The top 5 smartest cricketers in the world

Kane Williamson and MS Dhoni are two of the smartest cricketers in the world due to their captaincy prowess and game awareness.

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

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 27: Kieron Pollard of the West Indies bats during game one of the International T20 series between New Zealand and the West Indies at Eden Park on November 27, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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

James Anderson bowls against the West Indies 2017 at Lords
LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 09: James Anderson of England shows the match ball to spectators after taking seven wickets in the West Indies second innings during day three of the 3rd Investec Test match between England and West Indies at Lord’s Cricket Ground on September 9, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Sarah Ansell/Getty Images).

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 is one of the smartest cricketers in the world because he can guess where bowlers are going to bowl to him.
South Africa’s batsman AB de Villiers celebrates scoring a century during day three of the second Test cricket match between South Africa and Australia at St Georges Park in Port Elizabeth on March 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI (Photo credit should read MARCO LONGARI/AFP via Getty Images)

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

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND – JANUARY 03: Kane Williamson of New Zealand looks on during day one of the Second Test match in the series between New Zealand and Pakistan at Hagley Oval on January 03, 2021 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

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

MOUNT MAUNGANUI, NEW ZEALAND – JANUARY 26: MS Dhoni of India sets off for a run during game two of the One Day International Series between New Zealand and India at Bay Oval on January 26, 2019 in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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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