The likes of Jack Hobbs, Don Bradman, Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar and many more batsmen dominated world cricket during their eras. However, it was only in 1987 that the ranking system was brought in. Since then, a lot of players have reached the top of the rankings and dominated.
The likes of Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson are currently battling it out to reign supreme in the longest format. Smith is topping the charts at the moment. However, there were a lot of players who ruled at the top of the ICC rankings for batsmen.
Thus, here are five such batsmen who dominated the rankings in Test format:
Kumar Sangakkara (2007, 2010-2012)
Kumar Sangakkara is a leader of all sorts of batting charts in Sri Lankan cricket. He is the leading run-getter in Test cricket (12400 runs) and ODI cricket (14234 runs). He also has scored in excess of 1000 runs in the shortest format. However, it was in the longest format that Sangakkara was the best.
In fact, he averaged 57.40 in Test cricket in a career that spanned for over a decade and a half. In December 2007, the Sri Lankan made it to the top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time which he soon lost. However, a couple of years later, he was back at the top and this time around, he dominated it for nearly three years. In 2009, he was in a battle with Gautam Gambhir for the No. 1 spot but from 2010, he completely owned the position.
Sangakkara scored a truckload of runs in the four-year period. In each of the years from 2009 to 2012, the left-hander was among the top run-getters in Test cricket. He struck 10 Test hundreds as well during this time. Hence, it was only towards the end of 2012 Sangakkara lost the No. 1 ranking to Michael Clarke. There were a couple of other instances of him losing the No. 1 ranking in between but he regained it back pretty quickly.
Ricky Ponting (2003, 2005-2007)
Ricky Ponting is perhaps Australia’s most successful captain. Moreover, he was outstanding at No. 3 and dominated world cricket for quite a few years. In fact, for the most part of the first decade of the 21st century, Ponting dominated batting charts across formats.
The former Australian captain may not have been at the top of the ICC Rankings for long but he was always in and around that. He churned out runs for fun. Ponting scored 32 Test hundreds in that decade as he led the batting charts between 2000 and 2009. Out of his 13378 runs in Test cricket, 9458 of them came in the aforementioned period.
However, Ponting reached the No. 1 position on the ICC Test rankings in 2003. But it was only in 2005 when he regained the pole position, he dominated at that spot. The former Australian skipper plundered 2877 runs across 25 Test matches in 2005 and 2006 before a slight loss in form and injury halted his charge. Hence, he lost the No. 1 ranking and never got it back.
Steve Smith (2015-2018, 2019)
The way Steve Smith is batting and piling up the runs, it looks nearly impossible to stop him. There are a lot of comparisons with Sir Don Bradman and in fact, many term him the second-best ever in Test cricket after Bradman. His Test average of 64.56 certainly suggests so.
Smith has been in smashing form over the last few years in the longest format. His juggernaut started in 2014 where he averaged 81.86 while amassing 1146 in just nine Tests (17 innings). Since then, he’s gone through three more calendar years where he’s scored in excess of 1000 runs. Between 2014 and 2018, the former Aussie skipper smashed 21 Test hundreds. In fact, he never averaged anything less than 71 in the four calendar years (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017).
It was in 2015 when he ascended to the top as he overtook AB de Villiers to that position. Smith held the numero uno for long before a 12-month ban kept him out of Test cricket. However, in just a couple of Test matches after his ban, he was back to ruling at the top of the ICC rankings overtaking his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli. He’s had a fabulous Ashes and has scored runs everywhere.
AB de Villiers (2013-2015)
Perhaps, AB de Villiers was one of the most versatile and adaptive batsmen of the modern era. He was one of those players who could even play out 300 balls in Test cricket or even hit a 20-ball fifty in the shorter formats.
There was no situation, no shot, no form of cricket, de Villiers couldn’t play. Moreover, he mastered it all and kept producing jaw-dropping moments throughout his career. De Villiers was a slightly underrated Test cricketer. All the 360-degree shots he played in white-ball cricket were simply magnificent. However, his Test game, technique and temperament were spot on as well.
In 2013, the South African star ascended to the top after some consistent performances. In fact, a few months after that, de Villiers also became the No. 1 ODI batsman. Hence, the former Proteas skipper ruled as captain for the No. 1 position for more than two years.
Sachin Tendulkar (1994, 1998-2000)
It may come as a surprise that Sachin Tendulkar has never really dominated the ICC Test rankings. The master blaster played for 24 years in international cricket and is statistically, the best batsman to have played the game. No player has more runs than him in ODI or Test cricket.
On multiple occasions, Tendulkar was the one-man army for India. He often carried the team on his shoulders, especially in the 1990s. He was batting on a different level in the last decade of the 20th century. Thus, he first got to the No. 1 rankings in Test cricket in 1994.
1998 will forever be remembered for those two ‘Desert Storm’ knocks but he was brilliant in Test cricket as well. He averaged 80.88 in that calendar year. He continued to dominate Test cricket and regained the No. 1 rank in the ICC rankings. The runs kept flowing and Tendulkar held on to the top position. However, towards the end of 1999, Brian Lara took over. But the Mumbaikar gained it back in the next year.
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