According to a study carried out in 2018 by the World Atlas the most popular sport in the world is football. Football has an estimated global following of about four billion people. Now, being the smart people that you are you may have already figured out the second most popular sport based on the thumbnail and the title. If you figured out that it is cricket you would be right. Cricket has an estimated global following of two and half billion people.
I thought I would introduce some of you to the second most popular sport by giving you nine of the best cricketers in the world you should follow.
If you start a list in cricket it should start and end with King Kohli. The best player in the world and is on track to be one of the greats of the game if he isn’t already. Kohli also has one of the hardest and most scrutinized jobs in the world. That is being the captain of India. No country lives and breathes cricket more than India. So, you can imagine that every shot, throw, and decision Kohli makes is under intense scrutiny. He has been successful at this job with a couple of failures like the World Cup in England last year when India lost in the semi-finals to New Zealand. Right now Kohli is currently captaining the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League(IPL).
I would say that Sharma is the Robin to Kohli’s Batman but Sharma is much better than a Robin. Sharma is the vice captain of India in the shorter forms of the game. Nicknamed Hitman because he hits the ball a long way Sharma has been as productive as Kohli over the last six years with many believing he is now better than Kohli. This is impressive considering that Sharma had a slow start to International cricket and there was a period in time when he was not even good enough to be in the India squad. Like Kohli, Sharma is currently playing in the IPL but he is captaining the Mumbai Indians, who he has led to four titles.
‘The Universe Boss’ is considered to be the greatest 20 over batsman of all time. He is the most capped West Indian cricketer of all time. During his time with West Indies, he set numerous records across all formats of the game. Now 41, you can say Gayle is past his prime. However, he is still capable of hitting that cricket ball out of the stadium. He attributes that skill to being very skinny when he was younger and having a heavy bat. He is also currently playing in the IPL for the Kings XI Punjab.
Most cricketers are skilled in one discipline. This means they can either bat or they bowl. You have the rare players who can do both — all-rounders. This man Ben Stokes is the best all-rounder in the world. He is a match-winner and has shown that on numerous occasions. The two most memorable moments happened in 2019 when he propelled England to victories in what looked like losing positions in the World Cup Final against New Zealand and in a Test Match against Australia at Headingley. England has always produced great all-rounders but many people believe he could be the best of the lot. Unfortunately, Stokes has been away from cricket for the last month and a half due to a family issue but he is apparently on a plane to the IPL to join up with the Rajasthan Royals.
If Stokes is the best all-rounder, Holder is a close second. At 23, Jason Holder became the youngest ever captain of West Indies. Five years later, the results have not always been there. However, Holder has been widely praised for guiding West Indies through some tough times, especially when they lost many of their best and senior players. Holder has also established himself as an all-world cricketer. His 2018 performance against England in Barbados was the performance that catapulted him into superstar status. Holder has had a sensational career and is still very young. In the next five years, we should look for him to continue to ascend to all-time great status. Holder was also recently called to the IPL to play with the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
For West Indies, Jofra Archer is the one that got away. Born in Barbados, Archer played for the West Indian U19 team three times before suffering a back injury.
West Indies always produce great fast bowlers so despite his noticeable talent Archer fell to the bottom of their list. He would move to England where he acquired citizenship through his father. He would later signal his intentions to play for England. Archer was made to wait due to residency rules and in early 2019 he finally became eligible to play for England.
The minute he became available Archer established himself as England’s number one bowler in the World Cup. Archer bowled the over that won England the tournament and become the team of the tournament. Archer is now one of the most feared bowlers around the world. As for the West Indies, they still have an arsenal of exciting young fast bowlers to choose from, just not Jofra Archer. Like Stokes, Archer also plays for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.
Jofra Archer might be one of the most feared bowlers. However, there is an argument that Kagiso Rabada is the most feared bowler in the world. Nicknamed KG, Rabada made his debut for South Africa at the age of 19. By 22, Rabada was already the number one ranked bowler in One day Cricket and Test Cricket (five days). Rabada, Jaspirit Bumrah from India, and Pat Cummins from Australia are widely believed to be the three best all format bowlers in the world. Only 25, Rabada is on pace to become not just one of the great South African bowlers, of which there are many, but one of the great bowlers of all time. Fingers crossed he continues to stay injury-free. You guessed it, Rabada is also playing in the IPL but for the Delhi Capitals.
If Kohli is Ronaldo, Smith is Messi. In 2014, Smith, Kohli along with Joe Root and Kane Williamson were described as the young fab four of cricket. Now all of them have gone on to become all-time greats and have all captained their country successfully but it is clear that Smith and Kohli are on another level.
Like Messi and Ronaldo, the constant question is Smith or Kohli. For me it is Kohli but if you say Smith I won’t be mad at you.
Smith is currently the number one ranked in test cricket which nobody thought would ever happen considering he started out as a bowler but would later transform himself into an all-time great batsman with an unorthodox style.
Smith has had his issues, he was stripped of the captaincy of Australia and banned for one year for his part in the ball-tampering scandal that happened when Australia played in South Africa. But all has been forgiven and he has been sensational since returning last year in the World Cup and would later single-handedly destroy England in the Ashes (England vs Australia). He actually just captained against Kohli for the Rajasthan Royals (yes the team with Stokes and Archer) in the IPL and we can expect to see them go against each other this winter when Kohli takes his India team to tour Australia.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
If Kohli is the King does that make Dhoni a God? If you ask Indian cricket fans the majority might say yes.
Unfortunately, Dhoni recently retired from International Cricket but he still makes this list as he still captains the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.
By now you have realised that the IPL is a big deal. Dhoni had an amazing career that spanned sixteen years. During that time established himself as one of the great wicketkeeper batsmen of all time. However, Dhoni earned the nickname Captain Cool for his achievements as captain of India. Many Indian cricketers past and present sing Dhoni’s praises for the role he played in their careers. This includes the likes of Kohli and Sharma.
Dhoni is so admired as a captain that former Indian Cricketer and Chennai teammate Suresh Raina retired on the same day as Dhoni in solidarity. Dhoni’s achievements include being the first captain to win all recognised shorter format tournaments (the 50 Over World Cup, Champions Trophy, T20 World Cup). He was also the first Indian captain to take India to number one in the world in test cricket. I really hope Dhoni enjoys his retirement because with all that he has achieved he really deserves it
Now that I have made you a cricket fan and you are dying to know more about cricket since I am such a nice person I thought I would give you some other cricketers you could follow but they did not make the list: Joe Root, Hardik Pandya, Kane Williamson, AB De Villiers, David Warner, KL Rahul, Babar Azam, Pat Cummins and Mohammed Amir who probably has the most interesting story now that I think about it.