February 18, 2017

All-time visiting XIs - part two

The second of a two-part series that objectively picks all-time XIs to tour Test-playing countries

Adam Gilchrist is one of the only two players - the other being Shane Warne - to make it to four touring XIs © AFP

In part one of this two-part feature, I had covered the all-time best XIs to visit Australia, England and South Africa. There was very lively reader response and nearly 150 comments were received. In this article I will cover the other five countries - India, New Zealand, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. I will also summarise the selections at the end.

It is strongly recommended that those who missed reading the first part, read that article before perusing this one. The lengthy introduction and explanation of the processes will go a long way towards clarifying the complex selection process. I will not publish comments that indicate a lack of awareness of the selection methodology. Just as a recap, I have summarised the process below.

- Only batsmen who have scored 500 runs and bowlers who have captured 25 wickets (20 for Pakistan) are considered for selection.
- The players are judged on three criteria: Longevity (Runs/Wickets), Performance (RpAI/Bowling average) and Quality of opposition (Bowling/Batting quality).
- RpAI (Runs per Adjusted Innings) is used instead of the Batting Average and is explained in depth in Part 1.
- The top ten batsmen and bowlers are shortlisted for selection.
- To the extent possible (almost 95%), the final selection is made from these players.
- The normal team will be comprised of six batsmen, four bowlers and a wicketkeeper. In each team there has to be an allrounder who will provide additional bowling support.
- The keeper is judged more on keeping skills and less on batting skills.
- For each team, a captain is selected.

4. India

First, let me provide the tables listing the top ten batsmen and bowlers who toured India.

4.1. India: Top visiting batsmen
83.2CH Lloyd Win141359 64.101.09
82.7ED Weekes Win 5 779111.290.86
74.1AN Cook Eng131235 48.601.10
72.3A Flower Zim 5 820 82.000.88
71.3JC Adams Win 3 520 86.671.08
71.3GS Sobers Win 8 899 69.150.97
69.2AI Kallicharran Win11 992 52.651.07
67.5Javed Miandad Pak13 948 45.931.17
67.4HM Amla Saf10 941 55.351.00
65.9IT Botham Eng 7 554 61.561.08

4.2. India: Top visiting bowlers
94.4R Benaud Aus 8 52 18.380.96
89.4CA Walsh Win 7 43 18.560.99
84.9AK Davidson Aus 6 30 15.770.99
84.4AME Roberts Win 7 37 19.811.01
84.3DL Underwood Eng16 54 26.520.92
84.1JN Gillespie Aus 7 33 21.731.22
83.8GD McGrath Aus 8 33 21.301.18
83.3JK Lever Eng 8 37 19.760.95
82.8GD McKenzie Aus 8 34 19.260.98
82.6WW Hall Win 8 38 20.950.97

Alastair Cook is the first choice as opener. He has been very good, scoring nearly 100 runs per Test. To decide on his partner is a difficult task. None of the top ten, other than Cook, is a regular opener. I would not be confident at pushing any of the middle-order batsmen into opening. Possibly Everton Weekes could do it. However, when I go past the top ten in the table, two names stare at me. Gordon Greenidge and Matthew Hayden. They are both very close (Greenidge 1047 runs in 14 Tests at 42.31 and Hayden 1027 runs in 11 Tests at 49.07).

I decided on Hayden, who might have faced a lesser bowling attack than Greenidge but was probably the more attacking of the two. And who can ever forget what he did in India in 2001? This is the first selection outside the top ten.

The middle order is almost totally dominated by West Indies batsmen. Weekes, Garry Sobers and Clive Lloyd take their appointed places. All of them have terrific figures. India was one of the favourite countries for West Indies during the decades before 2000. The fourth place is filled by Andy Flower, who had two wonderful tours of India. He single-handedly defied India for over 40 hours. His scores in India are 115, 62*, 183*, 70, 55, 232*, 3, 8, 92 and 0 - seven substantial scores out of ten. An average of 117 and RpAI of 82 speak volumes about Flower's sojourns in India.

However, I am not going to burden Flower with wicketkeeping duties. Adam Gilchrist is the gloveman. He was not his usual batting self in India but kept magnificently. In seven Tests, he dismissed 29 batsmen and scored 342 runs at 28.33.

The top three bowlers select themselves. Richie Benaud is the leading spinner by a mile. He will be supported by Courtney Walsh and Alan Davidson. These three bowlers had averages well below 20 and captured more than five wickets per Test. When we come to the fourth bowling position, there is a serious selection issue. Andy Roberts and Derek Underwood are neck and neck in their index values. Roberts has been excellent and has similar numbers to the top three. Underwood, though not so effective, was a canny spinner. I have gone against the stream and pinned my hopes on Roberts. Glenn McGrath was another strong contender.

Sobers will be the dedicated allrounder, able to bowl left-arm spin quite effectively.

The final team to tour India is given below.

© ESPNcricinfo

The captaincy is between Benaud and Lloyd. Having watched Benaud grow into the excellent captain that he became, I have no hesitation in handing him the responsibility.

5. New Zealand

5.1. New Zealand: Top visiting batsmen
81.0WR Hammond Eng 3 642214.000.61
70.2Javed Miandad Pak 9 928 71.380.99
67.1DJ Cullinan Saf 4 535133.750.90
66.7SM Nurse Win 3 558111.601.06
64.6GS Chappell Aus 8 786 65.171.03
62.4R Dravid Ind 7 766 58.161.00
62.2HH Gibbs Saf 6 686 68.601.04
62.1SR Tendulkar Ind11 842 48.900.98
59.0Mohammad Yousuf Pak 8 718 51.291.01
58.7JH Kallis Saf 8 649 49.921.13

5.2. New Zealand: Top visiting bowlers
94.8Wasim Akram Pak 7 50 17.180.89
94.8SK Warne Aus 9 49 21.311.15
87.2GD McGrath Aus 6 30 18.401.22
83.4S Ramadhin Win 6 32 15.060.79
80.0CA Walsh Win 7 32 20.750.97
79.7EAS Prasanna Ind 7 35 19.260.78
79.6M Muralitharan Slk 6 30 19.970.96
79.1J Garner Win 5 26 16.920.89
78.6AR Caddick Eng 5 27 20.411.03
78.5WPUJC Vaas Slk 8 36 22.560.88

Herschelle Gibbs is a surprising leader amongst the openers. His tally of over 100 runs per Test deserves recognition. The other opening position presents a dilemma. Should I co-opt Rahul Dravid, who is in the top ten, into opening the batting, or look at Greenidge, at No.11, the regular opener? Greenidge's numbers are quite good: 618 runs at 55 in six Tests. So I decided to go with the established opener. This is the second selection outside the top ten. In three innings, Wally Hammond scored 642 runs, albeit against quite weak New Zealand attacks. There is no way Hammond's numbers can be ignored. So he is at No. 3.

Javed Miandad is a shoo-in for the second middle-order position. He has excellent numbers to back him up. Then I have to say sorry to Daryll Cullinan and select Greg Chappell. Now comes the second conundrum: the No. 6. Do I select Seymour Nurse, with outstanding numbers, or Sachin Tendulkar, with experience but lower figures, or Dravid or Ian Botham? Botham has a batting average exceeding 40 and sub-30 bowling average. I came back to this after completing the bowling selection and felt that with a three-pronged pace attack, Botham would be superfluous. Therefore, I decided to recognise Dravid's 100-plus runs per Test and an excellent RpAI and go with him.

Adam Gilchrist is the wicketkeeper. He was at his best, both in keeping and batting. In six Tests, he dismissed 25 batsmen and scored 487 runs at 69.57.

The bowlers almost selected themselves. The top three bowlers are Wasim Akram, who was devastating in New Zealand, Shane Warne and McGrath. Then I had Sonny Ramadhin in fourth position. But I felt that two spinners in New Zealand was a luxury. So instead, I selected Joel Garner, who had a phenomenal average. He just about edged out Walsh. Hammond would be the designated allrounder. Even though Muttiah Muralitharan has done quite well, it is almost the England-like situation. Warne has done much better - more wickets, more wickets per Test, and a better quality of batsmen bowled to, against a slightly higher average.

The final team to tour New Zealand is given below.

© ESPNcricinfo

Hammond is a strong candidate for the captaincy. However, since I had decided that there would be different captains for each team, Greg Chappell will lead the team across the Tasman Sea.

6. West Indies

6.1. West Indies: Top visiting batsmen
81.8RN Harvey Aus 5 650 94.071.04
79.6R Dravid Ind171511 54.910.91
79.6L Hutton Eng 7 848 73.171.18
79.2SM Gavaskar Ind131404 58.500.93
72.9G Boycott Eng141179 47.161.11
72.4MC Cowdrey Eng101025 58.940.98
71.8GM Turner Nzl 5 672 84.000.78
71.6SR Waugh Aus141096 54.550.97
71.6GC Smith Saf 7 876 67.380.92
71.3RT Ponting Aus111160 57.000.84

6.2. West Indies: Top visiting bowlers
95.5ARC Fraser Eng12 54 20.300.96
93.9GD McGrath Aus10 50 20.701.02
87.6Imran Khan Pak 8 48 25.121.07
86.5JA Snow Eng 4 27 18.671.20
84.4BR Taylor Nzl 4 27 17.701.05
82.9Kapil Dev Ind 9 35 23.111.09
82.2MHN Walker Aus 5 26 20.731.17
81.1JN Gillespie Aus 7 28 21.211.09
80.9SJ Harmison Eng 6 27 18.110.92
80.8M Muralitharan Slk 6 37 23.000.94

While India was a middle-order batsman's delight, the opening batsmen held sway in the West Indies, despite the presence of a formidable set of pace bowlers to contend with. The top-ten table contains no fewer than five opening batsmen. This presents two problems. Which opening batsmen do I select? And how do I create an effective group of middle-order batsmen? I selected the top two openers in the table. Len Hutton and Sunil Gavaskar were terrific as individual batsmen and would form a formidable opening pair.

I encountered no problems in filling up the batting spots 3 to 5. Neil Harvey, Dravid and Colin Cowdrey had performed magnificently, with RpAI figures well over 50. It so happens that these batsmen make up five of the top six in the table. The No. 6 batting position presented a dilemma. The options in front of me were Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. Waugh is slightly ahead of Ponting but Ponting's 100-plus runs per Test clinched the position.

MS Dhoni's keeping excellence over seven Tests makes up for his rather lacklustre batting. He and Brad Haddin were almost identical in batting and keeping but Dhoni's performance was over a higher number of Tests. Hence I selected him to don the gloves. In seven Tests, he dismissed 29 batsmen and scored 265 runs at 22.08.

Angus Fraser, McGrath and Imran Khan were the top three bowlers and virtually selected themselves. This was a bonus, with Imran batting at No. 8. I went down the table and located Murali in the tenth position, so I added him to the attack, and I now have an excellent, balanced bowling attack. I looked at John Snow and Kapil Dev seriously but could not find a way to get them in. The only way I could get Kapil in was in place of Cowdrey. However, it would have been unfair to leave Cowdrey out.

The final XI to tour the West Indies is given below.

© ESPNcricinfo

Imran Khan, who was a wonderful leader in the West Indies, is handed the reins of this great team.

7. Pakistan

7.1. Pakistan: Top visiting batsmen
90.9V Sehwag Ind 6 732 91.500.99
82.1KC Sangakkara Slk 5 695 84.140.81
81.6SV Manjrekar Ind 4 569 81.291.04
81.0SM Gavaskar Ind111001 55.120.94
78.6TT Samaraweera Slk 5 633 83.510.76
78.4ST Jayasuriya Slk 9 894 56.090.96
74.9JH Kallis Saf 5 582 64.671.08
74.4MA Taylor Aus 6 619 67.870.94
74.0G Kirsten Saf 5 529 66.121.09
73.6M Amarnath Ind11 856 47.560.99

7.2. Pakistan: Top visiting bowlers
93.7M Muralitharan Slk 9 50 24.960.96
93.2MD Marshall Win10 35 21.461.15
88.7CA Walsh Win 9 33 21.911.03
80.2WPUJC Vaas Slk10 39 29.280.99
74.2SP Gupte Ind 5 21 22.670.79
73.2IR Bishop Win 6 20 26.301.03
71.8Kapil Dev Ind15 44 40.021.21
69.2GP WickramasingheSlk10 30 32.230.97
68.2NGB Cook Eng 6 21 30.431.07
64.0TBA May Aus 5 20 32.201.03

It is clear that there is a problem when we come to Pakistan. The last Test in Pakistan was played in 2009 and only 27 Tests have been played there in this millennium. There is a shortage of qualifying players. I am also quite firm that the UAE will not be treated as home country for Pakistan.

Virender Sehwag is the leader of the batting table, by the proverbial mile, and walks in as the No. 1 batsman and No. 1 in batting order. He was totally devastating in Pakistan. Gavaskar is comfortably in the top five and becomes Sehwag's opening partner. As I had remarked about Jack Hobbs and David Warner, the two diametrically opposite Indian openers will learn from each other and get the visiting team to great starts.

Kumar Sangakkara at No. 3 is an automatic choice. However, he will play only as a batsman. What a talented and stylish top three we have! Now I have serious selection problems. There remain three positions and five batsmen if I do not consider the other opening batsmen - Sanjay Manjrekar, Thilan Samaraweera, Jacques Kallis, Sanath Jayasuriya and Mohinder Amarnath. First, I will select Kallis, both for his excellent batting figures and the bowling support he will provide. He will be very handy as the third pacer. Jayasuriya had very good visits to Pakistan. Let me also remind the readers that Jayasuriya's all-time classic of 253 ranks amongst the top ten innings ever played. If ever an innings selects a player, this is the one. So he gets the nod.

Now I have three batsmen and one position. Manjrekar's one series to Pakistan, against Imran, Wasim Akram, Abdul Qadir and Waqar Younis went 3, 113*, 76, 83, 213, 72 and 4. This is some series. Samaraweera scored two double-hundreds against some average bowling. Amarnath scored four hundreds in 11 Tests, that too against good bowling led by Imran, Sarfraz Nawaz and Qadir. On balance, I have to respect Amarnath's terrific performances during the days when India were quite average on the road. Hence, Amarnath gets the No. 6 spot. It is a pity that Manjrekar and Samaraweera have to sit out despite their terrific numbers.

Ian Healy is the comfortable leader in the wicketkeeper stakes and gets in ahead of Naren Tamhane and Mark Boucher. In eight Tests, he dismissed 25 batsmen and scored 343 runs at 32.42.

I see no reason not to select the first three bowlers in the bowlers' list - a spinner extraordinaire and a magnificent pair of fast bowlers. The fourth position presents the familiar dilemma. Do I go for Chaminda Vaas or the classical legspin of Subhash Gupte. Since Kallis already provides me with some additional pace coverage, I went with Gupte.

The team to tour Pakistan is given below. Astute readers will note that this team is the one for which I have gone right through the two lots of top-ten players. The reasons have been explained.

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Gavaskar may not have had as much success as a captain in Pakistan as Jayasuriya. However, we are talking here about leading a collection of some of the best players who ever played. Hence I have nominated Gavaskar as the captain.

8. Sri Lanka

8.1. Sri Lanka: Top visiting batsmen
88.7BC Lara Win 4 706100.861.09
79.7SR Tendulkar Ind121155 60.790.90
77.1SP Fleming Nzl 5 733 73.301.08
71.5Younis Khan Pak171172 40.890.91
68.8V Sehwag Ind 6 692 62.910.96
62.8RT Ponting Aus 9 723 45.191.00
61.2Mohammad AshrafulBng 9 751 41.840.96
56.0Azhar Ali Pak 8 621 44.360.84
55.8Inzamam-ul-Haq Pak 9 528 47.350.90
55.5Asad Shafiq Pak 8 589 45.310.85

8.2. Sri Lanka: Top visiting bowlers
95.6SK Warne Aus 9 48 20.461.24
77.9RJ Hadlee Nzl 4 27 12.300.66
76.6Wasim Akram Pak 8 30 20.430.94
74.5Waqar Younis Pak 6 27 21.631.00
72.9Saeed Ajmal Pak 8 38 32.391.16
70.9DL Vettori Nzl 7 30 26.371.00
60.5I Sharma Ind 9 26 36.421.19
57.7AF Giles Eng 6 25 33.920.96
53.2A Kumble Ind 9 30 44.631.17
49.2N Boje Saf 7 25 43.801.10

If you ask me which are the five all-time best away performances ever, I would go for Don Bradman in England, Shane Warne in England, Brian Lara in Sri Lanka, Richard Hadlee in Australia and Graeme Smith in England. With this type of recognition, Lara's name is the first to get on the team sheet. Where he bats is a question that will be answered at the end. Sehwag's 201* in Galle, another all-time top-ten best innings, earns him his spot in the side. It is also worth remembering that Sehwag scored nearly 700 runs in six Tests.

The next two batsmen have done outstandingly well in Sri Lanka and walk in: Tendulkar and Stephen Fleming. The middle order is in safe hands. I have Younis Khan and Ponting to go to. And I want Ponting to replicate his success in Sri Lanka. So he gets selected. I feel bad about leaving out Younis, but cannot help it. I have also decided that Fleming will open the batting with Sehwag. This is probably the only compromise I have made in the 16 opening positions selected. However, let me add that Fleming has opened the innings 11 times while the other candidate Lara has opened only twice. There is no other opening batsman in sight. Azhar Ali never opened in Sri Lanka. Also, how can I ever select Azhar Ali in place of Ponting?

However, let us not forget that the four batsmen at the top do not really bowl. Therefore, at No. 6, we have Daniel Vettori, who will provide the real bowling strength. As the bowling attack is a pace-dominated one, Vettori's presence will be invaluable. A batting average in excess of 30 helps.

The wicketkeeper's position throws out a surprise. Sarfraz Ahmed and Kamran Akmal each had 20 dismissals in five matches but Sarfraz was way ahead in batting (469 runs at 58.62). Boucher did better than Akmal in batting but was nowhere near that effective in keeping. Hence I have selected Sarfraz as the surprise, but well-deserved, keeper.

The top four bowlers form a perfect combination. There is world-class spin, lovely swing, searing pace and left-arm wizardry. Hence Warne, Hadlee, Waqar and Akram form the bowling attack. Let us not bother about the slowness of Sri Lankan wickets. Akram and Younis will be deadly wherever they bowl. And Sri Lanka was the only Asian country in which Warne succeeded. Vettori is always there to provide spinning support.

The final XI to tour Sri Lanka is given below.

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Ricky Ponting is the player entrusted to lead the team to Sri Lanka. Let us remember that Australia whitewashed Sri Lanka 3-0 in 2004.

Summary of selection

Only two players have been selected four times. It is not a surprise that this honour belongs to two Australians who were part of one of the greatest of all teams. They are Gilchrist and Warne.

Both would have taken the flights to England, New Zealand and South Africa. In addition, Gilchrist would have come to India and Warne to Sri Lanka.

Four players were selected in three of the teams: McGrath, Dravid, Tendulkar and Hammond.

Fifteen players have been selected in two of the teams: Lara, Walsh, Greenidge, Sobers, Hobbs, Malcolm Marshall, Murali, Hadlee, Ponting, Neil Harvey, Gavaskar, Sydney Barnes, Sehwag, Viv Richards and Akram.

Thirty-eight other players, including Don Bradman, have secured single selections. Bradman, of course, visited only that single country.

My only regret is that I could not find a place for three of my favourite cricketers - Kapil, Anil Kumble and VVS Laxman - in any of the teams. Unfortunately they had no stand-out performances anywhere and sentiment could not play a part in my selections. The nearest I could consider any of this trio for selection was Laxman and Kumble in Australia and Kapil in West Indies and Pakistan.

I will do the follow-up piece on the best home XIs if many readers ask for it. In any case it may have to wait for a later date since three team-selection articles on the trot might be one too many. Also, it will give me a chance to change the basis: to include support available and pitch quality and do articles covering both visiting and home XIs in one article.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shakti on March 9, 2017, 10:32 GMT

    Excellent article.Waiting for the sequels on home XIs and the combined XIs.I also wonder whether the greatest visitors XI would defeat the best home XI? An article on possible test series between the 2 for each country might be one to savour.Also, is there a way to say a Sachin-special aganist Warne in 1998 was better than a Lara-special aganist Murali in 2001. A scientific methodology on comparing best performances across eras would be good to have.
    I have a very detailed performance rating system through which the individual performances are rated. So it is possible to compare performances. This is the base for the famopus Wisden-100 list issued around the turn of the century. As the creator of that list, I have ownership of that process and one day I will come out with a current list of top performances.
    During one of the coming months I will do the Home/Visiting XIs once more based an two more parameters, suggested by readers.

  • hyder_7540305 on March 3, 2017, 13:25 GMT

    The 1970s and 80s era was so competitive so many great bowlers playing with no restrictions on bouncers and batting without proper proper body gears that many modern greats like Tendulkar, Sehwag, Kallis, Jayasuria etc might not have survived for long!!!

    The true masters surely are Gavaskar, Amarnath, Miandad, Richards, Lloyd, Chappell Brothers, Zaheer Abbas etc

  • Patrick on March 2, 2017, 8:03 GMT

    For the SL tour, Lara 3 followed by Tendulka 4. About right. As great as Tendulka was he never batted at 3 where the best batsman on a team needs to bat.
    As I have already mentioned in another response, other than the opening positions and 7-11 positions, I have not necessarily given the batting order. That is the prerogative of the captain.

  • jasprit on February 26, 2017, 0:44 GMT

    Where is Cool_Jeeves? He always had something Knowledgeable to say. Cheers!
    Yes, I also wondered. These articles are right up his alley.

  •   cricfan25405680 on February 24, 2017, 21:23 GMT

    Sir i wanted to ask you,why did you went for hammond in nz when he faces a poor bowlindex of 0.60 and most of his runs scored in 336 not out. Dont you think cullinan was the better one.this would have also solved that no.3 issue with dravid going there instead of 6
    Yes, I agree. But Hammond's figures were huge. Maybe Cullinan could have gone ahead of someone else also.

  •   cricfan25405680 on February 24, 2017, 21:10 GMT

    Sir thank you for this wonderful analysis.being a dravid fan i wanted to ask you about him performing in australia. What was the bowl quality index of the aussie team in 2003/04.the series where he made 600 runs.
    Notwithstanding that tour, Dravid is 37th in the table with an RpAI figure as low as 37.

  • G on February 23, 2017, 6:19 GMT

    Teams should and are always selected in cricket based on pitch / wicket rather than country specific.

    1.) TRUE / GOOD Vijay Merchant Sunil Gavaskar Rahul Dravid Sachin Tendulkar Virat Kohli (c) MS Dhoni (wk) Ravichandran Ashwin Kapil Dev Anil Kumble Amar Singh Mohammad Nissar

    2.) HARD / BOUNCING Vijay Merchant Sunil Gavaskar Rahul Dravid Sachin Tendulkar Virat Kohli (c) Vijay Hazare MS Dhoni (wk) Kapil Dev Anil Kumble Amar Singh Mohammad Nissar

    3.) GREEN / SWINGING / SEAMING Vijay Merchant Sunil Gavaskar Rahul Dravid Sachin Tendulkar Vijay Hazare Ajinkya Rahane MS Dhoni (wk) Kapil Dev Amar Singh Mohammad Nissar Zaheer Khan

    4.) DRY / SPINNING Vijay Merchant Sunil Gavaskar Virender Sehwag Sachin Tendulkar Virat Kohli (c) VVS Laxman MS Dhoni (wk) Ravichandran Ashwin Ravindra Jadeja Anil Kumble Amar Singh

    5.) FLAT / BATTING Vijay Merchant Sunil Gavaskar Virender Sehwag Sachin Tendulkar Virat Kohli (c) MS Dhoni (wk) Kapil Dev Ravichandran Ashwin Amar Singh Mohammad Nissar Subhash Gupte

  • common0917622 on February 22, 2017, 10:10 GMT

    Great analysis. Keep up your good work !!

  • Raghav on February 22, 2017, 8:42 GMT

    Great pair of articles Ananth. A lot of debate about including Botham / Kalicharan in India, has happened due to the presence of 2 wicketkeepers. I think one way to look at it is as below: 1. Including Botham instead of a bowler, would bring down the bowling average at the same time increase the batting average. you need to look at those figures for the team. 2. Including him as a batsman may bring down your runs per test of the XI but will increase the wickets per test of the XI. then you need to decide whether you need the extra runs/wickets and take the call. It is a little tricky.
    To the extent of p;ossible, I have gone on a reasonably straight 6+1+4 basis. Botham was a distinct possibility for India. But as you say there are pros and cons for each. Anyhow it is Benaud's headache !!!

  • Saagar on February 21, 2017, 18:23 GMT

    Hi Ananth Wonderful to read part II of a much awaited series. Thanks so much for the effort. One observation. If we are to consider UAE / SL as a good enough away venue for non subcontinent players against Pakistan (a reasonable assumption), that great man Shane Warne would walk into the Pak visiting XI as well. 45 wickets at 18.80 (compared to the other great Murali with 50 at 24.96). Can't help thinking how much of a testament this is to the brilliance of Warne. 5 out of the 7 possible cricketing regions. SRT and McGrath maybe come somewhat close, being in the top 10 in 5 regions but in no way pick themselves in 5.
    Yes, Sagar, I have had many sleepless nights because of the 27 wickets at 12.7 taken by Warne in UAE. By itself it is magnificent. Added to the 18 at 28, it becomes mind-blowing.
    However we have to keep our head firm on our shoulders. Best visiting XI to Pakistan must mean Pakistan. Not against Pakistan in UAE. The matches, if ever, have to be played in Pakistan. So reluctantly I had to say 'No'. This would have been the only country to which two bowlers would have carried their 1500 Test wickets.
    Also once I open that door what do I do with the Tests in England (1912), Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It is a door, best left unopened.
    Many thanks for the comment made in a nice manner, without inferring favoritism, bias or subjectivity on my part.
    I fully agree with you on the quality of Warne's bowling around the world. There is no other bowler who has traveled so effectively.

    Also, and I believe I mentioned this in the part I comments, this would also indicate that the only places where Warne was challenged were India (SRT, with more than a little bit of help form Messrs Dravid and Laxman) and Windies (Brian Charles Lara). Unstoppable force meets immovable object indeed.

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