Best cricket players in the world 2023
There's a huge year of cricket ahead with The Ashes and the Cricket World Cup on the horizon, but who are the greatest players on the planet right now?
Playing across multiple formats and with an ultra-demanding schedule, it's not straight forward trying to rank the best cricket players in the world. The ICC rankings only tell us so much.
Compiling this list meant balancing T20 specialists against proven Test greats. It meant weighing great form with track record.
Do all-rounders have a natural advantage in this debate? How are multi-format stars rewarded against red-ball masters or short-form experts? There is a lot to consider when putting together a top 10 list of this nature.
For all the statistics at our disposal to analyse modern cricketers, this list is still subjective. All cricket fans will have their own view on who should be included and in which order.
RadioTimes.com brings you our ranking of the 10 best cricketers in the world at the moment.
10. Shaheen Shah Afridi
Since debuting for Pakistan as a teenager, Shaheen Shah Afridi has wasted no time establishing himself as one of the premier bowlers in world cricket. Benefiting from a 6ft 6 frame, Afridi bowls at a great pace and generates some tricky bounce even on the flatter pitches in Pakistan and the UAE.
The left-armer is a proper three-format bowler. In Tests, he possesses the control and swing to control the scoring and keep batters under pressure. In the white-ball arena, his ability to mix yorkers and hostile short deliveries makes him a challenge both with the new ball and at the death.
9. Suryakumar Yadav
An established T20 genius in the IPL with the Mumbai Indians, Suryakumar Yadav was a difficult player to rank. He is the best T20 batsman on the planet, but has just 20 ODIs to his name and has never played in a Test.
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SKY’s ascension to the world stage has come in his 30s, partly due to being a late-bloomer, partly due to India delaying his call-up. What he has shown in the IPL and in his short foray into international cricket, though, is that he is a true 360-hitter and an impossible player to bowl to once he gets going.
8. Steve Smith
Steve Smith’s record speaks for itself. He averages over 60 in Test cricket, and while a relatively limited white-ball player, he possesses a great record in ODIs. Since averaging over 110 in the 2019 Ashes, the Sydney native has been slightly less productive in Test cricket, but remains among the elite batters in the longest format.
Smith has succeeded on all surfaces, and will be remembered as one of the greatest batters of the 21st century when he retires.
7. Kagiso Rabada
Like Afridi, Kagiso Rabada broke onto the international scene at a young age and has never looked back. Rabada has excelled across all three formats, with the pace and bounce to be effective even on surfaces which don’t offer much for the quick bowler.
Following a golden era for South African fast bowling led by Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, Rabada has become the leader of the attack. His numbers are outstanding across the board, including an historically great Test match strike rate.
6. Babar Azam
Initially starring for Pakistan in white-ball formats, Babar Azam has evolved into one of the country’s greatest ever batters. Azam possesses sparkling statistics in Tests, ODIs and T20s, and has often had to carry significant pressure in a subpar Pakistan batting line-up.
Inevitably compared to the Fab Four, Azam has surpassed several of that quartet over the last couple of years. Not turning 30 until October 2024, he is on course for an all-time great career, comparable to past Pakistani icons like Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf.
5. Joe Root
Joe Root’s averages are not as gaudy as some of the other elite batters around the world, but much of that can be attributed to playing so much of his cricket on challenging English pitches.
Root is one of the finest players of his generation, and arguably England’s greatest ever batter.
Not being part of England’s white-ball teams could be used against Root here, though that is more about the quality of England’s batting options than his talents in the shorter formats.
4. Jasprit Bumrah
When fit, Jasprit Bumrah is the most complete fast bowler in world cricket. Trotting in off a short run, a unique, jerky action makes it difficult for batters to pick him up. Bumrah torments batters in an array of ways.
He can swing and seam the red ball, creating awkward angles. With the white ball in hand, he has a hostile bouncer which complements his variations and ability to perform a pinpoint yorker.
Bumrah is unorthodox, but his diverse skillset makes him the archetypal modern pace bowler.
3. Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib Al Hasan has been one of cricket’s most underrated players throughout his career. To use a traditional, and somewhat simplistic, measure of an all-rounder, Shakib’s batting average is higher than his bowling average in Tests, ODIs and T20s. According to the ICC rankings, he is also the number one all-rounder in T20Is and ODIs, while placing third in Tests.
Though controversy has been a feature of Shakib’s career, he is a player who will only be truly appreciated once he retires. He remains Bangladesh’s standout performer.
2. Rashid Khan
While not spinning the ball significantly, Rashid Khan’s leggies have become one of the most effective weapons in white-ball cricket. Khan’s red-ball career has also set off at an impressive pace with Afghanistan recently earning Test status.
Accurate and with a hard-to-pick googly, Khan has flourished across numerous short-form leagues and has a stellar record for Afghanistan in over 150 white-ball matches. When given the opportunity, he also swings hard with the willow in hand, and has often provided helpful runs for his team.
1. Ben Stokes
Who else? Ben Stokes isn’t the best batsman in the world, nor is he the best bowler. In fact, he isn’t even statistically the best all-rounder. Stokes, though, is the man you want with bat or ball in hand when the pressure is greatest. The headlines are two World Cup triumphs and the barely believable heroics at Headingley in 2019, but beyond those historic occasions, Stokes has so regularly turned matches for his team.
In 2022, the Christchurch-born all-rounder took over the Test captaincy and transformed England from one of the world’s worst teams to an unstoppable force, reinventing the way the world thinks about the five-day game in the process.
Stokes’s statistics are not particularly impressive, and he has recently retired from ODI cricket. He has been a match-winner in every format throughout his career, however, and has proven to be a transformative captain.
If you were picking an XI to win a one-off match in any format, Stokes would be in the team. Few cricketers can make that claim.
Not only the best cricketer in the world; he is a giant of the sport.
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