All the talk about whether or not Australia's lack of a fifth bowler hindered them during the Ashes got me thinking - is there an ideal template for building a successful team, or is it just a case of whatever works?
Australia have proven that four bowlers can work extremely effectively, but only when one of those is a spinner capable of bowling long spells and taking wickets on any surface, and another is one of the greatest pace bowlers world cricket has seen. Other teams that have played only four bowlers have failed dismally.
England have proven that five bowlers can be a massive advantage - however, for this to work the team really has to have a world-class all-rounder a la Flintoff. England have shown in the past that if the all-rounder isn't good enough (e.g. Craig White, Dominic Cork, Gavin Hamilton, Flintoff c.1998) then it can put increased pressure on the other bowlers and the batsmen.
And I'm not just talking about whether four or five bowlers is better - there are issues outside that area too, for example the style of opener you employ (do you pick Sehwag and Gibbs, Richardson and Atherton, or one of each type?), where in the order different types of batsmen should bat (is Bell good enough for no4? Should Katich bat higher? etc), what to do if you don't have a Gilchrist (pick Jones or Read?), how important it is that one or two of your bowlers can bat (would you take Pollock over McGrath?), and is it better to pick a wicket-taking spinner or one who keeps it tight if you can't have both (MacGill or Giles?). All these are issues which international selectors all over the world have to consider, and their decisions are always analysed and criticised six ways from Sunday - so let's canvas the CW opinion.
This thread isn't intended to start some heated arguments (as some threads have done recently) - this is all a matter of opinion, guys.