Best English batsmen of all-time: The top 10

Joe Root and Alastair Cook both feature in the best English batsmen of all-time list due to their longevity and quality.

Who are the greatest batsmen from England ever?

Historically, England have been the third most successful side in Test match cricket, only behind Australia and South Africa in terms of their win percentage, which stands at 36.46%. In limited overs cricket, England have won two trophies till date – the 2010 World T20 and the 2019 Cricket World Cup. These victories have featured some of the best English batsmen of all-time. The likes of Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen are easy picks in this list, due to their amazing feats in all three formats of the game.

But, who else makes the top 10 ever?

10. Joe Root

Joe Root, the current England captain, will likely end his Test career as England’s highest run-scorer in Test match cricket. He has been superb in the format, scoring over 8000 runs till date, at a batting average of 49. He is particularly strong on the subcontinent, averaging 50, 66 and 57 in India, Sri Lanka and the UAE respectively.

He also has nearly 6000 ODI runs at a batting average of 50 and starred in England’s Cricket World Cup win in 2019. He scored 556 runs at a batting average of 62 to help take England to the title.

9. Sir Alastair Cook

Sir Alastair Cook is number nine on our list of “Best English batsmen of all-time.” He is England’s highest run-scorer of all-time in Test match cricket. He scored over 12000 runs as an opening batsman, playing in the toughest conditions around the world. For a number of years, he was the best opener in the world, despite having a number of different partners in the latter half of his career.

He had prolific outings both Down Under in 2010/11 and in India in 2012, that helped England win their first series in those countries in 18 years and 28 respectively. Cook was a fantastic player of spin bowling because he got right back and right forward to smother the spin, especially in the subcontinent.

8. Graham Gooch

England captain Graham Gooch batting as England follow on in the 4th Test match between England and Australia at Headingley, Leeds, 25th July 1993. The wicketkeeper for Australia is Ian Healy. Australia won the match by an innings and 148 runs. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Not the most gifted batsman naturally, Graham Gooch worked incredibly hard to build a solid Test career. Until overtaken by Cook in May 2015, he was England’s highest run-scorer in Test match cricket. Gooch will best be remembered for his success against the mighty West Indies side of the 1980s. He averaged 45 against an all-time great bowling attack, featuring the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts.

7. Peter May

Peter May is number seven on our list of “Best English batsmen of all-time.” He is perhaps one of the most underrated batsmen ever. Peter May was classical in his approach to batting and his on-drive was his signature shot. In 66 Test matches for England, he scored over 4500 runs at a batting average of 47. May scored 13 centuries and 22 half-centuries, representing his country between 1951 and 1961.

Some pundits believe that he remains England’s greatest post-war batsman.

 

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6. Kevin Pietersen

Perhaps the most dynamic batsman that I’ve personally ever watched. Kevin Pietersen was the man who brought excitement and tenacity back into English Cricket. His stellar series in 2005, helped England reclaim the Ashes for the first time in 18 years. He took on Warne, McGrath and anyone else that was thrown at him, right throughout his career. A fantastic player of both spin and fast bowling. A genuine match-winner.

Pietersen was player of the tournament at the 2010 World T20, in which he scored 248 runs at a batting average of 62. He ended as the second-highest run-scorer and helped England win the trophy.

5. Denis Compton

Most people dream of playing one sport professionally. Denis Compton was lucky enough to play both cricket and football. He represented Arsenal 54 times, scoring 15 goals as a winger but it was with England’s Cricket Team that he made his name.

He was a fantastic batsman, both strong and brave. He was equally strong against all opposition, averaging above 40 against all nations that he played against. Throughout his career, Compton scored 17 centuries for England and 28 half- centuries in Test match cricket.

4. Ken Barrington

England batsman Ken Barrington (1930 – 1981), in action for Surrey County Cricket Club, 1966. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ken Barrington was an incredibly gifted player who became known as a blocker for part of his career. It worked well for him in the end, as the stats prove. Nearly 7000 runs at a batting average of 59 are very healthy numbers. He was one of the five cricketers of the year in 1960.

He was so well-rounded that his lowest average in any country that he played Test cricket in was 44. Barrington scored 20 centuries and 35 half-centuries for England between 1955 and 1968.

Ken Barrington and the immovable 1964 Ashes series

3. Sir Len Hutton

Sir Leonard Hutton played 79 Test matches for England, scoring nearly 7000 runs at a batting average of 57. His 364 against Australia at the Oval in 1938 remains the second-highest score by any opening batsman in the history of Test match cricket.

He was described by his contemporaries as a “classy” and “complete” batsman. Accolades came from other greats such as Bill O’Reilly and Colin Cowdrey.

 

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2. Sir Herbert Sutcliffe

Herbert Sutcliffe established arguably the greatest opening partnership that Test cricket has ever seen, with Jack Hobbs as his companion. The two amassed 3249 runs together in just 38 innings, at a batting average of 87.81. As a player himself, Sutcliffe was complete. He represented England between 1924 and 1935, scoring 4555 runs at a batting average of 60.73 – the highest by any opening batsmen in the history of Test cricket.

1. Sir Jack Hobbs

Sir Jack Hobbs is England's greatest ever batsmen in Test cricket.
England opening batsmen Jack Hobbs (left) and Herbert Sutcliffe receive generous applause as they leave the field at lunch on the third day of the 5th Test match between England and Australia at the Kennington Oval in London, 16th August 1926. In difficult batting conditions, after heavy rain, England’s reliable opening partners put on 172 runs for the first wicket. Hobbs went on to score 100, and Sutcliffe 161, with England winning the match by 289 runs to win the series 1-0 and in so doing they regained the Ashes. (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Sir Jack Hobbs played cricket professionally past his 50th birthday and he is number one on our list of “Best English batsmen of all-time.” He was a prolific run-scorer in both Test and County Cricket. In 61 Tests for England, he scored over 5000 runs at a batting average of 56.94, including 15 centuries and 28 half-centuries. He formed a prolific opening partnership with Sir Herbert Sutcliffe for England. Had it not been for the great war, Hobbs would probably have scored many more runs.

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