Richard Sydenham has drawn together the opinions of one hundred current and former cricketers about the vexed question of who would be in their All Time World XI's in a new book entitled In A League Of Their Own
. He and his publishers have kindly agreed to us reproducing the views of two of the hundred. I have chosen Danish Kaneria, whose choices surprised me, but come as close to mirroring my own views as any, and Jeff Thomson, whose choices do not surprise, although the care that he put into the task perhaps does.
DANISH KANERIA'S XI
This was tough, selecting from so many greats. The records and stats of all the greats down the years made me think 100 times that I haven't picked someone I should have. In respect to all my seniors and out of respect for cricket history I tried to select my best XI from the different generations. I still had to leave out many greats like Denis Compton, Frank Worrell, Sachin Tendulkar, Allan Border, Muttiah Muralitharan, Joel Garner, Dennis Lillee, Hanif Mohammed, Ian Healy, Brian Lara and many more. I wish that one day my name will be mentioned among these greats too.
1. Sunil Gavaskar I have gone for him mainly because of the way he played in an era when the West Indies had a fantastic pace attack. He stood up to them and was the best player of his day.
2. Garfield Sobers I know he didn't open all that much but I hear that he was so good he could bat anywhere, so he allows me to play an extra fast bowler. His ability to bowl left-arm pace or orthodox spin gives another option. Everyone that saw him says he's the best-ever.
3. Donald Bradman There's no doubt. The stats tell everything about him. With an average of 99, no explanation is needed.
4. Viv Richards He was one of my favourites. He would play well in any conditions against any type of bowling. Viv was capable of winning a game from any situation.
5. Clive Lloyd He was a stylish player, and of course was captain of the great West Indies side for a long time. Lloyd scored many runs in all types of conditions, against spin and pace.
6. Adam Gilchrist I bowled against him a few times and it was a great challenge. I took his wicket a couple of times and that was always rewarding. He played for almost 10 years and the runs he scored and the way he scored them make him a great, while he was also an excellent wicketkeeper. He just gets in ahead of Ian Healy.
7. Wasim Akram One of the greatest all-rounders Pakistan has produced, along with Imran. Wasim Akram was a brilliant bowler and a match-winner on many occasions. He was dangerous on any wicket.
8. Malcolm Marshall He was very quick, had a beautiful smooth action and always tried to hit the batsman, whether it was his helmet or the shoulder of his bat. There were never any loose balls from Marshall. I saw quite a bit of him on TV growing up and he seemed to take wickets all the time in every country.
9. Shane Warne A bowler very close to my heart because of the wonderful things he did as a leg-spinner. I have tried to learn from him every time I have watched him or played against him. It was great to see a leg-spinner take over 700 wickets and I can only hope that I get somewhere near his total by the time I retire.
10. Harold Larwood I have only seen clips from the Bodyline series, but he must have been a great bowler to have caused the stir that he did. He was by far the quickest, and maybe best, bowler of his era.
11. Wes Hall I saw impressive footage of him bowling in the Tied Test. He was very fast and fearsome and took lots of wickets. My seniors tell me that batsmen were genuinely scared of facing him.
DANISH KANERIA has so far played 58 Tests for Pakistan since 2000/01. No other Pakistan spinner has taken more Test wickets, after he surpassed Abdul Qadir's tally. Danish, Pakistan's fourth-most prolific Test bowler, currently has 254 Test wickets at an average of 34.27, and 855 first-class victims at 26.15. He is a prodigious turner of his leg-break and also possesses a dangerous googly and flipper. He has played for Essex in county cricket since 2005.
JEFF THOMSON'S XI
It's impossible for me to select players that I didn't see, apart from Bradman of course, so I picked my team from those that I played with and against - with the other exception of Warne. I almost opted for Joel Garner - because of his height, Joel was unorthodox and that made him a difficult proposition for batsmen. He was as quick as anybody when he wanted to be and probably the hardest guy to score off. But I went for Marshall instead.
1. Barry Richards He was one of the best batsmen around in my time. He was technically correct and was capable of taking any bowler apart.
2. Sunil Gavaskar Generally, he was pretty steady and was one of those consistent performers who scored runs regularly. It's close between him and Desmond Haynes, but Gavaskar was less chancy and he really knew where his off stump was.
3. Donald Bradman He gets in easily for what he did, even though I never saw him play. I bowled to him when he was 67 and he was still good enough for this side even then!
4. Viv Richards He was easily the most destructive player of my time. On his day he was like dynamite - an absolutely sensational bat. He could bowl useful off-spinners as well.
5. Greg Chappell Comfortably the best batsman of my time. His Test record is nearly half as good as Bradman's, and Greg was so good that I find it difficult to believe that to be true. He was a batsman who you would back every time to get a hundred.
6. Garfield Sobers He gets in for being the best all-round cricketer of all time. I never played against him, but his ability was unbelievable in that he could bat well and bowl spin or pace.
7. Ian Botham He gets in for his record and for his general all-round natural ability. He took a heap of wickets, scored a load of runs and took great catches at slip too.
8. Rodney Marsh It's close between Marshy and Knotty, but Marshy shades it with his batting, and for being Australian. He was a great competitor who never backed away from a challenge.
9. Shane Warne He is the best spinner that I have ever seen; he has tremendous wicket-taking ability. Warney's also not a bad fielder and quite useful with the bat.
10. Malcolm Marshall Marshall is in just ahead of Joel Garner. He had it all for a fast bowler and would make a pretty fearsome new-ball partnership along with Dennis.
11. Dennis Lillee He was the best fast bowler of my time. He could win any sort of match on his own - he was that good. Dennis was a great guy to have in your team and would often bowl through the pain barrier for the cause. I was lucky to have him bowling at the other end.
JEFF THOMSON played 51 Tests for Australia between 1972-73 and 1985 and claimed exactly 200 wickets at an average of 28.00. He was famed for unofficially clocking the quickest delivery ever recorded at 99mph. An injury to his right shoulder sustained in a fielding collision in 1976/77 had an adverse affect on his ability to bowl as fast as he had done previously. However, Thomson and new-ball partner Dennis Lillee remain one of the most respected quick bowling duos in cricket history.
In A League of Their Own
is published by DB Publishing
in paperback and the UK cover price is a penny shy of ten pounds. You can read CW's review of it here
. The book is available, as the old cliche goes, at all good bookshops as well as internet booksellers and, of course, direct from the publisher.