Having followed international cricket since January 2008 (yes, that SCG Test), I’ve had the luxury of seeing many international cricketers who have done their country and Test cricket proud.
So I’ve come up with a retired Test XI consisting of players who retired in the 21st century.
But there’s a catch. I can choose only one player from each country. This is the XI I came up with.
Test stats – 8625 runs, 50.74 average, 30 hundreds
Hayden’s presence in itself struck fear into opposition bowlers. The way he would stride to the crease and take on bowlers was a pleasing sight for Australian fans. Hayden did have his struggles against the moving ball but he was still a quality opener for Australia.
Sir Alastair Cook
Test stats – 12472 runs, 45.35 average, 33 hundreds
The perfect foil for Hayden, Alastair Cook partners the Australian opener. While Hayden smashed bowlers to the stands, Cook defended bowlers into boredom. Cook is England’s greatest opener of all time.
Brian Lara (captain)
Test stats – 11953 runs, 52.88 average, 34 hundreds
I didn’t get the luxury of seeing Lara bat, but I did get the luxury of meeting Brian Lara as an 11-year-old. Lara was class personified. The way he had two shots to almost every ball was amazing. It’s a shame Lara was too good for the West Indies but that’s cricket.
Test stats – 15921 runs, 53.78 average, 51 hundreds
At the age of 16, Tendulkar was facing Abdul Qadir, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Imran Khan. My biggest achievement at the age of 16 was meeting Brian Lara and Glenn McGrath. The way Tendulkar adapted to different surfaces was commendable and he didn’t have many weaknesses in his game. He averaged over 40 in every country he played in against quality bowlers.
Test stats – 3026 runs, 30.87 average, three hundreds
In a Bangladesh side learning the trade of Test cricket, Habibul Bashar was the shining light. An aggressive batsman, Bashar liked to get on top of bowlers and dominate them. The most frustrating aspect of Bashar’s career was his conversion rate. With 27 scores above 50, the former Bangladesh skipper only notched three hundreds and deserved to bow out of international cricket with more centuries. Nowadays, Bashar is involved within the Bangladesh selection panel.
Andy Flower (wicketkeeper)
Test stats – 4794 runs, 51.54 average, 12 hundreds, 151 catches, nine stumpings
Andy Flower is easily Zimbabwe’s greatest cricketer. The former keeper-batsman smashed runs in the middle order with ease against some of the best bowlers in the world. His wicketkeeping was top notch and Adam Gilchrist was lucky that Andy Flower retired after the 2003 World Cup. Flower also took helm of England’s men’s team from 2009-2014, winning three Ashes series, taking England to number one on the Test rankings and a historic series win in India.
Test stats – 33 runs, 5.5 average, zero fifties, eight wickets, 31.75 average, 2.79 economy
Having retired from Test cricket last year to allow youngsters to play Test cricket for Afghanistan, Nabi makes the list. The Afghan all-rounder did well with the ball in his short Test career but struggled to make an impact with the bat.
Test stats – 355 wickets, 29.58 average, 2.68 economy
Vaas is undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s greatest fast bowler of all time. He swung the new ball to great effect and did well on dead pitches in Sri Lanka. Although regarded as a bowler, Vaas developed into a handy bowling all-rounder later in his career.
Test stats – 414 wickets, 23.62 average, 2.59 economy
He was the greatest left-arm pace bowler of all time. Akram is a legend and has commendable stats against every opponent he has bowled against. It’s tough to say if cricket will ever find a bowler like him again.
Test stats – 362 wickets, 34.36 average, 2.59 economy
Vettori is a highly underrated spinner. He offered great control for New Zealand with the ball and took crucial breakthroughs. The New Zealand spinner was useful with the bat as well, scoring six hundreds and 23 half-centuries.
Test stats – 439 wickets, 22.95 average, 3.24 economy
Steyn is easily the greatest fast bowler of his generation. He bowled at rapid pace and swung it both ways. It was a bit of a shame how injuries hampered the latter stages of Steyn’s Test career, but it shouldn’t take away from the legacy he left behind as one of the greatest Test bowlers of all time.