Since the inception of the wonderful sport we’ve all grown to love, there have been numerous remarkable, stellar athletes that have graced the game. Every cricket playing country has produced its own share of top class players who have inscribed their names deep into the history books.
Choosing the best ever is never easy, and is often a cause of huge debate. Here’s a look at the best cricketer each country has ever produced.
Sir Donald Bradman – Australia
The Don is regarded by many pundits as the single greatest player ever to play the sport of cricket. Sir Donald George Bradman was, without any question, the greatest phenomenon in the history of cricket, indeed in the history of all ball games. To start with, he had a deep and undying love of cricket, as well, of course, as exceptional natural ability.
Averaging an astonishing 99.94 with the bat, Don has managed to captivate the audiences throughout his career and post retirement. Australia may be home to numerous astonishing cricketers such as Ponting and Border, but Don was a league apart.
His exploits with the bat took the game of cricket to a whole new level and made it more popular among places where cricket was relatively an unknown entity.
Kumar Chokshanada Sangakkara – Sri Lanka
As soon as he broke into the side at the age of 22, it was evident that Kumar Sangakkara was destined for greatness. One of the most technically sound and classy players, Sangakkara has been an ambassador of the game for a long time. He had the tendency to ease into strokes with elegance, with the cut and the pull coming naturally to him.
Sangakkara is hailed for his unmatched cricketing brain, and his sheer presence on the pitch with the bat could unnerve any bowler.
Adored by a huge fan following, Sri Lanka’s top run scorer had the tendency to occupy the crease for longer periods in test cricket, frustrating bowlers. Having scored 63 centuries across all formats, Sangakkara has amassed 28,016 runs.
James Michael Anderson – England
James Anderson has proved himself as one of the most skillful and prolific fast bowlers in England’s history. His talents have been apparent in test cricket, where his command of swing bowling, especially in home conditions, has been the stuff of artistry bearing comparison with any swing bowler in any generation.
With a classical side-on action, he generates natural outswing and with the old ball is capable of reverse swinging it. When he is on song and when the conditions suit his style, he is pretty much unplayable and has often produced balls that pitch on middle and leg and hit off-stump, leaving the batsmen bewildered. Recently, during the West Indies’ tour of England, Anderson joined the 500 club in tests.
Since his debut in 2002, Anderson has gone on to pick up 793 international wickets. Quite an astonishing stat for someone who’s still going strong.
Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards – West Indies
Arguably the most devastating batsman of all time, Vivian Richards was the ‘King of Entertainment’. Earlier when batting was approached in a more conservative manner, Sir Viv had the tendency to break the shackles and unleash an aggressive brand of cricket.
Richards showed the world how to whack them out of the park, and on his day, could destroy any bowling line-up in any conditions.
His strike rate of 84+ with 50+ average in tests in an era where average run rate of a team was around 2.5 Runs per over, undoubtedly highlights his greatness.
Daniel Luca Vettori – New Zealand
The youngest man to play Test cricket for New Zealand, at the age of 18, he is one of only eight players to have managed the double of 300 Test wickets and 3,000 runs. Since his debut, Vettori has gone from strength to strength, establishing himself as one of the greatest left arm orthodox bowlers in the world, and arguably New Zealand’s finest ever created.
Throughout his career, Vettori has been the sole wicket-taker for New Zealand in Tests and luckily for them he has the ability to bowl long spells and possesses patience in abundance. He possesses a number of variations combined with a beautiful loop, he’s often left batsmen bamboozled.
Vettori has gone on to scalp 705 wickets during the course of his playing days. He’s no mug with the bat either, having gone on to make 6989 runs.
Imran Khan Niazi – Pakistan
Few would dispute that Imran was the finest cricketer Pakistan has produced, or the biggest heartthrob. Arguably the second best all rounder after Garry Sobers, Imran Khan literally changed the fate of Pakistan cricket, especially the bowling. It is no exaggeration to say that he was the one that popularised cricket in Asia.
He proved to the world that subcontinent wickets that are often considered to be “dead” and “flat” also could produce great bowlers like Akram, Waqar, Mohammed Asif, Akhtar and himself. Under him, extremely talented players like Miandad and Akram emerged. Moreover, even non – performers became match winners.
Famous for leading Pakistan to a World Cup in 1992, Imran scalped 544 wickets and amassed 7,516 runs over his career.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar – India
Over the years, India has consistently produced world beaters. World class players like Kapil Dev, MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly have been wonderful ambassadors of the game, yet, Sachin was a cut above the rest. Sachin was the most complete batsman of his time, most prolific run scorer of all time, and arguably the greatest icon the game has ever seen.
Considered the ‘God of Cricket’, Tendulkar had no apparent weakness to his game and scored all around the wicket, of both the front and the back foot.
Each time he stepped on the field, he carried the hopes and expectations of over a billion people. Most would succumb to such pressure, but Sachin only got better with each passing year.
Tendulkar is right at the top of the tree in most batting charts and that is a manifestation of how dexterous he was with a bat wielded between his palms. He has a hundred international centuries, a record which is likely to remain untouched.
Jacques Henry Kallis – South Africa
If Jacques Kallis becomes a coach, three people will become jobless; the batting coach, bowling coach and fielding coach.
No batsman prizes his wicket more highly, and no wicket in all of cricket is more highly prized. One of the few underrated cricketers, Kallis got less recognition than he deserved. Right hand batsman and right arm medium bowler, Jacques Kallis is regarded as one of the greatest all rounders to have ever played the game.
The epitome of concentration, Kallis had a rock-solid defence and could play all the shots in the book. For most of his career, Kallis was the guy the South Africans depended on to grind it out.
Across all three formats representing his career Kallis has scalped 577 wickets and amassed 25,534 runs. In addition, in the slips, his sure handedness and lightning fast reflexes makes even ridiculous catches look regulation.
Shakib Al Hasan – Bangladesh
Number one all rounder in the world at the moment. That distinction alone highlights his greatness. Shakib’s on-field performances and off-field professionalism has set a benchmark that is followed by peers and juniors alike.
As a bowler, Shakib is deadly accurate and consistent; aggression and a wide range of strokes are the keys to his batting. Spearhead of both the batting and bowling department, he created history by topping the ranking charts as number 1 all rounder in all three formats.
He is the first batsman from Bangladesh to score five hundreds, despite mainly batting down the order.
Throughout his career, and still going strong, Shakib has managed to amass 9,785 runs so far, and taken 482 wickets and counting.