Backing up from my previous article is a rest of the world XI to play my greatest Indian Test XI in India.
As with my previous two ROW XI articles, I have selected this team predominantly on performances in India. Tellingly my XI includes five West Indians and perhaps surprisingly, one player from a cricketing minnow.
1. Alastair Cook (four tours, 13 matches, 1235 runs at 51.46, five 100s, four 50s)
England’s leading run-scorer is the highest scoring overseas opener in India with 1235 runs across four trips to the country. The former England captain announced himself to the world with a century in his debut Test in Vidarbha in 2006 and his total five centuries in the country are the most by an overseas batsman.
Remarkably strong square of the wicket, Cook was at his best on the lower bouncing pitches of the subcontinent, with the 562-run campaign in 2012 being his best return in India. By tour’s end, Cook had assumed the mantle of number one Test batsman in the world and he rightly assumes his place at the top of the order for our ROW XI.
2. Matthew Hayden (three tours, 11 matches, 1027 runs at 51.35, two 100s, five 50s)
Our second opener spot was a two-horse race between the West Indian Gordon Greenidge and Australia’s Matthew Hayden. Both men are the only other two overseas openers besides Cook to score more than 1000 runs in India. Whilst Greenidge was perhaps more consistent over his three tours to the country, the big Queenslander finished with a better average and his prolific 2001 campaign ultimately swung things in his favour.
Hayden plundered 549 runs in the famously failed Border-Gavaskar series at the remarkable average of 109.80, underlined by an imperious 203 in Chennai in the third Test of the series. Whilst his other two return trips to India were far less dominant, they were anything but failures. He partners Alastair Cook at the top of our order.
3. Garfield Sobers (two tours, eight matches, 899 runs at 99.89, three 100s, five 50s)
One of, if not the best all-rounder of all time, the great West Indian is selected in this side as a specialist number three batsman.
Considered by Ian Chappell as the best batsman he’s ever seen, Sobers plundered 899 runs at a Don Bradman-esque average of 99.89 during two tours of India, including three centuries on the 1958/59 tour. Whilst his bowling stats are actually decent in the country – 24 wickets at 26.75 – Sobers’ main responsibility in this side would be as a frontline batsman who might bowl the odd over here or there.
This is my third ROW XI article and third straight selection of the man who might be the greatest cricketer ever not named Bradman.
4. Everton Weekes (one tour, five matches, 779 runs at 111.29, four 100s, two 50s)
One of the famed three Ws from Barbados who dominated West Indies cricket in the 1950s, Everton Weekes only made one trip to India – in 1948/49 as a relative newcomer to the then West Indies side. His 779 runs at 111.29 on that trip, however, a haul which included four hundreds in the five Test Matches is still the highest series run-scoring tally in India for any batsman (both home or visiting).
A diminutive but stocky man, Weekes’s attacking strokeplay endeared himself to crowds all over the West Indies but his tour to India was perhaps the peak of his cricketing career.
Considered perhaps unlucky to miss out on this spot is England’s Ken Barrington, who made 674 runs over two tours to India averaging 96.29. Whilst several others have had excellent records in India, Weekes’s performance in that 1948/49 series is enough for me to select him in this line-up.
5. Clive Lloyd (captain) (three tours, 14 matches, 1359 Runs at 75.50, four 100s, five 50s)
Whilst several West Indian batsmen have excellent records in India, its is interesting to note when doing research for this article how many Guyanese batsmen have excellent records in the country, perhaps owing to their upbringing on the spin-friendly tracks of the Caribbean nation.
Rohan Kanhai, Alvin Kallicharran and Shiv Chanderpaul all have excellent records in India averaging over 50, but the king of Guyanese batsmen in India was the great Clive Lloyd.
Considered one of the greats of West Indian cricket, Clive Lloyd was a dominant figure as an overseas batsman in India averaging 56.76, 79.50 and 82.67 on his three tours to the country and is the all-time leading overseas run-scorer in India with 1,359 runs at the impressive average of 75.50
Only Alastair Cook has scored more hundreds among overseas batsmen in India than Lloyd’s four, the best of which was 242 not-out in the fifth and final Test of the 1974/75 series.
One of the all-time great West Indian captains, Lloyd captained the Windies in two tours of India – both series victories and he also assumes the mantle of skipper of this side.
6. Andy Flower (three tours, five matches, 820 runs at 117.14, three 100s, four 50s, six dismissals)
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the man with the highest Test Match batting average in India for anyone who has played over ten innings.
Zimbabwe’s greatest ever cricketer toured India three times, twice as a wicket-keeper and assumes the gloves in our line-up. I’ve got an all-rounder coming in after him so I’ve moved our keeper up to the number six spot, but when a bloke averages 117.14 with 820 runs in India this shouldn’t really be a problem.
Flower’s only Test double-century came against India in the second Test of the 2000 series and he crossed triple figures two other times in only five Tests against the Indians at home.
I have to admit I did almost fall off my chair when I saw that the man had six dismissals across three Tests behind the stumps, but I suppose Zimbabwean bowling attacks of the early 2000s were hardly prolific. Flower’s closest competitor for this spot was Jeffrey Dujon. Adam Gilchrist is the leading dismissal taker in India with 29 followed by Wasim Bari with 28, but both men struggled with the bat in the country.
7. Ian Botham (two tours, seven matches, 554 runs at 61.56, two 100s, four 50s, 30 wickets at 25.53, three five-wicket hauls, BBI 7/48)
With Sobers playing as a specialist batsman we can fit another all-rounder into our line-up and Beefy is our man.
England’s greatest ever all-rounder was immense in India with both bat and ball with his performance in the first Test at the Wankhede Stadium of the 1980 tour being one of the great all-round performances in the history of the game.
Coming in at 6, Botham smashed 114 off 144 deliveries and took 6/58 and 7/48 respectively in both bowling innings, one of only four instances where an individual has made a hundred and taken ten wickets in a match. He beats out the likes of Imran Khan, Richard Hadlee, Jacques Kallis and Tony Greig for this spot.
8. Richie Benaud (two tours, eight matches, 52 wickets at 18.38, five five-wicket hauls, one ten-wicket haul, BBI 7/72)
So we’ve technically got three all-rounders in our side, but the great Richie Benaud was good enough to get in by his bowling performances alone and this is what I’m picking him for.
No overseas bowler has taken more five-wicket hauls than the five Benaud took in India, and his average of 18.38 with the ball is the best for an overseas spinner. Only Derek Underwood among overseas bowlers has taken more wickets in India – 54 to Richie’s 52 but did so at a far inferior average and strike rate (26.52 and 78.06).
Interestingly enough, Benaud had a torrid time with the bat in India averaging only 14.40 but he’s one of our two specialist spinners in this line-up and any runs we get from him are a bonus.
9. Malcolm Marshall (two tours, nine matches, 36 Wickets at 24.61, two five-wicket hauls, BBI 6/37)
The greatest of the great West Indian fast bowlers, Malcolm Marshall’s series haul of 33 wickets in 1983/84 is the best for an overseas bowler in a series in India and fourth-best if you include Indian bowlers.
Perhaps obscuring his overall stats in India was his less than prolific 1978/79 series, but this was Marshall’s first series in Test cricket as a raw 20-year-old who was not yet the bowler he was destined to become.
Whilst others might have better overall stats, I’m going with a prime Malcolm Marshall opening the bowling for me in India over others like Andy Roberts, Wes Hall and Graham McKenzie.
10. Saqlain Mushtaq (one tour, three matches, 24 wickets at 20.96, four five-wicket hauls, two ten-wicket hauls, BBI 5/93)
It’s interesting to note how many of the great spinners have struggled in India (Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan both had fairly ordinary records in the country).
For my second spin spot I considered Lance Gibbs, Derek Underwood and Nathan Lyon but ultimately settled on the Pakistani offspinner who only made one trip to India but dominated the 1999 two-Test series taking 20 wickets and a five-wicket haul in all four bowling innings of the series.
Saqlain is the only overseas bowler to take multiple ten-wicket match hauls in India and owns the best strike rate for an overseas spinner in India. He complements Benaud in this line-up.
11. Courtney Walsh (two tours, seven matches, 43 wickets at 18.56, three five-wicket hauls, BBI 6/79)
I have to admit that I’ve always viewed Courtney Walsh as a second-tier great West Indian fast bowler compared with the likes of Marshall and Curtly Ambrose, but his record in India and on the subcontinent in general is anything but second-rate. Doing this exercise made me respect Walsh a great deal more when you consider that about 56 per cent of his wickets were taken away from home.
Indeed, the stats show that Courtney Walsh was one of the great bowlers on the subcontinent.
Walsh is the leading wicket-taker in India among overseas pacemen and his strike rate of 38.7 is the best of any bowler (both home-and-away) in the country. Whilst he never tasted victory in a series in India, his 26 wickets led all bowlers in 1987/88 and he was the joint leading West Indian wicket-taker with 17 wickets in 1994.
A fitting new-ball partner for Marshall.
So there you have it, an all-time rest of the world XI to play my Indian all-time XI in a three or five-Test series in India.
Who do you think would win and why?