With the great Sachin Tendulkar finally formally announcing his retirement from international cricket the curtain has been finally brought down not only on this magnificent career but also to what can only be consider a “Golden Era” of great batsmanship in the game of cricket. So the question to be asked is who exactly are the greatest batsmen of this so called “Golden Era”? It is for this reason that I have undertaken a rather difficult task of selecting my top 20 greatest batsmen to have ever graced the game in this era. The list of my top 20 greatest batsmen is as follows:
1. Sachin Tendulkar: (India)
There is an old adage that says that “Geniuses are not made they are born” and this certainly rings true for the “Little Maestro” from Mumbai who answers by the name of “SACHIN RAMESH TENDULKAR”. What sets this little maestro apart from rest of the pack is his impeccable balance on as well off the field. While on field balance has allowed him to become a complete batsmen and unleash any stroke be it the on drive, off drive, back foot drive, square cut, pull to the innovative paddle sweep and upper cut he can do it all, and which is also what made him such a dangerous batsmen to bowl at. The off the field balance that he has managed so impeccably over the years has enabled him not only to avoid controversies but also earn him respect all around the globe a rare phenomenon in modern sport as of today. With an overall test average above 50 in tests and above 40 in one day cricket as well as a fairly successful stint in IPL (twenty-twenty) cricket he is undoubtedly not only the greatest batsman of our generation but one also one of the greatest cricketers ever to have graced the game, and one can only hope that the legacy of this great cricketer lives on as an inspiration to one and all forever.
2. Brian Lara: (West Indies)
In the world of cricket there have been many elegant batsmen but none better than the West Indian “Prince” Brian Charles Lara. What truly stands out in this batsman is simply the fact that he made his batting look really elegant. Also the fact that like all great batsman he was very well balanced and was comfortable playing on either front or back foot made him a batsmen to fear for all opposition bowlers. He also was excellent manipulator of spin bowling and as result a real headache for opposition captains. Unfortunately though his inconsistency was his biggest flaw which is why according to me Sachin Tendulkar just slightly edges him out as the greatest batsman of this generation. All said and done though with a test average nearing 53 and a one day average nearing 41 he will certainly go down as one of the greatest batsmen to have not only graced international cricket but West Indian cricket as well.
3. Ricky Ponting: (Australia)
“A pull shot from the front foot” is what truly defines the batting of the great Australian batsman and a former captain Ricky Ponting. What makes this batsman special is simply the fact that he had the ability to dominate spin as well as pace with equal ease. Also the fact that he was able to score runs by being aggressive in any form of the game i.e. test cricket, or one day is what sets him apart from many of the batsman of his generation. Apart from the pull and the hook shot of which he was a true master he was equally adept at the cover drive be it on the back or front foot, or even the on and off drives. With Ponting deciding to retire from cricket finally in 2012 the game has certainly lost one of its truly great batsman of its generation. With an average of nearing 52 in tests and 43 in one day cricket Ponting will certainly be remembered as one of cricket’s greatest batsman of this generation ever to have graced the game.
4. Rahul Dravid: (India)
In life if “The Great Wall” belongs to China then in the world of cricket “The Great Wall” belongs to India in the form of a great batsman called “RAHUL SHARAD DRAVID”. It is only for sheer determination and a high value he always placed on his wicket that he got called “The Wall”. He was a technically proficient batsman especially with regards to defensive technique. What also stands out in Dravid apart from technique is his mental toughness which is quite evident in the number of innings he played under extreme pressure. So with a lethal combination of a great technique and mental toughness it is not surprising that he averaged around 52 in tests and 40 in one day cricket. With him having crossed the 10,000 run barrier in both test and one day cricket Rahul Dravid will certainly be remembered not only as one of the greatest batsman of this era but also a true gentleman of the game which coincidentally is also considered a “Gentleman’s game”.
5. Steve Waugh: (Australia)
There is an old English idiom that says “Where there is a will there is a way” which perfectly reflects the batting style of the great Australian batsman Stephen Waugh. Here is a batsman who had limited ability yet he went on to score over 10,000 test runs before he retired in 2004. His great ability was in performing under intense pressure especially in situations when his team needed him the most. He is also a perfect example of making the most of his limited ability through an “Iron will”. The fact that he even though he had genuine weakness against the short ball yet he managed to score runs is further testimony to his great will. With this great batsman having been retired quite some time back all one can hope is for more future batsman to try and if possible imbibe the famous “Iron will” Waugh possessed all through his magnificent career.
6. Matthew Hayden: (Australia)
In the world of cricket if ever there was an opener who redefined the role of the opener especially in test cricket in the modern era then it has be Matthew Hayden from Australia. With an intimidating presence which included a confident swagger he dominated new ball bowlers like very few openers of his generation have managed to do. So be it his powerful pull, drives, or his sweep shots against the spinners he could play all round the wicket be it spin or pace with equal pace. Also he was mentally tough and enjoyed batting under pressure which is why he ended up being adjudged the man of the tournament at the 2007 World Cup held in the West Indies. So with an average of around 51 in tests and 44 in one day cricket Matthew Hayden will certainly be remembered as a batsman that redefined the role of an opener especially in test cricket for years to come.
7. Adam Gilchrist: (Australia)
They say that “Change is the only constant” and this adage certainly rings true for Adam Gilchrist who certainly brought about a change in the role of the wicketkeeper-batsman in world cricket. With an ultra aggressive approach to batting he certainly demolished many a bowling attacks all around the world. He had a unique ability of pulling even a good length ball over mid wicket for six and thereby making him a very dangerous batsman to bowl to. Apart from the pull he also possessed a very potent square cut and was also adept at driving. A genuine match winner on his day be it in test or in one day cricket but more importantly he redefined the role of the modern wicketkeeper-batsman for generations to follow.
8. V.V.S Laxman: (India)
The adjective “Stylish” is the most appropriate word used to describe the batsmanship of the talented V.V.S Laxman from India. What really stands out is the fact that he made batting look so very easy while he was in the crease. Being tall helped him play the back foot shots such as pull or the drive with aplomb, and his supple wrist allowed him to play the on side flick with ease thus making him a difficult opponent to bowl at. What he is also was a master at is playing the spinners by just using feet and getting to pitch of ball which is the traditional and the best way of playing the spinners under any conditions. The fact that he enjoys pressure was clearly evident during his epic knock of 281 against the might of the Australians at Kolkata in 2001. With some stylish match winning knocks over the years in both formats of the game he certainly will be remembered not only as one of the truly great batsman of his generation but also as the “Very Very Special” One.
9. Kevin Pietersen: (England)
A supremely confident batsman with an aggressive mindset is what perfectly defines not only Kevin Pietersen the cricketer but the batsman as well. What is also very noticeable in his batting is the ability to innovate new cricketing shots at the spur of the moment during play. So be it reverse sweeping a spinner for a six or the now famous “switch shot” he has certainly managed to successfully execute them and thereby adding a new dimension to batting. Apart from the innovative aspect of his game he is also good at most of the traditional strokes be it on the front or back foot and is comfortable playing all around the field. With innovation being his forte it will be interesting to see what more innovations does this great batsman from England conjure up in the near future.
10. Inzamam-ul-Haq: (Pakistan)
If there was any batsman in world cricket in this modern era that can be called “A Gentle Giant” then it has to be Inzamam-ul-Haq from Pakistan. Although he was a giant in size he had great balance at the crease which allowed him to play easily of both the front as well as back foot. What also sets him apart like all great batsman is his extremely unflappable temperament under pressure. This was very evident in 1992 world cup when under extreme pressure during semi final against New Zealand and chasing stiff target of 262 he scored an aggressive 60 of just 37 balls to guide Pakistan into the final. So with him having retired from the game for quite some time now one can only hope that his legacy in not only Pakistan cricket but in world cricket as well lives on forever.
11. Virender Sehwag: (India)
The word “butcher” is aptly often used to describe the batting style of Indian opening batsman Virender Sehwag. If Matthew Hayden of Australia redefined the role of a test opening batsman then Sehwag took it to another level. A batsman with supreme confidence and with an ultra aggressive approach to batting he “butchered” bowling attacks all around the world with ease and a certain panache. What also stands out apart from his domineering batting was his unflustered temperament be it the first ball or the last ball of his innings he reacted the same way. So with two test triple centuries and a one day double hundred to his name Sehwag will certainly be remembered as one of the best opening batsman of his generation to have played the game.
12. Jacques Kallis: (South Africa)
When we talk about “Dependability and Durability factor” in cricket then there is no better batsman than South African Jacques Kallis who has not only been dependable but durable as well for years now. Also the fact that he possesses one of the best batting techniques has certainly made him a player for all conditions. So be it bouncy, seaming, or turning tracks he can handle them all. Although his inability to dominate attacks has been seen by many experts as a big weakness especially considering the fact that he has had the technique and temperament to do so. So with age catching up with this great batsman from the rainbow nation all one can hope is for more of his now famous classical batting right until the day he finally decides to hang his boots.
13. Aravinda De Silva:(Sri Lanka)
An old adage says that “The older the wine the better it tastes” and this certainly rings true for the great Sri Lankan batsman Aravinda De Silva. He began as a young aggressive yet reckless batsman (and was therefore called “Mad Max”) but in time like old wine matured to become an aggressive yet more consistent batsman. What also made his batting pleasing to watch was the elegance in his stroke play. The fact that he was good back foot player made him as effective overseas as he was at home. Also the fact that he scored a match winning unbeaten century to help Sri Lanka clinch its first World Cup in 1996 stands testimony to the true class that this batsman possessed. With him now retired for around decade one can only hope that the true class of this batsman will remain etched in the minds of genuine cricket lovers all around the world forever.
14. Kumar Sangakkara: (Sri Lanka)
When it comes to style and fluency in batting there is no better batsman in world than Kumar Sangakkara from Sri Lanka. Here is batsman who not only stylish but a very technically accomplished batsman. So be the square drive, cover drive, cut or pull he can do it all with ease. Also the fact that he has not only performed well at home but overseas as well is a clear indication of his true class as batsman. With at least a couple more years still left before this batsman from Sri Lanka can hang his boots one can only hope that his stylish batting continues to fascinate all cricket lovers all around the world.
15. Sanath Jayasuriya: (Sri Lanka)
They say that “Attack is the best form of defense” and this idiom certainly rings true for Sanath Jayasuriya who also redefined the role of the opener in one day cricket. Here is a batsman who was promoted as an opener by his captain Arjuna Ranatunga and who used the full freedom given to him to take maximum advantage of the fielding restrictions. What also made Jayasuriya really special was that he not only scored runs but he scored them at a rapid rate. So be it is preferred cut shot or his powerful flick shot over the leg side he was a true destroyer of bowling attacks especially in the one day format. With him now being the chairman of the selection committee of Sri Lankan cricket one can only hope that his legacy especially as one of the most destructive one day batsman the world has ever seen lives on forever.
16. Mahela Jayawardena: (Sri Lanka)
“A batsman with a sublime touch” is the best way to describe Mahela Jayawardena the elegant batsman from Sri Lanka. Apart from his effortless stroke play what also stands out is the hunger for making big scores which also includes his highest test score of 374 against South Africa. He is an all round batsman and can play on either side of the wicket and is equally comfortable with spin and pace alike. Although he does have a tendency at times to give his wicket way a little too easily. So with few years left in this magnificent career all one can hope for is for some more elegant batting by this right handed batsman from Sri Lanka in the near future as well.
17. Andy Flower: (Zimbabwe)
There are few batsmen in world cricket on whose shoulders the fortune of the entire team rests upon and one such batsman is Andy Flower from Zimbabwe. A stylish left handed batsman who could also be innovative as and when required. So be it the cover drive or the reverse sweep against the spinners which he was a master he played them all with great style. The fact that he averaged 51.54 in tests and 35.34 in the one day format is a clear indicator of the class he possessed. With Flower having retired from all formats way back in 2003 one can only hope that his legacy in Zimbabwe and international cricket lasts forever.
18. Saeed Anwar: (Pakistan)
“The flick shot” over midwicket region is what over the years has become a trademark for elegant Pakistani opening batsman Saeed Anwar. Apart from the flick shot he also possessed a beautiful cover drive. He also was good of the back foot as a result of which was quite adept at playing the cut and the pull thus making him a real difficult batsman to bowl at. The fact that his highest score in the one day format was 194 made against arch rivals India (which was a record until the great Sachin Tendulkar broke the record by scoring the first double century in one day cricket against South Africa in 2010 at Gwalior) is a clear indicator of his true class. So with Anwar having retired from long time ago one can only hope that his elegant batting remains etched in the memory of genuine cricket lovers all around the world.
19. Hashim Amla: (South Africa)
It is very rare that we find batsmen from outside the subcontinent using their wrists to good effect while batting however there are always exceptions to the rules and one such exception is the South African Hashim Amla. With strokes filled with silken touch Amla has certainly grown in stature as one of the leading batsman in world cricket as of today. Apart from great technique and wonderful use of wrists what also stands out is the temperament. So with Amla being blessed with a wonderful temperament and great technique one can only hope that the “best is yet to come” for this stylish batsman from the rainbow nation.
20. Michael Clarke: (Australia)
A combination of quick footwork and a great technique is what best describes the batting of Michael Clarke of Australia. With him having made his debut against India in 2004 he has certainly since then matured from a prodigious talent into one of the truly great batsman of this era. With quicksilver footwork against spinners and great technique against fast bowlers he certainly has managed to dominate attacks all around the world with effortless ease in the last few years. So with age definitely on his side one can only hope that this talented Australian will continue to weave his magic through his batting in the near future as well.
With the list of my top twenty greatest batsman of this decade done and dusted with here is hoping that all my readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Happy reading to one and all. Enjoy.