Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series. We have covered the batters and all-rounders from our second XI, as well as the whole of the first XI, so this post deals with the bowlers from the second XI and introduces the third XI in batting order. In keeping with usual philosophy I have equipped this XI with a well-balanced bowling attack. Later in this series we shall see an example where I depart from this, because having started following cricket when I did I believed it necessary to feature a quartet of West Indies fast bowlers somewhere along the way.
A left-arm fast bowler who took over 1,000 wickets in all forms of international cricket, and also a very handy batter to be coming in number 8. He was spotted bowling in the nets by Imran Khan, and called into the Pakistan team while still in his mid-teens. He made an immediate impact, and never looked back. Wasim was one of the pioneers of reverse swing bowling.
Another left-arm fast bowler, even quicker than Wasim. Like Wasim he played county championship cricket as an overseas player, in his case for Surrey and then for Glamorgan. Overseas players in the championship is a thorny issue, my opinion being that an overseas player should only be signed if they are definitiely bringing something that no-one already in your squad can provide, and if they are good enough to attract the attention of their own national selectors. The temptation to sign any old overseas player just because you are allowed to do so should be resisted. Waqar’s great trademark was a thunderbolt yorker, although against Sri Lanka in the semi-final of the 1996 World Cup he memorably came a cropper when he deployed it too predictably and his last two overs went for 40 runs. With this pairing to open the bowling and Botham as back-up the pace bowling side of things is now well covered…
In 1993 he settled the fate a series with his first delivery therein, the legendary “Gatting Ball”, which pitched well outside leg-stump and turned so much that it dislodged the off bail. From that moment on England were spooked and the series was only ever going one way. 12 years later when England ended a long Ashes drought by winning the 2005 series Warne still captured 40 wickets in the series, in the process becoming the first bowler to take 100 test wickets in a country other than his own. When Australia took their revenge on a complacent and under-prepared England 18 months later Warne had another fine series, including the spell that virtually settled things by turning the Adelaide match upside down.
Over 700 wickets (I will not give an exact tally here, because there is an inconsistency in his official record, where wickets against a World XI are counted as test wickets, while those who played against Rest of the World sides which were recruited to replace South African touring teams in the 1970s did not have their achievements counted in the test match records) in test cricket, a tally beaten by only one bowler, and not under any immediate threat from anyone else is testament to his amazing skills, which revived a largely forgotten art (through the 1970s and 1980s spinners had increasingly, if used at all, come to be seen as keeping things tight while the quicks rested) and changed the face of cricket.
There is one caveat about Warne however – if the match or matches were scheduled to be played in India I would not pick him because he paid very dearly for his wickets in that country. Nevertheless, his huge achievements everywhere else undoubtedly qualify him to be regarded as one of the finest of all-time.
The leading wicket taker in test match history with 800 scalps to his credit. At the Oval in 1998 his captain Arjuna Ranatunga chose to field first on a plumb pitch because he wanted to be sure that his main man got a proper rest between bowling stints. England made 445, but Murali claimed seven wickets with his off-spin. Sri Lanka then made almost 600, Sanath Jayasuriya leading the way with 213, and England collapsed second time round for 166, Murali adding nine wickets to his first innings seven, and Sri Lanka knocked off their tiny target without difficulty.
There have been many questions over his action down the years, but as far I as concerned he is one of the all-time greats, and well worth a place in this list.
INTRODUCING THE THIRD XI
Here in batting order is my third XI, perparing the way for a continuation of this series:
- Chamari Atapattu
- Virender Sehwag
- Jonathan Trott
- A B De Villiers
- Graham Thorpe
- *Steve Waugh
- +Jeff Dujon
- Ravindra Jadeja
- Kagiso Rabada
- R Ashwin
- Allan Donald