It must seem like the ideal job. After all you see a lot of cricket.
The last decade saw some of the greatest cricketers fans have witnessed bid adieu to the game they loved and dedicated their lives to over countless years.
So who were the best Test players of this decade that have retired? This is my XI. My only criteria when selecting my retired Test XI of the decade is that they must have played for at least four years in the 2010s.
1. Alastair Cook
12,472 Test runs, 45.35 average, 33 centuries
A phenomenal player. While he did decline towards the end of his Test career, he was almost unstoppable at the peak of his powers. An excellent defence and loved to blunt the new ball before cashing in later in his innings.
2. Graeme Smith (captain)
9265 Test runs, 48.26 average, 27 centuries
Another gritty opener who put a real price on his wicket. To captain a team like South Africa from the age of 22 until retirement and perform so consistently is impressive. He dominated English conditions with ease, averaging 67.75 with five hundreds in England. Batting with a broken arm at the SCG in 2009 showed what a tough character he was. Easily my captain in this XI.
3. Hashim Amla
9282 Test runs, 46.64 average, 28 centuries
It is such a shame that the last 24 months of Test cricket brought his average down or else he would’ve averaged close to 50 in Test cricket. In South Africa’s golden years, he was their best player of pace and spin. He could wear down bowlers or go all guns blazing depending on the situation. I haven’t seen a number three dominate Test cricket the way Amla did.
4. Jacques Kallis
13,289 Test runs, 55.37 average, 45 centuries, 292 Test wickets, 32 average, 2.83 economy
Good enough to bat in the top four and a quality bowler. Best all-rounder ever and possibly for decades to come. End of story.
5. Younis Khan
10,099 Test runs, 52.06 average, 34 centuries
Younis Khan is one of the rare cricketers who scored more centuries than half-centuries in the red-ball arena. He had an unusual technique, but it was very effective as he achieved a Test hundred in every Test-playing nation – a very rare feat. He played his last Test matches in Sri Lanka, England and Australia, scoring quality hundreds. A substantial number five in any team.
6. Kevin Pietersen
8181 Test runs, 47.29 average, 23 centuries
For KP, attack is the best form of defence. He’s a born match-winner. The amount of times he saved England from collapse with counter-attacking hundreds is astonishing. It’s a real shame how the English Cricket Board scapegoated him after the 2013-14 Ashes and effectively ended his international career. In this team, Pietersen would be best suited at number six with his style of play.
7. Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper)
12,400 Test runs, 57.41 average, 38 centuries
If he wasn’t dominating attacks for fun, he would’ve been a lawyer. That’s how talented he is. He just oozed class every time he walked out to bat. The scary thing about Sangakkara was how good he was as a player as he got older. Age never caught up to him. Between 2010 and 2014, Sangakkara averaged 49-plus with the bat every calendar year. He is a quality keeper-batsman to have at number seven.
8. Ryan Harris
113 Test wickets, 23.52 average, 2.78 economy
Firstly, he should’ve made his debut a lot earlier than the age of 30. Secondly, he is so unlucky that injuries plagued his career, which ultimately led to a premature retirement. He bowled with serious pace everywhere and performed his role to near perfection in every Test. He averaged 14 in Sri Lanka with the ball so he was effective on slow pitches as well. He was no slouch with the bat too, with an average of 21.53 and three half-centuries.
9. Rangana Herath
433 Test wickets, 28.08 average, 2.81 economy
Herath is incredibly unlucky to have been in Muttiah Muralitharan’s shadow for the majority of his career. Following Murali’s retirement, Herath delivered for Sri Lanka countless times. On pitches that didn’t suit the slow bowlers, Herath would hold up an end and dry up the runs. He was a pretty handy player with the bat as well, but didn’t utilise his batting talents to his true potential.
10. Dale Steyn
439 Test wickets, 22.95 average, 3.25 economy
No questions asked. Steyn bowled a magnificent spell in Nagpur 2010, taking 7-51, which made me realise how good he was regardless of the conditions.
11. Morne Morkel
309 Test wickets, 27.67 average, 3.11 economy
Criminally underrated. He was a nasty bowler clocking at 145-plus and tested techniques with accuracy and a mean bouncer.