20 Best Cricket Players of All Time

Best Cricket Players

For around two centuries, cricket has been gathering fans from all over the world, with plenty of players going on to become legends of the game. Here’s a list of the 20 best cricket players of all time, in no specific order of preference, just quality.

20. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Sir Donald Bradman

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Widely acknowledged as the greatest ever batsman to have played the sport, Sir Donald Bradman played a brand of cricket that was attacking and entertaining. He was fearless, and his batting average of 99.94 in Tests is an attestation to the legend he truly was. His Test batting average is often cited as statistically the greatest achievement by any sportsman in a major sport. Bradman announced himself to the world in the 1930 Ashes series, when he amassed 974 runs at an incredible average of 139.14, including two double-centuries and his career best score of 334. He set records throughout his career that spanned over two decades, a lot of which still stand, scoring 6,996 runs in 80 innings with 29 centuries—12 of them being double-centuries. His innings of 270 in the 1937 Ashes series has been rated as the best batting performance in the history of Test cricket by Wisden.

19. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Sachin Tendulkar

Best Cricket Players
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Having made his international debut at a tender age of 16, Sachin Tendulkar went on to conquer the cricketing world with his sheer brilliance and charisma, becoming the highest run-scorer of all time in international cricket—the only player to have crossed the landmark of 30,000 runs. He is also the first player to score a double century in an ODI and is the only batsman in the world with a hundred international centuries to his name. One of the most prolific batsmen to have graced this field, Tendulkar rose to prominence in the early 1990s and was the leading run-scorer (523) in the 1996 World Cup. He featured in six World Cups and was part of India’s victorious campaign in 2011.

18. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Sir Vivian Richards

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Hailed as the greatest ever ODI batsman and knighted for his contributions to cricket, Sir Vivian Richards led a side that had an immaculate amalgamation of accumulators, power-hitters, and fiery fast bowlers and was a flag-bearer of West Indies’ dominance in cricket. He led the Windies in 50 Tests—winning 27 and losing only eight—and was their only captain ever to not lose a single Test series. In his promising 17-year career, he accumulated 8,540 runs in Tests at 50.23 and 6,721 runs in ODIs at 47.00.

17. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Kumar Sangakkara

Best Cricket Players
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One of the greats of all time, Kumar Sangakkara is one of the few legendary players who managed to stay relevant across the three formats. Scoring over 28,000 runs in international cricket with 63 centuries, he is easily the greatest wicket-keeper batsman the game has ever witnessed. Sangakkara featured in two 50-over World Cup finals and three World T20 finals. His unbeaten 35-ball 52 helped Sri Lanka beat India in the 2014 World T20 final. As a wicket-keeper, he affected 678 dismissals in international cricket and sits fourth on the list behind Mark Boucher, Adam Gilchrist, and MS Dhoni.

16. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Jacques Kallis

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A modern-day genius and perhaps the greatest ever all-rounder to have taken the field, South Africa’s Jacques Kallis is the only player to score 10,000 runs and grab 250 wickets in both Tests and ODIs. He is also one of the only four players in the history of Tests (behind Sir Donald Bradman, Mohammad Yousuf, and Gautam Gambhir) to hit centuries in five consecutive matches. Kallis scored a total of 25,534 international runs across three formats and picked up 577 wickets.

15. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Shane Warne

Best Cricket Players
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Regarded as the best leg-spinner in the history of the game, Shane Warne redefined the art of leg-spin bowling with his accuracy, which was once considered extinct but is now an integral part of the game. Warne played an instrumental role in establishing Australia’s dominance in the world of cricket with his unplayable deliveries. He held the record of most Test wickets in history (708) for a long time before being surpassed by Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan in 2007. His delivery to dismiss Mike Gatting in the 1993 Ashes series is widely dubbed as the ball of the century. His batting was very underrated and he holds the record for scoring most Test runs (3,154) without hitting a century.

14. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Wasim Akram

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Making his international debut without any significant domestic experience, Pakistan’s Wasim Akram proved his caliber in his very second international game where he picked up 10 wickets. Akram is considered as one of the founders of reverse swing bowling and tormented batsmen throughout his career, thus rightfully gaining the nickname of “Sultan of Swing.” He also played an important role in Pakistan’s World Cup win in 1992 and was declared the Player of the Match in the final. He holds the world record for most wickets (881) in List A cricket and is second only to Muttiah Muralitharan in terms of ODI wickets, with 502 in total.

13. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Muttiah Muralitharan

Best Cricket Players
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Rated as the greatest Test match bowler ever by the Wisden Almanack in 2002, Muralitharan has a record 800 wickets in Tests and 534 wickets in ODIs. He took his 800th wicket on the final ball of his Test career. Controversies surrounding the legality of his bowling action haunted him throughout his career but that didn’t defer his resolve as he went about weaving magic with the ball in his hand and standing out for his team whenever the need arose. After having a slow start to his international career, from 1998 onwards, his numbers depict what has been a stunning decade as he averaged 20.80 in Tests and 21.23 in ODIs, claiming over 1000 international wickets (653 in Tests and 405 in ODIs).

12. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Sir Gary Sobers

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Considered the greatest all-rounder to have played the game, Sir Gary Sobers was a sublime shot-maker, a versatile bowler, and an acrobat in the field. Sobers was easily the best batsman of his time. When he ended his career, he was the highest run-getter in Tests, with the highest individual score in innings—365 against Pakistan, the second-highest wicket-taker for the Windies and third on the table of catches held by non-wicketkeepers. He amassed 8,032 runs in 93 Tests at 57.78 and took 235 wickets in the due course.

11. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Brian Lara

Best Cricket Players
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A record run-getter for the Windies, Brian Lara is often hailed as one of the greatest batsmen to have played the game. His match-winning knock of 153 against Australia has been rated as the second-best batting performance in the history of Tests, next to Bradman’s 270. He holds the world record for the highest individual score in first-class cricket (501 for Warwickshire against Durham), as well as Test cricket (400 not outs against England). He hit a total of 11,953 runs in 131 Tests with 34 centuries.

10. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Kapil Dev

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India’s first and only genuine fast-bowling all-rounder, Kapil Dev changed the way India played cricket. He inspired a nation that celebrated draws as victories to actually go and win Test matches. He did the unthinkable by leading an underdog Indian side to World Cup glory in 1983 by defeating the mighty Windies in the final. His famous innings of 175 came at a time when India was struggling at 17/5 against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup and that was a turning point in India’s campaign. He is the only India player to achieve the double of 5,000 runs and 400 wickets in Tests. In ODIs, he scored 3,783 runs in 225 games and picked up 253 wickets.

9. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Sir Ian Botham

Best Cricket Players
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Very few players could dominate a Test match like Ian Botham did. In 1980, he became only the second player to score a century and pick 10 wickets in the same match. Etched in every English cricket fan’s memory is the “Botham’s Ashes” of 1981, which saw the birth of a hero as he scored 399 runs, picked up 34 wickets and held 12 catches. His most famous innings of 149 not outs occurred in this series, as with grit and determination, he inspired an English victory after being asked to follow-on. He accumulated a total of 7,313 runs and took 528 wickets in his international career.

8. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Imran Khan

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Undoubtedly, the greatest ever cricketer to play for his nation, Imran Khan inspired a young generation of cricketers to take up fast bowling in the flatbeds of Pakistan. He mastered the art of swinging the ball both ways—leaving batsmen with no answer more often than not. He played in an era of great all-rounders but was arguably the most consistent of the lot—averaging 37 and 22 with the bat and ball, respectively. In his last 10 years of international cricket, his batting average exceeded 50 and bowling average reached a career high of 19, making him a force to be reckoned with. An inspiring and commendable leader, he led his side to World Cup glory in 1992 after being written off at the start of the tournament.

7. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Glenn McGrath

Best Cricket Players
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An integral member of an all-time great Australia side that dominated the world cricket for over a decade, Glenn McGrath, along with Warne, was a combination that gave batsmen nightmares. McGrath’s accuracy with his line and length made him one of the most consistent, economical, and successful bowlers. He is second to only James Anderson in the list of most wickets by a fast bowler in Tests—picking up 563 wickets in 124 games. The Australian holds the record for most wickets in 50-over World Cups with 71 scalps.

6. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Ricky Ponting

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Leading a world-class side that had an immaculate amalgamation of accumulators, power-hitters, and wicket-takers, Ricky Ponting was the face of Australian dominance as he led the side to two consecutive World Cup wins in 2003 and 2007, and is considered the most successful international captain in the history of the game. A prolific batsman, Ponting scored over 27,000 international runs at 51.9 in Tests and 42.0 in ODIs.

5. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Dennis Lillee

Best Cricket Players
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One of the most fiery and lethal fast bowlers of all time, Dennis Lillee ended his Test career with 355 wickets. Injuries and stress fractures almost ended his career but with grit and determination, he fought his way back into the Australian team.

4. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Shaun Pollock

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One of the finest all-rounders South Africa has ever produced, Shaun Pollock rattled the best batsmen of his era with his magical deliveries and, along with Allan Donald, made a formidable bowling partnership for the South African side. At the time of his retirement, he was one of only six players to have recorded the double of 3,000 runs, 300 wickets in Tests. He was the highest wicket-taker for the Proteas for a long time before Dale Steyn overtook him in 2018.

3. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Sir Richard Hadlee

Best Cricket Players
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Easily the greatest cricketing legend New Zealand has ever produced, Richard Hadlee took the Kiwis to unprecedented heights and was their most prolific match-winner. One of the finest fast-bowling all-rounders of all time, the Kiwi giant had his best figures of 15/123 at the Gabba against Australia that gave New Zealand its most famous win. He ended his career with 431 wickets in 86 Tests.

2. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Virat Kohli

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Inarguably the most pronounced batsman of his generation, Virat Kohli’s resilient rise to the top has been commendable. Announcing himself to the world by leading India’s U-19 squad to a World Cup win in 2008, Kohli’s promise and flair was instantly acknowledged, fast-tracking him to the senior team where he made his debut the same year. He is a run-machine and, when it comes to chasing high totals under pressure, nobody does it better than him—and he made sure the world knew that in no time. Out of the 43 centuries that Kohli has under his belt in ODIs, 26 have come batting second and only seven of them have ended in a losing cause. Scoring centuries is an art Kohli has mastered in his career, which spans over 11 years, and currently, he has 70 international centuries to his name. Amassing over 20,000 runs so far, he’s India’s second-highest run-scorer and also the nation’s most successful Test captain of all time. The numbers are staggering and the legend of India’s second-most favorite cricketing hero continues to grow to date.

1. Best Cricket Players of All Time: Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Best Cricket Players
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The most successful captain ever in ICC tournaments, MS Dhoni caught everybody’s attention when he led a young and inexperienced side to T20 World Cup glory in 2007 and was instantly the nation’s favorite hero. A power-hitter who loved taking risks in his early days, Dhoni morphed into a solid middle-order batsman. He’s known for his ability to strategize and adapt to the game, which allows him to make bold decisions as a captain that, more often than not, work in his favor. He also led India in their successful campaigns in the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011 and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, making him the only captain in the history of the game to lift all three ICC limited-overs trophies. One of the greatest modern-day wicketkeeper-batsman, Dhoni scored over 10,000 runs in 350 ODIs at 50.53 and 4,876 runs in 90 Tests at 38.09, and affected 829 dismissals in international cricket.

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