A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

The Greatest ODI Batsman Of All Time. Of All Time!

Posted on December 13, 2016 by in 40/50-over, Scorer's Notes

It’s well known that every silver lining has a cloud. What was good news for Hapoel Be’er Sheva Football Club turned out to be particularly bad news for us as, enraged by Southampton’s catastrophic failure in the Europa League, Editor Steve made it his business to make us suffer for his team’s complete lack of squad depth. For the first time since the great cooking experiment of 2014, we actually had to clean the office. Not only that, in order to then avoid a series of deliberate Gower-esque foot crushings, we had to promise our glorious leader that we’d write an article about absolutely anything that he wanted.

Of course we hoped that he’d ask for something light and fluffy, perhaps about how great Devereux is (very) or something about England’s ongoing spin travails in the subcontinent. But no, he had something else in mind: he wanted to know who the greatest ODI batsman in the history of the game was. And (as stressed by deliberately slamming the work experience boy’s head in the fridge door) he wanted to see our workings. In full.

As you can imagine, this was quite the challenge. Normally people talk about the greatest Test batsmen of all time and the traditional names just roll off the tongue: Bradman, Richards, Devereux, Voges, Hick and so on. But in ODIs? That’s much tougher. For a start, there are bloody hundreds of them going on every day and we’ll be damned if we can keep up.

Including one where George Bailey satirised the revolving door selection policy down under.

Including one where George Bailey satirised the current revolving door selection policy down under.

Luckily Statsguru came to our rescue once again. We mashed a few buttons, drank a few gins and scratched our heads quite a lot. Then suddenly: Eureka! We had a methodology, one that goes a bit like this:

To be considered the greatest ODI batsmen, players need to perform over a reasonably long period of time. With the number of matches involved, ODI cricket is all about doing it time after time (after time). In order to take this account we decided to look at each year from 1983 onwards (when ODIs started to become common) and find the top ten batsmen for each year in terms of average. This gives us a very clumsy looking table like this:

1stIVA Richards (WI) 66.36DL Haynes (WI) 54.20CH Lloyd (WI) 73.60RB Richardson (WI) 49.00Javed Miandad (PAK) 67.75CG Greenidge (WI) 60.15DL Haynes (WI) 55.94DM Jones (AUS) 69.05SV Manjrekar (INDIA) 53.83MD Crowe (NZ) 71.72M Azharuddin (INDIA) 59.15Ijaz Ahmed (PAK) 68.00BC Lara (WI) 67.16G Kirsten (SA) 57.68CZ Harris (NZ) 68.14MG Bevan (AUS) 68.50L Klusener (SA) 94.88AJ Stewart (ENG) 61.44ME Waugh (AUS) 80.90A Flower (ZIM) 59.72MG Bevan (AUS) 65.33JH Kallis (SA) 59.23MEK Hussey (AUS) 146.75NJ Astle (NZ) 58.60RT Ponting (AUS) 79.11S Chanderpaul (WI) 64.22MS Dhoni (INDIA) 70.47AB de Villiers (SA) 80.33MS Dhoni (INDIA) 58.76AB de Villiers (SA) 107.50GJ Bailey (AUS) 64.58AB de Villiers (SA) 73.25KC Sangakkara (SL) 86.20V Kohli (INDIA) 92.37
2ndDI Gower (ENG) 63.88IVA Richards (WI) 53.46IVA Richards (WI) 61.55Javed Miandad (PAK) 48.61GA Gooch (ENG) 56.00Javed Miandad (PAK) 55.18GR Marsh (AUS) 54.53M Azharuddin (INDIA) 65.25GR Marsh (AUS) 46.61Javed Miandad (PAK) 52.33RA Smith (ENG) 52.10CL Hooper (WI) 64.12Inzamam-ul-Haq (PAK) 49.92BC Lara (WI) 57.66SC Williams (WI) 62.60SR Tendulkar (INDIA) 65.31MG Bevan (AUS) 67.78DR Martyn (AUS) 59.11SR Tendulkar (INDIA) 69.53RR Sarwan (WI) 58.53DR Martyn (AUS) 58.53A Flintoff (ENG) 57.54KP Pietersen (ENG) 65.33MEK Hussey (AUS) 56.00S Chanderpaul (WI) 76.00JP Duminy (SA) 59.50S Chanderpaul (WI) 59.00HM Amla (SA) 75.57SR Watson (AUS) 56.95V Kohli (INDIA) 68.40KC Sangakkara (SL) 63.21KS Williamson (NZ) 70.00AB de Villiers (SA) 79.53DA Warner (AUS) 63.09
3rdZaheer Abbas (PAK) 61.75AL Logie (WI) 49.60SM Gavaskar (INDIA) 59.14DL Haynes (WI) 46.22DC Boon (AUS) 50.46DM Jones (AUS) 53.63DM Jones (AUS) 51.14A Ranatunga (SL) 56.50DM Jones (AUS) 39.33RA Smith (ENG) 51.16Saeed Anwar (PAK) 51.71MG Bevan (AUS) 54.00CL Hooper (WI) 41.40DJ Cullinan (SA) 57.44MG Bevan (AUS) 56.00NV Knight (ENG) 55.08RG Twose (NZ) 48.41SC Ganguly (INDIA) 56.39DR Martyn (AUS) 69.50DS Lehmann (AUS) 57.77SR Tendulkar (INDIA) 57.05RR Sarwan (WI) 56.50Inzamam-ul-Haq (PAK) 54.62Yuvraj Singh (INDIA) 53.06A Symonds (AUS) 62.15Mohammad Yousuf (PAK) 59.20TM Dilshan (SL) 55.55TLW Cooper (Neth) 65.44MJ Clarke (AUS) 56.25MS Dhoni (INDIA) 65.50MS Dhoni (INDIA) 62.75LRPL Taylor (NZ) 66.20Shoaib Malik (PAK) 67.44RG Sharma (INDIA) 62.66
4thCG Greenidge (WI) 57.61KC Wessels (AUS/SA) 47.17DL Haynes (WI) 56.00DM Jones (AUS) 40.00IVA Richards (WI) 49.44M Amarnath (INDIA) 53.09Imran Khan (PAK) 46.64Rameez Raja (PAK) 52.87DL Haynes (WI) 36.66NH Fairbrother (ENG) 50.60JC Adams (WI) 51.60AC Parore (NZ) 52.00HP Tillakaratne (SL) 41.00SR Tendulkar (INDIA) 53.70PA de Silva (SL) 52.69Mohammad Yousuf (PAK) 53.22GA Hick (ENG) 46.70RG Twose (NZ) 56.15HH Dippenaar (SA) 68.00ML Hayden (AUS) 54.87JH Kallis (SA) 54.09KC Sangakkara (SL) 53.15MJ Clarke (AUS) 53.00ST Jayasuriya (SL) 48.04RN ten Doeschate (Neth) 59.33MS Dhoni (INDIA) 57.73AB de Villiers (SA) 54.42JP Duminy (SA) 61.85RG Sharma (INDIA) 55.54EJG Morgan (ENG/IRE) 60.66IJL Trott (ENG) 61.10AD Mathews (SL) 62.20F du Plessis (SA) 58.93AD Hales (ENG) 61.91
5thHA Gomes (WI) 57.16MD Crowe (NZ) 41.60AR Border (AUS) 51.87SM Gavaskar (INDIA) 38.33SM Gavaskar (INDIA) 49.00DL Haynes (WI) 49.73PA de Silva (SL) 44.10PL Taylor (AUS) 47.33RB Richardson (WI) 36.55DC Boon (AUS) 46.94KLT Arthurton (WI) 51.22MA Atherton (ENG) 51.77SR Tendulkar (INDIA) 40.36RB Richardson (WI) 51.57ME Waugh (AUS) 52.00RT Ponting (AUS) 53.00SC Ganguly (INDIA) 46.50MS Atapattu (SL) 55.41MG Bevan (AUS) 64.55Mohammad Yousuf (PAK) 54.48DS Lehmann (AUS) 51.88HH Streak (ZIM) 52.83HH Gibbs (SA) 51.85Shakib Al Hasan (BDESH) 45.12ML Hayden (AUS) 59.29MEK Hussey (AUS) 56.54SR Tendulkar (INDIA) 54.00A Bagai (Can) 59.88MJ Guptill (NZ) 54.16IR Bell (ENG) 54.90TM Dilshan (SL) 61.05RA Jadeja (INDIA) 61.50LRPL Taylor (NZ) 58.11JE Root (ENG) 61.23
6thGN Yallop (AUS) 56.57SB Smith (AUS) 40.33Javed Miandad (PAK) 45.06SR Waugh (AUS) 36.71DB Vengsarkar (INDIA) 47.53AH Jones (NZ) 44.77RB Richardson (WI) 42.78GA Gooch (ENG) 44.55DC Boon (AUS) 36.22A Ranatunga (SL) 45.00Inzamam-ul-Haq (PAK) 50.50VG Kambli (INDIA) 51.14MA Taylor (AUS) 40.23Saeed Anwar (PAK) 51.45WJ Cronje (SA) 51.40JN Rhodes (SA) 49.66R Dravid (INDIA) 46.34WJ Cronje (SA) 47.33ND McKenzie (SA) 63.00SR Tendulkar (INDIA) 52.92CH Gayle (WI) 51.63A Symonds (AUS) 50.18MS Dhoni (INDIA) 49.72SO Tikolo (KENYA) 45.00JH Kallis (SA) 58.05JH Kallis (SA) 55.70Shakib Al Hasan (BDESH) 51.61JH Kallis (SA) 59.30V Sehwag (INDIA) 53.75AN Cook (ENG) 47.35Misbah-ul-Haq (PAK) 54.92V Kohli (INDIA) 58.55KS Williamson (NZ) 57.33LD Chandimal (SL) 59.63
7thRM Hogg (AUS) 42.00AJ Lamb (ENG) 37.66GM Wood (AUS) 43.07A Ranatunga (SL) 36.00DM Jones (AUS) 46.85PV Simmons (WI) 44.40Saleem Malik (PAK) 42.31MD Crowe (NZ) 42.63SR Tendulkar (INDIA) 34.75PN Kirsten (SA) 44.80BC Lara (WI) 49.96A Ranatunga (SL) 49.41ME Waugh (AUS) 39.00PA de Silva (SL) 49.50ST Jayasuriya (SL) 51.21A Jadeja (INDIA) 47.80Inzamam-ul-Haq (PAK) 46.08JH Kallis (SA) 44.82NV Knight (ENG) 58.00CH Gayle (WI) 49.86Yasir Hameed (PAK) 49.88SP Fleming (NZ) 48.47GC Smith (SA) 49.20SR Tendulkar (INDIA) 44.85SB Styris (NZ) 56.53GC Smith (SA) 54.66SR Watson (AUS) 50.65AJ Strauss (ENG) 57.57Misbah-ul-Haq (PAK) 53.55MJ Clarke (AUS) 46.85V Kohli (INDIA) 52.83D Ramdin (WI) 57.33IR Bell (ENG) 56.55Babar Azam (PAK) 59.63
8thAJ Lamb (ENG) 40.50RW Marsh (AUS) 35.25DM Jones (AUS) 42.50DC Boon (AUS) 34.90AJ Lamb (ENG) 45.21NS Sidhu (INDIA) 42.09AL Logie (WI) 41.00Imran Khan (PAK) 41.33SR Waugh (AUS) 31.00RS Mahanama (SL) 43.38Basit Ali (PAK) 47.10NS Sidhu (INDIA) 49.16Rameez Raja (PAK) 38.00GP Thorpe (ENG) 47.57GP Thorpe (ENG) 51.00JH Kallis (SA) 45.11RP Arnold (SL) 45.90G Kirsten (SA) 44.45JH Kallis (SA) 56.53JN Rhodes (SA) 48.45HH Dippenaar (SA) 47.90AC Gilchrist (AUS) 43.95R Dravid (INDIA) 47.47KC Sangakkara (SL) 44.43TM Odoyo (KENYA) 54.00Younis Khan (PAK) 54.06PD Collingwood (ENG) 50.35G Gambhir (INDIA) 55.83IJL Trott (ENG) 52.60Azhar Ali (PAK) 45.66RG Sharma (INDIA) 52.00F du Plessis (SA) 52.66MJ Guptill (NZ) 55.14JC Buttler (ENG) 57.30
9thN Kapil Dev (INDIA) 37.64CH Lloyd (WI) 33.60DB Vengsarkar (INDIA) 39.27GR Marsh (AUS) 34.47Saleem Malik (PAK) 44.38CL Hooper (WI) 40.75Shoaib Mohammad (PAK) 38.05GR Marsh (AUS) 39.00AR Border (AUS) 29.90PV Simmons (WI) 42.45Asif Mujtaba (PAK) 46.61SR Tendulkar (INDIA) 47.34SP Fleming (NZ) 36.71MG Bevan (AUS) 47.50BC Lara (WI) 50.33A Ranatunga (SL) 44.22HH Streak (ZIM) 45.33RP Arnold (SL) 44.16RT Ponting (AUS) 55.20R Dravid (INDIA) 48.05BC Lara (WI) 46.73Inzamam-ul-Haq (PAK) 43.38DR Martyn (AUS) 47.35WU Tharanga (SL) 44.25SR Watson (AUS) 53.40Misbah-ul-Haq (PAK) 53.83MEK Hussey (AUS) 48.58MJ Clarke (AUS) 55.50AB de Villiers (SA) 51.88KC Sangakkara (SL) 43.85MJ Guptill (NZ) 50.75RG Sharma (INDIA) 52.54DA Warner (AUS) 54.33Q de Kock (SA) 57.13
10thDL Haynes (WI) 37.14RB Richardson (WI) 31.83AL Logie (WI) 38.46DB Vengsarkar (INDIA) 34.07BC Broad (ENG) 40.26DC Boon (AUS) 38.80CG Greenidge (WI) 36.27AR Border (AUS) 38.57AL Logie (WI) 26.27BC Lara (WI) 41.78ME Waugh (AUS) 43.82DC Boon (AUS) 46.65RS Mahanama (SL) 36.16ME Waugh (AUS) 46.04CL Hooper (WI) 48.84MS Atapattu (SL) 43.76NH Fairbrother (ENG) 45.18MG Bevan (AUS) 44.05JN Rhodes (SA) 53.70CL Hooper (WI) 46.90RT Ponting (AUS) 46.16Abdul Razzaq (PAK) 42.66RT Ponting (AUS) 45.80RR Sarwan (WI) 43.77Mohammad Yousuf (PAK) 52.10CH Gayle (WI) 52.66EJG Morgan (ENG/IRE) 46.09Abdul Razzaq (PAK) 55.16KC Sangakkara (SL) 51.22G Gambhir (INDIA) 42.81AB de Villiers (SA) 50.56HM Amla (SA) 52.47SPD Smith (AUS) 53.66Sarfraz Ahmed (PAK) 54.66

In order to turn this into something useful, we need a scoring system. So we’ll give the top batsman in a year ten points, second place nine and so on. Then we can just add up the points, declare a winner and then sneak off to the pub, our feet very much still intact.

This gives us a far more useful (and readable) table, one that looks like this:

RankingNamePointsAppearances in top tenBest year(s)Best position
1stSR Tendulkar (INDIA)60101998 & 20012nd
2ndMG Bevan (AUS)5481998 & 20031st
3rd=DL Haynes (WI)4971984 & 19891st
3rd=AB de Villiers (SA)4972012, 2012 & 20141st
5th=MS Dhoni (INDIA)4862009 & 20111st
5th=DM Jones (AUS)48719901st
7th=Javed Miandad (PAK)42519871st
7th=JH Kallis (SA)42820041st
9thIVA Richards (WI)35419831st
10thKC Sangakkara (SL)32620151st
11th=V Kohli (INDIA)28420161st
11th=RB Richardson (WI)28519861st
11th=Inzamam-ul-Haq (PAK)28519952nd
11th=BC Lara (WI)28619951st
11th=DR Martyn (AUS)2842000 & 20032nd
11th=S Chanderpaul (WI)28320081st
17thMEK Hussey (AUS)27420051st
18thDC Boon (AUS)24619873rd
19thA Ranatunga (SL)23519903rd
20th=Mohammad Yousuf (PAK)22420083rd
20th=GR Marsh (AUS)2241989 & 19912nd
20th=ME Waugh (AUS)22520011st
23rd=MJ Clarke (AUS)21420113rd
23rd=CL Hooper (WI)21519942nd
25th=SM Gavaskar (INDIA)20319853rd
25th=RG Sharma (INDIA)20420163rd
25th=RT Ponting (AUS)20520071st
25th=MD Crowe (NZ)20319921st
29thM Azharuddin (INDIA)19219931st
30th=CG Greenidge (WI)18319881st
30th=RR Sarwan (WI)18320022nd
32nd=RA Smith (ENG)17219932nd
32nd=PA de Silva (SL)17319974th
34thJP Duminy (SA)16220082nd
35th=SR Watson (AUS)15320112nd
35th=RG Twose (NZ)15219993rd
37th=TM Dilshan (SL)14220093rd
37th=DS Lehmann (AUS)14220023rd
37th=GA Gooch (ENG)14219872nd
37th=SC Ganguly (INDIA)14220003rd
37th=KS Williamson (NZ)14220142nd
37th=LRPL Taylor (NZ)14220143rd
43rd=Saeed Anwar (PAK)13219933rd
43rd=ML Hayden (AUS)13220024th
43rd=AL Logie (WI)13419843rd
43rd=G Kirsten (SA)13219961st
43rd=A Symonds (AUS)13220073rd
48th=NV Knight (ENG)12219983rd
48th=CH Lloyd (WI)12219851st
50th=ST Jayasuriya (SL)11220064th
50th=MJ Guptill (NZ)11320115th
50th=Shakib Al Hasan (BDESH)11220065th
50th=Misbah-ul-Haq (PAK)11320136th
50th=DA Warner (AUS)11220162nd
55th=WJ Cronje (SA)1021997 & 20006th
55th=SV Manjrekar (INDIA)10119911st
55th=F du Plessis (SA)10220154th
55th=IJL Trott (ENG)10220134th
55th=Ijaz Ahmed (PAK)10119941st
55th=L Klusener (SA)10119991st
55th=AJ Stewart (ENG)10120001st
55th=GJ Bailey (AUS)10120131st
55th=R Dravid (INDIA)10319996th
55th=CH Gayle (WI)10320036th
55th=Rameez Raja (PAK)10219904th
55th=A Flower (ZIM)10120021st
55th=Imran Khan (PAK)10219894th
55th=HH Dippenaar (SA)10220014th
55th=IR Bell (ENG)10220125th
55th=AJ Lamb (ENG)10319847th
55th=CZ Harris (NZ)10119971st
55th=HM Amla (SA)10220102nd
55th=NJ Astle (NZ)10120061st
74th=AR Border (AUS)9319855th
74th=KP Pietersen (ENG)9120052nd
74th=SC Williams (WI)9119972nd
74th=JN Rhodes (SA)9319986th
74th=DI Gower (ENG)9119832nd
74th=A Flintoff (ENG)9120042nd
80th=Yuvraj Singh (INDIA)8120063rd
80th=Zaheer Abbas (PAK)8119833rd
80th=SR Waugh (AUS)8219866th
80th=TLW Cooper (Neth)8120103rd
80th=GC Smith (SA)822005 & 20087th
80th=Shoaib Malik (PAK)8120153rd
80th=DJ Cullinan (SA)8119963rd
80th=HH Streak (ZIM)8220045th
80th=EJG Morgan (ENG/IRE)8220124th
80th=NH Fairbrother (ENG)8219924th
80th=DB Vengsarkar (INDIA)8319876th
91st=KC Wessels (AUS/SA)7119844th
91st=JC Adams (WI)7119934th
91st=GA Hick (ENG)7119994th
91st=RN ten Doeschate (Neth)7120074th
91st=HP Tillakaratne (SL)7119954th
91st=AC Parore (NZ)7119944th
91st=AD Hales (ENG)7120164th
91st=AD Mathews (SL)7120144th
91st=M Amarnath (INDIA)7119884th
91st=MS Atapattu (SL)7220005th
101st=SP Fleming (NZ)6220047th
101st=Saleem Malik (PAK)6219897th
101st=KLT Arthurton (WI)6119935th
101st=JE Root (ENG)6120165th
101st=MA Atherton (ENG)6119945th
101st=HH Gibbs (SA)6120055th
101st=PL Taylor (AUS)6119905th
101st=GP Thorpe (ENG)621996 & 19978th
101st=HA Gomes (WI)6119835th
101st=PV Simmons (WI)6219887th
101st=RA Jadeja (INDIA)6120145th
101st=NS Sidhu (INDIA)621988 & 19948th
101st=A Bagai (Can)6120105th
114th=V Sehwag (INDIA)5120116th
114th=VG Kambli (INDIA)5119946th
114th=SO Tikolo (KENYA)5120066th
114th=SB Smith (AUS)5119846th
114th=AH Jones (NZ)5119886th
114th=ND McKenzie (SA)5120016th
114th=AN Cook (ENG)5120126th
114th=RP Arnold (SL)5219998th
114th=GN Yallop (AUS)5119836th
114th=LD Chandimal (SL)5120166th
114th=MA Taylor (AUS)5119956th
125th=Yasir Hameed (PAK)4120037th
125th=PN Kirsten (SA)4119927th
125th=SB Styris (NZ)4120077th
125th=RS Mahanama (SL)4219928th
125th=AJ Strauss (ENG)4120107th
125th=D Ramdin (WI)4120147th
125th=G Gambhir (INDIA)4220108th
125th=RM Hogg (AUS)4119837th
125th=GM Wood (AUS)4119857th
125th=A Jadeja (INDIA)4119987th
125th=Babar Azam (PAK)4120167th
136th=Younis Khan (PAK)3120088th
136th=TM Odoyo (KENYA)3120078th
136th=Basit Ali (PAK)3119938th
136th=RW Marsh (AUS)3119848th
136th=Azhar Ali (PAK)3120128th
136th=JC Buttler (ENG)3120168th
136th=AC Gilchrist (AUS)3120048th
136th=PD Collingwood (ENG)3120098th
144th=WU Tharanga (SL)2120069th
144th=Asif Mujtaba (PAK)2119939th
144th=Abdul Razzaq (PAK)222004 & 201010th
144th=Q de Kock (SA)2120169th
144th=N Kapil Dev (INDIA)2119839th
144th=Shoaib Mohammad (PAK)2119899th
150th=SPD Smith (AUS)11201510th
150th=Sarfraz Ahmed (PAK)11201610th
150th=BC Broad (ENG)11198710th

We must admit, we were a little surprised to see Sachin Tendulkar at the top, mainly because after five years of this site we’re extremely used to pointing out he was massively overrated. Yeah, that’s right: we went there again. But in ODI cricket it’s probably a fair call – he featured in the top ten batsmen of the year on no less than ten separate occasions between 1991 and 2009, although never higher than second place. But it was second placed overall Michael Bevan that really piqued our interest. Bevan made eight top-ten appearances in the ten years between 1994 and 2003, topping the list in 1998 and 2003. He also invented the idea of scoring lots of runs at the end of an innings.

Although his 'bring your dog to work day' idea was less popular with Cricket Australia.

Although his ‘bring your dog to work day’ idea was less popular with Cricket Australia.

Joint-third placed Desmond Haynes was a bit of a surprise result, mainly because he retired before a few of us were even born. But apparently he dominated in the early years of ODI cricket, making the top ten seven times in the first nine years, topping the chart in 1984 and 1989. AB de Villiers was less of a surprise, and is one of those with the potential to move up the list over the next couple of years, injuries permitting.

Perhaps the least surprising thing on the list (after Devereux’s absurdly low placing) is the lack of English batsmen – you’ll need to press the ‘next’ button three times before you actually get to one: Robin Smith, who played his last ODI in 1996. It’s a damning indictment of decades of utter rubbishness in limited overs cricket. Although things are better now, it’ll be a fair while before this methodology sees any English players storming to the top of the charts. Luckily we’ve pencilled in doing a follow up article next time Southampton are in Europe (i.e. somewhere around 2030).

Missing out on finding out whether Devereux could move up from joint 150th was devastating for all concerned.

Missing out on finding out whether Devereux could move up from joint 150th was devastating for all concerned.

As a side note, once we’d actually sat around and done all the spreadsheet magic to make this happen, we remembered that Reliance do an all time ODI ranking list themselves and we could have just stolen their work and hoped Editor Steve didn’t notice in his current drunken state. Their list can be found here and is surprisingly different from ours, with only four players from this century in the top 20 (and one of them is George Bailey). Far be it from us to criticise other people’s work* but that just seems plain wrong.


*although that is the exact purpose of this website.

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