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Sangakkara & Bradman

t’s been debated ever since he retired in 1948, but who is the best batsman since Don Bradman last played?

Names like Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Barry Richards, Graham Gooch and Greg Chappell get thrown around, based on records, performances and character, with 200-Test run machine Tendulkar the popular choice as Bradman’s heir.

But after his 36th Test ton and ascension to fourth on the most Test centuries list, Kumar Sangakkara’s name must join the debate.

The Sri Lankan now averages 58.53 through 123 Tests, and among those to have played 25 Tests or more, is bettered by only Bradman, England pair Herbert Sutcliffe and Ken Barrington and West Indian Everton Weekes.

Highest career batting averages, min. 25 matches 


M
I
NO
Runs
Ave
HS
100s
Don Bradman (Aus)
52
80
10
6996
99.94
334
29
Herbert Sutcliffe (Eng)
54
84
9
4555
60.73
194
16
Ken Barrington (Eng)
82
131
15
6806
58.67
256
20
Everton Weekes (WI)
48
81
5
4455
58.61
207
15
Kumara Sangakkara (SL)
123*
210
17
11298
58.53
319
36

Sangakkara is in elite company, but when you break down his statistics a little further and remove the games when he was the designated wicketkeeper, the results are astonishing.

Sangakkara career 


M
Runs
Ave
HS
100s
As wicketkeeper
48
3117
40.48
230
7
As batsman
75
8181
70.52
319
29
Total
123*
11298
58.53
319
36

The burden of wicketkeeping clearly hampered his output as a batsman, but nobody could have predicted he would be such a prolific run scorer without the gloves.

Statistically, Sangakkara is practically peerless (except for Bradman) as a batsman only, and dominates all of the modern greats over the past 15 years, including names like Tendulkar (53.78), Ponting (51.85), Kallis (55.37), Lara (52.88), Dravid (52.31), Yousuf (52.29) and Chanderpaul (52.19), to name a few.

Playing as a batsman, Sangakkara has been ruthless against all opposition, home and away. He’s ‘struggled’ against England, averaging 43.80 in nine Tests, but has feasted on the two bottom-ranked Test nations, plundering Bangladesh (124.00) and Zimbabwe (140.50), while he enjoys the spinning wickets his country produces more than anywhere in the world. 

Sangakkara the batsman v opposition


M
Runs
Ave
HS
100s
v Australia
7
764
63.66
192
1
v Bangladesh
10
1612
124.00
319
7
v England
9
657
43.80
152
3
v India
9
937
66.92
219
4
v New Zealand
8
606
55.09
156*
3
v Pakistan
15
1803
75.12
211
6
v South Africa
9
1079
63.47
287
3
v West Indies
6
442
55.25
150
1
v Zimbabwe
2
281
140.25
270
1

Sangakkara the batsman at home, away and neutral venues


M
Runs
Ave
HS
100s
Home
39
4283
77.87
287
16
Away
30
3216
64.32
319
11
Neutral
6
682
62.00
211
2

As a batsman he’s an automatic selection in any world team, but Sangakkara is still seen as a wicketkeeper-batsman, so how does he stack up against his rivals with the gloves?

Highest Test averages for designated wicketkeepers, min. 2000 runs


M
Runs
Ave
HS
100s
Andy Flower (Zim)
55
4404
53.70
192
12
Adam Gilchrist (Aus)
96
5570
47.60
204
17
Les Ames (Eng)
44
2387
43.40
149
8
Matt Prior (Eng)
75
3920
40.83
131*
7
Kumar Sangakkara (SL)
48
3117
40.48
230
7
MS Dhoni (Ind)
83
4459
38.77
224
6
Brad Haddin (Aus)
57
3033
35.26
169
4
Alec Stewart (Eng)
82
4540
34.92
173
6
Brendon McCullum (NZ)
52
2803
34.18
185
5

The table above shows why Adam Gilchrist is often the preferred wicketkeeper in world teams, averaging 47.60 with a strike rate of 81.95, yet such is his overall record, Sangakkara is becoming a near irresistible choice when the ‘best since Bradman’ debate inevitably emerges.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia 

 
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