Wisden names Bradman, Murali as the top Test players in history

Guyana Chronicle
December 14, 2002

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LONDON, England (Reuters) - Don Bradman and Muttiah Muralitharan have been named as the top Test players in history by cricket bible Wisden.

Its ranking of the 100 best batsmen and bowlers was published yesterday after an exhaustive analysis of every single Test match and is sure to provoke equally thorough debate among cricket fans.

While Bradman's batting supremacy was never in doubt -- no one has come close to his average of 99.94 -- Muralitharan's position is certain to attract comment following the controversy over the Sri Lankan's bowling action.

Bradman was followed by Sachin Tendulkar of India, Vivian Richards and fellow West Indian Gary Sobers -- no mean bowler with 235 wickets as well. Australia's Allan Border, with the most Test career runs with 11 174, was fifth.

Brian Lara of West Indies was the only other current player apart from Tendulkar at the top of the listings, ranked 10th, with Australia skipper Steve Waugh at 16th and Rahul Dravid at 21st.

The list was compiled after every Test was analysed while taking such factors as the strength of opposition and the importance of each performance. Players were also rewarded for consistency over long careers.

That attention to detail highlighted some fascinating issues. Tendulkar overtook Bradman's 29 Test centuries earlier this year but Wisden.com editor Steven Lynch pointed out: ``Not one of his (31) centuries amassed enough points to break into the top 100 of the individual innings ratings.''

Muralitharan, whose bent-arm action led to him being called for throwing in Australia in 1995-6 and 1998-9 and who still divides opinion among experts and opponents, headed New Zealand's fast bowler Richard Hadlee with England's Sydney Barnes, who bowled a unique brand of spin at pace in the early 1900s, in third.

Australia's Shane Warne came next while Courtney Walsh, the world record holder for Test wickets with 519, was 10th.

Lynch called Muralitharan ``the lone wolf of Sri Lankan cricket,'' pointing out he had taken 45 per cent of his team's wickets whenever taking the field. The next Sri Lankan bowler, Muralitharan's team mate Chaminda Vaas, was ranked 84th.

Muralitharan, indeed, with 437 Test wickets to date, bowling a peculiar brand of wrist and finger spin, complained earlier this year while touring England: ``There is so much pressure on me because I have to take all the wickets. I can't bowl a miracle spell every time.''

India's left-arm spinner Bishen Bedi, himself 31st in the Wisden list, criticised Muralitharan's action earlier this year, saying: ``How can you call it bowling? He has no follow through and he makes no use of his shoulders. And with an open-chested action like that, you can't possibly be round-arm ... perhaps he would have made a good javelin thrower.''

Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath joined Muralitharan and Warne as the other current bowler in the top 10, coming in at six, one place ahead of fellow Australian Dennis Lillee.

Malcolm Marshall of West Indies and Imran Khan of Pakistan, two men who could also contribute impressively with the bat, came in at eight and nine.

1. Don Bradman (Australia)

2. Sachin Tendulkar (India)

3. Vivian Richards (West Indies)

4. Garry Sobers (West Indies)

5. Alan Border (Australia)

6. Jack Hobbs (England)

7. Ken Barrington (England)

8. Sunil Gavaskar (India)

9. Greg Chappell (Australia)

10. Brian Lara (West Indies)


1. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)

2. Richard Hadlee (New Zealand)

3. Sydney Barnes (England)

4. Shane Warne (Australia)

5. Clarrie Grimmett (Australia)

6. Glenn McGrath (Australia)

7. Dennis Lillee (Australia)

8. Malcolm Marshall (West Indies)

9. Imran Khan (Pakistan)

10. Courtney Walsh (West Indies)

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