom to play 62 matches over so long a period, then maybe (and its a big maybe) then they also might have been more hungry to show their mettle.

  • Arjun on May 18, 2009, 7:56 GMT

    Contd. from previous.

    The usual formula of total runs scored divided by wicket fallen in match is incorrect, since wickets of tailenders raises the pitch quality. Also it takes care of Matches such as Australia v bangladesh ( Aus 550, Bang 145 & 207 - result- Aus win by innings and x runs.). Because of poor bangladesh batting, pitch quality will be good, and runs scored by Australian batsmen will be valued more. But by using this method, only top 10 scores will determine level of run scoring in a particular match.



  • Arjun on May 18, 2009, 7:55 GMT

    Ananth, This is regarding one of parameters [pitch type-The pitch characteristics for the concerned year.] I think instead of pitch type, Level of run Scoring in the match should be used. Double hundreds, hundreds and other big scores in the match indicate level (easy/difficult) of scoring in the match. I suggest you an intersting way to calculate pitch type. In a Test match Maximum no. of individaul innings possible are 44. To calculate pitch qaulity, Runs per innings of Top 10 scores in the match should be used. eg. Two recent Tests between India and NewZealand at welllington.

    Year 2002-03 Top 10 Scores- 89, 76, 51, 25, 21, 21, 19, 17, 14, 12. Total- 345. RPI- 34.50

    Year 2008-09 Top 10 Scores- 167, 107, 62, 61, 60, 60, 56, 52, 49, 49. Total 723. RPI- 72.30 This shows Level of scoring in 2008-09 test was easy since 2 hundreds and 6 fifties were scored; while in 2002-03 Run making was very difficult as only 3 scores of more than 25 were made in the entire Test Match Cont.

  • Ali on May 18, 2009, 5:49 GMT

    @KJH, Andy, Vanchy, eddy,dguru and co. I’m afraid your comments reveal a basic lack of understanding of this sort of analysis/statistics. Statements such “facts are facts” is unfortunately not correct. Further, comments such as Lara should be on top because he reached greater “heights “than Tendulkar is again a purely “emotional” reaction. The innumerable flops (and that too when fully physically fit) are simply erased from the consciousness as though they never happened. The case seems to be completely opposite as far as Tendulkar is concerned, especially with the younger lot who have probably hardly seen Tendulkar through most of the 90s. The only “facts” we really have are runs, avg., hundreds (AGAIN, actually the diff. between a 99 and 100 is almost exclusively between our ears) etc….thereafter EVERYTHING is open to context, subtext, interpretation etc. Who played against (“weak team” may have a good day and vice versa), bowling (same as team), match status, when came in, tail runs, etc etc etc i.e. every single step in the “analysis” is open to subjective interpretation….and then all these are further given “multipliers”, the “total” is then given “weightages” etc. etc… if you think that practically every step does not involve some subjective factors then you are highly mistaken. Every single innings involves umpteen variables which cannot be accounted for by “blanket” multipliers/weightages which are assumed uniformly. These factors have not been sent down from on high and are not seemingly immutable laws of nature as you seem to suggest. The author, like the rest of us, is a living sentient human being…thus however much we may like to think we are perfectly “rational”…emotions, likes and dislikes, consciously or subconsciously affect every single decision. If you don’t believe me check out the latest financial “bubble”!! (involving all seemingly rational, highly intelligent human beings). One old and worn eg. Would be batsman A: 4 50s and batsman B: 3 0s and a 200. Depends on what you “weigh” and “multiply” more (depending on what you feel is more important)…The “B” camp will say things about the “heights” achieved ,matchwinning knock etc. (subconsciously erasing the flops).the “A” camp will have good stuff to say about their guy. The only “real” “facts” here are the SAME amount of runs and avg. So, “facts” are not “facts”….all depends on your point of view (analyst, individual, experimenter)…this is something even the greatest quantum physicists (supposedly the most rational men on the planet) also realize. Ananth,dguru: As rgds. Bradman. 1) ONE point which would have to be conceded is Bradman. He simply swamps everyone with the sheer weight of runs as compared to his contemporaries. He clearly stands out alone, perhaps in ALL of sport not just cricket. But for batsmen like Lara/Tendulkar/Ponting there is almost no the stats (Once you account for not outs etc)…so their “ranking” is more defined by their performances relative to the composition of their own teams rather than any other factor. 2) Basically ,the point you make is what several others have done. i.e the sheer futility of comparing more than a decade or so. As rgds. Incorrect dismissals both the Tendulkar and Lara camp could pull out dozens off the cuff. But then ,a lot of decisions have gone the other way too.

  • shahid on May 18, 2009, 5:34 GMT

    Agree, good article. Just want to add, I am from the subcontinent but Indian readers simply need to understand that Lara had scored a hundred, double, tripe, 400 and 500. Tendulkar yet had to score a tripple century.... [[ Shahid That fact alone does not make Lara a better batsman than Tendulkar. In fact his 375 and 400 are ranked way below his other match-winning innings. And Tendulkar's best innings might very well be the Chennai one against Pakistan even though he could not complete the task. Ananth: ]]

  • Jahan Zada Buneri on May 18, 2009, 4:43 GMT

    Congratulation from my side for completing such a huge article. Dear Bazza, it is not the way to judge best of the best that how much batsman average is more than his contemporaries. Suppose Andy Flower was in that era as his average was almost twice than his team mates, his average would change from 50 to how much, we do not know but on the same side his team mates average also changed from 25-29 to how much we do not know. Kamran Akmal batting average is just near to 35. If he was playing in that era, he could easily change his average to 50 or near to 50 but he is only good not excellent in batting. Was Hammond only 60% of Bradman. This is not true. Hammond played cricket in four continents on 20 different pitches, Bradman in two continents with ten pitches. Hammond had to face bowlers like Grimmet, O Reilly and Iron Monger. Bradman never faced any quality leg spinner. Hammond played 42% of his career against strongest team of that time. Bradman 79% career against England

  • dguru on May 18, 2009, 4:04 GMT

    @Ananth, The quality of cricket that was/is played during a batsman's career appears to me to be the major parameter you tried to capture enroute to determine the best. As for Bradman's freakish stats over his contemporaries, I too use it a lot to argue why by default he is the best batsman, but formally that argument equates best with dominant and I can see "quality of cricket" softening that equality. Thus it does surprise me how Bradman is still so far from the rest. Do you think he has become a legend greater than he was, due to that dominance? I am curious to hear your opinion outside of the stats (which say NO!). I am positive he hadn't a greater determination than Lara, nor was he more skillful. I don't know the standard of umpiring he recieved which to me destroyed Lara's stats, moreover, since there is nothing like batting in the middle to prepare for the next innings/game. But you can't deny the force of the Don's stats, as you can't deny Lara's numerous wrong dismissals. [[ Guru I think I reserve the answer for your "theesra" to the follow-up article since it is a very pertinent and extremely relevant question. Recently we have seen a similar situation with Federer during 2005-06 and Woods during the same period. Subsequent events have certainly diminished this exaggerated aura of invincibility and probably enlivened both games. Ananth: ]]

  • KJH on May 18, 2009, 1:40 GMT

    Thanks Bazza! Is it that he's so freakishly good that it's incomprehensible? That he was able to average twice his (great) contemporaries settles the matter. Ill-thought reasons for the "myth" of Bradman can not be taken seriously. Many comments point out a lack of opposition bowlers who were leading wicket takers; leading a category is determined by longevity, not by talent alone. Comments about poor fielding or any detraction can be countered by the technology of modern bats, flat tracks, roped grounds,and modern training. If Tendulkar is the Greatest Ever Batsmen, why with todays advantages is he unable to average double his contemporaries? Instead we see several modern players with comparable records. There's even a strong case for his not being the most valuable modern Indian. Personally, I'm content to see Sachin below Lara, as I don't think he ever reached the same heights. Congratulations Ananth on attempting something knowing it would attract the ire of so many.

  • Andy on May 17, 2009, 21:41 GMT

    Stunning piece of statistical analysis, Anath. You make me envious. However, I do feel sorry for how you are attacked for producing numbers that don't factor emotions. Keep up the good work, it's pieces like these that keep me fascinated with cricket!

  • James on May 17, 2009, 21:28 GMT

    Thank a lot for looking into Aubrey Faulkner for me Ananth!! Very kind of you. That kind of company at #87 sounds about right to me. Obviously better than Botham or Imran in the rankings too. Only Kallis and Sobers of the all-rounders really beat him badly. Fairly close to Adam Gilchrist too, a great all-rounder of a different ilk. And also at #87 all-time there is no concern that he could hold a place in a team as a batsman, which I believe is very important for a top 6-7 batting all-rounder. Thanks again for crunching the numbers for me :D

  • Vanchy on May 17, 2009, 19:39 GMT

    Ananth - firstly great analysis and the reasoning on the logic and the weights given i dont fault. Considering the fact that Sachin Tendulkar happens to be indian and the largest fan base is Indian, is considered the best. Well if it were a reality show then am sure Sachin Tendulkar would win and win hands down beating the GREAT DON to whatever fickle number that they wanted him to be at.

    Bazza made a point on the relative averages across contemporaries and in your response you had also made it clear that this was the order that came about based on assumptions which you had presented. I did not see any of the "sachin" brigade come up with quantitative assumptions which would have negated your analysis or pushed Sachin up the list. There is no place for emotional drivel and this list is what you say it is. Viv at 20 leaves me shocked but then the facts are facts.....

    Looking for a similar analysis on bowlers and i hope i dont get to see Micheal Holding at 20 :)

  • nickzi on May 17, 2009, 19:29 GMT

    At the end of all this, we know one thing:

    It is futile to try and compare batsmen from different eras of the game. Sorry, but pitches and helmets do count. Tendulkar has been lucky in playing on flat pitches against mediocre attacks for much of his career, likewise Lara. Both saw their value grossly inflated by these simple facts.

  • Vikram Maingi on May 17, 2009, 19:04 GMT

    World # 20 position for Sir Viv, one of the greatest entertainers of the game.... ...and no entry for Wally Hammond, Javed Miandad and many more. Why strike rate is being taken into consideration, when the numbers aren't available for many?

  • MRP on May 17, 2009, 18:57 GMT

    Any list of all time greats, that puts Viv Richards anywhere outside the top ten or even five, is patently ridiculous. Also, Donald Bradman may statistically be the best batsmen, but c'mon are you serious? When Bradman was at his zenith, cricketers were like lords, they would never dive after a ball in the field, would hardly bend a few degrees, and the quality of cricket was arguably overall quite dismal to the modern form. I mean can you imagine, if Tendulkar, Lara, or even Ponting and Richards played in the same era as Bradman, how many countless runs they would have plundered. Exactly. So all this statistical anaylsis may be a good read for occupying temporary boredom, but it really does not reflect a complete picture of test batsmen over the ages.

  • Pollock on May 17, 2009, 17:48 GMT

    A final comment that I would like to make is that this analysis compares the greatest batsmen not the greatest cricketers. There is an important difference between, for e.g. Gavaskar the batsman and Gavaskar the cricketer. To measure Gavaskar's true impact to the game, one has to account for the fact that he revolutionized the game in India and served as an inspiration to countless young cricketers. Likewise, Viv Richards brought in crowds. People, in fact, had their money refunded when he was not playing. There is no way to quantify this sort of impact that players have had on the game. Statistically speaking, this is a list of the greatest batsmen and cannot be disputed. However, there are many attributes that simply cannot be quantified when one needs to rank the greatest cricketers, and so that remains a matter of opinion. This is what I intend to emphasize. Thanks Ananth for undertaking such a detailed statistical analysis.

  • don on May 17, 2009, 13:58 GMT

    I believe that these types of analyses are important because of their potential to contribute to our further understanding of the game. I know also that the selection of criteria and their weightings are personal/subjective - influenced in many ways by the thinking of the analyst/Anath. But the results of the analysis must bear close relationship to both popular and expert opinion. Any analysis that places Richards at 20...below Barrington and Hayden etc IS flawed. It's as simple as that. The criteria and weigtings need adjustmust..not to make Richards no. 1 or 2 or whatever...but to ensure he iput him in the frame accorded by his universally accepted greatness. Clearly Wisden, in making him one of the five cricketers of the last century applied entirely different criteria. Might be interesting to find out what those were.

    I commend the attempt - not for its results but as a basis for further study. I will spend more time reviewing it - hopefully making suggestions for refinement.

  • d66 on May 17, 2009, 10:22 GMT

    Bradman , Lara , Tendulkar. definately

  • bazza on May 17, 2009, 10:07 GMT

    I am not going to buy into the argument about the quality or justness of this ranking. But i cannot let pass the number of simply inane comments about the relative merits of modern day cricketers verses the past. bradman's average is almost twice that of those who went before and all of those who have come after. If Sachin, Lara and Viv are so great why are their averages on a par with their contemporaries, surley this indicates thay are little better than a Ponting or Dravid etc. In stark contrast Bradman who battled the same attacks as his contemporaries delivered almost twice the average score. Enough said. he should be excluded from any comparison as he is simply a freak who no one can match. [[ BWJ, The point is well made especially the one on Bradman and his contemporaries. Not just that. These batsman have almost equal numbers and my list ranks one just ahead of the other, it is as if I have committed the greatest crime against humanity. Ananth: ]]

  • Anonymous on May 17, 2009, 7:29 GMT

    @Eddy. You are right Chanderpaul was not great when Lara played, but he was in my opinion at that time better than most of the batsmen on those invincible teams mentioned. But your point is clear and I too in my first comment made almost the same time as yours noted that Lara basically played on a losing team. I am not sure but I heard he holds the record of the captain with the most test losses. @Anath I must say you possess some skill set to pull these statistical analyses off. By judgmental versus experimental I did not intend to convey you were judgemental, but rather we all judge for ourselves the 'best' and one cannot go into a lab and measure the 'right answer'. Thank you for reminding me how knowledge is gained, how certain questions that appear so simple as "who is the best" are not quite reachable from our starting point in terms of getting a definitive answer. I'm reminded of Godel, but I'm no logician. Keep up the wonderful work.

  • K.Singh on May 17, 2009, 3:12 GMT

    Ananth, arjun My two penny worth ,incorporating other suggestions. Not being as statistically proficient as you or arjun all I can offer are some “broad” tips: 1)First and foremost as dguru says if you are putting up a list of “best” batsman,it becomes incumbent that you state your definition of “best”. Without this the list is meaningless. As it stands the list puts Lara up on top more because he was the “best relative to other batsmen in his own team” as against a direct comparison to other batsman on the list. 2) Why a “decade wise” list (although as you say compiling it is a headache) makes sense is because comparing more than a decade in sport is tricky. Say Pele/Mar./Ron. for eg. You could make a case for X being perhaps the best in his decade. Once you start to span multiple decades infinite variables change which are impossible to factor in with numbers. 3) A factor which needs to be clarified is whether the few top 90s innings of Lara’s had such a huge impact on his overall score or whether it was the flood of runs in the 2000s which tipped the scales. It is not enough to simply state X is no. 1. It is critical to know whether the assumptions/methodology used stand up to the stats which they themselves generate (in a sort of feedback loop check). If they don’t then clearly something is wrong with the basic premises and the whole methodology needs a relook. 4) Most of Lara’s big scores(inc. triple plus) have been when he came in at the early loss of wickets.So, coming in early on a featherbed may actually be the best thing to happen. It is more pertinent to ascertain whether the batters who got out were poor and the pitch benign( so weightages changed accordingly). Further enhancing such scores with blind formula will inevitably lead to wonky end results. 5) Again, bowling quality and numerous other factors are best factored in decade wise. A bowling avg. in the 70s, where fewer batsmen avg.50 than they do today may not be absolutely equivalent to a similar bowling avg. today. So, whether you use “square roots” or whatever the underlying assumptions are basically dicey. 6) Also, the massive volume of runs scored nowadays is unprecedented. Batting is obviously easier, whatever the stats may say about bowling avgs and what not. This shows in the inordinate number of current batsman in the top rankings. Whether this shows up in things like pitch/bowling quality is doubtful. Even “adjusting” for Career total runs etc. is tricky as then Not Outs etc all blur the issue. 7) No doubt a lot of effort on your part. But there are simply too many assumptions and holes which need plugging. No question of “fudging” numbers. But rethinking what the numbers REALLY mean, if anything is what is absolutely critical.

  • Eddy on May 16, 2009, 20:38 GMT

    @ dguru and to a lesser extent Ananth. In reply to your comment on my last email which Ananth 'concured with your view completely' I stand by my comments. I agree that Shiv is in 'great' form at the moment, perhaps even over two years but if you read my mail again more closely i dont have to 'reconsider my statement' as i spoke of Lara being the lone 'great' batsman in his team WHILE HE WAS PLAYING! Shiv may or may not be 'great' now but he was merely a good verging on very good player when Lara was playing.As i wrote before 'Bradman (invincible’s) , Tendulkar( fab four/five), V Richards( 80’s invincible’s), Waugh, Ponting (90’s/2000’s invincible’s) etc have no idea what is was like to play in such a poor team being the lone genius, they had the luxury and comfort of other great players capable of rescuing the team.

  • Arjun on May 16, 2009, 11:33 GMT


    Sqaure-root of bowler's average and strike-rate could be used to determine bowler's quality.

    eg. Akthar (ave-25.69 & Sr-45.7) SQRT= "34.26" Shaun POllock (ave-23.11 & Sr- 57.8 )SQRT= "36.55"

    This proves, although shaun pollock(23.11) has 12 % better average then akthar(25.69), but akthar(34.26) was 7 % more lethal than pollock(36.55). Also If spinner's strike rate is High so be it. If a spinner takes wicket every 80 balls, than batsman is less likely to be dismmised as against a fast bowler with S/R of about 45-50 balls.

    And it would be much much much better if career-to-date average and career-to-date strike rate are used.


    Arjun. [[ Arjun I was dabbling with a mean of the two values. But a Square root seems better since it gives us the Geometric Mean and is a more valid figure. For that matter the Arithmetic-Geometric Mean can be used. Let me look at it seriously. Will contact you to take it further. As you say the Career-to-date values are better. I have already got the CtD Averages. I have to do some more work to get the CtD Strike Rates. Ananth: ]]

  • Arjun on May 16, 2009, 7:56 GMT

    Ananth, This one is regarding one of the parameters(Bowling quality) you have used. [Weighted bowling average determined by summing product of bowler's average and balls bowled in the match by each bowler and dividing by team balls.] I am not saying this method is wrong, but an alternative rating could be produced by using bowler's strike rate instead of average; since bowler with high strikerate have more chance to dismiss batsman early. eg. bowlers with same average but different strike rate. Steyn(sR-39.2) and Holding(SR-50.9) have same average 23.70. Akthar(SR-45.7) and Underwood(SR-73.6) have same average 25.70. If average has to be used then Sum of product of bowler's ave. and runs conceded by him in innings should be divided by total runs given by all bowlers. i.e bowling quality should be calculated by runs given by bowlers and not by balls bowled by them, because for rating base points we use batsman's score in innings and not how many balls he faced.


    Arjun [[ Arjun After some time I get a serious comment on the methodology and couple of valuable suggestions. When I started I worked on the Bowler Average as the basis since that was an easily available measure and was indicative of the bowler quality. Also Balls bowled were used to determine the weighted bowling quality of the team since I felt that the more balls the better bowler bowls, the stronger the team's bowling, as far as that innings is concerned. It took care of situations such as Imran Khan playing but not bowling. However you point on using the strike rate is a valid one and has been in my mind. However the higher strike rates for spinners is a deterrent. If we take your examples, can we work on the assumption that Steyn is 25% more lethal than Holding. I will be crucified if I work on that basis. The trick is to strike a median position. The other problem also is the non-availability of cumulative figures. Again if I use career figures it could be worked out. Let me mull over the same. Even if it delays my follow-up article I must and will do the right thing. Thanks once again. Ananth: ]]

  • Zara Khan on May 16, 2009, 6:53 GMT

    Some facts of no. 1. Tate took 100 wicket with average of 21.43 in 20 test and then added further 55 wickets in it. 4055 - 2143 = 1912 / 55 = 34.76 averagae, means his overall performance was declining. He played 9 test against Bradman. Bedser played 10 test matches against Bradman but his overall performance from 1946-1948 was just ok with bowling average 32.06. His overall bowling career average was 24.89. He developed himself later on. Actually he was at initial stage in the period of 1946-1948. Jim Laker bowling average uptill 1948 was 37.77. He played only three test in which Bradman played. He was bowling him at a very initial stage later on he developed himself. Even his best performance came in 1956. He never took wicket of Bradman in test. Due to experience, Bradman scored 1903 runs in the period of 1946-1948 in 23 innings with batting average 105.72. It means when he was facing Laker or Bedser, he had full potential due to experience whereas they were at initial level

  • Ali on May 16, 2009, 6:08 GMT

    Ananth, I find myself vaguely agreeing with KNM. I think he's simply saying it the way it is.i.e being frank. most ppl would beinterested in the later lot of players [[ A number of Indians, I agree but not from all over the world. Also number of mails sent is only a measure of the availability of time for someone. I can only go by what I think is important to discerning Test followers. Ananth: ]]

  • K.Singh on May 16, 2009, 5:11 GMT

    Ananth, I have sent in several mails. Some of which may perhaps have be described as “provocative or aggressive”. The last however cannot really be described as either. It may be described as “strong”. Also, the last mail is particularly relevant to the discussion in hand and also replies to other comments which have actually been posted. Is it that unless a comment agrees with both your sensitivities and methodology it is unlikely to see the light of day? [[ Karuna Your mail was not published since it only repeated what was said earlier and not because it was provocative. Other mails have been rejected since these harp on a single theme which questions my integrity. Thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • dguru on May 16, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    Dear Ananth, What software did you guys use for this survey or did you just execute your own code? Complexity is very topical in all sciences and this is really a delightful example differing only in that its not experimentally verifiable, but judgemental. In physics there was a time we defined things by our intuition first and then created rules that use this intuition to explain and predict things we know and new things we did not know. Thus intuition and usefulness are aspects that we use to create a body of knowledge when in the land of the unknown. What you guys have attempted intrigues me in this way. It is striking that in batting we have strong parameters (runs scored and averages)that cannot capture the complexity of the question you are asking. I suppose beauty is still in the eye of the beholder in many respects, and to quantify such beauty is beyond our mathematical analyses. Can you identify the single most important intuitive concept you used to quantify the word best? [[ Guru The proprietary database is created by me (and available to the users) and the Windows "C" programs have been written by me (there is no team of developers here). However I bounce ideas off interested colleagues but the final decisions are mine. Intrinsically there is no difference between what I do and what ICC does except that they have a team of people. The normal reader can send 30 mails (often provocative and aggressive) to me which they cannot do to ICC. Finally let me also say as I have already said. If one wants great reading (although I can also write reasonably well) and poetry describing great innings and wonderful batsmen, read books, list has already been given by me. I only do numerical analysis although I am as much (or more) appreciative of the aesthetics and grace of the game as anyone else. It hurts me as much as anyone else to see Richards low down but I cannot violate the strict standards I have set myself and fudge numbers. I am also ready to correct myself, as I have done a few times in the past, in the Captains and All-rounders analyses. Thanks for your interesting query Ananth: ]]

  • KNM on May 15, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    Ananth, Sorry to bother you ….again! But if I may say so …you are simply wasting your time with pre 39 and post 46 analyses. To most of your readership the figures of those periods are for all practical purposes just numbers with no fizz in them. Most readers would be concerned with Richards down. Batsman we have actually seen and so can pass visual judgements on. They have a “life” as against those of a bygone era. [[ I would normally have trashed this mail but have published it just to show how the thinking goes. Looking at Bradman, Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Hammond, Headley, Hutton, Hazare, Hanif, Mankad, McCabe, Sobers, Weekes, Worrell, Walcott et al is a "waste of time". Well, Mr.Mishra, I will not oblige you. Ananth: ]]

  • Sham on May 15, 2009, 11:41 GMT

    Ananth, I feel you are incorrect in your replies to both KNM and Ali. And am surprised at your summary dismissal of valid requests. Surely, many persons are genuinely perplexed by both the low ranking of Viv and the point diff.between Tendulkar/ Lara (seems excessive). So, say if your tables show that in the 70s Viv was no.1 and say no.10 in the 80s it would make more "sense" to most cricket fans. The table as is is unfortunately “counterintuitive” not just to lay fans but arguably most top experts of the game. The diff. between Lara/Ten/VIv (if at all) in pure batting terms is minimal. As rgds. Lara/Tendulkar. .. Your assumption "of ppl not being surprised of Lara’s ranking" etc are incorrect. I’m personally zapped. Also, it would test your other claims as to why Lara should be ranked so high: "great “innings, weak team (mostly in the 90s) etc etc. If anything it would lend your analysis some ballast or else debunk most of your parameters. Surely, that is something you wouldn't want to shy away from? [[ Sham It is difficult to explain this. I can only say that I cannot convert a 132-year analysis into one for 10 years without spending a lot of time and effort which I do feel is neither available nor necessary. Each period has to be looked into individually lest huge variations happen. As it is I am facing problems trying to split the entire test period into two halves. Every factor has to be looked into and parameters and weightings validated. Let me put it this way. At a later date when I can find the required time and enthusiasm, I will try and do a comprehensive analysis of the period between 1990 and 2010, with the express purpose of throwing more light into the complex matter and not to prove or disprove anything. Thanks Ananth: ]]

  • Ali on May 15, 2009, 10:58 GMT


    I feel KNMs suggestion is one of the best. If it is too much of a chore putting up all the relevant lists could you simply put up the Lara/Tendulkar total points for the 90s and 2000s separately? This would help us fans get so much of fresh perspective and insight into multiple factors, which other wise get fogged . [[ Ali It is not possible for me to do the complete Ratings exercise for a decade only since all parameters will have to be looked into and re-evaluated. Also since the whole the purpose of this exercise is only to show that a is better than b, sorry I will not do that. On the other hand, I will post decade-wise tables containing the three pieces of key data, (i-e), Runs scored, Batting average and Quality of bowling faced. You can draw your own conclusions. Ananth: ]]

  • Zara Khan on May 15, 2009, 8:18 GMT

    Excellent list with expected results Probably the history best is Bradman. His average is double than others. See some facts about Bradman Mat over concrete pitches, half career timeless, presence of four days, five days and six days matches, long distance fielding, absence of leg umpire, only ten grounds in which five in England and five in Australia, never faced any opponent at their home ground except England, more than 70% score against same team that is England, never faced speed guns like Lee, Shoaib and Thompson, never faced any fast bowler who took 100 or more wickets in test career For 100 or more, two are fast medium and remaining four are spinners. For leading 20 fast medium he faced only one that is Bedser For leading 20 fast bowlers he faced none, for leading 20 leg spinners he faced one, for leading 20 off spinners he faced one that is Laker. Beside these facts, he may be no. 1 as his average is exceptionally marvelous and he is legend of the cricket.

  • Arjun on May 15, 2009, 7:23 GMT


    Can you please post an alternative list by using Innings performance rating instead of match performance rating. i.e. by dividing sum of each innings points by no. of innings played by individual batsman. In this list, I think you have divided total points by no. of matches, which benefits the batsmen who batted in more innings per match eg. lara, dowling, mcglew etc.


    Arjun. [[ Arjun It seems like a good idea to arrive at a per-innings "match" performance and scale up as required to fit the weight given. Howver my take is that there may not be much a difference. Will look into this. Thanks Ananth: ]]

  • dguru on May 15, 2009, 4:12 GMT

    @ eddy Chanderpaul's form since Lara retired stands up against any player on this list. He is a test player of the highest class and I am sure, barring injury, his average will just keep rising as he seems to finally realize what he wants for himself as a cricketer and a person. But alas, his style will never make him a crowd favorite. However, for many who consider test cricket the ultimate form of all cricket his extended purple patch is no fluke and if it continues for two more years I'm sure you'll reconsider your statement. With the quality of cricket in the Caribbean today I feel he may be the last of the great West Indians for many a year to come. [[ Guru I concur with your view completely. I also feel that Chanderpaul might very well the last of the pure Test batsman, the one who sold his wicket very dearly (Lord's test being the exception). Today's T20/IPL/ODI compulsions make the match-saving test innings a thing of the past. One reason why I feel the most significant test innings recently has been Gambhir's epic especially as he is known for his attacking batting. Even to be able to compare Gambhir's 642 min/436 ball masterpiece with Atherton's 643(!!!) min/492 ball epic is to say something. And Chanderpaul has crafted many a patient match-saving innings over the time. May not be interesting but surely takes some doing. Ananth: ]]

  • KNM on May 15, 2009, 4:08 GMT

    Ananth PLEASE,please,please...I beseech you..please put up a list decade wise: i.e 60s,70s,80s,90s etc. Since you already have the data it should be simple enough. It would shed light on SO many things. Not the least Vivs lowly position. [[ Kailash I might very well decide to do two lists, one pre-1939 and anther, post-1946. However to put up a slew of decade-wise lists will dilute the concept quite a bit and may not prove anything. I will then run into the mine-field of "During the 70s, we had Viv Richards was at his best, how can you have xyz as no.1" and many such similar comments. Maybe what I would do, instead, is to avoid doing any rankings but put up batsman tables by decade, listing runs scored and batting average (for the concerned decade). These tables will let the readers get a feel of how the decades have evolved and draw their conclusions. Thanks for the suggestion. Ananth: ]]

  • James on May 15, 2009, 1:44 GMT

    Wow a lot of comments! Really like the study Ananth. I'm asking about probably the only guy who your study missed: Aubrey Faulkner. He scored only 1754 Test runs, so misses the cutoff. But do you have any idea where he might rate in this study? I've been looking at the ICC rankings lately and Aubrey did well there, rated the #1 batsman in the world in 1911 and his highest rating sits at #38 in the highest rated batsmen of all time in those ICC rankings. Having an average of just over 40 when playing a lot of cricket before WWI seems quite impressive when compared with guys like Clem Hill and Victor Trumper who both made the top 100 in your study. [[ James, Aubrey Faulkner is one player I have always had a very high opinion of. If you recall my pair of articles on all-rounders, he was ranked very high in the tables, if I remember correctly a top-10 position, since, in addition to the 1754 runs he also captured 82 wickets in only 25 tests. Imagine scoring over 75 runs and capturing 3.3 wickets per test. I did a special study for you. I lowered my bar to 1750 runs and completed the report. Faulkner came in at no.87. The sequence is Vishwanath, Fleming, FAULKNER, Ian Chappell and Martyn. Not a bad quintet. Many thanks for sending a comment away from the usual "x-y-z-is the greatest" one. Ananth: ]]

  • eddy on May 14, 2009, 10:38 GMT

    The 90's were the golden age of cricket we are told. At least half-dozen all time greats all playing at the same time i.e. Tendulkar, Lara, Warne, Murli, Akram.. etc I remember rushing home to watch a Lara innings or getting up really early to watch a Tendulkar knock. Enjoying the genius of Warne and the unorthodox Murli. For me the Lara experience was always the most thrilling. Unlike Tendulkar who shared the limelight with other great batsmen (some of whom actually averaged more than him from time2time)Lara was the one-man-show. With Warne you had McGrath and Wasim you had Waqar. Murli was much like Lara or Hadlee. The only true GREAT player in the team hence they made all the runs or took all of the wickets (sorry Vass and Shiv, not quite great). The excitement when I watched Tendulkar was all about the classical stroke play and the near perfect technique. Would he score another 100? With Lara it was much more about 'what are we going to get today?' type of feeling. A three ball duck? A quick 50? A stunning 100 or something else even more stunning? Another 150+ score or even another 200? Or more???

    When Tendulkar was dismissed the crowd groaned and many people would leave the ground or turn off the TV. But that didn’t mean that was the end of the Indian innings. With Dravid or Ganguly or Laxman or Sehwag there was always back-up. With every ball Lara faced it felt like WI’s innings was in the balance. With Lara’s bowling equivalents Murli and Hadlee they always had another over or another spell to get it right, unlike batsmen who have to wait for another innings.

    Bradman (invincible’s) , Tendulkar( fab four/five), V Richards( 80’s invincible’s), Waugh, Ponting (90’s/2000’s invincible’s) etc have no idea what is was like to play in such a poor team being the lone genius, they had the luxury and comfort of other great players capable of rescuing the team.

  • Arjun on May 14, 2009, 7:02 GMT


    For your match performance points, why don't you use your hallmark/thirdslip rating points for this analysis as you did earlier. You can simply add points of each innings by player and divide it by no. of innings played. I think method of your previous analysis was better.

    Arjun. [[ Arjun I have already replied to this question earlier. In one sentence, to improve the earlier method. Ananth: ]]

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on May 14, 2009, 5:36 GMT

    This is my last comments on this topic. Dear Ananth, I totally agree that different people have different opinions. Tendulkar and Lara, both are greatest batsmen and for this century two best batsmen. For facing fast bowlers in different eras, please find below the list of fast bowlers only faced by three legends. All bowlers took at least one wicket against them. Don Bradman Allen 82, Larwood 78, Farnes 60, Constantine 58 and Griffith 44 In Gavaskar’s case Hadlee 431, Botham 383, Marshall 376, Imran 362 and Lillee 355. In case of Lara Wasim 414, Ntini 388, Waqar 373, Imran 362 and Donald 330. In this way we have comparison of three different period of fast bowlers from 1928-1948, 1970 to 1990 and 1990 to onward. In case of Gavaskar others like Willis 325, Garner 259, Holding 249, Robert 202 and Thomson 200. In case of Lara others like Lee 310, McDermott 291, Gillespie 259, Flintoff 218 and Hughes 212.

    In my opinion, fast bowling is on peak in case of Gavaskar.

  • dguru on May 14, 2009, 4:13 GMT

    Its really impossible to systematically handle the complexity of such a task. The authors must be commended for dying with their boots on. Many of their criteria contradicted others and some criteria themselves are self contradictory. However, since it was not a scientific paper, and its logic so hilarious I will merely say a few things about the greatest batsman I have seen. Lara played approximately half his career without hope of victory against good opponents. The great Aussie team of our time with Warne and Mc Grath, had to resort to accepting his numerous "strange dismissals" when he showed unstoppable intent. That team indeed still fear no one but Lara. His on-field conduct in the face of this madness and his support to his fellow cricketers and rivals is moving. I have never seen the Don. I can only imagine his class, but sometimes I wonder what would Lara have done had he gotten to complete those many innings umpires so routinely denied him, the fans and the statisticians.

  • shafeen on May 13, 2009, 21:29 GMT

    @ KNM thats very well put - thats exactly what I meant regarding Brian Lara and fast bowling.

    regarding Viv Richards - usually when people rank great players, they go more on the emotional impact a player had on them than stats. Richards had an amazing emotional impact - he was the ultimate destroyer of bowling, of any quality - hence why he's so highly regarded.

    The emotional impact carries over into success - if you reassure your team, or intimidate the opposition, your doing something worthwhile that can't be measured in figures. your shaping the game.

    BUT... sometimes, people take the emotional impact to an unfortunate level. e.g - may, cowdrey and dexter are often considered finer players than Barrington - but the difference in averages so SO BIG, that i don't think that cuts much ice.

    Richards was a great player, IMO Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were a bit better. Gavaskar opening the innings in that crazy era, and Chappell was very consistent throughout.

  • Susobhan Mondal on May 13, 2009, 18:03 GMT

    Very good research. Reflects the fact. Though I think Tests and ODIs should not be calculated combined. If so, why not T20s? They are differecnt games. Test is the ultimate version to judge a cricketer's ability. [[ Even if I do a combined table it should be taken in the spirit in which it would have been created, to see who has ruled the roost over the past 30 years. There is not enough data on T20. Only 89 matches and the maximum played by a single player is 21. Compare this with Tests (1919 & 150+ and counting) and ODIs (2849 & 400+ and counting). The T20 will hardly make a dent in any Tests/ODI related table. Your point is correct, though. Ananth: ]]

  • KNM on May 13, 2009, 13:54 GMT

    [[ Gentlemen: Don't all of you think we have had enough. Let us close the topic now. You are going to hold on to your views and will not change whatever anyone tells. Why try and change someone else's, equally determined to hold his views, valid view. No more mails on this thread please. Ananth: ]]

    @Zeeshan: And oh pleaseee: Noones saying Lara was a poor batsman against pace. It is all relative. Lara is an alltime great no doubt. Its like Mcenroe had poor groundstrokes relative to Sampras. This is not to mean that Mac could NOT hit groundies.Obviously the guy was a magician and no. for years. But RELATIVE to Sampras he had poor groundies. As per this analysis ,with the amount of heft given to team composition, it is a given that lara will come out on top. But against the super fast pacers ,on the juicier pitches in the 90s Tendulkar was the better batter.

  • Antony Japhet on May 13, 2009, 10:36 GMT

    Coming back to my earlier Email querying the absence of Denis Compton. I note that a similar Email came from Keith Fletcher (the Keith Fletcher?). And, unless I missed it, I thought you were coming back to major absences. Having seen Compton bat, not even when he was still at his best, I cannot believe that he was not one of the greatest batsmen ever to have played the game. And the argument that he did not face the great West Indian fast bowlers just does not hold. Nor did Bradman and, after all, you can only bat against what's there. Lindwall and Miller were there. Finally, your figures cannot take into consideration "the Compton knee" so maybe a true analysis should be based on cricketers in their prime. That surely would pick out the true greats. [[ Antony, My apologies for not coming out earlier to you. I have checked Compton's numbers. They are not great but fair. His match performance ratings is around 22, avge 10+, runs 5.7, %TS 3 totalling 40.5 and working out to a final ratings value of 45. I cannot see anything wrong with the numbers, certainly with the position. However let me give below the company he is in. The following list is interesting. gower, nurse, greenidge, lawry, COMPTON, taylor, may, cowdrey, mike hussey. Does it probably say that there have been many great batsmen around.

    Ananth: ]]

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on May 13, 2009, 10:07 GMT

    Dear Shafeen I think your knowledge about Lara is too less. Lara made his first century 277 in his fifth test match in which bowlers are McDermott and Hughes including Shane Warne at Sydney, in 1993. Both are fast bowlers and also including Shane Warne, he had to face two varities, one fast and another one leg spin. It means he had tackled fast and spin at a time. Wasim Akram took his wicket only twice in seven test matches. According to this, how he had problem to face Wasim. Waqar only three time in six test matches. Donald six in ten test matches but at that time Lara was declining as his overall performance was going poor. One more fact is that he is the best against Murli. If he had a problem with fast bowling how he made runs 11953 in test? Others teams could easily tackle him with fast bowling. Beside these facts, in one day how he made 153 against Pakistan in which he crushed Waqar completely in 1993. No doubt, for modern players he is no. 1 with elegancy and grace.

  • Indian on May 13, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    @Shafeen, if you see his performance in the ODI series early on in his career, against SA and Pak, then you would know that he simply blasted all bowlers... Donald, Wasim, Waqar etc at their peak.. e.g. the series against SA and Pak in SA in 92/93 the home series against Pak in 93 though you would argue that ODIs are different compared to tests...

    in fact, we started admiring this young batsman because of his achievements against these pacers.

    the main problem for him was his own mind and that too between the ages of 27 and 32 (a batsman's peak period).. though he played some fantastic knocks during this period.

  • KNM on May 13, 2009, 5:46 GMT

    Zeeshan,eddy etc. If you look at the runs/hundreds piled up by the top 10 batsmen or so( Barring Tendulkar ,that too due to injuries) the period from around 2000 to now will probably be the most prolific in history. EVERYONE and their uncles scored big runs/hundreds. Viv was in a diff. period.But if a half good Viv got to play in the 2000s on the flat batting pitches and definitely poorer bowling dont you think he too would have ended his career on a high?

  • eddy on May 12, 2009, 21:26 GMT

    @ Shafeen....srini wrote this earlier in the blog 'Sachin and Lara played exactly 3 tests each against Pakistan when they were the establish big guns in the side. I am not including Lara's/Sachin's debut series for obvious reasons. that is not that big a sample is it?... Also, in my original post I never used any context. It was just a pure stat line. I was responding to Ali. Against a full strength SA/Pak attack Lara has scored 1185 @33 and Sachin 1150 @33. why do you say Sachin is MUCH better against genuine pace? if he is, there should be some diff shudnt it? My pt is both are, imho, exactly similar in effect. swap em and their careers'd be the same'. I believe that this whole 'he played pace better than he did' or he had a 'weakness' is a complete myth. Believe me NO-ONE likes extreme fast bowling. EVERY player has weaknesses to it. Take Tendulkar's helmet off and we would see his weaknesses. Even Viv admitted that Wasim scared him, but then he didnt wear a helmet did he!

  • Shafeen on May 12, 2009, 16:39 GMT

    stats are fun - some quick thoughts.

    I've always considered Lara to be below Tendulkar because Lara has GENUINE problems against fast bowling. i've seen wasim, waqar and donald make him look silly. Tendulkar - no weakness'. Agree about Ponting and Tendulkar, but also rank Sangakarra right up there with them. He plays all bowling with such ease, and scores consistently on all types of pitches - great player.

    Viv Richards... agree with the article completely. He had so many poor performances - people forget about them because WI would win anyway. great player, but a bit overrated.

    Quick correction - Hammond did NOT score many runs against a weak WI side of his time. he usually failed against them. Like Lara, i think he'd have had his goose cooked by quality fast attacks also.

    I rank Sobers, Hobbs, Hutton, Gavaskar and Headley very highly. Sobers, IMO is probably the best batsman after Bradman.

    nice list, all in all.

    One more thing - where does Herbert Sutcliffe come into this? Consistency itself, very high average, was right up there with Hammond and Hobbs

  • eddy on May 12, 2009, 9:50 GMT

    @ Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui, this is something that was news to me. I always thought VIV was the greatest until i saw Lara bat. Is VIV down in 20th position simply because he went on for too long? I believe VIV was aged 39 during his last series in Eng 1991. I remember him scratching around to make 50+ so that his career avg was over 50. He made 2 and 60 in the match. However his overall series fegures for the 1991 series against eng were 5 test matches, a fifty in every match and 377 runs at 53...not bad. Lara was 37 during his last test series in Pak. he made 448 in 5 innings @ 90. Maybe VIV stayed a season or two too long and Lara a season or two too few!

  • Sumit on May 12, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    Also, I feel that for cricketers who have played more than 100 games or so, you should consider their best consecutive 10 years (N games) period.

    This is because many cricketers like Sachin and S Waugh come early into the scene fairly early and struggle in their initial 20 matches or so.

    Similarly many players (like Dravid, S Waugh and Richards) play well past their sell-by dates because of which again their career performances look not as great as it should have. I think this might be the reason that S Waugh has so few perf points. If you consider the S Waugh of 1992-2001 he would turn out to be much better.

  • Sumit on May 12, 2009, 5:32 GMT

    Ananth: I sorted the batsmen based on AvgPoints/PerfPoints... Samaraweera, Saleem Malik, Gilchrist and Steve Waugh come out on top...In essence it means that these guys should actually be having even lower averages (they have made runs against bad teams or on easy pitches or in pressure less situations).

    In the bottom there is Gooch, Strauss, Trescothick, Butcher and Pietersen. It seems that English players are playing a lot against Aussie teams because of which their averages are lower but their perfs might be better. Is it also due to the fact that English pitches are turning out to be harder to bat on?

    I still cant fathom how a Steve Waugh got 19 perf points (lower than many flat track bullies) whereas Lara got 28 points even though their averages are so close to each other.

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on May 11, 2009, 22:49 GMT

    I agree that Great Viv batting was declining in the last of his career. He scored only four centuries in his last 60 innings. One reason is that people never accept the players who came later on is more greater than previous. Just compare him with Lara in test Viv scored only seven times more than 150 or plus, in Lara case nineteen times. Viv scored three double hundreds, Lara nine double hundred. No triple century, two triple centuries. In his last 82 innings scored 3326 runs, Lara more than 5000. Lara scored 19 centuries in his last 91 innings. It means Lara remain great in the last of his career as well. Lara in only batsman in test who defined centuries, double hundreds, triples and quadruple in his career. Lara in only batsman in first class who defined centuries, double hundreds, triples, quadruples and quintuple in his career. So he becomes unique after defining all type of centuries. His concentration is strongest as he converted 19 150 or plus to 9 200 or more scores.

  • Pollock on May 11, 2009, 16:30 GMT

    After poring through the comments, a large number of readers have expressed surprise that Richards is down at #20. I think the main reason Richards was ranked #3 on the all-time list by Wisden itself is that his impact on the game transcended bare statistics. He was a "presence" and an intimidating one at that. When fast bowlers bowled to him, the huntsmen became the hunted. The greatest thing about Richards is that he never changed his style of batting, even when his eyesight started to decline, which would explain his poor statistics in his last 5 years. There is no way to quantify the impact that a player has had on a game. For example, SMG revolutionized Indian batting. How is one to quantify that? It is entirely possible that had SMG not come along, SRT might not have been as great as he was! Likewise, Hobbs was probably the first to lay down a solid technique for generations of batsmen to follow. This implies that he is a greater batsman than his bare statistics suggest.

  • Engle on May 11, 2009, 15:08 GMT

    The greatest ability of a batsman is to inspire confidence in his teammates and demoralize that of the opposition. Greatness lies not merely in what one accomplishes as an individual, but what affect one casts over a group.

    This is was a criteria held by the great leader Imran Khan, who would hold it AGAINST a batsman if he felt that person was playing exclusively for his personal numbers, rather than for the team.

    Those who play for personal numbers will come out ahead in any statistical rankings by the very nature of their objective (centuries, HS, average etc). And there are a few of those in the top 20.

    Then there are those who could'nt give a whit about personal numbers; they were beyond mere mathematics.

    Put another way, if you were going out to bat, who would you like as your partner ? Ponting, Kallis, Dravid or Richards ?

    If you were fielding, who would you least like to see coming out to bat ? Ponting, Kallis, Dravid or Richards ?

  • M. Shariq on May 11, 2009, 8:19 GMT

    Nice article. For comparison with Bradman with modern players is not possible like when Lara made 153 not out he was playing against Warne, McGrath, Macgill and Gilliespie at a time. It means not only faced them in his career but also faced them together. When you are facing one good bowler at a time, you can defense him and scored against others. In Lara case, he not only faced excellent bowlers together but also scored against main strikers. This is the main reason why I say he is no. 1 including all. One more thing is that we never know that how Bradman can tackle spinners although when he faced Hollies failed to understand his bowl and lost his wicket. Suppose body line series was against W. Indies bowling attack of near to 80s then what happened if they were planning the same. Then captain will also change to Lloyd. Facing better captain always creates trouble to batsmen of other teams due to his better strategies.

  • Parthasarathy Chakravarty on May 11, 2009, 7:25 GMT

    You have considered average and strike rate in Tests as parameters for your ranking and ignored match winning and match saving situations. Further, career achievements should never be considered for ranking a player. It is match situation and his contribution to the team that should matter. In that regard, Dravid ranks miles ahead of Tendulkar. He is not called Mr. Dependable for nothing. [[ PC If you had taken the trouble to read the article carefully you will see that match status, match saving and match winning are covered in depth under Match Performance calculations. Ananth: ]]

  • Jahan Zada Buneri on May 11, 2009, 6:34 GMT

    Excellent list, almost the same expected results but I think Gavaskar is under estimated in the list. Gavaskar made 13 centuries against W. Indies, even in some of his centuries; all four fast bowlers of W. Indies were present in attack. His batting average is near to 60 in forth innings only with four centuries and eight half centuries. Dear Zeeshan you missed that Sobers also played against him so bowlers become seventeen who took 200 or more wickets whom he faced. It means he faced Robert, Marshall, Garner, Holding, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Lillee, Thompson, Hughes, Hadlee, Wills, Botham and Snow from fast bowling. I think toughest one is Gavaskar who played cream of the cream of fast bowling which is not the case of others. In case of Bradman only one that is Bedser came in 1946. For leading 60 wicket takers Bradman faced only two including Laker (faced him in three test matches only) and for leading 100 wicket takers only five.

  • Peter on May 11, 2009, 6:24 GMT

    I'm reluctant to accept a methodology which places Hobbs as low as 5th, and has Hayden 100 places ahead of Stan McCabe. [[ Peter Hobbs could easily have been at no.3 and I feel only Ponting is probably wrongly placed higher than Hobbs. So I don't think you should have a major problem with that. I agree with you on McCabe, one of my favourite batsmen. It is a pity that he is placed so low, as are many others. Certainly there is a problem when we compare players across 132 years. This comparison period has to be shorter. How can anyone compare any great 30s tennis player such as Perry/Lacoste with a 60s great like Laver or Sampras or Federer. In Golf things have not changed much. So it is possible to compare an olden goldie like Vardon with Nicklaus or Woods. Not in Cricket or Tennis. Ananth: ]]

  • Pm on May 11, 2009, 5:37 GMT

    Ananth Some ideas to reduce the lopsidedness of some features of your analysis, as per some comments above (some valid): 1) To “equalize” the impact of team composition (but still take it into consideration) it may be more appropriate to use a “%” of several of your parameters. For. E.g. if Lara came in at 20/2 a 100 times and Viv did so 20 times. Then even if Lara didn’t do too well just the sheer volume of such innings/runs, coupled with the heavy Mult.factors, and finally 50% weightage to the same will inevitably tilt the scale heavily in Lara’s favour. So, instead, we can take the % of such innings (score came in, tail runs, etc) and scale them in instead of just adding the points up. So, if Viv did as well relatively they should be given equal points. This will ensure both team factors but yet not distort the picture completely. Since, what we are interested in is relative anyway (batsmen compared to each other not some absolute standard)

    2) Again for team wins etc. for eg. If Lara had some 100 chances to chase down a “gettable” score but achieved the same say 10 times. But Viv had only 10 such chances but did so 5 times Lara will get more points for “match wins and other such criteria. so again using a % and scaling the same makes sense.

    3) Pertinent point also raised is the “bowling quality”. as ppl have mentioned it makes more sense to use the bowler’s avg. for the “period/year” concerned. Surely, even the great bowlers like the great batsmen, will have varying periods of form/efficiency? Don’t know if I am being clear! (not being a math/statistician). But if we use sheer volume of innings/runs based on what other members of a team did or didn’t do…the result will clearly be lopsided

  • ted on May 11, 2009, 2:07 GMT

    does hobbs runs in county cricket count since there were not any tests that year.the same for other players as well.maybe all the modern day players could have same matches on uncovered pitches to see how they play on.just from aninterest pointof view

  • M. Omair on May 11, 2009, 0:59 GMT

    Nice article once again. Amazing to see Viv Richard at no. 20. For your no. 1 and no. 2, see some facts, face to face Bradman runs per innings against England is 79.81 whereas Lara 58.49. So ratio is almost .75 : 1 but Lara faced them 1 / 7. Bradman runs per inning against England at home is 71.33 whereas Lara 71.45. Bradman two highest scores against them are 334 and 304 whereas Lara 400 not out and 375. He scored more than 70% against England and Lara more than 20% of his career. Bradman played in two countries and Lara in nine countries. Bradman took only the pressure of England, Lara had to tackle pressure of seven strong teams in test as well as in one day too. Not too many cricket in case of Bradman. In case of Lara too much cricket. Bradman has one quadruple in first class, Lara has two. Two triple centuries both have in test. No quadruple in test, Lara has one. No quintuple in first class, Lara has one. BESIDE THE FACTS, BOTH ARE LEGENDS IN MY EYES.

  • kiran kerai on May 10, 2009, 21:50 GMT

    I don't think this is realable as the different era's have different styles of play. If don Bradman play in the modern era his average would be 65-ish as there is less time on the pitch than in the day of timeless cricket. And bowlers paces are higher as in the 30,s the pace of bowling would be 80 max. Gaviskar play fastest bowling ever and without a helmit. so tactically he is the best on the list in playing best bowling by skill. Not helmit like Sactin, Ponting. The spinner have also gotton better. And one day cricket has change the way cricket is played. And pitch are flatter now than the 80,s and in dons time the ground were also flat. Reverse swing is something that sactin has played well but not lara and ponting. So my point is that no one batman is better than one of a different era. All batman are good for some jobs but it there training in the era that make people ask who is the best. In my opinion don was good but not the best and sachin is good but not the best and there is

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on May 10, 2009, 19:32 GMT

    Nice and remarkable! I think praise is for those who maintained this article. I think you have put too much efforts for it. I think Bradman is not no. 1, reason is following Bramdan lost his wickets 50 times by Verity 8 times, Bedser 6 times, Larwood, Tates and Bowes five times then thrice by Hammond, Yardley, Geary and then twice by Allen, Voce, Wright, Farnes, Griffith, Hazare (8+6+5+5+5+3+3+3+2+2+2+2+2+2=50) in which twelve bowlers from England and Griffith from West Indies and Hazare from India. Only four are related to 100 wickets club that are Tate, Verity, Wright and Bedser. Before world war II, he faced only two bowlers who joined 100 wickets club. Only two bowlers are related to 50 or more Test matches club in their careers that are Hammond and Bedser. It means he never faced any bowler who took 200 wickets when we was facing him. Bedser joined 200 club later on after his retirement. He scored near to 75% of his score against England only. I think he is BEST of his own era.

  • Zeeshan Ahmed on May 10, 2009, 14:22 GMT

    Nice and Excellent once again. In my opinion Gavaskar should have better position in the list. Reason is the following. Gavaskar lost his wicket 50 times against Derek Underwood, Imran Khan, Micheal Holding, Ian Botham, Malcom Marshall, (12+11+11+8+8=50) Others like Wasim Akram, Hadlee, Lillee, Thomson, Joel Garner, John Snow, Hughes, Andy Robert, Bob Willis, Lance Gibbs and Abdul Qadir in his whole career. All sixteen bowlers took 200 or more wickets in test and played 50 test matches except Andy Robert 47 and John Snow 49. If we compare this fact with Bradman, he faced only one bowler who took 200 or more that is Alec Bedser who came in 1946 and Bradman left cricket in 1948. For leading fifteen wicket takers of all type of spinners, he faced none of them. One more fact is that Victor Trumper, Alan Kipax and Archie Jackson all are more elegant than Bradman. Beside these facts, Bradman is legend and one of the best batsmen that history ever produced.

  • Mohanlal on May 10, 2009, 12:54 GMT

    @Paddy Mohan couldn't resist the temptation to answer your is quite natural that a batter who has played for long got dimissed caught by WK or at slips quite no: of times.I think same apply for Lara too.that cannot be said as a weekness.Also it is quite natural that some bowlers might have dismissed a particular batter more no: of times than another bowler.For eg: Bickel dismissed Lara 5 or 6 time in an entire series. Does that mean Lara is completely ineffective vs him ? Lara might had scored good amount of runs vs him too.So is the case w.r.t SRT vs Vas.If a batter failed miserably when ever a particular bowler is in the team( i mean that bowler dismissed him so cheaply quite often such that the batters avg: got really poor vs the particular team in specific conditions , for eg:Ponting vs Harbhajan & Cullinan vs Warne)then only i feel it can be termed as a weakness.

  • Ananth on May 10, 2009, 12:44 GMT

    Important: Henceforth only one comment will be allowed from a single reader at one time. I have been inundated with multiple comments from quite a few readers, repeating what they want to say, ad nauseum, and I have already got mails from other readers expressing their inability to read the comments properly because of this problem. So, say whatever you want to say in a single comment. 1000 characters, I am sure, are enough.

  • graeme on May 10, 2009, 11:47 GMT

    It was an interesting list and with some of the players still play in test cricket so the positions could move around a little more ex: Hayden could move to 10 if Dravid's form continues to drop.

    This study is on tests but just on batsman in the modern era how many batsman have been the top scorer in ODI World Cup and held most runs in a calender year?? Haydyn also has the 20/20 World Cup top scorer and could end up this year as the batsman with most runs in the IPL!! A combination that puts him in the compnay of one! at the moment.

  • theo on May 10, 2009, 11:47 GMT

    the top 3 are spot on!! i see people doubting lara's 2nd spot... that man is an incredible player! no other batsmen has drawm as much awe as him in my lifetime. I query ponting's position at no 4. Unfortunately, ponting does not have the class that others in the top 10 do. perhaps your analysis must include achievements to factor in 'amazing' innings... i think in the end, people must view this as "statistically great test batsmen" rather then "great test batmen" Otherwise, great work.

  • mayank on May 10, 2009, 11:41 GMT

    great analysis...don is undisputed but if there is any other batsman who can take his place is none other that sachin tendulkar .when Brandman himself had told that sachin's game is similar with him then who can argue on this ...sorry anant but Tendulkar is far better player than lara and no need to explain it

  • Ambi on May 10, 2009, 10:11 GMT

    Brilliant innings are always likely to stay in people's mind are likely to be quoted in favour of a batsman. However, what is more important is consistency. This could be measured either (a) by number of scores of less than 10 in completed innings or (b) standard deviation of a batsman's scores from his career average I also agree that having David and Shewag (in the top 20 list) works greatly to the disadvantage of Sachin, in terms of the % of team score. Also, how about discounting runs (not ignoring) scored in dead matches (after series has been decided), unless this has already been factored, as it is like flogging a dead snake.

  • Matt on May 10, 2009, 10:02 GMT

    To those of you bringing in non-empirically measureable is based on STATISTICS - pure and simple. Enjoy the article for what it is and don't criticize Ananth because the painstaking analysis he has gone through doesn't agree with your own subjective opinions.

    Nicely done Ananth.

  • Paddy Mohan on May 10, 2009, 10:02 GMT

    For all people who think that its only Lara who had difficulty against McGrath, you are wrong. McGrath has got Tendulkar out on a number of occasions. Also, Tendulkar has struggled against Chaminda Vaas and Fannie De Villiers (SA). How many times has Vaas dismissed him outside off-stump, then its Tendulkar's weakness ! one can easily find that its ONLY Indians who argue, without rationalism that Tendulkar should be ahead of Lara. Else, most of NON-Indian fans have agreed to this list. Indian fans are crazy about cricket, but that does not mean they appreciate quality cricket. Just because the population of India is more and majority of comments are from Indian fans, it does not mean that Tendulkar is better than Lara. Tendulkar might come in many TV ads than Lara and Bradman, because of the cricket culture in India, but a closer look at the TOP 10 innings of Lara VS. the Top 10 innings of Tendulkar, if made, would simply throw Tendulkar out of question

  • Sriram V on May 10, 2009, 8:56 GMT

    Ananth Sir, I am a great fan of all your previous works and now, this one too. It is funny to observe how people react to such statistically generated rankings.

    If we are to consider the true greatness of all these legends, it is impossible to compare them across eras. Statistics (this work in particular) gives us the best possible platform in which we can at least know where these people stand. Viv Richards being placed below Sehwag in this methodology has got nothing to prove about the greatness of either of them. They are both great in their own ways. Same is true of Sachin or Lara or the Don.

  • Rajanathan on May 10, 2009, 8:48 GMT

    A very fine analysis.This should put to rest about who is/was the best batsman in the history of cricket.people forget that Bradman's performance would have been still greater if not for the war years when he was at his prime.I wish you would do an analysis for the greatest bowler.Many thanks for your effort.

  • Rajanathan on May 10, 2009, 8:48 GMT

    A very fine analysis.This should put to rest about who is/was the best batsman in the history of cricket.people forget that Bradman's performance would have been still greater if not for the war years when he was at his prime.I wish you would do an analysis for the greatest bowler.Many thanks for your effort.

  • Ashish Gupta on May 10, 2009, 8:09 GMT

    I am very much impressed with your top 20. Seems pretty much spot on. But when I was going through the complete list, I noticed Gautam Gambhir at position 38, above Langer, Saeed Anwar, Flower , Gilchrist. Dont you think that it points out a flaw. That the span of playing cricket should be given more weightage. Many people can hit a purpule patch and score for a couple of years. But its totally another thing to perform for a long duration of time when opposition has analyzed and tried to exploit yr every weakness. Also I think scoring against various types of attacks should be given a weightage rather than scoring against just one or two attacks. Bradman scored more than 90% of his runs against England; as did most of the players of that era. Though I feel that Bradman would still be no. 1 despite of that.

  • GMNorm on May 10, 2009, 8:07 GMT

    comparing across generations using statistics is tough . Across 70 years the standards in a sport increase. This is seen across sport in swimmers timings, track timings , tennis racket technologies etc

  • KNM on May 10, 2009, 8:03 GMT

    Ananth: Your analysis (plus some observations in brackets) This innings is one of the top-3 innings ever played (might even be the best ever). Laxman V.V.S Ind vs Aus, Kolkatta, 2001 Runs scored: 281 Base points: 70.25 - Runs multiplied by 0.25. Really does not matter, can be anything. 0.25 has been selected since there is no need to do any scaling up/down later.

    ( Are you sure it doesn’t ? Considering that a full 50% of a batsman’s points are being accorded to this factor. Would it not affect the FINAL scores?)

    Multiplicative indices

    Bowling quality: 1.109 (Range: 0.75 to 1.25) - Weighted bowling average determined by summing product of bowler's average and balls bowled in the match by each bowler and dividing by team balls. - Strong Australian attack. Well above average.

    (Using G.Mcgrath as an eg (since there are a few recent comments about him) :’94:avg.43.7 ;’95:avg.22.07 ;’96 :19.77; ’97:20.81;25.08; ’99:21.69 ; ’00:13.13; ’01:21.6;’02:17.1;’03:35.25;’04:21.54; ’05:20.22; ’06:29.25; ’07:17.5. As can be seen there is often significant variation in some years .for eg. His min avg is 13.13 in 2000 and max. 35.25 in 2003. So ,it would be more accurate to use the avg. at the TIME(i.e. the year in question) since it would also be an indicator of the bowlers current form/effectiveness. Since 13.13 is substantially lower than his overall career avg. of 21.64 this would have a considerable impact on Laxmans innings.)

    Pitch type: 0.899 (Range: 0.80 to 1.20) - The pitch characteristics for the concerned year. - Very good batting pitch.

    (Again, I assume you are aware that there are infact several pitches on the same ground. Which may vary a great deal. As also during various times of the year as well. This factor needs some more research. Using avg. runs scored through the year depends also on the bowling/batting attacks who played on that pitch.viz. a poor bowling attack against a good batting lineup may make the pitch “appear” as a good batting track and vice versa. So,this again requires an analysis of who exactly played on those pitches. So, a poor batting lineup as the W.I playing on home pitches will have the effect of the pitches appear poor simply because the batsman were not good enough.)

    Entry: 1.075 (Range: 1.00 to 1.15) - Complex formula based on the innings position at batsman entry. 1/2 innings dealt different to 3/4 innings. Openers dealt with in a special manner. - 3rd innings, 222 in arrears at 52 for 1.

    (Again, this directly implies( as several ppl have mentioned) an additional “pressure”. And is also indicative of the basic team composition. In a weaker batting lineup, such a situation would be more routine and so a batsman in such a team would continuously get additional points) Contd…

  • N Girish Raju on May 10, 2009, 7:17 GMT

    A great compilation of facts and figures, my only concern is that since Tendulkar has achieved so much in figures he is rated higher. Players like Dravid, who has rescued and played the second fiddle to many a comeback/wins/saves does not go for records. And Sehwag, who is the only INDIAN to score triple hundreds (which Tendulkar cannot) turns the match around for others to win. You shall say that these are emotional/situational issues but they should have been given weightage after all cricket like all sports is filled with passion, emotion, expression and other humane factors. Great work otherwise. For me its, Dravid, Lara, Sehwag, Tendulkar and so on.

  • Dr Nafeesur Rahman on May 10, 2009, 5:56 GMT

    Wow, cricket analysis at its best! If anyone thinks Test Match Cricket is boring, they should have a look at this! My personal favorite cricketer of all times (not necessarily batsmen) is Jacques Kallis. A similar in-depth analysis of the best all-rounders of all times will surely put him up there on the top. Will be looking forward to that too soon. But I'm sure that will also take a lot of time and effort. But I'm willing to wait! Thanks for taking this trouble, it was worthwhile indeed. Dr Nafeesur Rahman, Bangladesh [[ Dr. The all-rounder analysis was done in depth in these columns about three months ago. Pl go down the blog and you will see the article. Ananth: ]]

  • harsh on May 10, 2009, 3:39 GMT

    This is just a brilliant piece of analysis. I am sure lot of us, including Ananth himself wouldn't agree to a lot of what the stats say. But, and very importantly, this is a great beginning to compare The Don with the rest. This model can surely be refined. As far as some of the comments here, quite a disappointment!People tend to get overly nostalgic. Vivian Richards was great, and I would put him on par with Sachin and Lara after the Don. But what's wrong if Sehwag is above him? After all, hasn't Sehwag had a brilliant career so far in all conditions and against all attacks? [[ Harsh You are right in stating that this is just a beginning. I am most receptive to readers' comments and am always looking at improving the analysis. You are correct about Sehwag. Why is it sacrilege to put him above Richards. Hasn't he won many matches for India with his audacious batting. Let me also say that I would anyday watch Richards and he is one of my favourite batsmen. However what I am surprised is to see people informing me that I have committed the crime of the century by not declaring Tendulkar as no.1 or no.2 and by not getting Richards into the top-5 or so. Someone had mentioned about the decline in Richards' career towards end. I have gone one step further and have given below the numbers pertaining to two halves of his career. First 100 inns - 5214 runs at 55.47. Next 82 inns - 3326 runs at 43.76. This is not to put down one of the greatest cricketers who ever played. Rather to say that he slipped from his own high standards. Ananth: ]]

  • bamboo on May 10, 2009, 1:42 GMT

    How is the career bowling quality calculated? Are you not using this criteria twice in calculating the match performance bowling quality. Also, what are the ratings if you remove the entry position and runs with the tail in match performance - these indecies depend on the team more than they depend on the individual player.

  • Gaurav Nayak on May 9, 2009, 23:45 GMT

    I'd like to say, great analysis. This analysis was always going to be subjective, how exactly does anyone propose to give a number to watchability?, and then defend the rating that they give?. I for one, love to watch a Dravid, Kallis, Chanderpaul bat in rearguards. Just because certain batsmen thrill the crowd, doesn't mean their better batsman, that is taking a throughly primal view of things. I mean, just because Vaughan's cover drive looks divine, doesn't he's a better batsman then someone who doesn't have that same beauty in his strokes, but is nonetheless effective at batting. It is much harder to restrain your impulses, and try and stay for long as possible, then to try and hit the ball. It's the difference between an Aridi and a Sehwag.

  • umair on May 9, 2009, 23:15 GMT

    This is very biased selection, where is Javed Miandad? the guy has a better average than Dravid, and he has scored against world's best teams when west indies was on top they had lethal bowling attack, your selection is extremely pathetic. Javed Miandad is definitely in the top 3 Batsmaen of all time whether you like it or not. He has played in the most difficult era for batsmen.

    Tendulkar is only a batsman of featherbeds pitches, extremely over rated, india has the flattest pitches in the entire world, anyone can score 100 there in each test match. they are tailor made ofr tendulkar. You are not qualified to pass judgment on the greatest batsmen of all time, you are only serving your ego or making Indians happy. In any case this list sucks.

  • M. Omair on May 9, 2009, 22:04 GMT

    Excellent once again. Your list has contradiction with the list of WISDEN in which they gave no. 3 batsmen to Viv Richard and in yours no. 20. Yusuf is better than him and Yusuf is weak against Australia, S. Africa and also Sri Lanka. Unable to play Murli and lost his wicket so many times due to Murli. I think Viv deserves better position. What about Miandad, not even in top 20. A man with batting average always more than 50, no batsmen of modern days can prove it except him. Bradman had played cricket in two countries only even he had not play in Asia, W. Indies and Africa, not even in New Zealand. He never faced any opponent on their home ground except England. Lack of professionalism was there as Verity came after Allen and Larwood and completed 100 wickets easily. Even Allen played after world war II but his matches were 25 only whereas Verity 40. It seems that the bowlers were not getting chance in their team due to their main professions, which was not cricket. They were amature

  • Martin on May 9, 2009, 21:44 GMT

    Commendable analysis, but flawed. 20 names, no Graeme Pollock. The second greatest of all time.

  • Ravi on May 9, 2009, 21:23 GMT

    Thanks for posting the illustrative example Ananth. A small question: In the bowling quality index, have you used the career averages or each bowler's average till that particular Kolkata match? [[ Ravi The bowling average used is the career average. Two reasons. One is that there is not that much variation in bowling averages between career and career-to-date. The other is that I don't yet have my career-to-date bowling averages in place. My feeling is that there will be very little difference if either is used. Ananth: ]]

  • Love Goel on May 9, 2009, 20:41 GMT

    Ananth, I feel it is much more important to look at series performance instead of match performance. A draw in a live series is certainly better than a winning performance in a dead rubber match. Also instead of percentage of team runs scored, I have always felt number of partnership involved will be a better measure since it is accurate reflection of a batsmen innings playing capability and will also boost the lower order batsmen who will , most probably than number 3/4 batsmen

  • Engle on May 9, 2009, 20:11 GMT

    A very good STATISTICAL analysis of batsmen. Though not necessarily a complete picture, because the intangibles are missing.

    Throw in the intangibles and the Master Blaster would be in the top 5, if not higer.

    Some batsmen chase after numbers, others chase after the best opposition. Some play for themselves, others pound out the opposition for the benefit of their team.

  • Amin on May 9, 2009, 19:54 GMT

    Oh my god!!! When are u guys going to understand. Stats are misleading. Without any shadow of doubt, Sir Isaac Vivian Richards is much greater than a Lara or Tendulkar. Ur imagination has been couloured by what you have seen last, not what is necessarily greater. Still, when it really matters, Tendulkar is not there. He should not be even in the top 10. Great players have won a world cup: Viv, Imran Khan, Clive lloyd, Adam Gilchrist et ecetera. Tendulkar plays for stats, not for the cricket.

  • Prakash on May 9, 2009, 19:01 GMT

    Wonderful article Ananth!

    It is phenomenal that Shewag is at number 19. He is played so much fewer tests compared to the batsman in the top 5. People! Mark my words. The rate at which is scoring runs in tests, he is gonna overtake a lot of people on the list!

  • Travin on May 9, 2009, 18:40 GMT

    I have read a nuber of posts comparing Tendulkar and Lara's stats against Pak/SA. Lara never got a test match hundred against those sides with their premier bowlers. A test match hundred is a competency/medal so to speak for which a batsman will be judged/remembered (as in this ongoing debate) long after they have retired. Stats as we know, don't paint a visual picture. If people an get highlights of the 1998 SA/WI series in SA and Pak vs WI in 97/98 - watch them. You'll be treated to blistering fast bowling. Sachin at least has this competency checked off. One batsman, whom will never get mentioned as he simply retired too early due to injury is MARTIN CROWE. If he had played over 100 tests, I believe he would have been mentioned with Sachin and Lara. He was the only batsman who really played Akram & Younis in their absolute prime as well as the really viscious WI pace quartets. He was equally adept against quality spin too.

  • kazim mohammed on May 9, 2009, 18:36 GMT

    I think Gavaskar deserves his #10 position,other people might have had him higher up,lower down,or not on the list at all,in debates such as who was the best batsman ever,most of the views are usually subjective.However,if one looks at Gavaskar's record against the west indies where he scored a total of 13 centries against an attack featuring Holding,Garner,Roberts,Croft,and Marshall should in itself say something.The same can be said of Richards,his #20 position can't be right,and he is more deserving of being in the top 10 of the list.

  • Ananth on May 9, 2009, 17:14 GMT

    Important: The illustrative example for Match Performance Ratings calculations has been posted in the main article. Please peruse the same. Ananth

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on May 9, 2009, 17:02 GMT

    Excellent and remarkable article. Prasad Shah and Pradeep Thanks for appreciating me. Statistically Bradman is no. 1. Don Bradman faced only six bowlers who took 100 or more is the half truth. The bowlers who came after world war II, are Bedser, Mankad and Laker. You may say that he played them in only last portion of his career. Like Lara faced so many bowlers in his entire career like McGrath and Murli. Please count this factor also. The bowler who left cricket in 1930 is Tate against Australia. The bowler who came just before world war II, is Wright. He is no. 13 in leading leg break wkt taker. His bowling average is near to 40. If he can maintain 100 wickets with the help of near to 40 bowling average, why not others. It means there is lack of professionalism. If that time, not too many cricket, how Hammond played 85 test matches from England. The remaining bowler who died in world war II, is Verity, the best bowler which he ever faced. His striking rate is 113 in Australia.

  • KNM on May 9, 2009, 16:54 GMT


    Another factor worth a mention: If additional “weight” is given to runs against particular bowlers ,then simply playing a higher “ranked” bowler more times will benefit a top batsman’s ranking. Lara has played McGrath in 46 inns, to tendulkars 18!!, Here are the matches in which McGrath played against tendulkar and Lara: Tendulkar: 9 mtc ; 18 inn, 662 runs ; avg 36.77 ; 2 100s ; 5 50s Lara : 24 mtc ; 46 inn ;2041 ; avg 46.38 ; 6 100s ; 7 50s

    But here’s the first 18 inn Lara played against McGrath : 65,9,88,43,24,14*,65,0,26,44,2,1,2,2,9,78,132,62 = 665 runs @ 39.11,1 100, 5 50s !!

    Almost exactly the same as Tendulkar! This inspite of some atrocious decisions against Tendulkar (shoulder b4 wicket, the Warne lbws, simply appealing after being rapped on the pads was enough),in addition to being virtually forced to play injured in 2004 etc.

    So, one way of looking at it is that considering Lara played McGrath more he got more of a “hang” of him as a great batsman would be expected to do. Inspite of McGrath getting him several times , after Lara got in he would score big. So ,if Tendulkar had played McGrath as many times these runs would have upped his ranking. Similarly, if Viv Richards had played his own bowlers he would have upped his ranking! Getting more and more complicated ,ha guys, what?

  • chandra on May 9, 2009, 16:01 GMT

    I think we can only as far as to say that BRADMAN WAS THE GREATEST BATSMAN TO PLAY AGAINST ENGLAND CERTAINLY NOT THE GREATEST EVER.To be fair we should look at other players records against england only when comparing against bradman

  • prashant das on May 9, 2009, 14:38 GMT

    It is unfortunate that lara did not open innings in one dayers. Otherwise my geat Indian fellow, would have not stand at all. Despite playing for a weak team and in time of crisis for WI cicket, Lara scored more than this fellow. Had Lara got better temperament and hunger for fame like we indians, and he played more carefully with his full potential, his averages would have been much more and put him much ahead of this fellow.This would have silenced these silly fans.

  • Savy on May 9, 2009, 13:37 GMT

    My order - Bradman, Sobers, Hammond, V. Richards, Tendulkar/Lara (tie - each merits a place here - little to differentiate), Hobbs, Hutton, Weekes, Walcott, Sutcliffe, Gavaskar, Miandad, G. Chappell, Kanhai, Barrington, Harvey, Hazare and then some of the current generation such as Ponting, Dravid, Kallis, etc. I would not add bonus points for # of tests played - players of earlier generations played more 1st class cricket. Also, I agree with an earlier reader's comments - helmets, batting-friendly pitches, weaker oppositions of today mean that we have to "adjust downward" current players' averages by 10-20 runs. Also excessive one-day and T20 means that, on competitive pitches, current Test teams are incapable of lasting 5 days, including India and its so-called famous batting line-up have cracked repeatedly under pressure in recent years. List does not cover WG, Trumper, Hill, Ranji, Ponsford, Headley, Nourse - this analysis does not adjust "upward" for these players.

  • bentarm on May 9, 2009, 12:56 GMT many players are found wanting in Internation cricket becuase of the same Graeme Hick ..but we dont call him great just because he scored ton of runs in County Cricket...I will give one thing to Lara though ..he was elegant than Tendulkar..but for me i always consider the right handers as the best (i know it is not the players fault that he is left handed) but the reality is it is difficult for the right hander than the left handed my conclusion two of greatest players of the modern era are obviously right handers 1) SRT and 2) Mark Waugh and the king of batsman ever is King Viv..

  • bentarm on May 9, 2009, 12:50 GMT

    Great job by Ananth.One thing is see lacking in the analysis is home and away points and pitch being let me stick to the comparison of Lara and Tendulkar an obviously i am going to be biased towards Sachin..for one SRT has a better away average (I am sure minus Bangaldesh and Zimbabwe) he has a better average too..two most of the BCL major innings were in home in batting pitches ...I am sure if SRT had these record runs scored in India ..the same guys would have been arguing that India has batting pitches so it is easy to score this and that but with BCL it is considered great..Another most important point your analysis misses is left and right hand batsman..i feel post 2000 there are very few good bowlers who bowl well to the left handers which the record proves that..there are whole list of post 2000 lefthanders who have made merry.including the great Brian Lara whose record pre-2000 was so please dont go to Brain=Brian argument..continued in the next post

  • srini on May 9, 2009, 12:28 GMT

    pre-odi age players played a looooooot of domestic cricket and tour matches. its not like they played 5 tests a year and sat on their backs the rest of the year. tours were long and gruelling usually involving 10-12 3-day 4-day and 5 days matches 1.5-2 months. that is just as gruelling in those days without any good fitness equipments, practice facilities, diet, medicine, comfortable travel etc etc.

  • Ali on May 9, 2009, 12:22 GMT


    4) Another, well known fact was Tendulkars injuries. Again this is not something imagined. It is a fact. For eg. In 2003 he scored 153 runs at 17. Ponting had 1500+ at 100 and Lara 1300+ at 75. Surely, if Tendulkar had been fit he would well have filled his boots too? So, Tendulkars injuries have actually had a far bigger impact on the result of the overall picture, in pumping up Lara/pontings stats vis a vis Tendulkar than perhaps ANY other factor!! So, if you could somehow “include” this fact in a statistical analysis by giving allowance for injuries, we will again have Tendulkar out on top, where as far as I’m concerned – he clearly belongs. Also, pls let me know how you go about getting bowlers head to head alone against a batsman. It would be quite informative. Further, unless we are dealing with Helen Keller, what is the point of rattling off often misleading stats? Simply pull out the relevant tapes and watch Lara take on Donald, Akram, Waqar and then watch Tendulkar do so. To most ppl who have even played local cricket the difference should be obvious. Surely, when Donald and Akram say Tendulkar is the best they are not filtering out stats on statsbases? 5) Shyam: What you say makes sense but in certain cases may warp the issue even more! For eg. Again with say an Ambrose/ Walsh in your team you may bowl out the opposition for a paltry score. (lowering the avg. score of the match and also having the effect of the pitch appear deadlier). Then when you go in to bat, being among poor batsman (who further lower the avg.score and again have the effect of “worsening” the pitch and “improving” the bowling), again you score high. So, this methodology (when applied to a great bowling lineup, poor batting lineup) would only skew the issue in your favour even MORE!! The TWIN combination of good bowling line up and poor batting line up is deadly!

    Lastly, as several people have mentioned in a similar Murali/Warne ranking Murali would come out on top irrespective of pure bowling ability.

  • Ali on May 9, 2009, 12:21 GMT

    @srini, shyam

    1) Since you have not responded to point no.1 of my earlier post I assume you tacitly agree to what I say. i.e. with the parameters used Lara is dead certain to come out on top and so is not a measure of pure batting ability. And it is inherently contradictory to state that the irrational pressure faced by Tendulkar throughout his career is simply to be ignored ,while all the time awarding Lara big points for effectively the same thing. Please also note that other parameters too such as pitch/bowler quality will also favour Lara, since in a poor batting lineup poor performances by lesser batsmen will indicate a poor pitch and relatively better opposition bowling.

    2) Since Lara was not in the correct “frame of mind” several times during his career don’t you think it is actually a flaw? Tendulkar always tried, never complained and gave his all every match. Fantastically enough this seems to be held against him. Since if Lara woke up for some “big matches/series” and languished against “lesser” opponents in say “league” matches, he still gets awarded higher points. Tendulkar on the other hand gave his all for every match, irrespective of format, ground, opponent etc.

    3) Srini: appreciate all your number crunching again. But again you are clearly wrong! and how! I couldn’t be bothered to number crunch like you, but just an eg. In the ’99 Boxing day test match Tendulkar scored some 126 Runs alone, in the 2001 tests two fifties in Mumbai, a 100 in the last match etc. So, perhaps he didn’t score so much off McGrath alone, but surely he accounted for him? Again, a case of filtering stats to fit into a preconceived goal.


  • srini on May 9, 2009, 12:16 GMT

    @KNM Contd also Lara had some shockers (decisions) on the way too. In that famous 95 OZ-WI series decider, Lara was given out for a 1 pitch catch. He was breezing through on 65. WI collapsed after his dismissal and it changed the complexion of the match. I didnt say anything abt that did I?

    Sachin and Lara played exactly 3 tests each against Pakistan when they were the establish big guns in the side. I am not including Lara's/Sachin's debut series for obvious reasons. that is not that big a sample is it? Dennis Lillee has taken 4 wickets in the subcontinent iirc. does that make him a poor bowler? Also, in my original post I never used any context. It was just a pure stat line. I was responding to Ali. Against a full strength SA/Pak attack Lara has scored 1185 @33 and Sachin 1150 @33. why do you say Sachin is MUCH better against genuine pace? if he is, there should be some diff shudnt it? My pt is both are, imho, exactly similar in effect. swap em and their careers'd be the same.

  • srini on May 9, 2009, 12:01 GMT


    OK dude simple question: if Sachin is so much better against genuine pace bowling why is his record just as good (or bad) as Lara's?

    Dude player strike genuinely affects team performance. If no one is ready to give 100% how can you expect a great output from the captain? For all the expectations India never had problems of wages, strife (at least in the papers) during Sachin's peak. I never said anything about Sachin at 16 now did I?

    Mcgrath is kind of a pet project of mine. People always say Mcgrath got Lara out 14 (15 inc supertest) times but Sachin never got out to him. Well you know what Sachin was out 6 times to Mcgrath in 9 tests. Sachin was never exceptional when Mcgrath was in the Aussie lineup. He was good not great. Sachin was a monster in the absence of Mcgrath but merely good in the presence of the pigeon. Lara had all his best innings (and worst) against Mcgrath.

  • John Clark on May 9, 2009, 11:47 GMT

    [[ I will certainly explain how the Match ratings was worked out, with an illustration. I am certainly not going to provide "the bowlers and thier ratings for all bowlers in all matches". Ananth: ]]

    I suppose I am not really asking for every number in the calculation, but I am asking for a complete methodology, to an extent that I could apply the same method to the data and produce exactly the same results as you got. I understand that this is a well accepted procedure for publication in scientific journals etc.

    Charles Davis has not, as far as I know, published his methodology for his results in "The Best Of The Best" (BTW how does your analysis improve on his?), so you are not alone ... but the Delloites (C/L, LG etc) ratings did publish their full methodology, which makes them more useful.

    Actually, I am very supportive of your work and interested in the results - but a little frustrated at the same time with the lack of detail. [[ John I aplogize for a sharp reply. My problem is how much to give in a limited space blog such as this. Posts such as "T20 par Score" are easily handled. However for a post of this magnitude, the support work and tables might require days to work on, a luxury I do not possess. I will certainly try and explain briefly the methodology so that you are at least aware of how this has been done.. Ananth: ]]

  • shivesh ranjan on May 9, 2009, 10:50 GMT

    i dont quite agree with this rating. Firstly, if you look at the current set of batsmen, a lot of them have reached a career average of over 50, which was quite uncommon just a couple of decades back. this is primarily because of the condition of pitches now. But that is compensated by better athleticism in the field by the fielding side and technology taking away some slice of the "benefit of doubt" awarded to batsmen. Still i see alarmingly high percentage of batsmen from past decade. about 45% among top 30 players are from last decade..

    perhaps a better statistics would be to primarily consider a weighted average of %age of team runs and %age of match runs contributed by the batsman in any match.. similarly some weight could be attached to the contributions in 1st and 2nd innings.. and extra points awarded in a winning cause.. or in a drawn cause with high %age of team score.. plus there should be some weight for long innings (read centuries, doubles etc)..

  • madhusudan on May 9, 2009, 9:49 GMT

    yousuf , kallis over viv . that is one of the biggest joke ever . bradman is the best and these 8 guys deserve the second spot - sachin , lara , greame pollock , barry richards , gearge headlly , sobers , viv ,len hutton , hobbs

  • Daulton Dickenson on May 9, 2009, 9:19 GMT

    Isn't it interest how many comments have been posted regarding viv richards position? i guess that all the stats and analysis cannot erase the memories of his majesty. i don't really care to argue about who should be where. all that i know my fondest memories of batmenship was watch viv in action against bowlers of all types around the world. as one present day cricketeer said when asked who was his favourite cricketeer, "viv, he used to stalk bowlers and just murder them like a hitman." nuff said.

  • aparajith shyam on May 9, 2009, 9:15 GMT

    Ananth, Appreciate your efforts on such things for the past so many years. i have been following your works for quite some time. MY QUESTION IS: How come your analysis on the same topic posted in "" by 2006 varies so much from this one. If i remember it right the top ten there was DB,BCL,RTP,VIV,DRAV,HAY,HOB,BARR,INZI,SOBR,GREG,SRT. I notice that the adjusted avg is a new feature and High-score index is absent in this one. I have still not got into the methodology behind this effort but i have a fair idea about the 2006 one. Further, there seemed to have been an emphasis on the 'Match-Winning' performances on the previous list and that helped players like DRAV,INZI,HAY to gain much. But i am still not able to make out in what drastic way the parameters in thirdslip differs with this one such as to make one look completely different from the other. eagerly awaiting you response. [[ Aparajith This comment requires an individual response. 1. First the Match Perf ratings used in 2006 was the Wisden model which I had created. That was an ADDITIVE model wherein the points for each parameter were added to the Base points. I have not been happy with that and have now changed that to a MULTIPLICATIVE model wherein there is a multiplicative index for each parameter. You will see that in the example which I will be posting soon. 2. The Career performances have been differently calculated and differently weighted. The Scoring Rate has been done differently. 3. The careers of many key players has moved forward three years. Look at what Sangakkara/C'Paul/Md.Yousuf have achieved over these three years and how much Dravid/Ponting have dropped. 4. Finally if we accept that the top 20 is Bradman + (19 others in a melting pot), there are not that many changes. Thank you for raising an interesting query. Nice to see someone following an old analysis. When I do a follow-up to this, there are going to be changes. That is the beauty of (and the problem with) this type of analysis. These are meant to initiate a healthy discussion and make readers aware of greats they might not know or have forgotten but you are expected to take these analysis with a pinch of salt, as you are aware of. Ananth: ]]

  • GMNorm on May 9, 2009, 9:05 GMT

    Sanga and Dravid ahead of Richards.I would be really interested to see how the first 3 batsmen would do against Lillee & Imran.Is Richards being underrated because (a) he played in a strong batting line up (b) WI won by an innings ,amy times and so he got only 1 innings per test several times.On Lara vs Sachin , its a matter of style and substance .Sachin is more reliable , Lara more left handed elegance.

  • Sportyspice on May 9, 2009, 9:00 GMT

    Guess it's back to the drawing board Ananth!

    Why Indians rate Lara lower is because of his record against India, I guess....

  • Pradeep on May 9, 2009, 8:54 GMT

    This is a great study, but the results don't reflect the correct ranks. Gavaskar played some of the best fast bowlers of all times. And, he had little support, barring Vishy, thru the 70s. I'd place him above Sachin, Sachin above Lara, and Steve Waugh much above Ponting. And well, Border should be in the Top 10!

    Bradman-Gavaskar-Sachin-Lara-Waugh -- these would be my top 5 -- for sheer grit and performance.

    Followed by Hobbs-Sobers-Dravid-Hutton-Border.

    Agree with Richards being low. Also, he never the West Indian pace battery at any time!

  • ranjan on May 9, 2009, 8:51 GMT

    Srini, thanks for putting in the perspective. Yes Sunny's performance against the WI is overrated, but he also scored against another strong WI attach in 1976 series (Holding and Roberts). It is perhaps impossible for any batsman in the world to score 13 centuries against a full WI attack. Yes, he is a failure against Lille, but quite a success against Thomson. Question is how had the other opening bats fared against these top bowlers. Barry Richards might have but did not play enough to claim similar feat. Grinidge? Am not sure. Boycott has done well but even slower...Would the Greats in other era have done better than Sunny against similar attacks?

    Anyway, on the 'batting list' I surely feel Viv is better than Sachin on talent but Sachin perhaps more complete as a test bat, and if leading fast bowlers of their time are to be believed, Lara is parhaps just a bit better than Sachin.

  • Swapnil Ghayal on May 9, 2009, 8:49 GMT

    just compare Lara's average in india and sachin's record in west indies and vice versa...and if u look for complete batsman...please combine ODI + Test in which Sachin far ahead of anyone and i say any one...and what abt sachin as a team player every new guy in dressing room is as comfortable with sachin....Lara was not favorite in his own team so on....

  • mardrol on May 9, 2009, 8:21 GMT

    i would give career achievements even less weight. sachin's 247 in sydney and lara's 400 at antigua didn't actually win their teams the match.while ponting's 156 at old tarfford,dravid adn laxman's duo at adelaide,kolkata are the kind of knocks that must be given maximum weight.if that is the case, then sachin would be way below dravid,ponting,graeme smith,pietersen and many others

  • Arjun on May 9, 2009, 8:02 GMT

    3) We need to calculate Mean 'average' of HIGHEST 20 averages of batsmen after their 40th Innings, say it is 58.72. So

    adjustment will be 47.55 divided by 58.72 which is 0.81. Thus all the batsmen who have played 40 Test Innings, their averages

    will be multiplied by 0.81. eg. Headley's average after 40 innings was 60.83. His average after multiplied by 0.81 comes to

    49.27. THus we can assume that Headley's average after 200 test Innings would have been 49.27.

    Similarly, we have to derive adjustment figures of 41th innings, 42nd, 43rd and so on upto 199 innings. Naturally all the

    averages would be downgraded a little, which is quite obvious since averages tend to come down if batsman play for long time. Using this method Averages of all batsmen who have had short career but finished on peak with high averages, can be adjusted.

    eg. Headley Pollock, Gambhir, weekes, sutcliffe etc.


  • Arjun on May 9, 2009, 8:00 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    As you have adjusted averages according to different eras, Using a formula you can also adjusted averages according to

    longevity of careers. Border has played 265 innings, similarly, Sachin 261, bradman 80, headley 40, POllock 41, Hobbs 102

    Weekes 81, Sutclif 84, Nurse 54 and so on. We have to set a Standard of 200 test innings for each batsman. Thus we have to find out what would be the averages of

    batsman after 200 Test Innings(who had played less than 200 innings). For this we can use the method as explain below.

    1) Minimum criteria for Batsman to be included in List is 40 Test Innings.

    2) So far only 16 Batsmen have played 200 Test Innings. We need to calculate Mean 'average' of all these 16 Batsmen after

    their respective 200th test innings. say it is 47.55.

    Now For adjustment we will use the above figure of 47.55.


  • mardrol on May 9, 2009, 7:49 GMT

    i would give career achievements even less weight than what has been given here.maximum weight should be given to bailing one's team out of crunch situations and eventually winning it for the team.if this is taken into consideration SACHIN would be way BELOW DRAVID,PONTING,PIETERSEN,HAYDEN,MOHAMMED YOUSUF and many others.

  • srini on May 9, 2009, 7:36 GMT

    OK Finally got it! I could find ball-by-ball in cricinfo only from 1998 onwards (if there is another link i'd like to know). Here is the great Glenn Mcgrath vs Lara and Tendulkar INDIVIDUALLY ie runs scored off of Mcgrath's bowling to the number of dismissals: "PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS FROM 98 ONWARDS AND DOES NOT INCLUDE THE 95 SERIES IN WI AND THE 96-97 SERIES IN OZ AND ICC SUPERTEST":

    Lara: 275 runs 7 times out Average: 39.28 Tendulkar: 88 runs 5 times out Average: 17.6

    I am not sure if Sachin's would change that much because he played only 1 test against Mcgrath before 98 (Delhi 96) while Lara has played 9 more tests. Looking at Lara's scores from those two series I am estimating that he scored around 60 runs (worst case) off Mcgrath for 7 times out this puts his average at 23.92 (335 @ 14 dismissals worst case)

  • KNM on May 9, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    @srini Yes, you are right…and wrong. You seem to use stats where and when it suits you and “context” when it suits you. Lara was not in the right frame of mind, out of form etc. May I remind you, that actually context is king? Stats can be distorted out of sight to bring about just about any conclusion. Others may bring about factors such as when Tendulkar first played Pakistan he was 16! He was often injured. In the 98 series Akhtar obstructed him and Bucknor gave a shocker: both the times Tendulkar was in cruise mode and in line for a huge score. (How do you think all these factors affected his avgs and other stats?) Also, Lara played just ONE awesome series against Murali. So do we hold that against him? Also as ppl have mentioned, if Tendulkar got say a hundred against McGrath, it does NOT count against McGrath! So you some filter such as matches “involving” McGrath. Also, say in the 2004 series, Tendulkar who hadn’t held a bat for 6 mths due to injury was almost forced to play Aus and McGrath. He was not in a wrong “frame of mind” or some such…context. So…for any true cricket observer, context is king. So, when ppl say that Lara was relatively weak against extreme pace this is a direct observation based on actual viewing. This is something noted not just by us amateurs, but by practically all experts and top players of the game. Lara’s known problems against extreme pace are something that, for some reason, you are simply unwilling to accept.

  • shyam on May 9, 2009, 6:30 GMT

    One of the ways to improve the rating system would be to include a new measure which takes into consideration not only the batting performances of team-mates but also the opposition. The batsmen's runs in any test match should be divided by the total runs scored by both the teams. This measure can either be a replacement for rating methodology no.4 or an additional measure altogether. I feel this would effectively counter the argument raised by many readers on the advantage batsmen who play for weaker teams have over their contemporaries who had played in stronger batting line-ups. My suggestion would be to replace No.4 with this methodology.

  • fan on May 9, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    I would have happily accepted this ratings if and only if:"The greatest bowlers ever" list was populated side by side and how each of these batsmen performed against these bowlers.If a top rated batsman (from your list) has a worse average against #1 bowler and outstanding average otherwise, then I don't think I need all of these analysis to find out where this particular batsman sits in the list.

  • srini on May 9, 2009, 6:09 GMT

    @ ranjan, Gavaskar, in his debut series, faced a veteran WI at probably its weakest. They were in a transition period from 70-71 to about 74-75. Their batting was still strong but bowling was very weak. Sobers at 33 was probably their best bowler in that period. Gavaskar never faced a full strength WI attack and scored runs except for one series in 83. Even in that series he got half his runs in 1 innings (236* out of 505) but you can probably let it go considering he got a 100 and a 90 in that same series. You look at 500+ runs a series and it might look great but in Gavaskar's case its not so. Case in point Lara's 400* against England. He got exactly 500 runs in 4 tests but 400 of them in 1 innings. Its not exactly fair to say he scored 500 in a series right?

    But this is not say Gavaskar is poor batsman. His record against WI must be taken with a pinch of salt but he was superb against Pakistan with Imran at his peak. He is definitely one of the top 6 opening batsmen of all time.

  • srini on May 9, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    @Ali Contd,

    coaxed into playing and not a single player was in the right frame of mind. In the 2001 series, in WI, Lara was off form but still managed 400 runs in 5 tests.

    I am no way saying Sachin is poor batsman or Lara is better. All I am saying is that Sachin's record is just as poor against Pak & SA as Lara's. If you want to cherry pick series against SA, Sachin was pretty horrible against SA at home the previous series and barring that 169 he did jack **** through out that series in SA.

    Again comparing Sachin's 6 tests against SA in 97-98 to Lara's 5 in 98-99

    Lara M 5 I 10 NO 0 R 310 HS 79 Ave 31.00 100s 0 50s 3

    Sachin M 6 I 12 NO 0 R 407 HS 169 Ave 33.91 100s 1 50s 1

    Take away that 169 (absolutely brilliant innings i might add 1 of all time best) its an absolutely horrific 238 runs @ 21.

    You can check their records against Pak and they ain't any different. You can quote me on that.

  • Koushik Biswas on May 9, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    Ponting is better than Gavaskar? May be. But "better" cannot be measured in numbers or statistics. The intangible qualitative factors of the game makes it such a complex game versus say soccer, where you can measure a player by the number of goals scored or saved. We are blessed to enjoy the expertise of so many great and gifted players. What is the point in ranking them when any such attempt is futile and bound to either overlook or set aside important factors like fitness, protective gears, impact of technology in umpiring and what not as incalculable. What does it serve to compare Lara and Tendulkar other than stroking the egos of respective fans? It is as futile as trying to compare Bill Gates and Henry Ford - who is the better businessman? Both have done the world immense good, and the void without either of them would have been extremely painful. The only good this serves is that statisticians have a job. I say I am the best batsman, and I can prove it with my set of logic. Eh?

  • Anand krishnan on May 9, 2009, 5:48 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    Gud work, but if just watch the batsmen the way they play. Batspeed , footwork, range of strokes , power,the ability to hit huge sixes out of the ground. The best three would be Gary Sobers , Viv Richards, Brian Lara ( probably not so much for big sixes since he is only 5 feet 8 innches he won't be able 2 get the elevation like say Symonds Hayden Yuvraj) the last three are amazing six hitting players. InFact the best six hitting players are,

    1 Viv Richards 2 Adam Gilchrist 3 Mathew Hayden 4 Clive Lloyd 5 Symonds 6 Gary Sobers 7 Yuvraj singh 8 Sanath Jaysuriya 9 Afridhi 10 Kapil dev Not in any particular order. But i must confess Viv stands out.U have 2 just look at the way he bats its amazing. The swagger , intimidation is unbelievable. Sehwag is brilliant on his day (batspeed, range of strokes) but inconsistent lot of low scores. These are the best if u notice most of them are tall . Thanks


  • srini on May 9, 2009, 5:38 GMT


    My point was not against individual bowlers. It was against the team that had bowlers. As I mentioned earlier, when Sachin scored 155, Donald was injured. I know exactly how the cricinfo database works. My point was that Tendulkar and Lara have scored (almost) exactly the same number of runs in the same number of innings against SA, Pak when their attack was at full strength. Lara has been more consistent (if thats the right word) than Sachin because of Sachin's 2 big 100s.

    As I sidenote, I worked out Mcgrath was Sachin and Lara head to head,as in number of runs scored off Mcgrath's bowling alone and number of dismissals. Sachin averages 18 and Lara 33.

    As to your reference to Lara struggling against Donald in the mid 90s. He played exactly ONE series against SA in 98. It was played under farcical circumstances from a WI pov.

    WI players went on a strike after the ICC Knockout and almost refused to play in SA. It took a lot of coaxing and cajoling to get... Contd

  • Vishant Patil on May 9, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    Hello Ananth, Thanks for putting in such through analysis. But I guess, you can not compare the today generation batsmen with the old generation batsmen like Bradman or so. Cricket is changing everyday. You have mentioned that Bradman is way ahead of his second counterpart in the list. This is completely wrong. If you look at the kind of competitive cricket we are experiencing after the arrival of World Cups (Now even more with T20), under how much pressure, these players are playing! Forget about Bradman's records, he has played his internal cricket against the same opponent all the time (Agree that the kind Larwood were difficult bowlers to bat). But now the players like Sachin and Lara has played some magnificant Cricket (One day as well Test) will all kind of opponents and faced the bowlers like MacGrath, Wasim Akram, Waqar, Murali, Shane Warne to name a few. We simply can not compare these two batsmen with Bradman. Sachin and Lara are simply the best batsmen the world cricket ha

  • D.Desa on May 9, 2009, 5:20 GMT

    Ananth, Doesn’t placing a great batsman in a poor batting unit and good bowling unit automatically make him a “better” batsman as per this arrangement? 1) When came in (poor openers. So even if the pitch is good and bowling not necessarily v.good , the batsman comes in and scores big he gets additional points) 2) Runs with tail (surely depends on the tail? How about batting with Chris Martin?) 3) Pitch type and quality of bowling both will also favour the batsman in a poor batting lineup since suddenly every thing looks more threatening than it perhaps actually is due to the lack of skill of the other batsmen. 4) Match importance...again in the 90s especially, loaded in favour of Lara. Surely with Ambrose, Walsh etc you are going to win matches. 5) Match result…again surely dependent on the efforts and general composition of other team members also? Including bowlers?

    As several ppl have mentioned the basic premise here is that Lara scored some runs in a “weak” batting line up and “good” bowling line up in “big matches” some of which resulted in “wins”, therefore he is the “best”.

    Also ppl above have brought up an interesting comparison with Murali/Warne.

    If using similar parameters viz. getting wickets in a “poor” bowling line up Murali will naturally come out as a “better” bowler than Warne!

  • Hassan on May 9, 2009, 5:00 GMT

    Carrying forward my point regarding the greatest batsmen should be the greatest match winners. I am shocked to see Inzamam so low down the order. I think he has played more match winning innings than most of the top ten. I think match winning centuries or maybe 80s or 70s should also be considered in this calculation. Furthermore I dont like Steve Waugh so down the order so the same reason. You know scoring 400 in a drawn match adds no value to me.

  • Ali on May 9, 2009, 4:57 GMT

    @Ananth, srini, Brendon Layton etc 1) .Some contradictions in your Assumptions: Most factors in your “match performance” (position entry, late runs added, innings type, match importance, status) directly imply some sort of additional “pressure”. So, Lara being in a team with say poor openers and spirited tail gets “additional” points for dealing with this apparent “pressure”. Essentially ,Lara is being awarded points for a subjective quality i.e. “pressure”. So, on the one hand you state that this is a “qualitative analysis, based on numbers, why bring pressure and expectations into it etc…But that is EXACTLY what you seem to be doing in Lara’s case! And then shoo off and attempt to dismiss the effect of any sort of additional pressure on Tendulkar….extremely contradictory. “Match importance”: the recent Chennai match after the Mumbai attacks would take on an overwhelming importance for most Indian (and also English fans)…but im sure as per your particular “list” it wouldn’t. I could go on…..

    But, how much does this analysis reflect on pure batsmanship and batting ability, irrespective of the composition of the remainder of the team?

    2) Srini, Brendan: if I may say so statsbases such as in cricinfo are a bit misleading as far as avgs. Are concerned. For eg. If a batsman scores a hundred against Donald but then is dismissed by some other bowler the runs are simply not counted. The avg. shown is only if the bowler himself dismissed the batsman. So if Donald dismisses tendulkar at say 50, his avg against Donald would show up as 50. if some other bowler dismisses him the 50 runs are not counted. So, getting a statistical account of this is quite difficult. Further, if you still have any doubts about Lara’s inability to play extreme pace on juicy tracks simply pull out some tapes of him playing say Donald in the mid 90s. Easy.

  • Kartik on May 9, 2009, 4:55 GMT

    Again, I think the strike rate factor has to be adjusted or removed altogether.

    Everyone knows Richards had a high strike rate in Tests, higher than Lara, FAR higher than Dravid. He should not lose a net of 4 points relative to Dravid merely due to a lack of data.

    Plus, there are times in Tests where having a low strike rate is advantageous. In the recent 2nd Ind-NZ test, Sehwag's high strike rate did not help India, but Dravid's ability to use up 400 balls was crucial in saving the match.

    Thus, I must repeat this.

  • ranjan on May 9, 2009, 4:47 GMT

    Any comments from anyone on Sunny Gavaskar? Is he overrated? or is he one of the most remarkable batsman to make the top 10 list despite being an opener? Holding called him an fair weather batsman. Do you agree?

  • purist on May 9, 2009, 4:40 GMT

    VIV Richards at 20 - stats never tell the complete tale at all. Ask HAyden if he thinks hes better than Viv. Ask Dravid for that matter. Number crunching is not the be-all and end-all of analyzing batsmanship. How can you justify the perfect cover drivng or wider range of shots or even getting runs from good deliveries? There can be no objective measure for that.

  • Shane on May 9, 2009, 4:29 GMT

    @Prashant and Aby Mathew, As like all other Indian fans, you use your heart to support Sachin and just scribble. Ananth has provided the basis for arriving at this conclusion and not just by a draw of lots.

  • neil on May 9, 2009, 3:46 GMT

    Some things just cannot be compared by statistics. Now, the Don only played 52 matches whereas Lara and Sachin played way more. So, say Don played match# 53. Whats the guarantee that he wouldnt end up with a niggling back injury or a tennis elbow, which would make him only 1/2 as good as he was? Keep in mind, if Don was even 1/2 as good as himself, he'd have a test avg of 50 for the next 100 games and that would put his career avg to 66 - much more mortal now! Factor in that Sachin and Lara had to stay fit to play those many games and in foreign conditions, under different run out & stumping rules, neutral umpires, etc. One could counter that with the uncovered pitches and lack of helmets in Don's times but heres a new factor: Don never played ODIs, whereas the next 2 played 300+ ODIs often right after tests - more chances of injury!!!

    My point is, its worthless to compare the Don with anyone, he was an entertainer we missed out on. As for Sachin and Lara, thats real close!

  • John Clark on May 9, 2009, 3:23 GMT

    You really need to provide MUCH more detail on the calculation - only then can it be assessed.

    1. Pitch type. [how is this factor determined? Can you provide the match-by-match factors and their full calculation?]

    2. Quality of bowling - weighted by actual balls bowled by each bowler. [please provide the bowlers and thier ratings for all bowlers in all matches]

    3. Position at batsman entry 4. Runs added with late order batsmen 5. Innings type (1/2/3/4) etc 6. Match result, taking into consideration relative team strengths. 7. Match location (Home/Away). 8. Match importance (Series status).

    Can you provide all of these factors and the full calculations, match by match, player by player, identifying every judgement made.

    Until the complete details of all parts of the calculations are made public then any results can only be judged with skepticism. [[ I will certainly explain how the Match ratings was worked out, with an illustration. I am certainly not going to provide "the bowlers and thier ratings for all bowlers in all matches". Skepticism I can certainly live with. After all, if you take my work seriously, you will ask for details and either accept these and be convinced that my work is sound or move on, to some other table, to ask questions there. Ananth: ]]

  • sicko on May 9, 2009, 2:15 GMT

    dravid & kallis better than border???? no steve waugh!!!! Vi Richards was the best, better than Lara or Tendulkar - Ask any non biased ex test cricketer over the past 40 years - Richards is the one they always come back to. Keep dreamin!! You can have your stats and weightings - I'll rely on my own judgement and comments from peers!!

  • kazim mohammed on May 9, 2009, 1:53 GMT

    I agree with most of the findings,however,some of the players namely Kallis,Dravid,Yousuf, and Sehwag making the list ahead of Viv Richards is somewhat boggling.

  • srini on May 9, 2009, 1:16 GMT

    and for those who bring up sachin's 100s against wasim/donald/akram etc etc. here is sachin's and lara's records involving akram/waqar/donald and i havent included matches not involving at least 1 of the 3 bowlers. for eg sachin scored his 155 in bloemfontein without donald in the attack.

    lara M 18 I 35 NO 0 R 1185 HS 96 AVE 33.85 100s 0 50s 9

    sachin M 19 I 34 NO 0 R 1150 HS 169 AVE 33.82 100s 3 50s 5



  • srini on May 9, 2009, 1:02 GMT

    so in future, m s dhoni would be the greatest batsman because he had to play test odi and t20 and viv richards is not very good because he played only tests and odis? if there is 5-5 format next and players that play all 4 formats would be automatically better than players who played only 3 formats? get outta here!

  • ted on May 9, 2009, 0:45 GMT

    always a good way tostart a argument. but no early day greats wg grace,victor trumper etc.steve waugh might not be the best have the best stats.but he was an allrounder to start with but if you wanted someone to bat for your life give me steve waugh or a david boon anyday

  • sgov000ster on May 9, 2009, 0:14 GMT

    A very commendable effort,but at the end of the day only a commendable effort.Its allright to compare batsmen statistically,though I feel each has/had his own great qualities ,but if such an analysios is attempted then some more statistical features have to be incorporated. Firstly,the analysis is biased towards modern battsmen who play more matches.As we know,if one increases the number of observations(innings),the distrubution( avg) would tend to become Gaussean.If one plays an infinite number of matches,its impossible to have an avg of 99.96. Distribution is more discrete with lower observations,so people who have a lesser no. of innings either are at the top or at the bottom.Statistics require stricter confidence limits( higher critical value in a t distribution table) for lower sample size or observations than one with a large no.of observations.Bradman played far lesser innings than Tendulkar and Lara,and did well in them but the power of an analysis for establishing such a result.

  • Middle Stump on May 9, 2009, 0:03 GMT

    Good article and I appreciate the effort. However, like all statistics what it conceals is vital. The results are skewed in favour of current players. Hardly any knowledgable follower of the game Down Under would rate Ponting above Greg Chappell or Alan Border. The author has missed a few other considerations. How about longevity in the game, for example. Somebody could perform well for 5 or even 10 years and have great numbers but how does that compare with a Tendulkar who has been performing for 20 years? The other considerations are batting without helmet and other protective gear, and playing on uncovered pitches in the earlier eras. Needless to say, a more thorough analysis is needed. It would yield a more balanced rating with fewer current players on the list.

  • Cri Naut on May 8, 2009, 23:55 GMT

    A reader's comment above on ordering batsmen to find the correct weight is more interesting than it looks on the surface. Why do cricket fans typically weigh Avg. more than SR to judge the quality of batsmen? Because we have already subjectively compared the top batsmen and have found Avg. to be a better indicator. So why don't we do it consciously to see which statistic should have a higher weight (a reverse of what you typically do)?

    Why don't you adjust the weights until you get the desired results? You cannot compare all possibilities so you have to make some intuitive decisions but you should not adjust the weights based on just two batsmen (as the earlier poster suggested) but on a loose grouping of batsmen. Most would agree that Don, Hobbs, Sobers, Sachin, Lara and Richards should be towards the top. Gavaskar, Hutton, Headley, GSChappell, Hammond, Sutcliffe, ... would be in the next group and so on. The result would tell us which stats are interesting...

  • Venkatesh on May 8, 2009, 23:37 GMT

    For every batsman of the last 20 years, I would subtract 10-15 runs from their career average due to the helmet factor - I wonder if the so-called fabled Indian line-up of now is any better than the 70s Indian line-up. Sobers, Kanhai, Hobbs, Richards, Harvey, Greg Chappell, Weekes, Walcott, Barrington, Hammond would be in the top 15. In these days of even a donkey in whites playing 50+ tests, I would discount much of the hype around our current players - Dravid, Waughs, Tendulkar, Lara, et al. I would rank Umrigar and Hazare among the top 5 Indian batsmen - Sehwag may not be any better than Srikkanth - helmets work wonders. And much as Miandad is despised by Indians, he should rank right among the top. Also, heavily under-prepared (and uncovered in England) pitches of the past vs. batsmen-friendly pitches of now mean further adjustments to any such analysis. Trash.

    To me Bradman, Sobers, Lara, Hammond, Richards, Tendulkar wuld be an approximate order with the rest falling in plac

  • Ibraheem Khan on May 8, 2009, 23:14 GMT

    Where is Younis Khan in the list. I thought he is the greatest batsman of this era. He is the 1st pakistani to score 300 on home soil. How can you forget him ?

  • Saf on May 8, 2009, 23:12 GMT

    It is very interesting to see all the comments here. I believe Viv Richards (The king of Cricket) should be the best batsman simply because he battered the bowlers from the rest of the team into submittion. Just ask all the quality bowlers of 70s & 80s (Kapil, Imran, Hadley, Lille, Thompson, Ian Botham and rest). All the pitches during those days were much more difficult to bat on compared to now. You ask any bowler of 70s & 80s and they will tell you that they were scared like hell to ball to the King Richards. Finally Richards scored all of his Runs without ever wearing Helmet against these bowlers. I dont think Lara, Pointing & Tendulkar would be able to do that and score has heavily against those bowlers of 70s & 80s. Also if you see the records of Lara, pointing, & tendukar is not that great against Akram, Waqar, Ambrose, Donald, Mcgrath etc.

    So the memories of King Richards will always remain as the greatest batsmen of All times.

  • Love Goel on May 8, 2009, 22:54 GMT

    Though the result of the match is a very important parameter, it can be hugley misleading depending upon the team. For eg. India in England and in New Zealand didnt go for victory inspite of having huge leads after first innings. Australian team would have most probabaly gone for win and got it leading to better rating for batsmen.

  • upamanyu on May 8, 2009, 22:20 GMT

    Guys! guess what the players themselves would have said-"Frankly my dear, WE DON'T GIVE A DAMN!". They all respect each other's talent and if somebody tells Tendulkar that he is better than the Don then he would have laugh his guts out at the fella. Let's put it this way barring Don, Lara is first among equals( Tendulkar, Viv, Ponting, Hobbs, Sutclife, Waugh, Sobers,WWW et al).

  • Amit from NJ on May 8, 2009, 21:39 GMT

    Lara had a Sixth Gear ... no other batsman I have witnessed had that; Richards, Tendy, Sorbers, ... All of a sudden when the mood took him, and it invariable did on many occasions, he become a "Monster to deal with" as no other than SR Waugh describes him. SRT however g8 had no 6th man.

  • NInad on May 8, 2009, 20:59 GMT

    A good flat-paper (read as one-dimensional) analysis. Unfortunately the analysis collapses when other dimensions come into the picture. But then it is impossible to define the dimensions so what we have is what it is. Nobody can predict how a Bradman may have fared against Murali, nor can anyone picture what Lara would have done against Malcolm Marshall. There is no method to see how the modern great batsmen may have fared on uncovered wickets. There is no way of viewing the great bowlers of the past toil on flat, dry, weather protected tracks against batsmen enjoying physical and psychological bias over the bowlers (helmets, pads for virtually every body part, super tuned bats, bouncer regulations against bowlers et all)..

    All in all, good reading for leisure.

  • praveen on May 8, 2009, 20:43 GMT

    This is a very good way to analyze things, but I would lift the minimum runs scored to atleast 5000. the reason being that a lot of players have great starts and then the bowlers sort them out, you can take examples of the west indies duo of sherwin cambell or adams. I agree that some players might not have played more tests b'coz of political reasons but how much successful they would have been is unknown, so why compare an unknown factor with likes of lara or tendulkar, who have been thorougly studied by most bowlers in the world and have still maintained a 50+ average.

  • Abhishek on May 8, 2009, 20:39 GMT

    Mr Ananth. To start with good job. Very well done. But one problem. Tendulkar is best batsmen in world after bradman. Sir Bradman himself have quoted few years back that tendulkar plays similar to him. Lara with all due respect cannot be 2nd best in the world with tendulkar 3rd. I have seen innings played by lara and no argument that lara is more aggresive, he have won matches literally single handedly for WI, but again. Which batsmen out of two is more consistent? Which batsman have more centuries? Which batsmen have won more number of matches? And answer to all those questions is Tendulkar. I really don't care who have what opinion about tendulkar. I have seen so many matches and I follow not only indian cricket but cricket in general, and still there is no other batsmen I feel can ever have impact in match as tendulkar put in it. ANd I am being very honest in my opinion. Today also 50% indians think that tendulkar out means india out. And its fact. So it should be Brad/Tend/Lara

  • mcswiggle on May 8, 2009, 20:37 GMT

    If Tendulkar and Lara had to bat on uncovered /sticky wickets their averages would be considerably lower, whereas if Bradman had faced Bangladesh-type attacks as often as Tendulkar has (and on flat wickets) then his average would have been much, much higher. Bradman also many of his best years taken away by WW2, and carried the expectation of a nation throughout his career.

    No-one of his era came close to matching him, while in recent years we have seen at least 5 statistically similiar performers to Tendulkar; Ponting, Dravid, Kallis Hayden and Smith/Sehwag/Langer etc. These recent runs-including many scored by Lara- are amongnst the easiest ever scored and should obviously be given a much lower rating than they have, with modern bats, weak bowling and tiny boundaries being looked at again.

    You could also try and factor in the effect of the numerous Indian cricketing fans to who refuse to acknowledge that Bradman was in a different class to Tendulkar.

  • Venkat on May 8, 2009, 19:55 GMT

    Nice try.But other than proving Don's the best, which we all know, there's nothing much.The rest of the batsmen at the top're all great for various reasons & it's unwise to rank them based on a few criteria.You missed a few: In 4th inn strike rates do not matter much.The teams batting 4th, either try to save the match–in which case occupation of the crease should be given some WT–or try to chase down a total, in which case batsmen get a more defensive field/bowling.So, its not a fair comparison to use the strike rates from 4th innings in such cases.If a batsman is good he may get more in an attacking field but in a defensive field even a very good shot may get only a few.Recently Gambhir scored 137 against NZ @ 31.42% SR.Isn’t that more valuable than Viru’s 22 @ 104.76%, or even Sachin’s 64 @ 48.85%?Also, how do you account for RH vs a LH batman?Is it an advantage one way or other?Who knows?Ideally it shouldn’t if the attack is balanced-but how many have RH/LH pace/spin bowlers?

  • Gordon on May 8, 2009, 19:27 GMT

    Richards faced Lillee and Thompson at their best. He also had Fredriks, Greenidge,Haynes,Lloyd and Gomes making runs around him reducing the potential of his scoring a high percentage of the team's runs.In 1976 he scored over 800 runs in four tests against England while Greenige also scored over 800 in five tests.

  • ainsley on May 8, 2009, 18:41 GMT

    All the talk of consintency makes one wonder how come it took Tendulkar 17 more test innings than lara to get level on runs with the great BCL

  • ainsley on May 8, 2009, 18:40 GMT

    All the talk of consintency makes one wonder how come it took Tendulkar 17 more test innings than lara to get level on runs with the great BCL

  • mikey on May 8, 2009, 18:31 GMT

    Bradman'S record is second too none. The great Jack Hobbs played on uncovered wickets against a new type of bowling - googly - and was the complete master. His astonishing record - often with a series batting average well above his colleagues - and the incredible consistency he showed over a 30 year career warrants him to have the second place next to Bradman.

  • david h on May 8, 2009, 18:13 GMT

    it seems to me that you need to correct the following: rating should be based on number of innings and not number of tests(viv richards batted only 182 times in 121 tests) and explain how you accounted for strike rates for the older players(before the 1990's)when according to another contributor this data was not recorded.i think you need to look again at the ratings of quality of bowlers faced...surely viv richards faced better bowling than a mathew hayden...and what about pitches? modern pitches are flatter and more likely to be batsmen's paradises than 20/25 years ago, how do you adjust for that?

  • afzaal Khan on May 8, 2009, 18:13 GMT

    man i love ur analysis. I have a qts hope u find time to answer. How come Javed Miandad never get in any list, if memory serves me right he has an avg of 50 consistently and was cornerstone 4 lot of wins for pak, just asking:)

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on May 8, 2009, 18:02 GMT

    In my opinion LARA IS THE BEST. Lara payed against 25-30 different captains against 9 teams with their different strategies.

    In which Allan Border winner of 1987 world cup and also 32 test matches winner, Imran Khan winner of 1992 world cup and also 14 test matches, Ranatunga winner of 1996 world cup and also 12 test matches. Steve Waugh winner of 1999 world cup and also 41 test matches, Ponting winner of 2003 and 2007 world cups and also 38 test matches.

    Besides them, Cronje 27 test matches and Fleming 28 test matches winner are also the best captains. Also Micheal Vaughan and Mark Taylor are winner of 26 test matches each and Ganguly 21 test matches. We can not neglect Wasim with 12, Nasir Hussain and Jayasuria with 17 each. All of them are the leading captains in test history besides others.

    As we both know that playing against the better captain is difficult due to his different strategies. Please do not compare him with Bradman, if so list the name of captains which he faced.

  • Shri on May 8, 2009, 17:54 GMT

    Ananth, you are right about George Headley making it into this list with just 22 tests. He was a master of "sticky" wickets, rated above even the great Bradman on difficult pitches. I think that is the major factor in his very high match performance (second only to the Don). Also, he played all his cricket when the WI team was even weaker than the one in which Lara played.

    In response to several readers' comments about Richards being so far down, I think that has a lot to do with his performance over the last 3-4 years of his international career. He did not score even a single 100 in his last 3 seasons and that too against attacks that were less-than-intimidating. I think he would have been much higher up otherwise.

    Ananth, you did not respond to my comment about opening batsmen not receiving extra credit in this analysis. Or have you already accounted for that somewhere in the match performance?

  • Gaurav Sheoran on May 8, 2009, 17:13 GMT

    Ananth, I would love to see an analysis from you bout greatest International batsman. That is, include the stats of ODI and Test using some formula and give rating points. P.S: Bradman Playing only test matches greatly aids his avg as he doesnt tend to play ambitious shots. While Tendulkar and Lara had played ODI and TEsts,thus more often than not they let their instincts go loose and thus play some shots in tests which they might not have played had they were playing just tests only. Thus In future analysis i would like to see a Top 20 list of Players who just played Tests only,ODI's Only and Tests and ODI's both.That would give a really interesting insight and i am sure that the combined list of ODI and Test would be topped by Either Richards or Sachin. To those who are recalling Murali as the most dangerous bowler: Most dangerous spin bowler of all time is Shane warne and he had been brutly destroyed by sachin.Murali is not even close to warne.I can pick murali's dusara easily

  • Ram Kishore on May 8, 2009, 17:11 GMT

    Great work Ananth... Lot of effort went into this process. One thing i would like to see if %of team runs scored included then one should also include whether it resulted in a win or loss they should be a part of analysis. My reason being if you penalize player having a better support cast then win or loss should also be a part of equation too.

  • L.Krishnamurthy on May 8, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    Excellant analyisis. The only sore point could be the position of Steve Waugh. He should be in the top ten ( thank god Drvid figures in the top ten) given the matches that he won/saved for Australia.

  • Faisal Taquie on May 8, 2009, 16:25 GMT

    The analysis is fundamentally flawed as the parameters do not do justice. Sangakarra, the best Sri Lankdan batsman ever? Someone must be kidding..He is definitely a great batsman but what about De Silva or Jayasuria, two who really put Sri Lankan batting on the map? Yousuf, the best Pakistani batsman? There is no question about Miandad being the best Pakistani batsman ever! Richards at # 20? And just to stir the pot, I think there must be some more detailed objective analysis to compare Bradman, Tendulkar, and Lara. Bradman was great but he did not play ODIs, T20s, and play in varying bowling attack; let alone score runs against McGrath, Warne, Murali, etc who were the greatest bowlers of all time. Secondly, Bradman did not have to face the speedsters like Lee, Akhtar, Bond, Donald, etc. For my money's worth, I would put Tendulkar on top (from a Pakistani1)

  • Phil G on May 8, 2009, 16:21 GMT

    Great analysis, and its not like everyone's favorite batsman through that ages can be in the top 20. This uses very reasonable weightings for the available statistics. It's a shame that Barry Richards could not play more tests, it would be nice to see where he would be on this table after a full career. Well Done!

  • Peter M on May 8, 2009, 15:25 GMT

    Many things are arguable but Viv Richards at 20 leads me to doubt the validity of this exercise

  • Julian on May 8, 2009, 15:01 GMT

    Ananth. Taking Australia as the opposition yardstick, Hammond has a better record in Australia than both Lara and Tendulkar. His record overall against Aus is better than Lara's and yet not quite as good as Tendulkars (still impressive at av 51.85) His average in Aus of 61.90 is not matched by anyone as far as I know. His overall test record is better than Hobbs so I think he should go down as England's greatest batsman ever and yet he only gets a position of 22 in this survey.

  • Spideybuff, your facts are wrong, my friend! on May 8, 2009, 14:27 GMT

    Hey Spideybuff, Lara was indeed a super-rare talent, but check your facts again (on StatsGuru), my friend! The 375 and 400* were both 1st innings (of each test match) knocks, with WI declaring soon after Lara's records. Lara doesn't need any of us to cook up facts to prop him up! :)

  • navesh on May 8, 2009, 14:27 GMT

    Your rankings are flawed. Bradman is a freak of nature and would stand out anyway you look at it. However, as mentioned above the %TS is a silly index to use. Lara was in a very weak side so obviously he would have a huge percentage of the total. This is in contrast to Ponting and Tendulkar and this should NOT be used to depreciate a batsmans' value. Why also should match result be considered, what purpose does that serve to highlight a batsmans' quality? A drawn match is not necessarily a good batting wicket it could be weather. And come on Scoring Rate you must be joking . I think commonsense would tell you that the results are not correct. There needs to be a differentiation between batsmen on covered and uncovered wickets with the uncovered wicket players getting a significant advantage, that won't happen here. I'll leave you with this: Yousuf better than Chappell , how could Yousuf be half as good as Chappell in WS cricket? Tendulkar better than Gavaskar, don't make me laugh, PACE

  • Sumit Sanghai on May 8, 2009, 14:23 GMT

    Ananth: You have a lot to think of. S Waugh's perf points are lesser than that of Jayawardene, Atherton, Stewart, Gibbs, J Wright. That's surely a joke.

  • Rauf on May 8, 2009, 14:22 GMT

    Looks like the whole exercise was done to compare Bradman vs Tendulkar while unable to ignore Lara.

    1) There is no way to statistically compare players from 60 to 70 years of gap. A lot changes in between.

    2) Cricket is a team sport so one player's performance should be judged within that context.

    Forget about total number of runs or centuries or how many tests one played. I will look at the stats in this order,

    a) Which batsman directly contributed most towards winning a match or saving a match from defeat for his team out of all the tests he played.

    b) Quality of opposition faced. A win against Bangladesh is not equal to win againt Australia.

    With above criteria, I don't know about Bradman but will Lara and Tendulkar even be in top 10?

    Furthermore... going back to my first point, how will Bradman play against today's bowling and how will Tendulkar/Lara play in pre WWII conditions. No accurate comparison possible.

  • Rileen on May 8, 2009, 14:19 GMT

    Ananth, it is clearly unfair to compare Richards' runs per test with Lara's - playing for a much weaker team gave Lara more innings per test on average. And that also gives one the chance to score a higher percentage of runs (or indeed bag a higher share of wkts, a la Hadlee) - so your system and logic consistently put someone like Lara at an advantage against someone like Richards (and Border, Steve Waugh, etc.).

    Whether consistency is a virtue or not is debatable, but I think it is, and I find the avergage number of innings required per score of 50 or more to be a nice way of measuring it. Most great batsmen averaged 3 innings or less - and the Don, 1.9 (so there might be something there, eh?).

  • Parag on May 8, 2009, 13:35 GMT

    Comparisons don't make any sense. Bradman played in an era when there were tests with 6 days to no time limit tests. Comparing his performance to modern day test players, who often play ODIs and T20 etc. is not a valid comparison. Today's players are rewarded for being "jack of all trades." Differences in reward structure alone make comparisons between players in appropriate. It can be argued that since cricket was not lucrative game during Bradman's time, quality/motivation of the players may be lacking. Furthermore, not many countries played cricket during his time, so Bradman played only a select few bowlers. Umpiring was not neutral either, so I am not sure how that impacted the statistics. Although I sound like complaining, I just don't believe in any analysis that compares players as it will be fraught with errors. This analysis is no exception.

  • Jayesh on May 8, 2009, 13:21 GMT

    forget the terms "test" and "ODI"..If we consider pure batsman ship qualities and ability Sachin tendulkar will be far ahead of any one.He is undoubtyedly greatest batsman of all time.The way he performed,his technique,range of shots,improvisations,adjustment in game domination over bowlers,consistency puts him on top..

  • Hussain on May 8, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    Just a pointer.The number of matches played over 20 years by Don is 1/3 of what players of this era play in a span of 15 years.Add to this,300 one day matches that a player of high quality plays on an average. Fatigue is a big factor. Plus we also need to account for the tremendous extra pressure on players who know that they every move,shot,and action is being followed by millions of viewers around the world.Even in Don's era media existed (though in the form of newspapers and cricket stadiums) but its not the same as it is today

    Please note, this is in no way to undermind Don's brilliance.

  • Sumit on May 8, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    Personally, what I would have done was to compute the metrics a) MatchPerf (this again I'd have broken down into the various components that you used) b) Total Runs c) SR (although I have already said it should not be used the way you have calculated it). d) Avg (it's a redundant thing but yeah let's use it for now). Then I'd build an ordering(manually generated) for example I'd say S Waugh > M Waugh. Hayden > Langer. S. Waugh > Hayden(?), S Waugh > Pietersen, Lara > Gilchrist, Richards > Miandad, Anwar > Laxman, Dravid > Sehwag, etc. (I'd only choose the more "obvious" ones and definitely not the contentious ones like Tendulkar > Lara, etc). And learn the points allocations to the various metrics using a classifier. Then use the points allocations and the metrics to rank all the players.

  • Sumit Sanghai on May 8, 2009, 13:12 GMT

    %TS runs also seems like a bogus metric.

    The only metrics that should really matter are: a) Match-Perf b) Longevity (I think batting average also seems a redundant metric...shouldnt that be captured by Match-Perf?)

    Also, I wouldn't worry too much about where a Sutcliffe or a Miandad is placed because the ratings are too close to each can always tweak the point allocations to get what one wishes.

  • Sumit Sanghai on May 8, 2009, 13:00 GMT

    Ananth: I'd be interested in knowing the details of how match perfs are calculated...So waiting for that.

    IMHO, batting SR should never be a part of a batsman's evaluation because winning a match isnt correlated to SR (or at least it's not easily demonstrable). The problem with using a SR for some and not for someone else is that the %points can get tweaked disproportionately. So, for eg. Gavaskar get's a 5 point bonus (his points are 47 for 90, which jumps to 52 per 100) whereas a Dravid get's 4.2 points for SR. (because his SR is 42). This you can see is already unfair...(I am sure Gavaskar's SR was not more than 42 :) You can also see that somebody like a Richie Benaud would only get a 2.2 point bonus because they only have 20 points out of you are essentially saying that his SR is 2.

    In short, don't use the strike the very least not the way in you have used right now.

    (I think I wasnt fully coherent on that but I am hoping you got the gist).

  • knight on May 8, 2009, 12:22 GMT

    I always knew Bradman is number 1 and Lara is number 2 followed by others. Your ranking just proves that.

  • Ananth on May 8, 2009, 12:22 GMT

    I am fully submerged under the flood of comments and can barely keep my head above water. Let me address the comments in a generic manner without referring specifically to individuals. . 1. I myself am mystified by the low placing of Miandad, Compton and Sutcliffe. Since I applied the whole methodology without exception to every single innings, my conscience is clear (!!!) and I am only interested in finding out why. I will do so and revert whenever I can. . 2. People have asked about how the Match Performance Ratings are calculated. It is a complex exercise and I will not attempt to explain the same in this comment. I will try and add this illustration to the main post within the next 24 hours. Pl keep a watch. . 3. 9 modern batsmen out of 20 has been raised by quite a few readers. Maybe this is the result of the way Test Cricket is being played nowadays, with an attacking frame of mind, a result-oriented approach and the influence of the limited over games. My earlier analysis on Test Cricket through the ages will back this up. So it is possible that the batsmen are benefited (arithmetically in this analysis) because of these innovations. . 4. Some people have mentioned that this is not objective since the weighting points are fixed by me, in my individual capacity. Let me say that I have been doing Cricket analysis over 20 years, have discussed these extensively with various analysts over the years and have had the benefit of the reader (particularly your) comments. So these are not as arbitrary as they are made out to be. The weight for Runs scored was lowered to 15 after listening to earlier reader comments and so on. Anyhow, if someone does not like the points allocation, you could download the tables into an Excel file, change the weights and have your own table. . 5. Many comments have been raised on why certain intangible factors have been excluded. I have told this quite a few times including the article itself and will repeat this once more. My source for all this analysis are the Scorecards, and only scorecards. Nothing else. I will not include anything which I cannot back up. If you want to know about great test innings or great batsmen in wonderful prose, pl read the wonderful cricketing books written by Cardus, Ray Robinson, CLR James, Frith, Ralph Gardner, Fingleton et al. To read Ray Robinson's description of Stan McCabe's three great test innings is an out-of-the-world experience.

  • spideybuff on May 8, 2009, 12:21 GMT

    I hate to fan the flames of this Lara/Tendulkar debate but I hate how over the years everyone belittles Lara's two record innings as "on a flat track" and "a tame draw". The fact is, if Lara had not scored those runs, the WI were facing innings defeats. They were in fact match saving efforts that do not get appreciated. People fail to remember that Lara came in on both occasions with the innings in crisis facing a mammoth first innings score. If Lara was not capable of batting that long, we can add two more losses to his already long list of defeats. Those innigs need to be remembered for what they were and not what they are being turned into after the fact. It was not like WI batted first and decided to declare after Lara broke a record, the records allowed him to save the game.

  • Pradeep on May 8, 2009, 12:14 GMT

    Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui has very very valid points. You also have to take fielding into consideration and what about the technology used nowadays to find weakness in a batsman? I am sure if Bradman played today his average would be way less. However my top 5 would always be Bradman, Lara, Sachin, Richards, and Sobers. No one can change my opinion by showing me any number of statistics.

  • Sandeep on May 8, 2009, 11:29 GMT


    With due respect to your analysis, I would like to point out that despite tweaking the factors a lot, Viv and Tendulkar remained the top two in your ODI analysis. Could you do the same to this and prove that Lara and Sachin are consistently top two (after Bradman)?

    I am not going to yell at the analysis that Tendulkar is rated below Lara, but would like to tell you my gut feeling that the number of factors taken is low and are biased towards Lara.

    If you want to take pure batsmanship into consideration, please ignore wins etc., Just take the quality of bowler you have faced at a given point of time, the pitch and weather. Compare it with the #runs scored in that innings by the batsman's companions.

  • Rajesh on May 8, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    Fantastic! I don't think ranking of Sir Don was a question anytime but the deft analysis does put the great debate of Lara vs Sachin in perspective. Thank you for your wonderful efforts and making cricket numbers a fun to look at

  • M.Gyan on May 8, 2009, 11:08 GMT

    Ananth , The moment I saw that you have accorded 50 Points to “match performance” (i.e half of the total points) I thought it was excessive. Further , the factors considered (Position at batsman entry ,Runs added with late order batsmen , Innings type (1/2/3/4, Score faced, Target et al), Match result, taking into consideration relative team strengths., Match importance (Series status). Are hugely in favour of Lara,over just about any other batsman in the lineup. Simply inserting a couple of better batsmen opening batsmen or weaker tail in the Lara team would dramatically bring down these points. How does this reflect on batting abilities? The correct way to assess pure batting ability would be: 1)Pitch quality ( again a bit of circular logic involved and not so accurate ,but an approximation. In a poor batting lineup if the other batsman hardly score you end up as the star, irrespective of the state of the pitch) 2) Batsman vs bowler head to head. Balls faced, runs scored, Bonus points for a 50,100 . Also a higher strike rate doesn’t necessarily mean a “better” batsman. If a batsman scores say 50 runs off 100 balls of a particular bowler and then gets out and another scores 50 off 200, it may well mean that he has got a measure of the bowler,since the bowler finds it more difficult to get him out. Again the bowler must be assessed at his then current form. Lets say his average for the year in question ,not his general career avg. Also , of course, the bowler musnt be injured etc at the time in question. It is pointless comparing a lame horse to a fit one! 3) Match location ( home /away) : Most certainly a leg up for away runs. 4) Different performances against Pace, Medium Pace, Spin ( say above 150 ks, 130-150 ks ,etc)

    These parameters give a far more accurate idea of the individual batsman’s pure batting ability than other factors you have considered ,which overwhelming depend on Team compositions, team efforts,luck and several such factors. If you are making out a ranking of “best” batsmen why bring Team efforts, abilities, competencies into the picture and so completely distort it?

  • Anup on May 8, 2009, 11:06 GMT

    Excellent analysis. Gives a good idea for batsmen on top, but as you go down the complete list, the logic starts to falter. When you have names like Kumble, Shane Warne & Richard Hadlee appear in top all time greatest "BATSMEN" list, there is something wrong

  • Ravi on May 8, 2009, 11:03 GMT

    Ananth, commendation to you on the monumental task that you set out and have achieved. Now the questions: 1) Does the analysis distinguish openers from the middle order? I think openes face more balls from high quality fast bowlers than the middle order? (Admittedly there have been good quality spin bowlers too). 2) In the analysis, have you estimated the quality of bowling from the bowlers' career average or the average till that match? Shane Warne got better as his career progressed, so batsmen must have found scoring against him easier early on in his career than later. So the question is have bowlers been classed high/low quality throughout their careers? 3) I once read an article saying Gavaskar did score 13 centuries vs WI but very few of the 13 came when the entire quartet bowled to him.

    I recognise it is very difficult to get data for every ball bowled in every match. But is there a way to rationalise these 3 points in your analysis?

  • Arnold on May 8, 2009, 10:29 GMT

    In this era where the game is changing so much it's no longer enough just to be a test player. Batsmen are expected to think on their feet and be innovative. a sunil gavaskar or a michael atherton would not even get a spot in the current indian team. So any comparison must also include one-days & 20/20s.

    In olden days, teams always set attacking fields in test matches where you have 6 or 7 fielder around the bat and it would be easy to score runs. Even this model was followed in the 90s. But now when you hit a single 4, they place a fielder in the boundary. So captain's think it's not only important to take wickets, it's also important to contain the scoring rate. It's hard to imagie what bradman would have done in this era. Lara mainly deals in boundaries in tests and when you spread the field as in the one-dayers, lara's effect has been reduced to half and he's not so much effective as in the tests. SO all this ability has to be considered.

  • Zeeshan Ahmed on May 8, 2009, 10:18 GMT

    Excellent efforts once again! Comparison of bowlers from 1925-1950 is useless. As how can we compare them with Lilee, Thompson, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee and fast battery of W. Indies like Malcom Marshall, Garner, Holding and Robert. Then Walsh, Ambrose, Wasim, Waqar, Mcgrath and all others. Obvious so all these bowlers are far better than those days bowlers. If statistic is only criteria then Verity is better than Warne in test. Everyone knows that modern days bowlers are far better than period of 1925-1950. After world war II, some good bowlers came and then from decade of 70 too many good bowlers came. Lara faced bowlers of England are better than the period of 1925-1950 as 12-15 bowlers took 100 or more wicket in their careers. Verity is the best bowler that Bradman ever faced in test. His striking rate in New Zealand is 156, in AUS 113 and in Africa is 119. He bowled total 4799 balls in these three countries and took 41 wickets it means his striking rate became 117.

  • Anand Krishnan on May 8, 2009, 10:16 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    Wonderful analysis, Iam suprised that Viv Richards ranks so low, I would have viv as second best ahead of lara and every one else he pulls and hooks very well, from his kerry packer series against world class bowling like Lillee, thomson,pasco etc on hard bouncy pitces .Though u can't take that record into consideration, its high time the ICC includes the world series super tests. The quality of cricket played in that series is yet to be matched, Viv Richards smashed every thing in site. Even Greg Chappell and Greenige played some fantastic knocks.People keep harping about Sachin, the number of times he gets hit on the temple is unimaginable. Infact Dravid and Laxman play fast bowling better than him. Nice work keep penning , Can u send one on "the best test bowler" list. bye

  • Keith Fletcher on May 8, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    I remember a rather useful batter called Compton. Better than most of those listed !

  • Mohan on May 8, 2009, 9:59 GMT

    Lot of marks given and all that..but the puzzle is such a difficult one that it cannot be agreed on a lot of factors.Lara on song is a little aggressive than Sachin no doubt and scores on the average a little bigger than him too..but he do not have 100s vs Donald & Pollock and also vs Akram & Waqar.Niether has he vs Kumble in India.Another thing...from 90 till 96..Sachin was in weak doubt.Lara had CA & CW to support till 98.Even after 96 too Sachin beared the burden singly when played against Aussies till 2001.For eg: take 99 tour to OZ.Dravid was a pity.Only after 98 did Lara carried burden till 06'.So in 2nd 8 yrs trend reversed for them.ONly after 00' did he got 100s vs PAK & Saf vs avg: bowlers and better bat conditions.Viv who murdered quality attacks below Hayden,Dravid,Sanga!!!The man of steel played with out helmet..faced umpteen bouncers against lighting pace and dominated..yet below them..hard indeed to digest..Similarly a lot of others too.Yet..great effort.

  • Vivek on May 8, 2009, 9:53 GMT

    Contd from previous post

    3. % of Team runs scored Weighting should be reduced to a minimal as it punishes great batsmen who may be playing alongside other good and consistent batsmen. Effectively ensuring that it does not favor good batsmen in bad teams over great batsmen in good teams.

    In Match performance factors 1. Runs added with late order batsmen. Should not have any significance. In a strong batting lineups, this is less likely to happen and hence the factor favors a good batsman in weak batting lineup over a great batsman in a strong batting lineup.

    2. Is there a need to introduce a factor to see a batsman's consistency. In effect, give higher weighting to a batsman who is consistently good over one who hits purple patches periodically followed by stretches of average performances.

    Curious to see how the table would look with these tweakings.

  • Vivek on May 8, 2009, 9:51 GMT

    Contd from previous post

    3. % of Team runs scored Weighting should be reduced to a minimal as it punishes great batsmen who may be playing alongside other good and consistent batsmen. Effectively ensuring that it does not favor good batsmen in bad teams over great batsmen in good teams.

    In Match performance factors 1. Runs added with late order batsmen. Should not have any significance. In a strong batting lineups, this is less likely to happen and hence the factor favors a good batsman in weak batting lineup over a great batsman in a strong batting lineup.

    2. Is there a need to introduce a factor to see a batsman's consistency. In effect, give higher weighting to a batsman who is consistently good over one who hits purple patches periodically followed by stretches of average performances.

    Curious to see how the table would look with these tweakings.

  • Vivek on May 8, 2009, 9:50 GMT

    A very good and thorough analysis. A few points (which may already have been suggested by some) In career achievements, Runs scored and scoring rates factors favor the latter day batsmen.

    1. In case of runs scored, 10000 mark was first crossed in 80s but has been crossed by quite a few batsmen since then. With the amount of test cricked now batsmen would be crossing it even more frequently in future. Maybe, Weighting should be reduced.

    2. Scoring rates in tests have gone up due to advent of limited overs cricket and has even less significance in test cricket than runs scored. This weighting should be reduced to a minimal or done away altogether. All others conditions remaining same, 150 in 300 balls will aways be a better test inning than a run a ball 80. (contd)

  • Antony Japhet on May 8, 2009, 9:45 GMT

    Sorry, but any list of the top twenty that does not include Denis Compton is missing something somewhere. Anybody old enough to have seen him bat will know that they have witnessed something extraordinary.

  • aejaz on May 8, 2009, 9:45 GMT

    this is an amazing piece of work by the writer........well done....personally i feel d list needs a few changes......firstly steve waugh surely has to be in the top 20 just because of the sheer weight of the number of mnatch winning inninings played by him.......i would also rate kallis above a few others on the basis of his consistency and the pressure of the best of best all rounder evere played game along side ofcourse sur sobers......lara surely is 2nd 2 only bradman.....

  • Baumy on May 8, 2009, 9:43 GMT

    As a loyal Kiwi supporter I believe the skills of Chris Martin are worthy of mention when mentioning consistent batsmen!!

  • Suraj on May 8, 2009, 9:41 GMT

    I wonder why no one has mentioned about Tendulkar destroying Warne on spinning wickets in India and his wonderful innings in Bloemfontein against SA in 2001. But all said and done, comparing Tendulkar and Lara is impossible. Both are great in their own way.

  • Tendulkar's masterpieces vs. Lara's (contd.) on May 8, 2009, 9:38 GMT

    ,not to mention the 111 in Jo'berg '92. For sheer determination (not being at his best), there was the 241* in Sydney '04. For class & total composure on day 5, there's his 103* in Chennai '08 vs Eng (unforgettable test match, weeks after the Mumbai terror attacks). And for poetry in motion, with FANTASTIC strokeplay, there was the 122 at Birmingham '96. While many of Tendulkars's best came in tests eventually lost, India had mediocre attacks in most of those games (esp. away games), whereas Lara had Ambrose, Walsh, Bishop, etc. to help win tests all thro' the '90s (incl the unforgettable series in the WI vs Oz). For me, where Lara stands unmatched (by maybe even the Don) is in the AMAZING performance in SL, scoring 688 runs BRILLIANTLY in just 3 tests! Don't know if that can be surpassed! (PS: To me, Lara's 375 and 400* were AWESOME mental feats, but not masterpieces - both being home games against Eng. on very flat tracks, producing predictable draws)

  • KNM on May 8, 2009, 9:22 GMT

    Make the match performances 10% and career performances 90% and then lets have a look. To take a few innings( which also depend hugely on general team performances) and award them an equal amount of points to careers spanning 15-20 yrs is lop sided.

  • Supratik on May 8, 2009, 9:19 GMT

    Incredibly comprehensive as comprehensive can be. Congratulations. Ofcourse statistics cannot be conclusive, however many parameters that may be considered. Aesthetics, circumstances in which an innings is played cannot be put in figures, as all the factors in your point 6. However, I think there are a couple of points that should be considered Ananth. An opening batsman, like the great SMG, Hobbs and even Hutton, must get more points than a middle-order batsman, as it is an acknowledged fact that opening the batting is one of the hardest tasks for a batsman. It should adjusted accordingly with what his opening partners had done during his career. Secondly, a batsman's true performance is when he is batting for a weak team. Just putting 5 points for 25% runs scored is not enough. When Gavaskar or Lara batted, they were mostly playing for a 1.5 or 2 batsmen team, unlike a Bradman or a Tendulkar who have had better comrades during their days. How about incorporating these. Great stuff!

  • Suddy on May 8, 2009, 9:06 GMT

    Bradman never faced the likes of Akram, Waqar, Bret lee, Walsh, Ambrose, Marshall, Mcgrath and lot others from recent years who are much tougher and better. I don't know of any footage or video clip that shows his flamboyance either. I can't seem to fathom why folks are comparing Ponting with Tendulkar and Lara. Obviously Ponting did not play bowlers like Mcgrath, Bret Lee and Shane Warne. He didn't get a chance to play Bolwers like Akram, Waqar, Imran , Hadlee, Kapil, Walsh, Ambrose, Donald, F de villiers and many more coz these guys had already retired. Who are we left with, not many actually. So if you want to compare the likes of Tendulkar and Lara both have played most of these bowlers, we might as well stop this coz its really funny and no justice made to some other great players. Why is Inzamam not in this chart. What i really can't seem to under stand about the author's theory is why is the Calypso King @20 I appreciate the efforts but this article's a red tape folks.

  • Tendulkar's masterpieces vs. Lara's... on May 8, 2009, 8:55 GMT

    Having avidly watched (n thoroughly enjoyed!) Lara and Tendulkar for over 15 years, I give the edge to Lara in Test Cricket (just my humble opinion). And while Lara's capacity to score BIG was second only to the Don (in terms of 150+ scores), I don't believe his masterpieces overshadow Tendulkar's by much. For Lara's 153*, there's Sachin's 136 in the 4th inn. vs Pak (2Ws +Saqlain), when India was 80/5. (India lost by ~10 runs, losing the last 3 wkts for ~6 runs after Sachin fell. To me, these 2 awesome efforts capture the miniscule edge for Lara over Sachin) For Lara's 277 in Sydney, there were Sachin's 114 at Perth and 148 at Sydney in the '91 series. For Lara's 213, 153* and 100 in the 4-tests against Oz in WI (late 90s), there were Sachin's 155* (day 4, Chennai) and 177 (day 1, Bangalore) against Oz in '98. For brilliance against pace, there were Sachin's 169 in Capetown '97 (AWESOME batting with Azhar after Donald & Co. had India ~60/5) and his 155 on Day 1 at Bloemfont. 2001,

  • Nishant Agarwal on May 8, 2009, 8:50 GMT

    According to me, you missed out one factor that should be considered a very strong component of any analysis on batsmen. Its the factor of public expectation. Yes you are right in taking the bowling quality, match situation etc into your analysis. But expectations from fans is a big big factor that can weigh a batsman down. Please adjust your ratings by this factor. I would be surprised if a few changes in the rankings are not seen.

  • Aaron on May 8, 2009, 8:48 GMT

    The list isn't terrible, but the statistical weightings you used are so arbitrary that the analysis holds no weight. I think if you tried you could come up with a better list without statistics.

  • Prakhar on May 8, 2009, 8:27 GMT

    This really isn't much more than an opinion based on your subjective analysis of numbers. The moment you assign a value/weight to any of these numbers, you make this a subjective analysis for you've now made an assertion based on YOUR subjectivity and what you think is worth more/less. Therefore, lets not call this 'objective', its no better than anybodys opinion.

    Now to improve your subjective analysis, consider including the following factors: Consistency, 2nd innings knocks, match winning performances, man of the matches/series, quality of home bowling attack vs opposition attack, quality of fellow batsmen, form of bowler etc

    Please don't try to pass this off as anything objective/rational, it really is as good as any random opinion. Also please refrain from flaming Indians for supporting Tendulkar, uncalled for, they have a right to an opinion just as you do. That being said, I enjoyed the article and appreciate the attempt. Great job, keep it up.

  • Arjun on May 8, 2009, 8:26 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Can you tell me with examples how Match performance is calculated, is it Innings performance or both innings of match are added and then divided by two. Take the recent series of India Vs. Newzealand, What were the match performances of Gambhir, tendulkar, laxman etc. Please explain.


  • Jeff on May 8, 2009, 8:24 GMT

    Firstly, congrats to Ananth on having the bravery to post this.

    I haven't got the willpower to read all 140+ comments, most of which I wearily predict are on the "Tendulkar/Lara is best" theme. Sigh.

    And to all those who comment "statistics can't measure the true greatness of a player..." - this is a STATS BLOG !! What on earth were you expecting? If you don't like these types of analysis, don't read them !!

    My main concern (which i've griped about in previous analyses) has already been mentioned by a few - the seeming bias towards the volume of games played by modern players.

    I know Ananth has attempted to deal with this, but probably more needs to be done.

    My own thoughts are to somehow use time as a factor - eg. while Bradman may have only played 52 matches, he did it over 20 years... the same length of time as Tendulkar. This could help the cause of the old-timers a bit.

    Another minor concern is that openers may be penalised by some measures in the match analysis

  • Ullas on May 8, 2009, 8:01 GMT

    Some of the comments are absolutely false 1. Dravid not playing match winning innings (233, 270, 180, 151 etc) 2. Lara having a better away record than Sachin (47 against 54) 3. Sachin scoring when he has others to score while Dravid fighting it alone - This has been one of the well preserved myths. If you take a look at all Dravid's reasonable scores, you will see that there is a lot of support from other batsmen (Though I agree that his twin fifties in WI recently has been great single handed victory) while Sachin has waged a lot of lone battles (114 at Perth,116 at Melbourne, 122 at Birmingham,111 at Jo'berg,136 at Chennai are some)

    Ananth, I was wondering how you calculated the weighted bowling quality for an inning? Some of the numbers in that doesn't make sense to me. If it says Sehwag and Gambhir faced a more quality attack than Sachin, there is something wrong (or am I missing something here). Though I am an ardent Sachin fan, I know that Lara is ahead of him in tests till now

  • KNM on May 8, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    Further,if Lara had been in as good a team as say Richards...he would not only have had less opportunities to score runs( opposition being bowled out early,other batters assisting in putting up a good total,big opening stands etc), it would then have drastically reduced the other parameters too(score coming in,% runs,tail etc.) All in all the entire analysis is heavily skewed in favour of Lara whichever way you look at it.

  • girish on May 8, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    look, why are people saying lara is the better than sachin becoz murali said so? murali is a great bowler but sachin has also dominated murali. ultimately, lara maybe better but not becoz murali says so.

  • giri on May 8, 2009, 7:46 GMT

    firstly, my admiration for an exhaustively compiled and thorough list. of course, stats never tell the true story and i think many of the comments have been clouded by our hearts.while watching sachin or lara, we think nobody can elevate us to such levels of ecstacy but this list is not influenced by feelings. furthermore, it wud be interesting to see if a sehwag or dravid can move higher up if they play more.

  • KNM on May 8, 2009, 7:39 GMT

    If you use similar parameters for bowlers viz. basically awarding more "points" for a "poor" bowling line up in their team, then without even resorting to stats Murali would come out on top of Warne.

    Warne had to share the spoils with some good quicks,who normally provided early breakthroughs etc. So, then you "filter" stats such as Warne having more tail ender wickets (as if it was his fault),etc.

    Basically, a case of the stats simply reflecting the premeditated premise.viz, Murali played in a weaker bowling team so that sort of automatically makes him a "better" bowler. Senseless.

  • Richie T on May 8, 2009, 7:37 GMT

    Very interesting analysis, very well done....until I saw V.Richards at 20, as you say he only scored 71 runs per match compared to Lara's 91 even though there is very little difference in their career averages, however this difference is almost entirely explained by the fact that he was required to bat in the 2nd innings in only 50% of matches compared to Lara's 77%, you seem to be rewarding Lara for playing in a weak team and penalising Richards for playing in a strong team, perhaps some further adjustment is needed?

  • Abhijit on May 8, 2009, 7:35 GMT

    First of all, Ananth, an excellent effort to summarize the performance of these batsmen analytically.

    It seems to me that our perceptions of greatness are often due to particular series or purple patches. Who can doubt Gavaskar's greatness in 1971, whereas his form in the early 80s was not so great. Sachin in 06-08 and Lara throughout his career have not inspired confidence, but on song both are gods; Lara with 2 of the top 3 scores in Tests, Sachin more consistent but with no triple.

    An interesting possibility, given the periodic nature of form, is to look at these calculations using, say, a 2 year moving average over each career. It would be quite informative. Graphically it would show players who peaked intermittently and players who were great over long periods. Judging greatness summarized over an entire career is difficult, given vagaries of form, the different nature of careers in the modern era, and generally the shift towards less hostile bowling in the modern era overall.

  • Ullas on May 8, 2009, 7:34 GMT

    Ananth, Great analysis, fully respect the amount of work that has gone into it. Statistics would never be enough to satisfy everybody and hence there would always be disappointments. I can't find much issues with the criteria's you have selected. However I would definitely appreciate if we could have two separate list (or possibly three - pre WW2, post WW2 till 90, After 90).2000 runs is too less for a modern batsmen and I fully hope that you put that criteria to at least 5000 runs for modern players. I have another suggestion too. I had seen a study in cricinfo sometime back which talked about the average score of each decade. May be these runs scored in each decade could be adjusted against the average score for the decade (One way of eliminating the issue of having too many flat tracks in 2000s).

  • PBC on May 8, 2009, 7:09 GMT

    Most of the anlysis was okay, but the bullets which was emphasize at the beggining . Did you know that in the modern India Test team only two players had their positions swapped throught out their careers VVS Laxam and SC Ganguly, at least SCG had 66matches at one position but VVS did not even bat a lot more than 30 in one positions. Whereas Sachin and Dravid had more than 100 matches in one positions (that is the bulk of their careers). So i feel this should also be a factor about who provided more flexibility for the team..... Also the innings where by a non-century existed have to be taken and in the Innings Sachin does not score a century his average is 29 odd!!!!! and SCG and Laxman Dravid is in the 27+ mark. I think this factor with a little more IMPROVEMENTS should also decide "consistency". Ponting as far as i have seen is 31+ in non century innings. I was a bit sad to see Gambhir above VVS (no offence to Ghambhir).

  • cricfan on May 8, 2009, 7:09 GMT

    a) I'm an aussie and rate Sachin Tendulkar the best batsman of all time barring Bradman. His all round technique and stroke play in different conditions and on all pitches and against variety of attacks makes him a special batsman. To me, Brian Lara is a flashy batsman and he never dominated genuine pace attacks on fast and bouncy pitches, though he was a great batsman of spin bowling. I see one great observation from: Travin at May 8, 2009 1:51 AM

    I would really like Cricinfo to do an analysis of Brian Lara against genuine fast bowling. Let me help you by stating Lara did not score a test match hundred against Akram & Younis - Pakistan or Allan Donald for South Africa. He got hundreds against these two sides much later in his career when their bowling attacks were quite average. Also, the 375 and 400 were scored on the flattest of batting tracks. Tendulkar took on Allan Donald in his prime in 1992 and scored a century! He took on Akram & Younis and scored a century in 1999.

  • Hassan Mir on May 8, 2009, 6:40 GMT

    I have a few reservations regarding this calculation. In my view the greatest batsmen will be those who have played more match winning innings than others. One can calculate the match winning centuries or fifties or score above 80 or something. Scoring 400 on a placid track where match was drawn is of no importance to me at all

  • Prashant on May 8, 2009, 6:34 GMT

    MORAL of the story: I think ive got it! All future batsmen should now hope and pray that they are in teams with lousy batting line ups. Then they will automatically become "better" batsmen!

  • Kartik on May 8, 2009, 6:32 GMT

    There is only one each from SA and Pak, and no NZ batsman.

    It appears batting is dominated by just 4 countries : AUS, ENG, IND, WI.

  • Jason on May 8, 2009, 6:32 GMT

    I have a second comment Anath and this is to defend you against those who are whining about the % of teams runs scored weighting. As an Australian, I have watched Adam Gilchrist stride to the crease with Australia 5/400 many times. That is the luxury of playing on a good team, he faces tired bowlers, who are down on confidence after toiling manfully to dismiss his excellent teammates. If Gilly had played for NZ for example, and would coming in at 5/150 instead, I don't think his average or career in general would have been quite as successful. One extra suggestion I have for you (analysing a 5-10 year 'peak' period instead of an entire career), is to reduce the weighting for scoring rate. It is not always better to score faster. Matches need to be saved as well as won, which often requires batting for time. In fact, if you play in a bad team it is a DIS-advantage to score fast because you are just giving your team more time to be bowled out again.

  • Kartik on May 8, 2009, 6:28 GMT

    There is only one each from SA and Pak, and no NZ batsman.

    It appears batting is dominated by just 4 countries : AUS, ENG, IND, WI.

  • Kartik on May 8, 2009, 6:23 GMT

    I am not so sure about the claim that the modern era is more batsman-friendly in Tests.

    The better protective gear and shorter boundaries are balanced by the fact that in the past, Tests had rest days, the fielding was not as sharp, and the schedule was not as hectic. In the era of Sobers, the norm was to play 5-6 Tests per year, and no ODIs. There were 30 playing days per year, rather than the 90-100 that we see today.

  • Kartik on May 8, 2009, 6:18 GMT

    The strike rate issue is a tough one.

    It seems unfair to penalize batsmen who did not have this data recorded, and it was not recorded until the 1990s. Everyone knows Richards had a very high strike rate it Tests, but he cannot get points here.

    Furthermore, while a high strike rate is always beneficial in ODIs, it Tests, there are few cases where it is a negative. In the recent Ind-NZ 2nd test, Sehwag was a flop, but Dravid's low strike rate enabled him to consume 400 balls over 2 innings and bat out to a draw. So Dravid's low strike rate prevented defeat, while Sehwag's failure to consume balls harmed the team's cause.

    Out of this top 20, only 10 retired before 2007. Something is wrong about that.

  • Brendan Layton on May 8, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    Amazing how a 'statistical' analysis can provoke such fierce patriotism. For those who use the McGrath method to belittle Lara, check the averages. Lara averages 41 against McGrath even though he was dismissed 15 times by him. Tendulkar, by comparison, averages 26. That arguement therefore has little weight. To be honest Anath makes the point that very little seperates them and people should take that into account, there is not a lot between them at their peaks and both had goos success against the premier team during their era, Australia.

    I'm suprised Miandad isn't there, and equally suprised Herbert Sutcliffe missed the cut, but they wouldn't have been far away.

    Prashant, your arguement has little weight to me. What is great about the Don is that not that he was better than his contemporaries, but that he overwhelms all who follow him in an era of flatter pitches, better safety equipment, shortened boundaries and heftier bats. Not even today's geniuses come close.

  • Indian on May 8, 2009, 6:12 GMT

    whew.. complex analysis.. when i first saw the list and scanned a few rows.. my immediate reaction was "where's Viv".. was surprised to find him at no. 20.. but you have explained the reasons..

    regarding the pressure that Lara faced, it was usually a situation of the score card reading 20 for 2. I have never seen bowlers baying for a batsman's wicket so fiercely.. since they knew that once they get him, the WI's innings is done. also considering that for many teams, a test or series win against WI was a big big achievement after 20 years of humiliation from them. Lara was the only one who stood in their way in the WI's batting department.

  • Kartik on May 8, 2009, 6:09 GMT

    The longevity-based measure of 'runs' will ensure that Sehwag migrates into the top-10 by the time he is done (he is bound to cross 10,000 runs overall). Thus, India will have had 3 of the top-10 batsmen of all time.

  • aubs on May 8, 2009, 6:05 GMT

    Great analysis Ananth! It always baffles me when an analysis like this based purely from numbers incites people to make accusations of bias or query the position of people in the list.

  • adnan on May 8, 2009, 6:04 GMT

    who is the most reliable test batsman, who provides you confidence that he will win the match for the team. is it miandad or tendulker or lara or anyone else. the fact is taht people just consider the number of runs scored by lara or tendulker or in case shewag but forgets that they hardly lead the team till end to win the match. but maindad was the man who was destined to do so and did through out his career and his average never dipped below 50. so i think analyst must consider the importance of man for the team win not his ability score runs which do not help teams to min. other man is inzamam ul haq whos 93% centuries are match winning centuries.

  • Kartik on May 8, 2009, 6:01 GMT

    While Richards was the best ODI batsman ever, he was not quite as good as a Test batsman.

    A couple of quickfire tons aside, his career average is below that of Chappell, Gavaskar, Border, and Miandad, all of whom played at the same time. Furthermore, they all had to face the West Indies pace attack, while Richards did not. In fact, Richard's opponents usually only had 1 or 2 good bowlers in their attacks, with the rest being subpar.

  • Kartik on May 8, 2009, 5:55 GMT


    When you did your ODI batsman ranking, you had both 'wins' and 'wins%' as parameters. But in Tests, you have neither. Howcome?

    I would think that at least this aspect of batsman calibre would be used uniformly across ODI rankings and Test rankings. [[ Kartik It has been incorporated in the Match Performance Analysis. I remember that there were a number of comments that the wins as a separate measure was inappropriate to assess batsmen. Ananth: ]]

  • Shafat on May 8, 2009, 5:48 GMT

    Wally Hammond was rated by the Wisden editor as the greatest after Bradman. It is probably more anomalous to have him at 22 than having Richards at 20.

    Even when discounting Hammond's performance in New Zealand in 1933, there is scope to argue for his two double centuries in Australia in 1928/9, another one in 1936/7 and the 240 in Ashes 1938. Clarrie Grimmett and Bill O'Reilly (the toughest bowler Bradman faced) were playing against him. His 60 at the Oval in 1930 is not far behind Hutton's 62* in 1952. Before 1934 Ashes, it was a point of contention whether Bradman or Hammond was the greatest batsman playing. If he had not played after WWII, he would have ended up averaging over 60 for 6800+ runs (less than 1000 against New Zealand and less than 500 against India).

  • Marcus on May 8, 2009, 5:44 GMT

    Just to the people who say that Bradman faced very few bowlers with 100 or more wickets- why is that relevant? I know I've gone on about the bowlers he faced before, but it should be pointed out that there was a war on which significantly cut into many players' careers- including those bowlers'. Plus, travel by steamshop took a lot longer than travel by jombo jet, therefore they played a lot less Tests back then, so of course they won't have taken many wickets!

    If it helps, look at the wickets/match they took. For the English bowlers, Bowes took 4.6, Farnes 4, Larwood and Voce about 3.7 each, Allen about 3.3. And it probably would have been a lot more if the English attitude to fast bowling wasn't quite so... gentlemanly.

    These were all outstanding bowlers, who'd have taken many more wickets had they played in any other era.

  • Narayanan Subramaniam on May 8, 2009, 5:25 GMT


    Excellent work as ever. I am sure revision 2 after taking in to account some excellent suggestions on this board would make it better.

    It would be interesting to see the end of career comparisons for all players. Would it make sense to take the top 50 and project the careers of those batsmen who are still playing. Repeating this exercise every few years would enable a comparison of the projected with the actuals.

    The other question I had is related to the sensitivity of the weights that you have allocated to the various aspects of the batsmen. What changes to the weights would completely change the table as it stands? [[ Nos 3 onwards are bunched so closely that just a slight tweaking of numbers would move them up and down. Ananth: ]]

  • redneck on May 8, 2009, 5:09 GMT

    the fact bradman never played a test outside england and aus seems to count against him in some peoples eyes! but given the standard going around in some other nations back then would that really have bought his avg down??? looking at some of the indian bowlers back then with the exception of nissar bowlers such as ranga sohoni, amar singh, & leggy c.s. nayudu. bradman would have dinned out on for sure meaning he probably would have reached and gone beyond 100 avg. same could be said if he had played in south africa and new zealand in his day.

  • Krishna on May 8, 2009, 5:00 GMT

    While it's an ok attempt at a very lofty goal, cold data and statistics will never give a true picture of the greatness of batsmen in a sport as complete as cricket (in it's technical, emotional and character dimensions). Which explains Sachin below Lara, Steve Waugh below KP and Sangakkara above Richards. Such comparisons are best left to the passionate public than stoic statisticians.

  • guru ghantal on May 8, 2009, 4:46 GMT

    All pakistani fans. Why Miandad is not included? If you minus Javed's average agains India, his average is way below 40. I think he got 1 lbw deci.against him in Pakistan where he was lbw 20 times.His away game average is low. He was tough good batsman but that's about it. Compare older players with newer players is just not fair. Nowdays, better equipments alone are worth 5-10 runs / inning. More gym facility nuitrition is huge advantage. Some 10/15 years ago, grounds were much bigger when Richards played. And he played without helmet.

  • Jay on May 8, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    Ananth, I feel the point of your post was to get attention at best or fan existing animosity among cricket fans from all around the globe at worst. I am sure you can take the abuses in your stride!

    No analysis can be perfect and therefore I appreciate the fact that you have stuck to the rules (the ones set by yourself).

    To rest of the readers (fans of various cricketers), I will reiterate Ananths point view the top 10 together. Theres not much to chose between them. Similarly 10-30, not much difference in class I guess.

    Hope I have made my point.

    Jay - Fan of good batting i.e. Sachin Tendulkar

  • David on May 8, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    My other suggestion (which could no doubt be improved, because I’m no statistician):

    Taking Border as the maximum no. of test innings (265) and his runs scored as the standard (11174), we can compare players using the following formula:

    (265/# inns.) x (runs scored/11174).

    This gives the following results for a few modern and old greats:

    Bradman: 2.07 Headley: 1.30 Hobbs: 1.26 Lara: 1.22 Tendulkar: 1.16 Richards: 1.11 Border: 1.00

    To keep the 15% weighting, you then give Bradman 15 points, and the others their proportion of 15, ie: Headley: 9.42 Hobbs: 9.13 Lara: 8.84 Tendulkar: 8.41 Richards: 8.04 Border: 7.25

    Then you would have to work out some other way to accommodate SR, otherwise the oldies have a 10% advantage (maybe some rough correlation can be devised between time batted and ave. overs/day to give an approximation of SR). [[ I get the drift of your thinking. Seems like a good idea worth taking forward. Ananth: ]]

  • David on May 8, 2009, 4:34 GMT

    Anand, thanks for pointing out the 15% runs scored weight. However even then, if, for example, you give Hobbs the same runs scored as Lara (which would be conservative, since they have a very similar runs/match score (Hobbs = 88; Lara = 91) yet Hobbs's career span was 5 years greater than Lara's), Hobbs would end up a clear #2 on the table with a total score of 61.08. This method would also push other oldies up the table: Sobers, Hutton, Headley, Weekes, Barrington.

    So I have another suggestion (cont'd ...)

  • KNM on May 8, 2009, 3:44 GMT

    @eddy, raiz ahmed,masud vorajee,gary,jamal khan,salman,saf etc :

    1)Eddy:"It's what most non-Indian fans have known for years and years and now youve backed it up with cold hard facts.” : well most non –indians such as bradman, benaud,woodcock, warne, Donald, akram,waughs,lara himself,sanga…etc zzzzzzz would disagree.

    2)Eddy: since mr ananth has apparently backed up your opinion with “cold hard facts” then the same facts point to Viv richards being the 20th “best”. With batsmen such as Ponting,Dravid,Kallis ,Border,Yousuf,Sangakarra, Sehwag all “better” batsmen than the King. Get the drift?

    3)Saf. And co.: since you’ve seen so much of lara( and how no bowler has dominated him etc, as if to say they've dominated Tendulkar) im surprised that you seem to recall lara dominating Donald and co. in the mid 90s. either you are imagining things or you think everone else in here is pretty lost.

  • Ananth on May 8, 2009, 3:40 GMT

    A request to the readers

    A few years back when I had created the Wisden-100, and this was released at Mumbai, most of the questions were "why no Tendulkar". It was a pity that Laxman's epic 281, which was placed at no.5, then, was not even mentioned by anyone.

    Similarly now people are forgetting the presence of three West Indians in the top-10. Headley (from 30s), Sobers (from 50s) and Lara (from 90s) are there, representing the great West Indian batting over the years. It was unfortunate that the other great West indian batsman, Richards (from 70s) is missing. My personal list would have Richards in the Top-10, but I have laid down the criteria and I cannot fudge those.

    Similarly, why crib about Tendulkar at no.3, why not be happy about the fact that three great Indian batsmen are in the Top-10.

    I have no problems with any adverse comments as long as you do not abuse me or any other reader, you do not put down great players and you do not write your complete comments in upper case letters (!!!)

  • David on May 8, 2009, 2:26 GMT

    1. The issue of favouring modern batsmen is related to Nilanjon Bhowmik's point about the number of tests per year they play. This significantly skews the "runs scored" measure. I suggest multiplying runs/test by career length (for G Pollock/B Richards, you could multiply by some fraction of first class career length, so they aren't disadvantaged by politics).

    2. To those who think Bradman knew nothing of pressure: Would SRT feel less pressure if India's population was only 500 mil? 250 mil? 50 mil? It's not population size that creates pressure, but intensity of support. Bradman experienced similar intensity - crowds at matches were bigger then (they have to fill Indian test stadiums with school kids) and they only went to see Bradman - they stopped watching when he got out; he embodied hope in the depression; everyone followed his performances (eg, in England once the full-page newspaper ad just said "He's out!").

    There is no rational way SRT can be ranked ahead of Bradman. [[ Both you and Nilanjon have made a good point. Some amount of rationalizing seems to be needed although it must be seen that I have kept the longevity-based runs scored weight to 15%. Ananth: ]]

  • redneck on May 8, 2009, 2:15 GMT

    great article! hope you do one on the bowlers like this! people who say sachin should have the weight of a billion people on his sholders factored in have got to be kidding! representing your nation is to have weight on your sholders regardless of your nations population! bradman carrying the weight and expectation of australia is no different to tendulker in india or lara in the west indies! i think the analysis is as perfect as can be with the top 3-4 undisputable! steve waugh cant be above ponting as his first few years were no where near as productive as pontings and he didnt avg a century every 7th time he went out to bat either and only 1 double century compaired to pontings 4. if it were a captain analysis yes steve waugh would head over heals on top of ponting. also those who believe sachin should be higher as he had to face more top ten wicket takers is a joke! how could bowlers from bradmans era take 700 wickets when the ammount of tests played then were so few!

  • hariharan on May 8, 2009, 2:14 GMT

    The article is informative. Comparison if made between players of the same era is right and not over 150 years. Playing conditions change. Bradman, Hobbs, Hutton etc. hardly played in the sub-continent. They mainly played fast bowling and spin really started in the 60's. The current players were literally pressurized to perform better day in and day out which I don't think was there say before the war. Not only in tests but also one day format. Did your table take into consideration of that. No mention of BARRY RICHARDS. He had only on series and what a series it was. An average of 70 plus. Was he to be blamed for apartheid. So how you can say that this table is correct. Even Kumble figures in the list. I can tell you that of those people who have read this column hardly a few would have heard or seen Bradman playing. By the way does this give any points for dropped or missed chances which, of course, should have been considered to be a great batsman. Hariharan

  • nalin on May 8, 2009, 2:12 GMT

    Good but debatable. It is extremely difficult to compare crickerters due to varying conditions. I have few comments regarding some who are supposed to be in the top Ten or close. Javed miandad ( who played against all the top quality bowler from WI, Aus, Eng, Ind, NZ) unlike Inzi and Yousuf. Greg Chappell, the Best Aus Batsmen after Don. IVA Richards, Steve Waugh. To me the best always give their best when in need and when the team is in trouble. They are capable of changing the match. In that regard Steve Waugh is better than most and Dravid Miandad are also not far behind. What about Andy Flower. He represented the weakest team in test cricket so he had to score against all the strong teams. The batting after 2000 is much easier as the pitches are very batting friendly and there are hardly any good bowlers around. Hayden struggled against Ambrose, Walsh, Ishant, Steyn & Zaheer but decimated all the ordinary bowlers. I can write 100 pages like this. But overall this article is good.

  • Travin on May 8, 2009, 1:51 GMT

    I would really like Cricinfo to do an analysis of Brian Lara against genuine fast bowling. Let me help you by stating Lara did not score a test match hundred against Akram & Younis - Pakistan or Allan Donald for South Africa. He got hundreds against these two sides much later in his career when their bowling attacks were quite average. Also, the 375 and 400 were scored on the flattest of batting tracks. Tendulkar took on Allan Donald in his prime in 1992 and scored a century! He took on Akram & Younis in 1999 and scored a century. He is a better player of genuine fast bowling and a better player in all conditions. Lara is very good against medium fast/spin bowling and on good batting tracks, he'll get big hundreds. As for the DON, it is near impossible to compare his record against modern cricketers, the game has evolved significantly in all facets to make a meaningful comparison.

  • Youvi on May 8, 2009, 1:42 GMT

    Ananth- Great work based on cold, hard facts. Have one curiosity about relative importance of playing on home grounds versus abroad. Why should that detract from a batsman's performance if bulk of runs were made on home grounds if opposition is a quality one. Suspect you are already at work on a statistics-based bowlers list. Lillee and Thompson, for example, great bowlers but did bulk of their playing in Australia followed by England where conditions may be more conducive. Snow of England reportedly refused to tour India because during those days Indian spinners would come on in the third over with no help for fast bowlers so Snow presumably did not want to play on such grounds. In the subcontinental context there is quite a bit of emphasis placed on being successful abroad, probably more so than other countries do. Admittedly, past Indian teams were largely unsuccessful playing on foreign grounds. I would think quality of bowling (or batting) is more critical than home versus away.

  • Ananth on May 8, 2009, 1:38 GMT

    Sherry: I am indeed surprised at your comment that Dravid has not made a single winning score. What about 180 vs Aus, 148 vs Eng, 233 vs Aus and 270 vs Pak, all made in winning cause. Just 4 innings which come to the mind.

    Rob: I am surprised to see your comment on Sutcliffe and your statement on "favourite players included" conveniently ignoring the fact that Hobbs, his partner is in the Top-5. Hobbs' average got adjusted more because of pre-ww1 playing.

    Shankar: You give the impression that I set out to put specific players up. It so happened that Richards was in 20th place and I left it at that. It would have been easy to get him to the Top-10. I did not do that since I have to be true to my methodology. If it is flawed, it will be corrected. However pl do not ascribe ulterior motives to my work.

    Also may I ask, just taking one batsman from your list, what is wrong with Sehwag ahead of Richards. And end of 2010, if (I repeat if) Gambhir has scored 4000 runs at 60.00, what is wrong with Gambhir ahead of Richards.

  • anish on May 8, 2009, 1:37 GMT

    hi ananth...

    good work done...i think ur analysis is spot on...except for lara above sachin...lara played many match winning innings for sure...but he was very inconsistent...he could look a prince one moment and a pauper the next...lara can never bring the calmness to the dressing room the way a sachin...or even a dravid does...these are the guys who would make people relax...with lara...the next batsman must always be padded up...coz u never know...but its another matter that on his day...lara is even better than bradman...but that cant be the measuring stone of greatness...i think sachin deserves to be ahead of lara...and considering the fact that lara never had to face two of the most iconic fast bowlers of their time...ambrose and walsh...makes it more in favour towards sachin...i mean...just imagine what sachin or dravid could have done if he got to face guys like prasad...srinath...etc..i mean...they could stay @ the pitch for i rate sachin above B.C.Lara any day...

  • Ananth on May 8, 2009, 1:36 GMT

    Ashik: Your suggestions are good. I may look at doing a follow-up reducing Strike Rate and % of Team score and including Consistency, in an acceptable form.

    KSJ: Lara's 400 carried a Match Performance Rating value of 69.3 points and Steve Waugh's 200 secured 60.9 points. So you can see that the runs scored are not the sole criteria.

    Jack: I apologize for not reading in full your comments on consistency and giving a simplistic explanation. Your method is clearly workable. Let me see whether I could include the same.

    Owais: This analysis does not crown a batsman as best or second best. It is only an attempt to put the numbers in perspective. For a serious shot at that, I would do a poll of all Test Cricketers and writers and do a tabulation. Let me assure you that that table will generate 1000 times these comments.

    Yogesh: As you have rightly suggested maybe I should separate the table by eras. I should draw a line at 1946 and do Pre-ww2 and Post-ww2 tables.

    Doshi: 4th innings scores are covered by Match status and runs made in a winning cause are also covered by Match result in the Match Performance calculations.

  • Fan on May 8, 2009, 1:33 GMT

    Good job Ananth! it's hard to encompass so many factors, eras,players, etc. and have a perfect/ unchallenged result. - fair parameters, reasonable adjustments = workable system

    1. % of team score has to be a factor! how else could a batsman distinguish himself from batting team mates, and then contend for greatest ever if he contributed the same as his team mates!

    2. no problem with the top 3!

    3. ponting too high! what's his avg like after the langer/hayden shield disappeared?

    4. Lara above Sachin in Tests! I agree...even Murali said so. - none greater than lara in his pomp! - on consistency, maybe sachin ahead. - but the fear of lara putting you in the record books...perhaps bowlers would give lara the edge. - I wonder who the Test captains would say was easier to contain...BCL or SRT?

    5. more consideration to opening bats... starting against the best at their freshest, with a new ball...

    I look fwd to the bowlers ratings

  • Prashant on May 8, 2009, 0:53 GMT

    Ananth,david etc.

    "David: Thanks for pointing out that Lara's best ever efforts, 153*, 213, 277 have been against McGrath & co."

    Mcgrath made his debut against WI in 95.also in 98 he was hardly an alltime great or some such. your bias towards lara is understandable,but assuming that others around will simply accept such one sided nonsense is not.

    I have already mentioned that this is effectively a case of Ananth clearly stating that lara is his favourite "Lara's second position again should not surprise any one. Playing for a weak team...etc etc" then he simply goes about collecting selective stats which will support his premeditated conclusion.

  • Lilian Voges on May 8, 2009, 0:44 GMT

    Good work but wrong results nevertheless. Tendulkar is not going down below 2nd, that's the lowest he goes. Richards is not going down below the 4th. Ponting, Hayden etc. ahead of Richards is laughable. Number crunching got you good results but not quite.

  • Avi Singh on May 8, 2009, 0:41 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Tough analysis, I can't say I totally agree with the list as for me Sachin is ahead (just) of Lara but still well done for undertaking this exercise. However, with regards to Richards at 20, you feel that he did not face the greatest attack of his time, because obviously this was his own side's. However, do you feel that it is fair that a player is penalised for factors out of his control? I say this because this 'best attack' condition immediately adavntages players who were not in the great West Indian or Australian sides.

    Also just wondering what impact (if any) the recent HoldingWilley analysis of India's Top 20 Test cricketers of all time had on yours when placing the Indian batsmen, as they had Dravid at #1, Gavaskar at #2 & Tendulkar at #4, placing a high emphasis on contributions in matches won. Thoughts?

  • Ashik Uzzaman on May 8, 2009, 0:36 GMT

    Good work by you Ananth. Few points to check though -

    1) The weightage for strike rate, to my opinion should be 5 instead of 10. 2) You should use consistency as a parameter with 5 points weight. 3) The team score part, even if given any weight, should be minimal because from current time Indian and Austrlians will be hugely looser while West Indies players will be hugely gainer by this. For older times, the team name will only change but this will hold true.

    Looking forward to see if you make further adjustments on this ranking.

  • Divya on May 8, 2009, 0:31 GMT

    There is one thing to be noted though, the fact that Tendulkar and Dravid (and later Sehwag) have played together for more than a decade now should allow for some concession to Tendulkar being below Lara.

  • Pipe on May 8, 2009, 0:11 GMT

    Not all batsmen play for records.... Putting "W" in the right place is what they live for and Oh putting "F" (as in fear) in the bowlers head too .... Y'all know who I am talking about.. And this does not even include Packer Series where if I recall correctly the best of the breed was murdered for 3 centuries in 4 tests with an avg > 100 - just because you are the best player in WI does not mean you did not face the best bowlers - we talkin about bowlers who inflicted 5-1 wash of the great windies. And i dont give a crap for any score in this decade like others pointed out.

    Viv is da King and will always be...

    And all analysis please use 5GPF

  • Rob Cundall on May 7, 2009, 23:41 GMT

    My surprise in the statistics si a complete absence of Herbert Sutcliffe who partnered Hobbs in many partnerships for England. Played many times against Australia and averged over 60. He was a known player on bad pitches as well as scoring many runs on good as well. David Gower scored many runs for England at a very good average and should also be represented here and Geoff Boycott who scored lots of runs against good Australian sides. Further what about Allan Border a renowned fighter in the weakened Aussie sides of the 1980's. Something wrong I think with the analysis. Only favourites seem to have been considered.

  • Ray on May 7, 2009, 23:33 GMT

    A list without Steve Waugh is doubtful. Its not only the runs, but the situation that you score in - Waugh for me is a better batsmen than most. Gower and Greenidge are very low - Gambhir above Gower? And how can Yunus Khan, Mohammad Yusuf or for that matter Inzamam be higher than Javed Miandad? Maybe Inzamam's case can be argued, but I'd take Javed over these three any day. Aamir Sohail and Rameez above Srikant?? (I am Pakistani..). And Rameez above Imran Khan?

  • Sherry on May 7, 2009, 23:25 GMT

    The only thing made this chart less interesting was that Great Viv is on No.20 I mean come on do you ever watched real cricket besides collecting records and doing these calculations? Every bowler in 70's and 80's was afraid of the Master Blaster.And i do agree with Aussie_Bob about ruling out Steve Waugh from the list and putting a boring batsman like Dravid in the list who as far as i think, never played a match winning knock. while Waugh has dozens

  • Naren on May 7, 2009, 22:42 GMT

    And to the question of who's better.. Sachin or Lara: I don't care for this hair-splitting. Both are darn good and worth going a zillion miles to watch. I sometimes wonder what might have been if Lara had is head under control all the time...

  • Zeeshan Ahmed on May 7, 2009, 22:40 GMT

    Once again excellent. Dear Prasad Shah. 1. Sir Bradman batting average is almost 100, this is the fact. 2. Bradman faced only six bowlers who took 100 or more. 3. For leading 50 bowlers all-time in test, he faced only one bowler Alec Bedser. For leading 35 bowlers, he faced none of them. 4. For leading 150 wicket takers only seven in which Voce took 98 wickets in career. 5. He played more than 70% of his career against England, that is only one team. Near to 30% against other teams with batting average 141 against them. 6. Lara runs per inning against England is 58.49 and Bradman 79.81 with so many timeless matches. It means ratio stand 1 : 1.36 but Lara faced England 1/7. If Lara scores 5000 runs against England then Bradman 6825, not more. 7. Lara runs per inning at home versus England is 71.45 and Bradman 71.33 with presence of so many timeless matches. 7. Bradman from 1931 to 17 Dec 1936, not even faced one bowler with 100 or more wickets in test. Now choice is your own.

  • Naren on May 7, 2009, 22:38 GMT

    Ananth and team, this is an excellent analysis. Thank you for this mammoth effort.

    As some readers have commented, inadvertantly to confuse watchability with hard consistent match performance is natural, but numbers if cut right, could speak the real story. I am sure this analysis can do with a bit of fine tuning. Some of the issues are mentioned already. One of the questions I have is the real merit of upgrading or downgrading averages. As playing conditions have changed batsmen and bowlers have adapted. Bowlers have discovered new weapons to counter the better maintenance and hence lower menace levels of pitches.. for example, reverse swing, doosra, carrom ball etc. I think every era has come to terms with playing conditions faced, Therefore adjusting averages is questionable. It might amount to punishing an era that has a better performing collective of batsmen... This could be tested with actual average Test Match totals in those periods where averages have been adjusted...

  • shankar krishnan on May 7, 2009, 22:13 GMT

    Reason why Viv Richards made only "very few" runs in 121 tests is because his bowlers allowed him only 182 innings.Lara helped himself to 232 innings from only 131 tests! Who knows how many more runs Richards would have made if he had another 50 innings to bat without any pressure of having to make runs relevant to his team's chances of winning the game & instead lead his side to the depths of cricketing despair?

    Without touching Bradman (no one can dare), some nifty number crunching can ensure any one of the top 5 or 6 could be made the 2nd best ever batsman.

    Kallis, Yousuf, Sangakkkara, Sehwag ahead of Richards? Another couple of years, who knows who will climb higher in this list. Maybe, Gambhir/ Cook.

    The world's all-time 20th best ever batsman (as of now, that is) did manage to make a few runs and entertained a few fans along the way. He did not carry the burden of a billion nor did he make those triple hundreds. I will be glad if he doesn't climb any higher in this list.

  • Gaurang on May 7, 2009, 22:06 GMT

    Great analysis. But Bradman is not so much ahead of the other two as the statistical analysis reveal. There is absolutely no way he could ever be 25 % ahead of the next batsman due to a number of reasons. specifically the huge difference in the eras... .the number of teams, different pitches, grounds, travel, amount of cricket involved, forms of cricket involved, amount of analysis done on the strength and weaknesseses, cameras, quality and variety of spin and fast bowling, the fielding (I doubt we had a jonty rhodes type fielder in those days to catch bradman out!) lastly it pains me to see richards down the list. No amount of statistical analysis can put a tendulkar lara or richards in perspective!

  • Anand on May 7, 2009, 21:51 GMT

    Ananth, I am a great fan of your analyses, but for once I have to express my surprise here. I am shocked not to see Javed Miandad. His test average never dropped below 50 (how many can beat that?), scored runs at a fairly quick pace, faced the 80's WI bowlers (quality of bowling faced) featured in many of Pakistan's wins and much more. Can you mention how many points he scored? Lara being ahead of Tendulkar does not bother me as Lara has played some scintillating innings which Sachin cannot boast of (400*, 375, 277, 212, 153* in the 4th innings, 688 against SL in 3 tests and what not). I also personally felt that Vib Richards did not do justice to his talent as far as his performance in tests go. One can quote the 56 ball 100, but how often has he come in to bat under pressure? An innings against India in Delhi comes into mind where he scored 109* while chasing 276 (WI went on to win). But u probably have more examples for Lloyd and Gomes. Kudos to your efforts, but still no Javed..??

  • Doshi on May 7, 2009, 21:44 GMT

    I think if you include runs scored in winning cause and no of runs in 4th innings and see how it affects the ranking..Just a thought..

    Great article anyway

  • Shiva Gopalakrishnan on May 7, 2009, 21:32 GMT

    Dear Ananth,

    I think a statistical comparison of modern day players and players of the past is inherently flawed.

    Don Bradman, with all due respect, played only in England and Australia. Where as modern day players like Tendulkar, Lara, Ponting, Waugh et al have proved their pedigree vastly differing conditions across continents.

    Also the game has transformed over the century. The players in the past did not have to face the acute scrutiny by opposition (both bowlers and batsmen) through hours of video footage.

    Similarly the today we do not play on uncovered, under prepared pitches as well. I feel the game has evolved far too much to make any such statistics valid.

    Even ODI cricket has completely changed character in the course of 10-15 years. When I was a kid 220 - 250 was a par, probably good score and today its barely defendable.

    regards Shiva

  • smasher79 on May 7, 2009, 21:22 GMT

    Mr Ananth, with due respect i would like to say that your analysis is devastatingly flawed. As you can see 80% of your readers agree with it. Statistics only give you assumptions not logic my friend. Its time to remove your flawed list and re-engineer it. Secondly i would like to suggest that a batsmen shouldnt be judged on how many runs or 100s he scored, he should be judged on the basis of his performances against quality in pressure situations. Having said that i believe that don and lara sachin and ponting are def worthy of their slots, but some ppl like dravid dont deserve to be in the top 10. Exchange his position with the great sir viv. Sehwag is an odd one n top 20. Adjust him in the 30,s somewhere. Yusuf and dravid should be 21 and 22 respectively. And i cant believe you included gambhir in this list. The kid just started and he is already a legend :) Unbelievable. About ppl being biased towards the new lot. Rightly so. Wait till careers finish and then analyse them.

  • Richard Hopes on May 7, 2009, 21:14 GMT

    It is so dishearting to read of all those bias Indians who think that Sachin was better than Lara, for your information the artcle was well written by an Asian and guess what, the best spinner of all times an Asian Murali said that the best bats who bowled against and feared most was Lara, what else can convince you bias Indians? I am Aussie and give Lara his dues and Bradman got...

  • Tahir on May 7, 2009, 21:08 GMT

    there are so many greats but why there is no inzamam ul haq he was the one of the best batsman too. he had saved so many test matches for Pakistan and about 18 of his centiries came in wining form. he was also good at pacing the iniging at the rite time. most of the time when no other batsman were clicking he was the one to stand there and save the test.

  • safwan on May 7, 2009, 21:07 GMT

    all such analysis will always have an element of flaw because of the variables they are dependant upon....u cant just come up with the 20 best test batsmen based on variables that u chose urself...!!!

  • Yogesh on May 7, 2009, 21:01 GMT

    This is a nice analysis, but would have been much more welcomed had it been differentiated between eras. I accept the fact that Bradman played in uncovered pitches without helmets and stuff.However, had u watched the India-Australia series in Jan2008 when RichieBenaud came for a talk, he said that bowlers didn't have a clue about the weakness of Bradman. Had Lara or Sachin played in that era, they would have also achieved similar feats simply bcoz of the fact that technology has provided means of identifying weaknesses in this era. And this table will just not be sufficient however detailed it is, simply bcoz of the various factors that just cant be measured. Expectation factor is one. Also, whoever says that lara had a weak team and sachin didn't shud reread their facts. Sachin was the only mainstay in the Indian batting lineup in the 90s. Compare it with lara whose career started in 95 under the likes of richards, haynes, hooper etc and great bowling attack that was present till '02.

  • Chris on May 7, 2009, 21:01 GMT

    I would like, first, to commend the ambition and analytical rigour of the author; his feats of statistic gymnastics never cease to amaze. I would, however, like to add the following observation; the list disproportionately favours "modern" batsmen, playing on more docile pitches, with greater legal and physical protection, standards of preparation, and against bowlers enfeebled by the sheer quantity of cricket played and lack of aid from pitches. I suspect that, had the analysis taken account of average batting statistics from respective eras, notwithstanging obvious minnows, more "great" batsmen from cricketing history might find their rightful place. However, I would also question the merits of this exercise as the sole determiner of "greatness". The point, surely, of greatness, is that it is an amalgam of the quantative and the qualitative; hence, this list would no doubt place the likes of Laxman or Atherton very low, yet both have played memorable, "great", innings more than once

  • Ganesh Narine on May 7, 2009, 20:57 GMT

    It is very interesting to review all of the inidvidual comments about the greatest cricketers of all time. Sure Bradman is considered the greatest. Sobers was magnificent and the argument about which of Lara or Tendulkar is better will cross the minds and cause problems for cricket lovers for quite some time. I like Lara over Tendulkar but agree that they are both very special. It is clear that even though we may like one over the other it does nothing to alter the facts as stated. I wish to plug for VVS Laxman, Alvin Kallicharran, Rohan Kanhai and David Gower as well as Gerg Chappell, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbass, Aravinda DaSilva and Inzimam Ul Haq as they all missed out.

  • chestnutgray on May 7, 2009, 20:54 GMT

    Very detailed and exhaustive analysis which brings up many crap players like Kallis, Ponting, Yusuf , Sehwag and Hayden above the greatest player of all time-King Richards.

  • AR on May 7, 2009, 20:53 GMT

    Prashanth, those things are part of the game - easy drops, unbelievable catches. You may remember that with Tendulkar on 90 odd Moin Khan missed a regulation stumping off Saqlain ;).

  • Marsh on May 7, 2009, 20:53 GMT

    Just glancing at the list of top 20 - 9 are either still playing or only recently retired. Over 132 years this seems rather skewed to me. Does this reflect a current high standard of batsmen, or is it a methodology flaw?

  • Owais on May 7, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    Although an interesting analysis. I would not take it too seriously. The factors that you have conveniently ignored as "non-measurables" like covered pitches, helmets, better technology especially in case bats. No wonder around 50% of the these batsmen are either still playing or only recently retired from test cricket. I think in today's cricket most odds are stacked against bowlers.

  • Terrance Worrell on May 7, 2009, 20:20 GMT

    What is all the fuss about. Forget the stats. I have never seen the Don but Lara is sheer class - poetry in motion. The man is just the greatest even in facing one ball. The reaction to bowlers in getting him out is like they just won the New York Lotto. If you line up the top 20 batsmen in the world and you ask kids to seek out their autographs you would need police control for Lara's line - Indian kids and all. Just ask Murali. Lara is the greatest of all time.

  • Amer on May 7, 2009, 19:57 GMT

    Ananth - Great work. How did you determine the bowling attack quality? If its based on stats then it is dependent on the batting quality - It kind of becomes like a feed back loop.

  • Prasad Shah on May 7, 2009, 19:54 GMT

    Ananth - Right from the beginning you chose to give highest weighting to Average knowing fully well that Bradman has the highest (and you are allowed to do so because it is your right). How would the list look if you gave highest weight to * number of runs scored OR * number of grounds played in OR * % of runs made against spinners and pace bowlers

    Just a thought. Thanks again.

  • Prasad Shah on May 7, 2009, 19:47 GMT

    Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui Thanks for putting my point more elegantly. Bradman didn't face quality bowlers and fielders as Ponting, Lara and SRT.

    Ananth - You asked me to make "cricketing" comments but conveniently ignored my logic about fit fielders, variety of bowling attack and third-umpiring. But thanks for your research. This surely is lot of back-breaking work and one of its kind.

  • Apoorv Singhal on May 7, 2009, 19:43 GMT

    Measure greatness with statistics? Quite a fruitless exercise.. So Mr. Ananth, the expectations of a billion people count for nothing? What about the tennis elbow injury that cost Sachin time and form? What is the difference between Sachin batting in front of an empty stand in a match that has no significance, knowing that no one is watching.. and batting in the semi final of the 1996 world cup, with 1.1 lakh people chanting "Sachin,Sachin.." in the stadium, knowing that millions all over the world are watching, knowing that the hopes of india getting to 252 start and end with him? The least we mortals can do Mr. Ananth is not to insult any great batsman by defining him with stats.

  • jack on May 7, 2009, 19:34 GMT

    Also Ananth, what are your thoughts in the following: "Ananth, percentage of total score is contingent heavily on how heavily the others around you can score, so there is a lot in it that you as a batsman simply cannot help. Rather, in cases where the batsman in question is the captain of the team, it could just mean that his team mates consider him to be selfish and hence are not inspired by him, but that is a subjective point. Fact of the matter is, when you have two other batsmen in the team who average above fifty (in Tendulkar's case, Dravid and Sehwag) how would you ever expect the batsman in question to come out trumps in the %TS? It certainly needs to be revisited."


  • ksjayhawk on May 7, 2009, 19:33 GMT

    This blog goes to show how statistics can be misleading. It makes absolutely no sense that Steve Waugh is not in the top 20 (he should be in the top 10, really), while Hayden, Yousuf and Ponting are. Also, did you take into account the strength/weakness of the opposition bowlers? If you did, Lara's 375 and 400 would not count for as many points as Waugh's 200 (against WI), or his 160 (against SAF).

  • jack on May 7, 2009, 19:32 GMT

    Ananth Wrote, “Jack: Consistency is not necessarily a virtue. 20 & 20 is a wonderful example of a consistent batsman. Contrast that with 80 & 0.” Ananth, I suggested “batsman’s average +/- five runs”, clearly, we are talking about innings of close to 50 runs, and not 20! Also, I did not talk about 50&50 (average & average i.e.), although it is very creditable feat in itself, I rather proposed weighing in the number of 50s that the player scored every ten consecutive innings all through his career. Majority of the cricket followers would agree that this type of consistency helps more than most things in cricket!! Just look at how hard a time the players with averages over 50 have maintaining their average at any given time. That shows how hard it is, much harder than scoring a 20&20! (80+0+50)/3=43.33<50! A batsman who scores heavily couple times and goes to sleep for the next four months, even more in Lara’s case, is not that great! Probably great in patches and very good overall!!

  • Kamran on May 7, 2009, 18:27 GMT

    Thanks for your pity for Pakistan by keeping Mohammad Yusuf in the list of players. Yet you ignore the fact that just recently announced Miandad as on of the greatest batsmen to play cricket. Thank you so much for the charity!!!

  • pranav on May 7, 2009, 18:26 GMT

    Hi Ananth. While I must say that the analysis you have carried out is worthy of adulation, there are a couple of points where i dont agree with you. first and foremost, i dont think it is fair to rate a batsman based on the percentage of the team's total runs scored by him. Secondly, i can't seem to fathom why you are giving so much weightage to batsmen who played for the 'weak' teams of their resopective eras; isn't it true that in world beating team there is constant pressure to perform, or else perish? Hope you take my criticism constructively.

  • Samrat on May 7, 2009, 18:17 GMT

    There is an obvious flaw in the methodology adopted. It does not account (or rather discount) for the bowling quality of the batsman's own team. If the bowling is non-penetrative, a batsman may score thousands of runs and still will be on the losing side. This biases the data in favour of Lara more than Tendulkar, as he was supported by a better bowling attack than Tendulkar for most of his career.

  • Ender on May 7, 2009, 18:11 GMT

    The insistence of some truly parochial Indian fans to claim Tendulkar is better than Bradman is ludicrous. There is no other word to describe it. Bradman is the greatest Test batsman of all time. That's not an opinion, that's fact. Bradman's batting average is incomparable. Tendulkar is a great player, but to say he is better than the Don is actually to do him a disservice, because any non-Indian fan of the game knows that this is patently untrue. It makes them focus on Tendulkar's weaknesses, instead of his strengths. Be happy that Tendulkar is basically tied with Lara as the second best Test batsman of all time, and don't diminish his achievements by comparing them to the greatest Test batsman who ever lived, because nobody can stand up to that. Tendulkar is the greatest batsman playing today, Bradman is the greatest batsman to ever pick up a cricket bat. The real question is not whether Bradman is the best Test batsman of all time, but whether he's the greatest sportman period.

  • arijit dasgupta on May 7, 2009, 18:09 GMT

    Only one of Sachin's 10 hundreds against Australia came against McGrath (in 1999 in Australia); eight of Lara's 9 did (lone exception: the 277 in 1992-93 that came before McGrath's debut). So much for Lara's perceived inability to play Pigeon.

  • bismoy das on May 7, 2009, 18:06 GMT

    everyone forgeting one fact, what if tendulkar score the unthinkable 100 centuries. hope that will put everything to rest that who is the greatest batman in cricket(odi+test) sachin god tendulkar.

  • bismoy das on May 7, 2009, 18:06 GMT

    everyone forgeting one fact, what if tendulkar score the unthinkable 100 centuries. hope that will put everything to rest that who is the greatest batman in cricket(odi+test) sachin god tendulkar.

  • M. Omair on May 7, 2009, 17:40 GMT

    I think it is nice article again. In my opinion LARA IS THE BEST. He comprises of each and every thing like technique, elegant, records holder, big knocks, tackling of pressure of game, scored against main strikers and then he arranged 11953 runs totally in test, quality to play spinners as well as fast bowlers, runs in every continents, ability to create master piece innings as well like 400, 375, 277, 226, 221+130, 213 and 153. Some one said he was weak against McGrath, if he weak how he managed 9 centuries and 11 half centuries against them in which three are double hundred ( no batsmen have scored three double hundreds against strong Australia). Lara runs per inning is 71.45 at home versus England which is more than Bradman runs per inning at home versus England 71.33. Give timeless matches, mat over concrete pitches, long distance fielding with only opponent strong. I think he will change runs per inning 71.45 to 115 or more. Bradman faced only six bowlers who took 100 or more

  • Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on May 7, 2009, 17:30 GMT

    Excellent and Remarkable once again! In my opinion Lara is the best. Reason is that Lara played cricket on 45-50 different grounds against 45-50 bowlers took more than 100 wickets in which seven teams are strong. In Bradman case he played on ten different grounds with absence of Perth and only six bowlers took 100 or more. Bradman career span was 1928-1948. In six bowlers three came after world war II. One just before it, one died during it and remaining one left cricket in 1930 against Australia. He played cricket in two countries only. He was not as elegant as Lara was. Lara runs per inning against England is 58.49 and Bradman 79.81 against England but Lara faced England one out of seven. Bradman half career is timeless. Bradman faced only one leg break bowler in leading 15 wicket takers of leg spin that is Wright. Lara faced five to six bowlers out of 15. Bradman faced only one bowler in leading 50 wicket takers and in 150 wicket takers only seven, Lara 45-50 in 150 bowlers.

  • Michael on May 7, 2009, 17:29 GMT

    Just a suggestion for a possible future analysis - after having had the worst individual batsman, what about the worst tail (numbers 8-11 combined)? I reckon Caddick, Mullally, Tufnell and Giddins would be pretty hard to beat. [[ Good idea. Will look at it. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on May 7, 2009, 17:29 GMT

    Suman: Don't forget that a lot of the comments which are being made of Richards, including yours, are applicable to ODI matches where he was, without exception, the king.

    Raman: Good idea. Will try this later.

    Julian: Who says that Hammond is excluded. He is 22nd in the table. However, he scored 336* & 227 (averaging 563) against a New Zealand attack which was below that of a club "B" level. These are facts. He has also scored many runs against other weak attacks.

    Yogesh: The required adjustments have been made. Gambhir's average of 54.07 has been reduced by 6% to 50.7. However I will agree that there seems to be a bias towards recent players.

  • Ananth on May 7, 2009, 17:28 GMT

    Prasad: It is time you get off your obsession that everyone is out to prove the "myth" that Bradman was the greatest. No one, certainly not myself, has set out to do such a thing. It is you who has this chip on your shoulder. My suggestion is that you make cricketing comments and get this mythical monkey off your back. Also the bowlers Bradman faced were Larwood, Bowes, Voce, Tate, Verity, Alec Bedser, Laker, Mankad et al. A poor collection, is it ???

    Jack: Consistency is not necessarily a virtue. 20 & 20 is a wonderful example of a consistent batsman. Contrast that with 80 & 0.

    Shri: Headley is in the top-10 despite playing in only 22 matches.

    Arjun: Match performance has been explained in the article. Also why should Gambhir's match performance be above that of Tendulkar and Laxman, who, let me add one of my favourite batsmen, underperforms frequently.

    David: Thanks for pointing out that Lara's best ever efforts, 153*, 213, 277 have been against McGrath & co.

    Dawar: This is a Test analysis and not a ODI anal

  • sarath on May 7, 2009, 17:24 GMT

    And Lara scored 1 50 against SA attack on 90's . his double came against a very weak SA attack in 2003-04. Sachin's 169 at cape town in 96, 111 and 113 in perth and PE in 91,92 at a very young age on 300-350 run pitches match pretty well against lara's 182 and 131 in adel and perth. Lara had two doubles in oz and still averages 40(though a fair no. of them are horrendous decisions but so does sachin) and sachin's 241 is equally good. he striked at 55 and he was second fiddle to laxman. thats good enough anyday! And he has 9 100's in SA and oz and 4 more in england and his record certainly better than Lara's in all these places. SL lara outscores but sachin still avgs more than 60! Sachin averaged 60 in WI against ambrose and walsh but he played only 5 tests! And he played wasim and waqar only 7 times in test, 4 aged 16 when he was far from finished though still intl class and 3 in 99. Includes a gem of 136 which is as good as Lara's 153*. lara was dropped of Mcgra wit 5 to win. Luck!

  • arijit dasgupta on May 7, 2009, 17:19 GMT

    Brilliant analysis. Lara scored more runs per innings than most batsmen apart from Bradman; the reason his average isn't higher is that once the sixth wicket fell and the tail came in, he threw his bat at everything instead of trying to remain not out.

  • Yogesh on May 7, 2009, 17:13 GMT

    Ananth, Though a massive undertaking, i think there is a fundamental flaw in your analysis. It seems to be heavily biased towards modern-day batsmen. There is something seriously wrong with it when you have 9 of the Top 20 from 90s & 2000s. And when you look further the bias is even more obvious. GR Vishwanath comes at 85 and Gambhir comes at 38. This is simply not correct. I have to read in more detail before pointing out where possibly you have gone wrong. But still i appreciate the detailed analysis. I personally find that some of your statistics unrelated to greatest/consistent batsmen/bowler more interesting and more meaningful. It is just that i am against statistics as "THE INDICATOR" of greatnes. For ex. the one on par score in T20s was interesting. I would like to see a par score in ODIs through the decades and in particular respecting changes in ODI rules too. I think also, you need to do it country-wise for it to make any sense. May be for tests also.

  • sarath on May 7, 2009, 17:12 GMT

    I am surprised that lara is higher than sachin. sachin averages same at home and overseas, lara and ponting have a substantial difference. I always thought Lara was as great a batsman as sachin but more devastating in a longer innings but he wouldn't quite surpass him statistically.

  • N D on May 7, 2009, 16:46 GMT

    Such lists can never do justice to players because you can't always quantify a batsman's worth by his runs. I'm not just talking about intangibles like leadership qualities, grit, playing through injury, good locker-room presence, etc. Bradman never had to go globe-trotting like modern day cricketers, never had to switch mindsets between different forms of cricket in a short time frame, was not subjected to intense technical scrutiny using computer models, or , last but not least, did not have to carry the hopes and aspirations of a billion people.

  • Julian on May 7, 2009, 16:41 GMT

    How does it go ? "Lies, damned lies and statistics" ! Unless I'm missing something the exclusion of Graeme Pollock is outrageous. He has the second highest career average of all time and all his runs were scored against Australia and England - admitedly in a short career but so what? He should certainly be in the top three in anyone's rankings. The exclusion of Hammond under the excuse he scored most of his runs "against weaker teams" is also absurd. Hammond scored 40% of his runs against Australia and had an average of 61.9 in Australia with 7 hundreds. There must be other serious omissions. For all the endeavour the survey gives a rather skewed picture unfortunately.

  • sarith on May 7, 2009, 16:29 GMT

    Sangakkara is the 17th all time batsman. That's all I care about

  • Vatsa on May 7, 2009, 16:14 GMT

    Ananth Sir, Amazing article, considering the assumptions made. Like a number of folks who have commented, I think it would be difficult to identify the "best" using any form of analysis. The Top 3 (assuming Bradman, Lara, Sachin ... in alpha order) ... The Top 10-15 (probably Waugh, Ponting, Richards, Hobbs, Gavaskar, Dravid, Miandad, Greg Chappell ... ) can be bunched together in no particular order.

    The game of pining order is always risky with people agreeing on the whole analysis.

  • Raman on May 7, 2009, 16:14 GMT

    Ananth, Great Analysis. Would it be possible to analyze batsmen's performance against a set of top bowlers in their era. Batsmen of the 70s and the 80s performing against two or three of the following in the same attack they faced in an innings and add those runs(Marshall, Holding, Roberts, Garner, Croft, Daniel, Holder, Sylvaster Clarke, Lillee, Thompson, Pascoe, Hogg, Hadlee, Imran Khan, Safraz Nawaz, Abdul Qadir, Kapil Dev, Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Willis, Botham, Underwood, Snow). And maybe, a similar exercise against the bowling greats of the 90s and 2000s).

  • Dinesh Bhagavath on May 7, 2009, 15:53 GMT

    My Top 3 would be (excluding Don Bradman of course)would be Alan Border,Brian Lara and Sunil Gavaskar and probably I will be tempted to include Sachin as the 4th.

    Regards Dinesh

  • Saf on May 7, 2009, 15:52 GMT

    I firmly believe that watching Lara and Tendulkar for nearly 15 years (mostly test matches) I believe Lara should be regarded as the best batsman of 1990s and early 2000s. I watched Lara play against the most deadly fast bowling attack (Wasim & Waqar in their hay days) and against South African Attacks of 1990s and also the way he played against warne and murli in srilanka it proves he has been the best. His 9 double hundreds against top bowling attacks and his 2 triple hundreds. When I saw Tendulkar play against the two Ws, Allan Donald, Mcgrath, murli, Ambrose & Walsh I didnt think he dominated them. Also the fact that Lara played on the wickets which are much tougher to score compared to Tendulkar who has scored most of his Big hundreds in Indian Batting wickets. Also Lara won more test matches for his country singlehandedly compared to Tendulkar makes his the best batsmen of past 15 years. Also generally Tendulkar has struggled against Mcgrath too when Mcgrath was at his Best.

  • salman on May 7, 2009, 15:47 GMT

    well very true. the analysis are very true, precise and honest. there is no doubt that lara has to be the second after bradmna. The performance of Lara against strong bowling teams like south africa, australia, england and pakistan is for sure a reason why he is rated so high and then the role which he playedd in the success and winning of his team is amazing. Yes sachin is also a great player but he has never been a match winner where as Lara has single handedly won matches for his country against teams like Australia and England. Secondly if you compare record of Lara and Sachin in "away matches" so you will find that Lara has a far greater record. Now if we look at some devastating bolwers of our time, like shoaib akhtar, bret lee, mcgrath, wasim, waqar, murli, shane warne etc so no one of them has ever dominated Lara apart from Shoaib akhtar in a few matches, but on the other hand Sachin has always been dominated in one or the other match by atleast one of the above bowlers.

  • Suman Ray on May 7, 2009, 15:28 GMT


    I read it once again. Such a good analysis but only one thing. Its very very objective analysis.

    Some level of subjectivity is required because we are all human beings not machine. For example; style of play, quality of all round shot making ability and domination of bowlers should also be given some weightage.

    Though I agree to the analysis but when i see the list, its really shocking to see Sangakkara, Kallis and Md Yusuf above my all time favourite batsman Vivian Richards. Ask any bowler whom he feared most, whether its Test or ODIs? You will have the answer.

    My order would be: 1. Bradman, 2. Lara, 3. Sachin, 4. V Richards, 5. G Sobers.... Anyways, I am being subjective!

  • Dawar on May 7, 2009, 15:23 GMT

    I am surprised once again not mention about Javed Miandad. So far no one win the match as Pakistan won against India in Sharja, last ball four runs requires, and guy hit the six. Pakistan won only five matches in world cup 92 and in this all five matches Miandad scored over 50 runs in each inning. In my list Vivan Richard number 1, Miandad number 2, Lara number 3, Tendulkar 4, Jay Sayuria, 5, Pointing 6

  • Ankur on May 7, 2009, 15:18 GMT

    I think i don't agree with average and strike-rate as a measure of rating a batsman..... Dravid or gavaskar or a waugh may have had lesser strike-rate than a gilchrist/sehwag.... But as far as tests are concerned you want people who can play a long-inngs and save matches and win them. Also Sachin too played walsh,akram,pidge,warne,ambrose,donald when he had no other batsman to back him up.Also he never had the company of walsh/ambrose like Lara had till 2002. Sachin has carried the pressure of being india's greatest sporting icon without a blip both on and off the field. Which is why i rate him above Bradman and Lara.

  • Jamal Khan on May 7, 2009, 14:59 GMT

    Pick up the record books and you will find out that on very few occassions when team wanted Tandulkar to make runs, he did. If you look at all his centuries, those were made when some other member in the team was making runs also. Unlike great batsmen who occupied crease when wickets were falling from other sides, Tandulkar rarely stood at the wicket. On the other hand you will find out that Dravid is one batsmen in the Indian team who is a real fighter. When batsmen on the other side were falling he stood tall that's why he is called the wall. Tandulkar should not be even in the first 20. The greatness of a batsmen should be judged on how they performed under pressure not by the number of runs and centuries they have scored.

  • Gary on May 7, 2009, 14:58 GMT

    I always find it interesting how indian fans struggle to distinguish between Tendulkar the icon and Tendulkar the player.

    Any time that anyone or any method suggests Tendulkar is not the greatest player of his age and people seems to rant away.

    Tendulkar the batsmen is a truely excellent batsman, however, the likes of Lara, Ponting, Waugh are comparable. It is hard to say who is better as they are all top quality players.

    Tendulkar the icon is beyond compare, the way india fell in love with him when he was 17. No other cricketer has acheived this kind of awe. However, this is not an accurate assessment of Tendulkar's ability.

    Lets not forget he record is not without minor blemishes, eg. averaging under 40 in 22 innings in south africa and just over 40 in pakistan.

    It is a sign of the recent strength of talent in world batting that Tendulkar the batsmen is not clearly better than the greats of his day, whereas Tendulkar the icon is

    Sorry India, he's still a legend

  • Anita on May 7, 2009, 14:58 GMT

    The typical flaw that analyst of this kind is that you dont put to test the enduarance. Gretaer There are several ways to skin this cat. the number of tests greater the test of of endurance to retaion an average..Bradman will no doubt still come on top..but theres no way of knowing if he continued as long as Lara, Tendulkar and Ponting did, would he have exceeded average of these gentlemen. (I think trajactory would suggest yes)..Then there is the case of opposition quality..we all know the quality of test playing nations (bowling, fielding, tactics)have converged, but the probability of giving bad decisin has been reduced...So when you consider all these elements we are likely to find interesting results......or not

  • Nilanjon Bhowmik on May 7, 2009, 14:49 GMT

    I believe your analysis is pretty well done. One thing I do believe that you should factor in is the rate at which they played match. For instance, modern players play something like 8 -10 test match a year nowadays. I think you should some how take that into account.

    for those crying foul about so many moderns in the top twenty and certain old-timers not getting in, a lot of the ranks are off each other by a fraction a point, and a great majority of them don't have points for the strike rate. I think we can solve this by giving out a standard strike rate points for each decade. for those that have played in more that one, they get a percentage of points from each decade based on the percent of career matches played in that decade. Ananth, I believe if you set this sort of system for them, it will lessen the disadvantage to the older greats.

  • Farooq on May 7, 2009, 14:42 GMT

    I believe people here are mixing up the subjective concepts of "watchability" or pure entertainment value with objective analysis based on numbers and stats. For obvious reasons people would always generally prefer watching Viv Richards bat for a couple of hours rather than Kallis or Dravid battling it out over a couple of days! The noteworthy thing about this analysis, though, is the fact that whatever the criteria, (subjective/objective) - Bradman, Tendulkar and Lara will always come out on top. They are true crowd-pullers as well as having the numbers to support their greatness. The only surprise is Richards' lowly position (which Ananth has mentioned himself). In this regard, I can only suggest that maybe the quality of attack calculations may be inaccurate, as though he did not face the best attack of the time, there were still Messrs. Hadlee, Imran, Botham, Lillee, Akram, Qadir, Bedi, Kapil, etc. to contend with! Imran/Botham are on record as saying they FEARED bowling to Viv!!

  • Prashant on May 7, 2009, 14:39 GMT

    A further point: Match wins: would point to a better bowling attack.Ambrose/walsh and co. over kumble.

    The other factors: % of runs,when batsman came in to bat,batting with tail would point to being in a team with a poor top order.

    Almost all the factors taken into account favour lara over tendulkar right there.

    just the match performance (wins ) criteria throws up a diff of 5 points!

    rest assured without ambrose/walsh lara would have had ZERO wins in his account.

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2009, 14:32 GMT

    At least you left out the helmet/bouncers/armor part out of the equation. Its should not be a modern players' detriment that they never got to play in that era or that they allowed helmets. Whoz to say that sachin could not have played in that era/ or that Bradman could've swatted balls like that in a media frenzied pressure cauldron of a stadium!

  • KNM on May 7, 2009, 14:26 GMT

    1) Pitch type! Pls explain further.How exactly do you get “points” for that. 2) Quality of bowling! What about the stage of the bowler’s career. For eg.surely a Donald in the early 2000s was not as effective as mid 90s. 3) Position at entry! Effectively an indicator of the effectiveness of the opening pair. 4) Runs added with late order batsmen. Again, doesn’t the quality of the tail have something to do with it?!! I mean if you score runs with a Chris martin one can understand. Otherwise again, it reflects more on the batting strength of the tail more than anything. So, basically points 3 and 4 heavily favour batsmen in teams with a poor top order and a spirited tail. Lara? With a fighting Ambrose and co you mean. 5) Innings type! Score faced etc! Yes perhaps this deserves some attention. Then again, score faced etc depends more on the bowlers at your disposal. 6) Match result. As with b4, with a poor bowling attack you can score 500 runs every innings and still not win if the bowlers do not get the 20 wickets in the first place. 4) Match importance!! So, if say in the “Ashes” someone scores big and flops just about the remainder of the time, that person is the “better” batsman?! All in all , im afraid your analysis seems to be even more arbitrary and subjective than some simply saying “Oooh ,I love so and so ,he is my favourite!”

  • maher on May 7, 2009, 14:20 GMT

    kudos for such great work. my couple of thoughts are, % of team scoring should not be considered because it depends on other 10 not this 11th player. Another is if pitch conditions are taken in acount mohm. yusuf will not feature in this list and i think he should not be. Thanks

  • Masud Vorajee on May 7, 2009, 14:17 GMT

    Good to see Brian 'Prince' Lara at No.2 and Sachin 'Little monster' Tendulkar at No.3

    I agree that SRT is more consistent than Brian Lara but SRT always got good partners to build partnerships whereas Lara was unfortunate and he always ran out of partners.

    Who can forget Brian's 153* against the Aussies? His precious partnership with Windies inept tail was just amazing to watch?

  • Marcus on May 7, 2009, 14:14 GMT


    If Bradman had the benefit of familiarity, then surely that's been cancelled out by all the footage and analysis more recent batsmen have at their disposal? I'll concede that the fielding may not have been as professional as it is today, but have you any evidence to suggest that the bowlers he faced were unfit? Cricket wasn't really a professional sport back then like it is now, and I suspect that a lot of bowlers made their living doing very physical work. He may not have faced any of the top 10 of all time, but I feel that overall the standard of bowling from England and the West Indies was still as high as what we've got today.

  • Prashant on May 7, 2009, 14:09 GMT

    Strange for all the 153 ravers... Healy dropped a sitter in that innings. In Tendulkars 136 Akram caught a tougher skier. So, if Healy had caught Lara and Akram dropped Tendulkar.....would that then make the 136 better?

  • Prashant on May 7, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    POINT NO.4 (% of Team runs scored)is sort of arbitrary. Surely the great batsman in a poor team would have scored a higher percentage? In a way it also reflects more on the team. So, if you put in TENDULKAR in a school team he will be the highest scorer EVERY time. POINT NO.4 has got to be the silliest and most arbitrary of all the other points.

  • david h on May 7, 2009, 13:57 GMT

    this is a great attempt but as always stats are only part of the story...viv richards was better than most on this list yet because of his approach to the game his stats don't measure up...yet how do you measure the utter destruction and demoralisation of opposing bowlers that richards specialized in? tendulkar was never capable of this. And hayden? stats can lie, i remember hayden was at 'sea' against ambrose, walsh and others and only came into his own after the retirement of the top fast bowlers...a flat track bully in the top 20? and as for the tendulkar worshipper that said that lara never handled mcgrath, just look at the hundreds that lara got against australia including mcgrath, tendulkar is yet to play any single innings approaching the monumental nature of the 153n.o or the sheer class of the 277. yes mcgrath got him 15 times but to say lara never really handled him? well some people will say anything. good analysis but hardly conclusive, i would rather watch viv than anyone

  • KH Suman on May 7, 2009, 13:53 GMT

    Once again, this study shows how stupid the statistics are! The top billing of Bradman, Lara and Tendulkar is understandable, but no stats can justify why Richards would remain behind the likes of Sangakara or Sehwag. More astonishing is Steve Waugh's position in 34, behind even Jayawardene, Gooch and Smith!

  • bentarm on May 7, 2009, 13:48 GMT

    This article just proves the following adage : "Statistics is the art of never having to say you're wrong." Ananth you have to except that you are wrong in placing Viv Richards 20th.Since Viv is a WI-ian let us compare him with Lara..Now Some of the greatest fast bowlers of Lara's era are 1) SA -- Donald,Devilliers,Pollock at his peak=No Centuries 2) Pak : Wasim,Waqar,Aaqib javed = No Centuries (not even a fifty if i am not wrong).Almost all of his centuries were in slow , low pitches even the legendary scores of his.Now let us take Sir Viv;Bowlers he faced were Lille,Thomson,Pascoe,Imran,Safraz,Hadlee,Kapil Dev,WIllis,Botham.He not only scored against them but murdered them..20th you must be jokin ..he is the King and he should be No.1.If you see most of the batsmen in your list are post 2000 greats(including Lara who scored bulk of his runs post 2000) when pitches were conducive to batting and hardly any consistently good bowlers..Please revise and give King the throne..

  • Arjun on May 7, 2009, 13:48 GMT

    Hi Ananth,

    Excellent analysis.....

    Can you throw some light on Match performances. Tendulkar's match performance(22.43) is ranked 49th. I find it hard to believe that Gautam Gambhir's Match perf. is 25.51, while Tendulkar's is 22.43, VVS Laxman's 19.13. Can you tell me with examples how it is calculated. Has it something to do with Runs per test match. Otherwise great analysis.


  • Mitch on May 7, 2009, 13:47 GMT

    I have to say a job well done to Ananth. Just choosing the formulas and doing the analysis was alot of work. I have to definitley agree with your findings. Bradman as number 1 is no surprise. the debate with the non-Indians as Lara vs Tendulakr with go on only till we apply this same formula and see Lara is as ahead of sachin. if one looks at the Lara's career and his lack of support from team in the batting department to sachin's all star cast as team mates one can only come to one conclusion....LARA is Second BEST only to the DON Himself in TESTs. If the ODI and test anlysis are done Tendulkar wil be higher obviously ........he can be classed as the best ODI player

  • Farooq on May 7, 2009, 13:43 GMT

    I believe people here are mixing up the subjective concepts of "watchability" or pure entertainment value with objective analysis based on numbers and stats. For obvious reasons people would always generally prefer watching Viv Richards bat for a couple of hours rather than Kallis or Dravid battling it out over a couple of days! The noteworthy thing about this analysis, though, is the fact that whatever the criteria, (subjective/objective) - Bradman, Tendulkar and Lara will always come out on top. They are true crowd-pullers as well as having the numbers to support their greatness. The only surprise is Richards' lowly position (which Ananth has mentioned himself). In this regard, I can only suggest that maybe the quality of attack calculations may be inaccurate, as though he did not face the best attack of the time, there were still Messrs. Hadlee, Imran, Botham, Lillee, Akram, Qadir, Bedi, Kapil, etc. to contend with! Imran/Botham are on record as saying they FEARED bowling to Viv!!

  • Shri on May 7, 2009, 13:11 GMT

    It is a comprehensive analysis indeed. My three cents:

    1) You are correct in bringing in the team position into the picture while analyzing match performance. However, I think opening batsmen (i.e. a team position of 0/0) should receive extra credit for this. I think this should elevate the likes of Gavaskar (facing Hadlee, Marshall, Holding etc. with the new ball), Hobbs, Sehwag etc.

    2) In several cases, a player did not have a long career for no fault of their own. Graeme Pollock and Barry Richards would have played a lot more than 22 and 4 tests respectively had SA not been isolated from test cricket. Likewise, the careers of Hobbs and Bradman were curtailed due to WW I and II.

    3) In no other sport can one answer the question "Who is the greatest of all time?" so decisively. Bradman, therefore, is not just the greatest batsman of all time, but stake a strong claim to being hailed as the greatest sportsman of all time, for no one else in any sport was so far ahead of the rest.

  • Aby Mathew on May 7, 2009, 13:11 GMT

    Your assumptions are all flawed. 1) Steve Waugh, Javed Miandad, Adam Gilchrist, Greenidge, Clive Llyod, Stan Mcabe,Haneef Mohammad,Gramae Pollock(they fail to make your top20????) 2)Hayden is placed above the legendary Weekes &Greg Chappell( You must be joking!!!) 3) VIV Richard blasted all good bowlers( pakistan , australia & english to the cleaners & yet he is placed below hayden, dravid, sehwag & border).You must get your head checked man!!! The guy was voted by WISDEN in the top 5 cricket legends of all time. He played in the greatest test team of all time( why should he be penalised for that???)4) Why should home matches be given less weightage than away matches? 5) what about injuries,outfield,climate,pitch, interruptions,incidents(onfield,offield), spectators expectation,critic reviews,board politics,selection issues,coaches,captaincy, etc not considered ( if you claim it will complicate things, u r being naive).The only thing right in your list is the No. 1 position.

  • jack on May 7, 2009, 13:11 GMT

    Ananth, percentage of total score is contingent heavily on how heavily the others around you can score, so there is a lot in it that you as a batsman simply cannot help. Rather, in cases where the batsman in question is the captain of the team, it could just mean that his team mates consider him to be selfish and hence are not inspired by him, but that is a subjective point. Fact of the matter is, when you have two other batsmen in the team who average above fifty (in Tendulkar's case, Dravid and Sehwag) how would you ever expect the batsman in question to come out trumps in the %TS? It certainly needs to be revisited. Consistency as I understand, is a quality to be worshipped in a batsman, I do not see a criterion accounting for that in your analyses. It would be interesting to see how these players fair if you introduce a consistency criterion with "The number of times the Batsman scored 'his average +/- five' every ten innings for all the ten innings stretches in his career.

  • Prasad Shah on May 7, 2009, 13:09 GMT

    Thanks Ananth! Amazing details and hardwork went into this. To any fair minded cricket lover one thing would jump right out in this analysis - right from the start the stack has been put in favour of Bradman by giving Average and % of team runs scored higher weight. What chance does any other batsmen have with ridiculous weighting like this knowing that Bradman's average is 99?! Your own analysis has shown that not a single bowler from all time 10 great Test bowlers ever bowled to Bradman. Bradman played more than 60% of his innings against England - doesn't that give any batsmen advantage of familiarity and opportunity for mastering a small set of bowlers? Back then fielding was poor, bowlers were less fit, benefit of the doubt always went to batsmen and there was no third umpire. I rest my case. 'Bradman is the best' myth continues to be perpetuated.

  • P.Satish on May 7, 2009, 12:51 GMT


    Sorry for that. I might have missed it as I was hurrying down to the actual ranking and was reasonably relieved to find Tendulkar at 3 not 127 or 335 or such as some recent rankings have tended to put him :-)

    Coming to your reply about a billion people's expectations, in one sense I have felt that inspite of a terrific debut Dravid took close to 3-4 years to reach his peak while Laxman had been frustratingly inconsistent for a similar period in his career. Take their performances in overseas tours of South Africa 96-97 and Australia 99-00. However they were far less under the scanner because Tendulkar was hogging the limelight. Would it be wrong to say they developed into better batsmen because they were in Tendulkar's shadow and hence the pressure caused by expectation was far lesser. And yes, expectations do matter too. After every successfuly debut, the second year seems most crucial because the performances are expected now. Take Mendis as an example.

  • Rob on May 7, 2009, 12:42 GMT

    This is a worthy attempt. However, nine of the top 20 have played in the current decade! This alone suggests you need to have a rethink.

  • Raiz Ahmed on May 7, 2009, 12:29 GMT

    perfect anand, i have never how The great don bradman batted.but in my view Lara was the best that i have ever seen.He was a magician,there was elegance and class even when he defended the ball.allthough i am an indian i would like to disagree with all my fellow indians is tha Tedulkar was the best.In modern era ,we can call Tedulkar as Second best behind Brian charles Lara.If you ask any of modern batsman who is the toughest bowler to face.they will unanimously replie only one word...Murali.But if u ask murali who is the only batsman in the world,whom he afraid off.He will say it is Brain Charles Lara.even murali admitted after the srilankan series were Lara scored more than 600 runs in a loosing battle that he has nightmares about lara.So guys pls be appreciative..The greatest batsman of Modern Era is none other than..King Brian Charles Lara

  • Tim Lindsay on May 7, 2009, 12:28 GMT

    We just have to remember people, that these are statistics. They are the cold hard stats. It is impossible for a batsman's emotions, expectations, age, fitness etc to be represented in numbers. We will never be able to judge a batsman on every possible level so we can take these statistics...and us them as statistics! We can all understand the mental and emotional strains on a player, and playing Test cricket is very demanding for EVERY player. The best ones found a way of blocking it out and playing naturally ie one billion people haven't distracted Tendulkar, Bodyline didn't distract Bradman overall, and Lara went out and just ignored the problems all around him. We need to be able to take these factors into account, but they can never, of course, be added into statistics

  • JK on May 7, 2009, 12:22 GMT

    great analysis. I'm disappointed to see people saying that "Tendulkar is better than Lara/ Bradman..." It is not the point of the evaluation to consider "intangible" factors...It should be obvious to all that playing for a weak team (in case of Lara) has it's own disadvantages such as not really having any support from other batsmen to build an iinings..Having said that for about 50% of Tendulkar's career, the Indian batting side was as bad/ worse than the WI batting..(pre-96 when India did not have Dravid/ Ganguly/ Laxman and WI had Chanderpaul/ Adams/ Hooper....)

  • Raj Rampersad on May 7, 2009, 12:15 GMT

    For me. it's very simple. I will give you the Don at No.1. As for Nos 2 and 3 I know I would prefer 'pay' to see Lara in full flourish than going to see Tendulkar for 'free". Again, do you really believe that Ponting is a better batsman that Gary Sobers? I think not.

  • Ananth on May 7, 2009, 11:59 GMT

    Adrian/Santosh: Why bring in the expectations of a billion people in a qualitative analysis. Does it mean that Dravid or Kumble or Laxman do not have the billion people's expectations or is batting easier when the expectation is less.

    Satish: On the contrary Home/Away has been included in an extensive manner. If you read the article carefully, it is included in the Match performance Analysis and in the Career Runs scored calculations.

    Timmy: I stayed up and watched Lara's 153* at Bridgetown. I agree with you that it was one of the greatest of all Test innings. Possibly matched by Laxman's 281, Bradman's 270, Botham's 149 and Gooch's 154.

  • Babar Ali on May 7, 2009, 11:58 GMT

    I doubt if the slow and negative players such as Dravid and Gavaskar could be included in the list. Make sure you have the right criteria selected for match performances.

  • Ananth on May 7, 2009, 11:57 GMT

    Marcus: My personal Australian quintet will be Bradman, S.Waugh, McCabe, G.Chappell and Ponting. However I have laid down the rules and have to go by these. The rules are logical and if there is a weakness therein, I would be willing to change. Thanks.

    Jay: I think the % of Team Runs is a very important bit of information. Other than Bradman, where this indicates a domination, for the others it indicates a lack of support and the additional responsibility thrust on the batsman. Anyhow, Lara and Tendulkar differ by around 20% and this more than made up by the successes enjoyed by the Indian team.

    Bob: This analysis is based on numbers. How does one quantify commitment, longevity, bloody-mindedness or for that matter the never-say-die spirit of McCabe. There are bound to be unacceptable (to individuals) placements in any such analysis.

    Raghav:Wins have been given a significant weight in the Match performance calculations.

  • Babar Ali on May 7, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    I doubt if the slow and negative players such as Dravid and Gavaskar could be included in the list. Make sure you have the right criteria selected for match performances.

  • Timmy on May 7, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    I agree with the top three, certainly. Lara for Mine was always the best batsman in the modern era. I could watch him play all day and still not get tired of it. Pure poetry in motion.

    Another interesting point of note would be to compare Lara's Not Outs versus others. makes his average seem exceptional. I remember staying up and watching that 153 of his against the Australians at Bridegtown (yes, I'm an Aussie, albeight in impartial one). That was the stuff of legend. Certainly the greatest innings I have witnessed.

    Tendulkar for mine was only a very fine slither below him. But only a little.

    Bradman Faced excellent, brilliant bowling attacks. All this with a toothpick for a bat, uncovered pitches, unroped boundaries, no helmet or armour and flimsy gloves and pads compared to modern ones. I apologise to all those that think otherwise, but he is quite simply the greatest bat of all time. If not the greatest sportsman in the history of recorded sport, and every study I have seen bears this out and then some.

    Some Batsman don't follow statistics. ViV richards would be my fourth, and honestly, favourite.

  • VJ on May 7, 2009, 11:44 GMT

    it is so naive to say that richards 121 tests( 71 runs per test) and lara 131 tests( 91 runs per test). The comparison shud be in terms of innings.shudn't it? richards played 182 and lara 230 ish. And nobody in their right mind wud place yousuf, border,hayden etc above richards not even those blokes.

  • Raghav on May 7, 2009, 11:36 GMT

    A few points: 1. Sehwag is only 5 pts away from Sachin in the ratings. He scores 7 pts less than him in longevity alone. I am sure that over time he will rise rightly up to 3rd. 2. The above is another reason why I feel longevity, number of runs and centuries should not be criteria. We cannot penalise players like Gilchrist, Warne & Mcgrath (for bowlers) just because they retired at their best. IPL proves they could have more runs/wkts at career avg and strike rates if they continued. 3. Last, Wins are not being given enough importance in the ratings. The ability to win matches in adverse situations and away conditions matters most. Gilchrist's 150 chasing in his second match, Laxman's 281, Lara's 153*, Sehwag 200 in Galle, Smith's 154 at Lords. These innings are what differentiate class from mass.

    Would love to have an analysis purely based on winnability. However, an excellent analysis. Ponting & Sachin are too high and they retain their place only on longevity not class of runs

  • Jason on May 7, 2009, 11:31 GMT

    Ananth, I liked the analysis and it seems to read pretty well on the 'face' test. I'm wondering how the results might change if instead of judging an entire career, you analysed a 5 or 10 year peak period of a batsman's career. Some batsmen in this current list may be penalised for a poor start/finish to their career, but they deserve to be ranked higher. Tendulkar was heading downwards until his recent peak, Steve Waugh didn't hit a 100 until a few years into his career. Should they be judged on all 15-20 years of their career when others either had the luxury of being picked when they were ready to play/retired when they should have - before their decline. You could just pick the 10 year span of their career where they scored the most runs, and analyse again. I'd be interested in the differences in results.

  • Vaseem on May 7, 2009, 11:20 GMT

    As someone who has degrees in physics, I can confirm that the analysis above is tantamount to gibberish - which will be immediately obvious to any serious cricket watcher. Richards at 20?! Please

    It is immediately obvious that volume of runs and high averages of players post 2000 have a material bearing on the result - hence the presence of Hayden, dravid, Yousuf, Sangakarra etc. Clearly no adjustment has been made with respect to the batting conditions.

    A better way of asssessing batsmen would be to simply to write down the bowlers that were faced when they scored their hundreds - and then let's see if Richards comes in at number 20!

    The whole exercise is so farcical and poorly framed, that it does not deserve a cricinfo column..and proves the old adage that there are "lies, damned lies and statistics"

  • Divyesh on May 7, 2009, 11:11 GMT

    Stats only tell half the story. Each match, each inning is different from another in terms of pitch conditions, strength of the opposition, match situation and mental approach/state of the player at that time.

    For me the best judges of a batsman's class are his peers especially those that have played against him and have a first hand view of his performance. With regard to the Lara vs Tendulkar debate, it would be interesting to find out how many contemporary bowlers rate one or the other as the best they have bowled against.

  • J K Santosh on May 7, 2009, 11:08 GMT

    very well compiled article. lara's position higher than sachin is just because he played with a weak team, else sachin surly deserved a position higher than lara.

    and if an other factor was to be included, sachin would overwhelm even don, and thats the burden of expectations from a billion people...

    but to me lara and sachin are like 2 sides of a coin, never comparable... they stand on top together...

  • P.Satish on May 7, 2009, 10:52 GMT

    Interestingly, you do not seem to have given much of an importance to home and away performances? Players of the later generation including Tendulkar, Gavaskar, Lara, Ponting, Sobers, etc. had to play in more varying conditions including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies, and New Zealand.

  • Subhankar Das on May 7, 2009, 10:35 GMT

    The above list is a good one but I don't think a true comparison can be made between some of the batsmen of the yesteryears and the mordern guys. I agree that quality of bowling faced is a vital factor in determining a batsman's career analysis besides the total number of runs scored. But in mordern days with all the video analysts around, it has become much difficult to score runs consistantly. Any small weakness in a batsman's technique can be exploited by the bowlers all over the world.

  • Ananth on May 7, 2009, 10:30 GMT

    As I expected the readers' comments come in thick and fast. Since I will be unable to address these individually I will post a daily combined response. rest assured that all comments are read, even when someone says "T and then others" or something like that.

  • Suman Ray on May 7, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    I agree to most part of the analysis, a very good one, perhaps one of the most transparant.

    The analyst is a very good writer as such attempts become very boring but he made it so readable.

    Pl keep up the good job. Would like to read about the bowlers as well.

  • rahul on May 7, 2009, 9:14 GMT

    very good analysis brings out who were the better batsmen and why. would like to see a similar comparison for bowlers

  • eddy on May 7, 2009, 9:11 GMT

    It's what most non-Indian fans have known for years and years and now youve backed it up with cold hard facts. I would even go close to saying Lara was the greatest as he faced the greatest bowling of all time i.e. Murli, warne, Mcgrath, wasim,waqar, donald etc but who can really argue against a 99 average?? Having said all of this it is clear that Tendulkar is the greatest overall(odi& test) international batsman ever, with VIV second. Thanks Ananth, great analysis.

  • ump_sd_56 on May 7, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    sorry, mate, you've got it wrong :) Bradman -> Sachin -> Lara -> ...

    No need for any stats to support that!

  • Abhay Sundaram on May 7, 2009, 8:50 GMT

    A query, Tendulkar has just hit another purple patch. Is it possible for him to overtake Lara in the near future, before his imminent retirement?

  • Adrian Halim on May 7, 2009, 8:38 GMT

    I'm dissapointed that Lara is ranked above Tendulkar. Sachin is more consistent and doesn't have weakness against star bowlers in his era. Lara, on the contrary, never able to handle McGrath (he was dismissed by McGrath 15 times). He was also less consistent than Tendulkar. Also, if you consider how they handle public expectation, then Tendulkar must be ranked above Lara. He carry burden as heavy as, if not heavier than The Don did in his playing days (he has 1 billion Indians, whereas The Don only had few millions of Aussies)and he still plays consistently. Also, he has better record against Australia, the strongest team in their era, than Lara does. He has scored 10 centuries against them, second only to Sir Jack Hobbs (12). Therefore, Tendulkar should have been ranked higher than Lara.

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2009, 8:29 GMT

    as far as i am concerned sachin will always be the greatest of all time followed by bradman then lara. these three are in a league of their own. the rest dont come close

  • Aussie_Bob on May 7, 2009, 8:14 GMT

    This is a flawed system how can you possibly have great batsmen like Steve Waugh whos pure strength of will and determination with a bat in his hand caused the players around him to step up a gear and win the unwinnable test matches, behind someone like Kevin Pietersen whos commitment to and longevity in the game are questionable at best, not to mention discipline and leadership. How many times can somebody throw there wicket away when there team is on the ropes and still get praised for it, Pietersen all be it probably one of the most talented players currently in the game, doesn't deserve a place in the top 50. Stats & figures dont show the situations in wich they were recorded.

  • Ravi on May 7, 2009, 8:14 GMT

    Very good article Ananth. I liked the detailed analysis.

  • Jay Hanmantgad on May 7, 2009, 8:10 GMT

    Hi Anant - just making my first parse through the blog - one comment - why is point no. 4 relevant - I mean the fact that Tendulkar had many worthies in his team meant that he scored 25% of the runs less often than say Lara who was the only batsman of that class - shouldn't count against Tendulkar.

  • Shuvo Brahmachari on May 7, 2009, 8:00 GMT

    Amazing analysis.

  • Marcus on May 7, 2009, 7:56 GMT

    Congratulations on such a massive undertaking!

    Of course, Bradman's position at no. 1 should be undisputed. And who says he faced poor attacks back then, anyway? England throughout the 30s could include any of Larwood, Voges, Allen, Bowes, Farnes, Hammond, Verity, Robbins or Wright. Even the West Indies put out Constantine, Martindale and Griffith.

    I have to dispute Ponting's selection as the second-greatest Australian batsman of all time, though. Among the Australian batsmen I've seen, I'd have to say that both Waugh brothers were better batsmen, and Steve Waugh was a greater batsman. Look at Ponting's performannces against the strong pace attacks of England in 2005, India in 2007 and 2008, South Africa earlier this summer- in all those series he's averaged under 40, and I can't believe he'd have averaged anything close to the 53 Greg Chappell managed against consistently excellent attacks (not just from West Indies, either!).

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  • Marcus on May 7, 2009, 7:56 GMT

    Congratulations on such a massive undertaking!

    Of course, Bradman's position at no. 1 should be undisputed. And who says he faced poor attacks back then, anyway? England throughout the 30s could include any of Larwood, Voges, Allen, Bowes, Farnes, Hammond, Verity, Robbins or Wright. Even the West Indies put out Constantine, Martindale and Griffith.

    I have to dispute Ponting's selection as the second-greatest Australian batsman of all time, though. Among the Australian batsmen I've seen, I'd have to say that both Waugh brothers were better batsmen, and Steve Waugh was a greater batsman. Look at Ponting's performannces against the strong pace attacks of England in 2005, India in 2007 and 2008, South Africa earlier this summer- in all those series he's averaged under 40, and I can't believe he'd have averaged anything close to the 53 Greg Chappell managed against consistently excellent attacks (not just from West Indies, either!).

  • Shuvo Brahmachari on May 7, 2009, 8:00 GMT

    Amazing analysis.

  • Jay Hanmantgad on May 7, 2009, 8:10 GMT

    Hi Anant - just making my first parse through the blog - one comment - why is point no. 4 relevant - I mean the fact that Tendulkar had many worthies in his team meant that he scored 25% of the runs less often than say Lara who was the only batsman of that class - shouldn't count against Tendulkar.

  • Ravi on May 7, 2009, 8:14 GMT

    Very good article Ananth. I liked the detailed analysis.

  • Aussie_Bob on May 7, 2009, 8:14 GMT

    This is a flawed system how can you possibly have great batsmen like Steve Waugh whos pure strength of will and determination with a bat in his hand caused the players around him to step up a gear and win the unwinnable test matches, behind someone like Kevin Pietersen whos commitment to and longevity in the game are questionable at best, not to mention discipline and leadership. How many times can somebody throw there wicket away when there team is on the ropes and still get praised for it, Pietersen all be it probably one of the most talented players currently in the game, doesn't deserve a place in the top 50. Stats & figures dont show the situations in wich they were recorded.

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2009, 8:29 GMT

    as far as i am concerned sachin will always be the greatest of all time followed by bradman then lara. these three are in a league of their own. the rest dont come close

  • Adrian Halim on May 7, 2009, 8:38 GMT

    I'm dissapointed that Lara is ranked above Tendulkar. Sachin is more consistent and doesn't have weakness against star bowlers in his era. Lara, on the contrary, never able to handle McGrath (he was dismissed by McGrath 15 times). He was also less consistent than Tendulkar. Also, if you consider how they handle public expectation, then Tendulkar must be ranked above Lara. He carry burden as heavy as, if not heavier than The Don did in his playing days (he has 1 billion Indians, whereas The Don only had few millions of Aussies)and he still plays consistently. Also, he has better record against Australia, the strongest team in their era, than Lara does. He has scored 10 centuries against them, second only to Sir Jack Hobbs (12). Therefore, Tendulkar should have been ranked higher than Lara.

  • Abhay Sundaram on May 7, 2009, 8:50 GMT

    A query, Tendulkar has just hit another purple patch. Is it possible for him to overtake Lara in the near future, before his imminent retirement?

  • ump_sd_56 on May 7, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    sorry, mate, you've got it wrong :) Bradman -> Sachin -> Lara -> ...

    No need for any stats to support that!

  • eddy on May 7, 2009, 9:11 GMT

    It's what most non-Indian fans have known for years and years and now youve backed it up with cold hard facts. I would even go close to saying Lara was the greatest as he faced the greatest bowling of all time i.e. Murli, warne, Mcgrath, wasim,waqar, donald etc but who can really argue against a 99 average?? Having said all of this it is clear that Tendulkar is the greatest overall(odi& test) international batsman ever, with VIV second. Thanks Ananth, great analysis.