Jatin Shekhar and Raj Sharan Singh                                                         25th July 2018

There has always been a debate about being the best in the longest format of the game. Is it Sachin Tendulkar or Sir Don Bradman or Brian Lara or Ricky Ponting??? SportsArena11 has reopened the debate on best batsman in the history of test cricket

The debate always revolved around certain key factors including:

  1. Era/Generation of players in which they have played the game
  2. Performance of batsman against each test playing nation in home and foreign conditions
  3. Career stretch

SportsArena11 has come up with a formula by taking all the above factors into consideration. The derived formula is shown below:


You must be wondering how this above stated formula has been derived. Answer is very simple; all the above key factors are considered and weightage was assigned to each component. It is divided into three segments:

  1. Average (includes performance in home and foreign conditions and in each inning (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings) of a test match)
  2. Cricket Rating (Highest rating ever achieved by a batsman throughout his career)
  3. Longevity (includes number of innings played by the batsman throughout his career in all the countries and all the innings)

Calculation of Country Wise Innings Index

To become the best in the world you not only have to perform in your home country but on foreign soil as well. Hence, more weightage is given to the performance of the players on foreign soil. This demands a unique way of calculating the average of the players in different countries. All the host countries are divided into Spin (India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and Bangladesh) and Pace (Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand) friendly nations. West Indies has conditions favorable to spin as well as pace. Hence, is neutral.

The conditions are not that favorable for the players of “pace friendly” nations when they visit Indian subcontinent (spin friendly countries) and struggle to adjust to the conditions and vice versa. Hence, if a player performs well in adverse conditions, then obviously the player has a greater temperament and should get additional weightage for his performance. Now we come to the players who have played lesser innings in some of the countries and have performed well which has boosted their average significantly or have under-performed in the only inning that has hampered their average against that country. The above table signifies the difficulty level amongst all countries. The weightage is given to each player for their performance across the world. To nullify this, specific weightage has been given to the number of innings they have played in that country. If they have played less than 5 innings in a country then only 0.1 weightage would be multiplied with their average. More the number of innings more is the weightage. Obviously, the criteria is different for the players in their home conditions (every 20 innings constitute 0.1 weightage).

To calculate a batsman’s country wise performance, we need to multiply batsman’s average in that country with the batting difficulty for him in those conditions. At this moment, according to the analysis, the Average Index without considering the number of innings for Hammond, Bradman and Steve Smith was 105.67, 95.62 and 92.30 respectively. However, taking the number of innings played in respective countries into consideration, Country Wise Average Index is measured. This yielded a surprising change in the picture as Bradman (49.25) who was leading the charts followed by Lloyd (31.51) and Sachin (30.51) way behind him. Next three positions are held by the three West Indies legends Sobers, Richards and Greenidge.

Calculation of Innings Wise Average Index

Test match is all about temperament and the actual test comes when you have to save a test match for your country in the 4th innings on the last day of a test when the severity of conditions are at its peak. Hence, in this analysis extra weightage is added to the average of players in 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings (1.1, 1.3 and 1.5 to be multiplied with average) respectively. This Weighted Average Innings Index should be measured for each inning. Further, the Innings Wise Average Index is computed by taking mean of all the four Weighted Average Innings Indices. From this, the likes of Dravids, Pontings and Borders were visible; however, Tendulkar was leading the charts this time with a score of 55.07. Kallis (48.57) and Ponting (46.46) came distant second and third. By taking the average of both innings wise and country wise, we got the Net Average Index for all the players.

Calculation of Performance Index

The rankings are incomplete if the cricket ratings given by the ICC are not included. Player ratings are divided by 1000, which gives Rating Index. If multiplied by Net Average Index, it gives the Performance Index.

Rankings generated are based on performance index of each player. This helped in calculating the best batsman in the history of test cricket. It is none other than ‘Master Blaster’ Sachin Tendulkar with a performance index of 38.43. Sir Don Bradman was the close second with a score of 37.87, followed by Kallis and Dravid at 3rd and 4th positions respectively with scores of 34.12 and 32.73. It was a surprise when Lara was down at 10th position. Such is the level of competition for the top place. Below is the list for top 10 players:

Fab four of this generation

You must be speculating where the current generation players stand in the list. Using the same criteria, the Performance Index of the fab four of this generation (Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Joe root and Kane Williamson) was calculated. All four of them are giving neck-to-neck competition to each other to climb up the ladder.

Steve Smith is leading as far as this battle is concerned and is on 38th position (18.01) in the all-time list followed by Joe Root on 41st position (16.73). On 44th and 47th, we have Kohli (15.25) and Williamson (14.71).

A long way to go for all these players… They have the potential to become the best in the world. All they need to do is to be more consistent and perform well in all the conditions. A tough ask from the cricketers of this generation because of their busy schedule and the focus that has shifted to the shorter version of the game, T20 cricket. 

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