The best batsman since Bradman

Published : 11:37 pm  June 17, 2014 | No comments so far |  |  (4656) reads | 

A new contender throws his hat in the ring

15SangakkaraBestIt’s been debated ever since he retired in 1948, but who is the best batsman since Don Bradman last played?

Names like Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Barry Richards, Graham Gooch and Greg Chappell get thrown around, based on records, performances and character, with 200-Test run machine Tendulkar the popular choice as Bradman’s heir.

But after his 36th Test ton and ascension to fourth on the most Test centuries list, Kumar Sangakkara’s name must join the debate.

The Sri Lankan now averages 58.53 through 123 Tests, and among those to have played 25 Tests or more, is bettered by only Bradman, England pair Herbert Sutcliffe and Ken Barrington and West Indian Everton Weekes.

Highest career batting averages, min. 25 matches

M

I

NO

Runs

Ave

HS

100s

Don Bradman (Aus)

52

80

10

6996

99.94

334

29

Herbert Sutcliffe (Eng)

54

84

9

4555

60.73

194

16

Ken Barrington (Eng)

82

131

15

6806

58.67

256

20

Everton Weekes (WI)

48

81

5

4455

58.61

207

15

Kumara Sangakkara (SL)

123*

210

17

11298

58.53

319

36

Sangakkara is in elite company, but when you break down his statistics a little further and remove the games when he was the designated wicketkeeper, the results are astonishing.

Sangakkara career

M

Runs

Ave

HS

100s

As wicketkeeper

48

3117

40.48

230

7

As batsman

75

8181

70.52

319

29

Total

123*

11298

58.53

319

36

The burden of wicketkeeping clearly hampered his output as a batsman, but nobody could have predicted he would be such a prolific run scorer without the gloves.

Statistically, Sangakkara is practically peerless (except for Bradman) as a batsman only, and dominates all of the modern greats over the past 15 years, including names like Tendulkar (53.78), Ponting (51.85), Kallis (55.37), Lara (52.88), Dravid (52.31), Yousuf (52.29) and Chanderpaul (52.19), to name a few.

Playing as a batsman, Sangakkara has been ruthless against all opposition, home and away. He’s ‘struggled’ against England, averaging 43.80 in nine Tests, but has feasted on the two bottom-ranked Test nations, plundering Bangladesh (124.00) and Zimbabwe (140.50), while he enjoys the spinning wickets his country produces more than anywhere in the world.

Sangakkara the batsman v opposition

M

Runs

Ave

HS

100s

v Australia

7

764

63.66

192

1

v Bangladesh

10

1612

124.00

319

7

v England

9

657

43.80

152

3

v India

9

937

66.92

219

4

v New Zealand

8

606

55.09

156*

3

v Pakistan

15

1803

75.12

211

6

v South Africa

9

1079

63.47

287

3

v West Indies

6

442

55.25

150

1

v Zimbabwe

2

281

140.25

270

1

Sangakkara the batsman at home, away and neutral venues

M

Runs

Ave

HS

100s

Home

39

4283

77.87

287

16

Away

30

3216

64.32

319

11

Neutral

6

682

62.00

211

2

As a batsman he’s an automatic selection in any world team, but Sangakkara is still seen as a wicketkeeper-batsman, so how does he stack up against his rivals with the gloves?

Highest Test averages for designated wicketkeepers, min. 2000 runs

M

Runs

Ave

HS

100s

Andy Flower (Zim)

55

4404

53.70

192

12

Adam Gilchrist (Aus)

96

5570

47.60

204

17

Les Ames (Eng)

44

2387

43.40

149

8

Matt Prior (Eng)

75

3920

40.83

131*

7

Kumar Sangakkara (SL)

48

3117

40.48

230

7

MS Dhoni (Ind)

83

4459

38.77

224

6

Brad Haddin (Aus)

57

3033

35.26

169

4

Alec Stewart (Eng)

82

4540

34.92

173

6

Brendon McCullum (NZ)

52

2803

34.18

185

5

The table above shows why Adam Gilchrist is often the preferred wicketkeeper in world teams, averaging 47.60 with a strike rate of 81.95, yet such is his overall record, Sangakkara is becoming a near irresistible choice when the ‘best since Bradman’ debate inevitably emerges.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia