I set myself a tough challenge today: could I name an international XI where each player came from a different nation and neither of the two original test protagonists, England and Australia were included. This meant a degree of compromise, and some huge names missing out because accommodating them would have left me insoluble problems elsewhere. I think the end result is a fairly impressive looking side.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
- Sunil Gavaskar (India, right handed opening batter). His credentials are unarguable, but of course selecting him meant no place for Tendulkar, Kohli or any of the great spinners India have had down the years.
- George Headley (West Indies, right handed opening batter). A magnificent test record, and has a genuine claim to have been WI’s best ever. Filling the opening slots was the single toughest job involved in selecting this side.
- Graeme Pollock (South Africa, left handed batter). Another all time great, at least ensuring that the batting well get off to a decent start.
- Steve Tikolo (Kenya, right handed batter). His country’s best ever, and an FC average of 48 underlines his credentials
- Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe, right handed batter, off spinner). Number five was too low in the order for Andrew Flower, and the latter was not good enough to dislodge any of top three, so I made the compromise selection of a batting all rounder for this slot.
- *Imran Khan (right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain). An excellent captain and among the greatest of all all rounders, ideal for this side.
- +Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh, right handed batter, wicket keeper). A top quality keeper, and a fine batter as well.
- Richard Hadlee (New Zealand, right arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter). Other than perhaps Clarrie Grimmett, who had to cross one national and two state boundaries to find cricketing fulfillment, disqualifying himself for this XI in the process, there is no case for anyone else being regarded as New Zealand’s finest ever bowler.
- Bart King (United States of America, right arm fast bowler, right handed lower middle order batter). Just over 400 FC wickets at 15 a piece, mainly for the Philadelphians in the course of four tours of England and good enough with the willow to average 20 in that department. As a ‘minor nation’ representative of indisputable top class he helped make the task of this post possible.
- Rashid Khan (Afghanistan, leg spinner, right handed lower order batter). A superb leg spinner, and his position at number ten in this order notwithstanding far from a mug with the bat as well.
- Muthiah Muralidaran (Sri Lanka, off spinner, right handed lower order batter). More test wickets than any other bowler in history – 800 of them. Some have suggested that his record is unduly boosted by cheap Bangladeshi and Zimbabwean scalps, but even against the more highly regarded nations he took 624 wickets at 24 – a cheaper average than Shane Warne’s against all comers (176 wickets at 15 against the two ‘minnows’).
This XI has a very powerful top four, a batting all rounder at five, one of the all time great genuine all rounders at six, a keeper who is also a top drawer batter and four of the greatest bowlers in history, three of whom can bat to varying degrees – Hadlee and King being close to all rounders and Rashid Khan definitely a ‘bowler who bats’. I do not see a bowling unit that has Hadlee, King and I Khan to bowl pace, Murali and R Khan to bowl spin and Raza as sixth option struggling to claim 20 wickets on any surface.
Obviously many great names missed out, but if you want to press the case for your favourites consider a) who misses out to get them in, b) how does that affect the balance of the side. Remember for example that if you want Tendulkar or Kohli to bat at four, Gavaskar has to be replaced as opener by a non-Indian, and unless you can find an opener from Kenya (Tikolo’s country) or a country not covered in my original selections that will in turn mean that someone else from down the order having to be replaced. One possibility that I could see for changing my XI would be to replace Rahim as keeper with Titendu Taibu (Zimbabwe), and then bring left arm spin bowling all rounder Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh) in in place of Raza, leaving the other nine positions unaffected and slightly improving the depth and variety of the bowling by increasing the range of spin coverage. However my view is that Rahim outranks Taibu in both departments, and that Al Hasan is not enough of an improvement on Raza to justify the swap.
The weather is very changeable here in Norfolk at the moment, but there has been enough of the good, or at least decent, variety that I have a large photo gallery to share…
2 thoughts on “All Time XIs: 11 Countries, no England or Australia”
nice ! good read .
stay awesome and keep blogging
Thank you – and I will certainly keep blogging.