I know what you’re thinking. It would be easier for us to simply put the great West Indies team of the 70s and 80s into the best-ever England vs West Indies combined XI. But we’re trying to find some semblance of balance here.
Before I get stuck in I should make it clear that this is an XI comprised of players who did brilliantly in England v Windies fixtures rather than all test matches against all opposition. It’s like one of those post-series combined XIs but for all time. So here goes …
- Geoff Boycott (England): Managed to play well against a savage West Indies bowling attack, scoring 5 hundreds and averaging 45.93 in 29 Tests.
- Len Hutton (England): England’s most fabled cricketer averaged 79 in just 13 Tests, hammering the Windies for a total of 1,661. Not bad, eh?
- Brian Lara (West Indies): Lara torched England’s bowling – especially in 2004 when he hit 400 not out. One of the very best in the business.
- Sir Viv Richards (West Indies): Richards smashed England around the shop, amassing nearly 2900 runs in just 36 Tests.
- Colin Cowdery (England): Cowdery smashed 6 hundreds in his career against the Windies – the joint-best with Allan Lamb against bowling brilliance
- Sir Gary Sobers (West Indies): The greatest all-rounder of all time? Sobers is a shoo-in in our XI after battering the English for over 3,000 runs, including 10 hundreds. He also had 102 wickets against England, too.
- Matt Prior (Wkt, England): Prior had a couple of centuries against the Windies, averaging over 50. He might not have been a Murray or Dujon behind the stumps but he was a more-than-useful wicketkeeper, and with a longish tail this side needs his batting.
- Malcolm Marshall (West Indies): The late, great bowler was amazing, with an average of 19.18 in 26 matches. That’s stunningly economical.
- Curtly Ambrose (West Indies): Hammered the English for 164 wickets, including two 10-fers. His spell of 8/45 in 1990 was one of the most powerful, beautiful spells of bowling.
- Michael Holding (West Indies): Whispering Death completes our line-up of brilliant West Indies fast bowlers, reeking havoc to English players throughout his career. He never lost against England, and put together 96 wickets including a glorious 8-92 at The Oval in 1976.
- James Anderson (England): Still one of the best bowlers in the business but his 7 for 42 at Lord’s in 2017 was spell-binding.
Honourable mention: Angus Fraser (England): Bowlers have taken 8 wickets in an innings just 7 times in England versus West Indies tests. Gus Fraser is the only player to record the feat twice (8-53 in 1998 and 8-75 in 1994).
So what do you think? That’s one of hell of a bowling and batting line-up – especially if you consider that Garry Sobers can bowl both pace and spin. Not a bad player to balance the team eh.