FINE THEN. If we all agree Steve Smith is Australia's best since Bradman there's just one question to answer. Ahead of whom?
Who did he actually beat for this title? Ponting? Border? Chappell?
It's a tough choice because they are a tightly bunched group.
Here's my Best Since Bradman top 10.
1. Steve Smith: The stats simply blow you off your chair. A batting average of 62.32 in his 59th Test in the bottom line that answers all arguments.
2. Allan Border: People forget how great he was, how was often never able to fully let go because of the pressure he faced, the quality of attacks who tried to nail him. Border would surely average 60 today on flat decks against modest attacks. This list of bowlers to take his wicket in Tests includes Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, Curtly Ambrose, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Bob Willis, Imran Khan, Richard Hadlee and Ian Botham. Enough said.
3. Ricky Ponting: Gifted shot-maker. Fearless competitor. Wonderful to watch. His numbers are better than Border but he played in a slightly less hostile era and he also struggled in India where Border shone.
4. Greg Chappell: Still the benchmark for style and grace, he made cricket an attractive game in the 1970s after a grey period in the 1960s. The pin-up batsmen for thousands of backyard batsmen with big dreams. A video of Greg Chappell cover drive is as easy on the eye as it was 30 years ago.
5. Steve Waugh: His sheer unbreakable will power did so much to shape the identity of sides he played in. Would have ranked higher but batting at number five ensured he often did not have to stand in the furnace when the heat was melting all in its path.
6. Matthew Hayden: Gets extra points for facing the new ball every time he batted and somehow scoring 30 centuries in 103 Tests at an average of 50. Moved forward to every ball he faced and helped other batsmen by the shock waves sent through opposition attacks.
7. David Boon: Others have better stats but few have done a better job in rising from the trenches and taking on the battle when the bullets were flying. Australia would have been lost without Boon in the mid-1980s.
8. Adam Gilchrist: Never tends to make these lists which is unfair for, as Richie Benaud once said "when you are choosing lists of all time greats always go for players who changed the game … very few do it.''
Gilchrist did this with rampaging force. His average of 47.6 and his amazing strike rate of just under 82 changed the game and the parameters of what is expected of keepers. His imprint as a batsmen is such that Greg Chappell has been saying for a decade his favourite Test century is "any one scored by Adam Gilchrist.''
9. Neil Harvey: Started his career in 1948 on Bradman's farewell tour and for the next 15 years was a debonair entertainer around the cricket world, scoring six centuries in his first 13 Test innings.
10. Michael Clarke: Unloved by some team-mates but one of the professional and dedicated players of his era, great footwork to spinners, and would have rated higher had he not had a patchy record at No 3 and 4 in the order.
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