The best of the best

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KEN PIESSE has a timely reminder for one-eyed Steve Smith fans that Don Bradman remains in a stratosphere of his own:

STEVE Smith’s story of a leg-spinning No.8 becoming the finest batsman in world cricket is truly exhilarating. He has been simply fabulous and the most pivotal player yet again in another Australian soil demolition of an international visitor.

His performances have been truly Bradmanlike… well almost.

The bottom line in any debate revolving around the virtues of Australia’s champion batsmen is that Bradman is on a line of his own and the rest are way below.

Name any of the “post war” greats: Neil Harvey, Greg Chappell, Ricky Ponting, Steve Smith… they all trail… badly, in almost any comparison with the greatest batsman ever.

I don’t deny Smith’s wonderful record since becoming captain, but another Bradman? Absolutely not.  No-one is.

Steve Smith celebrates after reaching his double century. Pic: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Steve Smith celebrates after reaching his double century. Pic: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

One little known, most illuminating stat in addition to the Don’s unparalleled career average of 99.94 is the fact that Don Bradman also tops the charts for facing most balls (162) before being dismissed.

No long-serving Australian comes near him as an occupier of the crease. And only a few (including present Test vice-captain David Warner) have scored at a superior lick.

Smith’s average of facing 114 balls on average before being dismissed is commendable but trails badly behind the Don.

Steve Waugh and Mike Hussey are among the few to also average more than 100 balls per innings before being dismissed.

Some early scorebooks have disappeared over the years — including the tied Test scoresheets — so it has been impossible to calculate everyone’s “Balls Faced” average.

Allan Border would also have to be high up — but nowhere near the Don’s 162.

He’s the King. Always has been. Always will be.

PS: for those who really love their stats the record for the most balls faced by any Test batsman belongs to India’s Rahul Dravid with 31,258 balls in 286 innings — at an average of 123 balls per dismissal!


(Career runs, runs per 100 balls, average balls faced before dismissal.)

Past greats   
Don Bradman 1928-486,99661164
Sid Barnes 1938-481,07241153
Steve Waugh 1985-200410,92748109
Mike Hussey 2005-136,23550102
Ricky Ponting 1995-201213,3785888
Michael Clarke 2004-158,6435587
Current Australians   
Steve Smith 2010-186,05755114
David Warner 2011-186,1467368
The Best of the Rest   
Bert Sutcliffe (Eng)1924-354,555 37163

* Exact balls faced are unknown for many old champs including Allan Border, Greg Chappell, Bill Ponsford and Bill Woodfull


Author: Ken Piesse

KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. He has written, edited and published more than 70 sports books. Signed copies of his latest cricket book Heroes of the Hour, cricket’s quintessential moments from Bradman and Lillee to Warne and Steve Smith, is available from



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