Tonight we continue our journey counting down who CricketWeb has voted as the 50 greatest cricketers of all time. We start things off with our all time number 30 and will count our way down all the way to the very edge of the top 20. This is getting serious now, folks...
Victor Trumper | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 24% of voters - highest ranking no.4
Few players have ever been more loved and admired by teammates, opponents and spectators alike than Victor Trumper, Australia's batting wonder of the Golden Age and the finest his country produced before Sir Donald Bradman. An unfailingly modest and likeable man who remained unaffected by his fame and adulation, Trumper had the extraordinary ability to produce big scores and masterful performances on even the most difficult of wickets. Nominally an opener but having also enjoyed great success in the middle order, Trumper was a strokeplayer of absolutely the highest class who matched dashing, attacking strokeplay with a level of style and elegance that many believe remains unsurpassed.
In 1902, during his triumphant tour of England, Trumper became the first man to score a century before lunch in a Test, and in all matches that summer hit 11 centuries with an average of nearly 50 - a phenomenal performance given the constantly wet weather and sticky wickets he faced throughout the tour. Like so many other fine cricketers, including several others on this list, he met a tragically early end dying of Bright's disease in 1915 at the age of just 37. Such was the love and adulation Australia felt for their batting hero, his death actually pushed the war briefly off the front pages of nation's newspapers.
Sunil Gavaskar | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 39% of voters - highest ranking no.13
An absolutely masterful opening batsman, who despite standing less than five-and-a-half feet tall was an undisputed giant of the game. Blessed like so many great openers with amazing powers of concentration to augment his batsmanship, he was at the time of his retirement the world record holder for Tests played, runs accumulated and centuries scored, a testimony not just to his skill but his durability.
"Sunny" burst onto the international scene in the early 1970s with arguably the greatest ever debut series - 774 runs in just four Tests against the West Indies. This was the first of no less than six different series in which he eclipsed 500 runs, and was also the beginning of his remarkable success against the West Indies - 13 of his 34 Test centuries came against them, including seven in the Caribbean, and even if not all of them were made against the very strongest attacks those islands could muster, that record is still truly superb. Now a writer and commentator, he is rarely short of an opinion with regard to cricket in India or the wider world.
Bill O'Reilly | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 29% of voters - highest ranking no.7
In an era where bat dominated ball more completely than at possibly any other time in history, "Tiger" O'Reilly took 144 Test wickets at 22 with an economy rate of just 1.9 runs per over - including the wicket of the great Walter Hammond ten times. Whichever way you look at them, those numbers are nothing short of phenomenal and begin to give us an understanding as to why Bradman went to his grave claiming that O'Reilly was the greatest bowler he ever saw. A tall, long limbed firebrand of Irish blood, the Tiger had a demeanour that suggested he was a fast bowling tearaway but he in fact bowled leg-spin at nearly medium pace, able to spin the ball considerably but achieving just as much success through tremendous accuracy, sharp bounce and clever variation.
While Bradman's unbeaten century made the headlines, it was actually O'Reilly who bowled Australia to their only victory of the Bodyline series - and from that match on for the remainder of his career he was Australia's premier bowler, forming all-too-briefly with Clarrie Grimmett probably the greatest of all spin-bowling partnerships. After retiring from cricket, O'Reilly became one of Australia's best-loved journalists, and lived just long enough to see a chubby young blonde legspinner debut in the early 1990s to carry on his legacy.
Graeme Pollock | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 34% of voters - highest ranking no.9
With 23 official Tests to his name, Graeme Pollock got slightly more exposure than his countrymen Richards and Proctor, but not by much. Deprived by the politics of his country any Tests after his 26th birthday, Pollock had even by that early stage shown beyond any doubt that he was fit to rank with the finest players the game had ever seen. He was a prodigiously heavy scorer in South African domestic cricket and had no problem transferring that form to the biggest stage - his 23 Tests produced more than 2,000 runs an average of just under 61.
Pollock scored most heavily against Australia, but it was against England in 1965 that he played possibly his finest innings - a magnificent 125 in just over two hours in difficult batting conditions when none of his teammates could even manage 40. Following South Africa's, Pollock played two series for the Rest of the World, after which his career was sadly confined to his own borders. Given that he was still dominating Test-class bowlers of the Rebel tours when in his forties, we can only imagine what kind of achievements a full Test career might have brought him.
Jacques Kallis | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 32% of voters - highest ranking no.5
Take a ruthless accumulator of runs who strikes the ball as cleanly as anyone in the game, a powerful fast-medium bowler with a habit of picking up important wickets and one of the world's safest pair of hands, put them all together in one player and you have Jacques Kallis, inarguably the most valuable all-round cricketer of the modern era and, according to CWs rankings, the greatest South African of all time. Kallis has scored over 10,000 runs, taken more than 200 wickets and held in excess of 100 catches - in both Tests AND one-day internationals. With numbers like that it seems difficult to believe that anyone would question his place among the greats, and yet remarkably despite his achievements there are still those who do.
His detractors like to point to the fact that he has boosted his numbers against minnows, that he doesn't score quickly or bat recklessly enough, or that he rarely lights up matches with his sheer charisma. Not only do these gripes not hold up any more, they also all miss the point - taking all three disciplines and all forms of the game into account, Kallis is the single most productive cricketer of his generation, who has succeeded against all opposition and under all conditions. 19 times (another record) he has been named Man of the Match in Test cricket, while only three players have won more than his 31 ODI awards. When all is said and done, and whichever way you look at it, only one thing can be said about his detractors. They're wrong.
Ricky Ponting | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 37% of voters - highest ranking no.4
Between April 2003 and December 2006, Ricky Ponting played 43 Tests and scored nearly 5,000 Test runs at an average of 76. It was the greatest period of sustained runscoring success Test level by anyone whose surname wasn't Bradman, and it firmly established the man they call Punter at the very top of the batting tree in the first decade of the 21st century. A schoolboy prodigy, Ponting's talent shone brightly from a young age, but initial progress perhaps wasn't what it could have been due to the strength of the Australian batting lineup and his own behaviour. Earmarked as a future Australian captain from very early on, it seemed for a time that such an accolade would pass him by for as long as he remained his own worst enemy.
With age, however, has come responsibility and he has developed into a fine leader as well as a peerless batsman. If his captaincy can sometimes seem uninspired and his results not quite matching up to his predecessors, it should always be remembered that he has overseen a period of tremendous transition in Australian cricket. At ODI level Ponting's success as a skipper has been tremendous, helped in no small part by his own performances - his scintillating 140* in the 2003 World Cup final was a performance worthy of any and every superlative. His greatness already assured, Ponting now has an opportunity in the final phase of his career to lay the foundations for the next generation of Australian cricket.
Greg Chappell | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 42% of voters - highest ranking no.10
The battle to be ranked as the greatest Australian batsman of the past 60 years was an incredibly close run thing, but in the end CW have decided that accolade belongs to Gregory Stephen Chappell. Probably Australia's greatest stylist since the legendary Victor Trumper, Greg Chappell's wonderful elegance was the perfect compliment to the quantity of runs he accumulated all over the world. More than 7,000 Test runs at an average of nearly 54 would be a fantastic record in any era, but must be seen even more glowingly considering the pitches they were made on and the attacks they were scored against. Add Rest of the World and World Series Cricket "Tests" to his numbers and Chappell's full international record reads 9,113 runs at 55.91.
Indeed, it was probably in WSC that he produced his greatest performance. Against Holding, Roberts, Garner and Croft in the Caribbean in 1979, Chappell fired off 621 runs in five matches, over 300 more runs than the next highest total by any batsman on either side. As a captain, and later as a coach, Chappell mixed both success and great controversy - from the infamous underarm incident, his inclination to pick and choose which overseas tours he would go on, to the ill-fated stint as coach of India, his leadership appointments have rarely run smoothly. No such criticism could ever be made of his batting.
Wasim Akram | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 53% of voters - highest ranking no.4
The short sprint to the wicket. That left arm whipping through the air. The ball moving one way, then the other. Followed by the shattering of stumps and yet another wicket for the sublimely gifted Wasim Akram. There was nothing he couldn't do with the ball, no delivery he couldn't bowl, and it is a reflection of the man's absolutely phenomenal natural talent that he took more than 900 international wickets and yet is still considered by some to have underachieved! Wasim came to prominence as a teenager in 1985, taking ten wickets against New Zealand in only his second Test, and then later destroying Australia with 5/21 in a ODI tournament. Under the tutelage of his mentor, Imran Khan, Wasim quickly became one of the most exciting players in world cricket.
At the 1992 World Cup he led Pakistan to victory with a man of the match performance in the final, featuring an unforgettable over which included the wickets of Alan Lamb and Chris Lewis with successive unplayable deliveries. As a batsman he had the talent to be a genuine allrounder, but rarely the application or patience. Allegations of ball tampering, and a falling out with his strike bowling partner Waqar Younis, tarnished his reputation slightly in the 1990s but he remained one of the world's most popular and electrifying cricketers throughout. Allan Border once said that if he could come back as any cricketer, he would come back as Wasim Akram - and you can bet he's not alone.
George Headley | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 42% of voters - highest ranking no.6
"The Black Bradman" may be the nickname by which most cricket fans know George Headley, the first truly great West Indian batsman, but it is surely his other nickname - Atlas - that is more appropriate. It is possible, indeed probable, that no one player has ever been so solely responsible for the overall success or failure of his team as Headley was for the West Indies in the 1930s. When he failed, so did they, it was as simple as that - to play under such pressure is challenging enough, but to average more than 60 while all around you are clinging to your coat tails with such dependence is the mark of a very, very special batsman.
Headley's runscoring feats - be they at Test, First Class or League level - are legendary and they alone would be sufficient to place him among the foremost players of all time. However, perhaps even more important than his runs was his contribution to and influence on West Indian cricket. As the first world-class performer to emerge from those islands he was at the forefront of establishing the West Indies as a genuine force on the world stage, thus his significance to the history and development of cricket in the Caribbean remains unrivalled. To his countrymen, it should be remembered, Headley was not the Black Bradman - Bradman was the White Headley...
Sir Leonard Hutton | Cricket Players and Officials | Cricinfo.com
Nominated by 42% of voters - highest ranking no.6
When England finally recovered the Ashes in 1953 after a 20 year wait, the man holding aloft the sacred little urn was not a cavalier amateur with a hyphenated surname and a cricketing Blue from Oxford, but a hard-nosed Yorkshire professional named Len Hutton. In doing the unthinkable and appointing a Player - rather than a Gentleman - to be England captain, the MCC had allowed one of the shrewdest thinkers ever to set foot on a cricket field his full due, and Hutton repaid them with the ultimate prize.
That famous win was, of course, the culmination of a glorious career which had already long since seen Hutton ackowledged as one of the finest batsmen that England - or any other country - had ever produced. First coming to prominence in the late 1930s, he achieved worldwide fame in 1938 with his monumental innings of 364 at the Oval, which stood for 20 years as the world record Test score. After the second World War Hutton, along with Compton, dominated England's batting, scoring both prodigiously and consistently, and engaging in innumerable epic duels with Australia's great post-war bowling attack containing the likes of Lindwall, Miller and Johnston as well as legendary West Indian spin twins Ramadhin and Valentine. His Test career finished in glory as he took England to Australia in 1954/55 and proved that '53 was no fluke by defending the Ashes on Australian soil. He could not have gone out on a higher note, and within a few years Len had become Sir Leonard - an accolade he richly deserved.
So that's it for tonight - but don't forget to join us once again this time tomorrow night as the countdown of the greatest cricketers of all time charges full speed ahead into the top 20.