Best contemporary World XI
Australia take on South Africa for the ‘World’s Best Team’ tag, England takes on India to prove their ability on the subcontinent’s turning tracks, New Zealand takes on Sri Lanka to improve their Test ranking and West Indies takes on Bangladesh for dominance in world cricket again. In short, 8 out of the 10 Test playing nations are playing Test cricket currently. This is a great time to enjoy watching all teams playing the oldest best-considered format of cricket. I think this is the moment to choose the World’s Best Test cricket team of present times. So my playing eleven will be:
1. Hashim Amla
The solid technique, price for the wicket, an elegant stroke-maker in prime form, and being the only South African player to score a triple hundred makes this South African an undoubted member for any team. He is among the few who have scored 1000 runs in both Tests and ODIs in a year. His 311 against England in testing conditions at the Oval shows his temperament.
2. Chris Gayle
Being one of the world’s most feared batsmen of all time, his ability to score runs quickly, six-hitting ability, ability to face any bowler in the world and handy off-spin makes this Jamaican a dream player for any team. Gayle became the first player to score a six of the first ball of a Test match – this shows his confidence as a attacking batsmen.
3. Kumara Sangakkara (WK)
Described as the ‘most polished and prudent batsman’ and the present World No. 1 in the ICC Test rankings; 8 double hundreds just beyond Brian Lara (9) and Don Bradman (12), and being one of the best wicket keeper batsman of all time, makes this former Sri Lankan captain an obvious member in any cricket team, and he was also one of the five Wisden cricketers of the year 2012.
Considered as the ‘God’ of cricket and being the highest run scorer in all forms of cricket; completing 20 years and scoring 100 centuries in international cricket makes this great Indian batsman the first pick of any cricket team. He was ranked the second best Test player of all time by Wisden just after Sir Don Bradman in 2002. On 11 June 2012, he was given the Wisden India Outstanding Achievement award, and was also awarded with Honorary Member Of the Order of Australia by the Australian government.
5. Jacques Kallis
One of the greatest all-rounders of all time and the only cricketer to score 11,000 runs and take 250 wickets in both Test matches and ODIs. Being the second highest century maker in Test cricket after Sachin Tendulkar, his solid technique and impervious mind makes him a compulsory member in any team. His batting average of 57+ shows how good he is as a batsman, and his 250+ wickets shows his ability to bowl.
6. Michael Clarke (C)
The skipper of the Australian team in the ODI and Test formats, he gave up playing T20 cricket to concentrate on the longer format and has been in the form of his life, scoring 3 double hundreds in 2012 and being the leading run-getter in the Test cricket for 2012 with over 1000 runs at an average of 111. A handy left-arm orthodox bowler and a captaincy record of 75% win percentage makes the Australian skipper a valid choice as captain of any cricket team.
7. Michael Hussey
He is called ‘Mr.Cricket’, with a healthy average of 50 in Tests and 48 in ODIs. His attitude and ability to bat with the lower-order batsmen makse this Australian stroke-maker a great choice in the team. It was tough to choose between Kevin Pietersen and Mike Hussey, but Hussey’s ability to bat with lower-order batsmen and his discipline made Hussey a better choice in the team. KP‘s inability to play left-arm spinners reduced his chances, and Hussey, being a left-hander, helps to maintain the left-right combination which is really important in Test cricket.
8. Dale Steyn
He is the world’s No. 1 Test bowler for the past three years, and has the third best strike rate of all time in Tests. He is also the fastest to take 100 wickets. His ability to swing the ball both the ways at 150 kmph, 17 5-wicket hauls in 55 Tests, and his uncanny knack to hit lusty blows lower down the order makes this South African right-arm pacer an important player in any team. He was awarded the prestigious ICC 2008 Test Cricketer of the Year Award.
9. Zaheer Khan
Being India’s premium bowler for the past two years, he played an important role in India winning the 2011 ICC World Cup. His ability to swing the new ball and reverse the old ball, using all three kinds of balls effectively – SG, Kookaburra and Duke, makes the Indian left-arm pacer an interesting choice in any team. Though Zaheer is not in the best of forms, but there are no other better left-arm pacers, which makes Zaheer a choice in the playing eleven.
10. Saeed Ajmal
Being the best spin bowler of the year, he has shown his ability on green tracks. He is the highest wicket taker of the year 2011 in Test cricket, taking 39 wickets in 6 matches, which makes the Pakistan spinner an unavoidable choice in any cricket team. He won the battle with Graeme Swann – considered as the best – when Pakistan played against England, by completely dominating in the series, which made the choice for the team very clear. His ability to bowl the doosra at the same length as the regular one makes it difficult for the batsmen to pick the odd one.
11. Steven Finn/Morne Morkel
Both the bowlers make use of their height to extract the extra bit of bounce from any kind of track. Both of them can swing the ball. Steven Finn is the successor of Harmison, and Morne Morkel is a part of the best bowling combination of the world cricket of present times, with Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. So either of them will be in the playing 11. James Anderson is also considered as a choice, but the height and bounce extracted by these bowlers made them favorites.