Fictitious and All-time XI’s have been a common thread throughout the Internet. But has anyone thought about listing his or her favourite XI. Throughout my cricket watching career I have had the opportunity to see many players ply their trade and whilst some have been average, and some downright bad there have also been quite a few who have caught my eye and quickly become a favourite.
Well, here is my favourite XI. Quite a few Australia’s but also a few internationals to spice up the mix. Also, this is obviously not a best off so please no “why did you leave out X, or Y should be in the team” J
1) - Issac V A Richards – West Indies (120 tests @ 50.24; 187 ODI’s @ 47.00)
The Master Blaster. As a child of the eighties I used to hate how Viv could carve up any attack whenever the mood took him. He was arrogance, menace and power all rolled into one. With the benefit of hindsight and maturity I cannot help but recognise him as a supreme talent who ruined more than a few bowling averages.
2) – Geoffrey R Marsh – Australia (50 tests @ 33.19; 117 ODI’s @ 39.97)
My Dad used to dislike Geoff with a passion since he was ‘so damned slow’ but when you have someone like Viv at the other end then you need someone as an anchor when the prior goes out early in a blaze of glory. He doesn’t have the highest average, nor was he the most spectacular but he was as solid as a rock.
3) – David C Boon – Australia (107 tests @ 43.66; 181 ODI’s @ 37.04)
Boonie - an Australian legend and the focus of a small but persistent campaign to have him as Australia’s first President! Boon was the ideal number three even though he had a habit of being run out when walking (rather than running) a single. He gave hope to many a test match when Australia was 5 down for not many. You knew that as long as Boon was at the crease that we still had a chance.
4) – Brian C Lara – West Indies (112 tests @ 52.85; 244 ODI’s @ 42.28)
What do you do when someone breaks your test innings record of 375? You get it back by scoring 400. Brian Lara has been the foundation of West Indian cricket since the retirement of Walsh, Ambrose, Richie Richardson etc. Whilst not the best captain he has most certainly been their best batsman in nearly a decade. Flashy, aggressive and capable of making big scores, he has long been a favourite of mine.
5) – Dean M Jones – Australia (52 tests @ 46.55; 161 ODI’s @ 44.62)
Many say that the likes of Rhodes, Afridi or Bevan were the first of the modern type of limited international players. I have to disagree. Jones perfected the art of cheeky singles, amazing run outs and unorthodox shot selection when the above were still playing grade cricket. His battles with the likes of Ambrose have become legend and so has his 216 in the test match against India where he quite literally almost played himself to death in an effort to force a draw. Go Deanno!
6) – Lance Klusener – South Africa (49 tests @ 32.86; 171 ODI’s @ 41.10)
Considering Pakistan’s poor performance in the final, Lance came very close to winning the 1999 World Cup for South Africa with a frighteningly powerful display on hitting during the final overs of the semi-final. I had to feel sorry for Damien Fleming as every ball that left his hand was despatched to the fence at a rapid pace. His flat four to the long on boundary was hit so hard it punched through Reiffel’s hands despite Paul being in a good position to take the catch. Capable of batting anywhere in the order he is most lethal at 6 or 7 when facing the part timers who often cringe when they know they are facing ‘Zulu’
7) – Rodney W Marsh – Australia (96 tests 343 catches 12 stumpings; 92 ODI’s 120 catches 4 stumpings)
Have a look at the scorecard of any team which played Australia during the eighties and you will quite often see a batsman’s mode of dismissal as being c: Marsh b: Lillee. Whilst Lillee was one the greatest bowlers to pick up the leather ball his effectiveness was partially due to having a determined and talented wicketkeeper at the other end. Rodney was one of the first wicketkeepers who contribute effectively with the bat and gave rise to the current crop of wicketkeeper batsman. Probably also the only player to light up a cigarette during a test match whilst leaving the ground after a days play!
8) – Wasim Akram – Pakistan (104 tests 414 wkts @ 23.62; 356 ODI’s 502 wkts @ 23.53)
Anything I say about Wasim will sell him short. He is one of true greats of the game. I may be exceeding my bounds but I believe him to be the left-arm fast equivalent of Donald Bradman. He holds the world record for the most number of ODI dismissals at 502 and is one of a select few to have joined the 400-test wicket fraternity. Arguable the best left armed pace bowler to ever set foot on a cricket pitch. Certainly not bad for a person who was a diabetic!
9) – Mervyn G Hughes – Australia (53 tests 212 wkts @ 28.38; 33 ODI’s 38 wkts @ 29.34)
“Runs like a pelican, turns like a battleship”, “Big heart, bigger guts”. Many words have been written about big Merv’s athleticism but irrespective of a constantly losing battle with his weight he was still an excellent cricketer who gave his all in an effort to ensure Australia vanquished all before them. A clown, a larakin, a very heavy drinker and possessor of more facial hair since W.G. Grace, Merv was a legend!
10) – Peter L Taylor – Australia (13 tests 27 wkts @ 39.56; 83 ODI’s 97 wkts @ 28.25)
I wasn’t the only one who went “Peter Who?” when Peter Taylors test selection was announced in 1987. Mark Taylor had been making a fist full of runs in Australia’s domestic competition and everyone was expecting him to receive his call up for the series versus England. Instead a totally unknown off spinner got the nod instead. Despite the controversy Peter did very well indeed. Many a spinner can get more turn, more flight or more drift but none had the heart and determination of Peter. That, coupled with a bowling style which looked like a man trying to change a tyre on a moving tyre, made him someone who I had plenty of time for.
11) – Curtly E L Ambrose – West Indies (98 tests 405 wkts @ 20.99; 176 ODI’s 225 wkst @ 24.13)
Probably the most dangerous and menacing fast bowler to ever take the field. Whilst lacking the outright pace of the likes of Thomson etc he more than made up with pinpoint accuracy, steppling bounce and an extremely competitive attitude. As with Viv I used to dislike Curtly with a passion as he knocked over more than one Australian batting line-up. However, talent must be recognised regardless of who they are. So Curtly gets my nod and round of my favourite XI.