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Ask TMC: All-time Test XI

Recently, Wisden announced their all-time Test XI. Band-wagons were made to be jumped upon, so I have collated the opinions of another, slightly less illustrious bunch of cricket writers. Here are their individual selections before we finish with the final all-time TMC World XI.

Alex Britten
Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Bradman, Pollock. Richards. Sobers. Gilchrist. Akram, Warne, Holding, Lohmann

Opening partnerships need to be just that, and Hobbs and Sutcliffe averaged 87 together in the 20’s. Bradman is the obvious (if boring) choice at 3, but he has to play, and is captain. Graeme Pollock would have probably been the greatest left handed batsman were it not for Apartheid, and at any rate, I’ve got the greatest left hander at 6 in Sobers, who is also a more than handy all-rounder. I think that Viv Richards is the greatest all-round batsman there has ever been, and Gilchrist is the best wicketkeeper too. Akram, Holding and Lohmann are my quicks – Lohmann averaged 10 in Test cricket way back in the day and would add a certain amateurish frisson to proceedings – and Warne over Murali I feel.

Aoun Jafarey‘s Second XI
Sangakarra, Smith, Ponting, Lara, Kallis, Miandad, Khan, Dev, Younis, Muralitharan, Walsh

This was extremely hard to put together, but I did look at something arbitrary while making this list. Resilience to give in. Khan, Dev, Smith and Walsh are on my list for that very reason. You don’t always have a great day, but the way you play on your poor days says a lot about a cricketer. Admittedly, I’m no expert on the generations I’ve never seen and for me it’s very difficult to select those guys outside of just numbers. I also had an insanely difficult time thinking between Ambrose and Younis, but Younis in my eyes does a better job in terms of swing which is why he is more successful on tracks that aren’t laid out for fast bowlers; in short I think Younis has a more complete portfolio. Lastly, I do genuinely believe in Smith.. he may not have the “flair” but he’s never made a 100 with S.A going on to lose, and this trumps everything for me. Match winner like no other.

Arjun Vaidya
Hayden, Gavaskar, Bradman, Tendulkar, Lara, Sobers, Gilchrist, Akram, Warne, Marshall, McGrath

There could always be alternatives based on conditions, country and opposition. But these eleven players, according to me, would be most consistent given any condition and opposition as compared to some other greats.

Iresh Pillay
Gavaskar, Barry Richards, Bradman, Kallis, Tendulkar, Gilchrist, Akram, Warne, Marshall, Steyn, Holding

I have a serious problem doing an ALL TIME XI, difficult in the sense that all played in different eras, we obviously seen some dominate teams in certain decades and not having watched others live yet seen such on highlight packages or read about their greatness. Then what about our current crop of players, where will they finish of their career? I mean for example at the rate Dale Steyn is going in his career, with all due respect to Sir Richard Hadlee, why would I ever pick Hadlee over him…It’s a tough one but still a good team to put together, but just so biased at any given point in time!

Jeff Snowden
Gavaskar, Barry Richards, Bradman, Viv Richards, Waugh, Sobers, Gilchrist, Akram, Marshall, Warne, McGrath

Gavaskar, purely the most difficult person to get out. Lots of flair in the side so need a few of those types. Barry Richards was a quite unbelievable player who the world missed out on as far as Test cricket goes. Sutcliffe should be up there but I have not seen too much footage of him playing. Bradman just has to be there for me. Richards was great at 3 but proved throughout his career he could bat at 3, 4 or 5. As I’ve said before, my favourite cricketer by a country mile and his whole demeanour adds to the side as well as his extraordinary talent. Waugh at 5 may be a bone of contention but for me, he is the ultimate warrior and you need a captain. Richards wasn’t quite as good tactically for me. Waugh was a great bat who handled the pressure of skippering better then any I know. Sobers could be in for batting and bowling, also a great slip fielder, which would be needed for the bowling attack. Gilchrist was a close call for me as there’s others who were better glovemen, but he improved hugely towards the middle and end of his career, mainly through keeping to Warne. Akram was a truly nasty bowler to face. He also, like Marshall, had a huge amount of skill and could literally “make the ball talk”. Warne is just a genius. McGrath brings more balance to the side and Waugh as skipper would get the best from him. Ridiculously tough calls as I can’t believe Lara is missing and not to put Tendulkar in was incredibly tough.

Martin Jones
Hobbs, Smith, Bradman, Richards, Sangakkara, Sobers, Botham, Akram, Warne, Thompson, McGrath

This was pretty tough to assemble, and I’ve made a few odd decisions. Graeme Smith, for me, is one of the greatest opening batsmen Test cricket has ever seen. Crab-like and inelegant, he finds ways to grind out runs when his team needs them. He also has to be one of the best captains the game has seen, and that wins it for me. I chose Sangakkara over Gilchrist because I believe him to be better with both the gloves and the bat. He is a completely different kind of player, but I think his calm head would be vital as he bats with the aggressive all-rounders below him. Botham I picked over Imran Khan because of the variety he added to the attack and the way he could lift those around him. Forget the latter years of his career, and remember the times when he averaged forties with the bat and twenties with the ball. Also, Jeff Thompson wins a place for being the quickest there has ever been, and completing an attack with six very different bowlers. I also wanted Malcolm Marshall, but plumped for Glenn McGrath on a hunch. It’s a difficult side to assemble, and I think the only mistake you can really make is to leave out Don Bradman…

Nigel Armitage
Gooch, Barry Richards, Viv Richards, Tendulkar, Grace, Proctor, Khan, Knott, Warne, Marshall, Holding

Sad that we will never know how great Test Careers Proctor and Barry Richards would have had. Mike Proctor had it all. Could swing the ball like Waqar, bounce them like Marshall and could bat as well as any all-rounder you could care to mention. My only concern was whether he should bat above Imran. Barry Richards was another great talent. His limited Test career was outstanding and his first class average is more than impressive. For me Gavaskar is nowhere near my XI. Way too one-dimensional and whilst I know One-Day stuff was in its infancy back then, his 30 not out in a 60 over game when they decided 300 was too many to chase showed his limitations. It was closer for me with Greenidge, Haynes, Roy Fredericks and Hayden before Richards and of course my hero Gooch, which I admit bias on this selection. That said, his 100 at Headingly against the finest attacks of all time remains (statistically) the best ever Test innings and his average only disappoints due to such a poor start when he was selected a little early and England were somewhat in the doldrums. He was a terrific player, fact! I chose Warne over Murali quite easily.

Nikhil Puri
Gavaskar, Hobbs, Bradman, Tendulkar, Richards, Sobers, Gilchrist, Hadlee, Akram, Warne, Marshall

This team has everything – solid opening batsmen who scored numerous hundreds, withstood the best attacks of their time, and provide a solid foundation for the middle order to come. Numbers 3, 4 and 5 – need I say more? The three best batsmen cricket has ever seen. Number 6 – the greatest all-rounder in history – the only real true all-rounder, the guy who gave this position its definition…he could bat anywhere, field anywhere, bowl anyhow…Number 7 – the greatest number 7 wicketkeeper batsman we have seen….Number 8 – Statistically the second best fast bowler ever in terms of average, record, wickets, opposition etc….and a very handy batsman too….Number 9 – a guy who could do anything with the ball as a fast bowler….Number 10 – A guy who could do anything with the ball as a spinner….Number 10 – the greatest fast bowler of all time…..And numbers 9, 10 and 11 could all bat, too, with highest scores of 257, 99 and 92, respectively…

Vivek Jaiswal
Gavaskar, Hobbs, Bradman, Tendulkar, Viv Richards, Sobers, Sangakkara, Akram, Steyn, Murali, Marshall

Viv Richards was tricky because plenty of good names can fill this slot, but I believe if you can bat four, you can bat five. Sangakkara is more solid than Gilchrist and was able to carry a weak team. Murali over Warne mostly because Murali is a better ambassador for the game.

So, with all votes tallied, the TMC World XI is:
Gavaskar, Hobbs, Bradman, Tendulkar, Viv Richards, Sobers, Gilchrist, Akram, Warne, Marshall, McGrath

And if we were to put together our second XI, from votes and the email discussion where appropriate, it would be:
Smith, Barry Richards, Pollock, Lara, Kallis, Sangakkara, Imran, Hadlee, Holding, Steyn, Muralitharan

Of course, everyone has their own opinions, which is what makes this task so difficult.

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4 Responses to "Ask TMC: All-time Test XI"
  1. Aoun Jafarey
    Reply Aoun Jafarey October 30, 2013 18:21 pm

    I just wanted to point out, that my side was supposed to be the second XI, I made my list with the restriction of not reusing anyone that Nikhil already had.

    • Martin
      Reply Martin October 30, 2013 19:45 pm

      Ah, sorry. I had so many emails to sift through (about 45) that I completely missed what you said! I wondered why you had no Bradman.

      I’ll just give it a quick tweak to reflect that

  2. Aoun Jafarey
    Reply Aoun Jafarey October 31, 2013 16:20 pm

    Yes, I’d be a fool to overlook him otherwise. The whole idea of doing the second XI was that there’s no point of compiling just one team. I’m more interested in putting together 22 for the greatest test of all time, not just the one team.

  3. Reply John October 21, 2014 10:43 am

    Viv Richards couldn’t play spin. Bob Holland had him completely bamboozled. And Bob Holland was hardly top class

    Gilchrist was an appalling WK…simply pick Godfrey Evans you won;t need to pad out the batting surely