Cricket, also known as the gentlemen’s game has a very rich history. It originated in the later half of the 16th century in England. The first international match was played in 1877 between England and Australia.
The sport has seen many great individuals since its inception, and I am going to shortlist the 10 best players to have ever played the game. I’ll also need your help to figure out who is the real GOAT of the game.
Players currently playing any form of cricket whether international or domestic formats are not under consideration as the statistics would be skewed mainly due to recency bias as well as the addition of newer rules, format (T20i) and enhanced equipments.
- Sir Donald Bradman: Regarded as the Don of cricket, he made his International debut for Australia in 1927. An illustrious 22 year career saw him scoring 6,996 runs in the game’s oldest format, test cricket. He played 52 test matches in his entire career. The record that has always set him apart from many is his average of 99.94, the second highest average being 61.87. This tells you about the greatness of the man. His cricket was one aspect, as he was very well known to be a man of integrity. He played in an era where the pitches were not covered, and you didn’t’t know what to expect from it. He still went about his business and finished with 29 test centuries in 1949.
Sir Garfield Sobers: The West Indies all rounder could do anything on a cricket field. He made his debut in 1952 and retired in 1974. He scored 8,032 test runs at an average of 57.78, and also picked up 235 test wickets at an average of 34.03. One of the most complete players to have ever played the game. A cricketer who was popular for always giving his 100% on the field, and a role model for all youngsters at that time. The ICC Cricketer of the year trophy is also known as Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.
Sir Viv Richards: The greatest entertainer the game has ever seen. Sir Viv was way ahead of his time, and would certainly give sleepless nights to bowlers across the globe. He made his debut in 1974, and that’s when cricket had a new baby, ODI cricket. The newest format needed new superstars, and Sir Viv was always there. In his 17 year long career, he scored over 15,000 International runs, and more importantly, won 2 world cups for West Indies. It is also believed that when he came out to bat, the battle wasn’t between him and the bowler, the real battle was between him and his chewing gum. He was the king without a crown, but with a bat in his hand.
Wasim Akram: Pakistan’s Sultan of Swing made his debut in 1985 and finished his career with over 900 wickets. The left arm seamer was a magician, and is also a 1992 world cup winner. He is undoubtedly the greatest left arm pacer the world has seen. He could do unimaginable things with the ball. He was fierce on the field, and his partnership with Waqar Younis is one of the deadliest in cricket history. He could swing the ball both ways, had pace, could bowl leg and off cutters. He is just the most complete fast bowler by a distance.
Sachin Tendulkar: 15 November, 1989 was a very special day as a 16 year old boy was making his international debut. At that age, many of us didn’t even know how to buckle up our trousers properly, and this guy was debuting the Sultan of Swing in his own backyard. The world took notice instantly, and everyone knew that a star is born today. In his 24 year career for India, Sachin scored over 34,000 international runs, which is still a record. He became the only person to score 100 international centuries, a record unlikely to be broken. He played 6 world cups, and finally became a world champion in his last one. He is regarded as the God of Cricket, and he is surely the sole reason for cricket’s global popularity. He was the one who brought money into cricket. He started endorsing products, and because of his popularity, the broadcasting rights would bring in a lot of money. Its safe to say that he was the first superstar the game had seen. He was also honoured with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.
Shane Warne: At first there were nerves and chubbiness. Then came wild soaring leg breaks, followed by fame and flippers. He finished his career with 1,001 international wickets. The greatest leg spinner the world has ever seen. His ball that bamboozled Mike Gatting in 1993, bouncing outside leg stump and cuffing off, is unanimously esteemed the most famous in history. He revived leg spin, thought to be extinct, and is now pre-eminent in a game so transformed that we sometimes wonder where the next champion fast bowlers will come from.
Muttiah Muralitharan: The wizard of the Emerald Isle. A wizard who spun magic without a wand in hand, Muttiah Muralitharan‘s exploits at the International level will never ever be forgotten. The champion bowler from Sri Lanka went on to become the first cricketer ever to pick 1000 wickets in International cricket and only one person named Shane Warne emulated that feat at this level. He made his debut in 1992, and ended up as the highest wicket taker in cricket history, taking 1,347 wickets. Muralitharan was also known for his sportsmanship and is one of those cricketers who is universally admired. Despite all the adversities he faced because of his action, he ensured his performances did the talking and boy, they delivered quite a staggering output.
Glenn McGrath: The young Glenn McGrath was described by Mike Whitney as “thin – but Ambrose-thin, not Bruce Reid-thin”. Much later, Mike Atherton compared McGrath to Ambrose on a vaster scale. Catapulted from the outback of New South Wales into Test cricket to replace Merv Hughes in 1993, McGrath became the greatest Australian fast bowler of his time. He went on to beat Courtney Walsh’s 519 wickets in the 2005 Super Test to become the leading wicket-taker among fast bowlers and his claim to the title of Australia’s greatest fast man is contested only by Dennis Lillee. McGrath’s USP was an unremitting off-stump line and an immaculate length. He gained off-cut and bounce, specialised in the opposition’s biggest wickets and he was unafraid to back himself publicly in these key duels.
Ricky Ponting: Ricky Ponting, the most uncompromising player of his generation, grew into Australia’s most successful run-maker and only sits below Bradman in the country’s overall ratings. It took an extremely critical eye to diminish his run-scoring achievements, which seem to collect new records in every series. Like spotting a celebrity, it’s necessary to look twice when analysing Ponting, first as the archetypal modern batsman, then as the world’s most successful captain. He has won 2 world cups as a captain, a feat only achieved by Clive Lloyd before him. He was a passionate leader of undoubtedly the greatest cricket team ever. He scored over 27,000 international runs along with 71 international centuries. Only Sachin Tendulkar has more.
Jacques Kallis: No batsman prized his wicket more highly, and no wicket in all of cricket was more highly prized. Jacques Kallis was the broad-shouldered colossus of the South African team, a figure whose looming presence inspired calm in some and dread in others. Kallis was a fine, forceful batsman who had at his disposal both a rock-solid technique and a mind impervious to distraction. Though his role as a bowler diminished with each passing season, he will be remembered as a purveyor of sometimes surprising pace and swing, and awkward bounce. In the slips, his sure-handedness and rattlesnake reflexes make ridiculous catches look regulation. He finished his career with over 25,000 international runs and almost 600 international wickets. He was one of the most complete cricketers of all time.
According to the knowledge I have of the game, these are the 10 best cricketers to have ever played the game of cricket. This is where the tough part begins. I would like to know that in your opinion who among these 10 is the real GOAT of cricket. Please leave your answers in the comments section. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.