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Bradman v Tendulkar Best Cricketer Battle

There are always questions about who is a better between two cricketers, and extra difficult when they are from different eras as in this case. Here we compare two cricketers, the legend Don Bradman to a modern day legend, Sachin Tendulkar. The comparison is based on a number of factors, and summarizing these results we come up with the overall champion.

The factors that are analyzed are: Physical, Physiological, Psychological, Skill and Popularity. You will have to read through to the end to see who is the ultimate winner.

Factors of Success Ratings

don bradman statue at BowralBefore we compare these cricketers in the areas listed above, let's have a look at visitor ratings of sporting factors of success, as these results are partly used in the following analysis. The ratings are based on a number of factors, rated from poor to excellent by you the website visitor (see how the winners are calculated). To add your own rating, see the list for Bradman and Tendulkar, and for Cricket.

Factors of Success Bradman Tendulkar
Body Size and Composition Body size includes height, lengths and girths. Composition refers to the distribution of muscle and fat in the body.
Aerobic Endurance also known as cardiovascular fitness and stamina, is the ability to exercise continuously for extended periods without tiring
Strength & Power Strength is the ability to exert a maximal force, and Power is to do this in as short a time as possible, as in accelerating, jumping and throwing implements.
Speed / Quickness the ability to move quickly across the ground or move limbs rapidly to grab or throw
Flexibility the capacity of a joint to move through its full range of motion, which is important for execution of the techniques of sports
Agility the ability to quickly change body position or direction of the body
Balance & Coordination the ability to stay upright or stay in control of body movement is an important component of many sports skills
Reaction Time the ability to respond quickly to a stimulus
Analytic & Tactical Ability the ability of the mental system to evaluate and react to strategic situations (tactical ability)
Motivation & Self Confidence a motivated and focused athlete, with a level of belief in themselves, often seen as arrogance in athletes
Coping with Pressure Situations the ability to stay focused and perform up to expectations while under increasing pressure, and under changing conditions
Skill and Technique the specific skill set and technique required to be successful in a particular sport.

Physical Battle

Bradman was expected to be rated higher for the factor Body Size and Composition, due to the fact that Sachin stands at just 5 ft 5 in (165cm), while Bradman was a couple of inches taller 5 ft 7 in (170 cm), however Tendulker has been rated higher by you, the site visitors. Height only plays a small part in cricket, as it gives the players a greater reach and a longer swing. Tendulkar's smaller stature may actually help him with greater balance and stability, a factor rated highly for cricket players. Tendulkar weighs about 60kg, and I do not have body weight records for Bradman, though both are/were not overweight. In a close call, I would give the Physical Battle to Bradman, but the above ratings gives the prize to Tendulker.

Cricketer HitPhysiological Battle

There are six physiological factors from the list above to consider in this battle, and Tendulker tops Bradman in every one. Bradman would not have been involved in any fitness testing, and even Sachin may have been able to miss the fitness testing sessions if any have been held for the Indian cricket team. Either way, there are no results to compare. Bradman's fitness may have been limited by his smoking (there are photos of him smoking a pipe), which was not uncommon for sports people at that time. The modern day player has greater knowledge of the benefits of being fitter, and there is more support with fitness trainers, so Tendulkar would be expected to be in better shape than Bradman. Tendulkar to win this battle.

Psychological Battle

There are three psychological/mental factors: Reaction Time (brain processing), Motivation & Self Confidence and Coping with Pressure Situations, all very important in cricket. Both players are known for their mental strength, though Bradman had a famous failure in his last innings. All these factors are won by Tendulkar in the above table. I give this battle to Tendulkar.

Skill / Performance Battle

Of all the factors to consider, skill is the most important, as skill (and therefore performance) is what ultimately a cricketer is judged on. Bradman played 52 versus Tendulkar's at least 169 (he is still playing), though Tendulkar's test average of just over 56 is well below Bradman's 99.94. Bradman has a higher top score, Bradman's 334 versus Tendulkar's 248 not out. In Wisden's ranking of top players of all time, based on their rating system of all innings, Bradman was the clear leader above Tendulkar. What also must be considered is they played in different eras - Bradman never had to face a bowler at 150km/hr, but had to deal with less consistent pitches. Bradman also played most of his tests against England (37 out of 52), while Tendulkar has boosted his average playing a larger range of skilled teams.

In terms of bowling, Tendulkar has bowled many more overs in first class cricket with not as good figures: Tendulkar's test bowling average is at 52 and best lowing of 3/10, compared to Bradman's 36 average and best 1/8. However, in one day cricket, which was not played in Bradman's time, Tendulkar has excelled. He is the most prolific run scorer in one-day internationals, the first player to make 10,000 runs in one dayers.

Again overall there is no clear winner. Based on Bradman's clearly superior batting average he is given the nod for skill/performance. In the table above, the skill factor is the one in which Bradman gets closest to beating Tendulkar

Popularity Battle

In the land of a billion people and hundreds of Gods, Tendulkar is like one of their Gods. In the cricketing world, including India, Bradman is known as possibly the greatest cricket player ever, though many would believe that Tendulkar now is justified in wearing that title. It is hard to split these two in popularity. In the Hero ratings on this site (only early voting results), Bradman Hero ratings are clearly higher than Tendulkar as a hero. In a close call I give this to Bradman.

Overall Champion

The winner of each of the above challenges was:

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Old Comments

comment from Simon (4 Sept 2012)


Tendulkar plays under huge pressure. 1 billion+ people expecting you to perform in each and every match. To perform consistently well for 20 years as per expectations is just Brilliant! Bradman never had such pressure in his whole career apart from bodyline series and in his last innings against England. And just look what pressure can do. His average which was usually over 100 in maximum series came down to just 52 in bodyline series. When the whole world was watching him to score just 4 runs in his last innings he couldn't even score those runs. This is what pressure is all about. And Tendulkar goes through such pressure in each every match. Even the matches against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. With one failure public, media, everyone in India starts criticizing the Greats of Indian cricket. Still he is performing consistently. Isn't this amazing?


Bradman played 52 tests in 20 years whereas Sachin has played 162 tests in 20 years. In Bradman's time not many matches were played. Players easily got 7-8 days of gap in between 2 tests of a series. In one year only 4-5 tests were played. There were no one dayers. Nowadays there are too much of ODI's. Once a series starts, you don't get any chance to take rest. 5 ODI get completed in 12-13 days and as soon as ODI series is over, the Test series starts and between tests only 3 days of gap. No rest for players & they have to play each test and ODI. In Bradman's times you could get 7-8 days for rest & not only that, Bradman played some tests which were of just 3 days, and in almost every test he played, there was a rest day in between, so fitness level and total numbers of matches 4-5 and look at today's cricket, at least 10 Tests and 30 ODIs each year and in ODI's you just can't play cricket with peace at all. After every ball you have to look at the score board, have to accelerate anytime in the innings many times from the beginning, pressure with no rest virtually ! Though he's is playing T-20 also at domestic level, but T-20 is just not the cricket. (You don't have plan when you go out to bat, just go and hit). It is because of the no. of Tests played now that we can note a remarkable achievement from Sachin who had already scored 24 Test hundreds before his 28th birthday. This in no way undermines Bradman's score of amassing whopping 452 runs in just 415 minutes!!! But that was precisely because the over rates during that time were far superior than now.

3. Position of Batting

Bradman usually came at no.3 or no.4 and mostly when the score were 176 for 1 or 217 for 2. No pressure!! Just play the natural game and dominated the bowling. Unlike Sachin, Bradman had some really good openers from the start of his career. Woodfull & Ponsford had career average of 45+, Sachin usually came at no.4 & mostly when India lost both the openers with the scoreboard reading something 20-2!!! And then this best batsman of all time rescues the team. In Onedayers Sachin opens and starts blazing guns from the beginning and then steady in middle overs and again all guns blazing in last 10 overs. And at 37, if you are still able to do after playing 20 years, then it's surely a remarkable thing !

4. Opposition

Bradman played mostly against England and he got used to that bowling that's why scored over 5000 runs with an average of around 92. One series against each minnows [India, South Africa and West Indies were new in cricket that time] and scored heavily against them. Never played in Indian Sub-Continent against Indian spinners. Playing at Indian pitches is never been easy for any batsman. Nowdays Australian thinks Ricky Ponting is the best batsman after Bradman from Australia. Look his record in India! Sachin's average in Australia is above 54. A batsman is perfect when he scores against really class bowling. Excluding Larwood Bradman never played any quality bowlers. (and the other 2 were CV Grimmett & RR Lindwall, who belong to his own country) He never played against a bowler who bowls something like 160kmph+ on hard fast pitch where batsman hardly gets a chance to think of what should be played, whereas Sachin played against Ambrose-Walsh-Bishop, Wasim-Waqar-Akhtar, McGrath-Lee-Gilespie, Donald-Pollock, Warne-Murli and many more.
The fielder shattering stumps from the boundary was unheard in Bradman's time. Just see the class of fielding nowadays. These days there are special coaches for fielding. The standard of fielding is far much better than it was in that time!

5. Technology

In Bradman's time it was not easy to pick one's weakness just standing at slips or point. That's why Jardine had to use the theory of bowling on chest height to stop Bradman from scoring runs.

It's true that back then there was no such equipment like helmet, arm-guards to save you but then apart from Bodyline series there were no such instance where batsmen had to really save themselves from truly fast bowling. Interestingly, though Sachin plays few shots in the air when he tries to play drives on rising delivery (thanks to Today's technology) and many captain tried to get his wicket at the early part of his innings, Nasser Hussain tried something different to get his wicket, by not letting him to score freely against his bowlers (though Sachin still had the second best strike rate after Sehwag in that series for India).

True that the average of 99.94 is considered to be top achievement in any sport statistically, however Cricket is not just a game of averages. There are many other things which should be consider like the standard of playing cricket. Nowadays so much of technology is used so that you can take out weak areas of a particular player.

The standard of fielding is just too good. The Media hype and pressure is so much. Lots of cricket played, scoring in every part of the world. Sachin not only plays role in batting but also in many other areas like Sachin can spin the bowl like Shane Warne, Sachin is never afraid of taking responsibilities. Tendulkar took the ball from Azhar and Kapil in Hero Cup Semifinal and bowled the last over and did not let South Africa to score 6 runs to win the match. Just imagine if those runs were scored. Public and Media of India would have definitely gone after the little master. And if that's not enough he is partially playing a role of mentor/coach of Indian Cricket Team.

Finally, its unfair to compare the two batsmen of different era but then it would also be unfair to call Sir Don as the greatest batsmen of 'all times'.

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