Monday 18-November-2013 01:22
Cricket365 readers have spoken, with over 50,000 votes separating the great from the good among a select group of a dozen Test batsmen.
Indeed, with the dust steadily settling after the frenzied retirement of Indian veteran Sachin Tendulkar, the argument over who are the best can - for the foreseeable future - be closed.
To facilitate that clarity, 12 worthy candidates, who also happen to be the ultimate form of the game's leading run-scorers, were chosen - and your opinion and decisions commissioned.
The top three made for predictable reading, although the margin parting the top-ranked Tendulkar from the second-placed Brian Lara was substantially bigger than anticipated.
Proteas fans will be pleased to see the mercurial Jacques Kallis beat India's Rahul Dravid to third position, while Australian supporters will no doubt question Ricky Ponting's standing below Kallis. Their criticism, too, would be entirely justified - given the poll was based purely on batting, rendering the South African's prolific contribution as an all-rounder redundant.
The right-handed Mahela Jayawardene and left-handed Kumar Sangakkara have jostled for preference among Sri Lankan fans for a lengthy period, and the latter has won the head-to-head handsomely.
In the battle between yesteryear's batsmen, India's Sunil Gavaskar trumped former Australian captain Allan Border by a full one percent and then some, while the gap between Border and his successor - Steve Waugh - was nominal. Afforded another day of voting, perhaps Australia's younger crowd might have edged Waugh ahead of Border.
South African skipper Graeme Smith - he of the most fourth-innings centuries and consistent disregard of heavy odds - only managed eighth position, a whisker in front of West Indian Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Smith has never been the epitome of a textbook, orthodox Test match batsman - but certainly deserved higher placement. Perhaps those who did not vote for him were judging the man, not the cricketer.
Certainly, the voting pool was only extended to this dashing dozen, but even, say, three more - Don Bradman, Javed Miandad, Sourav Ganguly perhaps? - would not have been justified. Cricket - 100 years ago or this very day - must be judged on statistics and numbers. And in this instance, the game's 12 greatest run-scorers have settled a score.