The second instalment in our new series where we compare two legendary cricketers from the same generation. Rather than necessarily settle the debate on who is ‘better’, this series attempts to illustrate who had a greater say in dictating his country’s cricketing fortunes. Along the way, you may also find a few facets of these players that are not necessarily discussed in conventional media.

This week we pit two batsmen who were a part of a world-beating Australian team.


Ricky Ponting vs Matthew Hayden

A batting comparison in Test cricket


PARAMETER Ricky Ponting Matthew Hayden Maximum or
Highest (100%)
Number of Tests 168 103 Sachin Tendulkar (200)
Runs Scored 13,378 8,625 Sachin Tendulkar (15,921)    
Batting Average 51.85 50.73 Don Bradman (99.94)
Average runs per match 80 84 Don Bradman (135)
Percentage of team runs scored 14.37% 15.06% Don Bradman (25.32%)
Batting Impact 53 54 Don Bradman
Runs Tally Impact 65 71 Don Bradman
Pressure Impact 61 32 Peter May
Batting Impact in wins (min. 20 Tests) 43 44 Don Bradman
Impact at Home (min. 25 Tests) 67 69 Don Bradman
Impact Away (min. 15 Tests) 34 38 Don Bradman
Impact in Subcontinent (min. 15 Tests) 46 88 Cheteshwar Pujara
Impact in Aus/Eng/SA (min. 10 Tests) 50 48 Don Bradman
Impact in Ashes (min. 15 Tests) 42 29 Don Bradman
Failure Rate (min. 50 Tests) 46% 41% Don Bradman (27%)
Number of Series-Defining performances 4 (once every 42 Tests) 3 (once every 34 Tests) Inzamam-ul-Haq and
Rahul Dravid (8)
Number of high impact performances 32 22 Ricky Ponting (32)
Most dominant period in career October 2002 – January 2007 December 2001 – July 2004 n/a
Number of years as highest impact batsman 0 1 (2002) Arthur Shrewsbury Snr. – 3
(1885, 1886, 1893)
Jack Hobbs – 3
(1912, 1914, 1926)
Len Hutton – 3
(1938, 1950, 1954)
Garry Sobers – 3
(1958, 1959, 1966)
Highest impact batsman in a match 24    12 Kumar Sangakkara 
(29 times in 134 Tests)
Highest impact batsman in a series   9 (in 56 Test series) 6 (in 34 Test series) Kumar Sangakkara
(13 times in 56 Test series)




Although Ponting averaged more with the bat, Hayden scored a higher proportion of runs (in a match context) over his career.

Hayden was a more consistent batsman than Ponting – a remarkable feat considering one does not associate this quality with openers (for obvious reasons).

Hayden had an exceptional record in the subcontinent – considered to be the ultimate Test for overseas batsmen. Amongst visiting batsmen in the subcontinent, Hayden is amongst the five highest impact in Test history.
Ponting’s dismal record in India pushes his overall impact down. He had just two high impact performances in 26 Tests in the sub-continent. He failed in 10 of the 14 Tests that he played in India.

Ponting had a superior record in the Ashes. He had a 31% higher impact than Hayden in the Ashes. In fact, he was a higher impact batsman not only in England but in New Zealand and South Africa too.
A major reason why Hayden is not recognized as the greatest amongst his generation is his Ashes record – a benchmark for Australian batsmen – which was quite ordinary.


Ponting’s considerably higher impact in the Ashes perhaps defines his greater reputation between these two, despite his poor record in India. However, Hayden helped affect series more emphatically, was more consistent and had a marginally higher impact than Ponting overall. 


Nikhil Narain
Illustrations: Vasim Maner