Wisden All Time best XI: How could you exclude Javed Miandad and Muttiah Muralitharan?
In October, 2013 Wisden, a cricket reference book published annually in UK, marked its 150th anniversary by naming the best Test team of all time. Though the team is a great one and all the pronounced cricket legends are included, some I believe are left out without any valid reasons.
The team includes:
1. Jack Hobbs
2. W G Grace
5. Vivian Richards
6. Gary Sobers
7. Alan Knott
8. Wasim Akram
9. Shane Warne
10. Malcolm Marshall
11. Sydney Barnes
Technically, there is nothing wrong with this team. It is indeed a mighty one, but the selection of Grace over Len Hutton looks more like an honorary one rather than on merit.
Their selection of Tendulkar being better than Javed Miandad is beyond me. The latter is better than the former in many ways. Miandad has played mighty bowlers like Dennis Lillee, Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Jeff Thompson, Richard Hadlee, Andy Roberts and various others in their prime and had a good record against them. Tendulkar, on the other hand, has had problems against the best bowlers of his era-Wasim Akram, Allan Donald, Glenn Mcgrath and Muttiah Muralitharan.
Though the little master has had some success against Warne, the Australian bowler has hardly had any success against India. If anyone rates Tendulkar over Miandad then it simply means you are rating rivers above seas. There is none better than Miandad as a middle order batsman.
Alan Knott is named as the wicket keeper batsman in Wisden All Time XI, but why would they name a better batsman and slightly less efficient than the others as a wicket keeper? Even though they have so many great batsmen in Bradman, Richards, Sobers and Miandad, it is unwise to go for a less efficient wicket keeper. Rodney Marsh is the best wicket keeper for any XI as his record suggests he was as quick as a flash behind the stumps.
In the spin department, they prefer Warne over Muttiah Muralitharan, which is indeed a controversial choice. Muralitharan has an excellent record against every opposition, while Warne has been thrashed by the best batsmen of his era – Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Saeed Anwar. There is an element of favouritism in picking Warne over Muralitharan.
When picking fast bowlers you are leaving Michael Holding and picking Barnes, who had actually enjoyed bowling on wet, overwatered wickets. Imagine the Whispering Death bowling on those wickets and what his record might have been.
If you are really willing to pick someone from the earlier generations, then pick Sir Charles Aubrey Smith. Even though Smith has played only one Test, he had a fantastic bowling average of 8.71 and a strike rate of 22, and proved his worth as a world class bowler of his time with match winning performances more often in first class cricket than any other amateur fast bowler.
Although it may sound weird to pick a one-Test-wonder but in English county, Smith led Sussex to many titles against much tougher opposition and Grace himself rates him as the best. Being an amateur fast bowler, Smith hardly played any Test matches but after the first class matches that he did play, everyone titled him as the finest bowler they’ve faced. Smith, on many occasions, won matches for his team from the jaws of defeat.
Disappointed with the selection provided, I decided to come up with my own version of the team, which includes:
1. Jack Hobbs
2. Len Hutton
3. Don Bradman
4. Vivian Richards
5. Javed Miandad
6. Gary Sobers
7. Rodney Marsh
8. Malcolm Marshall
9. Charles Aubrey Smith (Captain)
10. Michael Holding
11. Muttiah Muralitharan
Anyone who has a passion for cricket and knows its legends would agree with my line up. They would be undefeatable on the field – that’s a fact.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.