My all time best T20 Team

After naming my all time best Test Team and ODI team, encouraged by your responses, I am attempting my all time best T20 team.

The advantage is that everyone has seen all the T20 players in action over last few years – so no need to choose between Hobbs and Gavaskar, Chappell and Ponting, Sobers and Kallis, Richards and Sachin and so on.

Here goes!

Openers
For the openers, I’ve narrowed it down to Brendon McCullum, Adam Gilchrist, Quentin de Kock, Kumar Sangakkara, Chris Gayle, Virendra Sehwag, Hashim Amla, Aaron Finch, David Warner, Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Shane Watson.

For me, Chris Gayle is a must. He may start slowly, but then he accelerates like a Formula 1 Champion. He has so many T20 records that a separate article would be required to list them all.

To mention a few, he hits a 6 every eighth ball. He has the most 50s in T20s, the most sixs, most runs, highest score, fastest 50, only player to have 2 World T20 tons and so on. Some of these records he has equalled, many he owns. He is an automatic choice for me.

Who will partner Gayle? It can be a wicketkeeper batsman or an allrounder to improve the balance. Hence regretfully, pure batsmen like Finch, Warner, Roy, Hales and Amla miss out. Among keepers, I shortlist the list further to Brendon and among allrounders to Watson.

After consideration, I go in for McCullum, as he has the most 50s in T20 along with Gayle and he is at his destructive best while opening. Watson will be discussed when we come to allrounders. If I select him, he will present an opening choice once in a while.

Middle order
The middle order contenders are Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Steve Smith, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, Mike Hussey, Kane Williamson, AB de Villiers, David Miller, Faf du Plessis, Mahela Jayawardhene, Dilshan, Brad Hodge, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni.

Oof, very long list that. After going through each and every name once again, I feel it will be a monumental exercise trying to dissect the strengths and relative strengths of each of these maestros. There may not be any conclusion.

Hence, on my gut feeling and perception I will go in for Virat Kohli, and Kevin Pietersen at 3 and 4. Do you agree?

For 5, 6 and 7 let me have a look at some all-rounders and whether they can fit in, allowing me the luxury of dispensing with a batsman at 5, if their batting is good enough.

All-rounders
Yuvraj Singh, Shane Watson, James Faulkner, Glenn Maxwell, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Ben Stokes, Corey Anderson, Shahid Afridi, JP Duminy, Angelo Matthews, Shakib, Andrew Symonds are the terrific allrounders who can be thought of.

At 5, I will go in with Yuvraj Singh who has the ability to take away the match from opposition with his big hitting. Can we forget the six sixes off Stuart Broad? Yuvi’s 50 off 12 balls is matched only by Gayle. His ability to bowl a couple of overs of left arm spin if required gets him in.

At 6 I will go in with Glen Maxwell, who is a devastating bat and can change the complexion of any match within a few balls. He is a must for me. Yuvi and Glen are my batting allrounders at 5 and 6.

At 7 and 8 I will have to choose 2 out of Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard. They will couple power hitting with bowling medium pace. Shane Watson just edges out Kieron Pollard for his better consistency. Bravo makes it due to his death bowling.

Watson at 7 is of course too low and therefore Yuvi, Maxwell and Watson will be sent in from 5 to 7 depending on situation. Bravo will be at 8, once again too low but that reflects the batting strength of my team.

Wicket-keeper
Brendon McCullum, Adam Gilchrist, Kumar Sangakkara, MS Dhoni, Jos Butler, Quentin de Kock are the choices. However since I have already selected McCullum as the opener, he will do the job and the other stalwarts have to regretfully sit out.

Spinners
Sunil Narine, Saeed Ajmal, Ravi Ashwin, Samuel Badree, Shane Warne, Shahid Afridi are the choices. While the first five are super and Shane Warne is in both my Test team and ODI team as well, for the spinners slot I will go in for Shahid Afridi.

Interestingly he has the most Man of the Match awards in T20 Internationals with 11, followed by Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Shane Watson with nine each. (Mohd Shahzad of Afghanistan too has nine, the most for any Associate nation).

Sunil Narine narrowly misses out to Boom Boom.

Two quick bowlers slots are left. The names of Dirk Nannes, Ashis Nehra, Trent Boult, Dale Steyn, Mitchell Johnson, Umar Gul and Mushtafizur come to mind.

However for pace, accuracy, variety, slower balls and yorkers Mitchell Starc and Lasith Malinga make my team.

So the team will be Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli, Kevin Pietersen, Yuvraj Singh, Shane Watson, Glen Maxwell, Dwayne Bravo, Shahid Afridi, Lasith Malinga , Mitchell Starc.

The captain will be Virat Kohli.

Do you agree with my Team? What is your all time T20 team ?

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My All Time Best ODI 11

Selecting an all-time best XI is always an uncertain and arduous task, but then the enjoyment is in accepting the challenge.

I will only be picking players that I have seen play and I will do my best to avoid any bias. Let’s divide the nominees into openers, middle order batsmen, all-rounders, spinners, and pacemen.

Openers
For the openers, I’ve narrowed it down to Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Adam Gilchrist, Kumar Sangakkara, Mark Waugh, Matthew Hayden, Chris Gayle, and Hashim Amla.

Sachin automatically selects himself.

The remaining slot is a little more difficult. There’s no doubt about Sehwag’s talent, but I believe he was best suited to Test cricket. But it’s worth remembering that Sehwag is the only opener in the history of the game to score over 7500 runs in both Tests and ODIs. Sadly, he isn’t in my squad.

Ganguly, despite amassing 22 ODI tons and 11,000 runs also can’t squirm his way in. That said, I am sure there will be a consensus that Sachin-Ganguly and Sachin-Sehwag are two of the best opening partnerships in ODI cricket.

As nonchalantly as Hashim Amla has struck his 23 tons and thirty 50s in his 139 ODIs I will have to dismiss him too. You can also strike a line through two brilliant Aussies, Hayden and Waugh.

Controversially I won’t be selecting Sangakarra, who after an exhaustive 40-day process involving millions of votes from across the globe was crowned the ODI’s Greatest of All Time (GOAT).

Gayle is a joy to watch, but his skillset is best suited to T20 cricket. That leaves us with one man standing, the great Adam Gilchrist.

An explosive batsman, he amassed almost 10,000 runs in ODIs at a strike rate of 97. While rival keeper-batsman Sangakkara has 25 tons (nine more than Gilchrist’s 16) and 14,000 runs, the impact Gilly brings to the top of the order is unrivalled.

Middle order
There is a plethora of talent in the middle order to follow up from the strong starts of Sachin and Gilly, assuming they could even be dismissed!

Sir Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Virat Kohli, Jacques Kallis (who will also be in all-rounder category), AB De Villiers, MS Dhoni, Javed Miandad, Dean Jones, Michael Bevan, Michael Clark, Steve Waugh, Rahul Dravid and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

The key advantage of selecting wicketkeeper Gilchrist as an opener is that I have the ability to select a deep four-man middle order.

Sir Viv is an automatic selection at No.3 for me. His impact, legacy, and reliability are too much to overlook. Add to that his 100 wickets and brilliant fielding, and you have a ready-made team lynchpin.

Statistically, Sir Viv compares unfavourably to some of the modern cricketers. He has 17 ODI tons and 6,700 runs at an average of 47 in 187 matches. Those are great figures by anyone’s measure, but compare that to Virat Kohli.

Kohli is one of the strongest players mentioned. His career is still young, but he has so far already surpassed all three of Viv’s marks, with 25 tons and 7200 runs at an average of 51.5 in 171 matches. Despite his achievements, Kohli won’t be featuring in my team just yet, but if he continues performing as he has in all forms of the game he would be considered a great in every team you can think of.

Deano, Miandad, Inzy and Pup and even The Wall would all add incredible value to any team, but they all feature weaker records than Kohli, and so, with due respect, none of them make my final team.

At four, I will have Ponting who has almost 14,000 runs and has been involved in 163 wickets primarily through his brilliant fielding. He has also collected 30 tons and his tactics as a captain were second to none.

De Villiers, who has a Sir Viv-like ability to transform a match, is a must at number five. With a heavy heart, Lara (299 matches, 10,405 runs at 40 with 19 tons) just loses out to the South African for his incredible consistency (200 matches, 8621 runs at an average of 54.56 with 24 tons).

The number six is a crucial position. It’s the last line of defence before the opposition gets a free crack at the bowlers. Dhoni and Bevan are two of the best finishers the game has seen, but they won’t finish with a place in my squad. Dhoni’s chances are hampered by the depth of wicketkeepers already in the squad.

Steve Waugh comes in for serious consideration due to his ability to handle pressure and his quality captaining. But one has to 1st choose the 11 best players, and captain among them, so Steve misses out as he is not in the list of 11.

For the number six position, I thought of killing two birds with one stone by selecting Jacques Kallis who is both a genuine batsman and bowler. However that would mean excellent all-rounders Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee and Ian Botham would all just fall short of Kallis.

After thought, i would keep Kallis in the Test squad and go in for one of the 4 classic allrounders, or Dhoni or Bevan who are the 2 best ODI cricketers the game of cricket has seen. After deep thought i would go in for Dhoni. His feat of 9000 runs in just 242 innings with the leader Sourav at 224 (only 18 less) is unparallelled. Only Sourav, Lara, Ponting, Sachin and Kallis have scored 9000 runs in lesser than 242 innings and all batted in the top 3. Dhoni is also the only player to cross 9000 runs with an average of above 50. He has almost 200 6’s , 2nd only to Chris Gayle and hence in my team he edges out Bevan.

In the top six, we now have half a dozen brilliant batsmen, two wicketkeepers, and the useful bowling contributions of Sachin and Sir Viv as reasonable spinners. You can even chuck Punter in for a spell if things get dire.

Spinners
There are only two names to consider for the spinner’s spot: Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan. While Murali has 534 wickets from his 350 matches, Warne is a true genius who collected 293 wickets in just 194 matches. Normally I would not be able to separate them, and that means they would both get a place in my squad. However with Sachin and Sir Viv able to spin a few overs if required, I would with a heavy heart leave out Murali and go in for Warne, even though statistics puts Murali ahead.

Now for Number 7 therefore, a slot opens up, and the natural cricket player Kapil Dev gets in. By virtue of his terrific swing bowling, ebullient batting and athletic fielding. For ODI he is ahead of the more consistent but slower Jacques Kallis. Shane will bat at 8.

Pacemen
With three spots to fill the nominations are Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Glenn McGrath, Curtly Ambrose, Allan Donald, Dale Steyn and Joel Garner.

The two easy choices are Akram and McGrath for their variation and incredible accuracy.

The third quick is Curtly Ambrose who with his meanness and disconcerting lift and bounce, coupled with economy edges out Waqar Younus even though he has frightening pace and yorkers and may go for runs occasionally in the quest for wickets. Curtly gets my nod.

My all-time best XI
Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist, Sir Vivian Richards, Ricky Ponting (c), AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni, Kapil Dev, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Curtly Ambrose, Glenn McGrath.

Let me know your best ODI side in the comments below.

My all time Best Test 11

I will now be writing a 4 part blog. 1st will be my best Test 11, Part 2 my best ODI 11 and the 3rd part my best T20 11. Finally the 4th will be my best all format 11. Join me in this journey in all 4 parts and i am sure it will be fun.

One disclaimer is that this will be limited to players I have actually seen live -on TV and in actual action , and hence immortals like Sir Don and Sir Gary will not be there.

Openers. Since i have not seen them, players like Jack Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutten can’t be there. However there still are some extraordinary batsman which makes selection a tough task

Who does one choose from a galaxy of stars like Gordon Greenidge, Geoff Boycott, Matthew Hayden, Alastair Cook, Graeme Smith, Sunil Gavaskar, Virendra Sehwag and so on to name just a few. 

After deep thought I would go in for Sunil Gavaskar and Matthew Hayden. Sunny handled the feared West Indian fast bowlers in a manner which will remain in memory for a long long time. With him is Hayden who edges out Sehwag. Hayden as an aggressive dominating batsman  will be a perfect foil to the steady, technically correct Sunny. Hayden also has the ability to hit big hundreds which will help the team immensely. 

Middle Order. Here too, the stars are many. Richards, Lloyd, Border, Ponting, Gower, Sachin, Dravid, Lara, and many more. However, I will have Richards, Sachin and Lara at 3 to 5. Ponting very sadly misses out as Lara and Sachin get my nod ahead of him. Richards is my man at 3 as his very presence is inspirational. He edges out Dravid for the spot. Sachin is at 4 and Lara is at 5. While Sachin will provide stability , Lara will provide brilliance and strokeplay to take the match away from the opposition. 

What about the crucial Number 6 spot. Will we have a batsman like say Ponting, or Laxman or even Younus Khan who has an incredible 4th innings record. Or will it be an allrounder like Kapil, or Imran or Ian Both or Hadlee. 

After deep thought , i do go in for an allrounder and its Jacques Kallis, who as a batsman who has scored as much as gravid and who as a bowler has taken as many wickets as Zaheer Khan

For wicketkeeper, i will unhesitatingly go in for Adam Gilchrist. So many times we have seen in Test cricket that the opposition has somehow got Australia in a spot of bother at say 160/5 and then Gilchrist takes them to beyond 300 or 350 which is enough for their super attack of that time, Lee, McGrath, Gillespie and Warne.

Now spots 8 to 11 remain and i would select one spinner and 3 quicks. For spinner it has to be Shane Warne, who edges out Murali for the spot. Warne had the ability to take wickets at will while Murali comes a close second to him.

The 3 quicks create a big dilemma. Will it be Holding or Garner or Robert or Marshall. Or will it be Lillee- Thommo. Or Waqar-Akram, Donald-Pollock, Ambrose-Walsh, Steyn , Anderson or Lee-Mcgrath. There are so many exponents that choosing just 3 is an extremely difficult task

However task even if difficult has to be done. After deep thought i will go in for Akram, McGrath and Malcolm Marshall. Akram for his variety, and his being a left armer helps him immensely too. McGrath for his unyielding accuracy and Marshall for his frightening pace and ability to extract the maximum even out of batting tracks.

The playing 11 therefore is Sunil Gavaskar, Matthew Hayden, Vivian Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Glenn Mcgrath and Malcolm Marshall. The shrewd Sunny Gavaskar is the captain.

Do u agree with my choice of Test 11 ?