Two tribes go to war

Langer and Hayden would fight like hell, but facing Holding and Marshall must have been worse than hell itself



Clockwise from above Marshall, Holding, Hayden, Langer © Getty Images

The insoluble debate of the modern era centres on its two greatest teams. In the Antipodean corner we have the modern-day Australians, at their strongest under Steve Waugh's iron-willed leadership. In the Caribbean corner we have the West Indian teams of Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards. As good as Australia have been over the last decade, could any team have matched those mighty West Indians? My mind's eye tells me that Messrs Greenidge and Haynes would have seen off Glenn McGrath and any opening partner he cared to muster.

The toughest battle, though, would come in the other innings. Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden are the most dominant partnership of their era and epitomise modern Australia: skillful, determined, and consistent. I want to see them pitted against it like they never have been. I want to see them stand up and be counted under the Southern Cross. More than that I want to see them take guard on a sun-baked Jamaican morning at Sabina Park. And I want to see them look up and see Michael Holding begin his gazelle's gallop, ending in the smoothest blur in the history of cricket. When they blink into the sunlight at the other end, I want them to look up and see Malcolm Marshall's rapid, pulsating strides climaxing in a lightning whirl of his right arm. Langer and Hayden would fight like hell, but facing Holding and Marshall must have been worse than hell itself. This is where the insoluble debate would find a brutal but memorably sweet resolution.

Kamran Abbasi is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine