Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has ranked Virat Kohli as the current best Test batter in the world, placing him on top of his list of current batting ‘big five’ in Test cricket.

Only cricketers who have played a minimum of 40 matches made the cut, which saw Marnus Labuschagne left out of the discussion. Labuschagne has made rapid strides in the format ever since he made his debut in 2018, scoring 2,390 runs at an average of 54.31 in 26 Tests with six hundreds and 13 fifties.

Speaking exclusively to ICC, Watson picked his current top five batters in the longest format, adding one more player to what is considered the original ‘Fab Four’ that features Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Joe Root, and Kane Williamson. Kohli leads the list, despite not hitting an international ton since November 2019. According to Watson, Babar’s the No.2 in the world right now.

The top five batters in the world, ranked by Watson:

#1 Virat Kohli

101 matches, 8,043 runs @ 49.92, 100s: 27, 50s: 28

“I’m always going to say Virat Kohli [in Test match cricket],” Watson said. “His ability to just maintain the range and he’s continued to maintain the range in all formats, and it’s really superhuman what he’s able to do. He’s got such high intensity every time he goes out to play, and he’s at his best and he maintains it. So I’d say Virat.”

#2 Babar Azam

40 matches, 2,851 runs @ 45.98, 100s: 6, 50s: 21

“Babar Azam is just playing incredibly well,” said Watson. “To be able to see how he’s adapted his game, to really move his game into the Test cricket as well, so, for me, Babar Azam would probably be No.2 at the moment.”

#3 Steve Smith

85 matches, 8,010 runs @ 59.77, 100s: 27, 50s: 36

“Steve Smith has just started to come off a little bit,” Watson was quoted as saying. “It looks like Steve Smith really started to play for time a little bit more. He’s not putting as much pressure on the bowlers as he did when he was at his absolute best, so, for me, Steve dropped down the list a little bit.”

#4 Kane Williamson

86 matches, 7,272 runs @ 53.57, 100s: 24, 50s: 33

“Kane Williamson, well obviously he’s had a few elbow issues, but Kane is, gosh, he knows his game inside out, he knows how to bat time and put pressure on bowlers in any condition,” said Watson.

#5 Joe Root

117 matches, 9,889 runs @ 49.19, 100s: 25, 50s: 53

“Joe Root recently scored a hundred but he has had a bit of time,” Watson said. “Yes recently, he got a hundred but he’s had a bit of a time along the lines of Steve Smith where he hasn’t been able to nail the big scores like he has done in the past. It’s incredible how these world-class batters, some of the best batters to play Test cricket, just go through waves where instead of scoring those big hundreds, get the 70s-80s, but still have an impact on the game but are not able to really maintain that really high standard of getting those big runs as they have done in the past.”