Cricket’s Greatest Test Teams A-Z is a treat to read

Kersi - book review  

Book Review by Kersi Meher-Homji

Many cricket books are recently written in Australia as we approach Christmas. For instance autobiographies by retired Test cricketers Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson, Brad Haddin … reminiscing about their playing days and their love-hate relations with team mates and selectors.

But  Cricket’s Greatest Test Teams A-Z  by John Mason (160 pages, price $25 including postage in Australia) is different. As the title indicates, the author selects world’s greatest XIs, alphabetically from A to Z.

For instance  the A team  includes Test cricketers whose surnames start with A: Hashim Amla, Mohammad Azharuddin, Ravichandran Ashwin;  the B team  has Don Bradman, Allan Border, Bishan Bedi; …  the G team  has Sunil Gavaskar, Adam Gilchrist, Sourav Ganguly; …  the W team  has the West Indies trio of Worrell, Weekes and Walcott as also Shane Warne, Steve and Mark Waugh.

For each alphabet except X and Z, 11 players are selected in batting order with a 12th  man.

When I was a University student in India I did not go out dancing on New Year’s Eve. Rather, I would stay home and select a World Cricket XI of the Year and make a list of my heroes, cricketers, musicians, scientists and humorists.

The common name in both my lists was that of Vijay Hazare, the Indian cricketer who had scored centuries in both innings in the Adelaide Test of 1947-48 against the fury of Australia’s express fast bowlers Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller.

So when I started reading the book, I looked for Hazare’s name. And I shouted Eureka when I saw it among the Hs.

In his previous book  Shock Selection  Mason had selected best of only Australian cricketers alphabetically from A to Z, He jokingly told me that Bradman made only his B team!

Happily, his new book  Cricket’s Greatest Test Teams  A-Z  is international including players from  all  Test cricket playing countries, the majority from pioneering Test nations England (72 players) and Australia (70) but the new comers Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have not been ignored. There are 25 Indians in the various lists.

Statistics and profile of each player are given in succinct detail. The alphabetical selections are based not only on statistics but also on the players’ style, winning abilities and quirky facts not mentioned elsewhere. You will know what I mean when you turn over the pages of this book with a difference.

For example the author writes that Azharuddin is the only cricketer to have scored centuries in his first three Tests and in his final Test. He finished his career with 99 Tests and a highest score of 199.

The selection of teams from each alphabet will create controversy. And this is the strongest point of the book. It will lead to debates in pubs, libraries, work places, trains and cricket grounds. For instance why not include Virender Sehwag ”“ the dynamic Indian opener who  came within seven runs of becoming the first batsman ever to register three Test triple-centuries and who hit 91 sixes ”“ in the S team?

The author also selects the world’s All Time Great Test Team (not alphabetically). Indian readers will be delighted to learn that two Indians, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar are in this World XI.

I will let you read the details yourself and won’t spoil your reading pleasure by giving away more interesting and debatable material in the book.

The  book can be purchased by e-mailing the author on  or on mobile phone  0408 218 130.


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