It’s been a decade where batting has got difficult in Test cricket. With pitches being a lot more result-oriented and bowlers having their say, batsmen have struggled at times. But there have been a few batsmen who have come out on top and dominated as well.
The last 10 years have been about big retirements and players coming in to fill that void. The likes of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar and other big Indian batsmen bid adieu to the game while the likes of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and the others have come in to fill in the big shoes.
Same way, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and that batch of Sri Lankan batsmen have also hung up their boots. Similarly, the likes of Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting, AB de Villiers and other big superstars have bid adieu to the game.
However, they all played a part in Test cricket in this decade. Thus, as the 2010s-decade comes to an end, we look back and rate the top 10 Test batsmen:
10. Cheteshwar Pujara
In a decade or rather era where slam-bang cricket has been the trend, Cheteshwar Pujara has made a name for himself by blocking opponents out. His game is largely based on his defence where he blocks most of the deliveries at the start of his innings. However, once he gets his eye in and tires the bowlers, Pujara cashes in.
The current India Test No. 3 made his debut in October 2010 against Australia and scored a quick 72 helping India to chase down 207 on the final day. Once Rahul Dravid bid adieu to the game, Pujara filled in the big void and showed great temperament which drew comparisons with ‘The Wall’.
However, there were ups and downs throughout the decade for Pujara. He was even dropped from the side on a couple of instances, only to come back with a bang. In this decade, he has scored 5740 runs at an average of 49.48 which includes 18 tons. Moreover, Pujara has faced more than 12,000 deliveries in Test cricket.
9. David Warner
Back when David Warner first burst on to the scene and played in the IPL, Virender Sehwag had told him that he would be a better Test player than a T20 player. And Sehwag is not too wrong with his judgement. Warner has had a brilliant decade as far as Test cricket is concerned.
The Australian opener has the fifth-most runs in the longest format since January 2010. He has amassed 6947 runs at an average of 48.58. He’s scored 23 hundreds and 30 half-centuries. He is second on most counts in the batting charts when only Australian Test players are considered.
The left-hander has invariably given Australia a flying start. His strike-rate of 73.60 is the third-best (for any player with more than 1000 runs) in this decade behind Tim Southee (88.25) and Sehwag (87.43). However, his away average is 34.50 which underlines struggles outside Australia. Hence, he is at No. 9.
8. Hashim Amla
If it was not for the slump Hashim Amla had in the last couple of years, he would’ve definitely been a lot higher in the ratings. Despite averaging a mere 26.88 since the start of 2018, Amla is the sixth-highest run-getter in the 2010s-decade. He has been South Africa’s premier Test batsman before he hung up his boots earlier this year.
Amla made 6695 runs at an average of 49.96 and was South Africa’s leading run-getter in the longest format. Between 2010 and 2017, he averaged more than 47 every year except 2015. It was in those years that he scored all his 23 Test hundreds in this decade.
However, the dip in form started in 2018 and Amla never got back to his best. Thus, he sits at No. 8 among the top 10 Test best batsmen of this decade.
7. Younis Khan
Younis Khan was the pillar of Pakistan cricket for more than 17 years. He was the rock in the middle and was a consistent performer across conditions. In this decade, he largely played only Test cricket.
However, he may not have the most Test runs by a Pakistan batsman but he was arguably Pakistan’s best batsman. Along with Misbah, Younis was Pakistan’s crisis man. He retired in 2017 and the Test team still hasn’t been able to fill that void.
The veteran made 4839 runs at an average of 54.37 in this decade. And barring Misbah-ul-Haq, no other Pakistan batsman even comes close to that average. Younis has one of the best conversion rates as well. Out of his 30 fifty-plus scores in this decade, he converted 18 of those to hundreds.
6. AB de Villiers
If you look at stats, you will find that AB de Villiers has been among the best all-format batsmen in this decade. He’s performed consistently in every format and has had a significant impact. People talk about his white-ball exploits but his performances in Test cricket are no less either.
De Villiers averages 57.48 while amassing 5058 runs in the 2010s-decade in Test cricket. He scored 13 tons and 27 half-centuries. Moreover, he took a break from the longest format for almost two years before returning in December 2017.
In fact, he was changing the course of the game despite missing quite a bit of Test cricket. De Villiers was the game-changer in multiple Tests in early 2018 against India and Australia. However, he shocked the world in May 2018 when he decided to bid adieu to international cricket. But he still remains one of the best Test batsmen in this decade.
5. Kumar Sangakkara
Kumar Sangakkara may have played only till 2015 but dominated batting charts till the time he played. In fact, he did so across all formats and has been one of the leading run-getters for Sri Lanka despite missing the second half of the decade.
He was on top of the ODI batting charts for the decade as well and now, he’s on top of the Test batting charts as well. As far as Sri Lankans are concerned, only Angelo Mathews has more Test runs than Sangakkara in the 2010s-decade. The veteran left-hander has scored 4851 runs in 46 games.
He averages 61.40 since January 2010 which is the third-best for any player who has more than 1000 runs in the mentioned period. He has even scored 17 hundreds and 20 fifties. Thus, he is among the best Test batters of this decade.
4. Kane Williamson
He may not hog the limelight like some of the other premier batsmen of the world but Kane Williamson is one of the best batsmen in the world at the moment. He is one of the most consistent batsmen across format and Test cricket is his best format. The current New Zealand skipper has the most runs for a New Zealand batsman in Test cricket.
Williamson has aggregated 6322 runs at an average of 52.68. Moreover, despite making his Test debut in 2010, he already has the most hundreds for the Kiwis in the longest format. The No. 3 has scored 21 Test tons and is among the six batters who have more than 20 Test tons in this decade.
Barring 2011, Williamson has averaged over 40 in every calendar year. In fact, except 2011 and 2012, he has scored more than 500 runs every year. Thus, he is at No. 4 in this list.
3. Alastair Cook
At one point, there were chances of Alastair Cook going past Sachin Tendulkar’s Test record. If not hundreds, he wasn’t too far as far as runs are concerned. However, the England opener decided to hang up his boots after a slump in 2018.
Cook had a phenomenal start to the decade in Test cricket. He scored in excess of 1200 runs in two out of the first three years of the decade. In fact, between 2010 and 2013, the left-hander made 4379 runs which included 15 tons. There was a slight dip in 2014 before consistency came back and he started scoring big runs again.
In the 2010s-decade, Cook will finish as the highest run-getter in Test cricket. He scored 8818 runs at an average of 46.41. The Essex player registered 23 tons and 37 half-centuries as well. He even faced the most number of balls in Test cricket in this decade.
2. Virat Kohli
It may have taken time him to adapt to Test cricket but once he did, Virat Kohli hasn’t looked back. It was almost three years after his ODI debut that the Delhi lad received his maiden Test cap. However, he wasn’t a hit straight away. He struggled and was on the verge of getting dropped before he scored a career-turning ton in Adelaide in early 2012.
Kohli has been absolutely dominant across conditions. He failed big time in England in 2014 (134 runs in 10 innings) but made amends the next time he toured England as he smashed 593 runs in 10 innings. Be it South Africa, Australia, New Zealand or at home, India’s No. 4 has been fabulous.
He has amassed 7202 runs which is the third-highest since January 2010 and averages 54.97. The current Indian skipper has also scored 27 Test tons which is the most in this decade. Thus, Kohli has been one of the best Test batters in this decade.
1. Steve Smith
There is very little doubt as to who the top Test batsman of this decade is. Despite being number four on the list of most Test runs in the decade, Steve Smith is arguably the best batter in the longest format at the moment and has been through the decade as well.
He has scored 7013 runs and averages 63.75 which is the best for any batsman who has aggregated more than 1000 runs in Test cricket this decade. Smith has scored 26 tons which is the second-most and also, has 27 fifties to go along with that. He has redefined consistency and many term him the greatest Test player since the legendary Sir Don Bradman.
And all this after he started out as a leg-spinner who batted at No. 7 and 8 in 2010. In fact, since the start of 2014, Smith has averaged more than 70 in every calendar year barring 2018 where he played just four Tests. He amassed more than 1000 runs in four successive years before he was banned in 2018 and looks set to breach the 1000-mark this year as well. Thus, he’s been absolutely magnificent in this last decade.