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Wisden Cricinfo staff
August 23, 2004
Richie Benaud, the former Australian captain and current doyen of television commentators, has named his World XI of the 20th century. Jack Hobbs, whose England career spanned 23 years, and Sunil Gavaskar, who scored 34 Test centuries for India, open the batting for a team that is made up of four Australians, two West Indians, two Indians, two Englishmen, and one player from Pakistan.
Don Bradman makes an appearance at No. 3, followed by Sachin Tendulkar, who is one of three cricketers in the team still playing international cricket, at No.3 and Viv Richards at No. 4. Pakistan's Imran Khan and the West Indian Garfield Sobers are the two allrounders in the side.
Australia's Adam Gilchrist is the side's wicketkeeper, batting at No. 8. Rod Marsh may have been more acrobatic, and Ian Healy had more finesse behind the stumps, but Gilchrist's contribution as a top-class batsman earned him a place in the side: he averages 15 runs per innings more than any other keeper in history, and has a strike-rate of 82 per 100 balls faced in Tests.
Shane Warne squeezed into the side, somewhat controversially perhaps, ahead of Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka's prodigious offspinner, as the side's only specialist spinner. Warne is only just behind Muralitharan in the Test bowling record stakes with 527 wickets to Murali's 532, but Murali has taken his wickets in 21 fewer Tests.
Sydney Barnes, who remains the only man to be picked for England while playing league and minor cricket, is one of two specialist fast bowlers in the squad. He took 1432 wickets for Staffordshire at less that nine runs each, and played for the county until he was over 60. The other is Dennis Lillee, who took 355 Test wickets for Australia between 1971 and 1984.
Apart from Muralitharan, some notable exceptions from the World XI include Graeme Pollock, the South African batsman, his fast-bowling nephew, Shaun, and New Zealand's leading wicket-taker Richard Hadlee. Benaud himself would arguably have been in the running for a place in the side himself. As a legspinning allrounder, he took 248 Test wickets at an average of 27.03 in 63 Tests and retired as Australia's leading wicket-taker at the time.
Benaud, 73, is chairman of a five-man selection panel for next month's ICC Awards that will choose the best World one-day international XI and World Test XI of the year.
Benaud's Greatest XI
1 Jack Hobbs, 2 Sunil Gavaskar, 3 Don Bradman, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Viv Richards, 6 Imran Khan, 7 Garfield Sobers, 8 Adam Gilchrist, 9 Shane Warne, 10 Sydney Barnes, 11 Dennis Lillee.
Click here to buy your DVD of Richie Benaud's Greatest XI
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