June 24, 2013

How much would you bid for them?

A fantasy T20 team of players who would have been stars of the format if they had played it
62

Colin Milburn
But for the unfortunate car accident in 1969 that cost him an eye - and, effectively, his career - the beefy Milburn might have been the first global star of the one-day international game. Instead, it's a case of what might have been. He enlivened many a sleepy day in Northampton, and once clouted 181 in a session in a Sheffield Shield match.

George Bonnor
The 19th-century prototype for Kieron Pollard, the lanky Bonnor made five Ashes tours of England despite modest results (a career batting average of 21), because he was capable of match-turning batting when his eye was in. Bonnor's 128 in Sydney in 1884-85 - his only Test century - was made in less than two hours, and included three sixes, which in those days were only awarded if the ball went out of the ground. He was also once caught from a hit so steepling that the batsmen had turned for the third run before the ball was safely held by a nervous Fred Grace (WG's brother).

Don Bradman
The Don wasn't the first name on my fantasy T20 teamsheet - but when I looked at the contenders, I couldn't see any reason to leave him out. Bradman wasn't a prolific six-hitter, preferring to keep the ball on the ground - but he could slog when he needed to, which wasn't often as he maintained a healthy scoring rate without resorting to violence. And admit it, we'd all love to watch him bat, wouldn't we?

Viv Richards
Viv didn't so much hit the ball as dismiss it from his presence: and I reckon he'd have matched Chris Gayle in the T20 hitting stakes if he'd had the chance. Just ask the England bowlers he caned for a record 56-ball hundred in a Test in Antigua in 1985-86, or the England bowlers he caned for 189 in an ODI in 1984, or the England bowlers who... well, you get the picture.

Gilbert Jessop
"The Croucher" might just have been the most destructive hitter of all: his assiduous biographer Gerald Brodribb worked out that his 180 scores of 50-plus in first-class cricket came at an average rate of 79 per 100 balls. Jessop hit 53 centuries, five of them doubles - but only once ever batted for more than three hours (240 in 200 minutes for Gloucestershire v Sussex in Bristol in 1907). He was also one of the first to use a heavy bat; his favourite was 3lb 4oz, about a pound heavier than was usual at the time. Jessop smashed fast and slow bowling alike, from a distinctive low stance. His IPL auction price would have been astronomical.

Garry Sobers
Before there was Brian Lara and his extravagant backlift (which led to beautiful extra-extravagant extra-cover-drives) there was Sobers: his backlift was just as spectacular, and his follow-through just as devastating. And, unlike Lara, Sobers bowled too - speed, swing and spin (which might come in useful in this short format). Sir Garry was another born a decade or so too early: he could have been a one-day legend, but actually played only one ODI (and bagged a duck).

Keith Miller
Not many people would get into a Test side for their batting or their bowling, but Keith Miller would (and he's about the last Australian you could say that about). Miller's matinee-idol looks (and alleged fling with Princess Margaret) would have made him a celebrity of Warne-like luminescence today. There must be a chance, though, that this team will score so many runs that he'd get bored, as in Southend-on-Sea in 1948 when, with the Australians on course for their record haul of 721 runs in a day against Essex, Miller allowed himself to be bowled for a duck.

Ian Botham
Just possibly an allrounder too many - and still no room for Kapil Dev or Imran Khan or Mike Procter - but who would dare leave "Beefy" out? Just the memory of him smashing his first ball in the 1985 Edgbaston Ashes Test back over the pacy Craig McDermott's head for six will do for me: rarely has the wind been removed so suddenly from Australian sails. And that ignores the rest of Botham's Test runs (more than 5000), the England-record wicket haul (383), and prehensile catching (120 catches in Tests). He'd also be in charge of the after-match parties...

Alan Knott
I wondered about a six-hitter like Rod Marsh as my wicketkeeper, or an acclaimed batsman-stumper like Les Ames or Farokh Engineer. But in the end I plumped for Knott, the best wicketkeeper I ever saw, and a batsman whose impish inventiveness might just come in useful in the unlikely event of all the hitters failing to come off.

Arthur Wellard
David Foot described Wellard as a "village blacksmith cricketer", and his fast-medium bowling will come in useful - although it will be his batting that people will want to see. Wellard didn't worry too much about running between wickets: of his career total of over 12,000 runs, about a quarter came in the shape of 500-odd sixes. That included 72 in 1935, which remained a record until Botham, a fellow Somerset smiter, smashed 80 in 1985.

Bishan Bedi
For our main slow man I considered offspinners Jim Laker and Hugh Tayfield (a noted dot-ball merchant), and also the Indian allrounder Vinoo Mankad, among others. But I didn't think our No. 11 really needed to bat, and went for the fun of watching Bedi, patka wobbling, enticing the sloggers to their doom. He probably wouldn't enjoy being allowed only four overs to spin his web, though.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • funkyandy on June 27, 2013, 22:35 GMT

    Got to agree with OWNAGE - what a team!! The only possible change, maybe Sehwag for Sachin? Lots of right/left combinations and wasim at no.8 - cannot fail! Surely Imran as captain? Got to be!

  • sanman12 on June 27, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    People seem to forget a certain mister graeme pollock and barry richards. Two of the best and most destructive batsman of their era if not of all time. Pity they had limited chances due to apartheid but for those who saw them bat will remember their prowess as being unchallenged at that time. They were part of a team that whitewashed The aussies.

  • dummy4fb on June 27, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    As we are all naming our favourites, how about Ranjitsinghi, a super-fast scorer, and Wilf Rhodes,much too slow a scorer for 20-20 but a great dot-ball artist.

  • nafzak on June 26, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    I am West Indian, so yes, I am prejudiced in favour of my countrymen. Kallicharran, Kanhai, Fredericks, Greenidge, Haynes, Richardson, Gibbs, Holding, Garner, Croft, Marshall, Ambrose, Sylvester Clarke, Roberts, George Headley, Ramadhin, Valentine, Clive Lloyd, Collis King... all would have excelled in 20/20. The only reason they did not score more runs or score faster than they did is because they did not have to in order to win. The bowlers were the most diciplined. Look at Gibbs runs per as an example. And remember in the days of Sobers, Kanhai, Gibbs, et al, they played a less lot Test Cricket in their prime years than cricketers do today. Hence, they has much less opportunities to take (many) wickets while in their best years of their career than do the Marnes and Muralith.. (that guy from SL). And yes, Imran, Wasim Akram and Kapil over Botham any day. Waqar Younis, ZaheerAbass, Majid Khan, Miandad, all would have been stars in 20/20.

  • dummy4fb on June 25, 2013, 8:05 GMT

    Carey's great New Zealand list should also include Mark Greatbatch, who would have been excellent at the happy-hour form of the game.

  • OWNAGE on June 25, 2013, 5:15 GMT

    All time T20 XI: 1. Adam Gilchrist (wk) 2. Tendulkar 3. Viv Richards 4. Lara 5. Sobers 6.Ian Botham 7. Imran Khan 8. Wasim Akram 9. Warne 10. Joel Garner 11. McGrath. Viv and Gilly are the two most destructive hitters ever, while Sachin, Lara, and Sobers can effortlessly swich between accumulation and attack. Botham and Imran provide lower order power hitting and killer back up bowling (imagine, Botham as a 6TH bowling option). Wasim is the deadliest yorker bowler in history (backed up by Imran). McGrath is the most accurate fast bowler of all time, ideal for strangling the batsmen, while Warne is an obv. choice. Joel Garner might seem like an unusual pick, but at 6 ft 8, he combined fierce pace with wicked steep bounce, could get the ball to jump alarmingly at the batsman. Plus he had one of the best yorkers ever seen. "No one hit Joel", he was either at your nose or at your toes. All in all a dream T20 XI.

  • kaos2 on June 25, 2013, 3:50 GMT

    You would not go past Deadly as one of your bowling options

  • regofpicton on June 25, 2013, 1:58 GMT

    No Martin Crowe?! He finished the 1992 World Cup with an average of 114 at 91. I think he might have been able to adjust to the shorter format, and made it his own.

  • dummy4fb on June 25, 2013, 1:37 GMT

    Leaving Kapil out for Botham ? No Way. Kapil's test strike rate is 79 +, third highest of all time, lower than only Sehwag ( 82 + ) and Gilchrist . Next highest at the fourth spot is Sir Viv Richards ( 69 + ) to put things in proper perspective. Sir Botham is in the 60s somewhere. The master statistician Steven Lynch can't have missed this important difference. The great Australian Jack Gregory ( He of the 67 ball test century, and new ball bowling partner of the legendery Ted McDonald, and a superlative fielder to cap it ) must replace Miller. I always thought he was the no 1 Aussie allrounder over Miller, Benaud, Davidson and Warne.

  • dummy4fb on June 25, 2013, 1:13 GMT

    where is wasim akram and waqar younis. Waqar had an amazing inswinging yorker which was bowled at 150 ks. He was brilliant at the death. Wasim akram was a very good hitter, and nothing much more needs to be said apart from brilliant. He could swing the ball both ways in one ball. People couldn't defend those and u are talking about 4's and 6's here.