Picking an XI of Only Selfish Cricket Players
"There's no I in team" but this side comprised of 11 of the most selfish and self-obsessed cricketers would score a lot of runs, take a lot of wickets and drive opponents, fans, commentators and each other crazy.
Choosing an XI of selfish players is a tricky task because cricket is essentially an individual game in a team format.
A selfish batsman who wants to bat all day and score runs is crucial to any side, while a bowler who wants to bowl all day is a captain's dream.
However, sometimes in the midst of this pursuit of individual success and achievement, players' reputations can get smeared and the best interests of the overall team can get pushed aside.
I have set out to pick a workable side of 11 selfish players based on their overall careers or maybe even one memorable incident that could hypothetically compete in a Test match scenario.
1. Geoffrey Boycott (captain)
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My captain, opening batsman and talismanic figure is none other than Geoffrey Boycott.
His selfishness was his strength, often driving fans, opposition and team-mates up the wall with his unquenchable thirst for runs.
The most obvious example was a game against India in 1967. As described by Arunabha Sengupta on cricketcountry.com, Boycott scored an unbeaten 246 but was dropped after the game for "selfish batting" due to scoring a painfully slow century on day one.
A similar situation occurred in New Zealand when England needed quick runs, but Boycott refused to change gears. Cue Ian Botham being sent in to run the stubborn Yorkshireman out.
But with Boycott and his 151 first-class centuries at the helm, this Selfish XI would be hard to beat.
2. Sunil Gavaskar
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My second half of a formidable opening partnership is Sunil Gavaskar.
The Indian batsman scored over 25,000 runs but makes this XI thanks to one extraordinary innings.
As reported by espncricinfo, imagine the scene: A bustling Lord's, basking in perfect weather, watching the opening match of the inaugural World Cup between England against India.
The hosts had piled up 334 from their 60 overs and now the legendary Gavaskar was about to lead the run chase.
Fast-forward 60 overs and Gavaskar had crawled to 36 not out as India scored just 132 for three to lose by 202 runs, infuriating their own fans to the point of invading the pitch.
The reasons for the star batsman's strange 176-ball innings remain unclear to this day, but India manager GS Ramchand, had some strong opinions at the time:
It was the most disgraceful and selfish performance I have ever seen… his excuse [to me] was, the wicket was too slow to play shots but that was a stupid thing to say after England had scored 334.
3. Jonathan Trott
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The pivotal No. 3 position requires a cool head, steely focus and an ability to remain cool under pressure. So who better to be our No. 3 than Jonathan Trott?
The Warwickshire man is firmly from the Boycott mould in terms of batting and is capable of occupying the crease for long periods.
Trott's success in Test cricket is partly due to his selfishness, as described by BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce, which he uses in a positive manner.
And his nine Test centuries and 3744 runs make him England's most successful No. 3 of recent memory.
4. Jacques Kallis
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With over 13,000 runs and nearly 300 wickets to his name, Jacques Kallis is regarded by some as the greatest all-rounder of all time.
And with him being dogged by accusations of selfishness throughout his career, the South African is a perfect fit for our middle order while acting as a fourth seamer.
As per Telford Vice's short biography on espncricinfo, the main reason for the unflattering smears stem from some bouts of unnecessarily slow scoring and for seemingly choosing to not dominate attacks he has already ground into the dust.
Whereas Aussie legend Keith Stackpole was more specific with his criticism, describing Kallis on the Fox Sports website as a "selfish cricketer" and that the broad-shouldered player is more concerned with his personal batting average than the progress of the team.
5. Sachin Tendulkar
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The runs would surely keep flowing for the Selfish XI when the Little Master walked out to bat.
For 33 innings, the circus surrounding the inevitable ton grew and grew until the moment finally arrived against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup.
However, Tendulkar's go-slow innings of 114 off 147 balls at a strike rate of just over 77 enabled the opposition to chase down their target and eliminate India from the competition.
6. Steve Waugh
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Steve Waugh was one of Australia's most successful captains, but for the Selfish XI, his job would be to add steel to the late middle order.
Although he scored 32 Test centuries, the elder of the Waugh brothers has been labelled selfish on numerous occasions.
As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, accusations of failing to protect his tailenders thus increasing his large number of not-outs and refusing to move up the order when his country needed a strong No. 3 abound.
Also, the outspoken Ian Chappell had this to say about Waugh:
I think he's been a selfish cricketer . . . I've always felt that the things you do as a player leading up to getting the captaincy do have an effect [on] how players perceive you. I've had the feeling that a selfish player when he becomes captain . . . gets a little less out of his players than someone who is not selfish.
7. Shahid Afridi
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If Steve Waugh had filled the bars then the next man in would empty them.
"BoomBoom" is the colourful nickname of Shahid Afridi, one of cricket's biggest hitters.
Based on his all-or-nothing style of batting, the moniker has helped the Pakistani all-rounder develop a larger-than-life personality and reap the fiscal rewards in the shape of numerous promotional opportunities.
The problem for some fans is that Afridi spends more time trying to live up to this alter-ego than doing what is best for his team.
But his aggressive batting and useful spin bowling make him a prize asset for the Selfish XI.
8. MS Dhoni
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Behind the stumps there is only one man for the job: Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
During an ODI at Eden Garden on the 3rd of January 2013, the wicket keeper came to the crease with his side on 70/4 in pursuit of Pakistan's 250.
Dhoni proceeded to play a strange patient innings, securing his half-century in the process and finishing 54 not out from 89 balls.
At no moment did he attempt to increase the pace and try to win the match.
Whether this was an act of supreme selfishness or merely trying to teach his colleagues a lesson it is enough to get him the gloves for the Selfish XI.
9. Richard Hadlee
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The spearhead of our attack, while also providing useful runs, is the one and only Richard Hadlee.
Arguably New Zealand's greatest-ever player, the all-rounder picked up 431 wickets and scored over 3,000 runs in just 86 Tests.
But Hadlee makes this team as he has had to face accusations of selfishness throughout his career.
As per the Donning the whites blog, the all-rounder upset team-mates by using records and statistics as his prime motivational tools rather than the good of the side.
He also, received criticism for shortening his run-up to save his own energy toward the end of his career.
Finally, he once won a car for being named the 1985 International Cricketer of the Year in the Australian season. Whereas the money was usually distributed into a team pool, Hadlee decided to keep the cash equivalent himself.
10. Shane Warne
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Any team worth it's salt needs a quality spinner, so it's fortunate that Shane Warne happens to have an abundance of selfish traits.
Whether sulking after being stripped of the Australian team vice-captaincy due to his own bad behaviour or hogging the limelight wherever he goes, the Victorian is never out of the news for long.
But the selfishness is a key part of Warne's confidence, and who knows if he'd have taken 708 Test wickets if he didn't have these personality traits?
11. Ajmal Shahzad
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Fast-tracked into the England team and the subject of glowing praise from national team manager Andy Flower, Ajmal Shahzad seemed to be on the verge of the big time in 2010.
Jump to 2012 and the paceman had been forced to leave his original county of Yorkshire due to issues of compromised team spirit.
As reported by Vic Marks in the Guardian, the Yorkshire chairman, Colin Graves, implied that Shahzad was a selfish cricketer and therefore had no place in a Yorkshire shirt. "This is a team game", he said. "I am not prepared to have somebody playing for Yorkshire who does not want to be part of the team."
Shahzad would be a more-than-useful new ball partner for Hadlee in the Selfish XI.