Although international cricket has been around since Australia and England first met in Melbourne in 1877, it is an undeniable fact that there is now far more of it played that once was the case.
The advent of global air travel, the expansion of the number of ICC member countries, and the development of shorter formats of the game in ODI and T20I cricket, means that there are now far more matches and opportunities for top run scorers to claim their names in the record books.
Tests and ODIs may already be going out of fashion as younger audiences prefer the more immediate allure of T20 cricket. But for the present, these are the leading run scorers in each format of the game.
Sachin Tendulkar holds numerous records, including being the only man to have appeared in 200 tests. It is also not surprising, therefore, that no man scored more runs in test cricket in a career spanning 24 years.
In 329 innings, he scored a total of 15,921 runs at an average of 53.78. That included 51 centuries and a further 68 fifties.
He is followed by another former international captain, Ricky Ponting of Australia. He played 32 test matches and 42 innings fewer than Tendulkar, but his average of 51.85 stands up well, forming a total of 13,378 runs in aggregate.
With a better batting average than both of them and third on the all-time list is South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis. It should also be noted that he took 292 test wickets with his right arm swing bowling). Kallis accumulated 13329 runs at an average of 55.37.
He retired from test cricket having scored one more run in his career than another Indian player Rahul Dravid. He averaged 52.31 from 296 test match innings.
Rounding out the top five is Alastair Cook of England who managed to accumulate 12,472 test match runs at an average of 12,472.
As an aside, although Don Bradman only scored 6,996 runs, they came in only 52 tests and his average was 99.84. Had he played in the modern era, he would surely have been out on his own at the top.
Sachin Tendulkar again tops the charts when it comes to ODI runs – and by some distance. He managed 18,426 in his career in 463 matches at an average of 44.83.
Ponting has to settle for third in this all-time list, having scored 13,704 runs at an average of 42.03.
Beating him into second place is the Sri Lankan batter Kumar Sangakarra. In a 15-year ODI career, he accumulated a total of 14,234 runs, with his average being marginally worse at 41.98.
Two more Sri Lankans are fourth and fifth on the all-time list.
Sanath Jayasuriya is next finishing his career with 13,430 runs from 433 innings at an average of 32.36. He is followed by Mahela Jayawardene who managed 12,650 ODI runs at an average of 33.37.
One man who could soon disrupt this order is India’s Virat Kohli. He has already scored 12,344 runs in his ODI career, and despite his recent struggles with the bat he still has several years at the top left, provided he stays fit.
He is unlikely to surpass Tendulkar’s record but could yet surpass Sangakarra.
Due to the fact that T20Is are a comparatively recent phenomenon, there is a recency bias. And whilst Test and ODI records may be relatively set in stone, these tend to fluctuate regularly.
However, currently these are the top five T20I run scorers.
Indian captain Rohit Sharma has played more games in the format than any other player and has scored more runs (3,487).
His country will be looking to him to add to that tally in the coming months with the Asia Cup and World Cup to come, as well as home series against Australia and South Africa.
Hot on his heels and another man likely to feature at the T20I World Cup is New Zealander opener Martin Guptill. He has 3,446 T20I runs so far.
Kohli does feature in this top five, having scored 3,308 runs at an average of 50.12.
Ireland have become a growing force in T20I cricket in recent years and the form of Paul Stirling has been a big part of that. He is fourth on the current list with 2,971 runs.
Currently fifth is Australia’s victorious captain from the T20I World Cup last November Aaron Finch. He has 2,855 runs in T20I cricket so far and will lead his nation on home soil again later this year.
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