Having picked my preliminary shortlist, I was met with a barrage of complaints regarding players unfairly omitted. Having taken these on board, and done some more detailed research, the final 56-man shortlist for the greatest Test XI from the last hundred years (1908-2007) now reads:
Opening batsmen (7):
Jack Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe, Sunil Gavaskar, Geoff Boycott, Len Hutton, Arthur Morris, Gordon Greenidge
Middle-order batsmen (19):
Everton Weekes, George Headley, Brian Lara, Viv Richards, Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott, Javed Miandad, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Don Bradman, Steve Waugh, Allan Border, Greg Chappell, Neil Harvey, Wally Hammond, Ken Barrington, Denis Compton, Ricky Ponting, Graeme Pollock
Alan Knott, Andy Flower, Adam Gilchrist, Les Ames
Imran Khan, Keith Miller, Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Gary Sobers
For the purposes of this exercise, 'allrounder' is someone who can bat at seven or above and be one of five bowlers in a 'Greatest Test XI', which is why Benaud, Hadlee and Akram just miss out and appear elsewhere instead.
Shane Warne, Bill O’Reilly, Muttiah Muralitharan, Richie Benaud, Derek Underwood, Jim Laker
Fast bowlers (15):
Dennis Lillee, Ray Lindwall, Malcolm Marshall, Curtley Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Allan Donald, Glenn McGrath, Fred Trueman, Harold Larwood, Joel Garner, Alan Davidson, Richard Hadlee, Michael Holding
A post on those who just missed out will be forthcoming.
Do leave your views on the list and feel free to spread word of it. The next stage will be to analyse the respective candidates in all fields, and then to drum the list down to 35.