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ICC Greatest Test Team: An Overview

ICC yesterday released the results of the online poll that had fans voting for the greatest test team of all time.  The list features four Australians, four Indians, two West Indians and one Pakistani.  And not one Englishman finds himself on...

ICC yesterday released the results of the online poll that had fans voting for the greatest test team of all time.  The list features four Australians, four Indians, two West Indians and one Pakistani.  And not one Englishman finds himself on the list.  The players who made it are,

ICC’s Greatest Test XI
Virender Sehwag
Sunil Gavaskar
Donald Bradman
Sachin Tendulkar
Brian Lara
Kapil Dev
Adam Gilchrist (wk)
Shane Warne
Wasim Akram
Curtly Ambrose
Glenn McGrath

Now this list is selected by the fans after a voting process. The poll received more than 250,000 votes and as expected the results show varying demographic of the electorate.  However with some true legends such as Jack Hobbs, Viv Richards and Gary Sobers left out, one can assume that this truly isn’t the world’s greatest test team.  So now you ask me then what was my team?  Well my team though not conventional was a far better one than this even if I did leave out Brian Lara and Gary Sobers.  I’m sure the English reader would be happy to see that both my openers wore the three lions.

My Greatest Test XI
Click to enlarge the picture

My list consists of two Englishmen, five Australians, two West Indians, a Indian and a Kiwi.  So we both have 5 players in common so definitely the places of Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath is undisputed.  It’s the others that worry me.  I can understand Gary Sobers for my Richard Hadlee but Kapil Dev?  Wasim Akram for Denis Lillee makes sense and I think Ambrose for the whispering death is also acceptable.  However I still maintain Lillee and Holding at their prime were the best!  The place for Lara and Richards can only be chosen by a coin toss as they are both equally good.  What I can’t understand however is Sehwag over someone the quality of Jack Hobbs.  Sehwag is still not into the legendary strata.  Gavaskar over Sutcliffe might be seen as acceptable and I probably can live with that.  So the real greatest test XI should be,

The merger of ICC’s and My Greatest Test XI
Jack Hobbs
Sunil Gavaskar
Donald Bradman
Sachin Tendulkar
Brian Lara/ Viv Richards
Gary Sobers/ Richard Hadlee
Adam Gilchrist (wk)
Shane Warne
Wasim Akram
Curtly Ambrose
Glenn McGrath
According to this we have one Englishman, two Indians, four Aussies, three (four if Sobers is included) West Indian players and one Pakistani (and one Kiwi if Sir Hadlee is chosen).  So now we have a universal mix of players.  If you noticed in all the three lists, the players who find themselves in the lists belong to a particular period when their team was the best.  The Bradman of the 30s and 40s, the West Indian players of the 70s and 80s, the Australian players of 90s and early 2000s and the Indian players of the latter 2000 who feature in the list, prove this.  The occasional player such as Hadlee and Akram do sneak in but still the core remains players who have been part of the greatest team during their respective eras.  So by looking at the lack of English players it’s not difficult to come to the conclusion that the English have never dominated the game.  Likewise for the newer countries like Sri Lanka and South Africa who still are competing for the highest spot.

So as expected all three lists above hold some truth, and the most accepted truth is the common overlap of all these lists.  With the lists being not all that reliable I think the best would be to take the best players from the dominant team in each era.  So that list then would be,
According to the age wise classification – The Greatest Test XI
Virender Sehwag
Jack Hobbs
Donald Bradman
Sachin Tendulkar
Viv Richards
Gary Sobers
Adam Gilchrist (wk)
Shane Warne
Micheal Holding
Curtly Ambrose
Glenn McGrath

This list is probably the closest to the greatest XI, but the drawback in this is that players like Gavaskar and Akram who weren’t part of the dominant team during their era miss out.  While others such as Sehwag who still is not fully there at the top level makes it.  By looking at the repeated names we can say for certain that players such as Bradman, Tendulkar, Warne, Gilchrist and McGrath are indispensable and should be certainly part of a all time greatest test XI.  If they happen to be missing, then the list sadly is not the greatest test team.  Whatever the case, choosing a list of the greatest XI is no easy task and there’s definitely more than one greatest XI, all depending on your perception.

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