The thing that makes the IPL so successful across the world is the number of overseas players who get to participate. Everyone loves watching their favourite cricketers from various countries team up together.
IPL has given the fans some amazing duos like Virat-AB de Villiers or Dwayne Smith-Brendon McCullum. Despite the marquee event being an Indian tournament conducted by the BCCI, we have witnessed multiple overseas players make it their home for destruction over the years. Some of them have even gone on to receive a great reception from the Indian fans thanks to their breath-taking performances in the cash-rich league.
That being said, it is time to take a look at the ten finest overseas players of all-time.
#10 Michael Hussey
Michael Hussey was dubbed “Mr. Cricket” for a reason. He was one of the most consistent batsmen to play for Australia. It didn’t matter if it was international cricket or domestic cricket, he was just too good for his opposition. Throughout his career, he proved to be a nightmare for any bowler who bowled to him.
Hence, it should come as no surprise that his consistency carried over into his IPL career as well. He was part of the Chennai Super Kings dugout during the inaugural edition of the tournament and played with the franchise until 2013.
While playing for CSK, Hussey would prove to be a consistent top-order batsman who played a big hand in getting his team off to good starts. He wasn’t known for his big hitting, but he was a classy player and was an absolute delight to watch him time the ball beautifully.
His best IPL season came in 2013 when he scored 733 runs for CSK at an average of 52.35 winning the Orange Cap in the process. Following his successful season in 2013, he went to play for Mumbai Indians in 2014 before returning to the franchise in 2015. However, he was a shadow of his former self and failed to replicate his antics of the past.
This was his last season in the IPL and he decided to call it quits on his IPL career. He finished with 1977 runs to his name at an average of 38.76 with 1 century and 15 half centuries.
#9 Brendon McCullum
The very first IPL match to be played will forever be remembered for the way that Brendon McCullum lit up the stadium with his electrifying batting. It was also a sign of things to come in the next few years.
But that was as good as it got for McCullum at KKR. He never really got going after that knock but continued to play with them till 2010. He then went on to play for Kochi Tuskers Kerala in 2011 before returning to KKR for one final season. However, his form didn’t improve and he was released after just two seasons.
It wasn’t until he started playing for the Chennai Super Kings where he really started to improve his batting. Opening the batting for CSK, he formed a formidable partnership with Dwayne Smith and the duo would wreak havoc at the start of the innings.
Clearly, his role at CSK was to get his team off to quick starts which would then allow Suresh Raina to come in at number 3 and play his natural game.
He had his best IPL season with the bat in 2015 and even scored his second ton. Following CSK’s 2-year ban, he went on to play for Gujarat Lions for two seasons for Gujarat Lions where he performed quite well. He also played for RCB last year but wasn’t able to contribute much with the bat.
Brendon McCullum will always be remembered for his time in the yellow jersey. He has scored a total of 2881 runs in his IPL career so far.
#8 Jacques Kallis
With over 20,000 runs and 300 wickets in international cricket, Jacques Kallis can easily be considered one of the greatest all-rounders to ever play the game. He was the exact definition of an all-rounder. He was exceptional with the bat and ball in hand.
The South African all-rounder was known for his classy style of batting. He could time the ball perfectly well and his placement was good too. Hence, Kallis managed to adapt to the shortest format of the game quite well.
The Protean first played in the IPL for the Royal Challengers Bangalore for three seasons (2008-2010). While with RCB, he opened the batting and scored a decent amount of runs at the top of the order.
In fact, his best IPL season with the bat came in 2010 when he scored 572 runs in 16 matches. He was also quite useful with the ball although he didn’t pick up as many wickets as he would’ve liked.
Kallis would then go on to play for Kolkata Knight Riders for four seasons (2011-2014). His good form with the bat continued and his form with the ball also improved considerably. It was with KKR that he picked up his best bowling figures of 13/3.
In 2014, he played his last IPL match. Currently, Kallis has settled into a coaching role within KKR and it looks like he is enjoying his new role.
#7 Dwayne Bravo
Dwayne Bravo is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining players on the field. Whether it’s dancing, batting, bowling, or fielding, Bravo knows just how to entertain the fans. He brings his Caribbean swag to the IPL and just sets the stage of fire.
Hence, it should come as no surprise that the West Indian all-rounder made this list. Bravo first started his IPL journey with the Mumbai Indians in 2008 and spent three years with them. Bravo performed quite well for MI with the bat and ball. He was consistent in scoring runs and picking up wickets.
After plying his trade for the Mumbai Indians for three years, the all-rounder was purchased by Chennai Super Kings ahead of the 2011 IPL. This is where he made a name for himself. Although Bravo may not have gotten many chances to shine with the bat given CSK’s power-packed batting lineup, he has delivered on the field with the ball.
His best performances in the IPL came in 2012, 2013, and 2015. In 2012, Bravo scored 372 runs with that bat and picked up 15 wickets with the ball. In 2013 and 2015, he picked up 32 wickets and 26 wickets respectively winning the purple cap on both occasions.
Over the years, Bravo has become one of CSK’s most dependable death bowler. He is currently the fourth highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 136 wickets to his name. He will return to play for the Chennai Super Kings this year and fans will expect no less than a good performance.
#6 Sunil Narine
Sunil Narine gained a lot of attention due to his performances in the Champions League T20 in 2011. A couple of months later, Narine found himself as a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders squad in 2012.
Immediately, he exceeded all expectations and became their go-to man with the ball. He picked up a total of 24 wickets in his debut season falling just one wicket short of winning the purple cap. The next two seasons were also quite exceptional for Narine.
However, he went through a bit of a rough patch when he was called for having a suspect action which forced him to modify his bowling action.
He wasn’t as effective after changing his bowling action and struggled to take wickets on a consistent basis. Instead, he worked on his batting and tried to get better with the bat as well.
In a masterstroke, KKR decided to open the batting with Narine in 2017. He would bat mainly as a pinch hitter and would ensure his team got off to a quick start. He has also scored a couple of fifties and currently holds the record for the joint-fastest IPL fifty getting to the landmark in just 15 balls.
He had his best season with the bat in 2018 scoring 357 runs at a strike-rate of 189.89. Sunil Narine has played a pivotal role in helping his franchise lift the coveted IPL trophy twice.
#5 Lasith Malinga
Lasith Malinga is known for two things – his quirky hairstyle and his slinging yorkers. Malinga debuted in the IPL for the Mumbai Indians and is still associated with the franchise in 2019.
Over the years, he has been an instrumental part of MI’s bowling lineup, especially in the death overs. He was consistent at taking wickets while being economical. Currently, he is one of the most economical fast bowlers in the tournament. He has an economy rate of 6.86.
His ability to hit toe-crushing yorkers at pinpoint accuracy made him one of the most lethal and deadly bowlers in the history of the IPL. He has maintained his consistency throughout the years and even won the purple cap in 2011 when he picked up 28 wickets. Currently, he leads the list of wicket-takers by a huge margin with 154 wickets from just 110 matches.
#4 Shane Watson
Although Shane Watson had been playing international cricket for some time prior to his IPL debut in 2008, he wasn’t a very prominent figure in the cricketing world. However, that all changed when he joined the Rajasthan Royals in 2008.
He would quickly become an indispensable part of their otherwise bleak batting lineup and would even win the player of the tournament scoring 472 runs and scalping 17 wickets. His antics with the bat and ball ensured that his team would lift the IPL trophy.
He would go on to feature prominently in the following seasons for the Rajasthan Royals and even made a comeback to international cricket.
After RR was banned for two years, Watto found himself back in the auction pool only to be picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore. He was used as a middle-order batsman and didn’t get many chances to shine with the bat. However, he proved more than useful with the ball.
After a couple of average seasons with RCB, Watson found himself a new franchise – Chennai Super Kings. It was a turning point for him as he performed at his best for CSK. He scored 555 runs with the bat and scored a beautiful century in the final to help his team clinch their third IPL title.
#3 AB de Villiers
What can you really say about Mr. 360 that hasn’t already been said? Known for his explosive batting and innovative shots, AB de Villiers can literally smash bowlers to any part of the ground. Hence the nickname “Mr. 360.”
Although he first played for Delhi Capitals for three seasons (2008-2010), it wasn’t until he joined Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2011 that he really came into the limelight. At RCB, he has formed an unbreakable duo with Virat Kohli and the two batsmen have wreaked havoc over the years.
His most memorable performance came in 2016 when he scored 687 runs in 16 matches and played a useful hand in helping his team reach the finals of the tournament. His consistency over the years has been one of the key factors for RCB.
de Villers is a very versatile player and can do it all: bat, keep wickets and take spectacular catches. He has taken some of the most breathtaking catches in the IPL and can contribute in volumes when on the field.
AB de Villiers has scored a total of 3953 runs from 141 matches with 28 fifties and 3 centuries to his name.
#2 David Warner
After an epic string of performances in the Champions League T20, David Warner found himself playing for Delhi Capitals in 2009. Known for his explosive batting, Warner struggled to score many runs for his franchise. Although he scored 2 centuries during his tenure at Delhi, his performances were below par most of the time.
After being released by DC in 2013, he was picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2014. It was here where the southpaw rose to prominence. He spearheaded their batting attack and has played a huge role in his team’s success.
He has consistently scored over 500 runs per season since 2014. His best season with SRH came in 2016 when he scored 848 runs from 16 matches. He followed that up with another impressive performance the next year scoring 641 runs winning the orange cap in the process.
Currently, Warner is the 8th highest run scorer in the IPL with 4014 runs from 114 matches.
#1 Chris Gayle
Undoubtedly, the Universe Boss is number one on this list. Chris Gayle is as devastating a batsman you would find anywhere. He is a destructive opener who is known for hammering the bowlers with brute force.
The ‘Universe Boss’ took to this format quickly and became the first batsman to hit a T20I century and has also scored more than 7 tons in the shortest form of the game. Gayle keeps enhancing his skills and plying his trade in T20 leagues around the world.
However, the Caribbean batsman didn’t start his IPL career on a good note. When the attacking southpaw made his IPL debut, he was playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Opening the batting for them, he barely managed to score runs and hit only two half-centuries during his tenure with KKR.
It wasn’t until he joined RCB in 2011 that he really unleashed his power. RCB’s small home ground suited him and he quickly became a mainstay with the franchise.
Fans would even chant his name every time he walked out to bat. From 2011-2013, he scored over 600 runs per season with a strike-rate of 150+. He even won the Purple Cap on two occasions.
Currently, Gayle holds the record for the highest individual T20 score of all-time - an unbeaten 175 runs against Pune Warriors India in 2013. He also has 6 centuries to his name – the most by any player in the IPL.
All these records and achievements definitely mean that Chris Gayle may very well be the greatest overseas player to ever play in the Indian Premier League.