Greatest Cricketers Of All Time

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    Cricket history is full of extremely talented cricketers and many of them have been exceptional. Let

    us try and figure out the greatest cricketers of all time that have graced the field of cricket. It does

    not reflect on their personal greatness. It is just about how great cricketers they were. A greater

    cricketer does not necessarily mean a greater human being than a lesser cricketer in the list or

    vise versa. The list is purely on cricketing skills.

    1. Gary Sobers: Arguably the greatest cricketer of all time that has ever played the game of cricket

    as claimed by many related to the game of cricket and that was what the intuition suggests if you

    look at his abilities and statistic. Ability to play as long as to score 365 runs in test cricket, hit six

    times over the rope in a single over, end up with a test average of more than many of the great

    batsmen in the history of the game, be a fielder of class, and then being able to contribute with

    bowling, and you left wondering if there is anything in cricket that he could not do and that is what

    makes him the greatest all round cricketer and the greatest cricketer of them all. He could have

    earned a place in any great team only for his batting. He was skillful and versatile as a bowler. He

    is documented to have bowled pace as well slow bowling. He chipped in many times with his

    bowling and fielding. The thing with all rounders is that it is like having the privilege of playing an

    additional player in the team. Just look as to how many cricketers have scored a triple hundred in

    test match cricket. There are only three instances of six sixes being hit in a single over in the

    history of first class and International cricket. There have been barely a dozen of cricketers

    throughout the history of the game who could be hailed as all rounder of class and substance, and

    Gary is considered the best of them all. You keep on counting. The list goes on.

    2. Don Bradman: Probably as strong a contender as Gary Sobers to be called as the greatest

    cricketer of all time. Don Bradman's exceptional test average of almost 100 runs makes him a

    standout cricketer. If you consider the rarity of that feat of having an average of almost 100 runs,Don Bradman should be the greatest cricketer of all time. Where Gary scores over him is probably

    being able to contribute significantly in every department of the game. Otherwise I do not see any

    gap between Gary Sobers and Don Bradman as the two greatest cricketers of all time. But again

    you wonder he must be exceptional to be able to average 100 runs per innings. All those great

    batsmen throughout the history of the game who have played considerable number of tests has

    not gone beyond an average of in 60s, and most of these so called greats have averaged between

    50s and 60s. So to outshine the next best in your category by 40% is quite unimaginable in any

    sport. In that sense Don Bradman can be considered not only the greatest cricketer of all time, but

    also the greatest sportsman of all time. To top it off he scored those almost 100 runs per innings inthose days of hostile pitches and raw equipments. Everyone knows how bats and other cricket

    equipments have evolved over the years. The difference between the bats of today and the bats of

    say about 20 years ago is quite noticeable. What kind of bats Don Bradman must have played

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    with. Some people say Don played on few grounds, and thus have such record. But even the

    worse of the pitches today among the many grounds on which cricket is played must be better

    than the pitches on which Don played. If that was the criteria, why none of the players of even his

    era could manage an average of even into 70s. All those modern greats of 90s and 00s could

    manage an average in 50s with all those well developed bat and other cricketing equipment on

    benign and batting friendly pitches. The pitches one used to see even during the 70s and 80s

    were much difficult to bat on compared to the pitches prepared today. If that is an indication whatkind of pitches Don must have batted on. He still remains the only player to have scored a 300

    runs in a single day of a test match.

    3. Imran Khan: If Gary Sobers could do everything in the game of cricket then Imran could do even

    more as a captain. Imran Khan could have earned a place in any leading side just as a bowler,

    and is one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. In addition he was as good as any good

    International batsman. He was a good fielder as well. He could win matches with his bowling,

    contribute significantly as a batsman, and could make significant contribution as the leader of the

    pack. He is considered the best among the greatest all rounders of his time who themselves are

    among some of the greatest cricketers of all time. There have not been too many bowlers who

    were better than him, and among the bowlers who might have been slightly better than him, not

    many are known for their batting capabilities. Wasim Akram was better bowler than Imran, but

    Imran was more dependable batsman than Akram, and may be Richard Hadlee was a better

    bowler than Imran, but Imran surely excelled him as a batsman, and excelled everyone in that all

    rounders category as a captain. Many people will disagree with me on putting Imran Khan ahead

    of Vivian Richards. My logic is if Gary Sobers could be greater than Don Bradman, logic says

    Imran Khan has to be greater than Vivian Richards as a cricketer. But it is so difficult to accurately

    measure the talent of the players and their value to the team. It is like you can put Don Bradman

    ahead of Gary Sobers without much fuss. You can as well put Vivian Richards ahead of ImranKhan in the list. But because of Imran Khan's immense contribution in every department of the

    game, I opted for Imran Khan at #3 in the list of greatest cricketers of all time.

    4. Vivian Richards: Most destructive batsman of all time, and in a time when attacking style of

    batting was not common. In the modern times, we had the pleasure of watching the likes of

    Gilchrist, Sehwag, Jaysurya, and occasionally Shahid Afridi destroying the bowling attacks, but

    none of them are known to be as intimidating as Vivian Richards. To have the fastest test hundred

    of all time with an average of more than 50, and in one dayers, an average of 47 runs at a strike

    rate of more than 90 speaks volume about the caliber of the man. None of the above mentioneddestructive batsmen have an average of more than 40 compared to 47 by Vivian Richards. In fact

    many other great batsmen have less average than Viv's 47 and far lower strike rate compared to

    Viv's strike rate of 90. He never changed his batting style irrespective of the state of the match.

    Without an iota of doubt there has not been a greater batsman than Vivian Richards in one day

    format of the game. In tests too, he averaged 50 runs scoring those runs at a blistering pace. He

    was also an exceptional fielder and bowled occasionally. One of the greatest fast bowler of his

    time Imran Khan has said that Vivian Richards is the only batsman who has frightened him.

    Nobody else in the history of the game could play like Vivian and hence is probably the greatest

    batsman of all time save Don Bradman and thus he deserved fourth place in the list of the greatest

    cricketers of all time.

    5. Adam Gilchrist: As a batsman, Adam Gilchrist was almost a Vivian Richards. In addition he

    would double up as a wicketkeeper. In that sense I was tempted to put Gilchrist ahead of Vivian

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    Richards, but Viv being such an intimidating batsman and in those times when attacking style of

    play was not so common, I went with Viv at #4. Nonetheless, Adam Gilchrist is one of the greatest

    cricketers of all time. Adam Gilchrist has one of the highest strike rates in both forms of the game

    and has an average to match the greats of the game. Adam Gilchrist was one of the main reasons

    for the domination of the Australian cricket for the last decade and half. Adam Gilchrist was one of

    the three key players in the talent-laden Australian team. As a wicket-keeper batsman if someone

    can bat like Adam Gilchrist, he is definitely going to add substantially to the strength of the team.He played some of the breathtaking innings in his career. His blistering hundred against Sri Lanka

    in the 2007 World cup, which Australia eventually won, the innings he played in the semi-final of

    the IPL edition that his team eventually won, the innings at Mumbai in the first edition of the IPL,

    and his fastest test hundred off 57 balls, which is the second fastest hundred in the history of the

    game behind the ultimate Vivian Richard's 56 ball hundred, and many such innings make you

    wonder if the Gilchrist was the greatest cricketer of all time.

    6. Wasim Akram: Wasim Akram is one of those dream cricketers that even the great cricketers

    would like to reborn as a cricketer. Wasim is considered as the most naturally talented bowler by

    many former greats like Allan Donald and Mohammad Azharuddin. It is said that he could bowl six

    different types of balls in one over. With the bat he was capable of turning the game with his

    explosive batting. Those two wickets on successive deliveries in the 1992 world cup final against

    England at a very important stage of the game pushed England totally out of the game. What an

    occasion to produce probably the best two deliveries of his entire career. You can expect the

    greatest cricketers to rise to the occasion at the greatest stage. You see a player like Adam

    Gilchrist playing those extraordinary knocks on big stages like the World cup 2007 against Sri

    Lanka and sealing the win for his team. Wasim Akram is also the only bowler in the history of the

    game to have captured hat-tricks as many as four times in his International career. Wasim Akram

    has often won games for Pakistan singlehandedly. He formed a threatening bowling combinationwith Waqar Younis, and they together tormented many a batting line-ups. He was probably the

    greatest bowler of his time with the other one being McGrath. McGrath himself described Wasim

    Akram as a greater bowler than himself. If he was as great a bowler as McGrath and if you

    consider what he could do with the bat, and you know the value of Wasim Akram as a cricketer. In

    the 1992 World cup final before turning the match with his two magic balls, he was instrumental in

    setting a challenging total with his timely and explosive batting when he scored 33 runs off just 19

    balls coming towards the close of innings. What a grand occasion for man of Wasim's caliber to

    rise for his team and his country. Many people might not know Wasim also hit a timely six to win

    the Nehru cup for Pakistan. Many people knew about Miandad hitting a six off the last ball to winwhen four runs were required off the last ball of the innings. In the Nehru cup final, Pakistan

    required six runs to win from the last two balls, and Wasim Akram hit a six off the first of those two

    balls and won the cup for Pakistan.

    7. Richard Hadlee: Inarguably the greatest of all New Zealand cricketers till date. One of the

    greats of all time who could make the grade to any great XI only for his bowling. New Zeeland had

    a very few match winners in their ranks when Richard Hadlee was around, and it was more often

    than not that Hadlee was their match winner. Richard Hadlee brought as many laurels to New

    Zeeland cricket as any of the other greatest cricketers of all time have brought to their own

    country. One of the ten greatest bowlers of all time. Plus, he was also more than handy with the

    bat, and perhaps one of the better batsmen in that New Zeeland team. One of the four great all

    rounders of 70s and 80s. Richard Hadlee was considered by many as the best bowler among the

    four great all-rounders of his time. Richard Hadlee was capable of creating havoc with his bowling.

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    He also won and saved matches for New Zeeland with his batting. Overall, a very capable match

    winner.

    8. Jacques Kallis: Some consider him to be the greatest cricketer of all time ahead of Gary

    Sobers, and there are others who rate him as the greatest cricketer from South Africa. Kallis is like

    a Rahul Dravid and Srinath combined into one unit. Besides being a technically sound,

    dependable batsman and a useful bowler, Kallis is an excellent fielder. Kallis gives South Africa anadditional fast bowler besides being the lynchpin in the batting line up. Kallis has carried the South

    African team quietly and steadily for around decade-and-half and looks good enough to continue

    for at least another two to three years. By the time he retires his statistics could be monumental.

    To give a more significant picture one statistic that could more vital is that he has a higher average

    in both test and one day cricket than Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar. Given that Sachin bats as

    an opener in one dayers and Kallis bats in the middle order, and for Kallis to have a greater

    average than Sachin Tendulkar is quite remarkable. Kallis though lacks on the flair aspect one day

    game, but has played crucial role in success of their one day unit. Jacques Kallis is also an

    outstanding fielder. He is a regular slip fielder for South African and I still remember his catch in

    Sharjah playing against Pakistan running from somewhere near extracover to almost near the

    boundary and then actually having to jump at the last minute to cover the distance with the ball

    and hold onto it. A Gary Sobers of different type.

    9. Kapil Dev: Kapil Dev was the greatest cricketer that India has ever produced. He was equally

    good with both bat and ball. He was probably the best batsman among the great all rounders of

    his time. In fact it was his batting that carried India through most part of the 1983 world cup. Kapil

    was also first genuine fast bowler of Independent India considering Mohammad Nissar's test

    career ended before independence, although he continued playing first class cricket for sometime

    after independence. Kapil Dev was very impressive as a hard hitting batsman and was the leaderof Indi...