As much as batsmen are known for their favourite shots, records held and best innings played, are they known for the batting position which they made their own. Different batsmen possess different skills which help them master a particular batting position more than the others.
In Tests, the role played by the batting position becomes even more crucial as it is a game of specialists and only a batsman who specializes in playing at a certain position can achieve success over there.
Which is the first name that crosses our minds when we think of the batsmen who scored the maximum runs batting at number 3 in Tests? And who is the most prolific scorer at the number 11 position in the batting order?
Let’s find out how many of us got it right, in this list of batsmen who scored the highest number of Test runs for each batting position. The XI formed as a result of players occupying positions on this list is a formidable one, covering all bases and potent enough to challenge the best sides in the world.
Alastair Cook, who recently called time on a 12 year glittering career, tops the list for the batsmen who have opened the innings in Tests. Out of his 291 innings, the former English captain opened on 278 occasions, amassing a whopping 11,845 runs @ 44.87, becoming the only batsman ever to score in excess of 10,000 runs as an opener.
Cook, who holds the record for the most runs by an Englishman, scored 31 of his 33 hundreds, including the one in his maiden and the one in his last innings, while facing the new ball, in turn helping to lay a solid foundation for the batsmen to follow.
278- the number of innings Cook played as an opener, is the most for any batsman in the history of the game, which shall not undermine his achievement but rather exemplify his longevity in the sport.
Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar comes second on the list of all time highest scorers in the role of openers. In an illustrious career that spanned between 1971 and 1987, Sunny scored 9607 runs @ 50.30, a statistic to envy for all.
His 33 centuries, out of a total of 34, came as an opener and remains a record. Gavaskar, who ended with 10,122 runs, was a stalwart of the Indian cricketing setup and a master when it came to wear out the new ball, something he owed to his ability to patiently leave balls outside off stump.
The left hand- right hand duo of Cook and Gavaskar would have formed a very solid opening pair and bowlers would have been left toiling hard to breakthrough their defense. The two batsmen who just follow next on the list are Graeme Smith (9030 runs @ 49.08) and Matthew Hayden (8625 runs @ 50.74).
Number 3: Kumar Sangakkara
For all those of us who thought that Rahul Dravid or Ricky Ponting tops the list for runs scored at arguably the most crucial batting position in Tests-number three- it will come as a surprise that Sri Lankan batting legend Kumar Sangakkara occupies this coveted position.
The former Lankan skipper came out to bat at the fall of one wicket on 207 of his 233 innings and scored a hefty 11,679 runs out of his tally of 12,400. His tremendous feat also included 37 centuries (out of his 38) at that crucial number, nine more than Dravid (10,524 runs @ 52.88 in 219 innings) and five more than Ponting (9,904 runs @ 5627 in 196 innings) for the same position.
However, all the three of them will always be remembered when the most successful Test batsmen are talked about as each one of them played a huge role in their country’s success.
Number 4: Sachin Tendulkar
There are no prizes for guessing the most prolific run scorer at the number four position. The great man from India, who owns a majority of the all time batting records, stands head and shoulders above all other batsmen to have batted at this vital position in the batting order.
With 13,492 runs @ 54.40 across 275 innings, Tendulkar has scored more runs at a single position than any other batsman has ever scored in an entire career. Next on the list is Mahela Jayawardene who has to his name 9509 runs in 195 innings and at an average of 52.25.
The batting genius Sachin also scored 44 of his 51 centuries at his favourite position. Jacques Kallis, who is third in line after Sachin and Mahela, scored 45 centuries in his entire career, 35 of which came at number four.
Number 5: Shivnarine Chanderpaul
Topping the list for most runs scored at three down in Tests is West Indies’ legend Shivnarine Chanderpaul. An unorthodox batting stance and a temperament enough to drain opposition bowlers saw the southpaw accumulate 6,883 runs @ 56.42 across 151 innings at this position.
In fact, unlike the first four names on this elite list, Chanderpaul’s runs got distributed at different positions as it was only after a certain point in his career that he was slotted at number five. In all, he went on to register 11,867 runs @ 51.37, including 30 scores of hundred plus, 19 of which came at this position.
With 6,754 runs, 129 shy of Chanderpaul, Steve Waugh is the second most prolific run-getter at number five in Tests. However, the greatness of the man can be found out on the following page!
Number 6: Steve Waugh
Great Australian captain Steve Waugh might have just missed out on being at the top at number five, but he surely owns the number six slot. His 3,165 runs @ 51.05 at this tricky position in the batting order exemplifies as to whom the Australian batting order owed it’s depth to.
Waugh batted at four down in 79 innings, mostly in the early part of his career and later stuck to number five, where he has 6,754 runs @ 56.28, including 24 hundreds. He scored six centuries at number six.
However, just as he was overtaken by Chanderpaul for the number five slot, so too can he be surpassed by Pakistan’s Asad Shafiq who currently has 2,890 runs at this position and looks good to feature in Test cricket in the coming years.
Number 7: Adam Gilchrist
One of the nicest Australians and the best wicketkeeper to have graced the sport, Adam Gilchrist with 3,948 runs @ 46.45 features at number seven. A swashbuckling batsman who threatened to tear apart bowling attacks, Gilchrist scored 12 centuries across hundred innings batting at five down for Australia.
Gilchrist’s exploits in the lower order gave the Aussies an all-round cricketer who’s pace of scoring runs deflated the opponents.
In fact, the top four run scorers at this position are all Australian wicketkeepers who passed the baton to their successor in a period between 1970-2015. It was Rodney Marsh (3,009 runs) from 1970 till 1984, Ian Healy between 1988 and 1999 (3,041 runs), Gilchrist till his retirement in 2008 and Brad Haddin (3,010 runs) between 2008 and 2015.
Number 8: Daniel Vettori
New Zealand’s premier spinner Daniel Vettori holds the record for the most runs at number eight in Tests. He scored 2,227 runs across 67 innings at this position and his average of 39.77 was a very healthy one for someone batting so lower down the order.
His aggregate included four centuries as well. Vettori is ahead of Shane Warne, who managed to score 2,006 runs @ 18.92 across 114 innings at six down.
Not just this, Vettori also managed to score heavily at the number nine position, as he amassed 1,105 runs @ 23.51, putting him in second position for that number.
Number 9 & Number 10: Stuart Broad
England pacer Stuart Broad leads the pack for players who have batted at number nine in the batting order. The ace pacer has to his credit 1292 runs @ 20.51 and is one of the few cricketers to have scored a century at this batting position in the lower order.
Broad, who leads Vettori by 93 runs at number nine, just recently also went past Dale Steyn for most runs at eight down in the batting order, making him the only one to occupy two positions on this list. The pace duo has 547 and 534 runs to their names respectively.
He started off his career as a bowling all-rounder and thus paid rich dividends with the bat but ever since he became the mainstay of the English bowling line up along with James Anderson, Broad’s batting has taken a back seat, pushing him to number ten in the order.
Number 11: Muttaiah Muralitharan
The legendary spinner from Sri Lanka occupies the last position on this list as e has scored 623 runs batting at nine down in the batting order. Of the 164 times he came to the batting crease, Murali batted at number eleven on 98 occasions, scoring his runs @ 11.33.
He is ahead of Glenn McGrath who had 603 runs batting at this position in 128 innings. The number eleven position remains the only one in the batting order where no player till date has scored a Test century, with Ashton Agar’s 98 being the highest.