Hi all. I initially posted this a month or so ago on 606, but as with any article over there that requires reading and discussion rather than whining and name-calling, it was met with silence and confusion. Though you might give some more insightful natter.
In the wake of cricinfo's all-time world XI, I got thinking about who the next decade's XI is going to be. Let's assume, for now, that said players have already played more than a handful of matches and are young enough to play for another 8-10 years. I've considered all formats but have unfairly weighted it towards Tests.
WARNING: The following article may contain gratuitous speculation by an amateur England fan and will contain bias.
1) Tamim Iqbal (21)
By all account's Tamim's year has been a good one. This year's Wisden cricketer of the year scored back-to-back centuries in England while his team-mates were taken apart by the moving ball. Batting like a combination of Sehwag and Harmison, he's mostly included because of how good he is to watch.
2) Alistair Cook (25)
Mostly included because of how awful he is to watch, one should never underestimate the ability to make the opposition lose the will to live. Has the most runs of any 25-year-old besides Our Lord Sachin. Could just go on forever close to being dropped but going on nonetheless, and that is worth some serious runs.
3) Hashim Amla (c)(27)
Has been scoring hundreds for fun this year in both Tests and ODIs, Amla is harder to separate from the crease then his beard is from his face.
4) Ross Taylor (26)
All the talent in the world, if it wasn't for NZ's habit of top-order collapses he might be able to find a batting partner. Don't be too hard on Ross for his only scoring 8 hundreds, he gets lonely out there.
5) AB De Villiers (wk) (26)
A thoroughly stylish batsman, decent wicket-keeper and questionable pop singer, AB is surely the world's gretest all-rounder since Gary Sobers' ill-fated ska-punk career.
6) Suresh Raina (23)
Despite the pedigree in the Indian line-up, he is currently India's best T20 bat and only fielder. Averages over 40 across all three formats. Carries a bit of pudding, if only to make him a bit more huggable.
7) Shakib Al Hasan (23)
Does anyone remember what Shakib was doing before he was suddenly the best-ranked all-rounder in the world? I've included two Bangladeshis now, it's about time they started winning. World cup 2015, put a tenner on it now. (Don't blame me for gambling errors).
8) Stuart Broad (24)
Yes his averages are the wrong way around and yes, he puts the "petulant" into "often annoyingly petulant", but here's a lad with real skill. Don't let me down now StuBo. And don't injure yourself on your hair straightners.
9) Dale Steyn (27)
Miles ahead of every other paceman in world cricket. That's all there is to say on the matter. I don't think I can even make fun of him.
10) Umar Gul (26)
He's 26? Really, cricinfo? really? Ok, then. Possesing the best reverse-swinging yorker since Waqar Younis, Gul is a fine, fine one-day bowler and T20 master.
11) Ajantha Mendis (25)
I'm a firm believer in the principal that you will get wickets if the opposition has no idea what you are doing. Short of arbitrarily charging in astride a bear, there's not much Mendis can do to make his action more of a mystery. Has been good in Tests and outstanding in LO cricket.
So there we go. Feel free to explain how wrong I am. If you're wondering about the lack of Aussies, that surprised me too, but I was hoping to stick to young players that have already proved themselves, and Australia's "Hotel California" selection policy means that Smith, Hughes et. al don't make it, as much as I like them.
Oh, and that Pakistani bowler(s) that really should be here? As far as we know he's no longer playing. So let's leave it at that.