Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Greatest Test side ever (in 2011 at least)

So that's that. Perhaps telling that a match in which India supposedly put up a bit of fight and showed some determination was still won by an innings and 8 runs, after an England declaration only 6 wickets down. Who knows how many England would have scored if Bresnan (series average 77), Broad (61) and Swann (18) had been let loose as well. Fortunately for India, we'll never know. A dramatic final day that just about summed up how India performed all series, OK in patches, generally dismal.

Lots of discussion about whether this series was more about England's awesomeness or India's awfulness. The reality is probably a bit of both, with all the usual stuff about thorough preparation, injuries etc. playing their part too. I believe that there are a few (billion) people in India who take a passing interest in cricket, and are a lot better placed to analyse their shortcomings currently, so I'll instead revel in England genuinely being the best at a major sport perhaps since Rugby Union in 2003. Full video here - WARNING: it is physically and emotionally impossible to ever get tired of watching this video.

And what better way that to get carried away and start making comparisons with the Aussies of the 90s/early 00s? And while I'm at it, I might just see how we'd get on against a World Test XI, as that's the great compliment paid to McGrath & co back in 2005. I've used the current ICC test player rankings but "massaged" my selection, to make it match up as a good player by player comparison, hopefully no controversial choices though! It is also quite difficult to just use the rankings as so many of the positions are taken up with Englishmen. For the Australian team, I've taken the 2006-7 Ashes squad because that is when I remember them being so utterly dominant and delivering a thrashing the like of which we've not seen since, well, today.

So the teams are: (I know I did a table, if you've read even a single blog post before you'll know I'm geeky, get over it)

England 2011
Aussies 90s/00s
World XI 2011
Strauss (c)
De Villiers (SA)
Watson (Aus)
Ponting (c)
Dravid (Ind)
Kallis (SA)
Tendulkar (Ind)
Chanderpaul (WI)
Prior (wk)
Gilchrist (wk)
Sangakkara (SL) (wk)
Johnson (Aus)
Morkel (SA)
Shakib (Ban) (c)
Steyn (SA)

My backside hurts. To be entirely honest, as I was putting together the Aussie team I came back to earth with an almighty bump. Stupid comparisons. I think a composite team made up of the 3 would probably look remarkably like the middle column *I don't actually think this, I'm just sulking cos Cloud 9 proved unaccommodating

Strauss/Langer/AB: Fairly evenly matched really, JL performed consistently for years, but Strauss adds something with the captaincy prowess. Difficult one to call. 
Cook/Hayden/Watson: Two destructive Aussies against one accumulative Englishman. Although Shane's bowling is a factor to consider, Hayden struck fear into any attack, especially on hard bouncy Aussie wickets.
Trott/Ponting/Dravid: A punter between two walls. Perhaps the most marked difference in styles of all our comparatives. Frankly absurd averages all 3 of them. I can't choose between the latter two but I guess Richard is a more entertaining choice
Pietersen/Martyn/Kallis: KP and Damien are both class but someone who averages 57 with the bat and only 32 with the ball in nearly 150 test matches gets into any team in history. That's Kallis by the way.
Bell/Clarke/Tendulkar: The poor guy only needed 9 more runs. I've little doubt that Sachin will get there one day but a testament that virtually every England fan seemed to want an opponent to score a century today.
Morgan/Hussey/Shiv: Not sure Eoin stands a lot of chance in this company. If you had Hussey and Chanderpaul in the same team it is possible they would simply never be bowled out.
Prior/Gilchrist/Sanga: Gilly was really the first wicketkeeper-batsman that seems to be so important in modern test cricket. Only a few genuinely class batsmen can combine the two skills, England have the very best in "the Sussex gloveman" (try finding any story about MP without that phrase) but AG was the first and best.
Bresnan/Lee/Johnson: Lee was (and to a lesser extent, is) class. Sheer pace, aggressive batting but top class sportsmanship. Bresnan may be yet to taste defeat (or even a draw), and Johnson has his days where he only bowls 2 wides an over but Brett wins this hands down.
Broad/Clark/Morkel: A bit of a weaker 3 and an opening for the English team. Is Broad finally developing into the top performer he promised to be in the 2009 Ashes? It could go a long way to helping us stay on top if he is.
Swann/Warne/Shakib: In my opinion Shane Warne is the best spin bowler ever. I know Murali took more wickets etc but the only bowler in the Wisden 5 cricketers of the century does it for me. He's also good fun in the commentary box.
Anderson/McGrath/Steyn: Jimmy and Dale are unbelievable bowlers, and would lead any attack they played in. But Glenn McGrath is another league altogether. So another one from the Aussies I'm afraid.

It looks like this then: Strauss, Hayden, Ponting, Kallis, Tendulkar, Chanderpaul, Gilchrist, Lee, Broad, Warne, McGrath.

I never liked cricket anyway. When does the tennis start again?


  1. A good account and I like the comparison between teams but to add my own subjective view Tendulker and Shiv (on current form as this is what the rankings are based on) would miss out to Bell (on current form and M.Hussey (from his early Bradman esq form) - Mike

  2. yes certainly on current form you couldn't argue with Bell over Sachin. I do love Shiv though, especially as he's been playing in a useless WI team for years, a bit like Dravid in this series really