Garfield Sobers would probably have made the final XI as a batsman alone; add in his brilliant fielding and incredibly versatile bowling, and he may well be the finest Test cricketer of them all. Sobers simply excelled at all aspects of the game; he could play all the shots, though his offside play was particularly memorable; but his bowling (which struggled initially in Test cricket) was almost equally impressive. To be able to get Test wickets with three distinct types of bowling – brisk fast-medium (he often opened the bowling), left-arm orthodox and wrist spin must be unique in cricketing history. Though Sobers scored 26 Test hundreds, including the then-record Test score of 365* against Pakistan, arguably his best innings was 254 for the Rest of the World against Australia, but the games were not awarded Test status.
Keith Miller was never a player to be judged merely on statistics; but his Test averages – 37 with the bat and 23 with the ball – are nonetheless extraordinary. Miller, a famously brave fighter pilot during world War Two, was gregarious and played his cricket to entertain; this he achieved magnificently. His batting was classical and attacking; he scored seven hundreds, though it is now recognised that his best batting was for Dominions against England in 1945. With the ball, he was, though sometimes a slightly reluctant bowler, very fast and adaptable, capable of bowling excellent off-cutters. He averaged only just over three wickets a match, because opening bowlers Lindwall and Johnston would often clean the opposition up; but, on the 1956 Ashes tour and at the age of 37, Miller heroically bowled 70 overs in the game at Lord's, claiming 10 wickets in the Australian win.
Imran Khan began in the Pakistan side as a bowler who could bat; but, in his last 51 Tests, he averaged an astonishing 52 with the bat and 20 with the ball. Moreover, he was Pakistan’s captain and icon; undoubtedly their ever greatest player, he inspired them to their World Cup win, aged 39 and, towards the end of his career, Pakistan clung to West Indies’ coattails in the Test arena, drawing three series 1-1 in the late 80s and early 90s – in nine Tests against them, Imran averaged 32 with the bat and, remarkably, took 45 wickets at under 15, including 11/121 in a thumping victory in Georgetown. His bowling record is even more remarkable considering the generally docile Pakistani tracks – with his pace, indefatigability and lethal reverse-swinging yorkers, batsmen were never safe. As a batsman, he developed a sound technique and became both middle-order stabiliser and aggressor through sheer force of will. A question to consider is how high he could conceivably bat in this side.Do one, both or neither of Imran and Miller deserve to be in the Greatest Test XI? Leave a comment below.