My Test XI for 2010
It more or less picks itself, really.
- Graeme Smith: It was a toss-up of sorts between Cook and Smith, and the numbers are uncannily similar. Cook has 1205 runs at an average of 57.38, while Smith clocks in 925 at an average of 57.81. Their strike rates are in the mid 50’s, within a couple of points of each other, and Cook has five centuries to four from Smith – but Smith has played only 10 Tests to Cook’s 13. So why Smith? I think he’s a safer bet than Cook (in spite of Cook’s recent heroics in Australia). And allow me trot out that venerable phrase of cricketing journalism. If I had to choose a batsman to bat for my life…
- Virender Sehwag: 23 innings in 2010, an average of 65 with a strike rate of 90. 5 tons, 8 half centuries and the only guy (and by some distance, that too) to have hit more than 200 boundaries this year. Sachin comes in second at a distant 177. If anybody wishes to argue with me about this, I’d suggest this venue.
- Hashim Amla: I never thought it possible in my lifetime, but neither Ponting nor Dravid feature at one down. But hey, it’s hard to argue with an average of 85 and five tons in the year. I’ll be surprised if he retains his spot next year (assuming I’m doing this next year), but this time around, it’s Amla all the way. And about that thing about next year, it’s not because I do not rate Amla has a batsman, which I most certainly do. It’s because when you say “all time” and “one down” in one sentence, you cannot see beyond Ponting and Dravid. Pavlovian, you see.
- And who were you expecting? Ishant Sharma?
- VVS Laxman: If you are a South African, you’ll want to thrash the living daylights out of me. And I’d do the same, if I was in your position. AB de Villiers has scored a gazillion more runs at a much higher average, and is a much better fielder. But Laxman hasn’t done too badly himself, and plus, he has Mohali on his side. As an Indian, for that innings alone… for that innings alone. Plus, in my defence – if you were an Indian, who would you have selected?
- Jacques Kallis: Six hundreds, an average of ninety and very, very handy as a back-up seamer. For that cover drive alone, he’d be hard to ignore. And have you noticed, by the way? We’ve also got a very handy slip cordon going.
- M.S. Dhoni: He’s dropped more than a few this year, if you think about it. But I’ll put that down to incessant cricket and a mind that must be sick and tired of cricket by now. Technique wise, he’s up there, and leave all else aside – he’s the best captain in the world at the moment. No two ways about that. But if Sanga agrees to keep wickets, that’s that. But he’s sworn off them gloves, hasn’t he now? Actually, most Sri Lankan fans would be wondering why Sanga isn’t in the middle order, with that average of 99. Well, through no fault of Sanga, I hasten to assure you. Put it down to Sri Lanka not playing enough Test cricket where it counts (read: outside Sri Lanka and India)
- Graeme Swann: This is what it’s come to these days. The world’s best spinner isn’t a leggie, isn’t Asian and isn’t Warne. He’s a bloody Brit. And I know this hasn’t got nothing to do with anything, but he wears sunglasses while bowling. That is so like, Mark Waugh. If you’re looking for a crisis in international cricket, this is it. Thank you.
- Zaheer Khan: Probably the best medium pacer in the world today. He’s not in the Wasim Akram league, of course, but the ball does listen to him very closely indeed. And follows Zak’s instructions more or less to the letter. And while on that topic, my vote for the best line written about cricket this year was a line written in praise of Wasim Akram: “Could make the ball recite Shakespeare if he wanted to”. Wah, wah!
- Dale Steyn: He’s knocking on the doors to fast bowling Valhalla these days, and they’re going to have to let him in sooner or later. The way he’s going these days, I’d bet on sooner.
- Mohammed Amir: Screw you, you moronic Pakistani administrators, screw the lot of you. Ack-thoo!
And the really good news is the fact that all but one of these eleven players are playing today.
Good on yer, Test cricket, good on yer.