Greatest West Indies ODI XI of all time

Gordon Greenidge scored over 5000 runs in ODIs for West Indies

Considering the history of West Indies cricket and the kind of quality players it has churned out, picking an ‘all-time great West Indian ODI XI’ is a strenuous exercise. Unlike in the 1980s, West Indies in the modern era has often been a very ordinary side, but still produced greats like Brian Lara and Curtly Ambrose, players that caught the imagination of the fans of the game.

Both in batting and bowling, there is a very large pool of greats to choose from. It was immensely tempting to include all four from the ‘golden pace quartet’ of Clive Lloyd’s Invincible team but only two of them make it to this side. There is room only for one from the famed ’Desmond Haynes-Gordon Greenidge’ opening pair.

Here is the ‘greatest all-time West Indies XI’ in ODIs.


#1 Gordon Greenidge

Despite being a magnificent batsman, Gordon Greenidge never got his due as he had to live in the mighty shadow of Vivian Richards throughout his career. However, nobody can deny his place as an all-time great in the history of West Indian cricket.

Along with Desmond Haynes, Greenidge formed one of the most memorable opening partnerships in the history of cricket. His ODI strike rate of 64 may seem too low when judged by today's standards but it would be too harsh to hold it against him as many of his contemporaries scored at a similar rate.

He could play the defensive game brilliantly but also had the ability to turn into a fierce attacker as well. His unbeaten whirlwind double hundred against England in a Test in 1984 will go down as one of the most ferocious innings in the history of cricket and serves as ample proof of his attacking prowess.

Greenidge, who made his runs at a commendable average of 45 will open the batting at the top of this dream West Indies ODI XI.

#2 Chris Gayle

Chris Gayle
Chris Gayle is one of the most destructive batsmen of the modern era

Both physically and metaphorically, Chris Gayle is a giant in modern limited overs cricket. While there may be many power hitters in today's cricket, no batsman has bludgeoned the ball with as much ferocity as Gayle has done, and no batsman has obliterated bowling attacks as easily as him. Such is his power that even a poorly struck ball often clears the ropes easily.

That he hammered 175 (a score which would have been considered as a massive century even in ODIs) in a T20 game in the IPL, clearly demonstrates the magnitude of havoc he can wreak on the bowlers. Gayle is one of a handful of batsmen in the history of the game to breach the 200-run mark in an innings in ODI cricket.

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(Video Courtesy: Rol-j Williams YouTube Channel)

Besides being a devastating batsman, Gayle is a nifty bowler. His fast off-spin has fetched him 163 wickets in 269 ODIs so far. By virtue of his destructive batting alone, Gayle could easily stake an irrefutable claim for a slot in the 'all-time West Indies ODI XI'.

#3 Vivian Richards

Viv Richards

Viv Richards could destroy any bowling attack on his day

Sachin Tendulkar may be widely regarded as modern cricket's greatest batsman but those who watched Sir Vivian Richards bat would disagree vehemently. Richards was by far the biggest superstar in a team of superstars and was the most devastating batsman of his era.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the batting unit of West Indies was teeming with first-rate performers like Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge but nobody traumatised the bowlers as much as Richards did. His mere presence at the crease could send shivers down the spine of any bowling attack and the power with which he belted the ball was tremendous.

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(Video Courtesy: 172Allrounder721 YouTube Channel)

While the strike rates of most of his contemporary greats hovered in the 60s or 70s, Richards struck at the rate of 90 runs per hundred balls, an excellent number even by modern day standards and his batting average of 47 is equally amazing. He was head and shoulders above other leading batsmen of his time like Javed Miandad and David Gower.

As his tally of 118 wickets shows, he was a handy bowler, too. Needless to say, Richards can walk into any 'West Indies XI' even if he did not bowl a single ball.

#4 Brian Lara

Lara’s batting was a joy to watch

In an era when the West Indies descended swiftly from being a world-beating side to weaklings, Brian Lara remained the brightest hope for Caribbean cricket. Like a Hercules, he carried the entire burden of the team's batting on his broad shoulders.

Lara's heroic lone-ranger feats while the rest of the batting line-up falling like nine pins will remain etched forever in the minds of West Indies fans. Throughout the 1990s, he was to West Indies cricket more than what Sachin Tendulkar was to India.

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(Video Courtesy: saghir ahmed kalwar YouTube channel)

Considering the dearth of top-notch batsmen in the current West Indies line-up, Lara's tally of 10,405 ODI runs, which is the highest for any West Indian, is unlikely to be bettered for generations. The way he often dominated the Australian bowling attack, the strongest of his time, is a testament to his batting greatness.

The 'Prince of Trinidad' could murder world-class bowling attacks without ever appearing to lose even an iota of elegance his batting is so famous for. Lara's choice is the easiest to make after Vivian Richards' and he will occupy the No. 4 slot in our side.

#5 Clive Lloyd (C)

Clive Lloyd

Lloyd led the West Indies to two World Cups

Both as batsman and captain, the contribution of Clive Lloyd in the rise of the West Indies to the pinnacle of greatness is monumental. With his shrewd cricketing brain, Lloyd led West Indies to 36 Test wins, two World Cup titles and three World Cup finals. He was the lynchpin of the Caribbean middle-order and was the most dangerous batsman in the team after Vivian Richards.

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(Video Courtesy: 172Allrounder721 YouTube Channel)

While Lloyd was a behemoth in Test cricket with more than 7000 runs in 100 matches, his ODI career lasted only 87 appearances but he was spectacular in this format too. His ODI batting average of 39 and strike rate of 81 are mighty impressive, even more so considering the batting standards of his time. His batting always oozed elegance and his ability to rend any bowling attack asunder is beyond any doubt.

Lloyd's most glorious moment in ODIs came in the final of the first ever World cup final in 1975 against the Aussies when he butchered a match-winning 102 off just 85 balls. As a captain, Lloyd is light years ahead of his closest rival and hence, his selection as the skipper of our team is a foregone conclusion.

#6 Carl Hooper

Hooper was a good batsman lower down the order and a useful spinner

Like Brian Lara, Carl Hooper was always touted to be a colossal talent but failed to reach the dizzy heights of batting greatness like the former. But when in full flow, Hooper batted with such elegance that only a few other West Indian batsmen could match. For a batsman of his calibre, a Test batting average of 36 must be considered as a massive underachievement. However, Hooper enjoyed a far more successful career in ODIs.

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(Video Courtesy: cricketmoments YouTube Channel)

Hooper 's ODI batting average of 35 is very decent for a middle-order batsman. He could play the role of a consolidator and score runs at a quick pace too. As his tally of 193 wickets in 227 matches at an impressive economy rate of 4.36 demonstrates, his off spin bowling can be very valuable in the middle overs.

With over 5000 runs and close to 200 wickets, Hooper was amongst the finest ODI all-rounders of his time. Barring Chris Gayle, no West Indian player boasts of an all-round record comparable to Hooper's in ODI cricket. Since the Windies were never blessed with a top-notch frontline spinner in ODIs, Carl Hooper will have to take up the lion's share of the burden of spin bowling.

#7 Jeff Dujon (wk)

Dujon is possibly West Indies’ greatest wicket-keeper

There are two certainties in the history of West Indies cricket - Lance Gibbs is their greatest spinner and Jeff Dujon is their greatest wicket-keeper. Standing behind the wicket to some of the most menacing pace monsters the game has ever seen and performing acrobatic feats to grab seemingly impossible catches, Dujon earned a permanent place in the pantheon of cricketing greats.

He was an extremely capable lower order batsman too and made more than 5000 runs in international cricket. Among the specialist wicket-keepers of his time, few batted more elegantly and effectively than this Jamaican hero.

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(Video Courtesy: 172Allrounder721 YouTube Channel)

By the time he called it a day, he had already become the benchmark against which all the future West Indian keepers would be measured. Throughout the 1980s, Dujon's breathtaking wicket-keeping skills remained one of the most crucial ingredients of the West Indian success. With 204 dismissals in ODI cricket and 270 dismissals in test cricket, he leads the pack of the West Indian keepers.

Denesh Ramdin and Ridley Jacobs too are contenders for this slot but Dujon prevails over them by virtue of his phenomenal glovework. Regardless of whether it is Tests or ODIs, it is incredibly hard to imagine an all-time West Indian team without this great man as the keeper and hence, he will be our gloveman.

#8 Joel Garner

Garner was feared for his pace and bounce

Joel Garner belonged to the 'fearsome West Indian pace quartet of the 1970s and 1980s' and is unquestionably a great bowler in the history of the game. Nicknamed the 'Big Bird', Garner often unleashed hell on the batsmen of his times with his unplayable deliveries.

Garner had tremendous pace, could extract an incredible amount of bounce by virtue of his tall frame and send in scorching yorkers that landed at the batsmen's toes like missiles. With his wide range of deliveries, he could pose serious problems to even the greatest of batsmen. In a nutshell, he possessed all the qualities of a consummate fast bowler.

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(Video Courtesy: robelinda2 YouTube Channel)

Garner snaffled 146 wickets in just 98 ODIs at a miserly economy rate of 3.09 runs per over. His bowling average of 18.84 is the best for any bowler who claimed a minimum of 100 wickets. His stats are remarkable even after considering the fact that he bowled in a more bowler friendly-era. To overlook a bowler of Garner's stature would be an unpardonable sin and he will enter the 'all-time West Indies ODI eleven' as its pace spearhead.

#9 Michael Holding

Michael Holding

Holding’s pace terrified opposition batsmen

Here is one more bowler from the 'golden pace quartet' of the 1970s and 1980s that makes it to our side. For the followers of today's cricket, the name of Michael Holding may bring to mind his sweet and peculiar accent in the commentary section, but those who faced him as a bowler would have a vastly different story to tell.

When he had the ball in hand, Holding was very hostile and gave unforgettable nightmares to the batsmen. He bowled incredibly fast and hurried the batsmen to give up thier wicket. To merely survive against him at the height of his powers was a feat in itself.

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(Video Courtesy: njrajesh YouTube Channel)

For batsmen, nothing would be more terrifying than the sight of Holding running in like a cheetah. Although Andy Roberts, his fellow great in the quartet, gives Holding a stiff competition for a slot in this side, Holding edges him out as the number of ODIs played by Roberts is too small (56).

In an ODI career that lasted 11 years, Holding played 102 matches and picked up a staggering 142 wickets. His economy rate of 3.32 and average of 21 are stupendous too.

#10 Curtly Ambrose

Ambrose was a key figure in the West Indies bowling line-up in the 90s

Curtly Ambrose belonged to a generation when West Indies was quickly running short of high-quality pacers but was no less lethal than anyone in the ‘golden quartet of pace of the 1970s and 1980s.’ Along with Courtney Walsh, he established a formidable bowling pair in the 1990s.

His great height naturally fetched him great bounce and presented a daunting challenge to the batsmen. Add to it, his impeccable control and you get a diabolical bowler to deal with. Ambrose was the chief strike bowler for the Windies throughout the 1990s and was very economical in both formats of the game. His economy rate of 3.48 in ODIs, in particular, is striking.

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(Video Courtesy: robelinda2 YouTube Channel)

Ambrose picked up 225 wickets at a phenomenal average of 24.12 in 176 ODIs. For his contribution as a bowler, it is impossible to deny him a place alongside the all-time greats in the history of the West Indian cricket team. It is also impossible to overlook Ambrose for this team for his awesome wicket taking ability.

#11 Courtney Walsh

Walsh formed a deadly partnership with Curtly Ambrose

For the batsmen of the 1990s, there were few things more worrisome than having to face Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose bowling in tandem. While Ambrose was the more dangerous of the two, Walsh was no mean performer.

For a major part of his sixteen-year long ODI career, Walsh remained an indispensable part of the West Indian bowling attack in both formats while many promising young pacers came and disappeared. He was undoubtedly their most reliable pace bowler after Ambrose.

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(Video Courtesy: Cricket Thrill YouTube Channel)

Walsh's tally of 227 wickets in 205 ODIs may not be earth-shattering but is the highest for any West Indian bowler. Taking into account the dearth of exciting pace talent in the Caribbean soil today, it is likely to remain unsurpassed at least in the near future.

He might not have been an intimidating strike bowler in ODIs but then, he was amongst the most parsimonious bowlers of his era which clinches his spot in this side. In an era when an economy rate of below four was a rarity and was achieved by only a handful of greats like Wasim Akram and Shaun Pollock, the Jamaican giant conceded a mere 3.83 runs per over.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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