We have cricket again and while England’s predictable weather put a dampener on things, Shannon Gabriel didn’t take long to strike.
Just like my retired Test XI of the decade, my only criteria when selecting this team is that they played at least four years of the 2010s.
1. Hashim Amla
8113 ODI runs, 49.47 average, 27 centuries
Amla averaged over 50 in ODIs for the majority of his career before a dip in form lowered his average. He played terrific shots all around the ground, and I would back him to give my team a solid start regardless of the conditions. His adaptability to different surfaces is what made him such a successful one-day batsman.
2. Tillakaratne Dilshan
10,290 ODI runs, 39.27 average, 22 centuries
Don’t let the average fool you. For the first half of his career, Dilshan was batting in the middle order as a finisher. As an opener, Dilshan averaged 46.04. The aggressive opener also bowled some handy off-spinners and was a lethal fielder in the point region. He and Amla would complement each other very well in this team.
3. Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper)
14,234 ODI runs, 41.99 average, 25 centuries
Class personified. It’s baffling to think that he averaged less than 30 after 100 ODIs. His feats in the 2015 World Cup showed that age hadn’t caught up to him at all. I was fortunate to watch him bat in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final at the SCG. He was a quality keeper and sledger. He would still walk into Sri Lanka’s side at number three and score a truckload of runs for them.
4. Jacques Kallis
11,579 ODI runs, 44.36 average, 17 centuries, 273 ODI wickets, 31.79 average, 4.84 economy
Irreplaceable player for South Africa. He was the glue in their batting line-up while the rest would bat around him. His batting and bowling prowess allowed South Africa to play an extra all-rounder in their line-up.
5. AB de Villiers (captain)
9577 ODI runs, 53.50 average, 25 centuries
Mr 360. In the history of one-day international cricket, the South African star batsman is the only player to average 50-plus and have a strike rate over 100. Whether he batted at three, four or five for South Africa, he always delivered with the bat. Despite the rumours on social media, I don’t see him coming back in South African colours ever again. He is a decent captain to have in this side.
6. Kevin Pietersen
4440 ODI runs, 40.73 average, nine centuries
He was one of the few players in an average England one-day outfit that could change the momentum of a game in the space of a few balls, let alone overs. His international career came to a premature end, but he was a class player for England. Statistically, he was better for England at number five or six, and that’s why I’ve given him the Michael Bevan role in this XI.
7. Shane Watson
5757 ODI runs, 40.54 average, nine centuries, 168 wickets, 31.80 average, 4.96 economy
What a fine player he was for Australia. Overshadowed in the first half of his career due to being in a dominant Australian one-day team, he shouldered the responsibility for Australia in the latter stages of his career. Whether he was opening the batting, or coming in at number five or seven, he performed his role to near perfection all the time. Just like Kallis, Watson can give this team ten overs and can take wickets in crucial stages of a game.
8. Mitchell Johnson
239 ODI wickets, 25.26 average, 4.84 economy
In an era when one-day internationals were dominated by those holding the bat, Johnson had an uncanny ability to ruffle batsmen with his raw pace. He may have had a stop-start career in Test cricket, but he was very consistent in the ODI set-up for Australia. He was handy with the bat as well, with the ability to play a cameo if needed.
9. Morne Morkel
188 ODI wickets, 25.32 average, 4.96 economy
To bowl in the mid-140s and trouble batsmen regardless of the conditions is astonishing. With the new ball and his height of 1.96 metres, Morkel troubled batsmen with his ability to get steep bounce and accuracy. He would be partnering Johnson as my new-ball bowlers.
10. Lasith Malinga
338 ODI wickets, 28.88 average, 5.35 economy
Probably the best death bowler in white-ball cricket. In his prime, Malinga was unplayable, and only a handful of batsmen were comfortable against him. He had everything that a death-overs bowler required: a slower ball, slower yorker, bouncer and quicker yorker. In this XI, he would be my first-change bowler and be given the responsibility of taking wickets in the middle and death overs.
11. Imran Tahir
173 ODI wickets, 24.84 average, 4.65 economy
Pakistan’s loss was South Africa’s gain. Bowling for a country where spinners weren’t given much respect, he was outstanding for the Proteas. He had everything that was required from a quality leg-spinner. His googly is the best I’ve seen from any leg-spinner, and his celebrations are brilliant to watch.