Being the second most followed sport in the world, the game of cricket has produced one of the best athletes to have played at the international level. These extremely skilled players have won hundreds of matches for their respective teams. They have laid the foundation for the future of cricket. Although they have gained respect from all over the world, some of them are even worshiped as godly figures. They have set a benchmark in the game that every aspiring cricket looks forward to accomplish. Here are the 10 ambassadors and arguably the best cricketer to have ever graced the game:
10Sir Vivian Richards (West Indies)
I believe that Sir Vivian Richards is the finest batsman West Indies cricket has ever produced. Cricket in the 1970s wasn’t much about attacking the bowler. Batsmen waited for the bowler to commit a mistake and then take advantage of a loose delivery to score runs. However, the Antiguan legend always had other plans. Richards’ knock of 138 in the all-important final of 1979’s World Cup was a landmark in the books of cricket. Cricket had never witnessed a batsman counter attacking the bowlers with his aggression before. And smashing 90+ mph balls without a helmet tells you that this Caribbean guy was special! Sir Viv Richards has 15,261 international runs and 35 centuries to his name.
9Glenn McGrath (Australia)
Glenn McGrath is the most successful fast bowler in international cricket. His had the ability to swing the ball both ways. His capability to pick crucial wickets and single handedly win matches with the ball alone makes him one of the greatest cricketers. The 6’6 tall right arm fast medium bowler could take wickets anytime, anywhere. Irrespective of whether the conditions are suitable for fast bowlers or spinners. He was not known for being the fastest of the lot. But McGrath proved that consistency in line and length is the key to success for any seamer.
Glenn McGrath has delivered with some brilliant performances when it mattered the most for Australia. He has the record of picking the most number of wickets in World Cups (71). McGrath played a very important role in winning 3 consecutive World Cups (from 1999-2007) and has 949 international wickets in his tally.
8Wasim Akram (Pakistan)
Next is the ‘Sultan of Multan’, the greatest Pakistani bowler Wasim Akram himself. Wasim is one of the most dangerous fast bowlers to have ever played. He deceived all the batsmen with his pace, bounce and swing. Wasim could swing the ball both ways, even in the air and also after hitting the pitch. The legendary Pakistani fast bowler along with Waqar Younis and Imran Khan, led the foundation of fast bowling in international cricket.
Wasim Akram was the pioneer of using the reverse swing to its full effect. His ability to bowl a deadly bouncer and a lethal swinging toe-crushing Yorker in the same over made him a match winner. Wasim played a key role in Pakistan’s World Cup title in 1992 and has 916 international wickets to his name.
7Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka)
Next on the list is Sri Lankan legendary all-rounder Sanath Jayasuriya. Sanath is one of the most successful all-rounders cricket has ever seen. In the 1996 World Cup, Jayasuriya set a trend of dominating the pace attack right from the from the first ball in the powerplay overs. This helped Sri Lanka lift their maiden title as the opposition was under pressure right from the very first delivery. Jayasuriya is the kind of batsman bowlers resisted to bowl to. He holds the 3rd position in the list of batsmen with the most number of sixes in international cricket (270).
Usually known as a big-hitter of the ball and Sanath Jayasuriya has also contributed equally well with the ball for Sri Lanka. He is the 10th most successful bowlers in ODIs with 323 wickets to his name.
6Virat Kohli (India)
There’s no doubt that the Indian skipper, Virat Kohli is currently best cricketer in international cricket. Within a small career of 11 years, Virat has scored more than 19,5000 runs and 64 international centuries (2nd most 100s by any batsman) at an unimaginable average of 56.30! Kohli is the most successful run-chaser in ODIs. Virat’s passion, dedication and hunger to win matches for his nation have played an important role in India’s success in the last 5-6 years.
The quality about Virat that makes him the best cricketer is that he learns from his mistakes and never repeats them. He has inspired every Indian cricketer to raise their level of fitness and has made India the best fielding side in the world. With such a long career ahead, no wonder Virat is the only candidate to break Tendulkar’s record of 100 centuries in international cricket!
5Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)
Next is the Sri Lankan legend himself, Muttiah Muralitharan. Murali is the leading wicket taker in international cricket. Who would have ever imagined that a man from a small town of Kandy would play international cricket and end up picking 1347 wickets for Sri Lanka! The right arm off break mystery spinner has the record of taking the most number of 5-wicket hauls in international cricket (77 times) and 10-wicket hauls as well (22 times).
Murali has taken wickets in every part of the world, even on lush green pitches of England and the dead, flat and dry pitches of West Indies. He had every delivery in the stock that you could ever imagine: off break, doosra, slider, arm ball and even the quicker one. Murali has deceived and every batsman in the world. I think no one would ever be able to take more international wickets than him!
4Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
Jacques Kallis is the best all-rounder world has ever seen. Kallis was the kind of player who could do anything possible on the cricket field. A good fielder with 338 catches, a brilliant bowler and an even better batsman. Kallis was a very stylish middle order batsman, who also played the role a very important finisher in the South African team.
Kallis has excelled in all the 3 formats of the game. He has always done more than what the captain has asked him to do. He is the only cricketer to have scored more than 10,000 runs and pick more than 250 wickets in both tests and ODIs. Why would someone not want to have a guy who has 25534 runs, 62 centuries and 577 international wickets to his name!
3Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India)
A young man of 26, with only 3 years of experience in international cricket, was appointed as the captain of the Indian squad for the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. That Indian team, who was going through great crisis after losing almost every series in the last year and failing to qualify through the group stage in the World Cup that very year. MS Dhoni comes and out of nowhere lifts the T20 World Cup for India! This win led to a revolution in cricket in the form of a phenomenon called the ‘IPL’. Even as a lower order batsman batting at number 6 or 7, MS has 17,054 international runs at an average of 44.87 to his name. He is also the best wicket-keeper to have ever played cricket, with the most number of stumpings to his name.
There is no better thinker of cricket in the entire world than MS Dhoni. The way he analyses each and every situation of the game is just unbelievable. His decision to bat at number 5 on 2nd April, 2011 helped India lift the World Cup after 28 long years. The way Dhoni has led the Indian team in his 9 years, to become the only captain to lift each and every ICC Trophy, just sums up why he is the best leader any sport has ever seen!
2Sir Don Bradman (Australia)
Number 2 position has to go to the best Australian to have ever played the game of cricket, Sir Donald George Bradman. Don Bradman played during the era of the 1930s and 1940s, when cricket wasn’t as popular and well-equipped as it is today. Even then, Bradman played 234 first class matches and scored 28,067 runs with 117 centuries! Whereas in his international career, he has 6,996 runs, 29 centuries and 12 double centuries in 52 test matches at a mind-boggling record average of 99.94! Bradman is one of the reasons for making cricket what it is today. He attracted millions of people to follow this wonderful game. Bradman died in 2001, but is still respected by cricket fans in each and every corner of the world. I wonder what his career would have looked like if he had ever got the opportunity to play ODIs!
1Sachin Tendulkar (India)
34357 international runs, 100 centuries, 164 fifties and an average of 48.52 in 782 innings! Do you really need more explanation who the best cricketer of all time is? A true cricket fan doesn’t need to read 150 words to understand why Sachin Tendulkar is the best cricketer to have ever played the game. You know how well he has performed even after having the load of the entire nation on his shoulders for 24 long years. Till then, let the numbers do the talking themselves!