Viv Richards, the West Indian great of the ‘70s and the ‘80s has been resoundingly crowned as the greatest ever one-day cricketer by his fellow players, commentators and journalists in a poll published in the March issue of The Cricket Monthly.
With 29 of 50 jurors picking him as the best ODI player of all time, Richards won by a landslide. Sachin Tendulkar, the most-prolific one-day batsman of all time, narrowly beat Wasim Akram, the Pakistani all-rounder and the conjurer of their World Cup win in 1992 to second spot.
The last two positions in the top five were taken by Adam Gilchrist and M S Dhoni, two wicketkeeper-batsmen who, in their own ways, redefined the roles of players of their type.
No one does numbers better than us,” said ESPNcricinfo’s editor-in-chief Sambit Bal, “but we also know that numbers don’t always tell the full story. Which is why we rely on the cumulative wisdom of those who should know for our awards.
“And the World Cup was a good occasion to assemble a grand jury – drawn from different eras and countries – to pick the greatest ever one-day cricketer. It’s hard to argue with the top five the poll has thrown up: between them they encapsulate the best of ODI cricket across the ages and also its evolution.”
The Cricket Monthly is a digital magazine from ESPNcricinfo.
In all, 21 cricketers received votes – six Australians, five Indians, four Pakistanis, two West Indians, two South Africans, a Sri Lankan and an Englishman. The top 11 can be assembled into a dream team: 1 Gilchrist, 2 Tendulkar, 3 Ricky Ponting, 4 Richards, 5 Jacques Kallis, 6 Dhoni, 7 Sanath Jayasuriya, 8 Kapil Dev, 9 Akram, 10 Shane Warne, 11 Joel Garner.
“He batted at Nos. 3 or 4, maintained a strike rate of 90 and an average of 47 and did it in his sleep over 15 exhausting years of dominance,” writes former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe in his tribute to Richards in the March issue of The Cricket Monthly. “Arguably – categorically for me – his 189 not out in Manchester in 1984 is the greatest one-day innings of them all.”
In an interview in the magazine, Richards who got cricket grounds buzzing merely by walking out to bat, said, “I felt strong about my presence, you know. Sometimes presence sends a message, ‘Hey, I am ready.’ It’s just the duel between you and the bowler.”
The 50-member jury included legendary cricketers Ian Chappell, Clive Lloyd, Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting and Graeme Smith; veteran commentators Tony Cozier, Mark Nicholas, Mike Haysman and Sanjay Manjrekar; and respected writers Gideon Haigh, Mike Coward, Suresh Menon and Mike Selvey.