I had planned to publish this article after Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement. However, he is still going strong and shows no signs of tiring after 23 years of international cricket. The first point is to conclude whether such a comparison is justifiable because all three played cricket at different times and had to face different conditions. For this reason alone, it is brave to make a comparison of who was the greatest hitter of all time. First, let’s take a brief look at their careers.
Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards was probably the most destructive batsman of all time. He played his pulverizing shots against the best bowlers of his time and crushed them into submission. Viv Richards made his test debut in 1974 and was immediately recognized as a brilliant fielder. As well as being a deceptive bowler, the man was easily the most devastating batsman of all time. His batting gained an aura due to his arrogant and aggressive presence on the field and his arrogance as he walked while batting. This clearly told the opponents that the King was here and that they had better be careful. The term “master blaster” was coined to describe Viv Richards. He played 121 Test matches and scored 8,540 runs, an average of 50.23 over 24 centuries. He still holds the record for the fastest Test century in history, which he scored on 56 balls against the United Kingdom during their 1986 tour of the West Indies. He was also a member of the famous West Indies team of the 1970s, which won the first two One-Day International World Cups. His batting style and his versatility as a part-time fielder and bowler made him an ideal one-day player. He scored his runs in one day internationals with an average of 47 and a strike rate of 96. He also collected over 100 wickets in one day matches. In 2002, Wisden named him the greatest ODI batsman of all time. He was also the most successful West Indies captain of all time and never lost a series of tests as captain.
In 1976, the West Indies would visit England for a long-awaited Test series. The England captain at the time, in a bravado, declared in the media that he would make the West Indies team crawl with misery. Grovel is a term associated with slavery and the statement was not well received by the public, the media and, least of all, the West Indies cricket team. What followed that statement made history as the West Indies annihilated the English team with their Michael Holding-led four-point attack and Viv was at her devastating best. He scored over 1,000 runs in the series with a superb 291 at the Oval to finish things off. West Indies won the series 3-0 and Tony Grieg later said that he was the one who felt like crawling off the field. In my opinion, Viv was the best batsman ever against genuine fast bowlers and he showed almost contempt against the best like Imran Khan and Dennis Lille as he hooked and pulled their short pitches with tremendous power. Remember these were the times when helmets were yet to come and finally when they came Richards refused to wear them saying he didn’t need them. Viv Richards retired in 1991 from both forms of international cricket. If you ask any cricketer of his generation who was the greatest batsman of all time, he will invariably say that it was Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards.
Don Bradman is rated by most as the greatest hitter of all time. He holds a record that can be considered as the greatest sporting achievement in any sport. There are no prizes for guessing right; his winning average in a test match was 99.96. How he practiced with a golf ball and a single cricket stick are stories that are part of Australian folklore. During the great depression years, he lit up the cricket fields with several records that stand to this day. Him taking it out was equivalent to taking out three batters. Like Viv Richards and Sachin Tendulkar, he drew huge crowds. However, the man was a complex person and did not mix easily with the team members. However, his opinions were highly sought after, even after his retirement. Bradman scored 29 million in 52 games. That’s a hundred every two games, actually, which is incredible. For another incredible record, he hit 12 double hundreds out of 29. He even hit three double hundreds in a single Test series against arch-enemy England in 1930. He made centuries in six Test matches in a row. He is also the fastest to reach 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 and 6,000 runs in Test cricket. He fell short of 7,000 runs by four runs. This was, by the way, because of that failure in his last appearance in the test, when he fell in love with a duck and returned to the pavilion half laughing at the irony.
The only test series he acted in next was the much-maligned bodyline series. On a visit to Australia in 1931, English captain Douglas Jardine devised a technique called a bodyline, primarily to stop the running machine named Don Bradman. Working on an observation made during an inning by Bradman in England, he decided to attack Bradman with short-pitch bowling. He, along with the selectors, chose three fast bowlers for the tour directed by Harold Larwood and Bill Voce. This tactic worked well against the Aussies and Bradman. Although Bradman hit just a hundred to set up an Aussie victory, they won only that single test match in the series. The Australians were defeated in the series. Bradman’s hitting style changed forever. There was a lot of buzz about the tactic and a lot has been written about it. However, when he tried to imagine Viv Richards in the Don’s shoes, he felt the tactic would have failed. Viv probably would have hit half of the short pitches in the stands. This is conjecture, of course, but food for thought nonetheless. This weakness against short pitch bowling is the only flaw that can be found in Bradman’s repertoire.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, in my opinion, is the best overall batsman of all time. I will rate Bradman ahead of Sachin in testing and Viv Richards as a combined number one in one day testing with Sachin. There is a lot written about the little teacher from India and I can only add one point that Sachin is not discussed much. That’s the balance of him in the crease. He appears to be putting little effort into his footwork, yet he gets into position so quickly that he is deadly effective and combined with the sheer talent, there is no more complete batsman in his boxing abilities and never has. been. Sachin has been around for 23 years in international cricket and bowlers are still looking for a weakness they can exploit. His record of 100 international centuries is unlikely to ever be broken, as is Sir Don Bradman’s 99.96 batting average. He has broken virtually every batting record and continues to play at the top level. The hunger for runs has not abated after 23 years of tough international cricket. I think readers of this article should go to Wiki or other similar standard pages to see the list of Sachin’s records. He has acquired so many that I cannot list them here. However, it is important to note that he got the most tests/centuries and the most hundreds/centuries of a day. Would Bradman have been able to make the necessary mental and technical adjustments to continue to play so much cricket and against so many quality opposition teams? Well, we’ll never know for sure, but I think not. Therefore, at the risk of facing much dissent, I rate Sachin number one and Sir Don an extremely close number two.
Several other hitters have come very close to these three in their claims as the best hitter. These include Walter Hammond, Garfield Sobers, Len Hutton, Brian Lara, etc. However, these three players have been the most effective for their teams and remain the best hitters of all time.