A few months ago, I made a retired Test XI of the 21st century. Similarly to when choosing the retired Test XI of the 21st century, I can only select one player from each Test-playing nation in this XI. When selecting the XI, I chose both retired and current players.
1. Ed Joyce (Ireland)
FC stats – 18461 runs, 47.95 average, 47 hundreds
Test stats – 47 runs, 23.5 average, zero hundreds
An Irish legend, Joyce’s first-class career shows how hungry he was to score runs in County Cricket and for Ireland. Making his Test debut at the age of 39, Joyce played one solitary Test match for Ireland against Pakistan before calling it quits from professional cricket. Now the head coach of Ireland’s women’s team, Ed Joyce can continue to mentor Ireland’s next generation of superstars.
2. Sir Alastair Cook (England)
FC stats – 24230 runs, 47.79 average, 67 hundreds
Test stats – 12472 runs, 45.35 average, 33 hundreds
Despite nicking off to the slip cordon countless times, Alastair Cook cut and clipped his way to over 12,000 Test runs. An English legend, players like Cook are hardly seen in Test cricket nowadays. Defending bowlers into boredom, Cook could bat for hours on end and fail to play a false stroke to bring his innings to an end.
3. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
FC stats – 20911 runs, 52.4 average, 64 hundreds
Test stats – 12400 runs, 57.4 average, 38 hundreds
Sangakkara retiring at the age of 37 was one of the worst things to happen in Sri Lankan cricket. While many players declined at the latter stages of their career, the left-hander from Sri Lanka got better as his Test career went on. With an iconic cover-drive that oozed class, Sangakkara would have to wait until the age of 36 to score a Test hundred at Lord’s and get his name on the Lord’s Honours board for the first time in Test cricket.
The way Sangakkara batted in County Cricket after his international retirement, he could’ve easily played international cricket for Sri Lanka until 2017.
4. Sachin Tendulkar (India)
FC stats – 25396 runs, 57.84 average, 81 hundreds
Test stats – 15921 runs, 53.78 average, 51 hundreds
Where do I even start with India’s greatest ever Test batsman? Facing Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Imran Khan on debut at the age of 16, the “Little Master” carried the weight of expectations a billion Indians had placed on him for 24 years; scoring runs in all conditions. Only Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli came close to selecting an Indian batsman in this line-up, but there’s no way Tendulkar stays out of this XI.
5. Younis Khan (Pakistan)
FC stats – 17116 runs, 49.9 average, 56 hundreds
Test stats – 10099 runs, 52.05 average, 34 hundreds
Just like Sangakkara, Younis Khan aged like a fine wine. Scoring a Test hundred in every country he’s played in, Khan’s record exemplifies how good he was for Pakistan. With an unusual stance and a rock-solid defence, Khan was one of the most reliable batsmen Pakistan had in Test cricket – and he’s got plenty of hundreds in the fourth innings of a Test.
6. Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
FC stats – 5777 runs, 37.27 average, eight hundreds, 310 wickets, 30.03 average, 2.91 economy
Test stats – 3862 runs, 39.4 average, five hundreds, 210 wickets, 31.12 average, 3.01 economy
When it comes to choosing the Bangladesh cricketer in this XI, Shakib was a shoo-in. The greatest cricketer to come out of Bangladesh, his numbers speak for themselves. TO be the number one all-rounder on the ICC rankings in all formats while playing for a developing cricketing nation shows how good he is. With five-wicket hauls in South Africa and England, while scoring a majestic 217 in Wellington, it’ll be a shame if he never plays a Test on Australian soil in his career.
7. Andy Flower (Zimbabwe) (Wicketkeeper)
FC stats – 16379 runs, 54.05 average, 49 hundreds, 361 catches, 21 stumpings
Test stats – 4794 runs, 51.54 average, 12 hundreds, 151 catches, nine stumpings
Andy Flower’s numbers with the bat are so good, he’d have averaged 65 for Zimbabwe had he played as a specialist batsman. With opposition bowlers struggling to dismiss Flower many times during his Test career, they’d often focus on dismissing the rest of the Zimbabwe line-up and leaving Flower stranded. Retiring from international cricket in 2003 following a death to democracy protest alongside Henry Olanga, Flower played the rest of his professional cricket career in England.
8. Jason Holder (West Indies) (Captain)
FC stats – 2727 runs, 25.97 average, three hundreds, 196 wickets, 24.88 average, 2.64 economy
Test stats – 2012 runs, 31.93 average, three hundreds, 116 wickets, 26.69 average, 2.57 economy
Holder will go down as a West Indian legend. What he has done after being thrust with the West Indies captaincy in 2015 has been extraordinary. Leading from the front, Holder has been a wicket-taker, and when not dismissing batsmen, he’ll be holding up an end with his immense accuracy. Oh, and he can bat well too. Turning 29 in a few weeks, I still believe Holder will take over 300 wickets in Test cricket if he has no long-term injuries.
9. Shane Warne (Australia)
FC stats – 1319 wickets, 26.11 average, 2.76 economy
Test stats – 708 wickets, 25.41 average, 2.65 economy
The greatest leg-spinner to grace the game of cricket, not even the most biased New South Wales fan would disregard Shane Warne’s efforts with the ball.
10. Dale Steyn (South Africa)
FC stats – 618 wickets, 23.57 average, 3.21 economy
Test stats – 439 wickets, 22.95 average, 3.24 economy
The greatest fast-bowler of his generation, Steyn’s reputation helped him win many mental battles against opposition batsmen. His 7/51 versus India at Nagpur in 2010 made me ensure never to doubt his abilities on any surface. While it is a massive shame injuries ended his Test career, one can hope the old Steyn can fire for the Proteas in white-ball games.
11. Neil Wagner (New Zealand)
FC stats – 722 wickets, 26.68 average, 3.21 economy
Test stats – 206 wickets, 26.6 average, 3.06 economy
A mean, aggressive fast-bowler, New Zealand have been blessed to have a bowler like Neil Wagner. Although he doesn’t bowl express pace, Wagner’s bouncers are always accurate and forced the best of batsmen playing his bouncers in awkward positions. A man who gives his 100 per cent every time he steps out onto the field, Wagner will want to end his career with over 300 Test scalps.