Our Best Cricket Test XI since the 90’s

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I can’t remember where, but last month I saw/heard guys discussing who would make a world Test XI, but only players that we’ve seen play. So early 90’s to current day. No Bradman, Viv or Sobers allowed. I thought it would be tough… but not THIS tough! It’s near impossible – but here’s our BEST TEST XI

Yes, we’re going to miss out some class players, but let it be known that I enjoy watching attacking/entertaining cricket – so we haven’t found a place for the likes of Dravid or generally defensive minded players.

OPENERS: 

Matthew Hayden and Sachin Tendulkar.

So here’s the first issue.  With a packed middle order of world class players – I’ve been forced to push someone up into the opening spot, and who else is better to do that, than the greatest of all time… The Little Master.  Sachin will open the batting and he’ll be fine there. He’s scored just short of 16,000 runs at an average of 54. There’s no more to be said.

Opening with him is Matthew Hayden. I remember when the Protea’s played against Australia in the 90’s, I used to hate the thought of Hayden opening the batting. He was so big and belligerent! An average of 50, strike rate of 60 and a top score of 380. He would destroy any opening bowling attack in the world.

Who just missed out: Warner. If I could find a place for Sachin in the middle order, Warner would open for this side.

Three, Four and Five: 

Ponting, Lara and Kallis

I don’t think Amla, Chanderpaul, Dravid, Jayawardene or either Waugh brother could quite knock Ricky Ponting from the number three spot. I really disliked him in the 90’s (because he was Australian), but my word – he was brilliant. He was slightly susceptible to an early LBW, but once he was in, there was no getting him out! 13,000 runs at an average of over 50, you’d love him to come in at first drop.

Number four was an obvious selection. The only man to score a quadruple hundred in the history of the game. Lara was a swashbuckling batsman. He had so few weaknesses and all I remember from my childhood is him throwing absolutely everything at the ball. He’d throw the kitchen sink when playing a cover-drive. Just short of 12,000 runs at 53 secures him our number four spot.

At five, it’s an obvious decision. To me, the greatest all-rounder of time. Jacques Kallis averaged 55 with the bat (higher than Sachin), scored 13,000 runs and averaged 32 with the ball, taking 292 wickets. Simply staggering!

Six: 

Pietersen

Number six, I suggest will cause the biggest controversy. I have a feeling that everyone will be thinking I’m mad in the head for going with KP over AB, and I’m still not sure why I have. There’s nothing between them in the stats, KP has scored 100 more runs in five less innings and has two more 100’s. Pietersen is known to play a daft shot, but I think maybe DeVilliers will play a few more. Sorry, Kevin Pietersen bats at six for us. I love watching him bat!

Seven: Wicket-keeper

Gilchrist

Apart from AB v KP, this was my toughest decision to make. I thought Sangakkara would be the obvious decision. He averaged a mammoth 57, scoring 12,400 runs. But batting at seven for this side, it’s unlikely he’ll need to come in and steady the ship. We’ll probably need an aggressive batsman to come in, smash us up to a score to declare at. To be perfectly honest, I actually want to put Quinny de Kock in here – I REALLY believe he’ll be the greatest keeper/batsman ever. Even though he averages 50 at a strike rate of 71, I think having only played 13 Tests works against him in this fantasy cricket side. In this case, Adam Gilchrist gets the nod. I remember having Australia five down for not much on a few occasions and Gilly would just come in and score a century to break our hearts, including his highest Test score of 203* in JHB during the ’01/’02 season. I even pondered AB as a keeper/batsman, but with our spinner – we need a world class keeper.

Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven:

Akram, Warne, Ambrose, McGrath

The bowlers I actually found easier to select than the batsmen.

Batting at eight was a toss up between Dale Steyn and Wasim Akram. I like the idea of having a left-arm bowler in the side. They’re both really quick, both average around 23 with the ball and both have taken just over 400 wickets. What gets Akram into my side is that he’s better with the bat. Averaging 22 and a highest score of 257* gets him in.

Shane Warne walks into my side and is probably the first name on the team sheet. I’d have him over Muralitharan any day. Murli seemed to be superb on the turning wickets but Warne was a menace on all tracks. Being Australian and growing up on fast, bouncy wickets – taking 708 wickets at an average of 25 was beyond brilliant.

At six foot seven, Curtly Ambrose petrified me growing up. He was so quick and rarely pitched the ball up. He just bounced every batsman out that he bowled to. Getting his 405 wickets at an average of 21, there’s no other man I’d want to lead my attack.

Glenn McGrath really irritated me as a youngster. If it wasn’t Warne breaking my teenage heart by ripping through our batting line-up, it was McGrath! He just nagged on the length the batsmen hated. he could bowl six balls an over in the “corridor of uncertainty”, which made him, arguably, the best bowler of the late 90’s. A mind-blowing 563 wickets at an average of 21, he’ll be the perfect partner for big Curtly.

Hayden

Tendulkar

Ponting

Lara

Kallis

Pietersen

Gilchrist

Akram

Warne

Ambrose

McGrath

I’m sure we can make another 11 including Warner, Sanga, Steyn, Waqar, AB, Steve Smith, Kohli etc that could beat our side – but that’s the fun of this, everyone will have their opinion. So let us know your best XI. We look forward to it. Tweet us your XI on @leftbacks

3 comments:

  1. hhhhmmmmm… I need to disagree. Test match cricket is all grind, grit, hard work and patience. Attacking test cricket is a product of modernity and needs to be detested(pun intended)… Tendulkar will almost certainly fail as an opener. Pietersen wouldn’t make my touring squad, nevermind starting XI.
    You can’t have a test cricket XI without the likes of Dravid, Russell, Donald, Younis, Waugh…
    My XI would be

    Russell

    Dravid

    Lara

    Kallis

    Tendulkar

    Healy

    Akram

    Warne

    Donald

    McGrath

  2. I think that it is absolutely outrageous to have KP ahead of AB. Forget about the stats which are obviously irrelevant here. AB is the better player for various other reasons and I know at least one person who would back me 100% on this!! Pomps knows…

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