XIs March 27, 2009

The Unpredictable XI - part 1

Having promised the World Unpredictable XI a couple of blogs ago (the ‘blog’ now being the only unit of time I officially recognise), I have since found myself in prolonged and agonising internal selectorial discussions
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Having promised the World Unpredictable XI a couple of blogs ago (the ‘blog’ now being the only unit of time I officially recognise), I have since found myself in prolonged and agonising internal selectorial discussions. So many players from the last 30 years have thrust themselves into contention through capricious form, majestic peaks and incompetent troughs, or a simple refusal to embrace the warm, comforting slippers of consistency. What, the selectors (The Confectionery Stall and his three-month-old son) debated long into the night, constitutes genuine unpredictability? My Dull World XI could be backed up with simple statistics, but how can one measure unpredictability?

True unpredictability must include considerable amounts of both success and failure. One-off out-of-the-blue triumphs are not sufficient – Ajit Agarkar, for example, played 26 Tests, scored one century but no other 50s, and took more than three wickets in only one innings – a match winning 6-41 against Australia in Adelaide. Aside from these flashes in an otherwise inept pan, Agarkar was almost entirely predictable.

Andy Caddick was often dubbed an unpredictable talent, but, after a nightmare first series, he was, statistically at least, a steady performer whose failures and success broke down simply into whether it was the first innings (average 37) or second innings (average 20) of a match. (Darren Gough by comparison averaged respectively 29 and 26.) Overall Caddick was Manoj Prabhakar at the start of games, and Malcolm Marshall at the end, a curious combination which possibly explains Nasser Hussain’s hairline.

What about Brian Lara? Probably the most vulnerable and flawed of all batting’s certified greats, Lara caused the selectors more headaches than any other player. He compiled many of modern cricket’s greatest innings and series, yet failed amazingly often – he played 26 series of three or more Tests, and averaged 33 or lower in 10 of them (including 5 out of 11 series of five or six matches). Lara narrowly misses out on the final XI. Much of his failure can be attributed to one of cricket’s most notable career slumps. For a five-year period between the ages of 27 and 32, when many batsmen are at their peak, Lara averaged 40. Either side of this, his average was 60.

In essence, the truly unpredictable player must generate the feeling that, as he takes guard or stands at the end of his run-up, no-one in the stadium knows what will happen, least of all himself.

In all, I have set myself an almost impossible task selecting an Unpredictable XI from my Test-watching lifetime (1981 onwards), and one which I am unlikely to fulfil without contradicting some of my own unpredictability criteria, but here, nonetheless, it is. (And, just as I resisted the temptation to pick 11 New Zealanders for the Dull XI, so I have rejected the opportunity to choose 11 unfulfilled Pakistani geniuses and be done with it.)

Part 1: Batsmen

Virender Sehwag (India).

A frankly ludicrous, almost surreal, player with an approach to batting that, according to all received cricketing wisdom, ought to give him a Test average of around 30 at best, but whose shameless brilliance has turned him into a modern great. Sehwag only sneaks into the team. He is, essentially, predictably unpredictable. Everyone knows what he will attempt to do, and how he will attempt to do it. The only question is whether or not he will succeed (1 in 10 innings he passes 150), or fail (in half of his innings he fails to pass 25). Either way, he goes down, or up, in a blaze of glory.

Marvan Atapattu (Sri Lanka)

Not the classic epitome of daredevil unpredictability, Atapattu defied his orthodox technique to become one of the most statistically unpredictable players of his generation. Bouncing back from amassing one run in the first six and a half years of his Test career for a less-than-Bradmanic average of 0.16, intermittently-marvellous Marvan scored six double-hundreds (fourth equal on the all-time list) yet still heroically managed to keep his career average below 40.

Atapattu endured more slumps than a champion narcoleptic on a very comfortable sofa. He passed 50 only once in 26 innings between 1998 and 2000, but that once was an unbeaten double-hundred. Shortly afterwards, he followed knocks of 59 and 207 not out against Pakistan, and 54 and 120 against South Africa, with a run of just 270 runs in 14 innings, including six ducks – and 207 of those runs came in one undefeated innings against England. The game of an orthodox grinder, the statistics of a temperamental, bat-hurling, tortured, tantrum-throwing genius.

Aravinda de Silva (Sri Lanka)

At Lord’s in 1991, the Colombo Curiosity marched out to bat with half an hour remaining of the day’s play. He marched off 30 balls later having flayed 42 unstoppably perfect runs to his name, before marching back out the next morning, getting out, and marching back off. In the second innings, he stodged 18 off 91 balls.

In 1997, he emerged from a three-year slump to hit seven centuries in 12 innings. Capable of coming in at 1 for 2 in a World Cup semi-final against India in Calcutta and blasting 66 off 47, but also of scoring 27 in nearly four hours in a Test against Zimbabwe. In Tests, he averaged 25 between 1984 and 1988, 53 between 1989 and 1993, 20 between 1994 and March 1997 (in which time he won Sri Lanka the World Cup with one of the greatest innings in cricket history), 74 between April 1997 and February 2000, and 36 between March 2000 and the end of his career in 2002. A properly odd career.

Kevin Pietersen (England)

Swerving between the slalom gates of success and failure like a drunken Olympic skier, Pietersen has had one bad series in the 14 he has played, but, arguably, not a single great one. Between the last Ashes and the start of the recent West Indies series, Pietersen scored nine centuries in 22 Tests, but still averaged only just over 50, alternating between the golden underpants of triumph and the dank jockstrap of failure with no apparent link to current form.

Increasingly capable of painstakingly over-careful accumulation, or tub-thumpingly reckless aggression, Pietersen has at times demolished Warne and Muralitharan, but is vulnerable to club-standard finger spin. As captain, he even managed to coax an outburst of baffling unpredictability from the stolid old ECB. Anything seems possible with Pietersen. Would it really be a surprise if he came out to bat dressed as Elvis or scored a 60-ball hundred whilst batting with a dead ferret instead of a bat?

Carl Hooper (West Indies)

Depending on mood, or form, or prevailing winds, or horoscopes, or the will of the fickle cricketing gods, Hooper could look like an undisputable all-time great or a total novice, sometimes in consecutive balls. At his best, he could stroke a ball over a far distant clump of trees whilst appearing hardly even to move his bat. At his worst he could hit any bowler in the world straight to cover point for no apparent reason. Enchanting and frustrating, the ultimate in unpredictability. Let himself down with antiflamboyantly steady off-spin.

Those, then, are the batsmen. So many players have been unlucky to miss out, from Srikkanth to Ashraful, from Astle to Cullinan. Maybe Ross Taylor and Phil Hughes will demand selection in a few years’ time. Your reactions and rival selections are, as ever, welcome and appreciated.

Next time: Shahid Afridi, and the other five members of the team.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • azar on September 2, 2010, 9:34 GMT

    Wicketkeeper will be B.McCullum 12th man is Jonty Rhodes (SA) best Fielder cum Attacking batsman

  • forex robot on July 24, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  • Anonymous on February 10, 2010, 17:21 GMT

    andy how can u say that sehwag is unpredictable he has an average of over 50 in tests (I bet ur just jealous that england doesnt hav a player lik that).

  • Rob on April 27, 2009, 13:03 GMT

    Come on. Top of this list is the magnificent legendary Derek Randall. I refer to the brilliant appreciation of Derek in Marcus Berkmann's "Rain Men" which says, no doubt more elegantly than me, that on his day he was as good as anybody ever could be yet when he was bad he looked as if he had no idea what to do with this wooden thing they had made him carry. I think the point was also made that you could bowl two identical balls to Randall in succession and he would play them in entirely different ways. He was a deeply committed team man, relentlessly enthusiastic (and enthusing), breathtakingly entertaining almost every moment he was on the field (but without a trace of exhibitionism or self-glorification)and the number 1 cricketing hero of anyone of my generation who had a soul - and not just at Trent Bridge. And anyone who saw him bowl will have another reason to love him (though didn't he once get 3 for 20 odd in an MCC match or something?).

  • Rasik on April 25, 2009, 16:37 GMT

    Sehwag is tailor made for this XI.

  • Paddles on April 8, 2009, 16:23 GMT

    marees - surely Martin Crowe can't be considered unpredictable? 17 100s and 18 50s in 77 tests? An average of 45.34 overall - what part of his career was unpredictable?

  • marees on April 7, 2009, 15:37 GMT

    Following 3 specialist positions(captain, off-spinner, left-arm spinner) also deserve to have explicitly named unpredictable players.

    This is not an objective list, but I feel KP for captain (aggressive while winning and looks lost when losing) Pat Symcox for off-spinner (chubby off-spinners are my favourite. They make the game most exciting. cant forget the sight of Eddie Hemmings making a dive which most fitter Indian players of that time would have been proud of) left Arm Spinner - Laxman Sivaramakrishnan had one of the shortest but most stunning careers

    As regards for leg-spinner, I cannot think of a single boring leg-spinner!!! Even Kumble used to be exciting initially with his unique action.

  • waqas on April 7, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    @ karthik

    my dear as far as bhajji is considered he is among the all time greatest off spinner.

    he is been, many times, diffrence b/w the teams (India Vs _______)

  • Narayana on April 7, 2009, 10:00 GMT

    Surprised to see Sehwag at the top of the list. In my opinion he isn't such a unpredictable batsman, if you actually observe his stats clearly you'll find a roller coaster sort of form. He was at his best when he made a 194 at Melbourne and then scored a 309 in the next series and had a brief purple patch and then he had a form slump but again in 2008 tour of Australia he got back into a better form with a 154 at Adelaide and in the next innings 319 and in the subsequent tour he scored a double century at Sri Lanka and did well against Aussies at India.

    I guess he'll do well when he bats at a strike rate of 60 -70 especially in the first few overs but whenever he goes after bowlers at 100+ SR then he is very much predictable and I can underwrite that he wont cross 40.

  • Sandeep on April 6, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    Klusener, Gibbs, Gayle, Jayasuriya, Vinod Kambli (and some top-order Zimbabweans) might merit consideration.

  • azar on September 2, 2010, 9:34 GMT

    Wicketkeeper will be B.McCullum 12th man is Jonty Rhodes (SA) best Fielder cum Attacking batsman

  • forex robot on July 24, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  • Anonymous on February 10, 2010, 17:21 GMT

    andy how can u say that sehwag is unpredictable he has an average of over 50 in tests (I bet ur just jealous that england doesnt hav a player lik that).

  • Rob on April 27, 2009, 13:03 GMT

    Come on. Top of this list is the magnificent legendary Derek Randall. I refer to the brilliant appreciation of Derek in Marcus Berkmann's "Rain Men" which says, no doubt more elegantly than me, that on his day he was as good as anybody ever could be yet when he was bad he looked as if he had no idea what to do with this wooden thing they had made him carry. I think the point was also made that you could bowl two identical balls to Randall in succession and he would play them in entirely different ways. He was a deeply committed team man, relentlessly enthusiastic (and enthusing), breathtakingly entertaining almost every moment he was on the field (but without a trace of exhibitionism or self-glorification)and the number 1 cricketing hero of anyone of my generation who had a soul - and not just at Trent Bridge. And anyone who saw him bowl will have another reason to love him (though didn't he once get 3 for 20 odd in an MCC match or something?).

  • Rasik on April 25, 2009, 16:37 GMT

    Sehwag is tailor made for this XI.

  • Paddles on April 8, 2009, 16:23 GMT

    marees - surely Martin Crowe can't be considered unpredictable? 17 100s and 18 50s in 77 tests? An average of 45.34 overall - what part of his career was unpredictable?

  • marees on April 7, 2009, 15:37 GMT

    Following 3 specialist positions(captain, off-spinner, left-arm spinner) also deserve to have explicitly named unpredictable players.

    This is not an objective list, but I feel KP for captain (aggressive while winning and looks lost when losing) Pat Symcox for off-spinner (chubby off-spinners are my favourite. They make the game most exciting. cant forget the sight of Eddie Hemmings making a dive which most fitter Indian players of that time would have been proud of) left Arm Spinner - Laxman Sivaramakrishnan had one of the shortest but most stunning careers

    As regards for leg-spinner, I cannot think of a single boring leg-spinner!!! Even Kumble used to be exciting initially with his unique action.

  • waqas on April 7, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    @ karthik

    my dear as far as bhajji is considered he is among the all time greatest off spinner.

    he is been, many times, diffrence b/w the teams (India Vs _______)

  • Narayana on April 7, 2009, 10:00 GMT

    Surprised to see Sehwag at the top of the list. In my opinion he isn't such a unpredictable batsman, if you actually observe his stats clearly you'll find a roller coaster sort of form. He was at his best when he made a 194 at Melbourne and then scored a 309 in the next series and had a brief purple patch and then he had a form slump but again in 2008 tour of Australia he got back into a better form with a 154 at Adelaide and in the next innings 319 and in the subsequent tour he scored a double century at Sri Lanka and did well against Aussies at India.

    I guess he'll do well when he bats at a strike rate of 60 -70 especially in the first few overs but whenever he goes after bowlers at 100+ SR then he is very much predictable and I can underwrite that he wont cross 40.

  • Sandeep on April 6, 2009, 20:47 GMT

    Klusener, Gibbs, Gayle, Jayasuriya, Vinod Kambli (and some top-order Zimbabweans) might merit consideration.

  • bala on April 6, 2009, 14:01 GMT

    I liked your selections ,but I have my own eleven which I posted in your previous blog and am repeating it here with a few changes. 1.Lou Vincent 2.Romesh Kaluwitharana 3.Hershelle Gibbs(most talented under performer) 4.Mohammed Ashraful 5.Dwayne Smith 6.Shahid Afridi (nowadays has become a bit predictable ie, hits the second ball up in the sky but still u cannot have a list without him.) 7.Craig McMillan (kiwi) 8.Ajit Agarkar(can score a 23 ball fifty and still manage 8 ducks in a row) 9.Dilhara Fernando (only thing predictable is that he will bowl 3 no balls/wides at the least) 10.Steve Harmison 11.Harbhajan Singh

  • iwannaBhadlee on April 6, 2009, 5:34 GMT

    Mathew Sinclear 2 double centurys (1 on debut) and a 150+ 4 50s from 32 tests Average of 32 Gets picked for a test or 2 every year after a string of centurys in domestic cricket then gets a duck after a series of well timed, middle of the bat cover drives straight to the fielder Probably our best performer in domestic competition every year with an average of 48 from 147 matches is as good as it gets in New Zealand conditions going past 50 about 1 in every 3 innings Frustrating

  • iwannaBhadlee on April 6, 2009, 5:33 GMT

    Mathew Sinclear 2 double centurys (1 on debut) and a 150+ 4 50s from 32 tests Average of 32 Gets picked for a test or 2 every year after a string of centurys in domestic cricket then gets a duck after a series of well timed, middle of the bat cover drives straight to the fielder Probably our best performer in domestic competition every year with an average of 48 from 147 matches is as good as it gets in New Zealand conditions going past 50 about 1 in every 3 innings Frustrating

  • Somebody on April 3, 2009, 10:17 GMT

    What about Parthiv Patel for WK? capable of carving four consecutive off-side boundaries off Brett Lee and also average under 20 for the series. Capable of holding on to stunning catches, yet misses the simplest catch (off Gillespie whowent on to make a big score) and stumping chance (off Waugh who scored 80) in Steve Waugh's last game to ditch India's chance to win the series.

  • Sagar on April 2, 2009, 13:51 GMT

    Hey Marees...Great set of stats...I think WK is the one which is slightly difficult to get in with stats, as you said you are favoring players who kept to spin a lot.

  • marees on March 31, 2009, 18:44 GMT

    final XI Batsmen - unacceptable no of inning without centuries balanced against high conversion rate of 50s to 100s bowlers - acceptable strike rate nullified by unaccetable economy wicket keeper - unacceptable overall dismissal rate but highest rate of stumpings 1. Attapattu (SL) 2. Sehwag (IND) 3. Vaughan (ENG) 4. Azharuddin (IND) 5. Arvinda De Silva (SL) 6. Martin Crowe (NZ) 11. Chris Cairns (NZ) 7. [WK] Syed Kirmani (IND) 8. Brett Lee (AUS) 9. Jason Gillespie (AUS) 10. Stuart MacGill (AUS)

    Stand byes Kevin Pietersen (Eng) Carl Hooper (WI) Shoaib Akhtar (PAK) Darren Gough (UK) Kamran Akmal (PAK)

  • marees on March 31, 2009, 18:32 GMT

    For wicket-keeper the easy option would be to chose a Pakistani like Kamran Akmal. However, if I have to use some objective criteria, It would be something like high percentage of stumpings per innings against low overall dismissals per innings (although this measure will bias towards wicket-keepers who kept for spinners) Player Inns D/I stump% catch/stump_ratio WAS Oldfield (Aus) 101 1.287 40 1.5 TG Evans (Eng) 175 1.251 21.00456621 3.760869565 SMH Kirmani (India) 151 1.311 19.19191919 4.210526316 Moin Khan (Pak) 118 1.245 13.60544218 6.35 NR Mongia (India) 77 1.389 7.476635514 12.375 Never heard of Oldfield and Evans, and Kirmani was know for his stumping skills being framed in camera. So will go with Kirmani here.

  • marees on March 31, 2009, 18:01 GMT

    I have extracted a list of bowlers(>100 wickets) who have strike rate of 45-55 balls and yet average more than 25 runs per wicket. Player Ave Econ SR B Lee (Aus) 30.81 3.46 53.3 Shoaib Akhtar (Pak) 25.69 3.37 45.7 D Gough (Eng) 28.39 3.3 51.6 CL Cairns (NZ) 29.4 3.28 53.6 M Ntini (SA) 28.37 3.23 52.6 SCG MacGill (Aus) 29.02 3.22 54 JR Thomson (Aus) 28 3.18 52.6 WW Hall (WI) 26.38 2.91 54.2 JN Gillespie (Aus) 26.13 2.85 54.9 RGD Willis (Eng) 25.2 2.83 53.4

    The above list seems like a fair list of unpredictable bowlers, yet I am not sure what Cairns (I didnt know he took wickets in test matches!) and Thomson (he was predictable enough like Waqar Younis in cleaning up batsmen) are doing in the above list. Stuart MacGill and Jason Gillespie would be a sure pick in anybody's team...

  • marees on March 31, 2009, 16:42 GMT

    I modified my list of batsmen with greatest conversion rate (from 50 to 100) and retained only those who had scored centuries in less than 15% of the time. Re-ordered it and based on this the following are my top-6 batting order for the world's most unpredictable XI. I will work on a similar obective criteria for Wicket Keeper and the bowlers and then the complete XI can be decided Position Player gt_100 gt_50 conv_rt 1 MS Atapattu (SL) 10.3 21.2 48.5 2 V Sehwag (ICC/India) 13.0 28.7 45.5 3 MP Vaughan (Eng) 12.2 24.5 50.0 4 M Azharuddin (India) 15.0 29.3 51.2 5 PA de Silva (SL) 12.6 26.4 47.6 6 MD Crowe (NZ) 13.0 26.7 48.6

    I have left out KP because he is predictable in terms of scoring runs (and also predictable in getting into controversies!) Also left out Hooper (whom I rate as the West Indian Azharuddin) because, sadly, he never fulfilled his potential (unlike azhar who has a very good test avg of 45+)

  • JJ on March 31, 2009, 13:58 GMT

    Afridi would qualify more as an unpredictable bowler. His batting's very predictable. You pitch it short, he's going to pull - you pitch it full - he's going to drive. A few defensive strokes when he's bored.

  • AB on March 31, 2009, 13:48 GMT

    To everyone whos saying Afridi is unpredictable hes not. It's predictable that what will happen is that he will be said to be a fearful player by the commentators, then will try to hit the ball for a six, will fail and get out

  • RC Neyson on March 31, 2009, 9:11 GMT

    Andy, I hope you also come up with the "THE MOST AWKWARD XI" once you are done with this list. That should be absolutely hilarious.

    The all time awkward Anil Kumble (I'm a big fan of his), Paul Adams, MS Dhoni, Chanderpaul etc., might figure in that list. Billy Bowden can be the umpire :-) Putting their actions in your imaginative words would be a lot of fun.

  • Sagar on March 31, 2009, 3:16 GMT

    The piece about hooper had me laughing out loud.. "At his worst he could hit any bowler in the world straight to cover point for no apparent reason."

    However, I must disagree with some of your choices - Pietersen and Aravinda De Silva..

    De Silva to my memory almost always played to the team's cause. If it required him to smash a 40 ball 60 - he would do it. If it required him to grind out a 100 ball 20, he would do that too...In this process of being selfless, he lost out on his average; and possibly some loss of form can't be ignored over a career so long.

    Pietersen has a bit of reckless streak...but its as much arrogance as it is recklessness. That leads him to play a bit crankly at times...It's more arrogance and ego in his talent than genuine unpredictability a.l.a Shahid Afridi...

    I guess you made it clear Afridi will be in the list...He is in my opinion the greatest of the unpredictables. A genuine unpredictablous player

  • AbhijeetGupta on March 31, 2009, 2:13 GMT

    Andy , forgot the greatest unpredictable guy of all. N.S. Sidhu. He went from Strokeless Wonder to Sixer Siddhu. The best exponent of block and blast. Suddenly went from average fielder to good enough be nick-named "Jonty Singh". Temperamental enough to left tour in the middle. Giving nightmares to certain Shane Warne and all other spinners. Post retirement turned to commentary to invent "Sidhuism". Became member of parliament. By the way he was found guilty and sentenced to a three-year prison term for culpable homicide following a road rage incident. The higher court later suspended his conviction.

  • AbhijeetGupta on March 31, 2009, 2:11 GMT

    Andy , forgot the greatest unpredictable guy of all. N.S. Sidhu. He went from Strokeless Wonder to Sixer Siddhu. The best exponent of block and blast. Suddenly went from average fielder to good enough be nick-named "Jonty Singh". Temperamental enough to left tour in the middle. Giving nightmares to certain Shane Warne and all other spinners. Post retirement turned to commentary to invent "Sidhuism". Became member of parliament. By the way he was found guilty and sentenced to a three-year prison term for culpable homicide following a road rage incident. The higher court later suspended his conviction.

  • AT on March 30, 2009, 18:50 GMT

    who can possibly more unpredictable than Afridi???

  • d clement on March 30, 2009, 15:13 GMT

    Andy The following is probably not really unpredictable , more predictably awful bit I came across a scorecard from the Lords test 1958 New Zealand and the first four were J W Darcy test average 13.6 L Miller " 13.84 W Playle " 10.06 N Harford " 15.26 and if any of these injured they could bring in T Meale average 5.2. I wonder if any side since WW2 have had such an inept top 4. Even Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have never produced such a piss poor top four.

  • Harish on March 30, 2009, 12:24 GMT

    Damien Martyn might be a very good pick in this squad. He scored 317 runs in his first 12 innings at 28 from 1992-1994. He was promptly dropped at this stage for 6 yrs from the test team. His first comeback wave was great - 1229 runs in 24 innings at 76 from Mar 2000 to Mar 2002. The next 25 innings from Mar 2002 to Jan 2004 gave him just 793 runs at 33. True to his oscillations, the next 27 innings from Mar 2004 to Mar 2005 yielded him 1570 runs at 62.8. His final phase of his career, his last 21 innings from Mar 2005 to his retirement in Dec 2006, gave him just 497 runs at 21. No wonder he was compared to Mark Waugh at not fulfilling his promise despite hinting at becoming an all-time great batsman.

  • Mike on March 30, 2009, 10:42 GMT

    Interesting point about Lara's slump: arguably his best Test innings (213 and 153* vs Australia in 1999) came during that period.

  • jogesh99 on March 30, 2009, 8:33 GMT

    Your next list could be the ALl Time Hyped XI. Top honours to Hick for the greatest Ashes hyped debut. And to Barry Richard's for the greatest hyped career - all of 4 home-tests.

  • Sagar on March 30, 2009, 8:03 GMT

    Thanks for the laughs Andy! Keep up the good work! ;) By the way, any chance Ajit Agarkar will feature in that list?

  • Aowabin on March 29, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    Ashraful. gibbs, and sinclair should've been mentioned

  • Kiran Desai on March 28, 2009, 15:46 GMT

    Azharuddin - The best fit for this list Gibbs - Maybe a bit predictable of late, but, you never know :) Jayasuriya - Post 1995 Misbah in the short span since T20 WC Gilchrist! VVS Team Pakistan over the years

  • aamir abad on March 28, 2009, 15:33 GMT

    i am surprised that u missed out on shahid afridi on this list,he is worse than sehwag

  • aamir abad on March 28, 2009, 15:33 GMT

    i am surprised that u missed out on shahid afridi on this list,he is worse than sehwag

  • Tagwa on March 28, 2009, 13:31 GMT

    1) Shahid Afridi 2)Abdul Razzak 3) shoaib AKhtar great read. I agree with Hooper but think you missed out on others here is my list.

    1) Hershell Gibbs 2) Carl Hopper 3) Mark Waugh 4) Nathan Astle 5) Laxman

    I know Laxman? Well he never looks in trouble and just outs. Mark Waugh, Hooper, Laxman has to be right up there.

  • shakil on March 28, 2009, 12:16 GMT

    How you miss Ashraful? One day he would dominate the best bowlers of the world, the next day he could not even hit the gully bowler. We Bangladeshi fan does not know what to expect from him. We also concluded he has two gear - first and fourth. The gear in which he would play dependes upon which side of the bed he woke up. My unpredictable top V for ODI 1. Sehwag 2. Afridi 3. Gower 4. Hooper 5. Afridi And I agree with rob heinen, Hooper is epitome of coolness.

  • Alex on March 28, 2009, 10:48 GMT

    Come on, give us your dull XI! OK there would several NZers, fine, but don't pretend it wouldn't be well-stocked with English batsmen. And why not an XI of bit-part pretend all-rounders who aren't particularly good at anything?

  • Marcus on March 28, 2009, 6:52 GMT

    I think people are being a bit unfair to Strauss! All he experienced was a patch of poor form, but that aside he's never been a really inconsistent player.

    Slater and Gibbs would have to open for me. I just want to throw a name out there- Ricky Ponting- for whom form knows no meaning. I mean, the man can score prolifically in one innings but get out for single figures in the next! I'm sure it's a technical problem with him- what with the bat coming down at an angle while he's on the walk- but you never know when he's going to get out!

  • michael on March 28, 2009, 6:23 GMT

    I Think yuvi should make the list as a test batsman,a flat track bully,who can't prove in australia & now clearly strugging in NZ.CAN'T IMAGINE HOW HE WILL FARE IN ENG & SAF IN THE TESTS,NOT A MAN TO PLAY THE RED BALL

  • Hersh Shintre on March 28, 2009, 5:06 GMT

    Lance Klusener

    Michael Bevan

  • Pranesh on March 28, 2009, 4:45 GMT

    Shahid Afridi is not unpredictable actually. Last few years, I dont remember him crossing 10 runs

  • Siddhant Dwivedee on March 28, 2009, 3:46 GMT

    Chris Harris needs to be there might want to include Andrew Symonds as well

    Collin MIller ??

  • Siddhant Dwivedee on March 28, 2009, 3:45 GMT

    Chris Harris needs to be there might want to include Andrew Symonds as well

    Collin MIller ??

  • mac on March 28, 2009, 3:39 GMT

    Carl should captain. What about Dennis Lille, not for his bowling but for his batting- remember the aluminium bat?

  • Travis on March 28, 2009, 2:14 GMT

    "...alternating between the golden underpants of triumph and the dank jockstrap of failure..."

    That is just a great line.

    Remove the Stone of Shame! Attach the Stone of Triumph!

  • N Astle on March 28, 2009, 0:18 GMT

    From an NZ perspective I'm suprised Mathew Sinclair wasn't first in line for this team!

  • Aneeb on March 27, 2009, 23:15 GMT

    To everyone mentioning Afridi's name:

    He is definitely coming on the list guys.

    I really think Jayasuriya should have made the cut. He is regarded as one of the greatest one day batsmen of all time, yet he averages only 32. Gibbs and Gayle should be on the list too. Pietersen most definitely does not. He is easily the most consistent of the English batsmen. I think a better choice would have been Vaughan, or any of the other 3 I mentioned. I think Klusener should find a place here. Choosing bowlers is a toughie, especially "good" unpredictable bowlers. I choose Fidel Edwards, Flintoff and Kapil Dev

  • James Aldous on March 27, 2009, 23:14 GMT

    Good selection for the batsmen. Just have to say that I expect to see Anderson and Harmison in that list for the bowlers. Anderson on his day can make the ball do things that no other mortal seems capable, yet on others he looks an ordinary net bowler and about as threatening as a bowl of semolina pudding. And we all know about Harmison...

  • Taimoor Sultan on March 27, 2009, 22:48 GMT

    Andy great column again at least you are predictable with your super awesome blogs. As for the players I would say you consider the following candidates too:

    1) Shahid Afridi 2)Abdul Razzak 3) shoaib AKhtar 4)Ashraful 5)Nathan Astle 6) Ganguly

  • John Raj on March 27, 2009, 22:02 GMT

    Good one Andy. You missed the following names: 1) Shahid Afridi (At the TOP) 2) Herschelle Gibbs 3) Andrew Straus 4) Andy Flintoff

    I guess the few of the following would make it to the bowlers list:

    1) Ajith Agarkar 2) Jason Gillespie 3) Ashley Giles 4) Steve Harmisson

    Awaiting your next release

  • arnab on March 27, 2009, 21:33 GMT

    I share your generation - I think - having really started watching in 1979. Amazed by your breadth of knowledge of cricketers and love your style. 'Shastri bowling to Shastri' as the doomsday scenario remains my favourite! Great stuff.

  • Peter on March 27, 2009, 21:26 GMT

    Vinod Kambli should be in the next list.

  • Pervez on March 27, 2009, 21:22 GMT

    An ‘Andy Zaltzman Blog’ is now the only unit of time I officially recognise.

  • Indra on March 27, 2009, 21:22 GMT

    What about Kapil Dev? A man capable of scoring 173 vs Zims and 8 test hundreds. He would keep me on the edge of my seat whenever he used to bat.

  • Yahya on March 27, 2009, 21:14 GMT

    Surprised to know that Afridi and Jayasuriya are not in the list.

  • Evocati on March 27, 2009, 21:10 GMT

    You should state more prerequisites for selection on the team eg # of test played. I must admit, as a west indian, Hooper must be there! Loving the blog...keep up the good work! P.S - Wonderful talent for descriptive writing!

  • Paul on March 27, 2009, 20:58 GMT

    what about Gus "disgusting" Logie. I always thought his selection was based on the West Indies needing a good short leg for the quickies...was always amazed when he made a fifty; especially when the fifty cemented his place for the next year!

  • Rod on March 27, 2009, 20:32 GMT

    Where is Herchelle ?

  • Engle on March 27, 2009, 20:28 GMT

    David Gower was well known to be brilliant one moment, yet brittle the next. Even his captain Gooch echoed the spectators view of not knowing what to expect, the epitome of unpredictability, and an automatic entry into an All-Time XI

  • Stu on March 27, 2009, 20:11 GMT

    Excellent stuff! I think that there is a case for a father and son addition for Lance AND Chris Cairns, both could be exhilarating or disapointing. Good work!

  • karthik on March 27, 2009, 20:00 GMT

    It would have to be Ashraful and Astle instead of Sehwag and Pietersen. The latter is a pretty bad selection and you don't make much of a case for him. May be it was your nationalistic pride hurting? Even Srikanth would have been a better pick than Sehwag I think.

    As for the bowlers: 6.Shahid Afridi 7.Abdul Razzaq (Pakistan version) 8.Jack Russell/Alec Stewart (I am sure this will be your pick) 9.Harbhajan Singh (just makes it as frankly he is the worst bowler with more than 300 wickets) 10.Shoaib Akhtar 11.James Anderson

    Stephen Harmison narrowly missed out as I think he had 1 good year and no more.

  • vimalan on March 27, 2009, 19:09 GMT

    just today Sehwag reiterated his unpredictability , getting out to Vettori after hitting him out of the park the previous delivery. Sehwag is obviously the first choice. nicely written Andy. love it.

  • KL on March 27, 2009, 18:18 GMT

    I grew up in the late eighties and as a WI supporter saw pretty much all of Hooper's career. The man was unbelievably talented...a sublime and effortless timer of a cricket ball. The only persons I've seen come close were Damien Martyn, to some degree Mark Waugh, and Aravinda. Yet for all that, he usually found the most daft ways to get out to the endless frustration of WI supporters..

  • Manojkumar TN on March 27, 2009, 18:03 GMT

    I feel Mark Waugh should be in there; he could frustrate even his most loyal supporters with his unpredictability. You never knew what he was upto at the crease anytime. And he could score a century even after looking hopelessly out form in just the previous test. Even at his peak he averaged less than 45 but was, for a short while at least, considered at par with sachin and lara.

  • Voltaire on March 27, 2009, 17:52 GMT

    Hooper could look like an undisputable all-time great or a total novice, sometimes in consecutive balls....that just about sums up perfectly! Is your criteria implying unpredictability with some sorta failure or atleast unfulfilled promise. So Sehwag is clearly outta place.....though he's unpredictable and clearly wildly successfull. Srikanth though does demand a place as a matter of right in this team. Shahid Afridi should be topping this list even you begin in 1900.

  • Yadav on March 27, 2009, 16:53 GMT

    Hi andy

    Good writing! Great analysis! I personally feel that Carl Hooper should have made it to the top. He could, sometimes, demolarise the best of the bowlers in the world (Shane warne and Glenn Mcgrath have got the taste) with clinically lofted hits and sometimes get out to Steve waugh 5 times in one test series. Also, Shiv ch'paul should have been in the list. Coz everybody believes he is a player with the best defence but can't take the attack to the opposition though he has scored one of the fastest century in test cricket (I hope it is in 70 odd balls) and scored 156 out of 130 balls against one of the best ODI bowling attack of that time (Shaun Pollock, Allan Donald and co.).

  • Amarta on March 27, 2009, 16:25 GMT

    Hi Andy,

    very thoughtful list. My list of batmen would be following(my criteria for choosing these players would be that as audience you would never know whether they would score a hundred or get out on zero): Srikanth, Sehwag, Afridi,Gilchrist and Gibbs.

  • Amarta on March 27, 2009, 16:25 GMT

    Hi Andy,

    very thoughtful list. My list of batmen would be following(my criteria for choosing these players would be that as audience you would never know whether they would score a hundred or get out on zero): Srikanth, Sehwag, Afridi,Gilchrist and jonty rhodes.

  • marees on March 27, 2009, 16:19 GMT

    I have prepared a very objective list, including players I have never seen or heard of, based on their conversion rate of 50s to 100s. Ideally these players should be playing one days and not test matches, where you actually need Dravids and Gavaskars and not the following swashbuckling gentlemen: S.no Player gt_100 gt_50 conv_rt 1 DG Bradman (Aus) 36.3 52.5 69.0 2 AJ Strauss (Eng) 15.3 27.9 54.8 3 KP Pietersen (Eng) 17.6 33.0 53.3 4 CL Walcott (WI) 20.3 39.2 51.7 5 M Azharuddin (India) 15.0 29.3 51.2 6 ML Hayden (Aus) 16.3 32.1 50.8 7 MP Vaughan (Eng) 12.2 24.5 50.0 8 MD Crowe (NZ) 13.0 26.7 48.6 9 MS Atapattu (SL) 10.3 21.2 48.5 10 WR Hammond (Eng) 15.7 32.9 47.8 11 PA de Silva (SL) 12.6 26.4 47.6 12 RN Harvey (Aus) 15.3 32.8 46.7 13 GS Sobers (WI) 16.3 35.0 46.4 14 V Sehwag (ICC/India) 13.0 28.7 45.5

  • ashish on March 27, 2009, 15:55 GMT

    Andy, your ideas are awesome and i love your writing style . keep up the great work. cheers!

  • Bagapath on March 27, 2009, 15:49 GMT

    Jayasuriya belongs in this team, even more than Maravan Attapattu. Sanath and Viru opening together is sure to cause some heart attacks among the opposition or their supporters

  • vinod dhar on March 27, 2009, 15:48 GMT

    I am really surprised to see Sehwag, De Silva and Attapattu on the list. In case you have a look at the whole career, then one may argue it is ok. But then that should not be criteria. Attapttu started his career in a very bad fashion, but afterwards he was never unpredictable. Same was case with Aravinda. He did not do any justice to his batting in first 5-6 years of his career, but then he was quite predictable and pretty good. In my opinion, Micheal Slater should have been there on the list. So should have been Michael Vaughan.

  • Phil on March 27, 2009, 15:41 GMT

    As a New Zealander I am hoping to see at least one of my countrymen in here somewhere, it always seems to be a toss-up as to which NZ team will walk out onto the park. The most recent series with India is a pretty good example, walloped in the first test inside 4 days and then make 600 dec. a few days later. Also, Chris Cairns should get an honourable mention I feel. And McCullum must have a strong case for the keeping position, not least for the fact that he is trying to mould himself into a more rounded batsman, rather than just a smasher and so will every now and then have a weird innings of tedium before giving in and swinging wildly, to nick through to the slips. But a great team so far!

  • Ali on March 27, 2009, 15:36 GMT

    shahid afridi should've been first

  • Angry on March 27, 2009, 15:34 GMT

    I know he's more often than not considered a Test failure, but I'd argue there should be a place for Graeme Hick...

    He undoubtedly failed to meet enormous expectations, but did manage some fine Test innings, plus a large amount of excellent One Day ones, without even considering his non-international form.

    For my money, the greatest enigma of modern cricket - and how better to describe the 'unpredictable'...?

  • Swaroop on March 27, 2009, 15:33 GMT

    Surely, Mark Greatbatch could be in there. He has a 450 ball century to his name along with being the first to re-create Srikkanth's hitting at the top of the order

  • Schind on March 27, 2009, 15:31 GMT

    If it is ODI's we are on about Jayasuriya's the really most unpredictable player

  • Martin on March 27, 2009, 15:22 GMT

    Excellent stuff as always. The case you make for Pietersen is top notch. I'd like to ask about selectors? If ever an (unpredictable) team needed some bizarre selections, surely this is it

    http://beardedsocialist.blogspot.com/

  • santo on March 27, 2009, 15:22 GMT

    im surprised that Mark waugh is not in the eleven. I cant judge whether he is unpredictable or not, but he predicts his selectors minds very well.. correct me if im wrong.. his contribution would be less than 50 in the first two tests and when the selectors plan to axe him.. he will be scoring a century and will cement his place for the next series. This has happened in many series'.

  • Randy on March 27, 2009, 15:21 GMT

    I agree that undoubtedly Carl 'the great one' Hooper must be the first and best pick on this team. My favourite West Indian batsman nonetheless

  • Chris alton on March 27, 2009, 15:21 GMT

    Excellent piece ! I'm surprised freddie flintoff (the batsman not the bowler) isn't in the team. And if were to include an Aussie it would have to be Andrew Symonds !

  • GertJr on March 27, 2009, 15:21 GMT

    I miss Jonty Rhodes, who would save South Africa (Colombo 1993/4 v SL and Murali on a turner) and on a good batting pitch score below 20.

  • Vinish on March 27, 2009, 15:19 GMT

    It is a pity that Peterson is there in the list. From so early in his career - after only 2 years, he has been England's best batsman. He was burdened to bat responsibly, curbing his natural instincts for team's interests which is overcrowded with mediocre performers, and even then he has shown amazing consistency. Still, every poor shot is criticized as unnecessary though we never criticised Sachin for similar strokes even after 10 years of international cricket. Let's give Peterson some space to grow, to breathe. England would get more runs and the world would get more entertainment.

    And if inconsistency is also a factor for considering players in this list, Azharuddin and Astle could have made it.

  • Ronan on March 27, 2009, 15:18 GMT

    Interesting that Kent's first two overseas players make the batting line up....

  • Huw on March 27, 2009, 15:16 GMT

    What a cracking read as usual. Memories and opinions, isn't this the very essence of what makes our game so special ? Keep 'em coming Andy!

  • Raghu Cowlagi on March 27, 2009, 15:15 GMT

    Genuinely funny, as always! However, I thought calling Agarkar "inept" was quite harsh. He was quite a talented bowler who fell victim to the Indian selector's witch hunt for an allrounder. After all, he was the fastest to 50 ODI wickets and has more than 250 ODI victims to his name.

  • MB on March 27, 2009, 15:09 GMT

    Andy,

    Have to agree with you for tupping Sehwag up the top of your list. But, I would say the first name that springs up to my (and many more) mind when we talk of unpredictability and cricket in th same sentence is Afridi.

    Ask your inner self, have you made the best choise for the 1st position?

  • Prakriti on March 27, 2009, 13:59 GMT

    Sehwag is quite predictable if you look at things other than averages. He tries to hit ALL balls out of the park.

    Delightful list. It takes courage to include De Silva, KP and Hooper in this list. Loved it!

  • jc on March 27, 2009, 13:36 GMT

    No Nathan Astle? Or Sanath Jayasuriya?

    I think pieterson doesn't compare to either of these two players in terms of wild inconsistency

  • rob heinen on March 27, 2009, 13:28 GMT

    If anyone thinks that Chris Gayle is cool, they are of a pre-Carl Hooper generation, because if ever someone has been cool on the cricket field it is Carl Hooper. The man has cannabis sap running throuhg his veins. Probably the reason why he hasn't been very consistent, but I always loved seeing him play - in the fashion you describe.

  • Paul Eccles on March 27, 2009, 13:23 GMT

    Next time: Shahid Afridi, and the other five members of the team... Ha ha, hilarious, looking forward to next blog-time Andy!

  • Ralph Zimmermann on March 27, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    Shiv Chanders might have been a possibility - blazing 60-odd against Australia when his team were attempting to save the game, despite possessing probably the tightest defence in the modern game, would come high in any list of bizarre innings!

    For the keeper, Romesh Kaluwitharana must come close!

    For the bowlers, Jason Gillespie was a great, unpredictable character - skipping horse! Scored a double-century, having only once previously reached 50 in 93 innings! Could pick up an injury anywhere, anytime, eg, breaking a leg colliding with Steve Waugh whilst trying to take a catch!

  • Anonymous on March 27, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    i was quite mystified until the end of this blog. how could you miss out shahid afride]i. He is so inconsistant he makes it consistant.

  • Chathu on March 27, 2009, 12:44 GMT

    good stuff, love the blog. Mick slater a possibility? speaking of XIs, a mate and I have an annoying habit of bagging players who then turn out great performances/careers. a few examples include: Dale Steyn (on his first visit to Australia) Grant Elliot (on his test match against Australia) Paul Harris (on watching every time he bowls, yet continues to take wickets) MS Dhoni (not so much for a bad impression, but he is awkward to watch bat to say the least) Mitchell Johnson (after spending his first 10 tests taking wickets with no movement)

  • Split Infinitive on March 27, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    Andy:

    Another hilarious beginning to what I feel will the most rib-tickling XI yet. Can't wait for the next instalment!

    Thanks,

  • Chathu on March 27, 2009, 12:29 GMT

    good stuff, love the blog. Mick slater a possibility? speaking of XIs, a mate and I have an annoying habit of bagging players who then turn out great performances/careers. a few examples include: Dale Steyn (on his first visit to Australia) Grant Elliot (on his test match against Australia) Paul Harris (on watching every time he bowls, yet continues to take wickets) MS Dhoni (not so much for a bad impression, but he is awkward to watch bat to say the least) Mitchell Johnson (after spending his first 10 tests taking wickets with no movement)

  • Dim Rat on March 27, 2009, 11:22 GMT

    i'm 'honoured' to have two of Sri Lanka's finest in the top order! wonder if Mahela will turn up in a future list as well (who could forget all 21 runs he scored in the 2003 worldcup?) bit harsh to have Sehwag in there, but i see your logic. btw - is this a Test XI? is oneday cricket too unpredictable overall to narrow down a few players?

  • Niyam on March 27, 2009, 10:51 GMT

    I wonder why Strauss isn't in this team. I also feel that the present English team could substitute this team. The way they play makes u feel that they could(with a lot of luck and the real Collingwood) chase down a 300+ score but they also could struggle with 150.

  • Madhav Tandan on March 27, 2009, 10:48 GMT

    Amazing read - as always!

  • Rishabh on March 27, 2009, 10:21 GMT

    "Batting with a dead ferret"? Hahaha this is fantastic stuff :)

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Rishabh on March 27, 2009, 10:21 GMT

    "Batting with a dead ferret"? Hahaha this is fantastic stuff :)

  • Madhav Tandan on March 27, 2009, 10:48 GMT

    Amazing read - as always!

  • Niyam on March 27, 2009, 10:51 GMT

    I wonder why Strauss isn't in this team. I also feel that the present English team could substitute this team. The way they play makes u feel that they could(with a lot of luck and the real Collingwood) chase down a 300+ score but they also could struggle with 150.

  • Dim Rat on March 27, 2009, 11:22 GMT

    i'm 'honoured' to have two of Sri Lanka's finest in the top order! wonder if Mahela will turn up in a future list as well (who could forget all 21 runs he scored in the 2003 worldcup?) bit harsh to have Sehwag in there, but i see your logic. btw - is this a Test XI? is oneday cricket too unpredictable overall to narrow down a few players?

  • Chathu on March 27, 2009, 12:29 GMT

    good stuff, love the blog. Mick slater a possibility? speaking of XIs, a mate and I have an annoying habit of bagging players who then turn out great performances/careers. a few examples include: Dale Steyn (on his first visit to Australia) Grant Elliot (on his test match against Australia) Paul Harris (on watching every time he bowls, yet continues to take wickets) MS Dhoni (not so much for a bad impression, but he is awkward to watch bat to say the least) Mitchell Johnson (after spending his first 10 tests taking wickets with no movement)

  • Split Infinitive on March 27, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    Andy:

    Another hilarious beginning to what I feel will the most rib-tickling XI yet. Can't wait for the next instalment!

    Thanks,

  • Chathu on March 27, 2009, 12:44 GMT

    good stuff, love the blog. Mick slater a possibility? speaking of XIs, a mate and I have an annoying habit of bagging players who then turn out great performances/careers. a few examples include: Dale Steyn (on his first visit to Australia) Grant Elliot (on his test match against Australia) Paul Harris (on watching every time he bowls, yet continues to take wickets) MS Dhoni (not so much for a bad impression, but he is awkward to watch bat to say the least) Mitchell Johnson (after spending his first 10 tests taking wickets with no movement)

  • Anonymous on March 27, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    i was quite mystified until the end of this blog. how could you miss out shahid afride]i. He is so inconsistant he makes it consistant.

  • Ralph Zimmermann on March 27, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    Shiv Chanders might have been a possibility - blazing 60-odd against Australia when his team were attempting to save the game, despite possessing probably the tightest defence in the modern game, would come high in any list of bizarre innings!

    For the keeper, Romesh Kaluwitharana must come close!

    For the bowlers, Jason Gillespie was a great, unpredictable character - skipping horse! Scored a double-century, having only once previously reached 50 in 93 innings! Could pick up an injury anywhere, anytime, eg, breaking a leg colliding with Steve Waugh whilst trying to take a catch!

  • Paul Eccles on March 27, 2009, 13:23 GMT

    Next time: Shahid Afridi, and the other five members of the team... Ha ha, hilarious, looking forward to next blog-time Andy!