And so we reach the final instalment of our greatest Test batsmen in history countdown.
I think after finishing this top 10, I've added another task to the most impossible list.
Joining licking your elbow, reading with your eyes shut, sneezing with your eyes open, time-traveling, and picking the top 50 greatest Test Batsmen of the last 100 years.
I have added 'naming the top 10 Greatest Test Batsmen of the last 100 years to the list of the most impossible tasks in human history.
After jumping straight into the ring of fire, here it is.
These ten are the crème de la crème.
They have carried the hopes of nations, batted their way through the most difficult scenarios, and forged a career worthy of remembrance.
10. Wally Hammond (England)
For a career that ran parallel with Don Bradman's, Wally Hammond's greatest was found in the fact that the only batsman that could knock him off the number one spot was the Don. When Hammond scored 905 runs at 113 in the 1928/29 Ashes, Bradman scored 974 at 139 in 1930. When Bradman scored 334 at Headingley in 1930, Hammond blasted 336 against New Zealand in 1933, with 34 fours and ten sixes; Hammond fell five runs short of becoming the second batsman after Bradman to score 300 runs in a day.
The pulsating rivalry was constant throughout their careers.
Hammond scored more than 50,000 First-Class runs and scored 34 double-centuries. Only Bradman has more (36).
Blessed with brutal power and striking ability, Hammond broke the mold of the 1920s, a batting mindset of attrition with a capacity to hit boundaries. With a cover drive to match, Hammond enjoyed smashing attacks worldwide.
In 1937, Hammond passed Jack Hobbs' Test runs record of 5410 runs and held the record for more than 30 years, finishing his decorated Test career with 7249 runs.
9. Brian Lara (West Indies)
A highlights package like no other, will there ever be a more exquisite left-hander than Brian Charles Lara?
After gaining worldwide attention with 277 at the SCG against Australia in 1993, Lara reached a new level of batting insanity in 1994 with a six-match patch that would make even Bradman envious.
After breaking the record for the highest Test score against England with 375 off 538 balls, including 45 fours, Lara crossed the seas to the British Isles and became a cricketing immortal for Warwickshire.
In his first five appearances for the county, Lara made consecutive scores of 147, 106, 120 not out, 136, 26, 140, and 501 against Durham.
1551 runs at 258.50 across a six-match period.
No batsmen have ever made that many runs in a six-game period, and in my opinion, no batsmen ever will.
Less than a month after he broke the Test record, Lara went one better and passed Hanif Mohammad's First-Class record of 499 with his 72nd boundary. In seven hours and 58 minutes, Lara became the first-ever quintuple centurion. This feat will never be surpassed.
Across his first decade as the West Indies' number one batsman, Lara made only 15 centuries in 80 Tests with 6533 runs at 47.69.
A good record for any batsman, yet Lara was no ordinary batter.
When fellow legendary West Indian all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers offered advice to Lara's high backlift, the left-hander enjoyed his last seven years of Test cricket with 19 centuries in 51 Tests and 5420 runs at an average of 60.90.
Lara's unquestionable thirst for runs was summarised perfectly in 2003 when he reclaimed his outstanding record of the highest Test score.
Six months after watching Matthew Hayden bludgeon a hapless Zimbabwean outfit, Lara left no stone unturned.
With the pressure of losing the captaincy, Lara had only eyes for the record. He battered a weary English attack that included Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, and Gareth Batty, declaring after 202 overs on 400 not out.
The record was back in Lara's hands, yet the plaudits did not come as many labelled the innings selfish, as the English batted out a draw and won the Test series.
Lara's selfishness resides because he spent most of his career as a 'lone ranger.' Fighting the battles with his blade, Lara topped scored for the West Indies in 27.46% of his Tests, and seven times he scored a century with no other player reaching 50.
Brian Lara was born to make runs.
8. Ricky Ponting (Australia)
Across the Globe, millions of children grew up wanting to play a pull-shot like Ricky Ponting.
Countless modern-day cricketers praise Ponting for their early development as, throughout his career, he showed an ability to score runs off nearly every delivery.
Ponting rose to a new level of divinity in 2002, and for the following 57 Tests, the dangerous 'Punter' and his kookaburra bat made 24 centuries and 6141 runs at 72.25.
During an eight-test period between 2005 and 2006, Ponting reached new levels when he achieved an unprecedented trio of twin centuries. The only other two cricketers to accomplish this feat are Sunil Gavaskar and David Warner.
For all of Ponting's batting success, his record of one century and a batting average of 26 from 14 Tests in India stands out as a sore point, although his form is solid in the sub-continent, with 1889 runs at 41.97.
Even though Ponting lost the 2005 Ashes series, his efforts at Old Trafford in the Third Test stand out. With the series level at 1-1, Australia needed 421 on the last day to win the Test. At 5-182 off 57 overs, Ponting held back his aggressive stroke-making and set about on a mammoth rear-guard effort that lasted 411-minutes, making 156.
Ponting's name was synonymous with the number three. A batting position perfectly fit for Australia's most prolific run-scorer. 'Punter' made 32 of his 41 centuries at first drop and made 9904 runs at 56.27.
7. Sachin Tendulkar (India)
No Cricketer in history faced as much pressure as Sachin Tendulkar.
Like Atlas carrying the Globe, no player in history repeatedly performed for more than 20 years under such duress and pressure; Sachin had the hopes and dreams of one billion people on his shoulders.
Like the Truman show, every Indian felt a part of Tendulkar's life.
The weight of expectation burdened his entire childhood and adolescence.
Earmarked for greatness at 14-years-of-age, he scored 329 and was involved in a 664-run partnership with future teammate Vinod Kambli.
He scored 100 not out on his First-Class debut at 15 and was thrown into the Mariana Trench, facing the likes of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, and Waqar Younis on his Test debut against India’s arch-nemesis at 16, that’s as deep as it gets.
He passed 5000 Test runs by his 26th birthday, yet his aura on the cricket field did not diminish as he aged, with 1562 runs and seven centuries in 2010.
Tendulkar's finest innings occurred in 2004 when he made 241 at the SCG. Regarded by some of the most outstanding innings in history, Tendulkar showed considerable constraint not playing a single cover-drive in his entire innings. After five consecutive innings of snicking off outside off-stump to wide deliveries, the 'Little Master' forced the Australian bowlers to change their lines and flicked them countlessly off his pads for four.
This anecdote perfectly illustrates Sachin's greatness, as he scored his highest Test score without playing one of his famous cover drives.
Across his 24-year career, Tendulkar averaged 40 or more against every Test nation he faced.
Blessed with every shot in the book, Tendulkar caressed every ball he faced, yet the ball flew off his bat as if fired by a shotgun.
The first cricket to 200 Tests, 15000 runs, and 100 International centuries, it's hard not to marvel at Tendulkar's record. He is still the most universally loved cricketer in the world.
6. Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
With his broad shoulders and stocky build, Jacques Kallis was a batting behemoth for South Africa at number four and, at his peak, was the most intimidating batsman in world cricket.
His record speaks for itself.
Forty-five centuries, 13289 runs, a batting average of 56, and he also had time to take 292 wickets and 200 catches.
Blessed with raw strength and power, it was Kallis' subtleties that many remember for his batting.
Across the years, Kallis became undeterred at the crease and used his rock-solid defense to lay a platform for the batters after him to accelerate.
As art has shaped and changed throughout the years, so have batting techniques in the Test arena.
If surrealism best describes Steve Smith's abstract batting technique, and the Rococo style is Tendulkar with his softer technique and elegance, Classicism best describes Kallis's technique, pure aesthetics, with the near-perfect style.
He made runs in Asia with 2058 at 55.62, runs in Oceania with 1903 at 51.43, and was the most prized wicket in Africa with 7538 runs at 60.30 and 26 centuries.
Remarkably, no cricketer in history has been named man-of-the-match more times than Kallis, with the batting supremo scoring 1000 runs in a calendar year five times.
Regarded as one of the greatest cricketers in South Africa's history, I would go as far as to say Kallis could be the greatest cricketer of the 21st century.
5. Sir Viv Richards (West Indies)
There has been no more incredible aura than the one surrounding Sir Vivian Richards. There was a hint of swagger when 'King Viv' arrived at the crease, ferociously chewing gum with his maroon cap sitting casually on his head. The maroon cap of the West Indies was a symbol of Richard's courage, intimidation, and arrogance. Fast bowlers around the world tried countless times to knock it off. Many suggested he should wear a helmet but against bowlers such as Imran Khan, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, and Richards, and his hat was a symbol of empowerment for people of color.
After Tony Greig infamously said he would make the West Indians 'grovel' before their 1976 Test Series, Richards took a stand and pounded the English attack mercilessly.
The 'Master Blaster' followed up with scores of 232, 63, 4, 135, 65, 38, and 291 in four Tests. Richards' 291 came off just 386 balls in the Fifth Test at The Oval, including 38 boundaries. This brutality capped off a record-breaking season that saw him pulverize the record for most runs in a calendar year. Richards broke Simpson's record of 1381 runs was leapfrogged by Richards, who finished the 1976 season with 1710 runs at 90 and was named one of Wisden's five greatest cricketers of the 20th century.
Across the World Series Cricket period, Richards made 1281 runs at 58.23 and brought life back into a sport fading into obscurity.
A trailblazer for limited-overs cricket, Richards created history at 34-years-old when he hit the fastest Test hundred in history off 56 balls (a record he held for 30 years).
Playing in front of his home crowd in Antigua, Richards arrived at the crease with the scores on 1-100 and blasted 110 of the next 146 runs, finishing with 110 off 58 balls.
His pull shot was ferocious, his front foot powerful, and his assaults were fearsome.
Any way you describe it, Viv Richards was pure and simple, a dominator.
Steve Smith's batting is fascinating.
The stance, the mannerisms, the shots, everything about it displays a feeling that something isn't right, yet for Smith, everything is perfectly balanced and timed to the zenith.
A Test debut as a leg-spinner batting at number eight, Smith rose to prominence as Test captain five years later and embarked on a period of batting dominance unseen since Bradman.
In 34-Tests at the helm, Smith made 3659 runs at an average of 70.
On a pitch later rated as 'poor' by the ICC, Smith made 109 off 202 balls.
To put Smith's score into context, India made 212 in total across two innings.
To further prove, his Test hundred in Pune was no fluke. Smith made 178 not out in Ranchi and 111 in Dharamsala.
This golden period was derailed in 2019 in Cape Town during the ball-tampering saga when he copped a 12-month ban.
A saga that would deter even the most robust-willed character, Smith slowly chipped away at gaining the respect of the cricketing public again, culminating in the 2019 Ashes.
The 2019 Ashes was Smith's return to the Test arena.
Walking out to bat in front of the hostile crowd at Edgbaston for the First Test, Smith delivered a batting performance of the ages, carrying the Australians on his back and leading them to a monumental Test victory.
Smith made 144 out of 284 in the first innings, then accelerated in the second innings with 142.
During the Second Test, Smith created history by becoming the first cricketer to be ruled out of a game due to concussion.
After resting for the Third Test, Smith returned for the Fourth Test at Old Trafford and made 211 off 319 deliveries.
Altogether, Smith made 774 runs at 110.53 in only four Tests, as the series finished in a 2-2 draw. The Australians retained the Ashes on the back of Smith's mighty effort, and the parochial English crowd witnessed history.
In full-flow, there was no more exquisite cover drive than Sangakkara's.
Along with the extra burden of wicketkeeping in 48 of his 134 Test matches, Sangakkara thrived on the responsibility.
His batting was the purest form of meditation.
At the crease, Sangakkara was the fulcrum for Sri Lanka.
After Jayawardene's retirement, Sangakkara became the fulcrum where Sri Lanka balanced their batting lineup.
Unwavering, unbothered, unruffled, and tranquil, Sangakkara's trigger movement at the crease was robotic, and his cover-drive exquisite.
In 2006, Sangakkara scored his highest Test score of 287 in a marathon 624-run partnership with Jayawardene. Two Tests later, he made 100 not out and 156 not out in New Zealand.
The left-hander then followed up with scores of 150 or more in four consecutive Tests, with back-to-back double centuries against Bangladesh and 192 against Australia in Hobart on a day five pitch, which included three ducks for the Sri Lankans.
Sangakkara's form didn't waver in his last 30-Tests, with 3230 runs at 60.94, with 11 centuries. His arch de triumph occurred in the Second Test against Bangladesh in Chattogram.
Batting first, Sangakkara made 319 runs off 482 balls in 140 overs, with 32 fours and eight sixes.
A century in the second innings saw him become the second cricketer after Graham Gooch to hit a triple century and century in the same Test.
Sri Lanka's greatest left-hander and possibly the greatest left-hander of all time still had enough left in the tank to hit 221 against Pakistan later in the year and 203 against New Zealand in Wellington.
Even after becoming the quickest batsman in history to hit 11000 Test runs, the modest Sangakkara still believed he shouldn't be rated up there with his childhood heroes Viv Richards and Brian Lara. In my opinion, Kumar was better.
2. Sir Garfield Sobers (West Indies)
'A five-in-one cricketer.'
This quote is how Don Bradman described Sir Garfield Sobers as a cricketer.
Arguably the greatest cricketer, if you combine batting, bowling, and fielding, Sobers is still the second greatest Test batsman in history.
Remarkably, it took Sobers till his 17th Test to hit his first Test century (Bradman had ten centuries by his 17th Test), and boy, what a century that was.
At 21-years-of-age, Sobers and teammate Conrad Hunte batted the entire third day, making 357 runs, Sobers making 208 of them.
The next day, Sobers batted the Pakistani bowlers into submission, medium-fast opening bowler Fazal Mahmood sent down 85.2 overs over two and a half days. Sobers, who finished his marathon 614-minute stint at the crease, was 365, not out, one run ahead of Len Hutton's record of 364, leading to a ground invasion from the 20000 spectators.
A star was born
Sobers hit two centuries in the same Test in the next Test, then journeyed to the subcontinent, making another three centuries against India. The kid who had struggled to convert in his first 17-Tests had made six centuries in his following six Tests.
When England arrived back in the Caribbean, Sobers hit a further three centuries against an attack featuring Fred Trueman and Brian Statham. Sobers made 132 batting at number four in the famous tied Test match in his first Test on Australian soil and followed that up with 168 off 234 balls in Adelaide.
Between 1958 to 1963, in a 30-Test period, Sobers made 3218 Test runs at an average of 74.83, including 13 centuries.
As captain of the West Indies, Sobers rose to the challenge and led them to a Test series victory in England in 1966. As well as taking 20 wickets, Sobers made 722 runs at 103.14, including three centuries, and was befittingly named the 'King of Cricket' by the populous.
The greatest Test batsman in the world at the time, Sobers achieved feats in First-Class cricket that are too good not to mention.
On August 31st, 1968, Sobers created cricketing history, becoming the first recorded batsman to hit six consecutive sixes in an over. Since the first recorded cricket match took place in 1646, countless cricketers had tried yet failed to achieve this feat. Sobers, who was captain of Nottinghamshire, hit the unlucky bowler (Malcolm Nash) out of the ground five of the six times. Ridiculous.
Now, what better way to confirm to the populous that you're the most excellent bat in the world than hitting 254 at the MCG for the Rest of the World XI against a star-studded Australian attack featuring Dennis Lillee.
After a duck in the first innings, Sobers treated the crowd, including Bradman, who believed it was the most excellent innings he had ever witnessed.
When Sobers retired, his 8032 runs at 57.78 were the most Test runs in cricket (a record he held for nine years), and his 26 centuries were three behind Bradman's record of 29.
Not bad for a cricketer that didn't score a century in his first 16 Tests.
- Sir Don Bradman (Australia)
When doing a science experiment in year nine, my science teacher explained to me what the 'Control' is.
The 'Control' is used as a benchmark or a point of comparison to which all test results are measured.
On the topic of cricket, when describing the greatest batsmen of all time, Sir Don Bradman is the 'Control.'
From the test arena down to milo cricket, every cricketer that shows a flamboyance of technique and a penchant for runs, especially in Australia, is odiously compared to Bradman.
No matter how good, every prodigious cricketing talent in the last 50 years has failed to match up with the Don. His only son, John, changed his surname to Bradsen as he couldn't cope with the associated fame linked to his father's famous name.
Bradman is the Titanic, and his iceberg was Eric Hollies gripping leg-spinner that famously bowled Bradman for a duck, plunging his stratospheric average under 100.
His batting average of 99.94 is arguably the most famous sporting number in human history. Some might say it transcends sport and is more prominent than Pi.
Here are some of the records Bradman still holds.
-Highest Test and First-Class Career batting average.
-Most hundreds in consecutive innings (6).
-Most Test runs in a day (309).
-Most runs in a Test series (974)
-Most runs by a Captain in a 5-Test series (810).
-Most First-Class double-hundreds (37).
-Most runs in a season in Australia (1690 at 93.88)
-Most runs by an International in an English season (2960 at 98.66)
-Fastest to 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000 Test Runs.
Before World War II, Australia was an outpost of the British Empire, with an inferiority complex and a chip on both of its broad sun-speckled shoulders.
That all changed with the emergence of the 'Boy from Bowral.'
He single-handedly decimated England on his first tour to the British Isles with 974 runs at 139.14, and no captain or cricket-brain in the world had a conventional way of stopping The Don.
That was until Bodyline.
'Bodyline' was a tactic devised by England's aristocratic captain Douglas Jardine who believed Bradman's prolific scoring could be corralled if his fast-bowlers bowled at his body for a sustained period of time.
Throughout the series, the barrage of body blows led to an Anglo-Australian political row, and 'Bodyline' was deemed unfair.
To further explain Bradman's dominance, he still scored 396 runs at 56.57 to lead Australia's run chart.
Doubters over the years have tried endlessly to find an algorithm to down-grade Bradman's brilliance, yet they always state that he never traveled to the sub-continent or beat up on Test nations in their infancy.
Now let me pose this question, if it was so easy for Bradman, how come no one comes close to his record?
Across his 20-year Test career, Bradman's average of 99.94 is 69.27, higher than the 20-year overall average for those two decades.
Few sporting icons in history have remained so stoically revered half a century after their career had concluded. He indeed was the greatest batsman of all time.