Herbert Sutcliffe, Len Hutton, Jack Hobbs. Then you have Bobby Simpson.
The New South Welshman scored 3664 runs as an opening batsman and averaged 55.51. Take a cut-off of 3000 runs for openers, and that is precisely the order of merit. Sutcliffe, 4522 at 61.10; Hutton 6721 at 56.47; Hobbs 5130 at 56.37; and then there is Simpson, way ahead of the rest of the field.
He was a canny captain as well, in two different phases.
If he had not been hauled back to lead a Packer-depleted Australia at the age of 42, his final figures would have been still better. But in the 5 Tests against India on his comeback, he scored 539 runs and led the limping Australia to a 3-2 series win.
He was a saviour in other ways too. Coach Simpson teamed up with skipper Allan Border, took hold of a struggling team under reconstruction and turned them into a bunch of champions who would rule the world for years to come.
Bobby Simpson was born on February 3, 1936. Much more than just a great opener.
Text: Arunabha Sengupta