August 29, 2014

Test cricket's young Fab Four

Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson will take turns as the No. 1 Test batsman. So far each has shown only one technical weakness
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Prior to hitting peak period for a Test batsman, between age 24 and 32, the young player will go through teething problems, highs and lows, swings of fortune, before shooting for the stars. If he is destined, he will learn quickly and climb the ladder to become the best of his time.

In an exercise to crystal-gaze into the future, let's look at four young tyros who have shown themselves to be the leading young bucks in Test cricket today - Kane Williamson from New Zealand, Virat Kohli from India, Joe Root from England, and Steven Smith from Australia. No one from the other countries quite matches these players so far. All four are seriously earmarked as future captains of their countries.

Here are their Test records to date, late August 2014:

Test records as of August 29, 2014
Name Age Position Tests Inns Runs Ave HS 100 50 Ducks
Kane Williamson 24 3 34 62 2377 40.28 161* 7 13 5
Virat Kohli 25 4 29 51 1855 39.46 119 6 9 4
Joe Root 23 5 22 40 1732 50.94 200* 5 7 1
Steven Smith 25 5 20 38 1361 40.02 138* 4 6 2

The common denominator is that each had a period of extreme failure, had and have similar positions and responsibilities in their sides, and have the hunger to go on to be the best they can be.

Williamson, then 20, began with a bang with 131 on debut in India, against slow bowlers, batting at No. 6. A teething period followed, then 19 innings on, he pulled off a rearguard resistance against South Africa and broke the slump, scoring 102 not out. Then ten more innings went by with no return until his 135 in Sri Lanka, then 14 more before he hit another crossroad, took the right fork. Since then he has notched four more tons in his last 16 innings. After moving to No. 3 and struggling to counter bounce outside the off stump, he found his footwork, and is firmly on his way to becoming the greatest run scorer in New Zealand history.

Kohli started out in one-day internationals aged 19 and soon became a consistent run scorer, learning from Sachin Tendulkar and Co. At 22, he made his Test debut, played steadily initially, but it wasn't until he scored his first century in Adelaide in his 14th innings, that he showed genuine Test class, going on to nail four more hundreds in the next 13 innings. Everything, especially with his form in one-dayers being outstanding, was turning to gold. At his point, Kohli was the talk of the world, the heir apparent to Tendulkar.

Then disaster struck. In his last ten innings he has hit absolute rock bottom, with a need to assess and start again. Despite a solid technique with no obvious weakness - which produced centuries in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand - he has found the late-swinging ball in England to be his nemesis. In short, his footwork needs to be more decisive in getting close to the ball, shutting down late movement.

Root started positively, at 21 like Williamson, scoring 73 on debut in India batting at No. 6. With not much more success, he took eight further innings as an apprentice, to raise his first hundred, at Headingley against New Zealand. In the following back-to-back Ashes series, he jumped up the order to open but dropped down to three and struggled to get off the crease. In his next 19 innings following that maiden century, he scored a century and two fifties until his highest Test score of 200 not out at Lord's this summer, batting at five, against Sri Lanka. His desire to get forward more has improved his game immeasurably.

Next year, he faces Australia and South Africa, and will no doubt be challenged to hold on to a 50-plus average. His new-found front-foot play will be tested against the best quick bowlers in the world. But by holding a permanent spot at five, it will enable him to build on the superb form he showed in the summer of 2014. Root, at present, has the upper hand on the other three statistically, but a similar rich run by the others and the mood can quickly change.

Smith started slowly - it took 23 innings for him to score his first century. He has since struck three centuries in his last 15 innings and looks solid at five, and has a chance to learn and build even further, batting behind Michael Clarke. Initially he looked anxious and fidgety, lacking a still position when watching the ball. But on realising that footwork and body position are the cornerstones to successful batting, he now seems comfortable playing home or away, against pace or spin, off front or back foot.

All four have each shown one obvious weakness at some point, but not two. They have been able to overcome problems, with a permanent batting position locked down being the key. Only Kohli has shown a need to correct a glaring weakness exposed at this stage of development.

All four have similar talent, hunger, ambition and responsibility. All four will go on to captain their countries. All four will reach peak form in a few years' time, and then the real battle will commence as to who will be the No. 1 batsman in the world.

My sense is that they will all take turns as the No. 1 Test batsman, while Kohli already has the one-day mantle in his sights. Maybe it is his prowess in, and preference for, the limited-over formats that will hold him back in Tests? Maintaining one's game while playing three different formats is the most challenging aspect confronting the modern-day batsman.

And who will join these fabulous four?

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s and early '90s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | August 29, 2014, 3:56 GMT

    SA's young Quinton de Kock will outdo them all. At 21 he has played 23 ODIs at an ave over 50, is the # 8 ranked ODI batsman, & joint fastest to 1000 ODI runs, with Vic Richards, Jonathan Trott & Kevin Pietersen. Only two ODI opening batsman in the records have averages over 50 - Hashim Amla, & his opening partner, Quinton de Kock. de Kock is one of only 5 batsmen to have scored 3 back to back ODI centuries: Abbas, Anwar, Gibbs, de Villiers, & de Kock. (whoa - 3 of these 5 are Saffas!) He has 5 ODI centuries: 3 in SA, 1 each in SL & Abu Dhabi, and 2 50s.

    Well what about tests?. Played only 4, debuting as a last minute sub facing Mitchell Johnson in his 2013/14 pomp, & his 2nd & 3rd were against Sri Lanka, IN Sri Lanka - a tough baptism, but has made 2 50s, highest 81. His ODI start was slowish, but once he took off he REALLY took off. His tests have pulled his 1st class ave below 50.

    The kid is a phenom: he did this AS THE WICKET KEEPER! He'll be big - really big.

  • POSTED BY StevieS on | September 1, 2014, 19:25 GMT

    Greatest_Game -" Sri Lanka, IN Sri Lanka - a tough baptism" hardly, we won the last test we played against them there, not sure there is a easier place to tour as a young batsman, wickets like roads and a pop gun seam attack.

  • POSTED BY on | September 1, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    Watch out for Rahane,Q.De Cock

  • POSTED BY Cricket.Guru on | September 1, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    De Kock along with Kohli and Root will be the future super stars for sure...

  • POSTED BY Johnny_129 on | August 31, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    Watch out for Pujara, De Kock & Rahane too - In that order.

  • POSTED BY Crickleo on | August 31, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    @KrisRam, NZ is certainly not a 'weaker team'. Boult and Southee are both magnificent young swing bowlers currently ranked in the top 10. Also got Neil Wagner; the old ball bowler, and Matt Henry, who is 22 i believe with pace. NZ future looking very promising. As for everyone saying Matthews, this list is for under 25s. I think Kohli is overrated and can't seem to adapt to the test format of patience and precision with the swinging red ball. Smith, Williamson and Root though, very promising. Perhaps Darren Bravo also, but he needs more discipline

  • POSTED BY Thaju on | August 31, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    It is surprising to see Angelo Mathews not in the list.

  • POSTED BY Sexysteven on | August 31, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    Yea I would certainly add Angelo to that list dekock will be up there one day Darren bravo also maybe David smart ass warner is another so there is afew around that could be on that list samju Samson from India I would expect to see him appear at some point in the future that kid has so much talent that I reckon should be given ago now for India I think he's good enough and I'm sure there's a lot more players you could put on that list of course Crowe is bias he's got akiwi on that list I'm akiwi to but I just hope that Williamson does live upto his his talent he does look like he should be a 10,000 run 30 test century player for nz so I hope that happens

  • POSTED BY RahaneRules on | August 31, 2014, 3:23 GMT

    why are all saying quinton decock he cant put bat to ball against srilankan spinners and he was living dangerously in his 81 he is lucky to get that score and see his odi centuries every ball and u see how lucky he is but i dont think he is suited for test cricket because his temperment is not good but his technique is ok and he didnt face a quality offspinners on turning pitches and want to see how he playes ajmal

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 23:38 GMT

    BD 30 54 4 2196 218 43.92 better than most on the list.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | August 29, 2014, 3:56 GMT

    SA's young Quinton de Kock will outdo them all. At 21 he has played 23 ODIs at an ave over 50, is the # 8 ranked ODI batsman, & joint fastest to 1000 ODI runs, with Vic Richards, Jonathan Trott & Kevin Pietersen. Only two ODI opening batsman in the records have averages over 50 - Hashim Amla, & his opening partner, Quinton de Kock. de Kock is one of only 5 batsmen to have scored 3 back to back ODI centuries: Abbas, Anwar, Gibbs, de Villiers, & de Kock. (whoa - 3 of these 5 are Saffas!) He has 5 ODI centuries: 3 in SA, 1 each in SL & Abu Dhabi, and 2 50s.

    Well what about tests?. Played only 4, debuting as a last minute sub facing Mitchell Johnson in his 2013/14 pomp, & his 2nd & 3rd were against Sri Lanka, IN Sri Lanka - a tough baptism, but has made 2 50s, highest 81. His ODI start was slowish, but once he took off he REALLY took off. His tests have pulled his 1st class ave below 50.

    The kid is a phenom: he did this AS THE WICKET KEEPER! He'll be big - really big.

  • POSTED BY StevieS on | September 1, 2014, 19:25 GMT

    Greatest_Game -" Sri Lanka, IN Sri Lanka - a tough baptism" hardly, we won the last test we played against them there, not sure there is a easier place to tour as a young batsman, wickets like roads and a pop gun seam attack.

  • POSTED BY on | September 1, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    Watch out for Rahane,Q.De Cock

  • POSTED BY Cricket.Guru on | September 1, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    De Kock along with Kohli and Root will be the future super stars for sure...

  • POSTED BY Johnny_129 on | August 31, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    Watch out for Pujara, De Kock & Rahane too - In that order.

  • POSTED BY Crickleo on | August 31, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    @KrisRam, NZ is certainly not a 'weaker team'. Boult and Southee are both magnificent young swing bowlers currently ranked in the top 10. Also got Neil Wagner; the old ball bowler, and Matt Henry, who is 22 i believe with pace. NZ future looking very promising. As for everyone saying Matthews, this list is for under 25s. I think Kohli is overrated and can't seem to adapt to the test format of patience and precision with the swinging red ball. Smith, Williamson and Root though, very promising. Perhaps Darren Bravo also, but he needs more discipline

  • POSTED BY Thaju on | August 31, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    It is surprising to see Angelo Mathews not in the list.

  • POSTED BY Sexysteven on | August 31, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    Yea I would certainly add Angelo to that list dekock will be up there one day Darren bravo also maybe David smart ass warner is another so there is afew around that could be on that list samju Samson from India I would expect to see him appear at some point in the future that kid has so much talent that I reckon should be given ago now for India I think he's good enough and I'm sure there's a lot more players you could put on that list of course Crowe is bias he's got akiwi on that list I'm akiwi to but I just hope that Williamson does live upto his his talent he does look like he should be a 10,000 run 30 test century player for nz so I hope that happens

  • POSTED BY RahaneRules on | August 31, 2014, 3:23 GMT

    why are all saying quinton decock he cant put bat to ball against srilankan spinners and he was living dangerously in his 81 he is lucky to get that score and see his odi centuries every ball and u see how lucky he is but i dont think he is suited for test cricket because his temperment is not good but his technique is ok and he didnt face a quality offspinners on turning pitches and want to see how he playes ajmal

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 23:38 GMT

    BD 30 54 4 2196 218 43.92 better than most on the list.

  • POSTED BY t20cric on | August 30, 2014, 22:57 GMT

    I know this article is only about guys who are younger than 25 but I think more can be added to the list. If we're talking about future greats of any age then probably this is a better list: Smith, Warner, Clarke, De Cock, Faf, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Mathews, Chandimal, Fawad, Shehzad, Sarfraz, Root, Ballance, Williamson, BJ Watling, Fulton, Bravo etc.. Note that I may have missed a few quality batsmen. Amla & AB aren't on the list cuz I think they've done enough to already be considered greats. There is no Bangladeshi or Zimbabwean batsmen because I haven't seen them play enough tests (not because they don't have quality batsmen). When it comes to the 3 Pakistani batsmen I mentioned only Fawad I have full belief in, the other 2 played good sometimes but I mainly mentioned them cuz I hope they become greats (I am from Pakistan). Also I included some batsmen who are currently out of form (Chandimal) cuz I think they still have the potential to be great.

  • POSTED BY promal on | August 30, 2014, 21:22 GMT

    How come Pujara is not on your list, Martin? He's surely superior to Kohli.....

  • POSTED BY Cricket.Guru on | August 30, 2014, 19:00 GMT

    De Kock and Tom Latham will join these fabulous four very soon....

  • POSTED BY 2nd_Slip on | August 30, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    Its a matter of opinion really, but my two cents worth says Root and De Kock are the real deal amongst the current crop of young batsmen playing international cricket.

  • POSTED BY KrisRam77 on | August 30, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    Darren Bravo can never improve, @ best can score centuries against weaker teams like Zim, Bang & NZ. It's too early to judge Quinton De Kock, he is yet play test cricket aginst England, Australia, Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY Cric_Janbaz on | August 30, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    so according to writer those who make test debut after 24 years of age cant make to no 1 in tests???and also to become no 1 test batsmen in the world,you also need to be captain of your side!!!! Very weird and dumb article by this writer as usual

  • POSTED BY aarifboy on | August 30, 2014, 15:22 GMT

    Angelo Matthews looks better than all four of these

  • POSTED BY thevinodzz on | August 30, 2014, 14:30 GMT

    DARREN BRAVO.... brian lara's heir

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    Considering Martin started his article with "Prior to hitting peak period for a Test batsman, between age 24 and 32..." then you would safely assume anyone in that age bracket was deliberately excluded.

    Or is that too plainly obvious?

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    +1 for Angelo Mathews. The guy is only 27, arguably more mature than everyone on the list, and mentally tougher than Smith.

    He wouldn't have made the list when he was 25, but he always had the talent. And that is exactly why he needs a mention. His rise has been phenomenal and guys in Martin's list must aspire to be like him, he's becoming a better leader every day, and with Mahela now gone, will even play a bigger role in the batting line up.

    Seriously, if Kohli, Williamson, Root and Smith and match Angelo's achievements when they are his age in a couple of years' time, then we will know they have justified Martin's expectations. As for the No 1 Test Batsman slot, Angelo currently is the best bet to dominate.

  • POSTED BY shot274 on | August 30, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    These four are probably the best 4 youngsters around. To be no 1 in the world they will need to outperform Amla, Devilliers, Clarke and Sangakarra. 3 of these 4 are in their early 30s. I cant see any of the fab 4 jumping the queue in the next 5 years.

  • POSTED BY FAB_ALI on | August 30, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    Root looks and is the best among these four but no doubt he will be the first to disappear from international scene. As with most English cricketer, they can't handle the pressure once in poor form and hardly make comebacks, there may be a very few exceptions. To me, Williamson will go a long way and if Kohli can justify his talent with consistency, he also should. Smith needs to keep chipping in with important contributions, if not hundreds, which will keep him in the side given his bowling and fielding abilities which makes him an asset on the field.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 8:05 GMT

    let all the 'young' players play atleast 100 ODIs and about 40 tests...you dont want someone rated as a fture great and turn out like a vinod kambli or a mohammed zahid...give them time.....there could be slow starters who could turn into all time greats...im talking about kallis here in this case...so give them time

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 30, 2014, 7:41 GMT

    I think Martin Crowe's criteria were: Under 25, key performances and potential captains.

    Pujara probably won't captain India, Ballance probably won't captain England, nor Bravo with the West Indies. These four have the best chance of being renowned not only as good batsmen and as the captains of their country, making them far more prominent than a pure batsman.

  • POSTED BY Piyush_Advani on | August 30, 2014, 7:22 GMT

    Completely agree with Martin's choices, those who are opposed to Smith's place in the Fab Four, he has got 100's against S.A.(in S.A.) and England( in UK and Aus) and played very well against Indian spinners in India. He is probably the best all round cricketer of the four. Oh and Martin, please share your opinion on the future Fab Four of bowlers.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 7:00 GMT

    I can't believe people question Martin Crowe's analysis. He always had a good eye for talent. Living in NZ i have come across many of his speculation about NZ's national players has been correct most of the time. These players SHOULD go on to become great batters of their generations. Not only batters though.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 6:50 GMT

    @Nathan Bell, actually I wouldn't be surprised if Jimmy Neesham developed into a Gilchrist like match winner for you guys down at no.6. He has a beautiful swing of the bat and really does remind me of Gilly both in style and approach. Looking forward to seeing him in OZ with the ball coming onto the bat.

    A quick stat on Steve Smith, he is averaging 44 since he came back into the side and has only played against other top 4 opposition in that time, including away tours of India, England and South Africa and he very nearly made centuries in all of those tours, only narrowly missing out in India with a 92 at Mohali. He is looking a man for all occasions for Australia.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 5:23 GMT

    Cant believe Pujara is not even mentioned !!

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 30, 2014, 4:13 GMT

    @Vinay Patel: He has the most runs and centuries because he has played the most. He has got 34 test caps, compared to Smith with only 20 or Root with 22.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 3:55 GMT

    Have very high expectations from Smith. Reminds me of young Steve Waugh, not the most gifted, but mentally strong. For Root, after his debut in India where he looked at ease at the crease, he definitely has moved ahead in terms of technique. Williamson has looked good and I can see the potential. Oh as far as Kohli, don't know if he is test ready or ever will be (only talking about test here).

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 3:04 GMT

    given the opportunity i would say fawad alam could be soon amongst such articles.

  • POSTED BY on | August 30, 2014, 2:57 GMT

    Gotta laugh at those questioning Williamson's place here. Most runs, centuries and 50s out of the four (including Darren Bravo) - what more does he need to do to dhow that he's a very likely future star?

  • POSTED BY InternationalCricketFollower on | August 30, 2014, 2:04 GMT

    I am assuming this for players below or equal to the age of 25. I agree with Kohli but I disagree with the other three. I do not rate Smith, Root has an inflated average from performing alot at home (Just like the young indian players) and Williamson was obviously picked because he is from NZ.

    I will go Kohli, Quinton, Bravo and Ballance.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | August 30, 2014, 1:46 GMT

    Really a very good list! They are a treat to watch as well. With lots of cricket being played at the under 21 age group these days , they learn the nuances of the game like innings building, batting under pressure, batting in front of big crowds etc at a very young age.. Now there are even 4 day games between international under 21 players.. expect a lot more young super stars in this decade.. There are also players like Umar Akmal, Darren Bravo etc.. who are still young and could. make it big...

  • POSTED BY Lion83 on | August 30, 2014, 1:44 GMT

    Kohli cant get bat to ball in Enngland when he do he nicking it. Angelo Matthews will dominate in next decade

  • POSTED BY Clyde on | August 30, 2014, 1:32 GMT

    A creative and insightful article. It touches on the possibility that some players will, inadvertently or not, compromise their ability in Tests. I would like to read a similarly creative and well researched article with the main purpose of examining whether such a compromise really exists, and the ramifications.

  • POSTED BY ygkd on | August 29, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    I've not been that impressed with any of these four. Kohli is a super-talent, Smith has an eye like a dead fish, Root keeps making runs and Williamson is very solid, but they do not scream future-best-in-World in Tests to me like a young Tendulkar, Ponting or Lara did. One I did like the look of was Angelo Mathews. He pulled the short ball as well as any young sub-continental batsman. The big question was if he could go on, given the problems with Lankan cricket, such as their lack of Test cricket outside of Asia? Well, I reckon Angelo's answered that one. To me, early on, he had only real glaring fault - he kept getting out. Sometimes, good young batsmen do that. Kohli certainly does. Can Virat get his mind-game right? Can Smith sufficiently tighten his technique? I don't know. Does anyone? After all, I also liked the look of a young JP Duminy, as did others, and he hasn't exactly taken the cricket world since by the scruff of the neck and made it his own. No one owns a crystal ball.

  • POSTED BY Sauron_Of_Middle_Earth on | August 29, 2014, 23:14 GMT

    Think Ozcricketwriter has got it right. Don't think Williamson and Smith can make it to this list. Root is a prodigy as far as Test cricket is concerned and Kolhi is in it only for his ODI miracles (his test potential is not yet convincing, like Roots ODI credentials). Although I have to admit Smith is not far- He's probably the toughest batsman mentally (reminds me of S.Waugh and Dravid). But de Kock - watch out for that guy - no weaknesses against spin, pace or anything you through at him and he's only 20! For the rest of this era - it'll be de Villiers, Sanga and Amla all the way. Don't think the likes of Cook, Clarke, Bell or anyone else have in in them to match up. (Trott would have been in the running if not for unfortunate circumstances). A.Mathews has shown phenomenal growth - but lets wait a little longer. All in all - a decent article by Crowe - as always (a little less detailed than usual, I think).

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 22:41 GMT

    Virat,Kane,Steve and Joe are all future captains

  • POSTED BY DauD_ on | August 29, 2014, 22:35 GMT

    Why is everyone talking about limited overs stats? Those are close to meaningless. Crowe is clearly talking about the legitimate format of the game, which is test match cricket. Smith is going to be a superstar, possibly an Australian captain which would put hi above the other 3. Purely as a batsman, Root will probably be the best, but Kohli and Williamson are also very talented.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 22:17 GMT

    The reason De Kock or Ballance weren't mentioned is due to the fact they are still in their first 4 or so test matches. Not because they aren't rated.

    These guys have been around for a bit. Experienced the highs, the lows and still come out of it for the better to be the best consistent players at their respective ages.

    The reality is, I have seen players averaging over 100 in their first 3-4 test matches and fallen away. Who's to say this won't happen to Ballance or De Kock - Being a kiwi, I could easily argue Jimmy Neesham pips both De Kock and Ballance based on their early career. Jimmy is averaging 64 in 4 test matches with 2 100s and 2 50s. He must be better with those stats right? Wrong!

    Time will tell. Let them play without tagging them great before they really are.

  • POSTED BY cdey20 on | August 29, 2014, 21:57 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter, how is it speculative to say Williamson may make it when he's played more matches than Kohli, has a higher average, more 100s, more 50s, and more runs? It shows that he can sustain a good level of batting over an extended period. If anything, Kohli is more speculative based on your reasoning (I believe both should be on the list). Who is to say that anyone on the list will improve? 14 of Root's 22 games have been played in England with 4 of the remaining 8 games played in Australia. He's hardly had a broad experience of International cricket.

    de Kock is playing well but he's only played 4 matches. How is it more speculative to have Williamson on the list than de Kock? You're nuts.

    @some other guy, "Angelo Mathews, A.Rahane, D.Bravo, D.Warner should be added to this list" They're all between the ages of 26 and 30. Warner should definitely be on the list IF the article was covering "older" plays (he's nearly 28 I think).

  • POSTED BY Lmaotsetung on | August 29, 2014, 21:48 GMT

    To all Sri Lanka fans...RELAX!!! This article is about players 25 and under....Matthews is closer to 30 than 20 which is why he wasn't on the list. Do you people actually read the while article before getting your panties in a bunch?

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 21:31 GMT

    @Joe Thompson Perhaps Bravo should be on there but you are seriously underrating Williamson, who has more runs and centuries than any of the others (including Bravo) and the best batsman abroad out of all five. "A good player but nothing special"???

    The Black Caps are on the decline, are you kidding me? We've been improving so much over the last year-and-a-half, especially recently having won three series in a row, with Taylor starring at home vs WI, McCullum vs India, and Williamson in WI. Southee, Boult and Wagner have been brilliant throughout. Cricketing interest is almost at an all-time high in NZ - were you not maying attention in our golden summer - a summer that included our first two series wins under McCullum's leadership, the fastest ODI century in the history of the game, a 10-for by Boult, 3 centuries in a row by Taylor, Williamson and Taylor churning out runs in a 4-0 THRASHING of India, and Baz scoring a double- and triple-century. You've no clue what you're on about.

  • POSTED BY Prith3 on | August 29, 2014, 21:15 GMT

    @SLslider_original and @Westmorlandia: Yes matthews is younger than warner and azhar ali. but I think it's important to look at players based on playing experience and not age. Michael Hussey only started at 29 but dominated batting and was one of the top 10 batsmen for 7-8 years in every format. Matthews has played almost 15 tests/2 years more than most of the others in the list. to be fair to him though, he is also likely to be up there in that list if he plays the way he has this year.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | August 29, 2014, 20:50 GMT

    And watch out for young prodigy Quinton De Kok... next on the list.

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | August 29, 2014, 20:29 GMT

    Darren Bravo 6 100s in 30 matches @ 44 H/S 218

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 20:12 GMT

    Great article and 4 of the best <25 years of age batsmen chosen Darren Bravo cosley missout.

  • POSTED BY AltafPatel on | August 29, 2014, 20:10 GMT

    Kohli can play only in sub-continent. That's his only but biggest weakness.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | August 29, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    Where is Angelo Mathews?

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 18:34 GMT

    Kohli is already a world class batsman with tons of hundreds and runs in the limited overs of the game and one of the world's greatest finisher, he just need to execute his plans well in Test Cricket and comes behind the greats of Sachin, Rahul and Laxman...

    Only time will tell but in my reckoning if you are looking out for a test specialist world's best batsman who can become no.1, I think from India it would be Ajikya Rahane and Cheteshwar pujara without a doubt..and one more young fello De Cock will be wait to watch as he looks very promising!!!

  • POSTED BY android_user on | August 29, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    Martin Crowe thanks again for the awsome article. I'm not sure why people are questioning these players, they are all superstars.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    Dinesh Chandimal, Asad Shafique, Darren Bravo and Gary Ballance... Selecting Kohli in these 4 was wrong choice because he is from different class and can go beyond all of them if he clicks...

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 17:35 GMT

    Nothing wrong with all these young batsman to be superb in tandem

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 17:29 GMT

    Angelo Mathews, A.Rahane, D.Bravo, D.Warner should be added to this list..maybe on top of some of the players who is listed.. but again, AB, Clarke and Amla will hold top test ranking until they retire i think..

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | August 29, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    Virat Kohli has done very well, in spite of this recent lean patch, and deserves to be on this list alongside Joe Root. The other two don't really belong at this stage and it is speculative to suggest that they may eventually make it. If they improve, sure, but who is to say that they will improve? Quinton de Kock, though, seems like the man to fill in the gap, and I am joining with the other voices suggesting that he should be one of the three - not four- and that Williamson and Smith should not be on this list - not yet at least.

  • POSTED BY caldruid on | August 29, 2014, 16:34 GMT

    This article has many aberrations. Williamson and Root have far better Test temperament and probably should be on this list. But Kohli , with a test average avg below 40, does not deserve to be in the list. Smith is not as good a player as he is made out to be. Quinton de Kock needs more good test seasons before he can be considered. Also this article is leaning more towards batsmen who have exploded on the scene. SL fans - There is no doubt Mathews has played well the last few games. But he has taken too long to make his mark. And from his test stats, too many of his high scores have come on the flat tracks in SL and Asia.

  • POSTED BY dariuscorny on | August 29, 2014, 16:22 GMT

    i think young dekock will be ecliposed by young Samson,hmm.wonder how people question here kohli(out of form seriously),smith(great talent,played beautifully in SA,bet dekock wudnt hv servived there against same attack).mark my words Samson is next big thing to perform in grandest of stages......

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 15:59 GMT

    Looks more like Big 3 plus the author's home country..where is Darren Bravo? Tests 30 54 4 2196 218 43.92 Age 25

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 15:58 GMT

    martin crowe and Cullinan both come up with wierd articles like this. Kohli is good but nowhere in the league of the other two. I agree with Greatest_Game QDK is the next best thing. I would even put "the Faf" up there.

  • POSTED BY md111 on | August 29, 2014, 15:37 GMT

    Angelo matthews has proved himself already, De Cock could outdo all those listed but so far has only played in a handful of test matches. When he gets to the 20 odd test matches that players highlighted here have we will know and if he has jus tone techincal weakness (or none) then is certainly one to look out for.

  • POSTED BY warneneverchuck on | August 29, 2014, 15:34 GMT

    Chandimal and thirammane r greatest batsman of this generation...

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 15:24 GMT

    Smith is vulnerable outside off stump,But the last test series he did come leaps and bounds and showed impeccable restraint.It depends how he builds on this.Root and Williamson are the best among this lot, simply because their game against slow bowling is solid .Root though would be the champion batsman of this cohort and maybe Ballance, because thats Arjuna Ranatunga reincarnte right there. DeKock hasnt had much test cricket under him when he does we can make a fair assesment of him. For the people excluded from the list Matthews would be the emerging batsman to watch, but the real test will come from 2015 when he will have to shoulder the batting responsibility of very weak dour, modest Sri Lankan team and leading a popgun attack without anyone capable of any penetration,with retirements of Kumar and Herath imminent

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    Quinton de Kock will eclipse all these batsman.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 15:08 GMT

    Wait, De Kock will soon rule this lot!

  • POSTED BY Dibyo_Basu on | August 29, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    One sec, So Kohli is better than Pujara in tests !

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 14:27 GMT

    Darren Bravo should be there for Kane Williamson. Williamson is a good player but nothing special. New Zealand are a a team that is on a decline especially interest wise in the sport.

  • POSTED BY IPSY on | August 29, 2014, 14:24 GMT

    Martin, In your analysis of Kohli, you wrote: "...Despite a solid technique with no obvious weakness...". In my humble opinion, after reading some of your analytical articles about batting, I don't agree with your concept of, "a batsman who has no obvious weakness". In my view, if a batsman "has no obvious weakness", he would avge around 75 after his first 80 inngs - and that's being generous. This is in keeping with the only batsman (Sir Don) who has proven to the world that he had no obvious weakness - he avged a 100 in 80 inngs. So, I think it's incorrect to say that a batsman who has completed his career playing more than 80 inngs and not even avging 60 had no obvious weakness. In fact, this was said about Tendulkar, even though for almost 3 consecutive yrs, when he walked to the crease, he was was being referred to as "a walking wicket" by some commentators, opposition players and fans. And as soon as that was said, a bowler would bowl "The Well Known Delivery" that bowled/LBW him

  • POSTED BY Charith99 on | August 29, 2014, 14:21 GMT

    anjelo mathews is already on his way to become no 1

  • POSTED BY android_user on | August 29, 2014, 14:17 GMT

    I think Bangladesh Mominul Haque will occupy a place as a test star in coming days. He made 3 centuries and 3 Half centuries in his 7 test career

  • POSTED BY shane-oh on | August 29, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    @jonesy2 - The lad has a massive amount of talent, and genuinely neutral observer of the game can see that.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 14:09 GMT

    Angelo Mathews is only 27.Where is Angelo Mathews? No.3 test batsman in the rankings. Any of these guys played any better knock than Mathews' 160 at Headyingly? Yep he only got 4 tons in 40 odd test matches, but no one knows he got another 5 scores of 90+ to go with it. Averages over 50, batted at no.6 with most unreliable tails in the world cricket and 4,5 innings ago he moved to no.5 and still keeps his record unbelievable...

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 13:56 GMT

    We will have to wait and see how the future unfolds for these talented four will they vindicate the claim the crystal ball reposes in them. A good read

  • POSTED BY abhi_1209 on | August 29, 2014, 13:52 GMT

    I think Rahane will sneak up to be on par or better with these batsmen. Also, think very highly of De Kock

  • POSTED BY Proteas1992 on | August 29, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    Interesting article, I would add Quinton de Kock to that list too.

  • POSTED BY RahaneRules on | August 29, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    that is in cricket temperment is more imp than technique and a player with good tecnique may become a good player l but a player with temperment and handling of pressure make a player great its not rahul dravid's finest tecnique he is known for but for his temperment and mental strength and ability to absorb pressure

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    What about Darren Bravo? The Lara prodigy. He's taken a couple of steps back in recent times but he does have everything that it takes to succeed.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 13:21 GMT

    With all due respect I think if the criteria is age 24 then ahmed shahzed also deserves to be mentioned here. There might be an argument regarding his test record as he has only played tests against sri lanka but his recent performances are just an indicator of how good a batsman he is. the only thing pakistan cricket board needs to do is give him confidence that he will be a permanent part of the team for a longer period of time. I am sure he will turn out to be one of the better batsman that pakistan has produced in test cricket

  • POSTED BY RahaneRules on | August 29, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    what's the meaning shown only one technical weakness mind u one technical weakness is enough to ruin a carrer and u cant judge players by caluclating no of technical flaws i mean there is no meaning in that

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | August 29, 2014, 13:06 GMT

    you completely lost me at joe root. that guy is the worst batsman i have ever seen batting in the top order of a test match.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 12:48 GMT

    @Mrgupta, go back a year and the records of Williamson and Smith were no better. Akmal is a class act, it's only a matter of time before he is back and makes an impact, he can play in any conditions against pace and spin, I'm expecting big things.

  • POSTED BY abhi2791 on | August 29, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    Rahane>Kohli

    Bravo and De Kock?

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 12:06 GMT

    Darren Bravo is still young. He needs a decent coach to get his head right, but my word he has the ability.

  • POSTED BY Cric_Janbaz on | August 29, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    doesn't writer know about Gary Ballance???fine he has still to prove a lot at test level but his first class record and recent performances suggest that he will

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 29, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    @Rags57: In what world is Root a better player of pace than Steve Smith? Smith scored hundreds in ENG, AUS and SA including a 90 in India! Against Steyn, Morkel, Anderson and Broad. Root couldn't get a run as soon as he faced a top class attack. One hundred at lords where he was dropped on 8, otherwise struggled.

    Smith is a better all round player than Root in the sense that he is good home and away, against spin and pace.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    Mathews will will lead the bunch.

  • POSTED BY RahaneRules on | August 29, 2014, 11:58 GMT

    just waiting to see root facing dale steyn on sa soil and williamson facing johnson on perth and steven smith facing rangana herath and saeed ajmal on rank turners only kohli showed that he can face the best he is out of form in england but those england bowlers will suffer when he tours him again soo waiting to see kohli facing anderson on a swinging pitch

  • POSTED BY mrgupta on | August 29, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    @Jono Makim: Umar Akmal? He has avg of 35.8 after 16 Tests with only 1 century that too scored on debut which means no century in last 15 tests. The 4 players mentioned here have atleast 4 centuries each and an avg close to or over 40. SriLankan fans rooting for Angelo Mathews should first understand the motive of the Article. In the starting itself Crowe has written that 24-32 is the peak age for a batsman and these 4 are about to enter that stage. Angelo Mathews is already over 27 years of age and much older than these 4 players.

  • POSTED BY Blade-Runner on | August 29, 2014, 11:46 GMT

    @Martin Crowe ; Just because you chose the age group of .. < 25, doesn't mean that you claim the batsmen like Smith 'n Kohli will become the no.1 test batsman in the world. They both are average Tests batsmen. Kohli is a gun player in the limited over Cricket, but Smith is an average player in all 3 formats. And how can you claim that they will take turns as the no.1 batsman when there are far better, talented batsmen like Mathews who happened to be 2 years older than your preferred age group ? This doesn't make any sense. lol

  • POSTED BY aman15 on | August 29, 2014, 11:27 GMT

    @Rags57 Smith has not been tested against pace and swing ?? FYI Smith was exceptional in SA against arguably the best pace attack (steyn, morkel, philander etc) of recent times averaging in excess of 60 and hitting a century in first test apart from making vital contributions in the next two tests. He was one of the reasons that australia were able to overcome SA in the closely fought series. Still early days but surely smith has shown that he can handle pace bowling.

  • POSTED BY AnalEyes on | August 29, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    With all respect to Mr Crowe and his erstwhile prowess on the field, his selection of Kohli over Pujara for Tests simply does not pass muster. ODIs, yes; Tests, no.

    Here are Che's stats till date:

    Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave SR 100 50 4s 6s 0s Tests 24 42 4 1872 206* 49.26 50.08 6 5 233 3 1

    How does Kohli's fare better than this? As such, due to his recent slump in England, his average has dropped too.

  • POSTED BY Blade-Runner on | August 29, 2014, 11:14 GMT

    Angelo Mathews is much more talented than all these so called fab 4. Phew. Mathews is equally good at all 3 formats. He is right now sitting pretty on 3rd place in the ICC rankings. He is gonna be the ICC cricketer of the year 2014.

  • POSTED BY shane-oh on | August 29, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    @KingAjmal - no, your argument remains one of the weakest ever formulated. in fact, it barely qualifies as an argument.

    If you exclude a batsman's statistics against the weakest teams they have faced then yes, generally their average will decrease. That's one of many reasons why we look at an average. If you start choosing which values we do and do not include, then guess what? It's not an average anymore. Tendulkar averaged 136 against BD and 76 against Zim, so I propose we ignore everything he achieved. Rational?

    Your talk of strike rates is another thing altogether - suggesting you really struggle to understand test cricket.

    With regards to Williamson, his average is on the lower side of the top tier of batsmen. However, analyse more closely, if you have the concentration to do so, and you will see that it has been steadily on the rise for the last 2 years. It will continue to increase. He has learnt much more about his game and is now consistently delivering runs.

  • POSTED BY warriors2death on | August 29, 2014, 11:00 GMT

    There are 3 players apart from these 4 that come to my mind who could very well go on to challenge them and are 25 or below. Quinton De Cock has started very impressively, has a knack for big rig scores and is very entertaining. Darren Bravo that player is phenomenal could go on to break many records and has very good technique. Classic Test & ODI player. T20 hasn't corrupted his game yet. Then Dinesh Chandimal who ll most certainly go on to captain SriLanka and will be mainstay of Lankan batting for next decade. Looks good for 8000-1000 runs. He is going through bad phase but every aformentioned player above has been through. SO yes these are my 3 additions. Cheteshwar Pujara also there but i think he a leauge above all this players.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 10:51 GMT

    Try posting again... Umar Akmal, 24, Pakistan, you all know who he is, looking forward to him coming back at some point.

    One from left field, Mominul Haque from Bangladesh, I've not seen the guy bat but an average of 75 with 3 centuries from 7 tests suggests a lot of potential for a 22 year old, watch out for him!

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 10:43 GMT

    Am i seeing things properly or did you just forget mathews? ah i think you mean it wil be Mathews leader of the pack and others taking positions 2-5 if so i am with you :)

  • POSTED BY Rags57 on | August 29, 2014, 10:41 GMT

    To me Steven Smith and Kohli don't quite belong in there. Kohli's weakness against the moving ball and focus on the shorter formats of the game will prevent him from getting to the top in tests. Smith has not been really tested enough against quality bowling yet - he is a good player of spin but I am not sure if he will tackle pace and swing consistently as well. Root and Williamson have both the skill and class to get there. I would put Du Plessis from SA in that list provided he gets enough chances which could be an issue with Williamson as well. So I guess Root will end up there at the top.

  • POSTED BY cricket-india on | August 29, 2014, 10:14 GMT

    martin crowe, how come you don't rate david warner? a dangerous opening bat, and at 28-, hardly old... QdeKock also deserves a mention alongside the names in your articel; as for kohli, his success will depend on if he really values it. he may have 6 centuries but a high of 119 doesn't suggest a temperament for daddy hundreds...if he considers test cricket important, kohli will work to correct his technique and go back to conquer england the way dravid conquered oz after a miserable first tour. if ODIs and T20s take up kohli's priorities,especially because in this day and age you don't need success at the test level to qualify as a 'great,' he'll end up as an also-ran in tests, like a michael bevan.

  • POSTED BY CricketPissek on | August 29, 2014, 10:08 GMT

    Mathews isn't a young up and comer. He's been captain of SL for almost a year as well. Calm down! Thirimanne and Chandimal have the potential to do great things for SL, but haven't scored enough hundreds for a neutral observer to get too excited yet. Steve Smith is a curious choice. He's shown a lot of guts, I really enjoyed watching him during the Ashes. However, I am not sure he's got the raw talent needed to be a GREAT batsman. Happy to be proven wrong :) I think Pujara and Kohli could be the next Sanga and Mahela.

  • POSTED BY Westmorlandia on | August 29, 2014, 10:05 GMT

    Not sure everyone has understood the theme of the article! Angelo Mathews is 27 - too old, I would say. Same for Warner. Pujara is 26.

    Perhaps Crowe had a cut-off of 25 years old. Seems reasonable, and too high if anything - but I guess he wanted Kohli and Smith in there.

  • POSTED BY testcricketfan123 on | August 29, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    i was talking abt Joe Root's mention in top 4

  • POSTED BY shane-oh on | August 29, 2014, 10:00 GMT

    @Prith3 - for me, Pujara is the most exciting player to not be included in this list. I know he has an incredible list A record but I still see him as someone who can really be the foundation of a test innings. He has the temperament for playing long, long innings, and he's already delivered at test level, even if he's had a recent drop in form. It's wonderful to see young players who haven't had the ability to play classically "T20'd" out of them.

  • POSTED BY Captainman on | August 29, 2014, 9:52 GMT

    Kane Williamson only averages 40. What's so great about a 40 average at such a low strike rate? and that too contains runs against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Kane Williamson already has 5 ducks to his name. Also a bulk of his runs are also against West Indies a team who are minnows in terms of the top 8 club. Anyone can score easy runs against West Indies.

    If you exclude Kane runs against the minnows Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, his overall average drops to about 37 and if you exclude West Indies who are obviously the weakest of the top 8, his average drops even further to 33.

    So my argument still stands that he is clearly overrated and those stats I just mentioned supports it like it or not :P

  • POSTED BY Monoz1976 on | August 29, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    @ Prith3: Mathews is way ahead both 4 you mentioned and also Warner and Azar Ali older than him.

  • POSTED BY Captainman on | August 29, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    De Kock is overrated. He has mainly scored runs against weak bowling like India, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Also since he plays for South Africa, he cannot possibly score runs against unarguably the best bowling attack in the world. But still he has far more potential than the 4 Crowe mentioned.

    Kane Williamson is also overrated and has a heavily inflated record scoring runs against minnows Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and minnow of the top 8 West Indies.

  • POSTED BY shane-oh on | August 29, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    @KingAjmal - to balance that comment, Williamson has 2 hundreds against India, 1 against South Africa, 1 against Sri Lanka, and 2 against the West Indies. Oh yes and one against Bangladesh as you point out with no context. In other words, yes, he scores runs against most of the teams he plays, including Bangladesh. The only opposition he has struggled with are Australia and Pakistan, but he has only played 2 tests against each of them and will unquestionably correct that anomaly in the coming years.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 9:25 GMT

    I really hope Stiaan van Zyl, gets his chance in the Protea test line-up in the next year. He is a stylish lefthander and I am sure he will delight many cricket lovers with his wide range of good shots!

  • POSTED BY shane-oh on | August 29, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    @hokeypokey - by jove, if NZ are a minnow, then what lower ranked term do we have for teams like India?

  • POSTED BY Prith3 on | August 29, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    I definitely think the four above can become Test greats given their current potential. But I do think not including Rahane, Pujara, Warner, Azhar Ali, Darren Bravo is a little short sighted. They've endured similar highs and troughs but could very likely turn out to be in the top 10 batsmen of the next decade. I can understand leaving out de Kock and Elgar given their inexperience in the Test format so far but both are also great prospects.

  • POSTED BY Featured_Comment on | August 29, 2014, 9:02 GMT

    Well, whaddyaknow? Look at this. He bats at number 5 and 6. Just imagine if he batted as an opener or one-down.

    ICC Test Batsman Rankings - Matthews vs the Fab Four in this article:

    Matthews - No. 3 Williamson - No. 13 Kohli - No. 26 Root - No. 9 Smith - 12

  • POSTED BY testcricketfan123 on | August 29, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    with all due respect to Martin Crowe...I'm not sure if he deserves a mention in top 4....his avgs are inflated due to his exploits against Ind n SL where he avgs 101 n 86 respectively n he hasn't really played with the best team in the world atm SA n his returns against good pace attacks like Aus n NZ haven't been inspiring.....n contrary to the other 3 who have test centuries away frm home n against strong pace attacks like SA or Aus(Kohli against both) he doesn't have a century away frm home yet....he's a good young batsman but i'm not sure if he deserves a mention in top 4 best young batsmen

  • POSTED BY First_Drop on | August 29, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    Joe Roots average away from home is 28, Pujara is similar....big questions still remain for both.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 29, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    What Martin Crowe doesn't mention is that it's only since mid March in 2013 that S. Smith has been considered a specialist batsman. If you look at his current ODI record, his test record was similar but he hasn't had much chance to improve on his ODI record since he became a batsman. I feel a more accurate analysis would highlight his last 10 or 12 tests when he has been picked as a batsman - i figure those stats would read more favorably. He did well in India, okay in England, and really well in AUS and SA since then. He can only get better from here.

  • POSTED BY bling-o-rockers on | August 29, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    It might be a long shot but BJ Watling can be a close second to Williamson.Also, believe Maxwell will do wonders at ODI level.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    the main difference between these and the other young players are that they have permanent positions in the teams..as a sri lankan, i am pretty sure the likes of chandimals will do fine after mahels and sangas retirement..

  • POSTED BY Captainman on | August 29, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    Kane Williamson runs also came against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Kane has a 100 against them and three 50s hence heavily inflated.

  • POSTED BY enlightenedone on | August 29, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    I would like to add david warner, phil hughes, ajinkya rahane, pujara, darren bravo, quinton de cock to that list. But i think for the next 2 years atleast ab de villiers and hashim amla will be number one.

  • POSTED BY testcricketfan123 on | August 29, 2014, 8:33 GMT

    To me Kane Williamson's the best of the 4 when it comest test cric8......i'd be surprised if he ends up with an avg below 50 since he's a class batsman.......He's got the best technique going around n can play shots all around the dial against spin as well as pace

  • POSTED BY hokeypokey on | August 29, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    @shaneoh..minnows is not a dangerous word., its a word to describe up n comers who arnt quite at their peak.., minnows play two tests seris against top sides.fact. That has to have an affect to batting statistics.. when was the last time nz played on the mcg ? Why? Minnow..sad but true..

  • POSTED BY o-bomb on | August 29, 2014, 8:14 GMT

    I like Greatest_Game's analysis of de Kock. Very enthusiastic. As he states though, de Kock has only played a handful of tests so far. Maybe if this article were to be written in 2 years time he'd be the pick of them. It'll be interesting to see how he develops.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 7:59 GMT

    How about a bloke named Darren Bravo!!!

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    mr crowe, i'd like to believe that cheteshwar pujara is a more capable test batsman than kohli. also darren bravo for west indies might go on to reach lofty heights in test cricket.

  • POSTED BY shane-oh on | August 29, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    @hokeypokey - not really. All teams play all teams so it all balances out. And it's dangerous to dub teams as "minnows" given the hidings dished out by some of them lately to the "world block buster" teams. The idea that there are a class of teams above the rest is rather outdated and not supported by facts, unless you are talking solely about a couple of nations who are relatively young in their test development - in which case it's still irrelevant as everyone plays them at some point anyway.

  • POSTED BY shane-oh on | August 29, 2014, 7:39 GMT

    @RahaneRules - Rahane has played a single match in India, so you are being deliberately ignorant. Also, the obsession with breaking stats into pieces to prove a point is ridiculous.

    This article was an attempt to analyse four players who the writer believes will vie for top spot in a few years. The point of it was to be neutral, which you clearly struggle to do.

  • POSTED BY HennopsRiverEnd on | August 29, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    Kohli has the greatest potential out of them all but Williamson seems to have the temperament for test cricket. Root and Smith are talented will be interesting to see where they end up.

    Silently, young de Kock will creep up on the "fab four".

  • POSTED BY shane-oh on | August 29, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx - quick correction - of Williamson's 7 test centuries, 5 have been away and 2 at home. He will certainly be our best batsman ever when his career ends - Taylor will take that mantle in the not too distant future for a few years before Williamson nabs it off him.

  • POSTED BY shane-oh on | August 29, 2014, 7:23 GMT

    @Charindra - the article clearly states that it is about batsmen who are at a particular stage of their development and age. Don't get all worked up over an issue you have created out of thin air.

  • POSTED BY Balendu on | August 29, 2014, 7:18 GMT

    Well written and i would like to add the name of Ajinkya rahane as he has one of the sound techniques and his technique sometimes resembles with Rahul dravid and his ability to play with the tail enders and to hold the situation firmly shows the character similar to VVS Laxman. I'm sure he gonna give tough competition to the fab four too.

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | August 29, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    Smith's success has impressed. He's still one of the ugliest batsmen in international cricket but not as ugly as he once was. Good technique is important but certainly not everything. The main thing is to find a technique that works for you. He obviously has a great eye and great hands and they make up for a lot, although he definitely has improved his feet too.

    It would be great for England if they could move Root up to open and he could replicate his success down the order. That would solve their issue finding a partner for Cook and there are a number of other promising candidates who could play in the middle order, most notably James Taylor. I'm not sure that they'd ever risk that again though. His obvious intent to get further forward is a good sign and could help but, given his poor performance last time he opened, it would be a big gamble and might ruin the form he is showing at #5.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 6:53 GMT

    Very interesting article indeed. If we look past the age, and experience parameter there are many batsmen that have the ability to do good. To name a few: De kock, Darren Bravo, Ahmed Shehzad, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimani, Che Pujra, Ajinkya Rahane, David Warner to name a few. Batting for next decade is sorted.

    But what i would like to read is similar article about bowlers; both spinners, and seam bowlers.

  • POSTED BY Cricket.Guru on | August 29, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    De Kock will join the fab four very soon... At that time Root is little ahead of the other three...

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 6:38 GMT

    I think Quinton de Kock, Ahmed Shehzad, Gary Ballance and Ajinkya Rahane are definitely in that league...

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | August 29, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    Aussie Smith is the pick of the lot. The others are v good in their own right. But the Aussie is a special and rare talent that I expect them to out do all young batsmen in world and is likely to top the batsmen rankings in all formats.What impresses most in him is is impeccable calm temperament and he looks a real humble bloke. He has nice awareness of his own game and its strengths and flaws and though @ times tends to look unorthodox he knows what works for him and trusts his game which has proved so effective for him. Ironically,he's 1 of the natural and best player of spin not only in Aus but in the world but has shown a weakness for the bouncing ball . Though he has tended to overcome it to some extent by his street smart nature. Is a big asset for Aussies with his all round skill be it outstanding field/catching or his v under rated ,at times under utilized leg breaks.And in his captain Clarke,himself 1 of the best bats in the world has very good mentor too.

  • POSTED BY hokeypokey on | August 29, 2014, 6:23 GMT

    Great article mr crowe..I guess like most batting statistics you have ask who the individual has played against to get that average/numbers..minnows or world block buster teams..

  • POSTED BY bundybear55 on | August 29, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx: I agree the jury is still out on Ballance, but what has impressed me is that spin is meant to be his weakness. The other thing in his favour is that he grew up playing on hard, fast tracks in Zimbabwe and is essentially a back foot player so in theory should be comfortable playing in SA and Australia where generally visiting batsmen struggle. I suppose his big test will come on the sub-continent, but he strikes me as someone who just knows how to score runs, so I expect he will find a way.

  • POSTED BY SamRoy on | August 29, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    Pujara ignored, fine. I think once Pujara figures out his small weakness against inswing, Bradmanesque scores are going to come. I think Sanga might break Bradman's record of 12 test double tons but if not Pujara will definitely break it.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    @aman15 The kangaroos?? Sorry, I didn't know that North Melbourne now have test status! This is an article about test batsmen is it not?

  • POSTED BY Sir_Francis on | August 29, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    Why do you think Ballance is better? He hasn't faced test bowling yet (yes, I know he's played 8 tests but really? Wait until he faces Johnson, Harris, Steyn, Morkel etc. Then we can talk)

    As for Smith. he kinda started as a "spinner" but that idiotic experiment lasted one test. He's been picked as a batsman ever since.

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | August 29, 2014, 5:41 GMT

    Don't think Crowe forgot about DeKock as he took a sample of a few batsmen who had been around the scene a while, under 25 & had experienced the lows of batting. DeKock's turn will come as he plays more tests. Williamson is the only one I have never studied so am keen to watch him in action, the others all look the part & have , IMHO, the inner strength to recognize their strengths and flourish when the good times arrive. Agree it looks like the stats are for batsmen under 25, hence no Bravo or Matthews (or even Chris Rogers!). Out of Root Smith & Kohli, from what I have seen, Kohli has the most natural talent & by a fair bit, so it must be frustrating for Indian fans to see him not performing to his undoubted potential.

  • POSTED BY aman15 on | August 29, 2014, 5:30 GMT

    @Jonathan Campbell Steve Smith is not in the same league ?? Smith averaged in excess of 60 earlier in the year when kangaroos defeated SA in SA against the likes of steyn, philander, morkel etc and scored a vital hundred in the 1st inngs of the first test and has also three other hundreds in last six ashes tests. Pray tell how root is ahead of smith or even Williamson ? As someone else mentioned root doesn't even have a away hundred at this stage while williamson has scored 5 of his 7 hundreds away from home. Quite an impressive effort, even taking into account one of those was scored against bangladesh.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | August 29, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    it must be said that Smith started his test career more as a leg spin bowler than a batsmen

  • POSTED BY Thuram3 on | August 29, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    Another awesome article Martin, love it!

  • POSTED BY Thuram3 on | August 29, 2014, 5:24 GMT

    Good exciting talent. All of these okes are a joy to watch, the future of the game of cricket looks amazing!

  • POSTED BY RahaneRules on | August 29, 2014, 5:17 GMT

    Rahane is far better player than the four see the away avg for clarification and see all others away avg u will notice the difference he didnt play in indian pitches still and when he plays on them then no one can catch him because he avgs 65 in domestic cricket but he is not a captain

  • POSTED BY kiwicricketnut on | August 29, 2014, 5:17 GMT

    agree with Greatest_Game de kock will be up there with the best of them but crowe wouldn't include him on the list because he hasn't played enough test cricket but you can tell he is class. as for all these guys being future captains, no doubt nz are grooming williamson to take over from mccullum but i just want him to concerntrate on becoming the number 1 batsman in the world and not to worry about the captaincy, i hope that tom latham can become a permanent fixture in all 3 formats after the world cup. he has already captained nza, has captained throughout the age groups and is a natural leader, he obviously has to make the team on merit before being considered captain material but i'd rather someone like him as captain rather than putting that burden on our best player and he's another under 25 player to keep an eye on.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    Steven smith is not in the same league as the other three. A decade from now, their averages will be: SS < KW < VK < JR.

    Of course, there is a MUCH better player than all these three, that being Gary Ballance. Why Martin Crowe would have overlooked him is absolutely dumbfounding!

  • POSTED BY cricindependent on | August 29, 2014, 4:59 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx: Mathews comes down the order at number 5 or 6 position. Also, he doesn't have much time to stay in the cease since the other batsmen after him in SL team are not that solid. Anyway, he got fair number of hundreds and also 18 half centuries. Interesting to think about Dhoni? How many hundreds he would have scored so far if he came up in the order? I think, a batsmen should be evaluated from his average than number of hundreds. Tendulkar has more hundreds than Sanga. But, Sanga is a better test batsman than Tendulkar. His number of years as the no 1 test batsmen explains the story.

  • POSTED BY Udendra on | August 29, 2014, 4:59 GMT

    For me Kohli and Root are misfits here. Kohli has been exposed in England, and time will tell whether it continues in the future. Root is yet to be tested in the sub continent.

  • POSTED BY IPL_is_Thrash on | August 29, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    I don't think Virat Kohli will be successful in Test Cricket given his IPL association.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 29, 2014, 4:30 GMT

    @Greatest game: I forgot about De Kock. The South Africans have a great record of bringing in young 20/21 year olds who go on to be great players, a la Kallis, Smith, De Villers, Amla, Steyn and co. De Kock looks like he has the hunger and talent to do the same.

    @Bundybear55: Jury is out on Ballance. Sri Lanka and India in England is as good a start as you can get in test cricket. Now that i think about it Root doesn't even have any away hundreds. Ballance, like Root will get lots at home, but the jury is still out on them. Kolhi has 3 away hundreds already, Smith a couple, Williamson 2 or 3.

    Trott is interesting. When he played I thought of him as a great player of course, but if you look at his record now - 9 hundreds in 49 tests doesn't jump out at you. Warner has 8 already in 30 games, Kohli and Pujara 6 in 25 odd games already, Root and Smith 4 or 5 in 20 odd games. So it's interesting looking back at it.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    I actually think Kohli has the most potential of all four, despite having the lowest average (I'm an Aussie, so I hope I'm wrong!). His technique, foot movement and ability to score in any conditions are just unbelievable. His biggest obstacle is his mindset - he chases the ball and plays away from his body when runs dry up. Anderson and Broad worked this out early on and tested his patience with outswingers outside off stump. Most of Kohli's recent dismissals came from pushing at balls he didn't need to play at. Ponting was another who liked to feel bat on ball, but he would compensate by getting right across the crease so his head was still over the ball (which led to his LBW weakness later in his career, but that's not the point). If Kohli conquers his ego and becomes more selective with his shots, he will dominate.

  • POSTED BY bundybear55 on | August 29, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    Martin, Bravo is actually a few months younger than Kholi and his record is only surpassed by Root in your group.

  • POSTED BY cricindependent on | August 29, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    Regarding comments about Mathews, I also feel the only reason he is not in Mr. Crowe's list is his age (27 yrs). Mathews got 52.65 avg in 44 matches he has played so far and he is flourishing as a test batsmen from recent past. Remember, he is playing down the order as well. I think he has the potential to be a legends like Mahela and Sanga. Kohli is briliant, but as johnathon has said, he may be prone to become a specialists batsmen in ODI andT20s and that could hurt him as a test batsmen. Recently, Mr. Arjuna Ranathunga has said that the IPL hurts the techniques of batsmen which are required to be successful in test arena. I think there is a truth behind that. Anyway, Kohli has no problem in his place since he is so skillful. He has the potential to become what he want to be. Root is a very solid batsman and have a good future to cement his place in the test history, though he is not stylish for me.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx --- I don't understand how you can make a comment like "Kohli's lust for fame and fortune could be his downfall". As a keen follower of the game, I have not seen anything that seems to suggest that Kohli is ruining himself seeking lust and fame. I don't think you should be making these comments unless you know Virat Kohli personally.

  • POSTED BY bundybear55 on | August 29, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    I'd be surprised to see any of these 4 get to no. 1 in the rankings any time soon. The next few years are set to be dominated by Sangakara, de Villiers, Amla, Clarke and after them, Angelo Matthews, Warner, Darren Bravo. I think Kholi and Root have the potential, but both seem to struggle away from home. The wild card in the pack for me is Gary Balance. I know he's only played a handful of tests, but he reminds me very much of Jonathon Trott - never got any recognition until he'd played around 50 tests and was still averaging around the 50 mark.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 29, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    @Johnathonjosephs: There is a difference between being a marquee player and a good player. Amla has a better record than De Villers, but who does everyone go on about? De Villers. Pujara currently has a better record than Kohli, but Kohli is the gun player. He is capable of changing and winning the game. That's why Smith is there as well, every hundred he has scored for Australia has been in the first Innings when the chips were down. We were 4/97 in Sydney when he got his 115, and 5/90 in Perth when he got his 108 and won us the Ashes.

    Root is going to be a long serving Stalwart for the English side, but he also bats at 5. So did Waugh, so did Clarke for a long time, they were considered the best in the world at times in their careers. You have conflicting views in your comments.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | August 29, 2014, 3:51 GMT

    Yes age 25- is the criteria. Young. Otherwise Pujara, Warner, Matthews, Bravo and others would be there and that would defeat the whole piece.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 29, 2014, 3:43 GMT

    Watching these four will be very interesting over the next few years. They all have a hunger for runs but are all quite different. Williamson bats the highest in the order out of all of them, but he seems to have developed an ability to not give away starts. Root is the accumulator, but ruthlessly so. He keeps going till you get him out. Smith is the one with the cavalier attitude, keen to play a counter attacking innings. Kohli in tests is interesting. He has the potential to be the best of the four in combining aggression with substance but his lust for fame and fortune could be his downfall.

  • POSTED BY Alexei on | August 29, 2014, 3:39 GMT

    No Darren Bravo, his stats are quite the same or has an even higher average than some. He is also around the same age as well. Disappointed not to see his name here, would've loved to hear what you Mr. Crowe have to say about him

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 29, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    @Charindra: Well, all of the batsmen talked about here are 25 and under, so that looks like the cut off. However, on Matthews, for me he doesn't score enough hundreds. Too many 60's,70's and 80's without converting. All of the guys mentioned here have already infact equaled the amount of test hundreds he has scored despite him playing 50 odd test matches. When you consider that he scored two of them only this year, it shows he is a real late bloomer.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    i am surprised pujara is not in this list

  • POSTED BY johnathonjosephs on | August 29, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    Agree with Williamson and Joe Root to a certain degree. I do not agree with Steve Smith and Kohli. Kohli and Smith are good, but not that good (in terms of Test Cricket). Why isn't Angelo Matthews, Pujara, and Darren Bravo on the list. They have comparable records to the other 4 (Pujara having the best stats and most potential of the lot). Kohli will never be a test batsman and will be a limited overs specialist while Joe Root is milking the home advantage (averages 60 in England but only 28 away) along with his current purple patch of form. While Steve Smith is a good batsman, unless he bats higher up the order, he will never be considered among the "#1 spot" (likewise with Matthews, but I sense him being raised up the order after mahela's retirement).

  • POSTED BY Charindra on | August 29, 2014, 3:14 GMT

    Mathews has not been mentioned here?? I hope that's because he's 27 and not because he's from Sri Lanka, which is neither in the Big 3 nor Crowe's home country. I would even say that he's one of the top 5 batsman in the world right now, and there's an aura building around him, especially after his performances in England. I really hope it's the age, because if not it is a terrible oversight by Crowe.

  • POSTED BY Charindra on | August 29, 2014, 3:14 GMT

    Mathews has not been mentioned here?? I hope that's because he's 27 and not because he's from Sri Lanka, which is neither in the Big 3 nor Crowe's home country. I would even say that he's one of the top 5 batsman in the world right now, and there's an aura building around him, especially after his performances in England. I really hope it's the age, because if not it is a terrible oversight by Crowe.

  • POSTED BY johnathonjosephs on | August 29, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    Agree with Williamson and Joe Root to a certain degree. I do not agree with Steve Smith and Kohli. Kohli and Smith are good, but not that good (in terms of Test Cricket). Why isn't Angelo Matthews, Pujara, and Darren Bravo on the list. They have comparable records to the other 4 (Pujara having the best stats and most potential of the lot). Kohli will never be a test batsman and will be a limited overs specialist while Joe Root is milking the home advantage (averages 60 in England but only 28 away) along with his current purple patch of form. While Steve Smith is a good batsman, unless he bats higher up the order, he will never be considered among the "#1 spot" (likewise with Matthews, but I sense him being raised up the order after mahela's retirement).

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    i am surprised pujara is not in this list

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 29, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    @Charindra: Well, all of the batsmen talked about here are 25 and under, so that looks like the cut off. However, on Matthews, for me he doesn't score enough hundreds. Too many 60's,70's and 80's without converting. All of the guys mentioned here have already infact equaled the amount of test hundreds he has scored despite him playing 50 odd test matches. When you consider that he scored two of them only this year, it shows he is a real late bloomer.

  • POSTED BY Alexei on | August 29, 2014, 3:39 GMT

    No Darren Bravo, his stats are quite the same or has an even higher average than some. He is also around the same age as well. Disappointed not to see his name here, would've loved to hear what you Mr. Crowe have to say about him

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 29, 2014, 3:43 GMT

    Watching these four will be very interesting over the next few years. They all have a hunger for runs but are all quite different. Williamson bats the highest in the order out of all of them, but he seems to have developed an ability to not give away starts. Root is the accumulator, but ruthlessly so. He keeps going till you get him out. Smith is the one with the cavalier attitude, keen to play a counter attacking innings. Kohli in tests is interesting. He has the potential to be the best of the four in combining aggression with substance but his lust for fame and fortune could be his downfall.

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | August 29, 2014, 3:51 GMT

    Yes age 25- is the criteria. Young. Otherwise Pujara, Warner, Matthews, Bravo and others would be there and that would defeat the whole piece.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | August 29, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    @Johnathonjosephs: There is a difference between being a marquee player and a good player. Amla has a better record than De Villers, but who does everyone go on about? De Villers. Pujara currently has a better record than Kohli, but Kohli is the gun player. He is capable of changing and winning the game. That's why Smith is there as well, every hundred he has scored for Australia has been in the first Innings when the chips were down. We were 4/97 in Sydney when he got his 115, and 5/90 in Perth when he got his 108 and won us the Ashes.

    Root is going to be a long serving Stalwart for the English side, but he also bats at 5. So did Waugh, so did Clarke for a long time, they were considered the best in the world at times in their careers. You have conflicting views in your comments.

  • POSTED BY bundybear55 on | August 29, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    I'd be surprised to see any of these 4 get to no. 1 in the rankings any time soon. The next few years are set to be dominated by Sangakara, de Villiers, Amla, Clarke and after them, Angelo Matthews, Warner, Darren Bravo. I think Kholi and Root have the potential, but both seem to struggle away from home. The wild card in the pack for me is Gary Balance. I know he's only played a handful of tests, but he reminds me very much of Jonathon Trott - never got any recognition until he'd played around 50 tests and was still averaging around the 50 mark.

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx --- I don't understand how you can make a comment like "Kohli's lust for fame and fortune could be his downfall". As a keen follower of the game, I have not seen anything that seems to suggest that Kohli is ruining himself seeking lust and fame. I don't think you should be making these comments unless you know Virat Kohli personally.