February 1, 2010

What makes a cricketer great?

You could judge him by stacks of runs and wickets, elegance, or exerting considerable influence on how the game is played
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Cricinfo's recent quest to determine the greatest cricketer of the 2000s finished with Ricky Ponting, as the election reports say, "securing a landslide victory". I did not concur, but that is hardly relevant. There was a case to be made for almost all the remarkable players on the shortlist. The thing of interest was to consider how we assess cricketers. It is a process of rationality forced through filters, starting perhaps with partisanship, then attractiveness, an assessment maybe of a "champion" factor, a judgement of the player's greater impact on the game, arriving finally at a cold percolate of numbers.

I found myself rationalising past the extraordinary Brian Lara. To watch Lara bat was to not only understand the scope of cricket, but also appreciate the beauty of the moving human form. He was one of the very few cricketers to watch whom I was willing to drop anything I was doing. And yet, succumbing to the task of making a worthy verdict while simultaneously resisting the tyranny of stats, I decided to focus instead on 'influence'.

So in first place I had Adam Gilchrist, who turned cricket from an eleven-a-side sport to a twelve-a-side one (though with some imitators, who could neither bat nor keep, you ended up with 10 men). Above that he excelled - and thrilled - in all three forms of the game, making him an appropriate representative of the decade gone.

Influence of a different kind I used to arrive at the second choice, Glenn McGrath: the most influential member of the generation's most dominant team. From the subcontinent to the World Cups, McGrath was not mastered by batsmen, conditions or the occasion. My third choice, Virender Sehwag, to my alarm, was not on the shortlist at all. Alarm turned to outrage when, despite my vote, which should have catapulted him alongside the 10th-placed Shivnarine Chanderpaul who also had one point, Sehwag's name was omitted from the top 10.

I was delighted, therefore, to read Derek Pringle in the Daily Telegraph celebrating Sehwag as his cricketer of the decade. "Statisticians and the government policy-makers trust figures," wrote Pringle, "wise men, facts, but I'm going to apply another measure: that of redefining the role they play, something Virender Sehwag has done for opening the batting in Test matches."

Sehwag's pile of runs was smaller than those of the stalwarts on the shortlist, but his impact on the sport greater. In a decade of runs, Ponting, to my mind, did what the rest did, with 5% or 10% more consistency. The whole lot of them, in fact, reflected a 1990s school of batting. Sehwag left them for dead in the game of the 2000s. He smote improbable scores at an unthought of speed. His technique - of getting beside the ball to carve on the off - might open up a new mode of attack against the new ball; his mindset - not studying the pitch, for example - might come to be considered as an acceptable, even preferable, mental approach; and his rate of scoring may in the next decade come to be the norm. He is a phenomenon of the 2000s; yet no place on the shortlist.

The results of the Cricinfo exercise - Ponting's rout, the absolute rejection of Sehwag, the near-total neglect of Lara - were a reminder that in cricket, more than beauty, influence or invention, what really wins the day is a stack of runs (and, less frequently, wickets). I do not necessarily quarrel with it, but I regret it.

There are now official player and team ratings, derived from unfathomable algorithms, and numerous, equally complex, unofficial ones. Statsguru adds ever more features with which to settle debates.

The might of numbers has grown and grown in the past decade. When, 10 years ago, Wisden conducted a poll to determine the five cricketers of the century, they did not, in contrast to the 2009 way of thinking, solicit rankings from the jury, only five names. Also in contrast to the recent exercise, I doubt the panel was plied with a shortlist and Excel-sheet stats packs.

The top five were led, naturally, by Don Bradman and Garry Sobers, with Jack Hobbs, Shane Warne and Viv Richards bunched close together at third, fourth and fifth. But the really heartening aspect of that list was the names outside the top five.

The results of the Cricinfo exercise - Ponting's rout, the absolute rejection of Sehwag, the near-total neglect of Lara - were a reminder that in cricket, more than beauty, influence or invention, what really wins the day is a stack of runs (and, less frequently, wickets). I do not necessarily quarrel with it, but I regret it

Frank Worrell came in as high as No. 6 primarily because of his eloquent leadership as cricket's first black captain of tenure; and Ian Chappell received a vote presumably also for captaincy. Victor Trumper, statistically dwarfed by succeeding generations as well as contemporaries, received four counts for his bold charisma. KS Ranjitsinhji, though he played only three of his 15 Tests in the 1900s, received a vote because he opened up the leg side as a legitimate area of run-scoring. BJT Bosanquet, who invented the googly, got one. Colin Bland, a fieldsman ahead of his time, got one, and Godfrey Evans scored a point for the keepers. The spectacular advent of reverse-swing was acknowledged (though, of course, not that alone) in votes for Imran Khan and Wasim Akram. And my hunch is that had the doosra been invented a few years earlier, so that its revolutionary effect on finger-spin was more evident at the time of polling, votes would have accrued to Muttiah Muralitharan, its greatest practitioner, and even perhaps Saqlain Mushtaq, the inventor.

It doesn't matter that the names above didn't win. Their mere acknowledgement is a cheer for originality, idiosyncrasy and invention. It is a recognition that they cracked open the possibilities of the sport and made it larger, finer, richer.

Rahul Bhattacharya is the author of the cricket tour book Pundits from Pakistan. He writes a monthly column for Mint Lounge

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • vishwanath.sreeraman on February 4, 2010, 14:14 GMT

    mathew hayden..now he was trend setter more successful than sehwag...the only series that he flopped (since his comeback) was thr 2005 ashes. as an opener he was extremely aggressive and extremely consistent. 29 centuries compared to sehwag's 16. avg close to 45 in ODIs. still the king of IPL. aus. team was extremely strong, but his absence still used to hurt them. he was the strongest pillar in that strong team. wonder why ponting is given more credit than him. ponting never mastered india (in india), which has been aus' arch nemesis in the last decade. hayden hardly had any trouble against any attack pace or spin any where in the world.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on February 4, 2010, 1:00 GMT

    Ok. I've taken some time to think up my top 4 for the DECADE (10 yrs) and why. 1 Kallis-took a good # o wickets and contained well. Plus he made alot of runs and didnt look shabby in the field. 2. Ponting-the guy CAN FIELD! Yes its a part of cricket and he was dominant in his scoring as well as prolific, his strike rate was better than most! Those who say he didnt face good bowling insult guys like Murali, Wasim, Bond, Steyn, Kaneria etc. Not the best captain but not bad. He beat Ind in Ind in an ODI series with a depleted team. 3.Murali- took an unbelievable# o wickets! (with only Vaas at the other end for most the decade). 4. Gilly-the guy could keep and did for Aus what Sehwag (was dropped) is doing for Ind. Lara missed out because he didnt have that great an ODI decade and didnt play more o the 10 yrs. Sachin missed out cause he cant field that great and he doesnt bowl. Mc. Grath barely missed. Note: Judged only on cricket terms. Personality does no count!! Not a peace prize!!

  • waspsting on February 3, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    agree with choice of Gilchrist - there's never been a player like him. Sehwag... not so much. He plays like no one has ever before, but don't just remember the good times and forget the bad...he was inconsistent, he was even dropped from the Indian team for it! Lara suffers because he didn't play the full decade... its hard to rate him as player of the decade above somebody who was just as successful and did it for the full time. ponting (for his immense success) - players score like he did for a year or two max and then we say they've "had a run of good form". he did it for 6 or 7 years. Kallis (for his scoring, as good as anyone plus the wickets he took) Gilchrist (for reasons already mentioned) - would have been my choices, in no particular order.

  • Bollo on February 3, 2010, 5:30 GMT

    Srtwows, why when trying to ascertain the best batsman of the last decade must we consider the best bowling attacks of the last 20 years? `It simply does not make sense` that the highest scoring batsman in both forms of the game should be even considered for the top spot? Perhaps the fact that he scored 13 more centuries than Tendulkar had something to do with it. FYI, Ponting was not chosen as the best batsman of the decade, although that`s probably a given, he was chosen as the best cricketer. His captaincy of easily the most dominant test team, and captaincy of two world cup winning sides may also have come into consideration.

  • on February 3, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    ..i heard from a friend .. that lara wasnt included ... n i didn e1 bother to go thro d list ... comments . etc .. its jus dat dis is mr. bhattacharya's article .. ive gone thro dis , n as always i totally agree wth him .. :) ps- d article "last king of trinidad" was a masterpiece ..all hail bc lara !!

  • niraj13 on February 3, 2010, 1:32 GMT

    Everyone's entitled to their opinion and I totally repect Mr. Bhattacharya's opinion here. But I could not resist making a note about Sehwag. I really love his performances. But, to refresh everyone's memory, Sehwag had undergone a period of serious lack of form in 2007 and he was dropped from the team. At that time, even the thought of naming him the player of the decade would have been a joke. A lot of it was attributed to his lack of fitness. But he managed to come back and give some magnificent performances, but that does not make him the top five cricketers of the decade. Now a word about my pick: Sachin. To the few people who hate him, let me mention that it is not just his huge stack of runs or centuries or his near-perfect technique or his longevity that make him a great cricketer, but it is his humility, professionalism, discipline and ability to focus, that enhance his reputation and make him the favorite cricketer of the world. This is the criteriain my book, whats in yours?

  • srtwows on February 2, 2010, 19:21 GMT

    Dont really understand why they say Ricky Ponting is the best batsmen of the decade... It simply does not make sense. To find out the best batsmen - We would have to first find the best bowling lineups in the last twenty years and then find out who batted better. And most of us would agree to the fact that Australian bowling attack has been the most dangerous and consistent - and Ricky and all Australians never played them !!! And also for the fact that he has played English bowlers for most of the time....So he is out of the race right away. Then comes the other players and the debate is on - Wasim & Waqar, WI's pace quartet, New Zealand and Sri Lanka for some brief time, and the Australian Attack. Players eligible would be : Sachin, Brian Lara, Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Saeed Anwar, Laxman, Jayasuriya, Kallis, Smith, Jayawardena... Of which the first three strike to us when we talk about the Best Batsmen. My vote goes to Sachin. Choose for yourself...

  • montys_muse on February 2, 2010, 17:25 GMT

    I think Rahul Dravid with his solid batting performances has again put an emphasis back on having a really good No.3. Teams which really strive to do well in test cricket (england, new zealand, pakistan, bangladesh) are looking to bring in a player who is really good at no.3.

  • CricFan24 on February 2, 2010, 15:47 GMT

    @typos.the only time you are "guaranteed" a hundred is when watching old videos. So that is a nonsensical argument. As others have mentioned by the current fashionable logic the DON wouldn't be very great after all.He wasn't apparently very artistic or given to too much flair. But he is the greatest of them all. why? coz he scored runs-every time,all the time. I agree with some comments in here. All "secondary" traits must first sacrifice themselves to the altar of Performance.

  • NormalHuman on February 2, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    Each individual has his/her own perspective. Therefore,how one feels about Ponting and Tendulkar would vary from person to person.But surely therez got 2 b a criteria which should include the core skills relevant with Winning & Winning & Winning.Now whatever happens whilst striving to win is a bonus.But winning has got 2 b the primary objective.Scoring runs under pressure, redefining batting/bowling/fielding styles is all paramount but all these would come in the package when the game is played to WIN.So,whoever plays to WIN is the one who should b rated as the PLAYER OF THE DECADE. Ponting,Sehwag,Vettori,Clarke,Dhoni are all WINNERS in my list.

  • vishwanath.sreeraman on February 4, 2010, 14:14 GMT

    mathew hayden..now he was trend setter more successful than sehwag...the only series that he flopped (since his comeback) was thr 2005 ashes. as an opener he was extremely aggressive and extremely consistent. 29 centuries compared to sehwag's 16. avg close to 45 in ODIs. still the king of IPL. aus. team was extremely strong, but his absence still used to hurt them. he was the strongest pillar in that strong team. wonder why ponting is given more credit than him. ponting never mastered india (in india), which has been aus' arch nemesis in the last decade. hayden hardly had any trouble against any attack pace or spin any where in the world.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on February 4, 2010, 1:00 GMT

    Ok. I've taken some time to think up my top 4 for the DECADE (10 yrs) and why. 1 Kallis-took a good # o wickets and contained well. Plus he made alot of runs and didnt look shabby in the field. 2. Ponting-the guy CAN FIELD! Yes its a part of cricket and he was dominant in his scoring as well as prolific, his strike rate was better than most! Those who say he didnt face good bowling insult guys like Murali, Wasim, Bond, Steyn, Kaneria etc. Not the best captain but not bad. He beat Ind in Ind in an ODI series with a depleted team. 3.Murali- took an unbelievable# o wickets! (with only Vaas at the other end for most the decade). 4. Gilly-the guy could keep and did for Aus what Sehwag (was dropped) is doing for Ind. Lara missed out because he didnt have that great an ODI decade and didnt play more o the 10 yrs. Sachin missed out cause he cant field that great and he doesnt bowl. Mc. Grath barely missed. Note: Judged only on cricket terms. Personality does no count!! Not a peace prize!!

  • waspsting on February 3, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    agree with choice of Gilchrist - there's never been a player like him. Sehwag... not so much. He plays like no one has ever before, but don't just remember the good times and forget the bad...he was inconsistent, he was even dropped from the Indian team for it! Lara suffers because he didn't play the full decade... its hard to rate him as player of the decade above somebody who was just as successful and did it for the full time. ponting (for his immense success) - players score like he did for a year or two max and then we say they've "had a run of good form". he did it for 6 or 7 years. Kallis (for his scoring, as good as anyone plus the wickets he took) Gilchrist (for reasons already mentioned) - would have been my choices, in no particular order.

  • Bollo on February 3, 2010, 5:30 GMT

    Srtwows, why when trying to ascertain the best batsman of the last decade must we consider the best bowling attacks of the last 20 years? `It simply does not make sense` that the highest scoring batsman in both forms of the game should be even considered for the top spot? Perhaps the fact that he scored 13 more centuries than Tendulkar had something to do with it. FYI, Ponting was not chosen as the best batsman of the decade, although that`s probably a given, he was chosen as the best cricketer. His captaincy of easily the most dominant test team, and captaincy of two world cup winning sides may also have come into consideration.

  • on February 3, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    ..i heard from a friend .. that lara wasnt included ... n i didn e1 bother to go thro d list ... comments . etc .. its jus dat dis is mr. bhattacharya's article .. ive gone thro dis , n as always i totally agree wth him .. :) ps- d article "last king of trinidad" was a masterpiece ..all hail bc lara !!

  • niraj13 on February 3, 2010, 1:32 GMT

    Everyone's entitled to their opinion and I totally repect Mr. Bhattacharya's opinion here. But I could not resist making a note about Sehwag. I really love his performances. But, to refresh everyone's memory, Sehwag had undergone a period of serious lack of form in 2007 and he was dropped from the team. At that time, even the thought of naming him the player of the decade would have been a joke. A lot of it was attributed to his lack of fitness. But he managed to come back and give some magnificent performances, but that does not make him the top five cricketers of the decade. Now a word about my pick: Sachin. To the few people who hate him, let me mention that it is not just his huge stack of runs or centuries or his near-perfect technique or his longevity that make him a great cricketer, but it is his humility, professionalism, discipline and ability to focus, that enhance his reputation and make him the favorite cricketer of the world. This is the criteriain my book, whats in yours?

  • srtwows on February 2, 2010, 19:21 GMT

    Dont really understand why they say Ricky Ponting is the best batsmen of the decade... It simply does not make sense. To find out the best batsmen - We would have to first find the best bowling lineups in the last twenty years and then find out who batted better. And most of us would agree to the fact that Australian bowling attack has been the most dangerous and consistent - and Ricky and all Australians never played them !!! And also for the fact that he has played English bowlers for most of the time....So he is out of the race right away. Then comes the other players and the debate is on - Wasim & Waqar, WI's pace quartet, New Zealand and Sri Lanka for some brief time, and the Australian Attack. Players eligible would be : Sachin, Brian Lara, Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Saeed Anwar, Laxman, Jayasuriya, Kallis, Smith, Jayawardena... Of which the first three strike to us when we talk about the Best Batsmen. My vote goes to Sachin. Choose for yourself...

  • montys_muse on February 2, 2010, 17:25 GMT

    I think Rahul Dravid with his solid batting performances has again put an emphasis back on having a really good No.3. Teams which really strive to do well in test cricket (england, new zealand, pakistan, bangladesh) are looking to bring in a player who is really good at no.3.

  • CricFan24 on February 2, 2010, 15:47 GMT

    @typos.the only time you are "guaranteed" a hundred is when watching old videos. So that is a nonsensical argument. As others have mentioned by the current fashionable logic the DON wouldn't be very great after all.He wasn't apparently very artistic or given to too much flair. But he is the greatest of them all. why? coz he scored runs-every time,all the time. I agree with some comments in here. All "secondary" traits must first sacrifice themselves to the altar of Performance.

  • NormalHuman on February 2, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    Each individual has his/her own perspective. Therefore,how one feels about Ponting and Tendulkar would vary from person to person.But surely therez got 2 b a criteria which should include the core skills relevant with Winning & Winning & Winning.Now whatever happens whilst striving to win is a bonus.But winning has got 2 b the primary objective.Scoring runs under pressure, redefining batting/bowling/fielding styles is all paramount but all these would come in the package when the game is played to WIN.So,whoever plays to WIN is the one who should b rated as the PLAYER OF THE DECADE. Ponting,Sehwag,Vettori,Clarke,Dhoni are all WINNERS in my list.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on February 2, 2010, 14:05 GMT

    I see some people saying "you can't compare players", i think you can. Sports is about competition, saying things like you can't compare sounds a bit, well soft! There are many roles in cricket and the best player is the one who does HIS ROLE the best! Therefore, if I perform my bowling role better than you perform your batting role, I am the better performer I admit that flamboyance and innovation should be added to the criteria but what I gather is alot of persons seemingly suggesting that players like Ponting, Dravid, Kallis and Sanga don't have it. These are not ugly batsmen. Ponting's pull is most exciting, so is Kallis' lofted cover drive and Dravid's flick through mid-wicket. Ugly batmsen are guys like Smith and Dohni(awkward technique). Don't compare Ponting and co to them. They may not be as swashbuckling as Sehwag and Dilshan or as unorthodox and graceful like Lara and SRT but they do capture the imagination whilst showing GREAT consistency.

  • since7 on February 2, 2010, 9:48 GMT

    you hit the nail on the head..i was shellshocked to see sehwag not there since cricinfo has time and again presented some beautiful articles on his batsmanship..but of late,cricinfo has been obsessed with the "greatness" disease and reluctance to move away from some prejudices.a "great" batsman to the experts is required to have certain attributes or we can say prejudices like 1)he must "balance" aggression and defence 2) he must be "aesthetically " pleasing to watch 3) he must posess the "conventional" technique and many more..to drop someone who almost made 3 300's and at astonishing rates and who changed the manner in which one approaches the game was disppointing..more surprised that some of the men asked to vote like chappel are people who have decoded sehwag fully..this is one reason why i hate these so called "great lists' produced by so called "experts' who do nothing but impose their opinions

  • TheOnlyEmperor on February 2, 2010, 8:13 GMT

    A great player is one who has the maximum impact on the game, helping his country win as often as possible.

    My criteria for player greatness are as follows:

    1. Shelf life ( how long have they been able to compete at the highest levels 2. Flamboyance and Inspiration: Ranking : Sehwag, Viv, Afridi, etc 3. Milestone records achieved ( Numbers, significance/importance : 50: 50 weights) 4. MOMatch Awards 5. MOSeries Awards

    On a scale of 100, the top 5 criteria should have 14 weights each and the 3 criteria listed below 10 weights each. All of them can be weighted after ranking them on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best.

    1. Batting : Innings / century, batting avg (50: 50 weights) 2. Bowling : Wkts/inning, runs/wkt, runs/over (1/3 weights each) 3. Fielding ability

    This covers quantitative/qualitative assessment. The criteria, take into account performance and consistency as well as crowd heroes! The final list of the best, would be as the cookie falls!

  • ww113 on February 2, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    Rahul mentions Imran Khan.Here was the complete cricketer.Outstanding captain,great fast bowler,courageous batsman and among the most charismatic personalities in the game.

  • baldrick65 on February 2, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    Well, no matter which way you slice the stats, Ponting has scored more runs, has a higher batting average and strike-rate, hit more tons and 50's (and 4's and 6's) in the last decade, in all forms of the game than Tendulkar. I'm not saying Sachin isn't a great player and he certainly deserves to be included in the list, but Ponting's record speaks volumes about him and he definitely deserves the "Cricketer of the Decade" title.

  • Marktc on February 2, 2010, 6:22 GMT

    It is difficult to pin one person down. In my view we look at performance and consistancy. For example, Mark Boucher. He holds all the keeping records and is only the second keeper to pass 5000 runs (behind Gicrest of course). He has never been the big score player, yet has been invaluable in saving SA throught he years when they have their famous batting collapse. Further to this, because of Australia's dominance, many don't look beyond that team, which did feature greats like Warne and McGrath and of course old Ricky. However, outside of the Aussies,there were other greats, Sachin, Lara, Kallis, Murrie. Then there is also the period played in. Today's sportsman play under different circumstances than the ages past. It is unfair to compare them. And then lastly, how can batsman be compared to bowlers? Through the years the favour has swung from one to the other and it is now becoming a batters game. As a result, the bowlers will be less successful as they could have been.

  • typos on February 2, 2010, 5:51 GMT

    Ponting is rightly the player of the decade which was was characterised by batsmen scoring phenomenal runs on flat tracks and good, but not spectacular bowling combinations (such as Windies pace quartet, Indian spin trio of 80s, Wasim and Waquar).

    To sum up the discussion: you're guaranteed a hundred from Lara, Ponting, Tendulkar, Dravid. Which two would you pay to watch.?

  • Rohan1 on February 2, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    PERFORMANCE is what makes a player great. "Prettiness" and other aesthetic factors only come after a healthy degree of performance has been achieved. The "ugly" performer is always greater to a "prettier" player with less dependability. For.eg I dont ever recall anyone raving about Don Bradman's aesthetic qualities. He was a pure run machine.So,as per the author's argument the DOn wasnt so great afterall.

  • Bollo on February 2, 2010, 1:23 GMT

    The sheer dominance of Australia throughout the decade make it very tough to go past an Australian as the most dominant figure. In the 2000s they won about 70% of test matches (SAf next best on 50%, India in 5th place on about 40%). They won 75% of ODIS, including both World Cups, next best SAf on 65% (India again in 5th spot on about 55%). hardly surprising then that their dominant batsman (and highest overall run scorer in both forms of the game for the decade), and captain was selected as the player of the decade. Along with McGrath he was the symbol of Australian dominance. Murali is the only other payer in my mind with a similar aura throughout the decade. Kallis of course was excellent, but hardly a defining image of the decade, and Dravid, well in the top 10, but hardly top 5.

  • on February 1, 2010, 23:28 GMT

    OK Mr. Rahul let us all take a good look at our selves and pick 10 cricketers without whom the last 15 years of cricket would not be the same.

    1. Adam Gilchrist, 2.Sanath Jayasuriya, 3.Virender Sehwag, 4.Shane Warne, 5.Muttiah Muralitharan

    Sanath Jayasuriya revolutionaised one day batting, Adam Gilchrist changed the wicket keepers role in Tests, Sehwag changed the way people aproach opening in tests while Warne and Murali started legacies which will be unmatched for decades to come.

    6.Sachin Tendulkar/Ricky Ponting, 7.Wasim Akram, 8.Brian Lara, 9.Glen McGrath, 10. Jaques Kallis

    The other 5 are cricketers who have done things leagues better than their counterparts but haven't really done something new for the game. (With maybe the exception of Wasim who showed us the art of reverse swing)

    So really the true champions who have a cult status are not going to be the people who have stack loads to stats but the men who have captured our imagination.

  • DanielP on February 1, 2010, 19:26 GMT

    I too was surprised that Ponting achieved his victory with relative ease. To be a "cricketer of the decade" should mean that you did something that redefined how the game was played. Gilchrist and Sehwag both achieved that. Murali has too. They all set trends that continue to influence world cricket today. Ponting has put together a monumental record, but he has done so working with essentially the conventional framework that existed when he entered the Australian team.

  • katochnr on February 1, 2010, 18:13 GMT

    there was an indian ad where the characters were perpetually arguing whether a particular sweet was coffee or toffee .. ranking/ rating cricketers invariably leads to that .. that is the beauty of cricket there are so many roles - captain, spinner, opener, middle order batsman, pace bowler etc and every decade reveals new masters of each and some others who change the whole approach and we spend hours debating who was more important .. well the debates will go on and on and on ..

  • SuruSudhirKumar on February 1, 2010, 17:50 GMT

    In my opinion, if Sachin were to be excluded from the list, the list does not deserve a place in the World of Cricket. If some stupid vickscricket comes up and says Sachin should not be on the list, it would not change what he is. Sadly, the Cricket world did not see a good player in Sachin, so is the case with Rahul Dravid, he is a class act. I sure regret even Sehwag didn't make it to the list. You know the best rose is not picked by its dimensions, or radiance; you just know it. At some point, statistics lose the race, and this is one such point.

  • crazyhead on February 1, 2010, 17:18 GMT

    I have to mostly agree with you Mr. Bhattacharya. Not having Sehwag even in top 10 of the suvery is the biggest blunder ever committed by Cricinfo. No doubt, I dare say. On the choices that are chosen by Bhattacharya, I agree. Gilchrist, Mcgrath in that order with Ponting somewhere in top 10.. Definitely not in Top 3 or 4. Sehwag, between 6 and 10. The whole article is about common man's thinking of Cricket, not so called experts who conveniently ignored common man when they decided the cricketer of the decade. The influence, the impact, the beauty, the invention and the grace with which they play the game is very important. Not mere statics. As long you are able to invent something, and influence matches single handedly you are the cricketer of the decade. Piling runs on week attacks, good batting surfaces, poor overseas record, bunny to offspin forever AND worst behavior ever seen by any test playing captain made certain person cricketer of the decade by experts not by viewers.

  • on February 1, 2010, 17:06 GMT

    Suffice to say, Viru is clearly someone who can be put in the same bracket as Gilchrist and Jayasuriya, men who radically redefined an aspect of the game! His mantra of 'See Ball, Hit Ball' is refreshing in an age of bombardment of TV footage and analysis! BTW, I've read ur book Pundits from Pakistan and it was absolutely great! Most appreciated was the fact that you gave me a chance to 'live' in Pakistan rather than writing about the matches themselves! Cheers and hope to read more books from you!

  • ww113 on February 1, 2010, 16:58 GMT

    I'm not a fan of "five best" or "ten best" lists.A few players who were a pleasure to watch but won't necessarily find themselves on any lists, Saeed Anwar for his natural flair,Jonty Rhodes for sheer athleticism,Jeff Thomson for raw aggression,Zaheer Abbas for his silken strokes and many more. (And just to let you know Rahul,I enjoyed your book "Pundits from Pakistan" immensely.A classic in its own right).

  • Anneeq on February 1, 2010, 16:43 GMT

    To me there are 3 criteria that make a player great, the first is how hes changed the game, Gilchrist changed the game by forcing wicket keepers all over the planet to be specialist batsmen too. Players like Sehwag, Gayle and Afridi also fit into this slot, all explosive players, game changers. To me Gayle is better than Sehwag only because i think Gayle is a better bowler. For the bowling, Warne, McGrath, Akram and Waqar all stand out for me. They all changed the style of bowling for ever. Warne made leg spin aggressive, McGrath showed that pace isnt everything showing accuracy was sufficient. Of coarse Akram and Waqar pioneered reverse swing.

    Second is their stats. The amount of runs that were made by the player if he was a batsman, and the amount of wickets if he was a bowler.

    And last but not least, is all round contribution, the batting, bowling and fielding. This is why Jacques Kallis did well, by getting the wickets as well as the runs.

  • BrianCharlesVivek on February 1, 2010, 16:37 GMT

    Rahul, I remember reading an article " The last king of trinidad" , which you wrote after Lara retired. You had mentioned that the two things you loved were the batting of lara and bowling of Akram . But me being a follower of Lara, i wouldnt call him the player of the decade. True, he has given some breathtaking innings's even in this decade in SL , PAK and WI , but but yet there were people with better stats than him. One thing i would have loved to see is him playing the new crop of finger spinners - Hauritz,Mendis and Harris. It would have been a perfect murder.

  • MiddleStump on February 1, 2010, 16:15 GMT

    Biggus, you are spot on. There is too much coarse language from the fans here. Guess people get emotional and out of control fast. I suspect they don't read the comments closely enough to understand what is being said.

    @Theena. Please read my earlier comment closely. I was asking when was the last time Sehwag batted long and saved a test for India. Like in many other matches, he scored runs in Galle but that was in the first innings on day one, not when India needed somebody to occupy the crease for a few sessions to win or save the game on the last day.

  • crazyuddie on February 1, 2010, 16:03 GMT

    P.S. In my earlier post - I meant to say two decades instead of two years. Heh.

  • RRK012 on February 1, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    Acknowledged by everyone from Sir Don Bradman to Sunil Gavaskar ,Sachin Tendulkar stands as a testimony of cricket... Ricky Ponting no doubt is also a very good player, considering the amount of cricket and the quality of technique displayed by Sachin ,the little master should have got the award but not the case now...

  • BrianCharlesVivek on February 1, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    Its sad to see some fans bringing Sachin everywhere. It is the opinion of the author and its pathecitc to see fans getting into Sachin-Ponting fight. According to the stats Ponting is clearly on top with 17k runs in the decade with 55 tons. If we go head to head and compare with sachin he has around 15.3k runs with 42 tons. In tests Sachin has 8 tons against BD & Zim whereas Ponting has only 1. that takes his tally to 38 vs Sachin s 37 against "proper" nations. And the vote was for the player of the decade. May be if htere is another poll for player of the century, our GOD will win it hands down....

  • The_Czar_of_Bizarre on February 1, 2010, 15:41 GMT

    This Comparision of individuals in team sport is waste of time. Ponting critics will say that he has scored when guarded by great individuals around him, Sachin critics will say... (they say so many things and find themselves in a spot after he keeps reinventing himself.), Gilchrist critics will say he was always in comfortable situations, Murali critics will say he chucks, and so on. This is a team sport and mostly I have seen only the arguments on team performances have reached conclusions. Comparisons are necessary only to understand how different individuals think, control their mind, control their ego, play in different situations and pitches and play different strokes. Comparisons should NOT be made to decide who is the best player ever of the decade or century or so on.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on February 1, 2010, 15:20 GMT

    I really wish people would stop this nonsense about SRT carrying the pressure/hopes of billions of people on his back blah blah blah. Thats a very 90's thing to say. The last time I checked he had Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and later Sehwag and Gambhir for help. If you think he's been a better batsman that Ricky for the past decade, thats perfectly fine, it's a very close call for me. Clsoe call between those 2 Lara, Yusof (remeber 2010 does not count...its a new decade), Sehwag, Hayden, Dravid and Kallis. Forgive me if I forget to mention your own personal favorite. Using such emotional and petty reasons like "carrying hopes of blah blah blah" is quite annoying for those who love to analyze the game whilst doing our best to shelf our selfish preferences and bias. Each player has their own individual pressures and motivations. For all you know the billions of fans have been a greater motivation rather than a burden. It all depends on the player.

  • crazyuddie on February 1, 2010, 15:18 GMT

    Compare as an analogy, the quiet brilliance of Satyajit Ray's work, and compare it to the bravado of any modern day acclaimed Indian film-maker, and I guarantee you people will still be watching Ray's films 50 years from now (a century after they were made) while the others fall by the wayside even in the next 2 decades.

  • crazyuddie on February 1, 2010, 15:12 GMT

    I too am surprised that there is no mention of Tendulkar. Watching the recent test matches between India and Bangladesh once again reminded me why I would much rather watch Tendulkar make 10, then others make massive double hundreds: the sheer art of his batting. I agree that Lara's batting too was beautiful, but Tendulkar's is beautiful in a different way - it is artfully subtle. There is a certain grace and exactitude that I, at least, in my almost two years of watching cricket have never seen in any other player. The strangest thing is people speak of Tendulkar's heyday when he murdered attacks, and yes, his batting was beautiful even then. These days though, he compiles innings of rare beauty & panache. I wonder, people don't see it now, but am certain there will be supreme nostalgia when he leaves. I mean, for a man of Tendulkar's stature and achievement, he compiles two beauties against one of the weakest sides of the sport. What does that say about his art? A lot! Magnificence.

  • vickscricket on February 1, 2010, 14:50 GMT

    All you Indian fans pimping for Tendulkar are being irrational, and as a fellow Indian I am embarrassed. Tendulkar, when compared with what others achieved, was average/poor in the last decade, no doubt about it. He hardly scored a run in 2003, 2005 and 2006, was 23rd or so in batting averages of the decade (excluding runs against Bangladesh). I am sure if Tendulkar played all of this decade and scored 0 every time, his rabid fans would still consider him the best in the world because he carried the expectation of 1 billion people every time he walked out to bat. What utter nonsense!

  • AncientAstronaut on February 1, 2010, 14:46 GMT

    Beautiful article. I never agreed with Ponting as the player of the decade. He deserves a place in the top 5, but he doesn't deserve the top position. I'd rather have McGrath, Warne, or Tendulkar there. And you're damn right when you question the exclusion of Sehwag from the list! He too should have been there.

  • Biggus on February 1, 2010, 14:46 GMT

    Cricket is ostensibly a game for gentlemen, but apparently it does not extend to many of the fans who post on this site. There's a lot of anger, hate and just plain nastiness in these postings, not to mention the explosion of vitriolic postings in the original player of the decade article. I was truly saddened. The internet has given us a way to talk about the game we love with people over the world and what do we use it for? Abuse! The use of that sort of language says a lot more about the writer than those it is addressed to. Let's lift the tone of the conversation please!

  • GuyFromLancs on February 1, 2010, 13:55 GMT

    This is an excellent article that has gone some way to changing my mind on the issue of player of the decade. I agreed with Ponting at first, not only has he scored a mammoth amount of runs but also done so in a consistently attacking fashion. Worthy of a top 5 no doubt. But as good as he has been he still wouldn't figure in my all time XI and he hasn't changed the game of circket per sa.

    Murali, Mcgrath and Gilchrist all would and all have. Every team, even Bangladesh, now expects a wicket-keeper who can keep to spin, average above 40 with the bat and counter attack in test cricket yet none are really likely to find one. Sangakarra is now a full time batsman, Dhoni has not performed as he should in the the longer form, Boucher is average with the bat, Mcullum and Prior are too inconistent, Akmal is a poor player.

    Despite posessing no eye popping traits, Mcgrath is the best fast bowler the game has seen in 20 years. And Murali is a one-off pushing 800 wickets.

    Great article

  • PrinceofPortofSpain on February 1, 2010, 13:36 GMT

    Brian Lara is the Second Double World Record Holder, the Second batsman to hit two test Tripples and has the Second most double centuries in test history. He is the only player to have two scores over 350 in tests, the highest scores by a No. 3 batsman in history. What else does a player have to do to be considered the best of a decade, post WW 2 or the top 5 of all time?

  • Vasi-Koosi on February 1, 2010, 13:30 GMT

    I am surprised no one is discussing Saurav Ganguly. I am not a big fan of Ganguly, but look at the revolution he has created. Indian Cricket was at the crossroads, he pulled up everyone and turned Indian Cricket upside down. If the world is talking about Indian Cricket, I will not say it is because of SRT, though he did have a hand. It is the combination of SG, RD and John did the trick.

  • Theena on February 1, 2010, 13:07 GMT

    @MiddleStump: Did you happen to see Sehwag's innings in Galle during the Sri Lankan tour of 2008? I suggest you do so before you parade your ignorance for everyone to see.

    On topic: Mr Bhattacharya, your comments on Lara completely resonates with me: watching Lara bat (as seeing Wasim Akram or Michael Holding bowl and Jonty Rhodes field) is to see these cricketing disciplines become art forms, but Lara rarely reproduced the heights of his 90s purple patch in 2000s - though during the 2001 Sri Lankan tour his batting was divine.

  • edygriff21 on February 1, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    Quark- i think you'll find the difference huge, but not the way you think. Most of Pontings big scores have come when Australia has lost early wickets. I think from memory he only scored 4 100's after Australia had a century opening stand, but scored something like 17 when the opening stand was 30 or less. When he was batting at 6, i think he scored 4 100's when they where 4 down for less than 70.

  • straight-from-blade on February 1, 2010, 12:54 GMT

    just saying that the player who score more do not make the player great,sth we should compare the beuty,devotion and dedication for comming out with ranking,a student who scores more in exam is not the best,because sth other student who is working hard even do not get good marks,but people respect sucess not the devotion of student who is working hard,accor to law of nature this not the best,there is no exact defination of greatness,even likes of sachin\pointings\lara are not great,you can ask a question they r undisputed ones,but wht u know about these peoples in their personal life,how great they r,like recent example of woods,we cannot tell a player who is best in field, is also best in home or any other aspect,the things that make a man graet r contributing for development of game,doing good for country,providing support to talent,to do help other players to became good also r the factors,that make the player great,not the immaterial wickets\runs\catches.

  • Neil247 on February 1, 2010, 12:52 GMT

    PRASHANT1(prashant1 on (February 01 2010, 08:01 AM GMT) ) has made the most accurate comment. As have "NIgel winterbottom"...Just coz someone looks good and plays a few spectacular knocks hardly means anything. WOuld you really want someone in your team who performs spectacurly only some 10% of the time?! however spectacular? THe TRUE greats are the ones who can perform most times, for a long period...the dependables. Consistency is the SINGLE hardest thing to achieve in sport.

  • ITJOBSUCKS on February 1, 2010, 12:18 GMT

    @Nisar Ahmed Awan. Without checking facts from cricinfo, plz don't put your non-sense & stupid comments. FYI, Sachin has got Best away record(Avg 56), if leave out Dravid's record (Avg-57). If you consider AUS,SA,ENG, Sachin has done far better than anybody in the world including Dravid. Coming back to your pakistani players, most of them have got pathetic record outside including Yousuf(AUS-31 SA-26),Younis(AUS-31,SA-33) & Inzimam(AUS-30,SA-31). Even you compare to ponting's record in India(Avg-20) & Eng(Avg 42), Sachin has done far better in AUS(Avg-58) & ENG(Avg-62). Coming back to winning matches in ODI, Sachin has won more matches(MOM-60) than any other player in the world including

  • Jonathan_E on February 1, 2010, 12:14 GMT

    In response to Rahul: Neither Saqlain nor Muralitharan invented anything of the "doosra" but the name. There had been people with a technical "off-spinner's" action who could spin the ball the other way, before them. Obviously the most famous is Sonny Ramadhin, who could apparently spin the ball both ways with no visible change to his off-spinner's action.

    On the later 1981 England tour of the West Indies, they encountered a spinner called Harold Joseph who took a 5-for against them for Trinidad. In his book about the tour, Geoff Boycott writes that Gooch was "playing this fellow as an off-spinner" only to see the next couple of deliveries go the other way. In other words, in today's terms, he may have been an off-spinner with a doosra.

    Unfortunately, Joseph was subsequently called for throwing (sound familiar?) in 1984, and his career never took off. CricInfo lists him as a "leg-break/googly" bowler - did he change his style after being called, or was Gooch mistaken in 1981?

  • quark on February 1, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    i believe Ponting has scored many a run and centuries over the years; even doling Australians out of trouble, but what everyone does tend to forget is that he was a No. 3 batsman who was guarded by a fearsome opening attack for most of the decade (Matty Hayden and Justin Langer). The real test for Number 3 comes when the opening combination is not that masterful and he may have to face the new ball early on. Probably a very good assessment of Ponting would be to prepare 2 stats: One where he came in after Haydos and Langer gave the Aussies a great start (which they almost did everytime) and the second where he had to come in very early since the openers departed. It would be very interesting to see the difference (which i believe would be huge)

  • HLANGL on February 1, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    Considering the complete mastery of batsmanship, the elegent manner in which he gathered all his runs & high leadership credentials (though he lost the Ashes twice, he brought many more glories to compensate for what he lost, including 2 World Cups, 2 mini World Cups & 50+ test wins), Ricky Ponting deserves the no. 1 spot without any doubt. There may have been many other influential players in Gilchrist, Shewag, not to forget the 2 all time masters Lara & Tendulkar as well, but if you do any fair judgement without being biased to any nation, you have to accept the fact that Ponting was the permier player of the past decade.

  • Shyam_prasad on February 1, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    I understand the basic argument against going by statistics alone but the author lost it when he starts arguing the case of oddballs for the player of the decade title. To take the author's third choice, Sehwag - by any measure Ponting has performed better than him with the bat while also being the captain of a side in transition. Sehwag would at best be an emotional choice, which if ultimately had been the majority choice would have discredited the process of choosing the player of the decade. Remember, the player of the decade should be the best cricketer of the decade and not just someone who invented a shot or set new standards for aggressiveness.

  • Nipun on February 1, 2010, 11:14 GMT

    Partially true,but ultimately it's all about statistics,because your statistics determine what you have done.Virender Sehwag may have redefined test openers' roles,but again,had he not been able to score BIG RUNS with his game,he would not have been considered.Brian Lara may have been the most beautiful thing to watch when in form,but again,had he not scored big runs,no one would have remembered him.Yes,Victor Trumper doesn't have statistics like the likes of Sachin,Ricky,Jacques Kallis,etc.have,but his test average is about 40 I guess,& that's good.Many cricketers have great statistics but are not considered great(like Allan Border is not considered great by most experts),but no great cricketer exists without great statistics.

  • shankupals on February 1, 2010, 10:56 GMT

    @Nisar Ahmed Awan, whenever you want to make a statement, make it based on facts. Utilise the stats availabale in Criciinfo database. SRT is equally consistent on fast tracks also. Now coming to inswingers who is not bothered by inswingers? I agree that Razak exploited in one series. did he do the same again? No. Don't tell me that 90 centuries don't contribute anything in winning. You must be cric blind.

  • shankupals on February 1, 2010, 10:43 GMT

    I really don't understand these people. Cricket is made great by delightful shots rather than 'See ball Hit Ball' kind of players like Gilly and Sehwag. These players look great when hitting and also look silly when they get out. Cricket is made great by Lara's flamboyant strokes and Tendulkar's delightful shots etc. We can pay to watch these cricketers. If demolishing is the only criteria then there are many players who are playing and excelling in the Twenty-20 tournaments.

  • on February 1, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    I disagree, Statistics are a better measure of "worth" because anyone can "look" elegant, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think Andy Flower from Zimbabwe was better to watch then a traditional "elegant" player as you never knew what was going to happen.

    Being Australian I cant really comment on Sehwag as I haven't seen much of him but I place him in the same category as Hayden, and I didn't think Hayden was "that' good. He was a fantastic opener that bludgeoned attacks and had an average to match, but "tonkers" in my view at least, aren't as good as batsmen that have old fashioned elegance. Mark Waugh is a good example, again im a little biased as he's my favourite player but his bat was half the size of Sehwag's and Haydens and Co.

  • kevin_thaifan on February 1, 2010, 9:17 GMT

    You talk about influence to the game and yet you added a slam bang batsman such as Sehwag. Then on that scale why didn't you add Shahid Afridi? Sachin's name being left out is a great mistake for name a man who can carry the burden of a billion people everytime he walk down the pitch with a bat in his hand. Ponting, Hayden and other greats had never been such an influence that when they are out, the television sets are turned off in a million homes. Ponting as a player of decade was lucky for having a team that comprised of the best in business, allowing him to concentrate on his batting. However as he had been given a young team now, the batting collapse even if the captaincy is great as ever.

  • CricFan24 on February 1, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    Prashant1: NAIL on the head!! longmemory: LOL, good one. i probably would count amont the Tendulkar faithful (crazies?)...but there is a place for everything. The author says something to the effect that Ponting did the same thing but 5-10% more consistently...What!!! isnt that one of the primary things? Thats like saying Federer has more slams than the rest coz he's a bit more consistent. Longevity and consistency are the PRIMARY pillars of greatness. There have been innumerable sportsmen who have spectacular moments...but is is really of any use if you play say 5 blinding innings out of some 200? Gimme a Ponting/Tendulkar/Kallis/Dravid any day of the week.

  • JackSparrows on February 1, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    @Nisar Ahmed Awan: all the points made are contradicting itself, according to the stats India have won more number of matches than lost when Sachin has scored a century, its not just Sachin who has scored lots of run at home that is the case with every batsman, home condition will have an advantage and using the advantage to prosper is nothing wrong but Sachin has equally prospered outside sub continent too, if you compare Ricky Pontings stats in India to Sachin's stats in Australia then Sachin will always come out on top. And finally I have never seen a single batsman not troubled by an inswinger, remember ponting's miseries in australia facing Ishant Sharma in his debut series? first check the stats and then comment. Though all said in favour of Sachin, I still believe player of the decade award still belongs to ricky for his exquisite cricketing personality and achievements (both as a captain and as a player).

  • sudzz71 on February 1, 2010, 8:35 GMT

    If genius is the terminology then it should include people with sublime skills not necessarily results or techniques for example Javed Miandad or Kapil Dev or Gilchrist or Sobers or Botham etc who by their brilliance have completely changed the way the sport has been played.

    Others like Bradman,Lara, Tendulkar etc are greats or even super greats because of their records and their skills but they are a tad different from the aforementioned individuals who have great records but not as great as the latter ones.

  • timus6778 on February 1, 2010, 8:26 GMT

    no doubt about gilchrist's dominance in the last decade...mcgrath's unquestionable and impeccable bowling makes him the greatest bowler in my view..(i haven't seen the likes of imran khan or marshall or lillee)..sehwag's slaughtering act too earns him a place in the top three..but what about kallis and dravid who once again brought the age old classic style of batting in play again. kallis was the reason why the captains wanted a utility player..and all of us believe him to be the greatest allrounder after sobers..and dravid's flair and his style of batting-made-look-so-easy-when-it-isn't..also deserves little space in ur article,if not the entire focus.. anyways it was a good article..

  • Longmemory on February 1, 2010, 8:07 GMT

    To all those characters who clog every cricket blogsite anywhere and everywhere braying their undying love for Sachin - please, give it a rest. Not everyone is obliged to share your views - and screeching it in capitals and multiple exclamation marks isn't going to do it either. If you haven't already done so, I suggest builiding a small shrine to the man, installing a likeness of him in its midst, praying to it every day - and leaving the rest of us to get on with some sensible conversations about cricket.

  • prashant1 on February 1, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    The authors stand is Only PARTIALLY true. The value of any player in a team sport is how he contributes to the Team. Just because the audience gets a kick out of something in actual fact counts for practically nothing.

  • srik_nar on February 1, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    Great post Rahul. Totally agree with you. While part of one's greatness can measured by metrics like runs scored, wickets taken, matches won etc., the true measure of greatness has to be one's impact, be it on the sport itself or on his country's fortunes. That way, Ponting would come way down in the pecking order. Gilchrist redefined the role of a wicketkeeper batsman, Sehwag took explosive batting to an entirely different level, Warne & Murali revived & rejuvenated the dying art form called spin and inspired many youngsters take to spin again, Mcgrath had the single largest impact on his team's continued dominance over a long period, Lara set some amazing records apart from the fact that his style of batting was absolutely unique, Sachin would have inspired thousands of youngsters (not just Indian) to take up the sport (but I guess it was even more relevant in the '90s) and so on. Unfortunately, all these subjective aspects take a backseat when it comes to measuring greatness!!!

  • vivekgm on February 1, 2010, 7:55 GMT

    Sachin Tendulkar not figuring in the list of the best during the 2000s is understandable as his best years were during the 1990s. But to comment that he has not won enough games for India is something I find difficult to digest. Yes, in Test cricket his record for scoring under difficult circumstances in the second innings is not as good as his overall average suggests; but you don't score 45 centuries and 90 odd 50+ scores in ODI without impacting the result of those games.Also to suggest that he scored most runs in the sub-continent is also not true. His home and away stats speak for themselves - yes his record at home is better but his record abroad is by no means bad. That he played more cricket at home during his career is no fault of his - he does not get to choose the tournament schedule.

  • Mantro1984 on February 1, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    Ponting can never be no.1. Australia was the best bowling attack in the decade, a threatening one. How would ponting fare against that attack? The only attack that came close to aussie menacing threat was Indian spinners on Indian tracks? How did ponting fare there? Easy runs in Australia against under pressure opponents after Hayden had taken gas out of them doesnt make some one player of the decade. its a shame that experts rely on figures. Look at Dravid, Kallis. Batting under pressure, alien conditions, history against them, good attacks and these guys have delivered the goods. Chips down and backs against the wall, you would bet on them to bail you out. I think the seq. should be - Mcgrath, Dravid, Kallis, Haydos, Murli, Gili.....

  • on February 1, 2010, 7:46 GMT

    @yogikanna, i have to disagree with you. Ponting was not a great captain.His job as a captain was made far easier by having the best team of the 1990's. He had Warne, Lee and Mc' Grath for bowling. And also Hayden, Gilly, Hussey, etc, in batting. But, he is a great batsman

  • CricFan78 on February 1, 2010, 7:26 GMT

    Well some people who are mentioning Hayden as a player who changed role of opener conveniently forget that Sehwag's SR is 33% better than that of Haydos. If Hayden was bludgeoning the bowlers then Sehwag has been murdering them at SR of 80+. Hayden's SR is only incrementally better than prev. aggressive openers such as Slater whereas Sehwag beat it hands down.

  • cooljay12 on February 1, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    Couldnt believe that there is no mention of Sachin or Dravid in an article about cricketing greats. But there is no doubt that if u take achievements of ODI's and Test together in the last decade Ponting Leads.

  • Aussieicon91 on February 1, 2010, 6:55 GMT

    Sehwag didn't change the role of Opening Batsman. Matthew Hayden did. Hayden was bulldozing bowlers around the park a few years before Sehwag was. Ie, Sehwag didn't start averaging over 50 until 2004, whilst Hayden's most productive years in Test Cricket were between 2001-04 where his strike-rate was as much as 65. Sehwag can't be labelled as great as he is nowhere as dominant outside the subcontient as he is inside it. Gautam Gambhir is better then Sehwag.

  • yogikanna on February 1, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    The author is forgetting that Ponting was not just chosen for his batting ability and statistics, but also for his wonderful captaincy that made Australia the most dominant cricketing side in the world. They won so many Tests and worldcups under his captaincy, so I was not at all surprised by thier choice.

  • ricky011 on February 1, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    Whenever we talk about cricketing greats, one name always deserves to be in the top 3 is Sachin Tendulkar. He is a turly a cricketing genius & the peoples around the world are admiring him. The way he has carried the burdon of 1 billion peoples hope in India, it is simply outstanding.

  • on February 1, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    hmmm i would like to tell u y sachin is not the greatest of 2000s

    i) He is poor at normal inswingers ,,, actually some times he looks nervous ,,, Razzaq has exploited it a lot .... ii) Whenever sachin has scored a century, india couldnt win a test or a one dayer.... iii) Sachin has been scoring a lots of runs in sub continent ,,, he has scored relatively less number of runs outside subcontinent....

  • AnilMaskey on February 1, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    I think it's a great myth in cricket that Sachin is the best since Bradman and that Bradman himself said it. Sachin's fans conveniently forget that Bradman had just said to his wife that Sachin's technique and the way he batted reminded him of himself. That is in no way the measure of greatness or that does not imply that Bradman said Sachin is the best batsman after himself.

  • jimmy_anirudh on February 1, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    It Feels really sad... when such an columnists leave the Player like Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar aside. I just regret that if the Player Like Jacques Kallis was there in the sides of England or Australia they would have made him GOD...there wouldn't be any Ponting to the news.... Players like Andrew Flintoff, Andrew Strauss are praised like anything.... but both ways in the stats or play wise they are nothing but toes if compared to J. Kallis, Rahul Dravid......I am indian and I know and beilive Sachin is the best... but J.Kallis is truly the player of the Decade for me....

  • on February 1, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    @champ222212, Have u seen Sehwag's 154 in Adelede 2008 in his comeback test? Is not it the kind of Innings u talking about??What do u think he is a brainless cricketer, who just slams and bangs, then he would not have got close to three triple centuries. U better acknowledge the telent of the man, without being myopic.

  • cronic on February 1, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    wow that is the first time iam see ing no sachin in the list of grts.keep sehwag,ponting aside who has the most runs ..who is still consistent..??

  • hiranchathu on February 1, 2010, 6:10 GMT

    Howcome Shane Warne came into ur top list when Murali is there? Mr. Rahul you should have analyse the cricket history more i recon...

  • panchanathan on February 1, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    When it comes to Influencing cricket there is no one better than Sachin. Even Sehwag grew up watching Sachin's mastery and so many other Indians watch and play cricket today just because of Sachin's game in the 1990s. Sachin's influence in cricket is much much greater than all people you have in your list.

  • Shrini on February 1, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    Apart from being a cricketer par ecellence, a great cricketer should be a great ambassador of the game. And while there is no doubt that Ponting is an outstanding batsman, the question that begs to be answered is, is he a good ambassador of the game? And I guess if you look at it from that perspective, Sachin Tendulkar is probbably the greatest cricketer the world has seen, and will evr see.

  • abhibane on February 1, 2010, 5:48 GMT

    What is heartening is that finally we have an article that raises the question about how greatness should be defined in cricket.

  • VivaVizag on February 1, 2010, 5:36 GMT

    Rahul, FYI. Sachin is above and beyond anyone else you have mentioned here.

    "Generations to come will scarce believe such a one as this walked the cricket field in blood and flesh."

  • champ222212 on February 1, 2010, 5:06 GMT

    I agree that ponting has been the most dominant batsman of this decade, kallis the best all-rounder and so on so forth. But Sachin is still the closest thing to The Don, as he said himself. The fact that he carried the emotions and expectations of a billion people for such a long time is commendable. Also, frankly speaking, he is the first cricketing "megastar". You don't get such a fanfare and accolades from all over the world for nothing; but maybe because he has scored 25,000 odd runs. Not much, right! Mr. Bhattacharya?

  • MiddleStump on February 1, 2010, 5:03 GMT

    This is a very myopic view of greatness. Sehwag is a ONE dimensional cricketer. When was the last time he put his head down and batted for a few hours to save a test for his country or a even match for his state? Greatness is not all about slam and bang all the time. Tendulkar is great batsman simply because of the way he can adapt to the situation depending on the state of the match or the pitch. Which is why he can be a blaster or a rock solid defender either in the one day game or a test. And please understand the difference between a great cricketer and a great batsman or bowler. Bradman was the greatest batsman, Sobers the greatest cricketer who excelled in batting, bowling, and fielding.

  • Amu7 on February 1, 2010, 4:47 GMT

    Just what is the problem having Ponting having the player of decade . Most successful captain in the history, Two world Cup wins, Australia reigned supreme in the decade till these frightful ratings started showing Sri Lanka was better than Australia, South Africa number 1( after failing to beat Australia in home series yet again,last time Sa won home series v Aus was in 69-70) ,Highest aggregate in both ODIs and Tests throughout the decade, If that doesnt count for being the best of the decade then surely dont think what does? The achievements dont have a comparison.And thats the plain reason he is the player of decade. Yeah you try and put Sehwag forward, but he has failed to achieve a series win in Australia or South Africa and hasnt even performed any thing like in ODI WC . For the sheer audacity and Flair does the award go? I mean before 2008 most of his 100s were in either losing or drawn efforts and that doesnt really put him in an acheivers list.

  • kantiv on February 1, 2010, 4:43 GMT

    This is a really well written article. The IPL auction proves this. Ricky Ponting has been given a horrific deal compared to the rest. There is very little written on this surprisingly.

  • on February 1, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    A very thought provoking article, although one element of the 'greatest cricketers of the decade' criteria seems to have been overlooked. Sehwag, although undoutably a genious with significant claims to being the greatest test cricketer of the decade, must surely suffer from his poor record in ODIs. Here more than in any other measure is Ponting's advantage - he has been the dominant batsman of the most dominant team across all forms of cricket.

  • Shash28 on February 1, 2010, 4:02 GMT

    And as for the question of Sehwage,.. while there's probably no batsmen like him... the real trend setters for Test opening batting were Justin Langer and Mathew Hayden, no one can deny them that... it was Australia who started pushing 3 and 4... and it remains to be seen if anyone will take that forward... Sehwage is natural but is a by-product of what that pair did for Test cricket, Hayden in particular... I am no Australian but a Sri Lanka who loves the emotion and battles of Test cricket... am one who admires a Graeme Smith grit against the odds to a Sehwage or Dilshan blitz...

  • Shash28 on February 1, 2010, 3:57 GMT

    Mr. Bhattacharya, I understand your perplexity over the choice of the player of the decade... in all truthfulness I must note that it didn't surprise me. I thought the title should go to a player who not only had the stats, but also survived through to the end (2000-2009) and summarized the decade in question. This would leave me to exclude players such as Warne, Lara, Gilchrist etc. (the first two I'd rate with SRT, Akram and Waqar as players of the 90s). Murali finished the decade as the greatest wicket taker, Jacque Kallis has proved to be a truly great allrounder - in fitness, adaptability and stats... (and he continues to go strong - the fact that there isn't another 'Young' allrounder capable of matching him by representing all 3 formats should ring out clear)... and Ponting has been the standout batsmen of the decade... as a tone setting, aggressive batsmen - in a batsmen decade. But Ponting, represents Australian dominance and that is the summary of the 2000s.

  • SimonSpliff on February 1, 2010, 3:55 GMT

    Couldn't agree with your sentiments more. Stats are huge and impressive things and sometimes impossible to see past. Most of us will have never seen Bradman bat but his average of 99.94 means that it's impossible to look past him.It can't never be said that he has any direct influence on us and surely that is the most important thing. Ponting's image, as a grizzled, street fighting, tough, scar ridden warrior is much more interesting to me than his runs. As an Englishman it's said we love an underdog, and that's definitely true. I love watching a player who may not have all the talent in the word and who looks ugly make a good career through sheer mental strength like Mark Waugh, Rahul Dravid and to a lesser extent Paul Collingwood. The way they fight and suceed is hugely inspiring to us all. Also I like it when I can see myself in a cricketer. My favourite player is Andrew Strauss, not because he is the best, obviously, but because (if I was any good) I'd bat like him.

  • mumbaiguy79 on February 1, 2010, 3:47 GMT

    So....Do you know there is a cricketer called Tendulkar Mr. Rahul? He has made more runs than anyone in the game. Forget about the centuries he has made but at least the way he has carried India on his shoulders should have been a worthy of a mention.

  • Psyc_s on February 1, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    Hi Rahul, I am surprised to see Sachin Tendulkar's name was not mentioned when you are talking about great cricketers...The criterias you mentioned on the first paragraph can only go in match with very few greats...No offence though, it is understandable that most of the cricinfo articles have his name one way or other...All the guys you mentioned are entertainers and they have made impact on the younger generation cricketers...

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  • Psyc_s on February 1, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    Hi Rahul, I am surprised to see Sachin Tendulkar's name was not mentioned when you are talking about great cricketers...The criterias you mentioned on the first paragraph can only go in match with very few greats...No offence though, it is understandable that most of the cricinfo articles have his name one way or other...All the guys you mentioned are entertainers and they have made impact on the younger generation cricketers...

  • mumbaiguy79 on February 1, 2010, 3:47 GMT

    So....Do you know there is a cricketer called Tendulkar Mr. Rahul? He has made more runs than anyone in the game. Forget about the centuries he has made but at least the way he has carried India on his shoulders should have been a worthy of a mention.

  • SimonSpliff on February 1, 2010, 3:55 GMT

    Couldn't agree with your sentiments more. Stats are huge and impressive things and sometimes impossible to see past. Most of us will have never seen Bradman bat but his average of 99.94 means that it's impossible to look past him.It can't never be said that he has any direct influence on us and surely that is the most important thing. Ponting's image, as a grizzled, street fighting, tough, scar ridden warrior is much more interesting to me than his runs. As an Englishman it's said we love an underdog, and that's definitely true. I love watching a player who may not have all the talent in the word and who looks ugly make a good career through sheer mental strength like Mark Waugh, Rahul Dravid and to a lesser extent Paul Collingwood. The way they fight and suceed is hugely inspiring to us all. Also I like it when I can see myself in a cricketer. My favourite player is Andrew Strauss, not because he is the best, obviously, but because (if I was any good) I'd bat like him.

  • Shash28 on February 1, 2010, 3:57 GMT

    Mr. Bhattacharya, I understand your perplexity over the choice of the player of the decade... in all truthfulness I must note that it didn't surprise me. I thought the title should go to a player who not only had the stats, but also survived through to the end (2000-2009) and summarized the decade in question. This would leave me to exclude players such as Warne, Lara, Gilchrist etc. (the first two I'd rate with SRT, Akram and Waqar as players of the 90s). Murali finished the decade as the greatest wicket taker, Jacque Kallis has proved to be a truly great allrounder - in fitness, adaptability and stats... (and he continues to go strong - the fact that there isn't another 'Young' allrounder capable of matching him by representing all 3 formats should ring out clear)... and Ponting has been the standout batsmen of the decade... as a tone setting, aggressive batsmen - in a batsmen decade. But Ponting, represents Australian dominance and that is the summary of the 2000s.

  • Shash28 on February 1, 2010, 4:02 GMT

    And as for the question of Sehwage,.. while there's probably no batsmen like him... the real trend setters for Test opening batting were Justin Langer and Mathew Hayden, no one can deny them that... it was Australia who started pushing 3 and 4... and it remains to be seen if anyone will take that forward... Sehwage is natural but is a by-product of what that pair did for Test cricket, Hayden in particular... I am no Australian but a Sri Lanka who loves the emotion and battles of Test cricket... am one who admires a Graeme Smith grit against the odds to a Sehwage or Dilshan blitz...

  • on February 1, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    A very thought provoking article, although one element of the 'greatest cricketers of the decade' criteria seems to have been overlooked. Sehwag, although undoutably a genious with significant claims to being the greatest test cricketer of the decade, must surely suffer from his poor record in ODIs. Here more than in any other measure is Ponting's advantage - he has been the dominant batsman of the most dominant team across all forms of cricket.

  • kantiv on February 1, 2010, 4:43 GMT

    This is a really well written article. The IPL auction proves this. Ricky Ponting has been given a horrific deal compared to the rest. There is very little written on this surprisingly.

  • Amu7 on February 1, 2010, 4:47 GMT

    Just what is the problem having Ponting having the player of decade . Most successful captain in the history, Two world Cup wins, Australia reigned supreme in the decade till these frightful ratings started showing Sri Lanka was better than Australia, South Africa number 1( after failing to beat Australia in home series yet again,last time Sa won home series v Aus was in 69-70) ,Highest aggregate in both ODIs and Tests throughout the decade, If that doesnt count for being the best of the decade then surely dont think what does? The achievements dont have a comparison.And thats the plain reason he is the player of decade. Yeah you try and put Sehwag forward, but he has failed to achieve a series win in Australia or South Africa and hasnt even performed any thing like in ODI WC . For the sheer audacity and Flair does the award go? I mean before 2008 most of his 100s were in either losing or drawn efforts and that doesnt really put him in an acheivers list.

  • MiddleStump on February 1, 2010, 5:03 GMT

    This is a very myopic view of greatness. Sehwag is a ONE dimensional cricketer. When was the last time he put his head down and batted for a few hours to save a test for his country or a even match for his state? Greatness is not all about slam and bang all the time. Tendulkar is great batsman simply because of the way he can adapt to the situation depending on the state of the match or the pitch. Which is why he can be a blaster or a rock solid defender either in the one day game or a test. And please understand the difference between a great cricketer and a great batsman or bowler. Bradman was the greatest batsman, Sobers the greatest cricketer who excelled in batting, bowling, and fielding.

  • champ222212 on February 1, 2010, 5:06 GMT

    I agree that ponting has been the most dominant batsman of this decade, kallis the best all-rounder and so on so forth. But Sachin is still the closest thing to The Don, as he said himself. The fact that he carried the emotions and expectations of a billion people for such a long time is commendable. Also, frankly speaking, he is the first cricketing "megastar". You don't get such a fanfare and accolades from all over the world for nothing; but maybe because he has scored 25,000 odd runs. Not much, right! Mr. Bhattacharya?