If cricket can transcend time, boundaries and generations, these players have certainly proved their mettle since the game’s inception. Though their greatness can’t be measured in numbers alone, these players have changed the course of the game almost single-handedly with their consistent performances time and again.
The absence of Len Hutton, Ricky Ponting, Virat Kohli, Sir Jack Hobbs, Adam Gilchrist, MS Dhoni, Wasim Akram, George Headley, Graeme Pollock, Malcolm Marshall and many more stalwarts just proves how good these men in this list are.
Here is a list of the top 11 greatest cricketers of all time.
1. Sir Donald Bradman (Australia)
An illustrious career spanning over two decades, ‘‘The Don’’ stood tall boasting of an astounding batting average of 99.94 after having played 52 Tests. Unarguably the best cricketer ever born, one can safely assume that his unparalleled batting average will never be broken.
2. Sachin Tendulkar (India)
Having scored a staggering 100 international centuries, “The God of Cricket” truly lives up to his title. Also known as the “Little Master,” Tendulkar was a perfect blend of finesse, balance, class, exquisite timing, placement and aggression. Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack gave him the title of ‘the second greatest Test batsman’ after Sir Donald Bradman and ‘the second greatest ODI batsman’ after Sir Vivian Richards.
3. Sir Vivian Richards (West Indies)
Richards took the aggression to the hostile pacers of his times and often intimidated them with his fierce hitting and an aura of authority. He was one of the chief architects who shaped the West Indian era of invincibility.
4. Imran Khan (Pakistan)
One of the most successful captains of all times, he led a team that had their back against the wall to win the 1992 World Cup. He is one of the eight players to have received an ‘All Rounder’s Triple’ for scoring 3807 runs and taking 362 wickets in Test matches.
5. Sir Ian Botham (England)
Botham’s all-round performances in the 1981 Ashes made him a national hero overnight. So much so, that it was famously known as the ‘Botham’s Ashes.’ A top class all-rounder, Botham’s Ashes heroics inspired the nation throughout the eighties and brough cricket back with a renewed vigour amongst the masses in a country where loyalties were sharply divided between the gentleman’s game and football.
6. Brian Lara (West Indies)
Lara’s free-flowing left handed strokes made batting look prettier. With knocks of 400* and 501*, he holds the record for scoring the highest individual runs in Test cricket and first-class cricket respectively.
7. Shane Warne (Australia)
In the 1993 Ashes, Warne had bowled the “ball of the century” and subsequently revived the art of leg-spin in international cricket. He is one of the greatest leg-spin bowlers who has taken more than a thousand wickets in international matches. Warne was also named as one of the ‘5 Wisden Cricketers of the 20th Century.’
8. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)
Considered as one of the greatest bowler to spin a ball, Murali’s guile and disguise, like his controversial action, will remain forever a mystery. With 1347 wicket, he is the highest wicket-taker in international cricket followed by Shane Warne at a distant second with 1001 wickets. He was also the first and the only one to take 800 wickets in Test cricket till date.
9. Sir Garfield Sobers (West Indies)
An ex-captain of the West Indies team, he was one of the greatest all-rounders in the cricket world. Gifted with shrewd cricketing brains, Sir Garfield could do everything from batting to bowling pace or even spin.
10. Sir Richard Hadlee (New Zealand)
Sir Hadlee was the first to breach the 400-wicket mark in Test cricket — that too in 79 matches with an exceptional strike-rate. Hadlee ended his career on a high by taking 5 wickets against England in his last ever spell and a wicket off his last international delivery.
11. Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
As an all-rounder, Jacques holds the record of scoring over 11,000 runs and taking 250 wickets collectively in ODI and Test matches. He has received the maximum man-of-the-match awards in Test cricket.