Let us select an all-time great World Cup XI

Imran Khan


Imran Khan is  Kersi’s choice as  captain for his pick of All Time Great World XI Cricket Team

By Kersi Meher-Homji

I often wonder as to whose job is the hardest; Prime Minister’s (ask Tony Abbott), umpires’ or national selectors’. As I am not likely to be a PM ”“ thank heavens, or an umpire with bowlers screaming howzatt at the drop of a hat or a catch, let me try to be a selector.

Just not a national selector but an international selector, no less. As the 11th Cricket World Cup (CWC) starts this Friday, you might say romantically on St Valentine’s Day, let me select an imaginary all-time great World Cup XI based on statistics.

To select on basis of statistics is like wearing a helmet when facing an express fast bowler, although even stats do not give a selector life-long immunity from critics.



Sachin Tendulkar will be the opening batsman

Who will open the innings? India’s Sachin Tendulkar is a certainty, having scored most runs in CWC history. His opening partner would be Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya or Australia’s Matthew Hayden or Adam Gilchrist.



Adam Gilchrist will be the opening partner with Sachin, of course

Another Australian Ricky Ponting walks in at no. 3 with fine credentials as batsman, fielder and captain. Under him Australia has won two World Cups in 2003 and 2007.

The West Indies Master Blaster Vivian Richards will swaggers in at no. 4 hitting fours and sixes as his staple diet.

The no. 5 and 6 spots provide a problem: Pakistan’s controversial Javed Miandad, the West Indian demolition expert Brian Lara, South Africa’s Jacques Kallis or the elegant Australian Mark Waugh?

Steve Waugh will come in next at no.7 and bowl miserly overs near the end of the innings.

India’s Kapil Dev (669 runs at the best strike rate of 115.14 and 28 wickets at the best economy rate of 3.76), England’s Ian Botham (297 runs and 30 wickets) and Pakistan’s Imran Khan (666 runs and 34 wickets) and Wasim Akram (426 runs and 55 wickets) are outstanding all-rounders. Two of them will bat at nos. 8 and 9 and also share the new ball with Australia’s Glenn McGrath who has taken most CWC wickets (71).

We need a big hitting wicket-keeper and Gilchrist is my man. I will promote him to open the innings to make room for an additional player. His 52 dismissals (45 caught and 7 stumped) is ahead of his rival, Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara with 46 dismissals (36+10).

Only one spot remains for a spinner and we have outstanding candidates in Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan and Australia’s Shane Warne.

Here are the relevant statistics of the 19 candidates before we pick the final XI:


Player WC matches Runs Bat. Av. Strike Rate Wkts. Bowl. Av. Economy Rate Dismissals (ct. + stump.)
Sachin Tendulkar (Ind) 45 2278 56.95 88.98
Sanath Jayasuriya (SL) 38 1165 34.26 90.66
Matthew Hayden (Aus) 22 987 51.94 92.93
Adam Gilchrist (Aus) 31 1085 36.16 98.01 45+7
Ricky Ponting (Aus) 46 1743 45.86 79.95
Jacques Kallis (SA) 36 1148 45.92 74.40 21 43.04 4.28
Vivian Richards (WI) 23 1013 63.31 85.05
Brian Lara (WI) 34 1225 42.24 86.26
Javed Miandad (Pak) 33 1083 43.32 68.02
Mark Waugh (Aus) 22 1004 52.84 83.73
Kumar Sangakkara (SL) 30 991 45.04 78.71 36+10
Steve Waugh (Aus) 33 978 48.90 81.02 27 30.14 4.70
Kapil Dev (Ind) 26 669 37.16 115.14 28 31.85 3.76  
Imran Khan (Pak) 28 666 35.05 65.68 34 19.26 3.86
Ian Botham (Eng) 22 297 18.56 62.39 30 25.40 3.43
Wasim Akram (Pak) 38 426 19.36 101.18 55 23.83 4.04
Shane Warne (Aus) 28 32 19.50 3.83
Muttiah Muralitharan (SL) 40 68 19.63 3.88
Glenn McGrath (Aus) 39 71 18.19 3.96

Qualifications: 1000 runs or 25 wickets or 45 dismissals. Bold fonts indicate a record.

Based on the above statistics, here is my all-time great World Cup XI in batting order:

Tendulkar, Gilchrist (wk), Ponting, Richards, Kallis, Lara, Steve Waugh (vice-capt.), Imran (capt.), Kapil Dev, Muralitharan and McGrath.

12th man: Hayden. Reserves: Akram, Warne, Mark Waugh, Miandad, Jayasuriya, Botham and Sangakkara.

Imran, McGrath and Kapil will share the new ball followed by Kallis. Muralitharan will bamboozle with his off-spin and doosras and Steve Waugh will bowl at the death.

Surprisingly, not one current player is in my all-time great Cricket World Cup XI and only one, Sangakkara, is in the 19-men squad.




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