Don’t worry. I’m not proposing yet another fantasy team but asking a more concrete question: which 11 players constituted the best ever Test team taking the field on a single day, judged on previous form?
Despite a brilliant effort this Thursday, the West Indies lost to Australia by 15 runs. Sixteen years ago, they also lost to Sri Lanka narrowly.
Sarwan a bleeding hero
A few weeks before this 2003 match, the West Indies defeated South Africa by three runs (as featured yesterday).
In this match, skipper and opener Sanath Jayasuriya top scored with 66 runs as Sri Lanka amassed 6-228. The total would have been lower but Kumar Sangakkara, Russel Arnold and Chaminda Vaas played valuable innings.
Chris Gayle opened with 55 but the real hero was Ramnaresh Sarwan, who was knocked out by a bouncer from Dilhara Fernando. With blood pouring from his wound, he was carried to a hospital on a stretcher. He had scored 10 then and was not expected to bat.
But with his team tottering at 7-169 in the 43rd over, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul dismissed for 65, the gallant Sarwan resumed his innings to a standing ovation from a crowd of almost 20,000.
He added 37 runs to his personal score, remaining unbeaten on 47, but the West Indies lost by six runs.
For his splendid spell, which included Brian Lara’s wicket for one run, opening bowler Chaminda Vaas was adjudged the man of the match.
Rain on South Africa’s parade
Winning the toss, Sri Lanka scored 9-268 as opener – and subsequent man of the match – Marvan Atapattu hit 124 runs.
It started raining late in the South African innings and by the Duckworth-Lewis rule, their target became 229 runs in 45 overs to tie the match.
Sadly, they had misread the fine print and thought they needed 229 to win.
Opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs scored 73 and was out at 4-149. Mark Boucher scored an aggressive and unbeaten 45, and Shaun Pollock (25) picked up the tempo but was given run out after several television replays.
Boucher hit the penultimate ball in the last and 45th over for a six, thinking his side had won. So he played the last soggy ball of the match defensively and did not run.
Thus, the match ended in a tie, Sri Lanka progressed to the semi-final, and South Africa were eliminated.
A miracle win was brought about by Australia’s unsung hero Andy Bichel, with help from Michael Bevan.
Fast-medium Bichel captured 7-20 in ten accurate and penetrating overs, as England w‰re dismissed for 8-204 with valuable 40s from Alec Stewart and Andrew Flintoff.
But with Andy Caddick dismissing Australia’s top four, it seemed all over.
Down 8-135 and the Barmy Army singing, a miracle happened.
Tail-ender Bichel joined Bevan – perhaps the most versatile limited-overs cricketer ever – and shone as a batsman, the two adding 73 precious runs.
Needing 14 to win in two overs, Bichel swung for a six and then a four for victory with two balls to spare.
Miracle-man Bichel was the undisputed man of the match.
Australia had won their 12th consecutive one-day international – a record then – and went on to secure the World Cup, defeating India in the final by 125 runs in Johannesburg.