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 Friday, 13 December, 2002, 09:47 GMT
Cricket's top Test players?
Muttiah Muralitharan (c) takes his 400th test wicket
Muttiah Muralitharan has been revealed as the top Test bowler in history, ranking alongside top batsman Don Bradman, according to cricket bible Wisden.

Do you agree with Wisden's rankings?

Have your say

Wisden's statistical analysis of every single Test match put the Sri Lankan three places ahead of his Australian spin rival Shane Warne.

Bradman is followed by Sachin Tendulkar of India and West Indian pair Viv Richards and Garfield Sobers.

The list's compilers took such factors as the strength of opposition and the importance of each performance. Players were also rewarded for consistency over long careers.

Who ranks as your top Test player?


This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appears below.


Surely this very debate demonstrates the value of independent rankings like this. They remove bias, personal opinion and the tendency to favour more fashionable players. So I have no argument to make other than to applaud Murali and the others at the top.
James Harding, UK

The greatest batsman that I have ever seen is Tendulkar. I saw him play last year at Durham and he was brilliant in they way he rebuilt the innings around his own and scored a magnificent century, hitting the ball to any part of the ground he wished.

The way in which he despatched Ashley Giles to the boundary time and time again without a hint of respect for England's top spin bowler was truly something special and that I will remember for a long time.
Daz, England

Actually I think the results are quite acceptable. I do, however, find it really annoying that people are still talking about Murali's action. The ICC have accepted that he was born with an abnormality and his action has been cleared at the highest level. Leave him alone and let him play his game !!
Rajiv Vyas, United Kingdom

I suppose it all depends on how you judge "best". Statistically and without bias or subjective interest I'm sure Wisden is right, but once personal preferences, contemporary experience and national prejudices come in, things change.

The best players I have seen are mostly West Indians from the 70s - Marshall, Holding, Garner, Sobers, Richards, etc, but today's Australians are sublime too. However, for pure excitement, Botham, Murali, Tendulkar, Lara, Trueman, and Richards would get my vote, almost equally.

I wish I'd seen Bradman and I refuse to rubbish him, as some who also never saw him have done. Remember, he played consistently well against the best teams in the world at the time; what more can you ask?
Ron Creer, UK

If Murali played cricket for England, Australia, South Africa or New Zealand, I am sure a number of books would have been written about him as a great man who overcame a physical disability to become a champion bowler of the world.

Please give Murali a brake and applauded the fact that he overcame physical, racial and psychological barriers to be what he is today, and think if you were in his shoes, would you have had the courage and the strength to carry on and achieve as half as much of what he has achieved?
Sebastian Alexander, Canada

Bradman is unimpeachable

Tim, UK

How about the best partnerships? Best bowlers - Lillee/Thompson (Aus), Best batsmen - Richards/Botham (Somerset).
Kevin Corcoran, Wales

When you stick to one form of analysis you cannot change it for anybody. So Wisden has done its job in the way it has to be done. Nobody can argue and say it is wrong. Well done Wisden! We are with you and Murali is undisputedly the 'King of spin' in the world.
Fernando K. Sarath, Sri Lanka

I wouldn't argue too much with the batsmen; however it's unrealistic to compare different types of bowlers. Lillee, Muralitharan and Warne are way ahead of their rivals as respectively fast, finger-spin and wrist-spin bowlers.

Muralitharan's position is especially commendable because of his endless persecution at the hands of incompetent Australian umpires who think they are bigger than the game. Darryl Hair should never be allowed to umpire again.
Bob, England

Bradman is unimpeachable. Whenever people try to compare great players of different eras it's always going to be near impossible. It's hard enough to compare great players whose careers are close together or over-lapping.

Comparing Viv Richards and Barry Richards - Lara and Tendulkar all geniuses. Also to say Bradman only played England, (not actually correct), seems to argue in his favour. One shudders to think what he may have scored against some of the weaker sides today.

I cannot believe that people are questioning Bradman's position

Mathew Zacharia, United Arab Emirates

On Murali I'm not convinced. Shane Warne with nearly 500 wickets has played almost his entire Test cricket having to share the spoils with McGrath who has 400 of his own.
Tim, UK

Whilst it is true that Sir Viv Richards was an exceptional batsman/player and would therefore deserve his place in any top five, I believe most Windies supporters would agree that the dominance the West Indies once enjoyed in world cricket had more to do with the quality of the bowling.

I therefore can't understand why there are no WI bowlers in the Test top five. Murali's stats are very impressive but he is essentially bowling alone and getting most of the returns.

The Windies great bowlers had to compete with the other great bowlers in the side for their wickets. This fact should put into proper perspective. Malcolm Marshall's career stats, 376 Test wickets at 20.95. And yet, Marshall is not mentioned in the top five.
Mark, Barbados, West Indies.

I cannot believe that people are questioning Bradman's position. It is foolish to compare eras, fifty years hence the game will have changed and more cricket nations would be there, does that lessen Tendulkar's achievements of today?

No batsmen ever has dominated any era the way Bradman has. Murali has been found wanting in overseas conditions against strong opposition (the recent series against SA for example), Warne has repeatedly failed in India.

I am saddened by the omission of those '70s South African giants of the game

Philip Snyman, Canada

The most successful bowler ever in all conditions was Richard Hadlee and he has to be the greatest bowler ever.
Mathew Zacharia, United Arab Emirates

I can't believe Malcolm Marshall hasn't got a mention as one of the best bowlers of all time; every batsman who faced this maestro would put him in their top five of all time.

As for batsmen, Viv Richards was truly amazing, as was Allan Border, but surely the best of all time is Sachin Tendulkar. You only need one word to describe the little man: QUALITY.
Dave Margrett, Wales

I am saddened by the omission of those '70s South African giants of the game whose international recognition was (unfairly?) tarnished by their association with that repugnant political regime.

By extrapolation - and assuming continued international careers (minus Apartheid) - the following players would factor in the top all time cricketers in the world.

Graham Pollock and Barry Richards - easily on a par with the likes of Gary Sobers, Viv Richards and Brian Lara. And on the bowling front, Mike Proctor bears mention along with the current crop of youngsters such as Shaun Pollock and Alan Donald. The latter should be given "bonus points" for surfacing from the barrens of international isolation.

In short, I would argue the weighting criteria for best batsman/bowler is inherently biased against the likes of these players - who otherwise would rank in the top five places in their respective categories.

Not to have a player like Dennis Lillee in the top group is frankly amazing

Dave, Tanzania

It boggles the mind how the '70s trio noted above would have fared if allowed to proceed unhindered by the politics of the day. Would anyone disagree that Jonty Rhodes qualifies in the top three all-time "best fielder" category?

An unabashed claim for South African cricketers amongst the world elite.
Philip Snyman, Canada

I think Tendulkar is the best. He has been playing consistently in ODIs and Tests and against all countries, unlike Bradman who played only against England. For the best bowler I will give my vote to Kapil, Imran, Warne.
Aditya, India

These types of surveys are very subjective and I believe are intended to stir up debate - which is always very interesting. It's impossible to compare players from different eras.

Not to have a player like Dennis Lillee in the top group is frankly amazing whilst to have Murali as the top bowler is bizarre and insulting to the many great players who have not been included.

There seems to be a code of silence about this player and his action - that might be acceptable, but to have him as number one is not.
Dave, Tanzania

Wisden is correct. Murali is the best.
Palitha, USA

I am not surprised with the selection of top batsman and bowler. However, I have reservations about the lists in both departments.

Even though I am Australian I must admit that Muralitharan is miles ahead of Warne

Paul Davis, Australia

First of all, I think Brian Lara, Sunil Gavaskar and Javed Miandad should come ahead of Allan Border. In fact, in my opinion, Allan Border was a great cricketer but I won't include him in the list of 10 in the history of the game.

Similarly, I would think that the rank of Malcolm Marshall should be elevated and the great Curtley Ambrose, Denis Lillee and Wasim Akram who were the devastators for the opponents should be included in the top 10.

I completely agree that M Muralitharan and Shane Warne grabbed plenty of wickets in the last 10 years but they could probably not dominate the game like the great fast bowlers such as Malcolm Marshall, Sir Richard Hadlee, Curtley Ambrose, Denis Lillee and Wasim Akram.
Zahurul, Australia

Even though I am Australian I must admit that Muralitharan is miles ahead of Warne. Warne shouldn't even rate above his team-mate, McGrath who takes all the really big wickets for Australia. Malcolm Marshall is one bowler who deserves to rate higher.
Paul Davis, Australia

I cannot believe how stupid these rankings are. The following quote proves it: "weighting in the table was given to players who did not receive quality support from their team-mates" and top spots for Muralitharan and Richard Hadlee are testament to that.

So because Sri Lanka produces one good bowler, who of course bowls many overs and gets most of the team's wickets, bowlers like Warne, who have taken many wickets, have to battle it out with bowlers in the side usually ranked in the top five in the world.

These rankings are rubbish, the formula is rubbish. He chucks the ball and bowls endless overs taking most of his team's wickets. Sri Lanka hardly ever wins a Test. He is on top by default.
Jimmy Simms, Australia

No Lindwall, Trueman, Marshall, or Lillee?

John Rogers, England

The whole premise of a best bowler strikes me as odd indeed. How efficient would a Warne or a Murali be on a rock hard West Indian wicket. Surely, the Big Bird would have been more of a threat.

As for batsman, how does one factor in the attack they never face? Namely that of their team-mates. Perhaps had Michael Atherton been a wearer of the baggy green, he'd have been in the top ten.
Nigel, Japan

The excitement at matches when Tendulkar walks out to bat has to be proof that he is the greatest batsman ever. Rarely does he disappoint the crowd and audience when he is on the ball.
Divaker Shikotra, England

I'm amazed to see the dearth of really fast bowlers! No Lindwall, Trueman, Marshall, or Lillee? Was strike rate considered as well as runs/wicket?
John Rogers, England

Murali may be the best bowler ever, but I can't remember the last time Shane Warne was no balled for chucking!
David, UK

There is no way Murali should be ranked the best. For starters, there are still questions about his action (or there should be). Warne has had a far greater influence in the last decade than Murali. Australia, spearheaded by Warne (and McGrath) has won everywhere (except India), and he has proved himself a match winner on any surface, in any country.
John, England

Best batsman has to be Sachin Tendulkar

Robbie, India

Wisden have got it right. The other players in contention are top players, but Murali has single handedly lifted cricket for Sri Lanka, unlike the greats such as Warne who have had excellent supporting bowlers and solid fielders.

Also, taking into account the controversy he was subjected to with his action, he has shown tremendous character to overcome all this and still be a potent bowler.
Rishy, UK

Brian Lara has to be in the top ten of the greatest Test batsman, if only by virtue of ten fact that he should be ahead of Tendulkar. I say this because Lara has done made more "heroic" innings e.g. the double hundred against the Aussies a couple of years back and the highest ever score in a Test match.
James, UK

Wisden has once again showed its bias to Aussies and the English. Actually, amid the entire hullabaloo I don't understand why Bradman comes on top!

Almost all of his performance has come against England. Even allowing that England were the strongest team available to Bradman, the performance against one country should not be considered a yardstick.

Moreover, Bradman always played either in Australia or in England. He was never tested in the sub-continental conditions. My opinion is that when trying to figure out the best players, let us not include Bradman and his contemporaries. Only those players who have proved their mettle against more than three or four other teams, playing away from 'home' should be considered.
Salim, India

Best batsman has to be Sachin Tendulkar. Starting at an early age of 16 and when the Indian team's batting line-up wasn't as strong as it is now, he stood up against the great fast bowlers like Wasim, Waqar, Ambrose, Walsh, McDermot and belted them for boundries.

There was a time when the Indian team fully depended on Sachin Tendulkar to give them a big total and he rarely failed. He has always carried the burden of expectations of millions of Indians.

The pressure, the expectations, the fielding standards, the quality of bowling, the accuracy and standard of umpiring are all much high then that was during Don Bradman's era. Putting all these circumstances under consideration, Sachin has to be the best batsman the world has ever seen.
Robbie, India

Courtney Walsh ranks as the greatest bowler in my opinion, the way he gave everything for each delivery that he bowled and his enthusiasm, what a guy. One of the nicest cricketers I have been lucky to meet!!
Liz, UK

Murali is a credit to the game by the way he conducts himself

Shaun Langdon, Australia

You have got to have Brian Lara in the top five batsmen! He is one of the best batsmen I have had the pleasure in watching and he has the stats to back it up.
Andy, Hemel, England

Botham is my choice for greatest player of all time, on account of his all-round ability and one-man heroics in the 1981 Ashes series. England have not come near replacing him.
Robin, UK

Best batsmen statistics say absolutely nothing about the style of a batsman. I'd rather watch the effortless touch of Gower or the lazy elegance of Youhana than the crude but effective batting which yields 'results'...
Mehbs, England

Murali is a credit to the game by the way he conducts himself. He is a true gentleman. However it would be fair to say that the majority of his wickets would have been taken on the spin-friendly wickets of the sub-continent.

Also, it must be stated that his action has been the subject of continual scrutiny. You only have to look as recently as the Sri Lankan's tour of South Africa. Murali failed to have any impact on the series. He rarely does away from home.

Murali would be in my top 10 bowlers of all time, absolutely no doubts about that, but I think greats such as Lillee, Hadlee and co, can feel just a little hard done by.
Shaun Langdon, Australia

Murali deserves this top spot in the history. He has worked hard for it. He had to overcome the critics and has had to perform consistently. He was the major force in the success and dominance of Sri Lankan cricket around the world. He is undisputedly the best "King of Spin" ever.
Janam, UK

For impact and enjoyment Tendulkar and Warne get my vote!

Sheetal, UK

Without a doubt Andy Flower ranks in the top 10 as greatest ever batsmen. Playing in a second class team he has held Zimbabwe together for 10 years, and just keeps getting better. His determination and focus is second to none. One can only imaging what he could have done had he played without so much pressure EVERY game!
Nick Byas, Zimbabwe

It seems a little unfair that the likes of Gary Sobers, Imran Kahn and Ian Botham do not get a mention. For me, the very best players are those that their country depends on with both bat and ball, and those who put in match-winning performances. These all-rounders would qualify handsomely on both counts.
Tim, England

You can't argue with the statistics but for impact and enjoyment Tendulkar and Warne get my vote!
Sheetal, UK

I would not put Murali above Shane Warne. Shane has performed under all conditions, even in the West Indies, he is more deceptive and being a leg spinner has more variation. Donald Bradman is my pick for best all time batsman.
Marvin Ishmael, Trinidad

Tendulkar may be a run scoring machine but to me he is not the best. My man is Brian Lara. When he is on a roll there is nothing in this world that can match the excitement and amazement that man creates. So what if he is not consistent, whenever he has scored heavily he has always been a joy to watch.

How many innings has that man created which will remain in our memory for years and years? I would say each and every 'big' Brian Lara innings are for the history books. But many a huge Tendulkar innings there are, there are not much which deserve to be called classic. Great players, when they play, they play great innings. And by the way was cricket meant to be played just for record books, or was it meant to give unlimited pleasures to the fans?
Srijan, Nepal

Kudos to the courage of Wisden to rank Murali as the best bowler EVER

Ch V Kalyan, India

It's hard to see Kapil's name missing from the top bowlers list. He is one of the best bowlers who had bowl mostly on flat Indian pitches and still get so many wickets. He was very important to his country because unlike other bowlers he did not have a good bowling partner.
Elango, India

At least Wisden put Hadlee second, but I'd put him first: because he was a perfectionist. He bowled an immaculate line and length, and unlike any other bowler I've seen, could always put the ball exactly where he wanted it.
Bruce, New Zealand

Kudos to the courage of Wisden to rank Murali as the best bowler EVER. I am sure that he is the best bowler of this era of cricket and much better than the highly praised Shane Warne (120+ of his 470 wickets are against England!) But, is he the best ever? I am not sure, the only reason because there is no parallel to Bradman in bowling. Joel Garner, Hadlee, Wasim, Imran, Kapil, Walsh will all come close to Murali.
Ch V Kalyan, India

My favourite is Curtly Ambrose of the West Indies, or maybe Michael Holding or maybe even Malcom Marshall.
Rob Hutchinson, England

Unless you go by statistics alone you can only comment on the players of your own era. My era was from the seventies onwards and I would go for Sunil Gavaskar. A man who lifted a nation by its bootstraps and helped India establish themselves as a real force in world cricket.

I think he was a big factor in India believing that they could really compete. Add in the fact that at the time he retired he was the top Test run scorer, with over 10,000 runs, and still holds the record for Test centuries. A real pocket battleship.
Sanjay, UK

There is no-one better than the one and only Kapil Dev

Graham, UK

Let's face it Tendulkar is the best batsman EVER and the best bowler has to be Joel Garner.
Kash, UK

Tendulkar he has the grace and flair and the determination to match any. With respect to the bowlers the best must obviously be Wasim Akram for the last 15 years he has been the most consistent performer.
Aleet, Bangladesh

Muttiah has taken some 100 wickets against totally poor Test playing nations that Australia refuses to play!
Jimmy Simms, Australia

Viv Richards is the best batsman every time
Razzaqi, Netherlands

Tendulkar is a fantastic talent but to be honest, when it comes to great Indian Test players there is no-one better than the one and only Kapil Dev.

Great in Tests and one-dayers he captained his country to the thrilling World Cup victory of 1983 which culminated in bowling the Windies out for 140!! He had the great talent of Tendulkar and the reliability of Rahul Dravid making him the dream Indian player.
Graham, UK

It is a great tribute to Muralitharan who has gone through terrible times

Taumal, Japan

It's great to see Murali getting this recognition considering all he had to go through to get here. I still think the best is yet to come. If he does not get more than 750 Test wickets I'll eat my hat.
Thushara, UK

Wisden has got it right this time. Excluding Bradman, Sachin and Murali deserve to be at the top. Some egoistic Aussies may beg to differ. Shane Warne's exclusion is no surprise considering his poor record on spinner friendly Indian tracks. Good work Wisden!
Srinivas Krishnaswamy, India

It is a great tribute to Muralitharan who has gone through terrible times in the past. His record speaks for itself and the selection is perfect.

About Bradman - well, I have not seen him playing but if you take a look at the Test average of more than 99, it does not take too much time to agree with the selection. BR> Taumal, Japan

He will surely go on to take 600 maybe 700 Test wickets. But I fully expect the anti-subcontinent brigade to be out in force on this site, whingeing about his action, even though it has been cleared by the ICC.
Nick Toye, UK

Hard to argue with as this is just based on statistics and certainly no-one could possibly argue with Bradman. I think Murali's stats stand out way ahead of the rest but there will of course be those who will be biased.

I'd like to have seen a category for all-rounders though as it doesn't really measure the likes of Sobers or Botham to rate them separately for batting and bowling.
David, UK

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27 Jul 01 | Cricket
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