This post was inspired by a challenge tweeted by @cric_blog:
🇦🇫 🇦🇺 🇧🇩 🏴 🇮🇳 🇮🇪 🇳🇿 🇵🇰 🇿🇦 🇱🇰 🇧🇧 🇿🇼— CricBlog ✍ (@cric_blog) November 25, 2020
Make a Test XI (and 12th man) picking one current player from each of the 12 Test nations. Go!#Cricket
I responded on twitter, but there is a limit to how much detail one can go into there, so I am now putting up a blog post to provide a fuller explanation of my thoughts (I thank CricBlog for setting a tough but fun challenge and inspiring me to create a blog post – a combination of an English late autumn/ winter and lock down is not exactly ideal for providing inspiration!).
The 12 test playing nations are: Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe. Some of these nations have many current greats to choose from, others have very few players to merit consideration. I also wished as far as possible to pick players in appropriate places in the batting order and to have a properly balanced side.
THE SQUAD FROM 1-12
- Dominic Sibley (England) – an opening batter who knows how to bat for a long time. He has impressed considerably since his selection for England, which was earned the old fashioned way by scoring shedloads for his county.
- Babar Azam (Pakistan) – he often bats no3 in long form cricket, but he can also open, his class is unquestionable, and his attacking inclinations make him a suitable partner for the solid Sibley.
- Kane Williamson (New Zealand) – one of the finest long form batters the game has ever seen, and certainly in the top handful of contemporary batters whatever the format.
- Virat Kohli (India) – Another all time great.
- Angelo Matthews (Sri Lanka) – Averages 45 with the bat and is also a potential sixth bowler with his medium pace. Sri Lanka are not especially strong at the moment, limiting one’s options in terms of selecting a team of this nature.
- +Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh) – A fine wicket keeper and worth his place as a middle order batter as well, the little Bangladeshi can be counted as one of two genuine all rounders in the XI.
- *Jason Holder (West Indies) – lower middle order batter, quick bowler and captain. He has a test double century to his name and has also taken some major wicket hauls, including a six-for to start the first test series of the 2020 English season. Although the West Indies ended up losing that series I was overall impressed by Holder’s captaincy and had little hesitation over giving him that role in this team. As an aside, England owe the Windies big time for this summer and should have reciprocal tours of that part of the world high on their priority list.
- Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) – an outstanding leg spinner and a useful lower order batter, he was the easiest selection of all for this squad, so far above his compatriots does he stand.
- Mark Adair (Ireland) – pace bowler, useful lower order batter (he averages over 25 in first class cricket). He was impressive with the ball at Lord’s in 2019, his only test to date.
- Kagiso Rabada (South Africa) – pace bowler. The quickest bowler in the squad, and the best of the three pace bowlers I have named.
- Nathan Lyon (Australia) – the best current off spinner (only Murali among off spinners I have seen in action ranks as an unquestionably better bowler – sorry Swanny), and a suitable ‘spin twin’ for Rashid Khan.
- Brendon Taylor (Zimbabwe) – Zimbabwe has few stand out names at present, but as a 12th man a wicket keeper who is also a good enough willow wielder to average 35 in test cricket is a pretty decent option.
THE TEAM ANALYSED
This team has a well matched opening pair, an outstanding no 3 and 4, a no 5 who has a very respectable record, an excellent keeper/batter, and Holder filling the all rounders slot at seven. The bowling line up, with Rabada taking the new ball alongside Holder or Adair, a third high class pacer and two outstanding and contrasting spinners in Rashid Khan and Nathan Lyon is also formidable. I would fully expect this team to give a good account of itself in any conditions. For more about my ideas on selection policies and team balance you can look at my ‘All Time XIs‘ series and/or at my ‘100 cricketers‘ series.
EXTENDING THE CHALLENGE
Please feel free to use the comments to indicate your own selections, sticking to the brief of one player per test playing nation. Those who fancy a really serious challenge are invited to pick a XII on similar lines to go up against mine (without thinking too hard I can identify nos 4, 5, 6 (or 4, 5, 7 or 4,6, 7) and 11 of such a combination and would be interested to see if these names feature).
I finish this post with some photographs (to view an image at full size please click on it):