• Welcome to the Cricket Web forums, one of the biggest forums in the world dedicated to cricket.

    You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community you will have access to post topics, respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join the Cricket Web community today!

    If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact us.

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

a massive zebra

International Vice-Captain
But I guess it must be Boycott as I don't see him in the last few pages and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be outside the top 15. To be fair, the four you mentioned are the main contenders for the opening spots in an all time XI. Directly below that we have a tier of clear ATG but non GOAT openers (with several members who could justifiably be placed in any order), of which Boycott is definitely a fully paid up member. Maybe you preferred some of the openers placed in the previous 10 spots but I dont think we can objectively say any of them are definitely outright better than Boycs.
 
Last edited:

Engle

State Vice-Captain
Sir Geoffrey can best be described as the quintessential opening batsman. Doesn't mean he's exceptionally good, just that he embodies everything an opening batsman should possess, attitude included.
 

trundler

Hall of Fame Member
Sir Geoffrey can best be described as the quintessential opening batsman. Doesn't mean he's exceptionally good, just that he embodies everything an opening batsman should possess, attitude included.
Extreme selfishness is not a positive attribute. When Boycs got to that infamous double, he blocked gentle half volleys pointlessly and therefore let scoring opportunities go to waste. There's no reason why doing that sort of thing is any better than Sehwag's inability to slow down. Slower ≠ better. Still a great batsman though.
 

harsh.ag

Hall of Fame Member
Would have Barry, Greenidge, Gooch, Graeme Smith, Hayden, Mitchell all ahead of Boycott. Probably a couple more.
 

Arachnodouche

International Debutant
All these other guys played cricket, but only Boycott made a philosophy out of batting. Not an overwhelmingly healthy philosophy, granted, one of extreme ascetism and solipsism even, but still, serious stuff. Hails to Sir Geoffrey.
 

a massive zebra

International Vice-Captain
Would have Barry, Greenidge, Gooch, Graeme Smith, Hayden, Mitchell all ahead of Boycott. Probably a couple more.
Just to play Devils advocate...

Barry loses points in some people's eyes as he hardly played any Tests. Boycott's record in first class cricket is better anyway, far better if you exclude Tests.

The careers of Greenidge and Boycott overlapped quite a lot because they are only a decade apart in age. Boycott made more runs at a better average with more hundreds, despite playing for an inferior side.

Gooch averaged at least 10 runs less than Boycott for the majority of his career before evolving into the best batsman in the world for a few short years. Boycott was a world class opener for around 15 years, Gooch only for about 5. Boycott and Gooch played 34 Tests together in which Boycott made more runs at a better average with twice as many hundreds, even though he was at the end of his career at the time.

Hayden was painfully exposed in the 90s era of ATG fast bowlers and then flourished in the batting friendly 2000s after most of these great bowlers had retired. Boycott was consistently successful against the leading pace attacks in the world for many years.

Mitchell played generations ago for a non trendy side and only averaged 31 against the best team of his time. His first class record is far worse than Boycott.

I'm not necessarily saying I believe Boycott is better than all these guys. The point is, most of these openers are at a similar level and a solid argument could be made in favour of any of them based on our own preferences, knowledge and personal biases.
 
Last edited:

trundler

Hall of Fame Member
Just to play Devils advocate...

Barry loses points in some people's eyes as he hardly played any Tests. Boycott's record in first class cricket is better anyway, far better if you exclude Tests.

The careers of Greenidge and Boycott overlapped quite a lot because they are only a decade apart in age. Boycott made more runs at a better average with more hundreds, despite playing for an inferior side.

Gooch averaged at least 10 runs less than Boycott for the majority of his career before evolving into the best batsman in the world for a few short years. Boycott was a world class opener for around 15 years, Gooch only for about 5. Boycott and Gooch played 34 Tests together in which Boycott made more runs at a better average with twice as many hundreds, even though he was at the end of his career at the time.

Hayden was painfully exposed in the 90s era of ATG fast bowlers and then flourished in the batting friendly 2000s after most of these great bowlers had retired. Boycott was consistently successful against the leading pace attacks in the world for many years.

Mitchell played generations ago for a non trendy side and only averaged 31 against the best team of his time. His first class record is far worse than Boycott.

I'm not necessarily saying I believe Boycott is better than all these guys. The point is, most of these openers are at a similar level and a solid argument could be made in favour of any of them based on our own preferences, knowledge and personal biases.
What's the B tier of great openers? Boycott, Lawry, Smith would be a reasonable start I suppose.
 

a massive zebra

International Vice-Captain
What's the B tier of great openers? Boycott, Lawry, Smith would be a reasonable start I suppose.
Personally I would go with Grace, Barry, Boycott, Smith and Simpson; which actually corresponds fairly well with the top 10 here. Perhaps Sehwag, Trumper and Greenidge also if we value impact and destructiveness over solidity and a well rounded record. But there are plenty of others with almost equally strong arguments to consider depending on your point of view, like Lawry as you say.

I might actually put Grace in the A tier as he was so far ahead of his time and the game wouldn't be where it is today without his inspirational pioneering superstardom, but it seems the majority here do not agree. :(
 
Last edited:

h_hurricane

International Regular
Gooch is a personal childhood favorite of mine. Though his career average isn't very impressive, the Gooch that I saw from 1990-94 was batting at ATG levels. That Headingley hundred against WI has to be right up there along with the best innings ever.
 

SeamUp

International Coach
#17: Bruce Mitchell (60 points)



Lists featured on: 10/29
Top 5 finishes: 0
Highest finish: 8th (2)


Bruce Mitchell played 42 consecutive tests for his nation from 1929 to 1949 and truly flies under the radar when it comes to test openers - his record was really, really good.

He played 40 of his tests against top tier opposition, Australia and England and produced these results: an average of 31 from 10 tests against Australia and 54 from 30 tests against England.

His failures against Australia are what probably stopped him from reaching legend status and in two series against them couldn't produce a century. Grimmett, first with the help of Ironmonger then later with O'Reilly could certainly have been factors. England's big threats that he dealt successfully with included Tate, Larwood, Verity and Bedser after the war but on the whole it seems he was more suited to pace than spin. Like plenty of openers.

However - only 9 of his 20 innings against Australia were as an opener. For whatever reasons he played quite a few innings at 3 and even 4/5 against them. And wouldn't you know it his 2 highest scores against Australia (95 and 75) came as an opener.

So for those playing close attention this clearly leads to one conclusion - Mitchell's record as an opener was awesome. And it indeed it was. Using the criteria for min 30 innings, Mitchell's average as a test opener is the 2nd best ever behind only Herb Sutcliffe. Ahead of both Hobbs and Hutton - two relative peers. He averaged 57 as a test opener from 48 digs, quite a boost from his overall average of 48, which of course is still fantastic.

His record against England was awesome. He played six 5 test series against them and only in his first in 1929 at 20 did he not tear them up, hitting 251 runs in that encounter. For the remaining 5 series he cleared 450 runs every time. He averaged over 50 in all 5 of these and got at least 1 ton every time. The series where he got 2 was his best - and what a set of tons they were. In the final test of the 1947 series at the oval he cracked 120 in the first dig followed by 189* in the second. South Africa ended up 423/7 chasing 451 for victory when this 4 day test match concluded. What a joke! Robbed of an amazing result and amazing chance at immortality, this must have been some bloody performance from Bruce Mitchell. Oh and he was nearly 40 here.

Mitchell was the leading run scorer for his nation until re-admission in the '90s when Kirsten scraped past him, rather unconvincingly(at the time of the passing at least before Kirsten improved in the 2000s). Mitchell's omission from the 1949 test series against Australia caused a 'sensation'. Despite being 40 he had demonstrated in the prior years he was still absolutely the best man for the job and could have rectified his record against Australia. It was known at the time to be pretty shabby treatment for the man, who had given the best part of 20 years to his nation. He had the reputation as a defensive batsman which it seems was unfair as he had little in the way of support nearly his whole career so he had to dig in or his side could crumble. It's been speculated if he had been part of a stronger side he may have been able to bat more freely and really give Hobbs and Hutton a run for their money. Yes his career overlapped with Taylor and Nourse but he only had the help of one of them at a time and for a few years neither of them.

A true legend. He looks like an unassuming bloke in the picture too.
Any footage somewhere ?

Got me thinking how many quality batsmen played test cricket either side of the war & lost out on some good years. Obviously there were some who didn't come back & lost out on years too.

England
Washbrook
Hutton
Edrich
Hammond
Compton
Barnett
Hardstaff Jnr

South Africa
Melville
Mitchell
Rowan
Nourse

Australia
Barnes
Brown
Bradman
Hassett
 

Starfighter

International Coach
Any footage somewhere?

Not the most exciting batsman - a career strike rate of 30-31 estimated by Davis.
 

Pothas

Hall of Fame Member
I might actually put Grace in the A tier as he was so far ahead of his time and the game wouldn't be where it is today without his inspirational pioneering superstardom, but it seems the majority here do not agree. :(
This probably came up before in this thread but really Grace has to be top or not included at all, having him halfway up just makes no sense. Anything related to Tests I would just leave him out.
 

Bolo.

U19 Captain

Not the most exciting batsman - a career strike rate of 30-31 estimated by Davis.
Interesting that they mention Comptons 14th 100 of the season- not differentiating between 1st class and test, even when commenting on a test.
 

Fuller Pilch

International Vice-Captain
Any footage somewhere ?

Got me thinking how many quality batsmen played test cricket either side of the war & lost out on some good years. Obviously there were some who didn't come back & lost out on years too.

England
Washbrook
Hutton
Edrich
Hammond
Compton
Barnett
Hardstaff Jnr

South Africa
Melville
Mitchell
Rowan
Nourse

Australia
Barnes
Brown
Bradman
Hassett
Don't forget Donnelly. And who knows how good Bill Carson might have been.
 

Top