When Sir Don Bradman scored a duck in his last test innings, his career average stood at a whopping 99.94. It has been more than 70 years (He played his last game in 1948) now since the Don last played a Test match. There have been numerous debates since time immemorial as to who is the next greatest batsman after Don Bradman.
The successors who arrived in the 1990’s:
When Sachin Tendulkar started making his presence felt at the international level, Bradman made a statement saying this is the closest he has seen someone bat like him. That in itself was a huge compliment for a youngster like Sachin back then to be compared with the great Don. And to know that he has himself invited the comparison, added more to Tendulkar’s aura.
Brian Lara was another worthy successor to the throne of being the best test batsman. He combined class with flamboyance in equal measure and was easily the West Indies team’s biggest match-winner for over a decade. Both these legends were competing with each other for the crown of the next greatest. While their average in the ’50s doesn’t exactly match up to Bradmanesque standards, these two greats had an outstanding test career.
Other notable contenders:
Jacques Kallis with a test average of 55.4 and 45 centuries under his belt was a true Test legend. Ricky Ponting who at one stage seemed like breaking every possible test record ended his test career with an average of 51.9. Another fabulous test cricketer whose numbers speak for himself is Sri Lankan cricketer, Kumar Sangakkara. He ended his test career at an average of 57.4. In a mighty contest of scoring the maximum double hundreds, Sangakkara was just a bit behind Bradman. As Sangakkara scored 11 and Sir Don Bradman had scored 12 double centuries.
Which player in the current generation comes close to Sir Don Bradman’s average?
With the retirement of batting legends from the ’90s and early 00’s it is now the era of Fab 4. While Joe Root seems to have slipped from the radar. The other 3 (Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson) continue to rack up huge numbers series after series. While Williamson’s averages 51 from 80 tests.
Most of his Test matches are played in New Zealand where bowlers generally tend to dominate. Virat Kohli on the other hand has gone from strength to strength. He holds the record of scoring the maximum number of double centuries (7) among active players. And his batting average sits pretty at 53.6 from 86 test matches. Kohli, amongst all current players who have played a minimum of 50 games across all 3 formats, has the best numbers. He is certainly the best all-format test batsman going around.
But when it comes to Test matches, certainly one player seems to be bossing the game like nobody else. That player is none other than Steven Peter Devereux Smith (Steve Smith). This boyish face batsman loves batting, batting and loves some more batting. His records speak for his quality as a batsman. He has been proficient across conditions. Starting as a leg spinner who could bat lower down the order, Smith has made wonderful progression as a Test Batsman. He currently averages a mind-boggling 62.84 from 73 tests while notching up 26 centuries.
Not to forget that Steve Smith is the fastest to score 7000 runs in Test Cricket. A record that brings him closer to Sir Don Bradman is the fact that he secured a career highest rating of 947 by ICC in men’s batting rankings. This score is second to none other than Sir Don Bradman who holds the record with 961 career-best ratings. It is still a long way to go for him but with age on his side, he can surely challenge the best of both the past and present to claim the successor crown of Sir Don Bradman.