Vivian Richards: Most destructive batsman of all time, and in a time when attacking style of batting was not common. In the modern times, we had the pleasure of watching the likes of Gilchrist, Sehwag, Jaysurya, and occasionally Shahid Afridi destroying the bowling attacks, but none of them are known to be as intimidating as Vivian Richards. To have the fastest test hundred of all time with an average of more than 50, and in one dayers, an average of 47 runs at a strike rate of more than 90 speaks volume about the caliber of the man. None of psl points table the above mentioned destructive batsmen have an average of more than 40 compared to 47 by Vivian Richards. In fact many other great batsmen have less average than Viv’s 47 and far lower strike rate compared to Viv’s strike rate of 90. He never changed his batting style irrespective of the state of the match. Without an iota of doubt there has not been a greater batsman than Vivian Richards in one day format of the game. In tests too, he averaged 50 runs scoring those runs at a blistering pace. He was also an exceptional fielder and bowled occasionally. One of the greatest fast bowler of his time Imran Khan has said that Vivian Richards is the only batsman who has frightened him. Nobody else in the history of the game could play like Vivian and hence is probably the greatest batsman of all time save Don Bradman and thus he deserved fourth place in the list of the greatest cricketers of all time.
5. Adam Gilchrist: As a batsman, Adam Gilchrist was almost a Vivian Richards. In addition he would double up as a wicketkeeper. In that sense I was tempted to put Gilchrist ahead of Vivian Richards, but Viv being such an intimidating batsman and in those times when attacking style of play was not so common, I went with Viv at #4. Nonetheless, Adam Gilchrist is one of the greatest cricketers of all time. Adam Gilchrist has one of the highest strike rates in both forms of the game and has an average to match the greats of the game. Adam Gilchrist was one of the main reasons for the domination of the Australian cricket for the last decade and half. Adam Gilchrist was one of the three key players in the talent-laden Australian team. As a wicket-keeper batsman if someone can bat like Adam Gilchrist, he is definitely going to add substantially to the strength of the team. He played some of the breathtaking innings in his career. His blistering hundred against Sri Lanka in the 2007 World cup, which Australia eventually won, the innings he played in the semi-final of the IPL edition that his team eventually won, the innings at Mumbai in the first edition of the IPL, and his fastest test hundred off 57 balls, which is the second fastest hundred in the history of the game behind the ultimate Vivian Richard’s 56 ball hundred, and many such innings make you wonder if the Gilchrist was the greatest cricketer of all time.
6. Wasim Akram: Wasim Akram is one of those dream cricketers that even the great cricketers would like to reborn as a cricketer. Wasim is considered as the most naturally talented bowler by many former greats like Allan Donald and Mohammad Azharuddin. It is said that he could bowl six different types of balls in one over. With the bat he was capable of turning the game with his explosive batting. Those two wickets on successive deliveries in the 1992 world cup final against England at a very important stage of the game pushed England totally out of the game. What an occasion to produce probably the best two deliveries of his entire career. You can expect the greatest cricketers to rise to the occasion at the greatest stage. You see a player like Adam Gilchrist playing those extraordinary knocks on big stages like the World cup 2007 against Sri Lanka and sealing the win for his team. Wasim Akram is also the only bowler in the history of the game to have captured hat-tricks as many as four times in his International career. Wasim Akram has often won games for Pakistan singlehandedly. He formed a threatening bowling combination with Waqar Younis, and they together tormented many a batting line-ups. He was probably the greatest bowler of his time with the other one being McGrath. McGrath himself described Wasim Akram as a greater bowler than himself. If he was as great a bowler as McGrath and if you consider what he could do with the bat, and you know the value of Wasim Akram as a cricketer. In the 1992 World cup final before turning the match with his two magic balls, he was instrumental in setting a challenging total with his timely and explosive batting when he scored 33 runs off just 19 balls coming towards the close of innings. What a grand occasion for man of Wasim’s caliber to rise for his team and his country. Many people might not know Wasim also hit a timely six to win the Nehru cup for Pakistan. Many people knew about Miandad hitting a six off the last ball to win when four runs were required off the last ball of the innings. In the Nehru cup final, Pakistan required six runs to win from the last two balls, and Wasim Akram hit a six off the first of those two balls and won the cup for Pakistan.
7. Richard Hadlee: Inarguably the greatest of all New Zealand cricketers till date. One of the greats of all time who could make the grade to any great XI only for his bowling. New Zeeland had a very few match winners in their ranks when Richard Hadlee was around, and it was more often than not that Hadlee was their match winner. Richard Hadlee brought as many laurels to New Zeeland cricket as any of the other greatest cricketers of all time have brought to their own country. One of the ten greatest bowlers of all time. Plus, he was also more than handy with the bat, and perhaps one of the better batsmen in that New Zeeland team. One of the four great all rounders of 70s and 80s. Richard Hadlee was considered by many as the best bowler among the four great all-rounders of his time. Richard Hadlee was capable of creating havoc with his bowling. He also won and saved matches for New Zeeland with his batting. Overall, a very capable match winner.
8. Jacques Kallis: Some consider him to be the greatest cricketer of all time ahead of Gary Sobers, and there are others who rate him as the greatest cricketer from South Africa. Kallis is like a Rahul Dravid and Srinath combined into one unit. Besides being a technically sound, dependable batsman and a useful bowler, Kallis is an excellent fielder. Kallis gives South Africa an additional fast bowler besides being the lynchpin in the batting line up. Kallis has carried the South African team quietly and steadily for around decade-and-half and looks good enough to continue for at least another two to three years. By the time he retires his statistics could be monumental. To give a more significant picture one statistic that could more vital is that he has a higher average in both test and one day cricket than Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar. Given that Sachin bats as an opener in one dayers and Kallis bats in the middle order, and for Kallis to have a greater average than Sachin Tendulkar is quite remarkable. Kallis though lacks on the flair aspect one day game, but has played crucial role in success of their one day unit. Jacques Kallis is also an outstanding fielder. He is a regular slip fielder for South African and I still remember his catch in Sharjah playing against Pakistan running from somewhere near extracover to almost near the boundary and then actually having to jump at the last minute to cover the distance with the ball and hold onto it. A Gary Sobers of different type.