Recently, the sport of cricket has been blessed with a handful of players whose legacies will live long in the memory. In turn, that makes it increasingly difficult to determine who's the best current cricketer. Given the complexity of the bat-and-ball game regarding formats and roles, establishing a standout competitor can't be done through direct comparisons. Instead, their respective on-field impacts must be considered relative to the jobs that they do.
According to the ICC rankings, Virat Kohli is a top-seven batsman across every format, while he tops the pile regarding One Day Internationals. As such, he'll undoubtedly be in the discussion, as will Ben Stokes and Pat Cummins, who are the top-ranked Test all-rounder and bowler, respectively. So, out of the three, who's currently the best cricketer?
Batsman: Virat Kohli
It's a testament to Kohli's world-class level that he's not only in the conversation regarding the best current player, but he'd also be a contender for the greatest player of his era. According to Rediff, India's captain finished the 2010s with 20,960 international runs. Impressively, this tally was 5,775 more than any other player. Not only that, but he also hit 69 centuries scores, which was 22 more than the next highest.
The phrase "greatness recognises greatness" is often thrown around in sport, but it certainly rings true in the case of Ricky Ponting and Kohli. In an article by Sporting News from 2019, arguably that most successful captain in international cricket suggested that the 32-year-old is the best white-ball cricketer that he's ever seen.
The International Cricket Council's rankings support such a claim in regards to the modern game. At the time of writing, Kohli has an ODI score of 870, which is 28 more than second-placed Rohit Sharma. Between 2008 and 2020, the 32-year-old recorded a 59.31 batting average within the limited-overs format. In terms of all-time rankings, this places him second, behind Ryan ten Doeschate, although his 67.00 average spanned across just 33 matches, whereas Kohli's figure is from 251 games.
Furthermore, although cricket has long been popular in India, Kohli has been the face of his era in a post-MS Dhoni period. The fact that that, in 2020, he was the only Indian in Forbes' list of the highest-paid athletes reflects that. As such, he's been at the forefront of raising the sport's profile within the country. The 32-year-old has helped cricket become a mainstream phenomenon in India, and that's evident from the available online cricket betting platforms. Through the operators listed at Asiabet, prospective users can bet on numerous markets, including the Indian Premier League, where Kohli is the captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore. As the IPL is regarded as one of the most exciting cricket competitions, the platform possesses the latest bonuses, odds, and tips to help guide bettors. Furthermore, at bet365, bettors can explore Test markets, thus enabling them to wager on matches involving the third-ranked Test batsman.
All-Rounder: Ben Stokes
England's Stokes has always been an immensely talented player, but the summer of 2019 saw him establish himself as a star of modern-day cricket. Along with his Cricket World Cup final heroics in 2019 that saw England clinch a Super-Over victory over New Zealand, the 29-year-old also led the way at Headingley in what is arguably the best test match of all time.
Even the most passionate cricket fans wouldn't have expected England to overturn a 73-run deficit with just Stokes and Jack Leach left to bat. However, the pair overcome what appeared to be an almost impossible task. On route to victory, the all-rounder hit 135 to keep the Ashes series alive.
Since then, the Christchurch-born player has maintained his status as the best current all-rounder. As per the ICC rankings, Stokes tops the all-round Test chart with a rating of 446, placing him 18 ahead of India's Ravindra Jadeja. Furthermore, at the time of writing, he's also the fourth-best ODI all-rounder, behind only Chris Woakes, Mohammad Nabi, and Shakib Al Hasan.
In light of his star-studded displays, the 29-year-old was labelled by James Anderson as the best all-rounder that he's ever played with. At present, there's debate over whether Stokes is England's leading all-rounder, with the likes of Freddie Flintoff and Ian Botham also in the discussion. That said, with consistency, he may cement that status over the coming years.
Bowler: Pat Cummins
As of January 18th, Cummins is by far the best Test bowler on the planet. As per the ICC rankings, he leads Stuart Broad by 63 points. Not only that, but he also ranks seventh regarding the ODI list, just 76 away from top-ranked Trent Boult. At his peak, Cricket Addictor states that Cummins achieved a career-high total of 914. Significantly, this tied the best-ever score achieved by an Australian bowler, equalling Glenn McGrath's tally from 2001.
Following his top-level displays in 2019, Tim Paine named the 27-year-old as the world's best bowler. Cummins' stats undoubtedly support such a claim, as, in 33 Test matches, he took 158 wickets. Moreover, across those matches, his average sat at 21.47, while his economy was 274. In relation to current players, that total makes the right-arm fast player the most efficient Test bowler in world cricket, and the 25th-best of all-time.
Verdict: Who takes the crown?
Individually, each of the above players deserve to be at the top of their respective ranking categories. However, it's almost impossible to dispute that Kohli is currently the best cricketer on the planet. Regarding on-field return, the 32-year-old's batting figures dramatically better those chasing him. Ultimately, this isn't a reflection of his fellow batsmen either, as the likes of Kane Williamson and Steve Smith are world-class in their own right.