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Virat Kohli and Steve Smith

Kohli, like George Headley, brings up 900 but still can't beat an Australian off No.1

ICC rankings

A history of the 900-point club in Tests.

And so Virat Kohli takes his place among the elites of the game as his batting rating has reached the elusive 900-point level, after he has averaged 82.03 over his last 18 Tests, including nine centuries.

He is the 31st batsman to reach 900 points in the MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen and just the second from India after Sunil Gavaskar. It was Gavaskar’s monumental fourth-innings 221 at The Oval in 1979, which so nearly brought his side a famous victory, which propelled him from 887 points to a career-best 916, which remains the record for India.

Don Bradman was in a league of his own, but even he doesn't top this table
Don Bradman was in a league of his own, but even he doesn't top this table

Donald Bradman achieved the highest-ever rating for batsmen at an astronomical 961 after scoring 715 runs at an average of 178.75 in the 1947-48 series with India, but here are some other little-known facts about the members of the 900-point club:

Bradman is the only player to have spent more than half his career above 900 points, ending 28 of his 52 Tests at that level. However, in terms of the number of matches spent at this level, here is one batting table that Bradman does not lead. He has to be content with second place to Garry Sobers, with Steve Smith already in fourth place.

Name

Nat.

Matches

Garry Sobers

WI

30

Don Bradman

AUS

28

Len Hutton

ENG

25

Steve Smith

AUS

24

Peter May

ENG

22

Ricky Ponting

AUS

17

Jack Hobbs

ENG

14

Viv Richards

WI

14

Kumar Sangakkara

SL

9

A.B. de Villiers

SA

9


You might think that reaching 900 points would be a guarantee to reach the number one position. In Test bowling it is – all 22 bowlers who have reached that high level – from Sydney Barnes who peaked at 932 points in 1914 to Bill Johnston who reached 900 points in 1952 – all of them have spent at least some of their career on top spot.

However, there are three batsmen who have reached 900 points but never had the privileged position of being able to look down at the rest of the Test batsmen from the top of the tree. 

The first was West Indian George Headley. He debuted in 1930 and had the misfortune to have his Test career pretty much exactly correspond with that of Don Bradman. It only took Headley 19 Tests to reach 900 points – which he did after an innings of 65 against England at The Oval in August 1939, but by then Don Bradman was already on 952 points and well ahead of the chasing pack. War then broke out and Headley was never the same. He played three post-war Tests but averaged just 13.75. 

Kevin Pietersen was kept off top spot by Ricky Ponting
Kevin Pietersen was kept off top spot by Ricky Ponting

The second was Kevin Pietersen. Polarising opinion throughout his Test career, there can be no denying his position among the cricketing greats. Ending his career with 8,181 runs in 104 Tests, he peaked at 909 points after his innings of 226 against the West Indies at Leeds in 2007. He was back down to 892 after his next match, but due to the continued excellence of Ricky Ponting – who was at 936 points then – and Mohammad Yousuf – not long removed from his record-breaking 2006 in which he scored 1,788 runs – Pietersen never made it higher than third place in the batting table. 

And so to Virat Kohli. Of course, he has every opportunity to overtake Steve Smith and reach top spot – as he has already achieved in both ODI and T20I cricket. He is certainly moving in the right direction, and who would bet against him claiming the number one spot before his career comes to an end. However, competition is fierce, with both Joe Root and Kane Williamson currently gunning for Smith’s top spot.

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