World Cricket Weekly 21 July 2011

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It’s certainly odd these days to have a week when no international cricket has been played, but there is still much to discuss, including the upcoming super series between England and India and the ICC test dream team.

India in England

As I write this column the anticipation for this super contest is at fever pitch; the number one test team travelling to England to face the pretenders to the throne. Throw in the fact that it just happens to be the 2000th test match played, the 100th between England and India, and of course the little master might just hit his 100th hundred, and you’ve got the recipe for a ripper! Sheesh, did I even mention that it’s at Lords, the home of cricket??

So, with all that in mind, let’s have a look at the squads named for the first test. Not many surprises for the home team, with the only intrigue really centred around the Bresnan or Broad decision. The smart money would be on Broad to get a go first, but with the forecast suggesting swing-friendly conditions, England would be crazy not to pick Bresnan. I was there at the MCG when he ripped through Australia with a wicked spell of swing bowling, and the fact is that Broad was not involved in a victory in the Ashes. Furthermore, he’s been in rotten form, and I think England should bite the bullet and use Bresnan in the first test.

For India there are a couple of areas worth discussing. Sehwag won’t be fit until at least the next test, so India must decide whether to go with Abhinav Mukund, who hardly knocked our socks off against the West Indies, or perinnial test-trier Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj is a fine limited overs player, but he’s had a fair go in tests (34 tests with an average of 35), so my choice would be Mukund. Gambhir will be there with him this time to help him through, and if he fails, well at least he’s got Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar to back him up!

The final choice, as discussed in the last One Hand One Bounce podcast, is between Praveen Kumar and Sreesanth. As I mentioned on the pod, I think they will go with Kumar at Lords, as he can really swing a ball, and will provide a good foil to the bounce of Ishant and the guile of Zaheer. Furthermore, Sreesanth is just the perfect squad bowler, as his feisty nature ensures that if he is called upon later in the series he’ll be able to step up and perform.

It should be a cracker!!

ICC test dream team

Before we discuss the whinging poms, let’s have a look at the squad selected by fans in the ICC poll for the 2000th test celebrations.

  1. Virender Sehwag
  2. Sunil Gavaskar
  3. Donald Bradman
  4. Sachin Tendulkar
  5. Brian Lara
  6. Kapil Dev
  7. Adam Gilchrist
  8. Shane Warne
  9. Wasim Akram
  10. Curtly Ambrose
  11. Glenn McGrath

Ok, so as you look at that squad two major themes stand out. The first is that it is obviously a very modern team. There is no room for the likes of Sobers, Harvey, Laker, Grace etc etc. Now, that may well be fair enough, given those voting wouldn’t have seen the majority of those players play the game. Bradman being there is really due to his canonisation as a cricketing messiah. That all said, it does seem strange to see a all-time team without those greats. Not to mention the likes of Viv Richards, Michael Holding, Malcom Marshall, Imran Kahn…the list goes on.

Imran Khan

Imran Khan

The second issue is the inclusion of four Indians and four Australians. This relates directly to the first point, as these teams have been dominant over the last few decades, however the selection of Virender Sehwag and Kapil Dev do need to be questioned. Sehwag is an extraordinary talent and perhaps does deserve a place in this team, but what of Greenidge and Haynes? Similarly, Dev took a lot of wickets, but you can’t honestly say he’s the best all-rounder in test history. There is no doubt that their inclusion is based on the liklihood that many more Indians would have voted on this squad, and that is fine, but the fact that those greats missed out, and that no-one from South Africa, Sri Lanka or New Zealand (as well as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh) made the squad makes this a bit of a mockery.

Of the countries left out, Richard Hadlee from New Zealand would probably be the most likely inclusion. But, you could make a good case for Murali! South Africa is an interesting one, because some of their greats, including Barry Richards, didn’t play much test cricket because of apartheid. Of the players representing the Proteas since their return, you may be able to argue for Allan Donald or Jacques Kallis, but probably not ahead of anyone in that team.

So, a very interesting exercise, and other than the obvious bias, it is a great team. More than anything, it just gives us an excuse to again debate the greatest players in history.

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