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When you count the number of greats who had to be omitted from this XI, you realise the wealth of talent West Indies possessed
July 26, 2010
To select an all-time XI after 82 years and 465 Test matches, from among 285 players, is no easy task, and especially so when the team under the microscope has produced some of the world's best players and was for a long time rated the best in the world.
In selecting this side, the selectors came up with only one player, the immortal George Headley, who was on the scene before 1950. As good as they were, there was no place for allrounder Learie Constantine or for fast bowler Manny Martindale.
The team is dominated by the great players who represented West Indies during their glory days - in the 1960s when they were arguably the best in the world, and from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, when they were the undisputed champions. And even so, some great names have been omitted.
Gordon Greenidge and Conrad Hunte have been selected as the opening batsmen, but it must have been tough leaving out the dashing left-hander Roy Fredericks, just as it must have been difficult to go for the specialist wicketkeeper Jackie Hendriks instead of Jeffrey Dujon - who was a batsman in his own right.
With Garry Sobers around, a man who could get into any Test team as a batsman, a left-arm fast bowler, an orthodox left-arm spin bowler, or a back-of-the-hand spin bowler, the allrounder's position was a cinch.
Not so, however, the selection of the spin bowler. Not when the decision was to select only one among Sonny Ramadhin, Alfred Valentine and Lance Gibbs. In the final analysis it was Gibbs, the tall, clever offspinner, the man who took 8 for 6 off 15.3 overs in an amazing spell during a Test against India.
From the beginning, great and exciting middle-order batting and hostile fast bowling have been the hallmark of West Indies cricket, and although to many the selection of Headley, Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Curtly Ambrose may have seemed easy, it probably was not.
It would be a heartless man who would not feel a tinge of regret leaving out batsmen the quality of Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott, and Rohan Kanhai, an allrounder like Constantine, spin bowlers like Ramadhin and Valentine, and fast bowlers like Wes Hall, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, and Courtney Walsh.
Former sports editor of the Jamaica Gleaner and the Daily News, Tony Becca has covered West Indies cricket for 30 yearsFeeds: Tony Becca
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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