It could be argued that this might favour current players as there are more international matches played nowadays than there were in the past. But – on the other hand – there are more countries and more players competing for the top spot nowadays. For example, there are currently 186 players in the Test Rankings and an incredible 394 in the ODI Rankings. So it could be argued that it is more difficult to reach number one now than ever before. As a comparison, when Test cricket stopped in 1939 due to the outbreak of the Second World War there were only 61 players in the Test Ranking tables.
So – who are the batsmen who have dominated over extended periods of time in both formats of the game? Here they are – with the number of matches they have spent at the top of each respective table. In each case, one match represents a match played by any team, so the totals will add up to 1905 for Test Matches and 2793 for ODIs as those are the total number of matches played to date in each format of the game.
One Day Internationals
These tables certainly do resemble somewhat of a who’s who of batting greatness. However, spare a thought for players such as George Headley, Walter Hammond and Gordon Greenidge who were unfortunate to play practically their entire careers at the same time as one of the above players, therefore spending precious little time of their own on top of the world.