#2 Sir Jack Hobbs
The greatest of all opening batsmen, Jack Hobbs’ records are startling. He played a whopping 834 first class games, scoring an out-worldly 61,760 runs at an average of 50.70. In international circuit, Hobbs scored 5410 runs at an average 0f 56.94. Even though his average is nowhere near that of Don Bradman, critics rate him as a better batsman than the Don, since his runs came on tough tracks.
Jack Hobbs was born in 1882 as the first of 12 children. Struck by famine and poverty from a very young age, Jack Hobbs was smitten by the game of cricket and played whenever he could. He was not a professional cricketer to begin with and remained an amateur for most of his early life. The facilities and privileges available to other professional cricketers were not accessible to him. He was lackadaisical as a cricketer during his nascent years and no club or coaches approached him.
But, beginning in 1901 his batting started improving and since then it seldom sojourned. Much like Bradman, he had his own quirky way of practicing. He used a stump as a bat and practiced with tennis ball on a gravel pitch. He was self-taught and self-coached.
In 1903, he moved to Surrey to play cricket for that county club. But his performance for Surrey’s Colts side club was satisfactory “without doing anything startling”. In 1905, Hobbs was chosen to open the batting for the main team and immediately impressed the Surrey team committee.
But the golden part of Hobbs cricket didn’t come until he was forty. 98 of his 197 first class centuries came after the age of forty. His century against Australia as a 46 year old makes him the oldest player to have scored a Test century.
He sustained his stellar performance for a marathon 30 years. In winning causes he averaged in excess of 96. Warwickshire all-rounder Bob Wyatt once said that considering the art of batsmanship on every department, Hobbs was better than Bradman. He went on to say, that during Jack Hobbs peak, it was impossible to stop him on any wicket whereas Bradman, whenever he came across a sticky wicket was in shambles.
Bert Oldfield, an Australian wicket keeper when speaking about Jack Hobbs stated that under all types of conditions, on fast, rain-affected or crumbling wickets, against the swinging ball or the turning old ball, Jack Hobbs was the cleverest batsman he had ever seen.
Sir Geoff Boycott pontificated that on all kinds of pitches, Jacks Hobbs was the best the world has ever seen.