There have been quite a few left handed batsmen to play cricket, but those who have left a mark on the game have been only a handful. Most of the left handed batsmen of any era have had to fight for limelight with their right-handed contemporaries, be it Brian Lara with Sachin Tendulkar, Arthur Morris with Don Bradman or Saeed Anwar with Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Also, successful left handed batsmen have influenced the game in their own unique ways, shifting away from the clichéd rules and existing styles of batsmanship: Michael Bevan, with his calm and gritty approach permanently created and developed the style of a successful run chase, especially in limited overs cricket; Sourav Ganguly left a mark with his glorious offside play, sublime timing and minimal use of the bottom hand, and there was a certain Sri Lankan from Matara who created the art of plundering runs at the start of an innings.
Sportskeeda comes up with a list of 20 greatest left handed batsmen the world has seen. Needless to say, there is a definite bias towards players of recent times as against those of the era of Bradmans and Lala Amarnaths since it would not be possible to judge them properly. And of course we know it would be impracticable to judge players from different eras in an equal pedestal, but we have tried to be as fair as possible. We have tried to take not only the batting averages and the longevity of their playing period into account, but also their overall influence on the game and for their respective sides.
So, here are the left handed run makers to have given cricket fans the world over unparalleled joy of watching the game.
1. Brian Lara:
His statistics speaks for itself, but Brian Lara was much more than the records. He was a genius of an odd kind. The only player to have a century, a double century, a triple century and a quadruple century in Test cricket, and even a five hundred-plus score in a first class match, Lara possessed the extraordinary ability to conjure killer shots out of nowhere.
His batting stance distinguished itself from other batsmen: his knees were always bent before a delivery was bowled, even without support, and he had a high backlift which swished down to attack a delivery astonishingly quickly.
With 11953 runs in 131 Tests, the ‘Prince of Trinidad’ was a once-in-a-generation player. When he retired during the World Cup in 2007, he asked the fans, ‘Did I entertain?’
He did a lot more.
2. Sir Garry Sobers:
He was the not only one of the best left handed batsmen of his time, but also a great bowler and a great fielder.
He employed elegant yet powerful strokes, and his offside play was a joy to watch. Coupled with his bowling and fielding, Sir Garry Sobers is unquestionably the finest all rounder in the game.
3. Graeme Pollock:
Uncle of South African pacer Shaun Pollock, in many quarters he is regarded as the finest left-handed batsman to have played the game. Bradman certainly thought so.
A magnificent timer of the ball, Graeme Pollock’s 274 was a South African record for many years. In an incredibly short career of 23 Tests, he scored 7 centuries and 11 fifties. Only if the man had played longer, or in more recent times, the world continues to sigh what might have been.
4. Andy Flower:
Easily the best batsman Zimbabwe has ever produced, Andy Flower was one of the most graceful batsmen to watch. He possessed a very good technique and had very high levels of concentration. When set, he would just not give his wicket away.
He was the prime figure of the golden period of Zimbabwe cricket, in the 1990s. A black armband protest with team-mate Henry Olonga during the 2003 World Cup ended his playing career for Zimbabwe.
5. Michael Bevan:
This Australian middle-order batsman revolutionised 50-over cricket. Because of a tough Australian selection policy, after a time Bevan was omitted from the Test squad, but he made the one-day arena his own.
Bevan won countless matches for his country with his calm and clever approach, and especially during tricky run chases, he always ensured he remained till the end and won his side the match. He accumulated runs by picking fielders and judging match situations to perfection.
Whenever a side is riding high and Bevan came to the crease, the southpaw would cleverly gradually shift the momentum towards his side and win Australia the match.
His ODI batting average of 53.58 is the highest for any batsman in the format.
6. Sourav Ganguly:
The ‘Prince of Calcutta’ was a very gifted batsman. He was perhaps the best offside player when at his peak. With crisp timing and stylish drives, Ganguly made batting look beautiful.
There was a time when the Bengal player reached batting landmarks of 7,000, 8,000 and 9,000 runs in one-dayers faster than Sachin Tendulkar, with whom he had a highly successful batting companionship.
He held a fine record in Tests as well, and his comeback in 2006-07 was perhaps the most astounding comeback in the world of cricket.
7. Shivnarine Chanderpaul:
Alongside Ramnaresh Sarwan, this West Indian has been the mainstay of West Indies batting for more than a decade.
His open stance and the odd batting technique are bizarre to watch, but this style of his has been very effective for him. He rarely hits in the V and is an expert in guiding, pushing and nudging balls to gaps.
He maintains an average of over 49 in Tests and 41 in the one-dayers, making him one of the most successful batsmen in recent times. His best run was in 2008, when he won Wisden’s Cricketer of the Year award, and the ICC Player of the Year award.
8. Allan Border:
With 11,174 runs and an average of over 50, Allan Border had the most durable cricketing career for Australia.
9. Saeed Anwar:
His 11-year playing career came to a sad end, catalysed by his daughter’s death in 2001, but for long Saeed Anwar alongside Inzamam-ul-Haq was the prime run getter for Pakistan. He was one of those batsmen who relied on their timing and placement to get the runs. The wristy flicks were a trademark of his.
In both Tests and one-dayers, Anwar contributed consistently and broke many records. He was the first Pakistani to score a century against India on Indian soil, and his 194 against India in Chennai was for 12 years the highest individual score by any batsman in limited overs internationals.
10. Sanath Jayasuriya :
This man from Matara in Sri Lanka demolished the bowling in his inimitable style at the top of the innings, and especially in the times when there were fielding restrictions for the first 15 overs, Jayasuriya was like a hurricane.
He possessed a heavy bottom hand that became his weapon, and when he got going no one could stop him.
Sanath Jayasuriya, with captain Ranatunga and Aravinda De Silva, was instrumental in changing the fortunes of his side whose stature in world cricket grew immensely after the 1996 World Cup triumph.
Of course, there was a certain Muttiah Muralitharan too.
11. Adam Gilchrist:
Gilchrist believed in ‘See the ball, hit the ball’ principle. Like Jayasuriya, Gilchrist opened the batting, played a whirlwind innings, and by the time the opposition caught its breath, would depart having done his job.
12. Kumar Sangakkara:
Possesses a fine technique, a cool mind and the ability to employ all the strokes in the book, from the backfoot as well as the frontfoot.
His average of 57 is among the best in the business.
13. Neil Harvey:
A man of relatively short height, Harvey had great levels of concentration. A most graceful player to watch, Harvey was one of the finest batsmen from Australia.
14. Matthew Hayden:
This man demoralised the bowler and the opposition like no other. He would time and again intimidate the bowler by moving ahead of his crease and would cart him for boundaries repeatedly and disturb his rhythm.
15. David Gower:
This English player played the classical game and did not have even a touch of brute force in his strokes. He was one of the most prolific run scorers for England in the 1980s.
16. Clive Lloyd:
Mostly remembered as the captain of the famous invincible West Indies squad of the ’70s and ’80s, Clive Lloyd was a very successful batsman.
17. Stephen Fleming:
Another one of those who employ the classical methods to accumulate runs. Fleming was a brilliant student of the game and possessed fine technique as well as great concentration levels.
18. Michael Hussey:
Having got a chance to represent Australia after an agonisingly long spell in first class cricket, Hussey left no stones unturned in establishing himself as a permanent middle order batsman in the line-up.
For two years, he had a Bradmanesque average of over 86. Hussey is a hard worker, generating runs through drives, guides, flicks and the occasional pull shots and changes gear whenever required. Partly reminiscent of Bevan, Hussey reads the situation of a game very well.
19. Arthur Morris:
He was unfortunate for having lost his best years to the Second World War. Although Bradman was clearly the better batsman of the era, Morris did show signs of genius.
20. Alvin Kallicharran:
This man from Guyana was one of the most prolific run scorers for West Indies. He was small, but powerful and elegant, and had all the shots in his repertoire.
He was one of the prime figures of the golden period of West Indies cricket.
It was unfortunate to have left out the likes of Lance Klusener, Chris Gayle and Gary Kirsten from our list. They are all match winners in their own right, but they have not consistently directly affected the performances of their own team as much as the others in the top 20. In terms of their overall influence on the game and for their respective sides, they lose out to the others.