Sir Donald Bradman of Australia was, beyond any argument, the greatest batsman who ever lived and the greatest cricketer of the 20th century.Throughout the 1930s and 40s Bradman was the world’s master cricketer, so far ahead of everyone else that comparisons became pointless.In all, he went to the crease 80 times in Tests, and scored 29 centuries. He needed just four in his last Test innings, at The Oval in 1948, to ensure an average of 100 - but was out second ball for 0, a rare moment of human failing that only added to his everlasting appeal. Bradman made all those runs at high speed in a manner that bewildered opponents and entranced spectators. Though his batting was not classically beautiful, it was always awesome.If there is one number that symbolized Bradman’s cricketing career, it is 99.94, his average in Test cricket.
Brilliance is a factor that falls out of the realm of measurement. The measurement of zenith is incomprehensible. However, when it comes to cricket, there is an individual who has set the benchmark of measuring brilliance. Sachin Tendulkar has been the most complete batsman of his time, the most prolific runmaker of all time, and arguably the biggest cricket icon the game has ever known. His batting was based on the purest principles: perfect balance, economy of movement, precision in stroke-making, and that intangible quality given only to geniuses – anticipation.Blessed with the keenest of cricket minds, and armed with a loathing for losing, Tendulkar set about doing what it took to become one of the best batsmen in the world. His greatness was established early: he was only 16 when he made his Test debut. In 2000 he became the first batsman to have scored 50 international hundreds, in 2008 he passed Brian Lara as the leading Test run-scorer, and in the years after, he went past 13,000 Test runs 30,000 international runs, and 50 Test hundreds.Tendulkar has also been the single biggest factor behind the explosion of popularity that cricket enjoys in India which led to the Indian board becoming the richest and most powerful in world cricket.
No-one since Bradman has built massive scores as often and as fast as Lara in his pomp. Even his stance was thrilling – the bat raised high in the air, the weight poised on a bent front knee, the eyes low and level.He topped the Test batting rankings on several occasions and holds several cricketing records, including the record for the highest individual score in first-class cricket, with 501 not out in 1994, which is the only quintuple hundred in first-class cricket history.Lara also holds the record for the highest individual score in a Test innings after scoring 400 not out against England in 2004. He is the only batsman to have ever scored a century, a double century, a triple century, a quadruple century and a quintuple century in first class games over the course of a senior career.A hero, a magician, an entertainer, a match-winner, a savior, a leader, a tragic romantic, Brian Charles Lara, like a masterful actor, slipped in and out of several roles with effortless ease. First thing’s first, Lara will forever be remembered as one of the greatest batsmen of the modern era, bracketed alongside the elite company of Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis.
Ricky Thomas Ponting – a specialist right hander from Tasmania – is the highest run getter for Australia in both Tests and ODIs and is also their most successful captain. Ricky, who made his debut in 1995, took over as the Australian ODI captain in 2002 and has been a part of three successful World Cup campaigns which also included a 34 match winning streak – a record that very few people can match. He stands third in the list of century makers in Tests – behind Tendulkar and Kallis – and is only behind Sachin Tendulkar when it comes to ODI tons. He is widely considered by many to be one of the best batsmen of the modern era, alongside Sachin Tendulkar of India and Brian Lara of the West Indies. On 1 December 2006, he reached the highest rating achieved by a Test batsman in the last 50 years.Ricky Ponting, the most uncompromising player of his generation, grew into Australia’s most successful run-maker and only sits below Bradman in the country’s overall ratings. It takes an extremely critical eye to diminish his run-scoring achievements, which seem to collect new records in every series.
Kumar Sangakkara, an elegant stroke player, a reliable keeper, was the cornerstone of Sri Lankan cricket for close to 15 years. After playing close to 500 international games for his country, the all-time great cricketer played his final game in a Test against India at Colombo in 2015. Sangakkara’s arrival on the cricket scene was sensational. A blistering 156 against Zimbabwe A in 2000 was enough to convince the selectors of his ability. Rewarded with a place in the one-day squad at the age of only 22, he won his first Man of the Match award in his second game. He scored his maiden Test century in his tenth Test after missing out twice before by getting out in the 90s. His batting was bordered by a temperament beyond his age. Sangakkara reached the peak of his prowess under the leadership of his good mate Mahela Jayawardene, having a prolific run in both forms of the game. His compiled a monumental 287 in the company of Mahela as the duo put on 624, and sucked the life out of the South African bowling attack, while rewriting First-Class cricket record books. His counter-attacking century on a green pitch in Wellington in 2006-07 showed his class as a batsman.He is one of the few batsmen who owns the stupendous record of amassing 10,000-plus runs in both Tests and ODIs.