SA snub in World Test XI

2010-10-25 12:22

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

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


  • Bob Smith - 2010-10-25 12:28

    However tragic it might have been that his career was cut short by apartheid, it's preposterous to even consider for a second that Barry Richards warrants a spot in any "Greatest ever Test XI". He played FOUR Tests at HOME. Never did he travel to Australia, England, the West Indies or the sub-continent. He batted in only 7 innings and his top score was 140. The number of Test players who've recorded higher scores in as many knocks is staggering. And he was no great shakes with the ball nor an outstanding fielder either. Sure, outside of the Test arena he was unbelievable, but that's not being debated here. Kallis for all his runs, wickets and catches is a far better candidate for consideration.

  • chameleon - 2010-10-25 12:44

    what the %#$@*&! is donald doing anywhere near an all time best list of anything but best chokers? dropping his bat and pirouetting like a little ballerina when all he has to do is follow klusener's instructions and win the world cup for us?

  • Grampa - 2010-10-25 12:45

    Mark Boucher has broken every wicketkeeping record there is to break. His guts and determination add even more value to the batting lineup. How did he not make it into at least one of these teams?? Adam Gilchrist overall did not have the greatest batting record in Test matches for Australia and I daresay that Bouch is as good a keeper if not better.

  • Lance - 2010-10-25 12:46

    What about Jonty Rhodes?????

  • Ripper - 2010-10-25 12:50

    It's sad that players such as Ian Daniell, Jimmy Furstenburg, Terry Reid and many more missed out due to apartheid.

  • Polly - 2010-10-25 12:51

    These are only the ideas of some old farts who were not great cricketers themselves. It is once again an "old boys" selection panel led by the English and their convict sattelite station Australia. I would love to have seen what Pollock and Richards would have done to Trueman and Lillee in their heydey. These two countries were the loudest mouths when it came to non racial sport. How many "home grown" players of colour has England and Australia produced????

  • Andre - 2010-10-25 12:53

    How on earth is it possible that Barry Richards and Mike Procter are not selected instead of Jack Hobbs and Gary Sobers? The other opener with Barry Richards should be Herschelle Gibbs, who must be one of the most - if not the most gifted batsmen in the history of cricket. I do agree with the selection of Bradman, Tendulkar, Gilchrist, Warne, Akram and Lillee. The side should however be captained by Steve Waugh.

  • Dozza - 2010-10-25 13:01

    And no Botham..... really ???

  • Chris - 2010-10-25 13:01

    The history of test cricket is now so long and full of so many superb players that this is a pretty pointless exercise. It would be possible to choose quite a few World XI teams with arguably equal strength. Bradman, Sobers and Warne may be the only certainties.

  • @Bob smith - 2010-10-25 13:07

    truer words have not been spoken. spot on.

  • Ian - 2010-10-25 13:07

    My surprises are the choice of Hutton before Suttcliffe and no space for Wilf Rhodes, arguably the greatest ever bowler and good enough batsman to open the innings. The whole list also has a 'modern' look to it. And I believe affected by today's lack of 1st class cricket outside of the Test arena.

  • john - 2010-10-25 13:09

    these guys should get over it .. we expect our young kids to do the same in our local school cricket provicial selection where ... if you dont go to the right school you wont make the team either - regardless of statistics. So sorry for them 'big boys' but we have our kids to console first.

  • Gerryman - 2010-10-25 13:10

    Who are these Wallies?? The greatest ever, Sir Don Bradman rated Graeme Pollock to play in his Dream Team. I rest my case.

  • Bob??? - 2010-10-25 13:12

    Are you smoking your socks??? Barry Richards' career was cut short, and he only played four tests.... thats all well and good, but ask any critic or journo that watched him play in his prime, almost all will rave about his unrivalled skill. The man still hold the record for most runs in the Australian domestic season. A record he took away from the Great Don Bradman.... so shut your pie hole. And for your information, most of his career was spent in Australia and England. BARRY FOR LIFE!!!!!

  • Spitfire - 2010-10-25 13:14

    Fair comment Bob. Must admit, I'd sooner have Boucher in my second XI as a keeper than Alan Knott though. I'd also like to believe there may be a case for Kallis over Kahn. As for Lillee, I've watched hours and hours of his bowling on video and dvd over the years and I seriously doubt he'd be half as effective today with the fear element gone through the introduction of helmets, extra padding and on the batsmen-friendly pitches we generally see these days. Given the conditions Lillee got to bowl in, I suspect Brett Lee would have overshadowed him given the same standards. There again, same probably rings true for Trueman.

  • Blender - 2010-10-25 13:14

    Bob smith - guess you're unaware how great Richards was and you seem to miss the point - the terrible injustice it was that he never got the chance to play more Test cricket. He once scored over 40 runs in a county match whilst using the edge of his bat! And by that I mean he held his bat sideways with the edge facing the front! Staggering talent.

  • Snowcap - 2010-10-25 13:21

    I think the all time SA all-time 11 should have featured Clive Rice. To my mind he was the greatest captain & all-rounder that the country ever produced. If we had played test cricket during Clive's prime, he would have been the one. He would have risen to even greater heights, I believe, than Jaques Kallis, and he would have been captain as well.

  • @last - 2010-10-25 13:24

    The gains of apartheid have been dealt a blow by their own kind @ last....................."God is Great" he is the Alfa and Omega..........

  • russ - 2010-10-25 13:24

    Sorry Rob, Ian Chappell does not harbour a mini grudge against SA after being on the receiving end of that 4-0 drubbing. He positively has convulsions and starts frothing at the mouth at the mere whisper thereof. Seems like he loves to blame every decision in that series on poor umpiring. Love hearing him choke on it.

  • Peter - 2010-10-25 13:37

    @Chameleon - Let it go bud. Sounds like you've had 11 years of torment.

  • ID - 2010-10-25 13:38

    Apartheid or no cant justify making the team if u played a handful of games. The SAXI is also skewed as it excludes the majority of SA who were not allowed to play cricket due to apartheid.

  • santosh - 2010-10-25 13:38


  • Proffie - 2010-10-25 13:40

    Biff?? Wtf did he do to get amongst the all time SA greats?

  • Kylee - 2010-10-25 13:40

    Pity Kallis didn't get in...go have a look at the comparison between jacques and sobers...its tight but i think you gotta give kallis the nod ahead of sobers! In today's game no one comes close to kallis's record as an allrounder

  • sonali - 2010-10-25 13:42

    Lists like these will never work........Gilchrist is definitely not the best wickie/bat there ever was....maybe he played for the best team...@Lance, Jonty is just the greatest cricket showman ever, terrible as a batsman! There are hundreds of greats who could go on that list....Inzy, Waqar, Ranatunga, de Silva, Kapil Dev, Gary Kirsten, Mathew Hayden, and if ANIL KUMBLE is not on even the second list then well you might as well scrap it!

  • Mike S - 2010-10-25 13:49

    I suspect many of the people making comments here do not have a lot of knowledge of the history of the game. I am also surprised that the "selectors" of the all time great SA side have picked Graeme Smith in their side. I would have preferred Eddie Barlow for his alround ability or Herbie Taylor who played in the early 1900s or Alan Melville who played in the 30s and 40s. I also would not have put Shaun Pollock in the side at the expense of Alan Donald or alternatively his uncle Peter. Finally the "selectors" show quite a lot of ignorance by batting Johny Waite at 9 behind Proctor and Pollock. Waite batted 4 or 5 for SA.

  • PH - 2010-10-25 13:54

    Look at this: Jacques Henry Kallis (born 16 October 1975 in Pinelands, Cape Town, South Africa) is a South African cricketer. As an all-rounder he is a formidable right-handed batsman and fast-medium swingbowler. He is the only cricketer in the history of the game to hold more than 10,000 runs and 250 wickets in both one day and Test match cricket.[1][2] From October-December 2007 he produced a streak of five centuries in four Test Matches; he has 34 in total. He was named Leading Cricketer in the World in the 2008 Wisden for his performances in 2007 in addition to being the "ICC Test Player of the Year" and ICC Player of the Year in 2005. Why the hell as such a great player nowhere?

  • Roland - 2010-10-25 13:55

    I reckon SA's best XI would give the World Second XI a real go, but the middle order and bowling attack of the World XI is unbelievable! Don, Viv and Sachin! Wow!

  • tokkie - 2010-10-25 14:02

    Boucher - how is it that he is not in - AND to RIPPER, where do you fall out bru, Ian, Jimmy and Terry - ag please man they dont even rate in an EP 5th team. If you were serious and not joking, then your knowledge of cricket is less than a new born baby my bru !!!!!!! In EP terms rather talk of Biggs, Short, Wilmot, Wilkins, Richardson, Kepler, McEwan and many many more.

  • Jean - 2010-10-25 14:02

    Who the hell is "Jack Hobbs"?????

  • gcr - 2010-10-25 14:06

    Rob - I think you erred monumentally in selecting Graeme Smith as opener in your SA team - he's a plonker. You should have selected Trevor Goddard or Jackie McGlew. Enough other players who could have been considered for captain if that was the reason for picking Smith. Would also have considered Vince van der Bijl ahead of Allan Donald or even Neil Adcock

  • like nooit hey - 2010-10-25 14:07

    I fail to see the point of this utter waste of time

  • Jonathan - 2010-10-25 14:07

    Malcolm Marshall ahead of Michael Holding and Joel Garner? HUGE CALL. But at the end of the day these things are very subjective and you can please everybody. But I think that the second team will give the first team a bit of a hiding!

  • mike - 2010-10-25 14:10

    Any panel that selects Gilchrist as the best ever Test match wicketkeeper is retarded. Your first qualification has to be that you are the best behind the stumps, well he was a good keeper, but that's it. Sorry to say but you choose specialist for Test cricket and he wouldn't even make my top 10 South African test wicket keepers on his keeping alone.

  • Willem Haarhoff - 2010-10-25 14:15

    I don't understand the point of having gone through this exercise in the first place. Are they going to play a game in the near future (or at all????)? Who paid for this?

  • Kylee - 2010-10-25 14:18

    @ Andre...come on bud Hersch is good but come now...i'd have sehwag and matty hayden ahead of him...stats may not say everything about a player but hey you still gotta go out and do it...

  • Willem Haarhoff - 2010-10-25 14:20

    I don't understand the point of having gone through this exercise in the first place. Are they going to play a game in the near future (or at all????)? Who paid for this?

  • greg - 2010-10-25 14:22

    @Grampa These selections are subjective. If you think Boucher has better stats than Gilchrist go look up Andy Flower's averages.

  • kw - 2010-10-25 14:26

    Where is Mark Boucher???

  • cammie - 2010-10-25 14:27

    It's classically called "OBC" (Old Boys Club). We as South Africans know just how great our lads have been over the years; prior to and after isolation. Also look at greats like Steve Waugh and Glen McGrath - no place for them. Unless of course you consider McGrath been included in the 2nd team. Am not one of Kallis' greatest fans, but like him or loathe him, if ever a South African deserved inclusion in a World XI he's be my anchor, in a heartbeat!!

  • smoke - 2010-10-25 14:30

    @grampa: what have you been smoking? Adam Gilchrist averaged over 50 in tests. He would make any side even without the gloves.

  • Arthur - 2010-10-25 14:34

    I would like to see a five test series of our best men as selected in the above column against the "rest of the world" as selected by that illustrious panel It would make for a wonderful or lose...we would get their respect What a thrill to watch Graeme Pollock and Barry Richards knocking up a "ton" each...hee hee

  • Joquim - 2010-10-25 14:37

    Bunch of old farts. Any world XI without Graeme Pollock has no credibility.

  • Geoff - 2010-10-25 14:38

    Grampa - Sure Boucher has the record for most catches but you surely can't consider him as a better bet than Adam Gilchrist?? As for his supposed "not having the greatest record in Test matches for Australia," the man averaged over 47! Most likely the highest average out of any keeper/batsman ever! And he was a very solid keeper. Boucher is a scrapper and has bailed out SA on countless occasions but can't be considered the best ever, not even for SA.

  • legend - 2010-10-25 14:45

    What about Andy Flower? He was ranked no. 1 test batsman in the world at one stage how many other keepers can boast that?

  • CRICKET FAN - 2010-10-25 14:45

    it is always tough when you select from the different generations. Brian Lara never made it and is world class. When you look at players not selcted, you could go thru fifty names of people that could be in the starting eleven.

  • Walt - 2010-10-25 14:50

    Everyone will have their favourites, but one can only select 11 players you know. Richards and Pollock were undoubtedly hard done by but obviously failed to make the first team because of the limited amount of tests played because of isolation. Don't think Proctor could be considered for the same reason and, yes, Kallis only achieves his impressive figures through his stodginess. He wouldn't make my side either.

  • Steve - 2010-10-25 14:52

    I think Graeme Pollock was a better radio sports presenter anyway!!

  • Ross - 2010-10-25 15:10

    there is obviously a vendetta against the south african players..HOW THE HELL can Kallis not be included in the nr 1 test team??! By the time Kallis retires he will be the greatest cricketer to have ever played the game,even Kevin Pietersen himself said so. And as good as he is,Tendulkar's test record is over-rated.He plays half of his tests at home on absolute featherbeds for pitches so he will naturally score many runs.If Kallis played half of his test matches on the sub-continent his record would possibly equal Tendulkars record, if not better it.Ponting and Kallis will both have more test runs than Tendulkar by the time they retire,go check the stats.Oh and if Kallis played for Australia or England you would never hear the end of how great a player he is.

  • madhu - 2010-10-25 15:48

    eppudu cricket ade vallalo sachin goppa crickter tharavathe evadiana