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CW decides the 32 best test* opening batsmen of all time - The countdown thread!

mr_mister

Hall of Fame Member
So, we ended up receiving 29 eligible lists. 2 people submitted lists in 'no order' so I couldn't count them unfortunately.

42 individual batsmen featured on at least 1 list, of these 32 featured on at least 2, so I used featuring on 2 lists minimum as the cut-off criteria for the list.


Now, before the point is raised later by someone, this list could potentially cause controversy. I asked for people to nominate their best test batsmen and quite a few people took that to mean they could encompass all FC records while some people outright stated they were only including test achievements. In some of my previous lists I said to take on board as much FC weighting as you deem necessary, this time I didn't make that clear which is my mistake. So this list might not be a perfect representation of CW's opinion.

So there are players on this list who didn't play many tests, but enough people thought that was due to reasons out of their control and that they were still higher quality batsmen then some who played many tests. It is what it is. Some people value quality heavily over quantity, some value longevity heavily over averages, we can't get things perfect.


Anyway enough of that, the list will begin next post.

One more thing, I've actually started an online TAFE course during lockdown which requires a lot of time, so if this list does seem to be moving too slow at times, that's why. I will try my very best to finish it as quickly as possible though and I can assure everyone I will finish it at some point, hopefully within a month. The main issue I didn't finish my last list was not having access to a computer and foolishly trying to attempt to do it on an ipad. No such issue this time.
 
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mr_mister

Hall of Fame Member
#32: Glenn Turner (3 points)





Lists featured on: 2/29
Top 5 finishes: 0
Highest finish: 14th (1)



One of New Zealand's greatest batsmen and perhaps one of their most underrated. He manages to just sneak onto this list with 3 points. He averaged nearly 45 in tests from a ~10 year career which is very respectable as an opener. It was said that he started off as a player with a limited repertoire but eventually expanded his game to include every shot in the book.

The most clear highlight of his career was NZ's 1971/72 tour to West Indies, where he hit 4 FC double centuries, including 2 scores of 259 in successive digs at Georgetown(one in a tour match, one in a test). Two out of these four knocks were scored in the tests, and for the test series he hit 672 runs total @ 96 from 8 innings. Solid, solid stuff.

An interesting stat is that from his 7 test tons, 2 were massive double centuries and for the other 5 he didn't get past 117. Hard player to put in a box. He averaged 49 against Australia and 36 against England, the best two teams of the early-mid 70s when he played the majority of his tests, a commendable enough return upon first glance. Though his best performance against Australia included 2 tons in each innings of a home test in 1974 in against a side with no Lillee lead by Max Walker. Outside of this match he only really achieved par against them - so it's a tiny point against him - though 2 tons in one match is always a memorable feat.

He never got to play the Windies after '72, so got to avoid their biggest pace threats and maybe missed a chance to either really cement a legacy or take a hit to it, we'l never know.

One last thing of note about Turner, he was the first player to hit a big daddy ton in ODIs, hitting an unbeaten 171* in the first world cup and holding the record for highest score for 8 years til Kapil passed it in another WC. This 171 did come against East Africa, but still, nobody else did so well against them that tournament.
 
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ataraxia

International Debutant
Not really related to this exercise, but an interesting fact about Turner is that he played the two longest ODI innings in the same WC - the 171* off 201 balls and 114* off 177 deliveries.
 

mr_mister

Hall of Fame Member
#31: Vijay Merchant (8 points)



Lists featured on: 2/29
Top 5 finishes: 0
Highest finish: 11th (1)



Next up is India's first ever batting god, though not of course their first batting god of Indian descent...

If I specified explicitly to include FC stats in people's rankings, Vijay Merchant could have really shocked some people with a high ranking. The man averaged 71 in FC stuff from 150 games, the next best after Bradman. Yes, that was helped by playing a lot of Ranji cricket in a time where bowlers were clearly of lower quality than those in county. However he averaged over 50 in two tours to England on either side of the war, so could obviously hold his own against non-indian bowlers. And of course he played all 10 of his tests against England and averaged nearly 50 in that context as well including 3 tons.

So the man could clearly bat. I can't think of too many players that WW2 robbed of a chance at a test legacy as much as Merchant. Yes, many players lost their best years to the war but plenty had a very memorable career either side of it. The war came right as Merchant was finding his groove, he was 28 when it began and 34 when it finished and might have at least been able to reach 20-25 tests if the war didn't occur. India were not getting many tests around this period so he didn't get the chance of say Hutton or Miller to quickly catch up on lost time in the years immediately after the war ended. And he didn't play enough before the war to at least get the chance to wind up on the level of George Headley, which personally I think evidence shows he had the potential to reach.

He was getting better and better with age, his career test average sitting at 38 before the war and managing to get up to 47 when he played the last of his 10 tests at age 40 in 1951.

And of course, he did nearly all this as an opener. A big what-if story much like someone who features far higher on this list. He actually played a few of his first tests down at number 6 with not much luck. From the 7 he played as an actual opener from 1936-51, he averaged 56 and scored all his centuries there.
 
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mr_mister

Hall of Fame Member
Equal #29: Roy Fredericks (10 points)



Lists featured on: 2/29
Top 5 finishes: 0
Highest finish: 8th(1)


The first of two ties to feature on this list, 2 players achieved 10 points. The first is Roy Fredericks.

A small but powerful man who was said by famed cricket writer Mike Selvey to be 'arguably the best and most willing exponent of the hook' there's ever been, Roy Fredericks is the holder of one of the most astonishing test innings of all time, his 169 against a raging Lillee and Thommo in 1975 at the WACA.

In an era when this was far from common, he helped his side race to 200 in just 22 overs(8 ball overs but still) on the second morning of the second test of that series. Roy brought up his century in 71 balls and the team total was only on 258 when he departed for 169, scored at a strike-rate of 116(and it was said he started to tire after reaching his ton). With well over 100 runs coming in boundaries it must have been quite a memorable knock to watch and I imagine included many pulls and hooks considering the venue and the bowlers he was up against.

Roy doesn't have quite the reputation as some of his peers Hunte, Haynes and Greenidge, as this list will show, but I think this is a little unfair. He averaged 42 from 59 tests, right in the ballpark of some of those players and did a lot of it before the great period of West Indies dominance when he didn't have too much in the way of support.

He averaged 52 against England from 16 tests and was a vital part of his side's success in the famous 'make them grovel' series of '76, which cemented the West Indies as the new dominant team in world cricket. He hit 517 runs @ 57 that series, including 2 tons and 3 fifties and with the help of Greenidge kept helping his side off to terrific starts at the top of the order. Some of Fredericks knocks that series were scored very, very quickly. Greenidge fared slightly better that series and of course Viv had one of the greatest series ever for a batsmen, and of course we can't forget the performances of all the bowlers. So Fredericks is forgotten a bit when talking about this era of West Indies cricket. He played his last test the next year in 1977 and missed out on the true gold rush of Windies victories that followed.

One flaw could be said to be his conversion rate, he only hit 8 centuries in 59 tests to complement his 26 fifties. 3 times he was out in the 90s. However from his 8 centuries, 3 were 150+ scores.

His fifties were very useful though as they usually are for openers in tests as they help blunt the new ball. In his very first 2 tests against England in 1969, he hit useful, slowish scores of 64, 63 and 60 after a golden duck in the first knock. He once lasted 443 balls against them a few years later for a 150 as well. So it seems he also had the ability to play careful, patient innings to go with the dashing ones he is perhaps better known for. An interesting player and one who seemed to bring his best against the best sides and bowlers of his era. He even scored 2 test centuries in a 74/75 test series in India against a side featuring all of Bedi, Chandra and Prasanna, so he was also capable of playing against quality spin as well as pace.
 
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mr_mister

Hall of Fame Member
Equal #29: Bill Woodfull (10 points)



Lists featured on: 3/29
Top 5 finishes: 0
Highest finish: 8th(1)


More known for being the Australian captain during Bodyline, Woodfull's batting ability is not often discussed. He averaged 65 in first class cricket and in the high 40s in tests, about the same as his opening partner for both Victoria and Australia Bill Ponsford. Ponsford seemed to have a larger appetite for big scores, but that likely means Woodfull was a bit more consistent. I've read a lot about the shield pitches of this era being known as 'docile featherbeds', and it's perhaps what allowed two somewhat lesser remembered Australian batting heroes in Ponsford and Woodfull to achieve such crazy shield numbers. It might go someway to explaining Bradman... but let's not go there.

In test cricket, clearly Woodfull's most famous series came in the bodyline series of 1932/33. He, like most other Australian batsmen, struggled to deal with the short pitched plan Jardine, Larwood and co employed and was struck on the body several times over the course of the summer. The most famous of these incidents came during the third test in Adelaide, when he was struck on the chest by a fearsome delivery from Larwood. Woodfull staggered off the pitch, dropped his bat and nearly collapsed as most English players ran over to him out of concern. Douglas Jardine apparently remarked 'well bowled Harold' at this time, all amongst furious hissing and booing from a crowd that were supposedly on the brink of riot at times during this test.

In Larwood's ghost written biography, titled 'Bodyline?' released the following year, there is this quote attributed to him: 'Woodfull and Bradman put on shows whenever the balls were short, to give the impression to the crowds that the bowler was out to kill them.'
Whether Larwood ever said this or not is not confirmed to my knowledge, but what is confirmed as truth is a quote from Woodfull when later in the dressing rooms concerned English manger Plum Warner visited to check on him and offer sympathy. 'There are two teams out there on the oval. One is playing cricket, the other is not' is I believe the exact quote, though as a kid I always knew it to be 'it's just not cricket' or something shorter. Maybe that abridged version is from somewhere else. Anyway, the quote, the delivery and the series has been written about extensively elsewhere. Woodfull's bravery is commendable as his performances actually dramatically increased as the series went on.

Scores of 7, 0, 10 and 26 in the first 2 tests were followed by scores of 22, 73*, 67, 19, 14 and 67 for the final 3 tests - the ball which struck him must have woken up something in him - or perhaps he just got better at playing the bodyline style the more he got used to it. Woodfull is largely known for being a defensive, gritty, non-flashy batsman who was excellent at occupying the crease and I guess his performances in bodyline sum him up best as a player. He was an opener's opener, that's for sure.

However in the previous home ashes series, 4 years earlier in 1928/29 Woodfull notched up 3 centuries. This was against Tate and Larwood(though obviously not bowling leg theory/bodyline) so it's quite an impressive achievement. This series is more known for Hammond hitting 900+ runs and Bradman making his relatively inauspicious debut to test cricket, but it seems Woodfull was certainly pulling his weight. He scored nearly 500 runs and this, along with Bradman's last in 1948, were I believe the only 2 series where the Don didn't top the run tally for his nation. So that's something too.
 
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mr_mister

Hall of Fame Member
#28: Marcus Trescothick (11 points)




Lists featured on: 2/29
Top 5 finishes: 0
Highest finish: 7th(1)


Marcus Trescothick could have potentially broken all kind of English test records but issues with depression and anxiety putting an early halt to his test career. Not being able to handle the stress of international cricket and being away from home for long periods was quite a sad way for it all to end for Tresco, though his county career extended over 25 years from 1993 to 2019. It's pretty crazy that when he scored his first county century Graham Gooch was still scoring runs for England. And he only hung up the boots last year at age 43.

From that 25+ year first class career only around 6 were spent playing tests, but he managed to peel off 76 of them in a jam packed time frame to go with 14 tons and an average of nearly 44. Trescothick, alongside Vaughan, were the two new batsmen tasked with bringing English cricket into the 21st century and both performed admirably, sometimes together at the top of the order.

Trescothick had a style quite different to his initial test opening partner and the man who basically passed him the torch, Michael Atherton. Seemingly far more confident, free flowing and more willing to bring the attack to the new ball bowlers, Trescothick gave English fans something they didn't get to see much in the '90s - their top order putting the opposition bowlers on the back foot. He took to test cricket like a duck to water, playing visually effortless drives and pulls which surely surprised many, as he spent most of the '90s a hot and cold county player, even being relegated to the Somerset 1st XI one season. He was hardly knocking the door down for selection, but when his chance came he grabbed it with both hands.

His first full year as a test player, 2001, yielded nearly 1000 runs @ 40, the next year he did even better, averaging 45, and the year after that 47. He steadily improved, peeling off more and more consistent scores until he he peaked in 2005 which sadly turned out to be basically his swansong year.

He crunched 1323 runs @ 55, hit 4 centuries and turned them all into 150+ scores. 3 of those he turned into 180+ scores, but he couldn't grab a double ton. He did however grab an urn, playing a vital part in England finally reclaiming the ashes from Australia for the first time in nearly 20 years. His best score was only a 90 but his consistent starts were critical to stopping Australia from grabbing the early initiative in nearly every innings, something they had pretty consistently done since the late '80s in ashes encounters. He passed 40 six times out of ten digs and only had one score under 20.

It wasn't all as glamorous as I'm making it seem, he did have his flaws. His career average from 15 tests against Australia was only 33 and outside of that series he didn't fire much against them, never tonning up. His overall away average was only 36 in a fairly easy era for batting, far below his home average of 51. He also scored 3 tons in 4 tests against Bangladesh when they had essentially zero bowlers of note and averaged over 100 against them in the process.

Against South Africa though he managed to average 51 overall from 10 tests and scored a couple of big centuries(one a double) against the likes of Pollock, Ntini and Steyn. So overall it's fair to say he did his job as a test opener and then some. Taking into account the type of test side he entered in at the start of his career, an English side that lost nearly every series they played, it's hard not to rate him highly.

At his time of retirement his FC tally of 66 tons I think is the most anyone currently playing had under their belt, a testament to his longevity.
 
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AndrewB

International Regular
However in the previous home ashes series, 4 years earlier in 1928/29 Woodfull notched up 3 centuries. This was against Tate and Larwood(though obviously not bowling leg theory/bodyline) so it's quite an impressive achievement. This series is more known for Hammond hitting 900+ runs and Bradman making his relatively inauspicious debut to test cricket, but it seems Woodfull was certainly pulling his weight. He scored nearly 500 runs and this, along with Bradman's last in 1948, were I believe the only 2 series where the Don didn't top the run tally for his nation. So that's something too.
Ponsford was the top scorer against WI in 1930-1 and Bill Brown was in the 1938 Ashes. (Incidentally, while Woodfull did outscore Bradman in 1928-9, Jack Ryder scored 1 more run than Woodfull).
 

Engle

State Vice-Captain
Highest FC percentage runs per innings

Not really related to this exercise, but an interesting fact about Turner is that he played the two longest ODI innings in the same WC - the 171* off 201 balls and 114* off 177 deliveries.
Another interesting fact : He holds the record of highest percentage of runs scored in any completed innings 83.43% after he scored 141* out of Worcestershire's 169 against Glamorgan at Swansea in 1977. The remaining batsmen scored 27, highest 7 and there was one extra
 

mr_mister

Hall of Fame Member
up to like rank #20 or so the rankings don't mean too much, many batsmen are separated by only a few points and stuff

going by that logic i probably could have started the countdown at 20 but i generally enjoy doing the writeups about less-discussed batsmen more
 

mr_mister

Hall of Fame Member
#27: Gary Kirsten (12 points)



Lists featured on: 3/29
Top 5 finishes: 0
Highest finish: 9th(1)


Funnily enough the first 6 batsmen are all from different test nations.

Gary Kirsten's career took quite a while to really get going. He was generally a stable presence at the top of the order after SA's readmission, but for much of the '90s he was only what today might be deemed a passable player. It took him 17 tests to notch up his first ton and for most of the decade he averaged under 40, though of course there were a lot of good bowlers around. Finally a glorious match saving 275 right at the end of the decade put him onto a new path for the 2000s. Sent in to follow on by England after a first innings crumble in the boxing day test of '99, Kirsten aided his nation by lasting nearly 15 hours and facing over 600 balls to save the game. After that his record kept rising and he ended up with an average of 45.

His biggest gifts were his concentration and desire to bat time and go big. Twice he hit double centuries against England, a side which he fared well against and often used as a bit of a punching bag after failures against top-tier nations. He averaged only 34 against both Australia and the West Indies, from 18 and 13 tests respectively. He never quite got the hang of Ambrose or Courtney Walsh, the latter making his life hell even in 2001 when he was nearly 40. After a stirring 150 in his first innings of that series, Kirsten's next 9 digs yielded exactly 100 runs, including 3 ducks and 5 single digit scores on the trot.

Kirsten did however fare remarkably well in Asia, and overseas in general. His overall away average was 48, far better than his home average of 42. And in Asia it shot up to 53, in both India and Pakistan he performed very well. So he did have the ability to fight it out in tough conditions, his style was just perhaps more suited to quality spin than quality pace, rather different for an opener. His patience was his most useful trait in Asia. It should be said he also did a lot better against Waqar and Wasim than the Aussie and Windies quicks though, averaging 55 overall against Pakistan from 11 tests.

It's hard for me to really analyse Kirsten. Did his increased success in the 2000s benefit mainly from so many ATG bowlers retiring? Or did he genuinely improve as a test batsman in the latter half of his career. Regardless, he set a lot of South African aggregate records in his time, holding both the record for most centuries and runs scored by someone from SA at the time of his retirement, though Kallis soon passed him.
 
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SillyCowCorner1

Hall of Fame Member
Equal #29: Roy Fredericks (10 points)



Lists featured on: 2/29
Top 5 finishes: 0
Highest finish: 8th(1)


The first of two ties to feature on this list, 2 players achieved 10 points. The first is Roy Fredericks.

A small but powerful man who was said by famed cricket writer Mike Selvey to be 'arguably the best and most willing exponent of the hook' there's ever been, Roy Fredericks is the holder of one of the most astonishing test innings of all time, his 169 against a raging Lillee and Thommo in 1975 at the WACA.

In an era when this was far from common, he helped his side race to 200 in just 22 overs(8 ball overs but still) on the second morning of the second test of that series. Roy brought up his century in 71 balls and the team total was only on 258 when he departed for 169, scored at a strike-rate of 116(and it was said he started to tire after reaching his ton). With well over 100 runs coming in boundaries it must have been quite a memorable knock to watch and I imagine included many pulls and hooks considering the venue and the bowlers he was up against.

Roy doesn't have quite the reputation as some of his peers Hunte, Haynes and Greenidge, as this list will show, but I think this is a little unfair. He averaged 42 from 59 tests, right in the ballpark of some of those players and did a lot of it before the great period of West Indies dominance when he didn't have too much in the way of support.

He averaged 52 against England from 16 tests and was a vital part of his side's success in the famous 'make them grovel' series of '76, which cemented the West Indies as the new dominant team in world cricket. He hit 517 runs @ 57 that series, including 2 tons and 3 fifties and with the help of Greenidge kept helping his side off to terrific starts at the top of the order. Some of Fredericks knocks that series were scored very, very quickly. Greenidge fared slightly better that series and of course Viv had one of the greatest series ever for a batsmen, and of course we can't forget the performances of all the bowlers. So Fredericks is forgotten a bit when talking about this era of West Indies cricket. He played his last test the next year in 1977 and missed out on the true gold rush of Windies victories that followed.

One flaw could be said to be his conversion rate, he only hit 8 centuries in 59 tests to complement his 26 fifties. 3 times he was out in the 90s. However from his 8 centuries, 3 were 150+ scores.

His fifties were very useful though as they usually are for openers in tests as they help blunt the new ball. In his very first 2 tests against England in 1969, he hit useful, slowish scores of 64, 63 and 60 after a golden duck in the first knock. He once lasted 443 balls against them a few years later for a 150 as well. So it seems he also had the ability to play careful, patient innings to go with the dashing ones he is perhaps better known for. An interesting player and one who seemed to bring his best against the best sides and bowlers of his era. He even scored 2 test centuries in a 74/75 test series in India against a side featuring all of Bedi, Chandra and Prasanna, so he was also capable of playing against quality spin as well as pace.
****ing boss.
 

mr_mister

Hall of Fame Member
#26: Michael Atherton (13 points)



Lists featured on: 3/29
Top 5 finishes: 1
Highest finish: 5th(1)



Ah, Athers. It's probably a little silly he's featured this high, but like I said the rankings don't really mean too much in these early stages as there's so few points separating the first 10 or so batsmen.

It's gonna be difficult for me to not look hypocritical this post, as Atherton averaged around the same as Kirsten did across the '90s, yet I personally rate Atherton higher and it might seem like I'm praising him for the same things I sort of criticized Gary for. But oh well, Gary has a far better reputation so his legacy can take the hit. It's time to build Atherton's one up a bit.

Atherton's seemingly mediocre career in many way was a product of unlucky timing. I won't go into the back injury stuff, I'll just keep it simple. A test career from 1989-2001 lined up with more ATG bowler's careers than nearly any other opening batsman in history. Atherton even caught the tail end of Richard Hadlee's career in the beginning to go with having to face peak McWarne, Ambrose/Walsh, Wasim/Waqar and Donald/Pollock. A lot of other of the legendary batsmen from the era had to face these legendary bowlers, but they got a reprieve by not having to face their own ones... and a lot of people batsmen cashed in against England. Atherton only got to really avoid Gough/Fraser, which of course is not quite the advantage the Waughs and Lara had.

Atherton could clearly bat. Over the course of his career from 1989-2001 he scored the most runs of any test batsmen in the world in that period. Yes, more than the Waughs, Sachin and Lara. Of course it's aided by batting at the top of the order as well as playing for a nation that played more tests than most, but it proves something often overlooked with Atherton, he scored lots of runs. His average was not great but the man played 89 of his 115 tests against Australia, the West Indies, Pakistan and South Africa. And he managed vital, consistent runs in a lot of those series. Take his record against the Windies for example. He averaged 31 against them from 27 tests, but he still managed 4 centuries. How many other batsmen hit 4 centuries against Ambrose/Walsh? Even against Australia, despite seemingly being a walking wicket in some of the later ashes series, he still hit 15 fifties to go with 1 century from 33 tests. In fact when he retired he actually had the joint second most test fifties scored by any batsman ever, with Gooch on 46(Border had the record with 63). He could bat time, he put a value on his wicket, all that good stuff openers are meant to do. He couldn't always convert fifties into tons but he did a job.

McGrath with the new ball certainly had his number and will be the main reason Atherton isn't remembered as a far better bat than he was. Heading into the 1997 ashes, Atherton was regarded by all as England's most valuable wicket and to that point averaged nearly 43 from a long, healthy test career. He was involved in 3 ashes series from 1997 to 2001, and across these 15 tests he only scored 4 fifties and his career average sank to 37 when he finally hung his boots up. McGrath could have done this damage to many batsmen's careers if they had to open the batting against him in 15 tests across only a 4 year time period.

Atherton is definitely an argument for longevity and quantity rather than consistent high quality. But to find that quality his record against South Africa can be looked at. Against the absolute high-quality bowlers from SA he averaged 44 from 18 tests, including 185* to save a test, where he stonewalled for nearly over 10 hours and faced nearly 500 balls to prevent SA from victory.

There was also his match winning 98*, made against Donald bowling the spell of his life, 3 years later in 1998. The highlights from that innings are some of the most exciting test cricket I've seen and the photo I used for Athers here I believe is from that knock. That photo sums up the man's career really. Always ducking and weaving bouncers or maybe copping some some them to the body. A common criticism I see of him was that he was a compulsive hooker, but when you faced as many bouncers as he did across a career you can be forgiven for occasionally wanting to give a bit back. The hook shot did bring him a lot of runs even if it lead to his wicket a lot too. And tbh, my lasting memory of Athers is desperately trying to evade short balls, so he certainly had the mindset of defense first/attack second a lot of the time. A great quote from his cricinfo profile is that he made batting 'look like trench warfare'.
 
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a massive zebra

International Vice-Captain
#31: Vijay Merchant (8 points)



Lists featured on: 2/29
Top 5 finishes: 0
Highest finish: 11th (1)



Next up is India's first ever batting god, though not of course their first batting god of Indian descent...

If I specified explicitly to include FC stats in people's rankings, Vijay Merchant could have really shocked some people with a high ranking. The man averaged 71 in FC stuff from 150 games, the next best after Bradman. Yes, that was helped by playing a lot of Ranji cricket in a time where bowlers were clearly of lower quality than those in county. However he averaged over 50 in two tours to England on either side of the war, so could obviously hold his own against non-indian bowlers. And of course he played all 10 of his tests against England and averaged nearly 50 in that context as well including 3 tons.

So the man could clearly bat. I can't think of too many players that WW2 robbed of a chance at a test legacy as much as Merchant. Yes, many players lost their best years to the war but plenty had a very memorable career either side of it. The war came right as Merchant was finding his groove, he was 28 when it began and 34 when it finished and might have at least been able to reach 20-25 tests if the war didn't occur. India were not getting many tests around this period so he didn't get the chance of say Hutton or Miller to quickly catch up on lost time in the years immediately after the war ended. And he didn't play enough before the war to at least get the chance to wind up on the level of George Headley, which personally I think evidence shows he had the potential to reach.

He was getting better and better with age, his career test average sitting at 38 before the war and managing to get up to 47 when he played the last of his 10 tests at age 40 in 1951.

And of course, he did nearly all this as an opener. A big what-if story much like someone who features far higher on this list. He actually played a few of his first tests down at number 6 with not much luck. From the 7 he played as an actual opener from 1936-51, he averaged 56 and scored all his centuries there.
It is a shame Vijay Merchant, Fazal Mahmood, Rusi Modi and Syed Mushtaq Ali all pulled out of the 1947-48 Australian tour for which Merchant had actually been named as captain. Along with the likes of Vijay Hazare, Vinoo Mankad, Lala Armanath and Dattu Phadkar who did take part, India could have put a very respectable side together if everyone had been available.

Vijay Merchant (c)
Vinoo Mankad (5)
Rusi Modi
Vijay Hazare (6)
Hemu Adhikari
Syed Mushtaq Ali
Lala Armanath (3)
Dattu Phadkar (2)
Khokhan Sen (w)
Fazal Mahmood (1)
Commandur Rangachari (4)
 
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trundler

Hall of Fame Member
It is a shame Vijay Merchant, Fazal Mahmood, Rusi Modi and Syed Mushtaq Ali all pulled out of the 1947-48 Australian tour for which Merchant had actually been named as captain. Along with the likes of Vijay Hazare, Vinoo Mankad, Lala Armanath and Dattu Phadkar who did take part, India could have put a very respectable side together if everyone had been available.

Vijay Merchant (c)
Vinoo Mankad (5)
Rusi Modi
Vijay Hazare (6)
Hemu Adhikari
Syed Mushtaq Ali
Lala Armanath (3)
Dattu Phadkar (2)
Khokhan Sen (w)
Fazal Mahmood (1)
Commandur Rangachari (4)
Partition was clearly a mistake
 

stephen

Hall of Fame Member
People voting Athers were taking the piss, surely. And if they weren't they make my criticism of Gavaskar yesterday look balanced.
 

trundler

Hall of Fame Member
There's basically no way of justifying Atherton over Turns but part of the fun is seeing anomalies like this pop up.
 

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