For a task such as this, we must first consider how to go about trying to establish who the best batsman in the world currently is, and for this we will be relying on cold, hard statistics.
These statistics will be the ICC Player Rankings, which will now be explained by the world’s governing body:
The Reliance ICC Player Rankings are a sophisticated moving average. Players are rated on a scale of 0 to 1000 points. If a player’s performance is improving on his past record, his points increase; if his performance is declining his points will go down.
The value of each player’s performance within a match is calculated using an algorithm, a series of calculations (all pre-programmed) based on various circumstances in the match.
All of the calculations are carried out using pre-programmed formulae, using the information published in a Test match scorecard. There is no human intervention in this calculation process, and no subjective assessment is made.
To further establish how good a batsman is in certain forms of the game, the ICC rankings take into account factors like the level of run-scoring in a match and the strike-rate of their innings.
Therefore, each player has a specific rating in each form of the game, based on this complex computer model, which changes after every match they play.
For the purposes of our exercise, we will look at all three forms of the game and take the mean average rating for a player.
Then, the player with the highest mean rating across all three forms can be said to be the best batsman in the world.
This system rewards excellence, consistency and also takes into account the old adage that your best players are your best players, regardless of the form of cricket they play.
As such, players who have never played in a certain form of the game (like England’s Alex Hales in Tests or ODIs), or have not played in that form of the game for a while (like Shivnarine Chanderpaul of the West Indies in ODIs or Twenty20s) will not have a ranking.