Saturday, 11 August 2007

Patrick Kidd's XI

Patrick Kidd (of The Times and the excellent Line and Length cricket blog) has very kindly sent me his Greatest Test XI from the last century.

Openers: Hobbs & Sutcliffe - it is too tempting to keep cricket's greatest opening partnership together. Hobbs is one of Wisden's five cricketers of the century and seems to have been both loved and admired (not always characteristics seen in the same person - see Bradman). His longevity and appetite for hundreds (even though he often got out soon after the landmark) are admirable. That Sutcliffe averaged 70 after 40 Tests is astonishing even by today's batsman-friendly standards. Only Ricky Ponting has had such a long, golden run of form.

Middle order: Bradman is a no-brainer but I wonder how many people stop to contemplate his full record before putting him down. It is not just the monstrous average, a snick short of perfection, but the size of the hundreds he scored that enabled him to build that average. He hit 29 hundreds in 80 innings, an astonishing conversion rate, but if most of those had been between 100-150, his average would have been nowhere near 100. Ten of his hundreds were double-hundreds (one was 299) and two were triples; another six were above 150. When he batted well, he batted big. Consider this, too: that when he failed, Australia failed (in 12 matches they lost while he was in the team, his average dips to a human 43; in the eight series that Australia lost, he averaged only 62). Or that he scored almost 2000 runs after the second world war - having made his Test debut in 1928.

Hammond had the misfortune to play at the same time as the greatest batsman in history. Playing for the same county as WG Grace, he outshone the godfather of cricket, averaging 58 in Tests and 56 in first-class matches, including making 1000 runs before the end of May. He was another one who scored big hundreds - 10 of his 22 Test hundreds were over 150 and he had as many fifties as hundreds.

Viv Richards gets in because of the way he could destroy attacks, sadly too often England's, while "Garry Sobers" is the ultimate Mr Versatile, able to bowl brilliantly at different speeds, yet have a batting average in the fifties.

Wicketkeeper: Gilchrist gets in because he isn't Les Ames, the other option on your list, but would probably make it whatever the shortlist. His keeping is fine without being faultless, and his batting is invaluable at No 7. Very few wicketkeeper-batsmen get close to averaging 50 (Flower and Sangakkara the exceptions).

Spinner: That Warne took 195 wickets against England alone makes it difficult for anyone to ignore him. Still setting records, with 96 victims, in his 35th year and retired after his spinning won back the Ashes. India was the only place he didn't conquer. Wins the team spot for being a totem for Australia during their most invincible period, but Muttiah Muralitharan is closing up on him in both tally and prestige (and had 90 wickets last year) and if you ask again in a year's time, he may get the nod.

Fast bowlers: Marshall, Ambrose and McGrath each were the leading quick bowler in a world-dominating side. Just when Marshall started to fade and battered batsman started to breathe a little more easily, along came the taller, faster, more scary Ambrose to put the wind up them. McGrath wasn't all that fast, but his metronomic accuracy frustrated wickets out of every side.

Patrick's XI: Sutcliffe, Hobbs, Bradman, Hammond, Richards, Sobers, Gilchrist, Marshall, Warne, Ambrose, McGrath

So that's my XI from your list, but here is who I would really want to watch (from players not on your list):

Gooch, Slater, Dravid, Compton, Jardine, Flintoff (at his peak), Knott, Dev, Benaud, Thomson, Tyson ('54 version only)

If anyone else wishes to contribute to the debate, with an XI or a particular area of analysis, please email cricketingworld(at)hotmail.com. We will be selecting our Greatest Test XI around the end of the month.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

this has got to be the most useless pick ever....

no tendulkar ???

Crickets greatest opening pair ??? WTF ??? then what do you say abt Langer and Hayden ?

This pick has a pro english bias... nothing more.

I would add

Wasim Akram , Murali , Greg Chappel , Tendulkar , Steve Waugh (Come on he has got to be the best captain ever.....) Walsh ( as ever a fast bowler ever been faster and accurate as him ??? )

-Sid

Richard Lake said...

A bit different to Patrick Kidd's tteam, but mine has come out:

Hutton
Gavaskar
Bradman
Pollock
Headley
Sobers
Gilchrist
Warne
Marshall
Trueman
McGrath

Also no Tendulkar, Sid. However, cricket was being played before the 1980s

Tim said...

Anonymous - no one would seriously dispute that Sutcliffe and Hobbs are cricket's greatest ever opening pair (average 87 against Langer and Hayden's 50-odd - and against better bowling).

Patrick Kidd said...

Sid, how on earth does a team with three Englishmen, none of whom have played for more than 60 years, have a pro-English bias?

I pick Hobbs and Sutcliffe because they are statistically the best pair in history. Maybe Langer and Hayden face better bowling, but H&S are way out in front against the bowlers they had. Hammond was arguably the second best batsman in Test history, after Bradman.

Tendulkar is a little way down the list in my opinion. Dravid is better than Tendulkar for a start, and possibly Lara and Ponting too.

sportsnob said...

Why do people continue to rate Warne about Murali? Definitely was more fun watching Warne bowl but in terms of pure statistics Murali has to be the best bowler ever. And Warne always had McGrath to put pressure at the other end.

ash said...

My XI is

J.Hobbs
L.Hutton
D.Bradman
S.Tendulkar
W.Hammond
G.Sobers
A.Gilchrist
R.Hadlee
W.Akram
M.Marshall
S.Warne

You can select an equally good team from the following lot Herbert Sutcliffe,K.Barrington Lindwall,Imran Khan,Lillie,Trueman,S.Pollock,Mcgrath,Dev,Garner,Botham,Ponting,Lara,Richards,Gavaskar,Kallis,Hayden,GregChappell,A.Davidson,Compton....

Sportsnob...
We have a game called "half pitch" in our area where bowlers are allowed to "chuck".Only condition is that the arm must come over the head.I have seen many bowlers come in with open chested actions employing the "chuck".These bowlers are as unplayable as Murali, complete with doosa and all.Its very obvious...Muralis action is not legitimate,hence no one wants to select him...unless they want to join the hall of shame.