There is a need to mention three players. I can already hear the reader or two saying "So! what's new: we know that already".
The first (amongst equals) is Tendulkar
. A career which is almost the definition of consistency, not in any narrow numbers-based sense, but based on a broad definition. An RpI value exceeding 35 in almost all classifications, exceeding 40 in many classifications, no real failures (barring one: away against South Africa), tons of runs, all at an excellent strike rate. What more can one want.
The next one is Richards
. Not many runs, by today's standards, but understandable. But almost all top quality runs, a very high career RpI, an away RpI which exceeds the already high career RpI, most of the runs scored away from home and all at a wonderful strike rate. An RpI value of 47+ in the key tournament matches adds to his aura.
The third one is Ponting
. His overall numbers speak for themselves. Above-par performances in all locations and above-average against all countries. However what clinched this special inclusion is his tally of runs and RpI in the key tournament matches. These have contributed significantly to the team cause in winning three World Cups and two ICC Champions Trophies.
Three jewels in the crown, that is all one can say.
I can hear a few readers asking me "why not complete the batting line-up?". A valid request. So I will give you my three additional players to go with these three jewels to complete the top-6 batting line-up. Gilchrist (to open with Tendulkar), Lara (at 4/5) and Pietersen (Bevan/Hussey ???). This leaves the seventh spot for a truly great all-rounder (Shakib Al Hassan, anyone? Averages of 35+ and 28+, playing for Bangladesh).
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