The obsession with making fantasy XIs has existed almost as long as cricket has. If the dream merchants of Hollywood had to pick a side, how would it look?
Opener - Rain Man
Dustin Hoffman played an autistic adult in the 1981 film Rain Man with Oscar-winning accuracy. His obsession with numbers and probabilities, as well as his painstaking attention to detail will make him a difficult proposition to any opening bowler. Seeing off the new ball would become as much part of his rigid routine as his favourite TV show, so we should be in safe hands whilst he's in the middle. However, he will panic if he's not handled well, and his panic could trickle through the line-up and instigate the occasional collapse.
Opener - T101 (Terminator)
While you may think that he would make a better opening bowler, the Terminator, made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger's monosyllabic anti-hero turned hero, would be the perfect foil to his rather non-intimidating opening partner. Very much in the Chris Gayle mould and built like Matthew Hayden, 'Terms' as his nickname would no doubt be, would take the attack to the bowler. Ambidextrous, with machine-like endurance, he would also bring a level of innovation to the role. His obvious weaknesses would be his rigid footwork and disciplinary issues from not really caring about what he did to anyone. But the team could live with these drawbacks given the effect he might have on the opposition's fear levels.
No. 3 - Rocky
The fragility of the opening partnership might not be exposed too often, but T101's lack of love for anything (sometimes his own team) and Rain Man's natural anxieties mean that we need someone who can steady the fort at No. 3. We need someone dedicated to the cause and ready for the long haul. Willing to graft and suffer for every run and then, at the flick of a switch, burst into life and take the game away from the tiring opponents. That man is Rocky Balboa. He invests everything in his training, and if he were born a cricketer instead of a boxer, he would be next to the Don, playing a tennis ball off a wall with only a stump for hours on end. His excellence will be reflected in the longevity at the crease. Not afraid of a bruise or two, he would be willing to 'take one for the team', ala Brian Close. His lack of intellect could let him down, and the state of the game could get away from him from time to time, but otherwise a solid performer.
No. 4 and captain - Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator)
Obvious and outstanding leadership skills make Maximus an ideal choice for captain. He has unrivalled experience as a general in the Roman Army where he developed relentless determination, fantastic man-management, awe-inspiring motivational speaking and supreme tactical awareness - attributes that would benefit any side, especially in the darker times. What he lacks in concentration that would make him a No. 3, he makes up for with stroke play to become a heavy-scoring No. 4. His control of the blade and obvious power would be very entertaining and like any good strokemaker, he would enjoy being the centre of attention.
No. 5 - Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)
The aggressive top 4 batsmen need a foil who is calmer and can keep cool under pressure. Agent Starling rose to fame after her handling of Hannibal Lecter - an extremely difficult character - much like a bowler with his tail up. Her ability to steady the ship will be vital to the side in times of crisis. Her excellent technique and record meant she was promoted early in her career. She could be a long-term fixture in an ageing side - the captain for instance is nearly 2000 years old. Starling is psychologically astute and can build long, long innings. Her perceptive skills are unrivalled and she's best equipped to decipher those new-age mystery spinners. However, her concentration and intelligence can be misconstrued for grumpiness, and she is not the finest athlete in the park.
Allrounder - Mary Poppins
Given the resurgence of women's cricket, it feels apt to have two women in the engine room of the side. Miss Poppins is, "practically perfect in every way", so she would seem the natural choice to be our allrounder. Coming in at No. 6, Poppins will often bat with the tail, but this is a role that she will relish. The tail can often behave like scared little children and Poppins will be perfect to look after them and farm the strike. Despite the calm and serene appearance, Poppins can be a calculating and aggressive - she will not hesitate to dish out some nasty medicine for the opposition bowlers. Her bowling is a seemingly bottomless bag of tricks. Cutters, Chinaman, Orthodox, swing both in and out, Mary's got them all. No obvious weakness - she is also a media darling given her pitch-perfect interview technique and good looks.
Wicketkeeper - Spiderman
An obvious choice. He is unlikely to drop anything and his agility will be a great bonus. The bowling attack, though formidable, will endure days when they will spray it all over the place and we'll need Spidey to be at his jumpy best. There could be some kit issues though. Spiderman has a strict one-outfit policy and it would be up to Maximus to manage the situation. We shouldn't hope for too many runs, for Spiderman gets beaten easily. He belongs to the Jack Russell school of keeper-batsmanship, and we'll be treated to occasional brilliance. He bounces back well but will frequently leave the tail exposed.
Spinner - Gandalf (Lord of the Rings)
The magician is capable of conjuring up a wicket when the side needs it the most. He has a fine repertoire of deliveries and a massive amount of experience. He is well-liked by the younger members of the team, a great role model and a good man for Maximus to bounce ideas off. One of his main talents is to tie up an end; when faced with aggressive intent from batsmen, he can block the run-scoring in a "You shall not pass" manner, allowing the seamers to hunt for wickets at the other end. He has serious experience in wielding a sizeable piece of wood so that will lengthen our batting order. His massive weaknesses are his age and his curious tendency to go missing for massive parts of the match.
Fast-medium bowler - White Goodman (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story)
Ben Stiller's hilarious character in Dodgeball will provide a contrast in styles to the other, taller seamers. He is a slinger, he can be overly aggressive, at times mean, and doesn't mind using the ball as a weapon to target batsmen with. He could be troublesome at times, and isn't the ideal team player but he can take the game to opposing batsmen. Given his obsession with personal fitness, he could be asked to bowl long spells in arduous conditions. His experience in providing personal training might be an advantage for the rest of the side. His batting performances could swing from the brilliant to the embarrassing.
Fast-medium bowler - Borat
Given that Borat hails from an environment that is close to subcontinental, he will be crucial when the side tours Asia. Once he has an idea in his head, nothing can stop him and when we apply his tunnel vision to taking wickets, his determination will be crucial in difficult conditions. He is easily distracted, which could be a problem, and the language barrier might be difficult at first but Borat's superb sense of humour will help the team's spirits during long days in the field. He will assume the role of team cheerleader - doubly crucial when you consider how serious and staid the rest of the team is.
Fast bowler - Woody (Toy Story)
His height will help him generate serious pace. With the length of his arms and long strides approaching the crease, he is the natural speedster. Gangling yet nimble, Woody has a similar physicality to Bob Willis or in modern terms, Morne Morkel. He is likely likely to be less injury-prone that these two given the supple nature of his limbs and how light he is on his feet. A thinking man's bowler, he can bowl to plans and lead the attack. And Borat will need some serious leading.
Twelfth man - Storm (X-Men)
Weather plays a massive part in cricket. It is important that the side draws on all its strengths, and the ability to control the weather is a massive one. Storm would be the twelfth man because her actual cricket abilities are negligible - apart from the fact that she wears white, she doesn't have much to speak of in terms of on-field strengths. However when our seamers need a little nip through the air or our top order desires a bit of sunshine on their backs, Storm would deliver. To be honest, it might be difficult to get the ICC's blessing for someone who can control the environment at will but, after all the wet weather that dogged the Champions Trophy, I think every side would welcome the chance to keep the rain away.
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