Everyone loves lists, and no-0ne loves lists more than male sports-followers. This week sees the release of the so-called International Cricket Council ‘Dream Team’ – supposedly the best 11 cricketers ever to take the field – voted on by the aforementioned male cricket loving public.
I made a list like this about 6 months ago, and mine is quite different – and a shit-load better. Demographics have played a big part in the voting for this team. For a start it’s heavily skewed towards cricketers of the last 30 years, with only one – the incomparable Bradman – getting a guernsey. Beyond that the overwhelming number of Indian supporters accounts for the preponderance of Indian cricketers – vastly surprising given the history of cricket, which has generally seen India as being one of the weaker teams until recent times. No English players make the list at all.
Some selections are no-brainers: Bradman, Tendulkar (despite some reservations), Warne. There are others more contentious and open to discussion, but which I concur with: Gilchrist, Akram (a favourite of mine), probably Lara. Of the rest some are clearly borderline in or out – Ambrose, McGrath, maybe Gavaskar, but that leaves a couple of Indian selections I think are plainly wrong.
To select Kapil Dev over Sobers, or even Miller, is just rash. Kapil Dev was a fine player, but there are probably half a dozen better all-rounders in the history of the game. You’d select Botham ahead of him, but Botham doesn’t get in my best side. And Imran Khan! And even Jacques Kallis. Fail.
Sehwag is a great player on his day, and one of the most destructive of all time, but I doubt he’s even the best opener of his generation, let alone of all time. I think Hayden ranks ahead of him in this era, Greenidge is probably his equivalent, but I actually selected a couple of Poms when I nominated my best ever: Hobbs and Sutcliffe, statistically the best opening partnership ever. If we’re to select them then Gavaskar misses out, which is a tad tough given how good he was, so let’s just say he’s in the mix (as would be Hayden, but neither Sehwag or Greenidge).
I may be partial, but a lot of people have claimed Dennis Lillee to be the best fast bowler of all time – he certainly is in my viewing of the game (which covers the golden age of fast bowling). He’s in definitely, probably in for Ambrose. McGrath, great as he was, doesn’t survive either. I’m partial to Andy Roberts, who many no longer remember and too easily discount. If you’re looking for balance in the bowling attack then you have the tearaway-cum-clever seamer in Lillee, the great left-armer Akram, Sobers who can roll his arm over either medium or spin, and of course the greatest of all, Warnie with his leg spinners. You could do with a McGrath type, steady as the day is long – probably 12th man here – which leave the tall bouncy type bowler like Garner, a express skidder like Marshall, or the precision of a Hadlee. I’ll go Hadlee, a handy batter too.
What remains are some great batsmen who miss out. Lara, in, is hard to leave out – but so to is someone like Ponting, the best number 3 of the generation, outstanding fielder, captain, and all-round tough guy. Not to mention Greg Chappell, Viv Richards, Len Hutton, Allan Border, Neil Harvey, Steve Waugh, and probably a good dozen more… Take your pick.
There is no perfect team. These are very subjective judgements influenced by what we’ve seen against what we haven’t, and in some instances, national prejudices. India certainly doesn’t deserve four in the team, and England merit at least one.
- Four Indians figure in ‘All-time Greatest Test team’ (indiavision.com)
- No room for Hadlee or Kiwis in ICC Dream XI (3news.co.nz)
- Controversy as no Englishmen make all-time best Test XI (telegraph.co.uk)