View Poll Results: Who was the better batsman between Hammond and Headley?

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  • Wally Hammond

    14 43.75%
  • George Headley

    12 37.50%
  • Consider Them Equals

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  • Stop ruining CricketWeb with these godforsaken comparison threads!

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Thread: Walter Hammond vs George Headley

  1. #1
    International Debutant harsh.ag's Avatar
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    Walter Hammond vs George Headley

    Walter Hammond - Cricinfo Profile

    Wally Hammond - Wikipedia Profile

    George "Black Bradman" Headley - Cricinfo Profile

    George Headley - Wikipedia Profile

    In an event of rare serendipity, three of the greatest number 3s of all time, Donald Bradman, George Headley and Walter Hammond, all came in a single era, i.e. the pre-WWII era. While the Don's supremacy is unparalleled and unquestionable (although an argument can be made in favor of both Headley and Hammond over the Don regarding proficiency on sticky wickets), it is the other two who are almost impossible to separate.

    Headley had the distinct disadvantage of playing in a weak WI side, for whom an international test tour was a rarity, almost condescendingly conferred upon by the giants, England and Australia. Even when a full tour did materialise, the touring sides to the Caribbean were usually not of full strength, and often contained many of the 2nd team players. As it happened, the span of Headley's test career (24 years) was higher than the number of tests he was able to participate in. Nevertheless, the high quality of the man was there for all to see in its resplendent glory. His first class record, which included many touring matches in England, is a fantastic one. Since it also includes his domestic matches for Jamaica, they might be a touch glorified. He was the rock of the Windies batting during those days, and was a free flowing scorer of runs, being especially strong on the leg side. In 19 pre-war Tests he made 26.9% of West Indian runs off the bat - a greater ratio than even Don Bradman, who made 26.5% of Australia's in his 37 pre-war Tests. He scored around 2/3rds of his country's centuries in that period as well. He was said to be a master of the sticky wickets, especially while playing the spinners.

    Wally Hammond on the other hand had quite a long and distinguished career and clashed against the mighty Australian team of Bradman's many a time. In fact, before the start of WWII, Hammond played in 77 tests, scoring 6883 runs at 61.45 with 22 centuries. That remains, to this day, the greatest test record after 77 tests by a batsman. So, he was a batsman of rare and sustained excellence for sure. Yes, his statistics were slightly augmented by his records against the minnows New Zealand and South Africa. But that is also true for every batsman across all generations. Surprisingly, Windies were the one team against whom he struggled, averaging a measly 35.50 in 13 tests against them. Hammond scored 36 first class double centuries, from a total of 167 centuries in 634 games.

    Compare them only on the basis of batting, because Hammond was a useful all-rounder as well as a brilliant slip fielder. My choice is Hammond as the better bat. Who is yours?

    P.S. I know many of you don't like these comparison threads, but this is a unique one I think as both the batsmen were from the same generation and faced similar opposition and conditions.
    Last edited by harsh.ag; 18-02-2013 at 10:12 PM.
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  2. #2
    International 12th Man Slifer's Avatar
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    Normally would consider Sir George better, but then u also have to take into consideration Sir Wally's longevity etc. 70+ tests vs 22 is quite the disparity. Picking either one over the other is a fair choice as well but i prefer to be safe.
    Cause Slifer said so.........!!!!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slifer View Post
    Normally would consider Sir George better, but then u also have to take into consideration Sir Wally's longevity etc. 70+ tests vs 22 is quite the disparity. Picking either one over the other is a fair choice as well but i prefer to be safe.
    Headley played for about the same amount of time as Hammond, it wasn't his fault that he wasn't able to play as many tests a he was. I'd say they're about equal, in terms of batting performances.

    If I had to choose between the two for an all time xi, say, if Bradman never existed, I'd pick Hammond, since he also has great fielding skills, and was a useful bowler.

  4. #4
    Cricket Web Staff Member archie mac's Avatar
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    Also very close imo, just went Hammond, thought the opposition he played against better overall
    You know it makes sense.


  5. #5
    Global Moderator Teja.'s Avatar
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    Headley, definitely.

    I actually think his final test record - as magnificent as it was - still deceptively understates how good he was as a batsman.

    He averaged 69 over more than two decades as an FC batsman and excluding the three test matches - which he unadvisedly played and faltered at over the age of forty more than a decade after his other 19 tests - He averaged 67 in test cricket. On the evidence, I'd say he was 'naturally' a 70 average batsman.

    To put it this way, If I had to pick one batsman from the past, barring Bradman, to restart his career as a 19 year old for India, I'd pick Headley.

    Hammond undoubtedly in the top half dozen batsmen ever though.
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  6. #6
    International Vice-Captain Monk's Avatar
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    Hammond a real favourite of mine. Brilliant batsman, very handy bowler, and amongst the top couple of slip fielders ever.

    Headley also carries that aura with him, seems like he was such a gun.\

    Really hard to split them. Probably no need to!

  7. #7
    International Vice-Captain watson's Avatar
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    If you ask me who the better cricketer is then I'd choose Wally Hammond. However, the question was specific to batting - 'Who was the better batsman?'

    I chose Headley because out of all the 'Gold Tier' ATGs he was a true 'Lone Ranger'. Hammond had Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Leyland, and Hendren to give him a hand. Headley had no one. All that pressure and no one to share it with.
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  8. #8
    International Debutant harsh.ag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teja. View Post
    Headley, definitely.

    I actually think his final test record - as magnificent as it was - still deceptively understates how good he was as a batsman.

    He averaged 69 over more than two decades as an FC batsman and excluding the three test matches - which he unadvisedly played and faltered at over the age of forty more than a decade after his other 19 tests - He averaged 67 in test cricket. On the evidence, I'd say he was 'naturally' a 70 average batsman.

    To put it this way, If I had to pick one batsman from the past, barring Bradman, to restart his career as a 19 year old for India, I'd pick Headley.

    Hammond undoubtedly in the top half dozen batsmen ever though.
    Teja, this post does a good job of glorifying Headley, and he deserves to be glorified. But, doesn't it also leave out some context?

    Yes, Headley did average 66.71 over the 19 tests before WWII, and I agree we should ignore the post-war matches he played. But, the quality of those test matches are in question, as the touring English sides to the Caribbean were usually not the strongest, and contained many of the 2nd team players. It is, naturally, not his fault that such was the disposition of the English towards WI during that time, it is just unfortunate. However, he did average 61.10 in 6 pre-war tests played in England, and that was indeed highly commendable.

    Yes, Headley averaged 69 over his FC career, but his FC career wasn't played out completely on the English or Aussie tour matches, but also with Jamaica in the Caribbean.

    What would have happened had he played more tests against the finest bowlers? Evidence from the rest of history (barring Bradman) suggests that he would have been brought down a peg or two.

    Hammond, too, averaged 61 following 77 pre-war tests (compared to Headley's 19), and we should ignore his post-war record too. Not to mention that he played 634 FC games, scoring 36 double-hundreds out of 167 hundreds, and was a better batsman on sticky wickets than Bradman, though perhaps not as good as Headley, though that is in dispute.

    Hammond has a lot, a lot, going on in his favor. His record against Australia was very good, averaging 57.10 in 29 pre-war tests, and averaging 75.54 in 15 pre-war tests in Australia. Compare this to Headley whose one 5-match tour to Australia in 1930-31 gave him an average of 37.33 with 2 centuries.

    I, for one, find Hammond to be the better bat. His personality, on the other hand, was reportedly way behind the black Bradman.
    Last edited by harsh.ag; 19-02-2013 at 07:50 AM.

  9. #9
    Cricketer Of The Year Cabinet96's Avatar
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    Probably Hammond for me, because of longevity.

  10. #10
    Cricket Web Staff Member stumpski's Avatar
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    The paradox with Headley is that although he propped up his side's batting throughout the thirties, you can - thanks to Richards and Lara - quite easily put together an all-time West Indies team without him, whereas I wouldn't take seriously an England XI that didn't have Hammond (he'd be pretty much my first pick). In fact whenever I've attempted that with the Windies the only place I could put Headley was as an opener, which he pretty much was anyway for most of his career.

    I'm willing to bet that George was much the nicer person though.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by stumpski View Post
    The paradox with Headley is that although he propped up his side's batting throughout the thirties, you can - thanks to Richards and Lara - quite easily put together an all-time West Indies team without him, whereas I wouldn't take seriously an England XI that didn't have Hammond (he'd be pretty much my first pick). In fact whenever I've attempted that with the Windies the only place I could put Headley was as an opener, which he pretty much was anyway for most of his career.

    I'm willing to bet that George was much the nicer person though.
    I'm curious, what would your West Indies XI look like?

  12. #12
    International Regular kyear2's Avatar
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    Hammond was the better cricketer, with his superb slip fielding and under rated and sharp fast medium bowling and was a sublime player of spin. For a no. 3 batsman though Hammond was suspect againts pace while Headley had no such weakness and is someone who along with Richards I jointly rank the second best batsman after the Don. He supported and basically carried a extremly weak W.I batting lineup and having to face the only tgwo strong teams of his era and often on their home turf, When he went to Australia he was scoring freely in the warmup games, while being scouted by none other than Clarrie Grimmett who worked out that the could be contained and dismissed by targeting his leg stump, Headley worked tirelessly and feverently during the tour to the point that at the end of the series he has scored 2 centuries and Grimmett himself said that Headley became the best on side player he had ever bowled to. The majority of Headley's first class innings were not just when on tour but when two almost test strength touring teams lead by Lord Tennyson, in his sole trip to Australia he was seond that season in the first class averages behind only the Don and had similar success when he went to England being on par with Walter Hammond who was accostomed to the conditions. He never got to play the minnows or have the luxury of having a bad game and relying on others to carry the load, Atlas, as he was know scored half of the centuries scored by the W.I during his era and over 26% of the runs. he wasn't known as the Black Bradman for nothing, or was Bradman the white Headley?
    Aus. XI
    Simpson^ | Hayden | Bradman | Chappell^ | Ponting | Border* | Gilchrist+ | Davidson3 | Warne4^ | Lillee1 | McGrath2


    W.I. XI
    Greenidge | Hunte | Richards^ | Headley* | Lara^ | Sobers5^ | Walcott+ | Marshall1 | Ambrose2 | Holding3 | Garner4

    S.A. XI
    Richards^ | Smith*^ | Amla | Pollock | Kallis5^ | Nourse | Waite+ | Procter3 | Steyn1 | Tayfield4 | Donald2

    Eng. XI
    Hobbs | Hutton*^ | Hammond^ | Compton | Barrington | Botham5^ | Knott | Trueman1 | Laker4 | Larwood2 | Barnes3

  13. #13
    Global Moderator Prince EWS's Avatar
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    Yeah, agree with those saying Hammond was the better cricketer but Headley was the better batsman. Pretty close as to who the best bat was though IMO; fourth and fifth best middle order batsmen of all time IMO. I've got Headley sitting in my ATWXI right now but it was recently pointed out to be - quite rightly - that my side lacks slippers so I've been strongly considering replacing him with Hammond for that reason.
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  14. #14
    Virat Kohli (c) Jono's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stumpski View Post
    The paradox with Headley is that although he propped up his side's batting throughout the thirties, you can - thanks to Richards and Lara - quite easily put together an all-time West Indies team without him, whereas I wouldn't take seriously an England XI that didn't have Hammond (he'd be pretty much my first pick). In fact whenever I've attempted that with the Windies the only place I could put Headley was as an opener, which he pretty much was anyway for most of his career.
    You are probably right, but just wondering, is that really relevant in terms of judging them head-to-head? It's punishing a player because their nation/team produced awesome players decades later, while the other one's nation/team didn't.

  15. #15
    International 12th Man Slifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyear2 View Post
    Hammond was the better cricketer, with his superb slip fielding and under rated and sharp fast medium bowling and was a sublime player of spin. For a no. 3 batsman though Hammond was suspect againts pace while Headley had no such weakness and is someone who along with Richards I jointly rank the second best batsman after the Don. He supported and basically carried a extremly weak W.I batting lineup and having to face the only tgwo strong teams of his era and often on their home turf, When he went to Australia he was scoring freely in the warmup games, while being scouted by none other than Clarrie Grimmett who worked out that the could be contained and dismissed by targeting his leg stump, Headley worked tirelessly and feverently during the tour to the point that at the end of the series he has scored 2 centuries and Grimmett himself said that Headley became the best on side player he had ever bowled to. The majority of Headley's first class innings were not just when on tour but when two almost test strength touring teams lead by Lord Tennyson, in his sole trip to Australia he was seond that season in the first class averages behind only the Don and had similar success when he went to England being on par with Walter Hammond who was accostomed to the conditions. He never got to play the minnows or have the luxury of having a bad game and relying on others to carry the load, Atlas, as he was know scored half of the centuries scored by the W.I during his era and over 26% of the runs. he wasn't known as the Black Bradman for nothing, or was Bradman the white Headley?
    AWTA esp the parts bolded. And we really need to put this HEadley faced 2nd string English attacks to rest. Here r the bowlers Headley faced in his series vs England:

    30: Bill Voce, W Rhodes (yes The W Rhodes)
    33: Hedley Verity, W Robins, G Allens
    34/35: Ken FArnes, G Hollies
    39: Bill Bowes, etc

    WHile many of the above attacks may not b far from ATG, they were certainly superior to the likes of NZ and even RSA of the time.
    Last edited by Slifer; 19-02-2013 at 08:58 PM.

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