I keep reading about All Time Test XIs on Cricinfo. I thought why not make one for myself. Here I will only consider players that I have watched i.e. those who retired after 1995. My team will consist of 5 batsmen, 1 all rounder, 1 wicket keeper and 4 bowlers. I will try not to over-represent a particular national team. Without further adieu, here is the shortlist (in batting order) --
1. Matthew Hayden
2. Virender Sehwag
3. Ricky Ponting
4. Sachin Tendulkar
5. Brian Lara
6. Andrew Flintoff
7. Adam Gilchrist
8. Wasim Akram
9. Muttiah Murlitharan
10. Curtly Ambrose
11. Glenn Mcgrath
Openers : It was an easy choice. Both of them are known for their murderous approach to test cricket. Hayden and Sehwag can be credited for redefining the role of a test opener. Although I was tempted to pick a more conventional opener but they dont just compare to these two. Not in this era.
Middle Order : The middle order picks itself. Ponting, Sachin and Lara - three of the best in the current generation of cricketers. One of them may even be the best ever.
A case can be made for Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid or even Kumar Sangakkara. However Sanga is not that good a keeper and his record outside the subcontinent is poor. Kallis provides you a decent bowling option but we have an all-rounder spot for Flintoff which more than fulfills the extra seamer's place. I chose the middle order, purely on the merit of batting skills.
All Rounder : This was a particularly tough choice. I could have gone for another specialist batsman here, like VVS Laxman or Mike Hussey. But if the top 5 cannot get you the runs then who can? There were other all rounders too and good ones - Andrew Symonds and Shaun Pollock(He could be picked as a specialist bowler.More on that later). But Freddie Flintoff catches your eye like no other. His performances in the 2005 Ashes were epic.
Wicket Keeper : Some might argue that Mark Boucher is a better keeper but Adam Gilchrist is only marginally behind. His superior batting skills cannot be overlooked. Btw Dhoni is a joke when compared to these two in the test arena.
Spinner : This was the toughest pick in my team. Both Warne and Murli are cricketing legends. We can argue for hours on who is a better bowler? I finally went for Murlitharan because of his ability to bowl long spells and winning matches almost single handedly for sri lanka. Warne's record against the sub-continent players, widely considered good against spin, was also a factor.
Fast Bowlers : Interesting..very interesting indeed. Look at bowlers who missed out viz. Shaun Pollock, Allan Donald, Waqar Younis, Shane Bond and Dale Steyn. I was tempted to pick Bond to represent New Zealand but his stop-start career and the sheer greatness of the other shortlists made it impossible. Dale Steyn is relatively new and I think if I redo this list after 5 years, he might be in serious contention. Donald faded in the later half of his career while Waqar Younis was touch inconsistent. Pollock..oh well he lost out to Mcgrath. Mcgrath and Curtly Ambrose were default choices and personal favorites. I chose Wasim Akram for the third spot because as a left hander he adds variation to the attack.