Recently I was debating with one of my co-workers who would make up a World’s XI test team on current form. We then went away and picked out teams, and came up with exactly the same list for 9 of them. I found it difficult, as did my friend, to actually find places for Australian players other than Mitchell Johnson. Another difficulty was that it was hard to not just pick the South African team and field that. In the end, I came up with the better list I feel – primarily because I included Shahid Afridi as my all-rounder (before his form peaked during the Twenty20 finals mind you – was I exercising forsight I didn’t know I had?). I’ll list my list below, but it’s important to remember, while reading, that it wasn’t chosen off reputation or past performance, rather current form for the past year. Which, instantly, rules out choosing the likes of Brett Lee, Stuart Clarke, and Andrew Symonds due to injury or selection issues. So too with Sachin Tendulkar – his form hasn’t been better than any of the batters I settled with. Here’s my list:
- Graeme Smith (c) – South Africa
- Phil Hughes – Australia
- AB de Villiers – South Africa
- JP Duminy – South Africa
- Kumar Sangakkara (w)(vc) – Sri Lanka
- Jacques Kallis – South Africa
- Shahid Afridi – Pakistan
- Daniel Vettori – New Zealand
- Mitchell Johnson – Australia
- Dale Steyn – South Africa
- James Anderson – England
To me, those are the best in-form players for their respective places. Phil Hughes might surprise a few, but I really think that between his debut and now, there hasn’t been a better opener other than Smith. De Viliers, Duminy, or Kallis shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone – along with Hashim Amla and Aswell Prince, they form the best middle order in any team across the world now. But Amla, as an all-rounder, doesn’t come close to Afridi. And Prince, as a batter, doen’t even come near to Sangakkara. And the bonus with Sangakkara is that you can give him the gloves and he is a good keeper as well. Much along the vein (though not as a good as) Adam Gilchrist. Vettori, I feel, is the best spinner out there due to his experience, consistency, cricketing mind, and ability to spin a ball on dead wickets. All of that pushes people who might have a better short-term record, or can spin the ball further, out of contention. The pace line-up is, in my opinion, the best four pace bowlers out there in terms of form, consistency, and variety. I wanted to find a place for Makhaya Ntini, but I couldn’t drop anyone from their spot. Umar Gul and Abdul Razzaq, two fantastic Twenty20 Pakistani cricketers, were on the short list – but they are yet to show they can last a full test.
If you look at the bowling line-up, with all-rounders included, it’s quite formidable: Anderson, Steyn, Johnson, Vettori, Afridi, Kallis, Duminy. 7 bowler rotations is very handy for variety, especially with a specialist spinner and two part-time spinners. And the batting depth, if you accept that Johnson can dig out a good knock more often than not, extends to 9.
A good team I think. Opinions? Your own team? Comment it.