An all-time Test XI with players from all 10 major cricketing nations
Do either of these players make the cut?Disclaimer: This team selection is entirely based on the writer's opinion. Test cricket is the ultimate challenge for all cricketers. It is a test of players’ technique, skill and patience. The satisfaction a player gets by performing in Test matches is not achieved in any other format.Throughout the history of the game we have seen some great players who have played exceptional Test cricket and left their mark in the record books. So let’s try and pick 11 stars from the plethora of greats that have represented their country.There will be only one nation that has two players in the team and all the other nations will have one player representing their country.
#1 Sir Jack Hobbs
Sir Jack Hobbs was known as “The Master” and his penchant for batting can be understood by the fact that he played even after the age of 50. Jack Hobbs has scored more first class runs than anyone else in the game (61,760) and also has the maximum hundreds in first class cricket (199).
Hobbs played 61 tests in his career and scored 5,410 runs at an exceptional average of 56.94. Although his test career wasn’t as long as his domestic career, an average of a hundred in almost every four tests he played, is a phenomenal record and one that proves his worth to this side.
#2 Len Hutton
Sir Leonard Hutton remains one of the greatest players to have played the game in the game’s long history. His batting prowess is summed up by this quote from Dennis Compton: “We were different characters but very good friends, and he was the greatest opening batsman I have ever seen. I say that because in our day we played on uncovered wickets. His powers of concentration were remarkable, but when he wanted to be he was one of the best strokemakers in the game."
Hutton played 79 tests and scored 6,971 runs at an average of 56.67. His marathon innings of 364 against Australia at The Oval was the world-record score at the time and to this day, there have only been five scores better than that.
#3 Sir Don Bradman
Sir Don Bradman is without a doubt the best batsman to have ever played the game by a long distance. His influence was so prolific on the game that Australia lost only one Ashes in his time and that one series was the defamed ‘Bodyline Series’ in which he averaged 56.
In 52 tests that he played for Australia, he scored 6,996 runs at an unbelievable average of 99.94 and scored 29 centuries. His statistics are way ahead of even some of the finest batsmen who have played the game. So it is little surprise that he is Australia’s representative in this XI.
#4 Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar is arguably the best batsman to have graced the game after Don Bradman. Even the legendary Bradman on seeing Tendulkar play, commented that Sachin is the closest to how he would have batted.The ‘Master Blaster’ was a nightmare for bowlers all over the world in every format of the game.
In a marathon career that lasted for 24 years, Sachin played 200 tests and scored 15,921 runs at an average of 53.78, including a staggering 51 centuries. He was the backbone of the Indian middle order for over two decades and scored runs everywhere he played. With almost every cricketing record in the book to his name, it is little surprise that he represents India.
#5 Sir Garry Sobers
What Don Bradman is to batsmen, Garry Sobers is to allrounders. Only Jacques Kallis in the long history of the game comes close to his record as an allrounder. But what made him special was his ambidextrous abilities with the ball in hand as he could bowl medium pace, left arm spin as well as wrist spin.
Sobers played 93 tests and scored 8,032 runs at an average of 57.78. He also picked up 235 wickets at an average of 34.03. Sobers is the only West Indian player in our team, which further exemplifies just how good he was, to have towered above so many greats.
#6 Andy Flower
Andy Flower is undoubtedly the best test cricketer that Zimbabwe has produced .He was a wicketkeeper batsman but he could have made the Zimbabwean team even as a specialist batsman. An equally good player of seam and spin bowling, he scored heavily in various conditions. During the 90’s and early millenium, he single-handedly shouldered the responsibility of scoring all the runs for Zimbabwe.
Flower played 63 tests for Zimbabwe and scored 4,794 runs at an average of 51.54 which includes 12 centuries, thereby making him, arguably one of the best wicketkeeper batsman of all-time.
#7 Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib Al Hasan is without a doubt the best player to have emerged from Bangladesh. A genuine all-rounder, he is a good left arm spin bowler and a handy middle-order batsman, who has got his team out of a pickle on several occasions.
He has been the face of the Bangladesh team, ever since his Test debut against India in 2007. Shakib has played 42 tests for Bangladesh and scored 2,823 runs at an average of 39.76. He has also picked up 147 wickets at an average of 33.31. As one of the best allrounders of the modern game day, he is Bangladesh’s representative.
#8 Sir Richard Hadlee
Sir Richard Hadlee was one of the four brilliant allrounders, who took the cricketing world by storm in the 1980’s. What distinguishes him from Kapil Dev, Ian Botham and Imran Khan is the fact that he was able to lift an ordinary Kiwi side into a dangerous opponent. Hadlee was instrumental in Kiwis achieving several great feats like their first test win over England.
Hadlee played 86 tests for New Zealand and picked up 431 wickets at an average of 22.29 and an incredible strike rate of 50.8. He also scored 3124 runs at an average of 27.16. One of the biggest matchwinners to have ever played for the Kiwis, he will represent New Zealand in our squad.
#9 Wasim Akram
The ‘Sultan of Swing’, Wasim Akram could make the ball talk even on the dead and placid wickets of Pakistan. A master of both traditional and reverse swing, he remains the greatest left arm fast bowler to have played the game. Such was his mastery over swing that he swung a single delievery both ways sometimes.
Akram played 104 tests for Pakistan and picked up 414 wickets at an average of 23.62. He was also a handy lower order batsman and scored 2898 runs at an average of 22.64.
#10 Dale Steyn
The fight for the best South African seamer was between Dale Steyn, Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock. Dale Steyn’s exceptional record, even in the batting friendly conditions in modern day cricket, coupled with his wonderful record in Asian conditions, which are generally a graveyard for seamers, means that he pips the other two.
Steyn has played 80 tests for the Proteas and picked up 402 wickets at an average of 22.48. What makes him lethal is not just the amount of wickets he takes, but also how quickly he takes them. His strike rate is the best among all bowlers who have picked up more than 300 test wickets.
#11 Muttiah Muralitharan
Muttiah Muralitharan and controversies went hand in hand throughout his career. He was constantly criticised by various people for chucking but he overcame all such allegations with a clean action during lab tests.
Another thing that was constant throughout Murali’s career was big turn. He could turn the ball on any pitch and on the pitches back home in Sri Lanka, he was an absolute nightmare to face. The highest wicket-taker in test cricket, he picked up 800 wickets in 133 tests at an average of 22.72.
Few would begrude him a place in this side as arguably the greatest Test bowler of all-time.