Who are the most intelligent cricketers currently?
As with any other sport, cricket requires a high level of intelligence to succeed. Particularly, in the shorter formats, where time is limited to act but also in the longer formats. The smartest cricketers in the world, are often given captaincy or a senior leadership role, because they have the ingredients to help others around them succeed.
Tactics play a huge part in cricket and those who are inept at such level of thinking, often come out second best, despite having a superior team.
So, who are the most intelligent cricketers in the world today?
5. Kieron Pollard
Probably an unexpected pick for many but Pollard’s mindset and intelligence is a very underrated aspect of his game. He has often read situations perfectly for both the West Indies and for the various T20 franchises that he has represented.
His fielding position is one that is very interesting. Despite being a superb close in fielder, he often places himself on the boundary line, knowing that the six is the shot which is likely to damage his team the most and he has the long reach to cut out as many as possible. At times, these attempts have turned into superb catches on the boundary.
When Pollard bats, he is very good at targeting the right bowlers. In IPL 2021, he defended an over of Rashid Khan – a feat which is almost inexcusable in T20 cricket. Pollard then launched into the death bowlers and helped the Mumbai Indians reach a competitive total.
Kieron Pollard is number five on our list of “Top 5 smartest cricketers in the world.”
4. Jimmy Anderson
Another player who’s intelligence probably goes under the radar. But, the fact that Jimmy Anderson has managed to reinvent himself post the age of 35, just shows how smart a cricketer he is.
Anderson plays situations to his strengths better than most. For example, he attacks with the new ball, aiming to cause batsmen problems in any conditions, knowing that he can swing the ball pretty much anywhere in the world.
As soon as the ball stops moving laterally, Anderson aims to dry up the runs by just bowling wicket-to-wicket. He knows that batsmen will not take unnecessary risks against him and therefore he can get away with doing so. As a result, some deliveries that are there to hit are often left alone, thanks to his reputation. By the time, the ball starts to reverse, he often has amazing figures, thanks to way he has broken down proceedings.
This is why he bowls plenty of maidens and forms the perfect bowling partner for any of the other English bowlers.
Jimmy Anderson is number four on our list of “Top 5 smartest cricketers in the world.”
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3. AB De Villiers
AB De Villiers’ smartness stems from the fact that he was multi-talented in his high school days and he still has the ability to play multiple sports well. He reads the game incredibly well when he is batting.
One of his greatest strengths is his ability to predict where the bowler is going to bowl, which is a very difficult trait to master. It requires deep thinking and knowledge and can only be perfected by those who have a high level of intelligence. This is because the bowler can change his or her mind very easily and batsmen need to be aware of this.
This trait is probably why AB De Villiers developed a game that allows him to hit the ball to all parts of the ground better than anyone else. Being one step ahead of the bowler, allows him to open up different angles in the field that are often free.
AB De Villiers is number three on our list of “Top 5 smartest cricketers in the world.”
2. Kane Williamson
Kane Williamson’s reading of the game is one of the very best. Despite being outgunned in terms of squad and team strength, he almost always inspires his troops to “punch above their weight.”
He captained New Zealand to the 2019 Cricket World Cup Final, through cricketing intelligence and batting prowess. Williamson was very much aware that the batting was overdependent on himself and Ross Taylor. As a result, he decided not play any risky shots until New Zealand were on top of the opposition.
He smartly navigated his way around bowling attacks and picked his bowlers to target. Andile Phehlukwayo was one of those options in a group stage same against South Africa. Both Williamson and De Grandhomme chose to go after that and it yielded off big time. Phehlukwayo went at over 7 runs an over.
Kane Williamson is number two on our list of “Top 5 smartest cricketers in the world.”
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1. MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni is perhaps best known for his traits that allow him to get the best out of his players. His tactical shrewdness illustrate just how smart he is as a cricketer and as a captain.
He has been credited for the revival of many declining cricketers. High-profile examples include Ashish Nehra, who was on the verge of retiring. But, MS Dhoni brought him at the Chennai Super Kings and gave him a specific role – bowling with the new ball and sometimes at the death. He managed to give clarity in his mind and resulted in Nehra performing admirably enough to earn a recall into the Indian Team for the 2016 World T20.
Dhoni’s tactics go beyond just player management. In between deliveries, he gives feedback to bowlers, in terms of what they can do better and if the previous ball was the right option or not.
In terms of batting, Dhoni is also a very cool and intelligent cricketer. More often than not, he utilises his finishing skills brilliantly, but taking games into their final phase, knowing that he has the calmness and experience to see his side home.
MS Dhoni is number one on our list of “Top 5 smartest cricketers in the world.”
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