Picking the Most Elegant World XI in Modern Cricket History

Chris BradshawFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2014

Picking the Most Elegant World XI in Modern Cricket History

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    It's not usually the case in sport but when it comes to picking the most elegant XI in modern cricket history it's a question of style over substance.

    In a number of cases, the two overlapped with spectacular results. In others, sublime talent was never completely fulfilled.

    Either way, whatever this XI managed to achieve, they did so with great style and panache and provided huge amounts of pleasure to crowds around the world.

    Read on to see who's made the cut.

1. Michael Vaughan

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    Michael Vaughan will be best remembered for steering England to victory in the greatest Test series in history.

    He was also a supremely stylish batsman, especially before his career was beset by a succession of knee injuries.

    A delightful driver and a dasher off the back foot, Vaughan impressed even the most hardened judges during a spectacular series Down Under in 2001/02.

2. V.V.S. Laxman

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    V.V.S. = Very, Very, Special. The S could easily stand for stylish.

    Laxman may not have scored the weight of runs of Sachin Tendulkar or been as obdurate at the crease as Rahul Dravid but when in form he was India's most watchable batsman.

    A great timer of the ball, Laxman's wristy style was sublime on the subcontinent.

    His 281 against the mighty Australians at Eden Gardens was rated the sixth-best innings in Test history by the esteemed judges at Wisden.

3. David Gower

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    David Gower marked his arrival on the big stage by caressing his first ball in Test cricket to the cover boundary for four.

    Many more sumptuous shots followed in an international career that ran for 14 years and 117 matches.

    The sublime was often followed by the ridiculous though with England's brilliant blonde often finding the most ludicrous ways to get out.

    Gower's laid back method was good enough to bring him 8,231 runs (more than Graham Gooch) and untold joy to cricket lovers around the world.

4. Aravinda De Silva

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    Standing at just 5'4", Aravinda De Silva may be short in stature but he was a giant when it came to entertaining crowds.

    Especially severe on the short ball, the Sri Lankan secured his place in the cricketing pantheon with a match-winning century in the 1996 World Cup final.

    He endeared himself to crowds in England too, as this sublime century for Kent against Lancashire in the 1995 B&H Cup Final shows.

5. Carl Hooper

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    Nov 1996:  Carl Hooper of the West Indies batting during the second test match between Australia and the West Indies at Sydney cricket ground in Australia. Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill/Allsport
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    Ah, Carl Hooper, the great enigma of West Indian cricket. When in the mood he outshone even Brian Lara.

    A deliciously fluent driver, few batsmen have made the game look quite so easy as Hooper.

    Plenty of batsmen have more impressive stat sheets than Hooper, whose average of 36.46 is the lowest of any batsman to have won over 100 Test caps.

    Few will have scored those runs with quite so much flair though.

6. Mark Waugh

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    If you had to nominate a batsman to play an innings to save your life then the chances are that Steve Waugh would be high up on the list.

    If you were just wanting to enjoy a day at the cricket then you'd sooner have little brother Mark walking to the crease.

    A superb timer of the ball, Junior Waugh had all the shots, and he played them in a dashing and carefree manner.

    He wasn't just supremely elegant with the bat either, making slip catching look ridiculously easy too.

7. Kumar Sangakkara

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    Kumar Sangakkara has shown that being graceful with the bat is no impediment to scoring bucket loads of runs.

    Dominant off the back foot and a much improved driver, the Sri Lankan 'keeper is both a scrapper and a stylist.

    With over 10,000 runs to his name at an average of over 56, the Oscar Wilde-loving 36-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down, as his 319 in this week's Test against Bangladesh shows.

8. Imran Khan

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    With his long run, flowing locks and exaggerated leap just before reaching the crease, Imran Khan in full flight was one of the most thrilling sights in world cricket in the 1980s.

    There was plenty of substance to match the style points too with the Pakistani talisman taking 362 wickets in a 21-year Test career.

    A daring captain, Imran steered Pakistan to a string of great performances, culminating in the World Cup triumph of 1992.

9. Abdul Qadir

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    In an era when seam bowling dominated world cricket, Pakistan's Abdul Qadir kept the leg spin light shining.

    With a hop, skip and jump followed by a whirl of arms and legs, the Pakistani could make even the best batsmen look silly with his loopy leggies.

    Qadir was a true artist in an age when pragmatism reigned.

10. Michael Holding

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    If cricketers were cars then there would be only one bowler suitable for the Rolls Royce moniker. Step forward Michael Holding.

    While other pacemen seemed to wade through treacle to get to the crease, Holding looked as if he was gliding in on a magic carpet.

    With a supremely smooth run up and a technically perfect action Holding was an absolute delight.

    For everyone except the poor batsman at the other end that is.

11. Phil Edmonds

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    In the days before massive three-and-a-half pound bats and Lilliputian-sized boundaries, a flighty spinner with a classical action could not only survive but thrive.

    Looking at footage of Phil Edmonds bowling in the mid-1980s is like stepping into another world. Would the speed gun reach even 45mph?

    His beautifully simple action was a joy to watch though, as was his willingness to give the ball plenty of air.

    You won't see anything like it in the Big Bash or IPL.