Picking a World Test XI to Play South Africa
We find ourselves in a golden age of cricket. There are enough established players and upcoming youngsters to fill at least two brilliant World Test XIs.
We've had to settle for one, though. It wasn't easy.
Being a selector must be a rather awful job. No doubt there are some players who missed out on the honour; feel free to field your own suggestions in the comments.
Alastair Cook might not be in flowing form in The Ashes, but he still makes any World XI hands down. He's a solid opener who can occupy the crease for hours and frustrate bowlers.
He's scored 552 runs this year and although his average is a bit on the low side at 36.80, we'll overlook that for now.
An exciting prospect for the future, Cheteshwar Pujara takes the second opening spot alongside Cook. He was very impressive against Australia earlier this year, scoring 419 runs at an average of 83.80 in four games.
Pujara hasn't quite been tested in pace-friendly conditions yet, but we believe he's got what it takes to dig in against South Africa's seam attack.
Misbah-ul-Haq, or #TeamTukTuk as he is known on Twitter, slots in at No. 3. He's another player who can occupy the crease for long periods, even with his teammates collapsing around him.
Yes, he had a poor series against South Africa earlier in the year, but we're hoping that he'll manage to channel some of his Champions Trophy form for this Test.
This position was debated significantly: Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli were all contenders for the "hard-hitting Test batsman" spot. Kevin Pietersen edges it, not because he's better than the other contenders, but because he adds a spark.
Fiery, feisty and with an entertaining approach to the press, KP adds something to this dressing room.
Michael Clarke (captain)
Batting at his preferred position is Michael Clarke. Not only is he one of the best players in the world, he's also the best skipper.
Innovative, willing to take risks and sometimes a bit controversial, Clarke takes the reins of the side. He has quite the mix of personalities in this squad, but he's used to dealing with that.
Another hotly contested spot, with MS Dhoni just pipping Matt Prior to the gloves. Both men have had a good year, both are good keepers and are more than useful with the bat.
If we could merge two people into one super-keeper, that would be ideal. Instead, we tossed a coin.
Fast bowling isn't going to trouble South Africa all that much, even on fast pitches. We've opted for a two-spin attack and Graeme Swann is the first pick.
One of the best spinners in the world, if not of his generation, Swann is also the resident clown of the squad. Everybody needs a laugh once in a while.
Our pick for bowling at first change, Peter Siddle is the terrier every side needs. He will give everything for his team, even if his gas is running out.
Siddle is also an expert at extracting something out of dead pitches. He uses the crease very well and knows how to think batsmen out. We might even be tempted to promote him to opening the bowling.
James Anderson vs. Dale Steyn...how many times have we had that debate this year? Nonetheless, Anderson is the leading wicket taker for the year and he walks into the side as the leader of the attack.
While Anderson does struggle when conditions aren't in his favour, we're hoping there will be some swing on offer for the pace ace.
Our second spinner is Saeed Ajmal. He's a crafty bowler, but also brilliant at mind games. Whether that's playing on the mystery of apparent newly invented deliveries or simply always smiling, Ajmal is a must in any team.
Tim Southee is a bit underrated. He's picked up 18 wickets this year in just five Tests. His economy rate for the year is under 3.00. Southee can also bat a bit. With a high score of 77 unbeaten in Tests, if the lower order needs somebody to have a slog out after the top order has been blown away, Southee can help out...sometimes.
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