Lara is different though because any cricket lover can be forgiven for going through a 'Lara phase'.
The reason that a 'Lara phase' is not unreasonable is that there is solid ground for believing that Brian Lara is the 2nd greatest/best batsman of all time. In other words it is not difficult to form a rational argument in support of Lara based on a logical assessment of all Test match innings.
However, there are some players that CWers get hung-up on ("fall in love"), and then claim that they are among the greatest when the supportive evidence is just not there in any significant quantity. That type of 'love' IS irrational and silly.
The middle order batsmen who (for me) are truely the elite would be:
Bradman, G. Chappell, Ponting, Headley, Lara, V. Richards, Sobers, Tendulkar, G. Pollock, Hammond.
If it over all top for all batsmen, Hobbs replaces Pollock.
I think I had Barnes in here at some point, and Tendulkar over Pollock, but otherwise, my ATG XI has remained pretty much the same. Also kyear, any particular reason why you have Marshall ahead of Warne in the batting order?
For reference, heres what my second XI would be:
Sanga's probably the most controversial choice here, but his batting has just been so good that he makes it. Imran could probably swap with Marshall... but for now this is what I think works best.
I never saw Marshall bat but both his Test and First Class batting records definitely indicate a better batsman than Warne.
Yeah, can be a good no. 8.
I'm sticking with the team in my sig., even though I've copped criticism for having Gilchrist at no. 6. The five frontline bowling options with Warne and Murali in tandem are too good to be discounted. That, and everyone bar Murali can hold a bat in the lower order.
Oh...Mick Jager is back
Yeah, Sangakkara gets credit for a phenomenal average since giving up the gloves... but as we saw a couple of weeks ago, when he now takes the gloves, he isn't nearly good enough to be in an all-time side as a keeper. Maybe in his first incarnation as keeper he was good enough, I don't really recall (but I guess he kept to Murali, so he can't have been too bad). But if that's the case, in picking him you're picking a good keeper who averaged 40 with the bat, or a bad keeper who averages 55+.
I'd rather have a great keeper who averaged 32 with the bat back when that was only about 5 or 6 points below a very respectable average for a top order batsman.
And if you want an average keeper who averaged 50 with the bat, there's always Andy Flower.