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Day: November 25, 2012

Picking my Test Match XI of my generation

Last night (well in the early hours of today) whilst watching Australia v South Africa in the second test from Adelaide I was laying in bed and trying to work out my Test team of my lifetime and decided to blog about it so here we are.

I am only including players I saw who were at the height of their game in my watching life. This means that players like Botham and Marshall – two players who would certainly be in the mix are not going to be considered. Also this is not a ‘best team of my generation’ but more a team that I’d put out if I had to win a Test match. Also for the basis of this team I’m saying the Test is not on the sub-continent so only one spinner will play.

So we start with my openers and one is easy – Graeme Smith. Smith I think is a class act both in mind and skill. He averages a tick under 50 as a Test Match opener and has that gumption about him. His opening partner was more tricky. I love Chris Gayle but could I trust him? Matthew Hayden was terrific and Virender Sehwag is explosive but I think I’ll have to go with the little master Sachin Tendulkar. He averages a tick under 55 in Tests and is a magical player.

Next up we have the middle order (3-5) and boy have we seen some great5 players in my time. Here is a brief look at the players who I’m not picking…Steve Waugh, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Hashim Amla, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Kevin Pietersen, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Rahul Dravid. That is some list of players but I think 3-5 is actually really easy. I’d have Ricky Ponting at three, Jacques Kallis at four and Brian Charles Lara at five. Kallis also provides the fourth seamer option as he can easily give me 10-15 overs in a day.

Now at number six is without a doubt my most controversial choice and in so a player who most people wouldn’t even think of. I think in the middle order you need at least one player who can be the glue is everything is going wrong. This is another spot where Rahul Dravid could easily have been picked or Mr Cricket himself – Michael Hussey but I’m going with my only English player – one who played 100 Tests for England and was always the guy you wanted to see coming in at 30/3 if times were hard – Graham Thorpe. He averaged ‘only’ 44.66 but was always the anchor when England needed him. A team full of All Stars probably doesn’t need that anchor but I’d still want one so Thorpe is in for me.

Coming in at seven is Adam Gilchrist who has the gloves. I don’t think anyone would argue this. Averaged 47.60 in Tests and changed the way we viewed wicketkeeping. Do I need to say much more about this? Not really. Don’t have to justify it as no-one else really got a look in despite my love of Mark Boucher he wasn’t in Gilly’s league.

Coming in at nine would be by spin bowler and in was a two horse race. Either you pick Muttiah Muralitharan or like me you select Shane Warne. Also here is the surprise. Warne never captained Australia in Test cricket but he would be my captain. I think Warne is one of the finest cricketing brains out there and there is no doubt he is the greatest captain Australia never had.

With Warne coming in at nine that means I have a pace bowler coming in ahead of Warne (which shows great depth in batting). I just about saw Wasim Akram in his prime and for me he has to be in this side. His pace and swing was years before his time and his long time opening bowling partner Waqar Younis could be seen as hard done by not to make the side. However Wasim is my first change bowler so I have a strike pair yet to be announced.

Glenn McGrath is a no brainer. Australia had the best spin bowler of all time and the best pace bowler of his generation in McGrath playing in the same team. That is in no small part to why they dominated the sport. He’ll bat at 11 and at 10 and taking the new ball with McGrath is Curtley Ambrose. I know Courtney Walsh had a better record but I always felt that when at full pace and when he was really up for it Ambrose was the hardest and fiercest pace bowler of his generation. I was a huge Ambrose fan. Players like Walsh, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Andrew Flintoff got a brief glance. Flintoff as a bowler was extremely good but he was never an all-rounder (apart from his very early years).

I think this team has every angle covered. I know a couple of players would be questioned (Thorpe and Ambrose certainly) but this is all subjective. If we were just having a ‘best players in my generation’ team then Kevin Pietersen may well had made the team instead of Thorpe and Walsh’s consistency may well have knocked Ambrose out but I think Thorpe and Ambrose bring something to my team that Pietersen and Walsh don’t (steel and raw aggression).

So to recap:

Smith
Tendulkar
Ponting
Kallis
Lara
Thorpe
Gilchrist (wkt)
Akram
Warne (Capt)
Ambrose
McGrath

If I was picking a squad of 16 for a tour you can add Sehwag, Pietersen, Boucher, Muralitharan and Walsh and I’m still not picking players I truly loved like Chanderpaul, Ul-Haq, Hussey…we have seen real quality in recent years. I might well do my generation team for T20 games in the near future and if I do I’d be interested to see how many of the Test players make that squad…I’m putting the over/under at five but I haven’t really thought about it yet.

Who would make your Test team if you had to pick a team to win a Test match of only players you’ve seen play?

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