With every cricket season that passes the roll-call of great players gets longer. Batsmen, bowlers, fielders, wicket-keepers, captains, characters. Every year more international cricket is played by more countries, making the task of ranking the best of them harder than it has ever been. And how do you compare a dazzling Twenty20 specialist of the modern era with a champion of the age before Test cricket officially started in 1877? Some years after the last of his highly regarded books was published, Christopher Martin-Jenkins has accepted the challenge of selecting the 100 best players of all time, one that he has called 'impossible but irresistible'.
Placing them in order of precedence, he has analysed each of them, assessing their characters, the cricketing elements that made them so outstanding and the special qualities that enabled them to be pre-eminent in their time. Whether Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Kevin Pietersen, Brett Lee, Muttiah Muralitharan and Jacques Kallis, heroes of the contemporary game, will make a list that includes immortal cricketers such as W.G. Grace, Don Bradman and Gary Sobers, will be as fascinating as where they may be rated in the pantheon. Having written and commentated on international cricket for 40 years, Martin-Jenkins is almost uniquely qualified to act as judge and jury.