Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Steve Smith And Joe Root - Which Player Is Dominating In the Fab Four?

New Delhi, Siddharth Vishwanathan | Updated : 19 September 2019, 12:40 PM
Virat Kohli has been dominating international cricket while Steve Smith's brilliance in Tests and the consistency of Kane Williamson and Joe Root has dominated international cricket in the last five years. (Image credit: News Nation)
Virat Kohli has been dominating international cricket while Steve Smith's brilliance in Tests and the consistency of Kane Williamson and Joe Root has dominated international cricket in the last five years. (Image credit: News Nation)

For the better part of the second decade of the 21st century, the cricketing world has been dominated by the exploits of four batsmen. Three of them are captains while one was a captain but was stripped of the position after a scandal. The skill level of these four players have raised the bar of batsmanship and with each passing year, it only gets better and better. The 'Fab four' have been at the forefront of enriching the game, be it Tests, ODIs and to a certain extent Twenty20 Internationals. Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Steve Smith and Joe Root have been at the forefront of revolutionising batting in cricket in the modern era.

When it comes to cricket, there is invariably a comparison as to who is the better among the four. Is it Kohli? Is it Smith? Is it Williamson or is it Root? These debates have dominated discussions in cricket fan clubs be it in coffee lounges, office spaces or more predominantly on cyberspace. The real question, when it is weighed down to just two formats, Tests and ODIs and when one looks at the overall situation, there is actually one winner. This individual is pulling away from the rest and charting his own legendary path.

The statistical period considered is from January 1 2014 to the end of the previous Twenty20 International between India and South Africa in Mohali. The period from 2014 onwards is the right time to judge these players. Kohli had already established himself as a big name and he continued his legendary upward curve. In the same year, Smith, Williamson and Root all made giant strides.

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In 2014, Root averaged 97 in Tests, Williamson was 61.92 while Smith averaged 81. In ODIs that year, Root averaged 43, Williamson 70 and Smith 49. When one talks about Kohli, he averaged 44 that year in Tests and in ODIs, it was 58.55.This was the starting point in which all four players were at the peak of their powers in the two formats. In the subsequent five years, who has fallen behind and who has surged ahead? If one looks at the numbers these four players have amassed, it is fascinating reading but such is their high benchmark that some players have fallen behind. 

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Kohli Is King Overall

When one looks at the overall runs amassed from 2014 in all formats, there is one clear cut winner and that is Kohli. In 221 games across formats, Kohli has a staggering 13462 runs at an average of 62 with 46 centuries. Root is 1342 runs behind with 12120 runs while Williamson is further behind with 10525 runs. Smith is the only one who has not crossed 10000 runs in the five years with 9699 runs. 

Player Matches Innings Runs Average Fifties Centuries
Virat Kohli 221 257 13462 62.61 58 46
Joe Root 222 274 12120 49.67 74 30
Kane Williamson 191 222 10525 52.88 60 26
Steve Smith 147 185 9699 59.5 47 32

* All Stats are taken from January 1, 2014 till the end of the Mohali T20I between India and South Africa

A deeper look at the numbers reveal that Smith and Williamson have played the least number of games. Williamson has not been helped with the scheduling that has given New Zealand so little Tests and so little tours in the last five years. Smith, on the other hand, missed out on one year due to the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town and that has seen a big dip in his numbers.

When one looks at the Test format, there are some surprises. All four players have been consistent but surprisingly, Root has emerged as the leading run-getter in the last five years in Tests. The comparison with the others makes his achievement unique, considering his fifty to century conversion is the worst among all the players. However, over a period of time, Root has been consistent in his batting and that is why he is on top when it comes to runs. 

Player Matches Innings Runs Average Fifties Centuries
Joe Root 71 130 6088 50.31 41 14
Steve Smith 52 93 6003 75.03 22 24
Virat Kohli 57 98 5242 56.36 14 20
Kane Williamson 45 78 4369 64.25 18 16

* All Stats are taken from January 1, 2014 till the end of the Mohali T20I between India and South Africa

Following the Ashes 2019, Smith has been hailed as a freak and he now has until November to ensure he is the leading run-getter in Tests in the last five years. His century to fifty conversion is simply awesome and his average is a staggering 75 with some brilliant knocks in the Ashes. In all conditions, Smith has been supreme. When it comes to consistency in Tests, Kohli is also top notch and his century conersion is staggering. There is one silver lining in this for Williamson. Despite playing the least, his average is second behind only Smith. The New Zealand skipper's average is better than that of Kohli and Root and this also symbolises his brilliance.

Fab Four To Fab Two?

It is in the ODI set-up that gives Kohli a massive boost. He is the only one to smash over 6000 runs in this format in the last five years and his century tally is 26, which is more than Root and Williamson combined. Smith, on the other hand, has been a laggard in the format. 

Player Matches Innings Runs Average Fifties Centuries
Virat Kohli 114 112 6366 69.95 26 26
Joe Root 123 116 5230 53.36 29 16
Kane Williamson 102 100 4857 52.79 33 10
Steve Smith 85 82 3430 46.35 23 8

* All Stats are taken from January 1, 2014 till the end of the Mohali T20I between India and South Africa

In the last couple of years, there have been two camps who are good in one particular format. Many analysts acknowledge that Kohli is the king when it comes to ODIs and T20Is but in Tests, Smith is winning the battle with Root a close second and Williamson playing catch-up. However, it is important to note that when one looks at the overall combined numbers, Kohli is a clear winner. 

To conclude, Kohli is a clear winner in the fab four when it comes to overall runs. In ODIs, he is supreme but in Tests, Smith has actually outscored Kohli. The fab four has actually come down to the fab two but that is not to discredit the contributions of Williamson and Root. In the end, these four have redefined greatness.

First Published: Thursday, September 19, 2019 12:40 PM
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