Picking a World XI on current form is not that easy when nobody aside from England and Australia are playing Tests at the moment. Five of the top run scorers for the year are either Australian or English. Yet, some of the Englishmen in that list have struggled to even buy a run in the Ashes.
We've dug deep and done our best to come up with a somewhat coherent list. Add your thoughts in the comments.
Opening the batting is Cheteshwar Pujara, who had a good series against Australia earlier in the year. He managed 419 runs at an average of 83.80 and earns the opening spot going by his efforts for the Indian A team.
Currently on tour in South Africa, playing against the SA A team, Pujara scored 51 and an unbeaten 109 in two List A games. He had some blips before that, but the selectors gave him the nod ahead of Shikhar Dhawan based on his experience.
Joe Root leapfrogs Alastair Cook in the pecking order for an opening spot. That does mean the openers are pretty young and relatively inexperienced, but that's only because the other options aren't in great form.
Cook is only averaging 27.25 in The Ashes. Since his epic 190 against India in November last year, Cook has only managed to pass 35 twice—both of those times he notched up a 50. Root has shown promise and certainly knows how to dig in. He's averaging a touch under 40 in the Ashes, and his efforts include an epic 180 in his new batting spot.
It's hard to imagine any sort of World XI without Hashim Amla in it at the moment. In fact, it would be ideal if we could just clone The Bearded One and make a whole entire batting lineup out of Hashim Amlas.
In the five Tests he's played this year, he averages 77.00 and has shown equally good touch in the one-day format.
Shock, horror—we nearly forgot about Ian Ronald Bell. Not because we don't know that he's in good form, but just because people seem to do that lately.
Despite his three hundreds, two 50s and 500 runs at an average of over 70, Bell has not yet won the man of the match award in the Ashes.
When AB de Villiers gets going, he is a joy to watch. It's a great pity South Africa have played so few Tests this year, but de Villiers has looked in pretty good touch in those games. Two hundreds and three 50s is pretty good going. We'll take it.
Sadly, MS Dhoni has played just four Tests this year. He averages 81.50, though, and out of all the wicketkeeper-captain-batsman types, he's in the best nick.
His one-day form isn't the worst at the moment, either. Besides, we needed a good leader, and even if he does hide himself down the order sometimes, we'll take Dhoni as skipper over anyone else.
Peter Siddle is an absolute workhorse. He's taken 29 wickets in nine Tests this year at an average of under 30. He can also bat a bit, sometimes.
Siddle is a technically very apt bowler. He uses the crease well and knows how to vary his pace. Let's just hope he stays injury-free.
This is awkward. Stuart Broad is top of the wicket-taking list for 2013 with 40 sticks at an average of just over 24. In nine Tests.
His recent exploits at Durham certainly did help, but he is having a fruitful year. We know that Broad leading the attack hasn't quite been his strength, but when he gets going, he really is quite something.
Graeme Swann is one of the best spinners in world cricket at the moment. Actually, he's probably the second-best next to Saeed Ajmal. Unfortunately for Ajmal, he ran into South Africa, and his figures took a massive blow for the year. Swann has had a good year and sits fourth on the leading wicket-takers list.
It's a bid sad that South Africa haven't played any Tests over their winter. Although Dale Steyn struggled a bit with injury during the Champions Trophy, he took 33 wickets in five Tests this year. His average—make sure you're sitting down for this—is 12.36.
Dale Steyn walks into any World XI at present, even if he has a slightly jammy back.
James Anderson did look a bit off colour at Manchester, but every side needs a specialist nightwatchman. The second-highest wicket-taker for the year, with 36 wickets at an average of 28.63, is a worthy asset to any side.
If the conditions are in his favour, Anderson is devastating with swing. Hopefully this team won't be playing on any flat tracks.