Grace the greatest, 1998

Woodcock's hundred

In the early summer of 1997, The Times published a series of articles naming the 100 Greatest Cricketers of all time. It ran over a period of five weeks, listing the players in ascending order, and reached a climax on the Saturday of the Old Trafford Test, when the paper named W. G. Grace rather than Sir Donald Bradman as the greatest of all. Many Australians present expressed surprise and annoyance, and Shane Warne (No. 13) and Steve Waugh (95) promptly destroyed England on the field.

The list was compiled by John Woodcock, the paper's cricket correspondent for 34 years, the former editor of Wisden and the man believed to have seen more Test cricket than anyone else in history. None the less, even Woodcock did not see Grace play, still less Alfred Mynn of Kent (died 1861, No. 4 on the list) or Billy Beldham and John Small of Hambledon (Nos. 39 and 61).

No one, least of all Woodcock, pretended the list was definitive: "Inevitably invidious and essentially provocative," he said. It was, however, a very well-informed basis for many splendid arguments.

1. W. G. Grace
2. D. G. Bradman
3. G. S. Sobers
4. A. Mynn
5. J. B. Hobbs
6. S. F. Barnes
7. W. R. Hammond
8. I. V. A. Richards
9. I. T. Botham
10. D. C. S. Compton
11. L. Hutton
12. F. E. Woolley
13. S. K. Warne
14. V. T. Trumper
15. B. A. Richards
16. Imran Khan
17. K. R. Miller
18. R. Benaud
19. D. K. Lillee
20. A. V. Bedser
21. G. A. Headley
22. R. R. Lindwall
23. S. M. Gavaskar
24. E. R. Dexter
25. S. R. Tendulkar
26. W. J. O'Reilly
27. E. D. Weekes
28. B. C. Lara
29. R. J. Hadlee
30. R. G. Pollock
31. A. Shrewsbury
32. F. R. Spofforth
33. P. B. H. May
34. W. Rhodes
35. K. S. Ranjitsinhji
36. F. M. M. Worrell
37. A. R. Border
38. C. L. Walcott
39. W. Beldham
40. G. A. Lohmann
41. G. H. Hirst
42. H. Sutcliffe
43. M. J. Procter
44. G. S. Chappell
45. F. S. Trueman
46. H. J. Tayfield
47. T. Richardson
48. M. C. Cowdrey
49. Kapil Dev
50. B. S. Bedi
51. R. N. Harvey
52. R. B. Kanhai
53. G. A. Gooch
54. C. B. Fry
55. A. P. E. Knott
56. A. K. Davidson
57. K. F. Barrington
58. Javed Miandad
59. I. M. Chappell
60. Wasim Akram
61. J. Small
62. G. Boycott
63. A. G. Steel
64. T. G. Evans
65. M. A. Holding
66. L. N. Constantine
67. C. H. Lloyd
68. C. V. Grimmett
69. M. D. Marshall
70. J. C. Laker
71. Waqar Younis
72. D. I. Gower
73. C. T. B. Turner
74. A. C. MacLaren
75. G. L. Jessop
76. A. Shaw
77. J. B. Statham
78. V. A. P. van der Bijl
79. C. G. MacArtney
80. R. B. Simpson
81. C. E. L. Ambrose
82. Fazal Mahmood
83. W. H. Ponsford
84. Hanif Mohammad
85. F. S. Jackson
86. R. G. D. Willis
87. W. W. Armstrong
88. D. L. Underwood
89. S. Ramadhin
90. L. R. Gibbs
91. W. W. Hall
92. V. Mankad
93. H. Larwood
94. J. M. Gregory
95. S. R. Waugh
96. H. W. Taylor
97. A. A. Donald
98. S. J. McCabe
99. P. A. De Silva
100. J. R. Reid

© John Wisden & Co