Ian Bell's All-Time XI: Sachin Tendulkar only Indian, includes 3 fellow Englishmen
English cricketer Ian Bell sat down to pick the best 11 players he’s had the opportunity to play with or against. He includes 3 of his fellow English cricketers, 4 Australians, 2 South Africans, one Sri Lankan and one Indian.
At the top of the order, Ian Bell has gone for two left handers in Alastair Cook and Graeme Smith. He adds that Cook, who recently became the youngest cricketer to amass 10,000 Test runs was an easy pick for him, having seen him score runs all around the world against tough opponents. Smith is another who has scored plenty of runs, Bell adds that while Smith was not the most aesthetically pleasing, he is the kind of guy you want in your team.
At #3, he has gone for Australia’s Ricky Ponting, a cricketer he admired a lot while growing up, and had the pleasure of playing against the fierce competitor. Following Ponting, he has gone for India’s Sachin Tendulkar. Bell remarks that you cannot have such a list and ignore ‘the master blaster’, and that the atmosphere in a stadium completely changed whenever he came into that, something that doesn’t happen very often.
At #5, having played a lot of cricket with him spanning a decade, he picks Kevin Pietersen. He adds that Pietersen was a bit of a freak player, someone who couldn’t be taught; it was all natural for him, just pure brute strength. Following Pietersen, he has gone for Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara, who will don the wicketkeeping gloves as well. Sangakkara could easily have slotted in at #3, but he had to accommodate Ponting as well. He adds that Sangakkara and Ponting are two of the toughest players he has played against, especially the way they scored runs in England and in their home countries.
At 7, walks in Australia’s Mitchell Johnson. Having a very top-heavy squad, he believes Johnson could bat a bit, aggressively holding down his wicket. With the ball, he adds his own special element. Bell adds that on a flat wicket, he would bowl Johnson in quick-short spells. Next, he picks South Africa’s Dale Steyn. Adding that he was a very fierce cricketer, who would run in quick and had the ability to swing the ball both ways. Bell wishes Steyn played on the same team as him, but is glad he had the pleasure to play against him.
At #9, is Australia’s Shane Warne, the best spinner he played against. Bell remarks that Warne’s ability to read the wicket, control the field, whether it was a flat wicket or not, was what made him special. He learnt a lot watching Shane Warne play the game as a youngster. Next, he picks another Australian in Glenn McGrath. Bell believes you cannot leave McGrath out, and he perfectly compliments Warne. As a batter, you had to work hard to score runs against him. To finish it off, at #11, he has gone for his teammate James Anderson. Having played together with Anderson from the U-19 level and see him pick up wickets in England and around the world, it was a pretty easy pick for him.
FULL TEAM: ALASTAIR COOK, GRAEME SMITH, RICKY PONTING, SACHIN TENDULKAR, KEVIN PIETERSEN, KUMAR SANGAKKARA, MITCHELL JOHNSON, DALE STEYN, SHANE WARNE, GLENN McGRATH, JAMES ANDERSON