Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
SA snub in World Test XI
Cape Town – South Africa’s greatest cricketers fail to feature in a studiously-compiled all-time World Test XI chosen for Cricinfo, the leading website on the game.
No place for Richards, Pollock, Procter, Kallis … instead the side is made up of four Australians, three West Indians, two Englishmen, an Indian and a Pakistani.
India’s batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar is the only selected player still plying his trade today.
Cricinfo appointed a 12-strong selection panel made up of a former captain of the each of the top Test-playing nations, as well as four cricket historians and writers.
Ali Bacher was the lone South African representative, in a group slightly skewed by the presence of three English representatives – although Tony Greig is South African-born – and two Australians, including Ian Chappell who is sometimes thought to harbour a mini-grudge against South Africa after being among the Aussie side famously whipped 4-0 here in 1969/70.
The full “wise men” panel: Bacher, Intikhab Alam, Ian Chappell, David Frith, Tony Greig, Ramachandra Guha, Gideon Haigh, Clive Lloyd, Duleep Mendis, Peter Roebuck, Ajit Wadekar, John Wright.
This exercise followed a popular series on the site where home-based panellists chose all-time best Test XIs for each of the top Test-playing countries; this writer was among the group who chose the South African side.
In fairness, getting the right balance to both the selection group and team they chose was always going to be difficult, considering that England and Australia have longer Test heritages than most, and also that South Africa were excluded from the fold for a long period during apartheid.
It meant that Barry Richards, for instance, who was picked by Don Bradman for his own Dream XI, played only four career Tests – all in the famous Aussie whitewash where he averaged a blistering 72.57.
At least he has the consolation of being the lone South African in the Second XI named.
And Graeme Pollock, who cracks neither side, was limited to 23 Test caps, although his career batting average of 60.97 is still second only to Bradman’s incomparable 99.84.
The main “No 6” all-rounder’s spot in the World XI is occupied by legendary West Indian Garry Sobers, while in the Second XI that role is filled by Pakistan’s Imran Khan.
Of course someone like Jacques Kallis is occasionally - and perhaps wrongly, given his notably more dashing approach to cricket generally over the past year or so - accused of stodginess at the crease, which tends to limit his credentials; charisma can be judged as a factor in exercises like these.
But he stands up incredibly well statistically to both Sobers and Imran. The former averages 57.78 with the bat and 34.03 with ball, while Khan’s respective figures are 37.69 (bat) and 22.81.
Veteran Kallis, still such a bed-rock of the Proteas team in all formats, averages 55.07 and 31.59 in Tests.
Then there are the claims of Allan Donald to consider, too: he fails to make either side but he is not at all far behind Australia’s Dennis Lillee, who makes the main combo, in strike bowling from a statistical perspective – White Lightning has 330 wickets from 72 Tests at 22.25 and Lillee 355 from fewer Tests (70) but at an inferior average of 23.92.
Here are the teams:
World XI: Jack Hobbs (England), Len Hutton (England), Don Bradman (Australia), Sachin Tendulkar (India), Viv Richards (West Indies), Garry Sobers (West Indies), Adam Gilchrist (Australia), Malcolm Marshall (West Indies), Shane Warne (Australia), Wasim Akram (Pakistan), Dennis Lillee (Australia)Second XI:
Sunil Gavaskar (India), Barry Richards (South Africa), George Headley (West Indies), Brian Lara (West Indies), Wally Hammond (England), Imran Khan (Pakistan), Alan Knott (England), Bill O’Reilly (Australia), Fred Trueman (England), Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka), Glenn McGrath (Australia)Earlier-named Cricinfo SA all-time XI:
Barry Richards, Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Graeme Pollock, Dudley Nourse, Aubrey Faulkner, Mike Procter, Shaun Pollock, John Waite, Hugh Tayfield, Allan Donald.
*For more on the World XI exercise, visit www.Cricinfo.com