Out of This World: What’s Your All-Time World XI?

Today I feel like taking a trip down memory lane. The papers have been full of Ashes analysis, so I thought I’d try something completely different.

Let’s distance ourselves from England’s ‘historic Ashes win’ (© Sky) and look back further than two years ago. Indeed, let’s look back at test cricket since the mid-1980s, which was the time that cricket caught my imagination and captured my soul.

Regular readers know that I love nothing more than coming up with ‘all time XIs’. It’s great for discussion and it’s fun. We’ve all done it in the pub with friends, and I bet most of you can reel off your personal all-time England XI in an instant.

I used mine for the table plan at my wedding seven years ago (pictured above). Knowing what I know now, I’d only make two changes: Swann for Monty and Anderson and Fraser. I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago.

However, one thing I’ve never done at TFT before is name my all time World XI. This is the side I’d like represent Earth against the Martians in the Interstellar Test Championship – shown exclusively live on Sky of course.

Picking this side is a much harder task. There’s an embarrassment of riches to choose from – particularly when it comes to the bowlers. How on earth is one supposed to choose between Richard Hadlee and Glenn McGrath?

The batting is a lot more straightforward in my opinion – there are two players nobody will argue with – although choosing the openers and a captain was tricky.

Anyway, after racking my brains and receiving therapy for selective amnesia – I’d wiped several of these players from my memory due to the trauma they’ve caused England over the years – I’ve come up with the following team.

You’ll see I’ve somewhat bottled it by picking twelve players. I know, I know, it’s a bit of a copout, but we don’t know what the pitches are like on Mars.

The pictures beamed back from the Mars Rover suggest the surface might be a little dusty – in which case two spinners might be needed.

Sunil Gavaskar – I only caught the end of his career but his record speaks for itself. He scored thirteen test hundreds against the Windies. Averaging 65 against the likes of Holding and Andy Roberts isn’t just good, it’s jaw dropping.

Graham Gooch – A slightly controversial selection perhaps, but Gooch played the best test innings I’ve ever seen against the Windies at Headingley in 1991. He made 154 and carried his bat. Guys like Hayden and Sehwag played in an era when runs were easier to come by.

Sachin Tendulkar – Anyone got a problem with this pick? Didn’t think so.

Brian Lara – The best batsman I’ve ever seen. He was the best to watch too.

Steve Waugh (captain) – Hard as nails and obsessed with winning. Gets the nod over Alan Border, just.

Jacques Kallis – You’re a bowler. You’ve finally got rid of Sachin and Brian. You look up and see Kallis strolling to the wicket at fourth drop. Bugger.

Adam Gilchrist – The perfect man to come in when Earth are 400-5.

Richard Hadlee – Gets the nod over McGrath, but it was bloody close. Hadlee’s batting gives the squad a little extra flexibility.

Wasim Akram – Skiddy, left-arm, and swung it prodigiously. The perfect foil for the other bowlers. Bats a bit too.

Shane Warne – It was either Warney or Murali – so I cheated and picked both.

Muttiah Muralitharan – See Warne. S.

Curtly Ambrose – Of all the Windies quicks I saw, Ambrose was the most consistent. He was quick, relentless, hit the bat hard, and rarely bowled a bad ball.

On standby at Cape Canaveral: Glenn McGrath (how on earth did I leave him out?), Waqar Younis, Malcolm Marshall, Shane Bond, Allan Donald, Alan Border, Martin Crowe.

So what do you reckon? Not too many weaknesses there. I’m sure you all have your personal favourites though. Feel free to share ….

James Morgan



  • all -time world 11

    Clive Lloyd (captain)

    Alan Border

    Sachin Tendulkar

    Brian Lara

    Viv Richards

    Ian Botham

    Adam Gilchrist

    Imran Khan

    Joel Garner

    Malcolm Marshall

    Shane Warne

    • Oh bloody hell, I forgot about Imran! Maybe swap him for Kallis if we need 2 spinners. He’s obviously a better 3rd seamer.

  • From those that I’ve seen live, here’s my dream team…
    1. Barry Richards
    2. Gordon Greenidge
    3. Javed Miandad
    4. Robin Smith
    5. Kevin Pietersen
    6. Ian Botham
    7. Jack Russell
    8. Malcolm Marshall
    9. Shane Warne
    10. Andy Roberts
    11. Dennis Lillee
    twelfie. Derek Randall

    • and if I was to include those only seen on tv, then my team would be…

      1. Boycs
      2. Gayle
      3. Lara
      4. Viv
      5. Hicky
      6. Imran Khan
      7. Gilchrist
      8. Wasim Akram
      9. Hadlee
      10. Thommo
      11. Murali

  • It seems impossible not to have Sir Donald Bradman in the mix, Sachin at 4 and Lara 5. If the pitch is dusty Waqar and Younus would be imperatives as would Murali and Warne. Kallis and Knott at 6&7 leaving 2 openers to flail the Martians to all parts of the solar system and my picks would be Graeme Smith and Sunil Gavaskar……with Ambrose as 12th man if there was a greenish tinge to the pitch.

  • Based only on players in my watching lifetime…1991 onwards

    Openers a struggle, I didn’t want to end up with possibly the least aesthetically pleasing and least likeable (based on onfield persona only) openers ever, but somehow I have: Still think this team would be pretty horrible to play against.

    Smith, G

    2nd XI from the bench – Chris Galye (for shits and giggles), KP, Ponting, Ambrose, Steyn, Younis, 2003-5 Flintoff, Sehwag, Dravid, Waqar, Donald, Flower, A (wk).

    What is striking about this, is how few modern England players ever come into our heads. Now is this beause those of us who grew up in the 90’s during the bad times, just assume we’re inherently not as good as the shiney titans of the modern game from other nations or that we’re just not that good at sustaining a careers of excellence?

    Excellent periods, we got them by the barrel loads, think Vaughn 2002-4, Gooch 1990-4, Flintoff 2003-5 or more recently Root the last 18 months (could he change the pattern, the next 12 months will give us an idea?). Like him or loathe him, until his injury affected last season before termination KP was really the only batsmen who came close. As for bowlers, in my time Harmison, Gough, Anderson, Broad & Swann (what an attack that would be) were all very good at times, some for longer than others, but again just shy of that very top tier.

    • I agree mate. We haven’t had a single batsman averaging over 50 consistently but KP is closest. For some reason our guys just don’t have the longevity at the top. By the way, I was really tempted to have Sanga over Gilchrist. We could have Sanga at 6 instead of Kallis, thus allowing 5 specialist bowlers.

  • Since I started watching cricket in 1976.

    Gavaskar – opening against the Windies in the 70s and 80s (before helmets), not to mention Lillee /Thomson has to have been the most difficult and courageous batting assignment…. ever.
    Greenidge – that square cut, just awesome.
    Sangakkara – till recently, would probably have gone for Ponting, but Sanga averages more than anybody since Sobers retired, and his average of 67 in 85 tests without the gloves is second only to the Don. No flourish, just an immaculate batsman.
    Lara – Lara or Sachin, Sachin or Lara. Sachin’s figures were a bit better, but Lara in full flow was a phenomenal sight. The 4th innings 153* to win at Barbados in 98/99 against Warne/McGrath and the rest is the best innings I’ve ever seen.
    Viv – this should possibly be Sachin, but Viv was just the best.
    Gilchrist – no other serious contenders, are there?
    Beefy – The Botham of the late 80s was like watching Elvis in his Las Vegas years, not a patch on the Botham of 77-83 who swung the ball at pace and blazed attacks to all parts. Think of Sobers and Kallis and you remember match winning batting, think of Imran and Hadlee and you mainly remember match winning bowling – only Botham has won matches with either bat or ball in equal measure which is why he’s the best all rounder ever in my book.
    Wasim – best left armer ever
    Shane Warne – it’s close between Murali and Warne, and a spinning wicket would see them both in, but Warne’s guile and variations edge it.
    Marshall – Short, quick, skiddy and could move it in the air and off the deck. Absolutely the complete package.
    Dale Steyn – Hard to choose between Hadlee, McGrath, Lillee, Ambrose and Andy Roberts, but Steyn’s record is absolutely phenomenal – he has a strike rate of under 40 in Asia, and has done it all round the world. Now he has 400 wickets, he has to be considered an all-time great.

    And since they doubled up in ‘Armageddon’, thought I would do the same – here’s my second team on the other shuttle….

    AB de V (wk)

    4 number 11s in that line up, but with the 7 above them, hoping it shouldn’t matter

  • Couple of points about James’s team – Tendulkar never batted at No.3 in his career and although Gooch was brilliant 1990-92 (and 1979-80) there were some long fallow periods in-between.

    My team (post-1975): Gavaskar, Smith, V Richards, Lara, Kallis, S Waugh, Gilchrist, Akram, Warne, Marshall, Ambrose.

    Favourites XI: Tres, Saeed Anwar, Viv, Robin Smith, Thorpe, Greig, Knott, Marshall, Vettori, Waqar, Boult, 12th man: Greenidge.

    (I didn’t see enough of Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock or Mike Procter to consider them for inclusion).

      • Lara batted No.3 in about 40 of his 130-odd Tests and as he averaged over 60 there he could probably cope!

        Grrrr, how could I forget Michael Holding in my Favourites XI? Sorry, Trent but you have to make way.

  • Are we talking Tests or T20Is? The side I’m giving below applies to Tests vs Mars only.

    In no particular order:

    Brendon McCullum – because like seriously!!!!

    Sachin Tendulkar – I may not love him (an Indian fan that doesn’t like the Sachin, how surprising!!)

    Rahul Dravid – He will grind the Martians into their own red dust

    Kumar Sangakkara – I would send him in even if he were the last man standing….

    Brian Lara – Just imagine this guy smashing it around and Dravid just blocking at the other end, pure cricket sex.

    Adam Gilchrist – Reiterating what James said….

    Ian Botham – Like I said, need to have representatives from everywhere and also he wasn’t that bad an all-rounder also

    Curtly Ambrose – Probably the only Windies bowler that I liked….

    Wasim Akram – The better of the two Ws from Pakistan

    Shaun Tait – Because he was bloody fast and really bloody fast!!

    Shane Warne – His attitude post retirement and his form pre retirement (duh!!!)

    And then Murali of course as the 12th man!!!!

    • I’d never thought of that pairing together before; Lara and Sanga batting together would too sublime for words – more art than sport. Dreamy.

  • Viv. Better than Sachin and Lara, and without a helmet or armguard. Along with Warne and Gilchrist, the only one I’d write in ink. The best batsman of my lifetime.

    No way to Gooch for me. Only a great player at the end of his career. And Murali chucked it; they changed the rules for him. Here’s my stab:

    Gavaskar, Greenidge, Richards, Lara, Sachin (those 3 in the order I rate them…), Imran Khan (seen his record…?) Gilchrist, Wasim, Marshall (the best of the best for me), Warne, McGrath

    Honorable mentions….Sanga (significantly better average than Lara or Sachin, in spite of keeping wkt for the first 5 or 6 years of his career); Kallis (it was him or Imran at 6), Holding, Garner, Roberts, Ambrose, Waqar, Donald in the right-arm fast department – nothing to choose between them and McGrath really, can’t argue with any. Wasim got in as the best left-armer to add a bit of variety.

    Captain: Viv or Imran…now there’s an argument and a half…;)

    All good fun…

    • Sir Viv is the glaring omission from my team. In my defence he never got runs when I saw him live and I only watched him towards the end of his career. A bit like Gavaskar, but there was less competition for the opening berths.

    • Imran was never really a number 6 batsman though – batted there towards the end of his career, but has a massively inflated average because of his not outs.

      • He was a very respectable batsman by the end. That bloody inns in the World Cup final! Arrrrghhhhhh.

      • Yes that was the weakness I felt with my line-up, too. Of course Gilly was perfectly capable of batting 6, but didn’t like it or do so well whenever he did. Maybe I should just go for Kallis and sidestep Viv and Imran having to fight over the captaincy…

  • Not to be nationalistic, but you can’t leave out Botham! To prove nationalism is not the driver: drop Gooch. If only for entertainment’s sake. Don’t know what the M(artian)CC would be charging for tickets (in collaboration with the only too-aptly named Sky-Virgin Galactic consortium) but switching Botham for Gooch would surely make the crowds happier. For different reasons I’d have to say leaving Ponting out seems remiss, so although conditions might suit Muralitharan quite well, I’d drop him (not a straight swap I accept!)and leave it to Warne. That still leaves Sangakkara on the bench – which can’t be right. You’re right: take 17, hell make it 24 (there might be a few who don’t travel so well anyway….)

    • I’m going to contradict myself big time now. I left Botham out because his stats aren’t brilliant (relative to this company). What was it? 29 with the ball and 33 with the bat? However, on that basis I should’ve never included Gooch.

      I just can’t think of a better opener though. There were weaknesses with all the candidates e.g Hayden was a flat track bully, Saeed Anwar struggled against certain countries etc. I almost picked David Boon actually, just to see how many cans of XXXX he’d drink on the 6 month journey to Mars.

      I left out Ponting because I always thought he had a slight (only slight!) weakness against real pace. I saw Gough and Tudor (and Freddie) really expose him once or twice. He was a top, top, player though.

      • Gordon Greenidge or Graeme Smith, a great scorer of “tough runs”. The innings (150 odd?) he played to win the test vs England a few years ago was almost as good as Gooch’s vs WI (which is also the best knock I’ve ever seen).

      • David Boon is a Tasmanian from Launceston so he would drink James Boags by choice. No one other than Queenslanders drink XXXX by choice.

        AS for an XI – I’ll go with those I have watched play live.

        G Smith (Captain)
        D Gough.

        Gough gets his spot because (a) I always liked him (b) I seem to have not been to games in my recollection where some of the other contemporary greats have bowled. Walsh perhaps but I like the variety that Gough would bring.

        Murali there as a second spinner if the conditions are even somewhat favorable.

  • Original post, and all comments so far, seem to have ignored the “all-time” bit, and gone for “post-war”. Particularly odd as England do so much better if you go for the former! As this isn’t even an all-time test XI, I am tempted to include “lumpy” Stevens, but restricting myself to mid-19th century onwards:

    W.G. Grace (capt.)
    Weekes (wk)
    S.F. Barnes

    Tendulkar doesn’t even get close – I’d have Lara and Headley before I even thought about including him. I appreciate the reasoning behind only picking players you’ve seen, but in my case to do that would be to vastly over-estimate my discerning cricketing eye. Plus,as above. I’d quite like to pick a couple of Englishmen.

    • Hi Nick, do you mean Clyde Walcott as keeper? I don’t think Weekes ever kept wicket in a Test.

    • Hi Nick. ‘All time’ was just a bit of a hook really. I said in my opening paragraph that my team was from the time I started watching cricket in the mid-80s. I’m sure Bradman and Sobers etc would be automatic picks, but having never seen them play I can’t really comment.

    • I like your picks a lot though would have Walter Hammond for Grace, Gilchrist as wkt (or Knott if the pick was purely on keeping ability), Warne for Murali and a probably a different quick for Ambrose.

    • Yes. Simon, did mean Walcott. Bugger. Hungerpang, re Grace, don’t think you can leave him out – he was the outstanding test batsman by a distance until he was about 40, although not enough tests played for that to mean much. One of the first names on the teamsheet.

      James, appreciate that’s sensible – it’s just that from the cheap seats I say say I’ve seen lots of great players, but what I’ve actually seen is someone running in and someone else waving a tiny bit of wood. I know there’s a ball being bowled, but if it’s bowled quick and ends up in the wicketkeeper’s gloves I’m taking that on trust, really.

      My cricket watching started in 1990, so from that date my team would be Graeme Smith, Gooch, Ponting, Tendulkar, Lara, Sangakkara, Akram, Warne, Steyn, Ambrose, Muralitharan.

      How about if it was a tournament of the best XIs by country from the past 25 years? I think I’ve actually got all of my teams worked out somewhere…

      • Grace was the towering figure of the game in the last 2 decades of the 19th century, but I’m not sure he was the outstanding Test batsman. Bobby Abel and Arthur Shrewsbury both have superior records in the same period. As was often the case with Grace, the myth and reputation may have disguised the reality.

        • Overall, they have better averages, but remember that Grace was 40 in 1888 – an age by which almost anyone else would have retired. Up to 1888, he averaged 42 in tests, with his batting being almost entirely responsible for victory in two of the eight test he’d played. That’s a far superior record to that of any other batter (although with a very small sample size).

          And he was the dominant batsman in test cricket at a time when he was already a very fat man. Had tests started when he was 20, god knows what he would have achieved.

      • I like that best teams by country idea, though I’m going to go back 30 years. That does remove the likes of Sutcliff, Donnelly, Dempster and both John Reids from consideration.

        My NZ XI:
        John Wright
        Stephen Fleming (opening to make room in the middle order, and because no-one* in their right mind would pay to watch Wright & Mark Richardson bat together)
        Kane Williamson (based on his last 2 years, and potential, plus with Fleming opening he’s really only competing with Andrew Jones for the #3 berth)
        Martin Crowe
        Ross Taylor
        Chris Cairns (pre max-fixing of course. Kallis ranks as the top seam all-rounder of the ’00s, but Cairns gives Flintoff a run for his money for 2nd)
        Brendon McCullum (I was sorely tempted to play him as a specialist bat as his average jumps massively – and putting NZ’s only triple centurion at #7 does feel a little odd)
        Daniel Vettori (No competition)
        Sir Richard Hadlee (Seriously no competition)
        Shane Bond
        Trent Boult (left arm variety edges out Tim Southee, Chris Martin and Lance Cairns)

        There’d be a few arguments over who took the new ball. And I don’t even want to think about who I’d pick as 2nd spinner. Like most good NZ sides it bats deep

        Ian Smith (the world’s best gloveman in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and I watched him hit 170 in no time flat vs India at Eden Park back when back-cuts for 6 over 3rd man were a novelty)

        *Well, Chris Tavare might.

  • I wouldn’t call this the best eleven, but mostly the best players i have watched, the kind of players who if they are playing make you not switch the channel purely based on the enjoyment they bring.

    Sehwag [sure gavaskar, gooch are much ahead of sehwag but the guy is just fun to watch if he gets going regardless of attack and him pairing with haydos may be the death knell for the martians if they both fire]
    Ponting/dravid[ would mostly choose ponting for his counterattacks]
    KP/Imran /Flintoff [ cant go wrong with any of them]

    will put up other lists later of players of great innings, bad boys etc no squad can cover all these exceptional players.

  • My World XI since my time as a fan is

    Waugh S

  • With the proviso that any all-time Test XI starts with SF Barnes then Sobers then Bradman…

    First Test I ever saw on telly – honestly – was Headingley ’81. So starting from then, and picking twelve in case two spinners required:

    1. GA Gooch – can’t stand the man as captain, SA tourist or batting/running coach, but a hell of an opening bat. Must have the full moustache.
    2. SM Gavaskar – covered pretty well by James!
    3. IVA Richards (c) – you need a player to have those upstart Martians cowering in the stands. Simply the most intimidating batsman of my era.
    4. SR Tendulkar – !
    5. BC Lara – can you imagine getting rid of Viv or Sachin and Lara walks to the crease? Who’d be a Martian bowler?
    6. Imran Khan – simply the best all-rounder. Kallis would be a better bat, but not in the same division as a bowler, and I think we can live without Jacques’ brand of dull efficiency.
    7. APE Knott – this team doesn’t need runs. So we pick the best keeper. It was Knotty or Jack Russell.
    8. Wasim Akram – left-arm, rapid, reverse swing, and could bat.
    9. MD Marshall – in my opinion, the best of the best. In any other team would have taken 450+ wickets. He could bat as well, one-handed if necessary!
    10. CEL Ambrose – we need a tall fast bowler. Curtly gives us pace, bounce, and, most importantly, attitude.
    11. SK Warne – obviously
    12. M Muralitharan – ditto

    I grew up idolising Richard Hadlee as the complete bowler, so I’m surprised myself that he didn’t quite make it. If forced to go for a batting keeper I’d actually go for Andy Flower – his record in a team that gave him no support is extraordinary.

    A good game if you can find a willing participant is to pick your team with a friend playground-style – toss a coin and then take turns. Really concentrates the mind, and interesting to see your mate’s face when you don’t pick Bradman first…

    • Andy Flower is actually a very interesting shout. Reliable enough keeper and No1 batsman in the world (in the rankings) at a time when there were a lot of rather useful batsman around. Overall I like your team a lot. Wish I’d seen more of Knott.

      • You’re right about Knott – I’d forgotten he took the rand as well. I clearly remember his last innings at The Oval though, batting out for the draw. I confess my view of his keeping is more from growing up in Kent and having it drilled into me that he was the greatest. Jack Russell is definitely the best keeper I’ve really seen a lot of.

  • Just read through the entire comments list and, so far as I can tell, not a single mention of Kapil Dev. I think he’s the only player with 5000 Test runs and 400 wkts. For people who think Jimmy Anderson is a good swing bowler, Kapil could get people out on Indian wickets, too…deserves consideration, at the very least.

    • I would compare him to more of a Lance Klusener who had a full career, He was certainly the best pace bowler india had. His Big hitting is certainly a cult thing of those times. When he gets going he could be a hand full with bat.

      He would probably fit into a bowling allrounder role but he has some heavy competition there.

      • Kapil was a very good player, but I just feel that Imran was a bit better. Sorry India fans!

        Who can forget his 6 sixes off Eddie Hemmings to save the follow on? Kapil was the best Indian seamer I’ve seen. Only Javagal Srinath comes close imho.

        • It was 4 sixes.

          Kapil was an under-rated bowler, and while he could hit a long ball, his batting as a whole wasn’t in the class of Botham or Imran.

          • Yes I have no idea why I wrote six 6s. Still early. The equation was 24 to avoid the follow on.

        • ya totally fair, really like richie on those 4 6’s something the modern day commentators can take a note from.

  • Objective, based on players I’ve seen since 1981 (with added terrifying Duncan Fletcheresque commitment to tail-end batting prowess):

    Gavaskar, Smith, Richards, Lara, Tendulkar, S Waugh*, Gilchrist+, Hadlee, Akram, Warne, Marshall.

    Objective attempt to incorporate pre-1981 players – substitute Hobbs for Smith, Bradman* for Lara (switch 3 and 4), Sobers for S Waugh and I’ll keep my 8-11 thanks very much.

    Purely subjective (but still all right) team 1981-present:

    Greenidge, Trescothick, Richards*, Lara, Gower, Botham, Gilchrist+, Hadlee, Warne, Marshall, McGrath.

  • My favourite XI. Curtis, Moody, Hick, Botham, D’Oliveira, Neale (c), Rhodes, Newport, Illingworth, Dilley, Radford.

    You can see why that XI used to win the Sunday league with regularity! Those were the days.

  • Gavaskar was a very good player but picking him on the basis of an average of 65 v WI is not quite as open and shut as you might think – he got over half his runs against them in 2 series, the first in 70/71 when the WI pace bowling was modest at best, and in 78/9 v a WI side without its WSC players. He did well in the WI in 75/6 (av 55.7) against a young Holding , but with Roberts only playing 2 games (and 2 of the 4 tests being in Port of Spain, not noted for its pace) and back up mostly from Julien, and also did well in India in 83 (av 50.5) with Holding, Marshall and Davis playing each game and Roberts and Daniel sharing the 4th pace spot – in the context of the quality of the bowling against him arguably his best series performance v WI). The one time he came up against the top shelf 4 pronged WI pace attack (Holding, Marshall, Roberts and Garner) in WI in 82/3, he averaged 30, with about 60% of his series runs coming in one innings on a slow pitch at Guyana.

    • Interesting stuff. Generally speaking Gavaskar’s record was brilliant (above 50 I think) against every team except England. Strangely enough, he only averaged about 38 against us. He was an absolute wall against everyone else though.

      • You’re right – 50 average v everyone except England (and NZ). Putting an asterisk against him may be an Australian thing (I think we tend to rate people who do well against Australia regardless of how they do elsewhere – so from roughly the same era I would rate players like Robin Smith and Jack Russell higher than many Englishmen would). Gavaskar averaged 51.66 v Australia over 20 tests which is top draw – BUT somewhat similarly to his figures against WI, the only time he came up against a strong attack in Australia (80/81) it was a different story (3 tests, 118 runs at just under 20). 11 of his tests v Australia were during WSC, 3 were against the rebel tour affected 85/6 side just off being walloped in the 85 Ashes (credit where it’s due, he did average the small matter of 117 in that series).

        You can’t rate him as other than a great player, but there’s often more to the story than just the figures.

  • My XI from cricketers I’ve watched (so 1984ish onwards. Sadly that was past the prime for the likes of Botham, Richards & Greenidge so they miss out):
    Matthew Hayden (Don’t much like him, couldn’t leave him out)
    Virender Sehwag (I could have gone for Smith, but opted for a more attacking option. And Sehwag’s career average as an opener topped 50)
    Kumar Sangakkara (A career batting average of 67 when not keeping. Simply the best test bastman of the modern era)
    Brian Lara (Sachin was a very good batsman for a longer period, but lacked the absolute brilliance of an on-song Lara)
    Martin Crowe (Crowe was first selected for NZ aged 18, well before he was ready. And NZ kept him in the team despite a crocked knee past his peak. But a test average of 56 between 1984 and 1992 is phenomenal given the bowlers of the time)
    Imran Khan (Past his absolute best as a bowler when I saw him, but well worth a batting all rounder spot. Narrowly edges Kallis)
    Adam Gilchrist (impossible to leave out)
    Wasim Akram (left-arm variety gets him in ahead of Hadlee, as well as stamina for long spells. McGrath’s lack of batting relegates him down the list)
    Shane Warne (better batsman and fielder than Murali)
    Curtly Ambrose (An into-the deck bowler as contrast to the other seamers. Hard to score off, and downright scary as well)
    Shane Bond (Injuries meant he only played 18 tests. But assuming he’s fit offers slingy pace and a bucket load of wickets)
    12th man/2nd spinner: Muttiah Muralitharan
    Skipper either Imran or Crowe

  • Different teams would be required for different conditions:
    However, as a starting point, I’d go:

    A.B. De Villiers

    The key criteria are:

    Like the W.Indies team, a bowling oriented team.
    5 bowlers so the attack is fresh all the time
    A mixture of seamers and swing bowlers – Hadlee and Marshall were deadly off the seam
    3 wicketkeepers to share the duties, enabling each to be fresh enough to excel as batsmen

    Many times players are only as good as the team they play in; sometimes their abilities are exaggarated and sometimes they don’t get enough chance to shine. A.Stewart maybe exemplifies this, he was a superb opening batsman, but spent most of his life doubling up as a No 7 wicket keeper, and never really shone as he should have.

    The main point of the team is that Sangakarra and Stewart would share the w/k duties with AB De Villiers, allowing him to show that he is (in my opinion) perhaps the greatest batsman of all time.

    Some bowlers miss out simply because they could not bat as well. Lillee or Johnson? Johnson’s batting tips it.

  • Sunil Gavaskar
    Virendra Sehwag
    Don Bradman
    SR Tendulkar
    Jacques Kallis
    Garry Sobers
    Kapil Dev
    Richard hadlee
    Shane warne
    Muttiah Murlitharan


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