ALL TIME WORLD XI TEST CRICKET : MY PICK
The selection of a world XI has been in circulation around the web for past two weeks due to cricinfo.com selecting their own. So I have decided to put through my own world test 11 team.
I have taken a combination of 2 openers, 3 middle order batsman, 1 all-rounder, 1 wicketkeeper and 4 bowlers. Having a quality all rounder at 6 or 7 more often than not balances the team's batting and bowling. It will provide the team with a balanced outlook irrespective of subcontinental, seaming or bouncy pitches. The list has been arranged in batting order.
Comments and your own choices are welcome.
1. JACK HOBBS
For the contenders of these two slots are some of the greatest names from the past such as Hanif Mohammad, Sunil Gavaskar, Gordon Greenidge, Victor Trumper, Len Hutton and Jack Hobbs who compete with the dynamic duo of recent times in Saeed Anwar and Virender Sehwag.
But for the first choice I decide to go with Hobbs.Scoring at a brilliant average of about 57, he is the record holder for most number of runs and centuries in first class cricket.Those 199 centuries and 61237 runs are unmatched in history and are surely not to be overtaken in future.
He edges out masters like Gavaskar and Hanif for this sole purpose. The amount of time he spent at the highest level and scored prolifically bears testament. He was selected as one of the wisden cricketers of the century to his greatness. He would have scored even more had his time not been cut short by the world war.
2. VIRENDER SEHWAG
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Most of the people will not agree with my choice but in my my view Sehwag as a dashing batsman at the top of the order provides the charisma and strikes fear in the heart of opposition bowlers.
The rise of Indian team to the summit of the rankings has been due to Sehwag's marvellous striking rate of above 80 which gives time for the bowlers to get the opposition out. With his average in mid fifties and an amazing 50 to 100 conversion rate combined with his ability to play long innings puts him in the top bracket. So the two time triple centurion makes it as a second opener.
3. SIR DONALD BRADMAN
Not a lot can be said about the DON. He is the greatest cricketer ever to have graced the batting pitch and is so far ahead of the rest of the pack that comparisons are never made. He scored runs and scored them in style. He managed to average 56 in the bodyline series in which the rest of the aussie batsman fell like nine pins. He averaged a staggering 99.94 and scored 29 centuries in 80 innings and of whom many went on to 200s. He was selected as one of the wisden cricketers of the century. Enough said.
4. SACHIN TENDULKAR
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Another unanimous choice in my view as he holds all the records of batting in test cricket. The Master Blaster has been plundering runs for more than 20 years now and nothing still stops him from being the most prized wicket among the bowlers. He held together an underwhelming Indian batting line up for nearly 10 years. From a marauder to a steady collecter he has changed his game to suit the needs of the team.
A veteran of 169 tests, this speaks in itself for his hunger of the game and to win. He has scored in all the parts of the world heavily under different conditions and has came aces up everywhere. He still by a distance holds the status of best player in world cricket.
5. GARY SOBERS
There is an intense fight for the third spot between many others such as Lara, Greg Chappell, Miandad, Richards, Border, Sutcliffe, Barrington, Hammond, Nourse, Headley, Sobers, Kallis and Dravid, which I after much of consideration hand over to Gary Sobers because of three reasons. His bowling, his fielding and the fact that he was left handed, which provides variety.
His batting average of nearly 58 is as good as any of the people mentioned above. His 235 wickets at 34 also bears a mention. He was the first to six sixes in an over in first class cricket. As a batsman he was great on the off side and as a bowler he was superb.He could do everything with the ball, bowling two styles of spin - left-arm orthodox and wrist spin, but was also a fine fast-medium opening bowler. His catching close to the wicket may have been equalled but never surpassed, and he was a brilliant fielder anywhere on the field. He was selected as one of the wisden cricketers of the century.
RUNS- 8032 WICKETS- 235
AVG- 57.78 AVG- 34.03
HS- 365* BEST- 6/73
100s- 26 10W- 0
50s- 30 5W- 6
6. ADAM GILCHRIST
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Definitions of a good stumper has changed with time. While being a good keeper was important in the past, in today's hour the need is of a wicket keeper batsman.
Main contenders emerge as Jeff Dujon, Alan Knott, Adam Gilchrist and MS Dhoni. While we can safely assume that Dhoni is still inferior in batting stats at no 7 to Gilchrist and further behind in glovework from the other men. The rest could all jump with agility with gloves and contribute to the team's cause with the bat
But Gilchrist has his batting record which tilts the pendulum in his favour. He was also brilliant with the gloves as he successfully kept for Warne for a decade. He could change the complexion of the game from no. 7. He also has a strike rate of above 80 in tests and a 57 ball century to his name and was one of the most exciting batsmen of the decade.
MAT- 97 CT- 379
RUNS- 5560 ST- 37
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The place of the all rounder was always to be contested between the four stalwarts of 1980s: Imran, Kapil, Botham and Hadlee. All greats within their own rights. In my opinion Imran was the best with the ball and the second best with the bat. It is very difficult to separate Kapil, Botham and Hadlee on their bowling abilities but Imran was just a little ahead of them.
He also improved his batting significantly during his end days and even became a one drop batsman and won the 1992 world cup for Pakistan. Taking the fact their leadership qualities as all of the quartet led their teams at some times, Imran was without doubt the best. He groomed Wasim and Waqar which says a lot about his man management qualities. So my choice on this one is Imran.
RUNS- 3807 WICKETS- 362
AVG- 37.69 AVG- 22.81
HS- 136 BEST- 8/58
100s- 6 10W- 6
50s- 18 5W- 23
8. MALCOLM MARSHALL
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With Imran khan and Gary Sobers already in the team to shore up medium pace and pace department, so out of these four two should ideally be spinners and the other two speedsters. We are spoilt for choices again with quality bowlers like Wasim Akram, Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Dennis Lillee, Glenn Mcgrath, Fred trueman, Waqar Younis and Harold Larwood. Not to mention Walsh, Donald, Ambrose and Pollock. After much of thinking and probing, I decide to go with Malcolm Marshall for the first pacer slot.
Allied to a massive cricket intelligence, stamina and courage, Marshall had all the toys and he knew how and when to play with them. His strike rate of 46.22 was phenomenal, his average of 20.95 equally so. With searing pace and a strong bouncer, he made the batsmen look like bunnies in front of him. He was even quite good with the bat as he averaged about 19 and had 10 test fifties to his name.In a windies team of lightning quicks, he stood out for his consistency and his cutters. His average of 20.94 is the best among 300+ group bowlers. He unfortunately passed away only at 41 due to cancer in 1999.
MAT- 81 10W- 4
WICKETS- 376 5W- 22
AVG- 20.94 BEST- 7/22
9. SHANE WARNE
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The spinners were the easiest picks in the whole lot. First up is Shane Warne, the man who bowled the ball of the century. A member of the dominant Australian team, Warne had the ability to spin the ball big on the flattest of surfaces. His sharp turning leg breaks combined with his his googly, flipper and a calculated run up were his main weapons in his armoury. He held the world record for most number of wickets in test at a time but was also caught in many acts that slashed his reputation in the market. But when the ball was in his hand, he would make the batsmen dance to his tunes.
He was named among five best cricketers of the century in 2000. His success in Australia, where the wickets are not as helpful to spinners, he made his mark. It was ironical that he always struggled in India where he should have starred. The void left by him is still to be filled by Australia as they struggle to reclaim their domination in test arena.
10W- 10 5W- 37
10. MUTTAIH MURALITHARAN
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Another easy one as the wily offie Murali breaks his way in. He holds the world record for most number of test wickets with 800 of them. He and Warne give each other perfect company with one spinning the ball in and the other away from the batsmen.
Averaging nearly six wickets per Test, Muttiah Muralitharan is the most successful bowler in the game, the greatest player in Sri Lanka's history, and without doubt the most controversial cricketer of the modern age. His deadly doosra and the simple off break has tormented the batsmen for the past 18 years. His ever smiling face gives him the name the "smiling assasin". He has been called numerous times for chucking but has always managed to clear the doubts and continue claiming wickets. His 800 wickets will be a landmark tough to break in near future. He has single handedly carried carried the bowling attack of Sri Lanka for a long time bowling marathon spells and always seeking wickets and attacking the batsman.His 22 ten wicket hauls and 67 five wicket hauls tell us all about his class and Sri Lanka's impotent bowling in the previous decade. Seldom again will Sri Lanka see such a hero in action again.
11. GLENN MCGRATH
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The last man on the list is the Pigeon who flew high with the invincible Aussie team in his time. I again contemplated for a long time between Walsh, Akram and Mcgrath, but ultimately had to give it to him for his more match winning efforts. Mcgrath again not so comparable to Marshall with pace but as deadly with his line and length and could produce wickets on any pitch. The decline of aussie team since his retirement speak volumes about his efforts.
He is the leading wicket taker in tests for a fast bowler and comes fourth on the all time list.His deadly accuracy and that constant hovering around in that off-stump cordon were his biggest strengths. He could swing the ball either way and reverse it with great efficiency. He won the wisden cricketer of the year in 1998
10W- 3 5W- 29