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World’s top batsmen in 2004

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South African all-rounder and leading batsman Jacques Kallis has carried his prolific 2004 batting form into 2005, hitting his second century in three Tests against England so far. This continued rich vein of runs has enabled him “to leap frog” over West Indian captain Brian Lara into the No. 2 spot in the prestigious Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) Test rankings. Only the remarkably consistent Indian batsman, Rhaul Dravid, is ranked above Kallis in the latest PWC ratings. {{more}}

Lara is the only Caribbean batsman rated in the current PWC Top 10 in the world, his No. 3 spot placing him ahead of the rapidly improvising Australian Damien Martyn, India’s aggressive opener Virender Schwag and Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting, in that order. India’s star batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, plagued by injury during 2004, still manages to occupy seventh place with the Australian opening pair, Hayden (8th) and Langer (9th) just ahead of the dashing Sri Lanka wicketkeeper/batsman Kumar Sangakkara.

In terms of runs scored in Test matches during the past year, Justin Langer, with 1481 runs including five centuries headed the list. His compatriot, Martyn, was next with 1355 runs but he had the honour of scoring the most hundreds in 2004, six centuries in all. Three West Indian batsmen, Lara (1178), Gayle (1135) and Sarwan (1005) all passed 1000 test runs in the year just ended.

Cricket statisticians count averages very highly in assessing the performances of test batsmen. In this regard, for batsmen who scored more than 500 Test runs in 2004, it was Tendulkar who emerged with the highest average, his 915 runs being scored at the fantastic average of 91-50; this in a year when he was plagued by tennis elbow. Kallis was next, followed by the rejuvenated Graham Thorpe of England, Sehwag and Dravid. Lara’s 58.90 average brought him into seventh place.

While quick scoring is not as important in Test cricket as in One-day internationals, it nevertheless gives a team room and time to secure victories. That being so, the critical role of Australia’s wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist is underscored by his record. In addition to his 837 runs at No. 7 with three centuries and an equal number of fifties from crucial innings-saving partnerships, Gilchrist continued to score his runs rapidly. He was the world’s fastest scorer in Tests with a strike rate of 75 runs per 100 balls, placing him ahead of such blasters as Sehwag (2nd), Chris Gayle (3rd), Sri Lanka’s Sarath Jayasuriya and the aggressive English all-rounder Freddie Flintoff.

Gilchrist took the same form into the One-day arena, though stepping up his tempo to record a strike rate of 111.54 from his 879 runs, including the year’s top score of 172. The others, Flintoff and his fellow all-rounder, Abdul Razzaq of Pakistan, also had strike rates above 100 in ODIs. The heaviest scorer in this form of cricket in 2004 was Rahul Dravid, proving his versatility and undoubted class. Dravid amassed 1025 runs in ODIs last year, with 11 scores of over 50, including one century. Singakkara was the only other batsman to top 1000 runs, also having a similar century-fifty ratio (1-10) as Dravid. India’s V.V.S. Laxman scored the year’s most One-day hundreds (4).

(Stats courtesy cricinfo.com)

• Bowlers next week.

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