Opening in Tests is by far the most difficult task a batsman can have. Even a slight dip in concentration against the bowlers running in with full of energy, will be curtains for the batsman. Facing a fresh speedster with a new ball itself is a high pressure job. Adding to it, the dynamics of swing and lateral movement, everyone will agree that the situation would not something that one would enjoy. There are many openers who have stood out for their teams and taken the responsibility on their shoulders to handle the new ball and also bat for longer durations.
Here are the top 5 players in Test cricket, who also have had a successful career as an opener:-
#5 Matthew Hayden:-
The left-hander scored 8625 Test runs in his illustrious career. He held the world record for the highest individual score in Test matches for a short period: 380, surpassing Brian Lara’s 375, before the West Indian reclaimed the record by scoring 400*. Such impressive statistics gets him the fifth spot in the all over list of test openers. The Queenslander’s 30 tons is next only to Sunil Gavaskar’s 34 as an opener. The authoritative nature of his stroke play was a treat to watch.
#4 Herbert Sutcliffe:-
This is a name not many would be familiar with. Sutcliffe made his first class debut after World War I and his first Test in 1924 was at the age of 29. The right-hander is the only opener to average more than 60 by the end of one’s career (minimum 15 innings). His batting methods were aggressive and attacking in every possible way.
Being a great puller of the ball, the Yorkshire cricketer was equally good in defense. This gets him the fourth spot on the list.
#3 Jack Hobbs:-
Die-hard cricket fans would be aware of the name of the maestro. No special introduction needed to this Englishman’s credentials: 61760 runs and 199 centuries in first-class cricket. His 5130 Test runs at an average of 56.94 came between 1908 and 1930. He claims the third spot on the list.
World War I applied a brake to his run scoring spree, but even that failed to stop him. He mostly preferred to play with a straight bat and his feet movements were on the mark – both forward and backward. Together with Herbert Sutcliffe, he formed one of the best opening combinations ever to have graced the game.
#2 Leonard Hutton:-
Sir Leonard Hutton is often considered one of the best batsmen to ever grace the English t-shirt. This is list is graced by his appearance on the second number. His career lasted till 1955 and saw him score 19 centuries at the top level. He accumulated runs in a heap and burdened the expectations of his country and also his county in the best possible manner season after season. No one came close to his average of 55 in the 1953 home Ashes – the next best was 37. 6721 career runs at an average of 56.47, highlights the right-hander’s value as an opener.
#1 Sunil Gavaskar:-
Not may disagree with the fact that, he was best in the business during his peak time. He was the face of Indian cricket in the 70s and 80s. The technically sound right-hander was also the statistically the best in varying conditions: 9607 runs at 50.29. However, ‘Sunny’ did not taste monumental success in England averaging just 41.14 there. His ability to judge the ball early made his shot making. more effective and was widely hailed as the best ever opener. He could play all shots in the book and would not think twice in executing the pull.