Picking a Team of Cricket's Greatest Entertainers

Alex Telfer@@troyspeerFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2013

Picking a Team of Cricket's Greatest Entertainers

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    Watching the Entertainers XI would be a lot of fun
    Watching the Entertainers XI would be a lot of funMatt Roberts/Getty Images

    As much as we appreciate an epic patient innings of crease occupation or the metronomic skill of a long miserly bowling spell, we primarily watch cricket for entertainment.

    With that in mind, I have put together a theoretical team that would, to coin a cricketing cliche, empty the bars when they are on the pitch. With bat and ball!

    I've tried to make it a fully functional workable XI that could compete across different formats while also including a few maverick figures (who seem to be mostly English), all in the name of entertainment. 

    Win or lose, there wouldn't be many dull moments watching this team in action.

1. Virender Sehwag

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    Any man who hits the first ball of an innings for six has a place in my side, and Virender Sehwag did just that in an ODI against Australia in 2004.

    But seriously, with a strike rate of 82.23 maintained over 104 Test matches, the Delhi-born blaster is a thrilling batsman to watch and only knows one way to operate.

    His shot-a-ball strategy makes him the ideal man to open proceedings for the "Entertainers XI."

2. Sanath Jayasuriya

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    Just in case Sehwag's scoring rate isn't up to scratch, the other man at the top of the order is Sanath Jayasuriya.

    Arguably the original master-blaster after, along with his Sri Lankan team-mates, changing the way ODI cricket was played at the 1996 World Cup, the all-rounder went on to score over 20,000 international runs.

    Almost impossible to bowl at, when he was in the groove, Jayasuriya opening the batting with Virender Sehwag should keep spectators interested and on their toes.

3. Viv Richards (C)

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    One sight guaranteed to empty the rum bars of the various Caribbean grounds was Sir Vivian Richards walking to the crease.

    With a cock-sure swagger to the wicket while manically chewing gum, a few seconds later, a fielder would be collecting the ball from the other side of the boundary rope.

    Learning his trade in Test cricket didn't stop the Antiguan taking to the ODI format like a duck to water, and it's scary to think what Richards would have done in today's Twenty20-obsessed world.

4. Kevin Pietersen

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    Back to the modern era for the heart of our middle order. Love him or hate him, Kevin Pietersen is a man who demands attention on the cricket field.

    The South African-born shotmaker's unique style of batting makes him a sight to behold in full flow and capable of winning games single-handedly.

    Not many players can say they invented a new shot, but his switch hit for six against New Zealand was just that.

5. Derek Randall

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    Heading back to the late '70s and early '80s, Derek Randall comes in at No. 5 for our team.

    Perhaps not as well-known as some other players of that era, "Arkle" was one of a kind.

    Whether it was his skittish batting or electric fielding (Randall was described as being able to catch swallows), it was hard to take your eyes off the Nottinghamshire man.

    An abundance of anecdotes exist, including stories of singing to himself mid-innings and that famous photo of the English maverick doffing his cap to Dennis Lillee, but as evidenced by this century against the Aussies, he could play.

6. Shahid Afridi

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    With both bat and ball, Shahid Afridi is a captivating presence, around whom things always seem to happen.

    Boom Boom's innings with the bat have a tendency to either endanger the lives of the spectators or last a few seconds before his stumps get demolished.

    The Pakistani all-rounder's spin-bowling has claimed nearly 500 international wickets, and his dual skills would provide much-needed balance to the Entertainers XI.

7. Jack Russell (WK)

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    Entertainment comes in many shapes and forms, and England's Jack Russell provides his own unique brand.

    The live-wire wicketkeeper possessed an abundance of eccentricities that makes him an unmissable presence whether showing his razor-sharp glove skills or his idiosyncratic batting.

    On the field, his battered sunhat and pads were a comforting sight. Off the field, his penchant for art, cornflakes and tea are well-documented.

    On tour, he'd be an ideal roommate for Derek Randall.

8. Merv Hughes

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    OK, so it's going to be a long tail end, but life is too short for drawn-out rear-guard actions anyway.

    Not only did Merv Hughes carry an intimidating moustache, he also possessed an intimidating personality that probably secured him as many wickets as his bowling did.

    Never short of a word or two, the king of sledging would open the bowling for the Entertainers XI making sure the opposition batsman would know they were in for a battle from the off.

9. Tino Best

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    Sharing the new ball with Hughes would be the self-styled fastest bowler in the world Tino Best.

    Despite boasting a fairly average international record, the Barbadian paceman's 92 mph deliveries keep batsman on their toes and are always exciting to watch.

    Whether trying to knock batsman's heads off, falling hook, line and sinker to Freddie Flintoff's sledging, or even recording answerphone messages, Tino deserves a place in the Entertainers XI.

10. Andre Nel

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    If the batsman were hoping for some peace and quiet once Merv Hughes and Tino Best had finished their spells, then they better think again.

    Andre Nel always made his presence felt whether through aggressive bowling, a constant stream of verbals or even just his bizarre antics which he attributed to an alter ego called "Gunther."

    The South African paceman managed to dismiss Brian Lara eight times, but he didn't always have it his own way.

11. Phil Tufnell

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    It would be interesting to see how many wickets Phil Tufnell would've taken if he'd have been part of today's more patient and understanding England regime.

    The man known as "The Cat," due to his ability to sleep anytime, anyplace, was a skillful slow left-armer and enigmatic character who would be perfectly at home in this side.

    As well as handling the bulk of the spin-bowling duties, Tuffers would also do a job as the classic No. 11 batsman.