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Cricket World #GOAT XIs Test

India's Sachin Tendulkar
©Reuters
 

With almost the entire world dealing with a global pandemic, experts and cricketers all over the world have been going about naming their best ever teams. While I am neither an expert nor anything more than a mediocre slow left arm bowler (and a sloppy fielder), I thought I would go ahead with my-all time favorite test XI as well:

  1. Matthew Hayden – The big burly Queenslander was a treat to match during his glory days. Not only was his imposing figure a nightmare for bowlers, it was also his ability to tear apart attacks on a given day which made him so dangerous. He was equally good against spinners as well and had bucket hands that barely missed a chance at gully. [Mt. 103, Runs 8,625, Ave. 50.73]

  2. Sir Alastair Cook – Who better than a Pom to partner an Aussie at the top? The grit and determination of Cook makes him an ideal partner for the aggressive Hayden. My other option here was the obvious Virender Sehwag. However, Cook’s ability to master all conditions and better technique against the moving ball edged Sehwag out. The fact that no opener in the history of test cricket has scored more runs than him is testament to the skill levels he possessed at the top of the order. [Mt. 161, Runs 12,472, Ave. 46.95]

  3. Rahul Dravid – Absolute no-brainer. He is my all-time favorite cricketer and hence makes the cut ahead of Ricky Ponting or Kumar Sangakkara, the other contenders for this position. Not the most entertaining batsman and if Hayden gets out early, then god save the bowlers! Holds the record for the most number of deliveries faced in test cricket and also holds the record for the most number of catches by a non-wicket keeper in test cricket. The fact that he was one of the major reasons behind Sourav Ganguly’s success as India captain and also boasts of a phenomenal away record make it hard to have anyone else in this position. [Mt. 164, Runs 13,288, Ave. 52.31, Ct. 210]

  4. Sachin Tendulkar – Highest test run getter, only person to play 200 test matches to date. If cricket for our generation of Indians had a synonym, it would be Sachin Tendulkar. Yes, Virat Kohli is doing his best to shatter Sachin’s records, but the Little Master carried the expectations of the country for a staggering 24 years. Together with Dravid, they hold the record for most runs as a partnership and hence it would a cardinal sin to not include the duo together. Widely regarded as the best cricketer after Sir Donald Bradman, he could bowl decent leg-breaks, off-breaks and medium pace depending upon the captain’s requirements. [Mt. 200, Runs 15,921, Ave. 53.78]

  5. Jacques Kallis – A spot lower than his usual position, Kallis, was without doubt, the greatest all-rounder of his generation. He could bowl a heavy ball, dig in and frustrate the opposition with the bat and also had bucket hands at slip. He did not have the flair and the flamboyance which some of the other great all-rounders who graced the game, but he was certainly worth his weight in gold. His retirement led to South Africa having to bring in multiple players to balance the playing eleven, illustrating the impact he had as a player in the team. [Mt. 166, Runs 13,289, Ave. 55.37, Wkts. 292, Ct. 200]

  6. AB de Villiers – Another South African batsman who revolutionized the modern game of cricket. AB de Villiers was an absolute freak and could have easily made 10,000 test runs had he not run out of steam and announced a premature retirement. He started off early as a wicket-keeper batsman but soon gave up the gloves to prolong his career as a batsman. He is gifted with the ability of playing shots all over the wicket, a skill he has used to conquer T20 leagues over the world. The fact that he averaged over 50 over a career spanning more than 100 test matches is a testament to the fact that he was fantastic in the purest format of the game. [Mt. 114, Runs 8,765, Ave. 50.66]

  7. Adam Gilchrist – The best wicket-keeper batsman I grew up watching, Adam Gilchrist is widely regarded as the keeper who revolutionized the role of a keeper batsman. While Ian Healy was always regarded as a better keeper than Gilly, it was the batting prowess that Gilchrist possessed which set him apart. He could destroy the morale of teams coming in at seven and did it many a time in his illustrious career. He was excellent behind the stumps as well and had the privilege to keep to a couple of world class bowlers who are coming next on the list. [Mt. 86, Runs 5,570, Ave. 47.60, Ct. 379, St. 37]

  8. Shane Warne (captain) – The king of spin has to be the greatest spinner to have graced the game. Yes, Muttiah Muralidharan took more wickets than Warne, but nobody could write his own script better than Warne. Majority of his 708 test wickets came in Australia, a place which is known to favor fast bowlers more than spinners. It was only during the latter part of his career that I got to understand the tactical genius of this legend and hence, he is the captain of my team. [Mt. 145, Wkts. 708, Ave. 25.41]

  9. Graeme Swann – Another Pom to partner an Aussie when it comes to bowling in partnerships. There was something about Graeme Swann which made me like him more than Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin or Murali for that matter. He had a beautiful action, spun the ball at speed, topped it up with some gritty batting, sharp slip catching and a pretty decent sense of humor. While the timing of his retirement was questioned by experts, Swanny played an integral part in England’s rise to number 1 in test cricket. [Mt. 60, Wkts. 255, Ave. 29.96]

  10. 10.   Dale Steyn – An ability to swing the ball both ways, excellent accuracy and a chainsaw celebration made Dale Steyn a lethal package. Back when he was at his peak, he could walk over batting orders on his day and had an outswinger which would fall anybody fall in love with the game. He continues to play limited overs cricket and can still crank up decent pace when required. Injuries might have brought an abrupt end to his test career, but he will still go down as one of the game’s greats and one of the best I saw. [Mt. 93, Wkts. 439, Ave. 22.95]

  11. 11.   Glenn McGrath – Another absolute no-brainer. McGrath was the best fast bowler I grew up watching and ended up holding the record for the fast bowler with the most test wickets until he was overtaken by James Anderson, very recently. Immaculate consistency with a little bit of seam movement either way was what made McGrath lethal and that continued even till the time he retired. He had a beautiful and easy action and together with Warne, could almost tell how he would get a batsman out. Most batsmen hated facing him and you need to go beyond Michael Atherton to get an approval regarding the same. [Mt. 124, Wkts. 563, Ave. 21.64]
 
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