May 13, 2017

The best home v visiting XIs - part one

A country-wise selection of the best all-time home and visiting Test XIs based on empirical methods
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'Pencil me in!': Viv Richards makes the visiting XIs in Australia and England, as well as the home XI in the West Indies © Getty Images

Spurred on by a casual suggestion from a reader, I embarked on an exhilarating journey which culminated in a pair of articles on the best XIs to visit each country. These two articles elicited tremendous response from the readers: 154 comments for Part 1 and 163 for Part 2. It was indeed nice to receive a lot of appreciation. However, my readers are the creme de la creme and, while offering their unstinted appreciation, also asked for their pound of flesh. There were many suggestions, the important ones of which are summarised below. Taking this feedback into account, I have set out to complete a mammoth task, which grew in complexity and scope as I worked on it. What transpired is another intriguing double-header. First let me summarise the readers' comments and suggestions.

1. Reduce the weight given for Runs and Wickets. A very sensible suggestion.
2. Add two other selection criteria: The Pitch Quality and Support available. Both are excellent suggestions and I have done these based on my two recent articles, the PQI piece and the Support Index one.
3. Create for each country an all-time best Home XI. This request has a lot of validity since there are many players who are kings while they travel while being only average at home. Wally Hammond, Graeme Smith and Stephen Fleming are shoo-ins for their respective teams' away tours but stand very little chance of getting selected for their home series.
4. Look at strengthening the wicketkeeper selection. Unfortunately not really possible and not worthwhile.

In addition to the above, I changed the basis of weighing the key metrics. All this is explained later. As I had done last year, this article will also be divided into two parts. However the split will be unlike the last one: The first part will cover Australia, England, India and West Indies, covering both the home and away careers of players, while the second part will cover South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This will enable the user comments to be presented in a logical manner.

Now for the changed basis of calculation. In the first attempt, I assigned the three measures - Runs, RpAI (Runs per Adjusted Innings) and Bowling quality - values out of 100, determined the index values for each batsman and added the individual values. This method works very well when there are a number of measures such as for Innings Ratings in which there are, say, ten to 12 measures. Wild fluctuations in one measure will not disturb the overall balance a lot and the final index value derived would be a composite of different measures, amalgamated very nicely.

The problem here is the presence of extreme outliers such as Hammond's RpAI in New Zealand of 214.0 and George Lohmann's bowling average in South Africa of 5.80. The bowlers who bowled to Hammond and the batsmen who faced Lohmann were a motley collection of average amateurs. Even if the respective Bowling quality and Batting quality measures were made zero, the impossible RpAI and Bowling Average values hit whatever ceiling was proposed and it was very difficult to maintain a rational allocation.

It must be understood that in general, the home RpAI figures, compiled across many Tests, would be lower than the figures related to away Tests. So the index values are not comparable

So I have adopted a different method for this exercise. First let me make it clear that runs are runs and wickets are wickets. Test runs and wickets are tough to achieve and should be given the deserved respect. No effort should be made to change the value of these basic measures. These should be left as they are.

However the Batting Average/RpAI/Bowling Averages are derived measures. I myself feel that the Bowling Average is perfectly all right but the Batting Average is quite weak. Hence I use only RpAI, described in Part 1, in most of my analyses. I would have no problems in tweaking these. I do not mind saying that an RpAI of 40 against a very strong attack should be treated at par with, say, a RpAI of 50 against an average attack.

Hence I intend to adjust the RpAI with the other three measures: Weighted Bowling Quality, Pitch Quality Index and Support available. In order to maintain an overall balance, the Adjusted RpAI will be limited to 100 since only eight values are above 100. I will use the Runs scored and Adjusted RpAI to derive an overall Batting Index.

Similarly, I will adjust the Bowling Average with the other three measures: Weighted Batting Quality, Pitch Quality and Support available. In order to maintain an overall balance, the Adjusted Bowling Average will be capped to 15 since only six values are below 15. I will use the Wickets taken and Adjusted Bowling Average to derive an overall Bowling Index.

The Runs scored and Wickets taken will carry a weight of 25%. The RpAI and Bowling Average, duly adjusted by the other three measures, will carry a weight of 75%.

The Bowling quality index and Batting quality index will have adjustment factors between 1.33 to 0.67.
The Pitch Quality index (PQI) will have adjustment factors between 1.20 to 0.80.
The Player Support index will have adjustment factors between 1.10 to 0.90.

Using the Batting Index values, I will shortlist the top 12 batsmen to select the final six. Using the Bowling Index values, I will shortlist the top 12 bowlers to select the final four. Using the Batting Index and wicketkeeping numbers, I will select the keeper. To the extent possible, I will restrict myself to the shortlists. In rare instances, in order to maintain team balance, I may have to go outside these shortlists, especially in the selection of the bowlers.

VVS Laxman narrowly misses out on India's home XI © AFP

Let me move on to the team selection. A few relevant points on the selection and presentation are outlined below.

1. I will present the shortlists in a side-by-side manner for the home and visiting players for each team.
2. The qualification requirement for the batsmen is 1000 runs for home batsmen and 500 runs for visiting batsmen.
3. The bowlers need to take 50 wickets at home and 25 wickets away in the concerned country, to qualify.
4. I will select a 12th man for each team. This will not be a fielding selection but a recognition of the player who missed very narrowly and ought to have been in the team.
5. I will estimate the Team Strength Index (TSI), based on the Adjusted RpAI/Bowling Average values and present these.
6. Based on these TSI values I will also do a crystal-ball prediction of a five-Test series played in the home country. It is possible that, sometime in the future, if all the dice fall well, I may be able to do a simulation of these matches.
7. It must be understood that in general, the home RpAI figures, compiled across many Tests, would be lower than the figures related to away Tests. So the index values are not comparable. Similarly, the Bowling averages in home Tests could be higher.
8. When I did the work related to the Home players for Pakistan, I realised that if I did not get the UAE Tests in, the selections would be wrong. Hence I have considered the UAE Tests as Home for Pakistan and Away for visiting teams.
9. Wicketkeeping continues to be measured by DpT. Percentage of dismissals was considered but not implemented since it meant that too much complex work had to be done for minimal benefits. These are anyway only guidelines.

Australia-Home

Australia: Home - Shortlist
BatPtsBatsmanTestsRunsRpAIWtedRpAI||BowPtsBowlerTestsWktsAvgeWtedAvge
89.3Don Bradman 334322 88.73 92.43||72.5Glenn McGrath 66 289 22.43 16.78
62.9Ricky Ponting 927578 51.29 44.89||69.9Shane Warne 69 319 26.39 20.07
61.7Greg Chappell 554515 48.78 55.38||62.8Dennis Lillee 44 231 23.73 20.20
59.4Matthew Hayden 565211 54.57 49.92||62.0Mitchell Johnson34 171 25.49 17.63
58.5Bob Cowper 91061 75.79 65.03||61.8Brett Lee 41 186 28.73 18.51
55.7Michael Clarke 534654 55.69 47.75||57.2Jason Gillespie 29 110 24.69 17.60
54.4Doug Walters 373065 50.45 52.38||56.7Stuart Clark 13 54 23.35 15.00
53.8Allan Border 865743 40.87 41.28||56.1Ray Lindwall 29 112 22.07 18.43
53.2Colin McDonald 181573 46.26 56.79||55.5Bert Ironmonger 14 74 17.97 16.89
51.8Neil Harvey 362806 44.14 50.33||55.2Craig McDermott 43 193 26.47 23.31
51.6Steve Waugh 895710 41.78 38.82||55.1Stuart MacGill 27 135 27.69 20.34
51.0Bill Lawry 302818 52.29 49.30||54.9Bruce Reid 17 84 20.06 17.78

The selection of five batsmen for Australia is quite a tough task because of the preponderance of talent there. Only one batsman, Greg Chappell, is an almost certainty. The opening batsmen are plenty but very few stand out as automatic selections. I decided on Matthew Hayden and Colin McDonald, reluctantly leaving out Michael Slater, who is just outside the shortlist. As many as 307 out of Bob Cowper's 1000-plus runs came in one innings. This selection may not be in line with the recent selectorial approach in Australia.

Neil Harvey will, no doubt, add the left-hander's elegance, while boasting good numbers. The sixth batting position is tough: the candidates are Doug Walters, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Steve Waugh, given in decreasing order of RpAI. Barring a team or two, the bowling attacks in operation in Australia over the past two decades have been quite ordinary and this is reflected in the low numbers of the latter three batsmen. These batsmen have also had much better support. Hence, I plumped for Doug Walters, an extraordinary strokeplayer, maybe born in the wrong era. Of course, the incomparable Don has not come into the discussions at all. Words are superfluous.

Adam Gilchrist walks in as the keeper. He boasts a 40-plus batting average and has snaffled an amazing four-and-half dismissals per match.

The bowling selection is rather easy, like falling off a log. The top four bowlers select themselves. A magnificent fast bowler, a world class legspinner, an aggressive fast bowler and an outstanding left-armer. Translated to names: Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee and Mitchell Johnson. Ah! What an attack! Almost a 'dream-team' quartet.

The 12th man is Ricky Ponting, deservedly so.

Australia-Visiting

Australia: Visiting team - Shortlist
BatPtsBatsmanTestsRunsRpAIWtedRpAI||BowPtsBowlerTestsWktsAvgeWtedAvge
86.9Jack Hobbs 242493 56.11 60.43||87.7Richard Hadlee 12 77 17.83 17.80
86.6Herbert Sutcliffe 141529 63.68 69.53||85.9Curtly Ambrose 14 78 19.79 18.87
83.1Wally Hammond 191981 56.60 61.73||80.4George Lohmann 6 41 11.66 15.64
83.0Larry Gomes 8 844 59.23 73.11||78.4Sydney Barnes 13 77 22.43 22.51
82.3Aubrey Faulkner 5 732 73.20 88.02||76.7Michael Holding 14 63 24.22 21.11
81.3Michael Vaughan 5 633 63.30 76.81||75.3John Snow 6 31 22.84 16.58
77.9Ken Barrington 101046 62.97 65.81||72.1Harold Larwood 10 51 26.82 21.51
75.6Virat Kohli 8 992 62.00 64.05||71.4Dale Steyn 7 31 28.77 18.56
74.6Sachin Tendulkar 201809 47.61 55.07||70.7Kapil Dev 11 51 24.59 22.20
74.6Chris Broad 6 626 67.24 66.66||70.0Frank Foster 5 32 21.62 19.45
73.9Viv Richards 221760 46.24 54.91||69.7Ian Bishop 10 43 23.02 21.39
73.8Eddie Barlow 5 603 62.04 66.13||69.7Billy Barnes 10 33 15.42 19.79

Look at the top three batsmen in the shortlist. That is, inarguably, the best top three in history of cricket. The English giants, Jack Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe and Walter Hammond get together for the only time in these chronicles since they do not all make it to England's home XI. These three are followed by two modern giants, Sachin Tendulkar and Viv Richards, very deservedly so. These two bring in together 42 Tests of pure class. The top six is rounded off by the magnificent South Africa allrounder, Aubrey Faulkner. When we talk about allrounders, Faulkner's name never enters the picture. It is for lack of information. In 25 Tests, Faulkner scored 1754 runs at an RpAI of 38.69 and took 82 wickets at 26.59, all with scant support.

Alan Knott, with an RpAI of nearly 30 and four dismissals per Test, is the undisputed wicketkeeper. Up to now, this is the same team which was selected last time around.

Richard Hadlee and Curtly Ambrose were giants down under and are the first two bowlers to be selected. Last time I had selected Sydney Barnes. However, this time around, I have gone for Michael Holding, whose Bowling Average improved by over 10% through adjustments.

Now I come to the spinner selection. Bobby Peel's Bowling average figure took a hit. Anil Kumble's overall figures of 49 wickets at 37.7 do not look great. Until we see that Anil Kumble bowled to the toughest set of batsmen in the history of Test cricket. Yes, you read it right. The average Batting index of the batsmen Kumble bowled to was a staggering 43.7. He also bowled on pitches which were primarily batting wickets. To top it all, the support Kumble received was below par. These three factors have brought his Bowling average down to 23.97. So I have decided to go with Anil Kumble as my main spinner. This is the major change from the team selected last time. Anil Kumble is the first player to be selected from outside the shortlist.

Larry Gomes is the 12th man - maybe a surprise selection but he has fabulous numbers in Australia.

© Anantha Narayanan

The TSIs are very close and on the result-oriented Australian pitches, the score may be 3-2, with Home XI and Visiting XI winning in alternate years.

England-Home

England: Home - Shortlist
BatPtsBatsmanTestsRunsRpAIWtedRpAI||BowPtsBowlerTestsWktsAvgeWtedAvge
87.1Peter May 392865 51.33 61.46||67.7James Anderson 69 296 25.64 21.52
85.3Joe Root 282601 53.00 56.52||64.6Fred Trueman 47 229 20.04 19.83
84.1Denis Compton 473963 54.54 51.29||61.7Stuart Broad 57 232 26.54 21.92
82.2Geoff Boycott 574356 44.62 48.56||60.7Jim Laker 29 135 18.09 17.17
81.9Ken Barrington 463347 47.13 51.54||58.6Alec Bedser 32 167 21.56 20.33
81.4Kevin Pietersen 534537 51.43 47.33||55.5Bob Willis 41 176 23.51 22.92
79.4Peter Richardson 151033 46.95 59.82||54.5Sydney Barnes 10 63 13.38 17.23
79.0Graham Gooch 745917 45.17 41.13||54.3Ian Botham 59 226 27.55 26.53
78.5Tom Graveney 483115 45.69 49.74||54.1Tony Lock 28 104 19.52 19.80
78.3Colin Cowdrey 553537 41.32 48.24||53.3Brian Statham 37 148 22.77 22.77
78.2Herbert Sutcliffe 332584 57.08 51.22||52.2Derek Underwood 42 145 24.24 23.35
77.9Jack Hobbs 271935 50.25 53.06||51.8Bill Bowes 13 61 23.13 18.90

The shortlist of 12 England batsmen contains no fewer than five openers. In a strange manner, this has made the selection a rather easy task. I see no reason why anyone should separate the all-time great opening pair of Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe. Both have adjusted RpAI figures of over 50. I also know that Ken Barrington would bring to the team the solidity needed amongst the strokeplayers to follow.

Now, I merely need to slot in the top two in the shortlist: the master of the '50s, Peter May, and the modern master and a legend already, Joe Root. For the sixth batting position I have Denis Compton, Tom Graveney, Colin Cowdrey and Kevin Pietersen. One modern-day destroyer against three totally different types of batsmen. Much as I was tempted to take in Compton, I finally decided on Kevin Pietersen, who, if things had turned differently, could well have scored 10,000 Test runs. He would be my match-winner.

There is no escaping the fact that Geraint Jones has excellent wicketkeeping stats - over four-and-half dismissals per Test - and Alec Stewart has better batting credentials. However I would be daft to look beyond Alan Knott for the wicketkeeper position. He averages 26 with the bat and has effected just over three dismissals per Test.

The bowling selection, like for Australia, is a rather easy task. Four of the top five get selected, almost automatically. Unfortunately Stuart Broad misses out. That gives me this beautifully balanced quartet: James Anderson, Fred Trueman, Jim Laker and Alec Bedser: Two from the Roses counties and two from Surrey. Just look at the quartet which misses out: Bob Willis, Barnes, Ian Botham and Derek Underwood.

It is no surprise that Denis Compton is the 12th man.

England-Visiting

England: Visiting team - Shortlist
BatPtsBatsmanTestsRunsRpAIWtedRpAI||BowPtsBowlerTestsWktsAvgeWtedAvge
99.9Don Bradman 192674 91.14100.00||99.5Shane Warne 22 129 21.95 16.79
78.4Viv Richards 242057 61.48 71.89||91.9Glenn McGrath 14 87 19.34 15.74
68.6Garry Sobers 211820 49.20 62.67||91.6Malcolm Marshall 18 94 18.70 17.26
66.9Gordon Greenidge 191570 52.33 63.49||88.7Terry Alderman 12 83 19.34 17.65
65.5Rahul Dravid 131376 61.90 63.91||86.2Ray Lindwall 14 60 20.97 16.76
65.2Arthur Morris 101033 54.37 67.52||86.0Dennis Lillee 16 96 20.56 19.97
65.0Bill Ponsford 10 936 59.73 68.39||85.7Joel Garner 10 55 16.56 15.00
64.5Graeme Smith 121355 64.34 62.98||85.7Curtly Ambrose 20 88 20.77 19.40
64.3Allan Border 252082 49.88 54.51||83.8Bill O'Reilly 9 50 26.16 16.96
64.1Sourav Ganguly 9 915 65.12 67.48||83.2Michael Holding 13 63 21.13 18.34
63.4Seymour Nurse 5 501 62.62 71.32||82.2M Muralitharan 6 48 19.21 17.48
62.0Steve Waugh 221633 56.37 56.85||79.0Paul Reiffel 7 30 22.97 17.39

As usual, we are left with only five batsmen to select when we have a certain Don Bradman in the mix. He doesn't need numbers to justify his selection. The already high RpAI of Viv Richards was increased by about 17% through the quality of bowling he faced and the relatively lower scores prevalent. Almost a similar situation with Garry Sobers. Rahul Dravid had his sixty-plus average enhanced a bit.

Now we have to select the two opening batsmen. Arthur Morris, with a huge RpAI figure of around 68 says, "I am the first opener. Then you look at my partner." His claims cannot be overlooked. I have three contenders for the other opener position, Bill Ponsford, Graeme Smith and Gordon Greenidge, all with RpAI values above sixty. I eventually settled on Graeme Smith, particularly because of his amazing 113 runs per Test. It is of interest to note that ten of the 12 in the shortlist have RpAI values exceeding 60.

Adam Gilchrist is the almost undisputed keeper. He boasts of an RpAI of 37 and has a terrific four-and-half dismissals per match.

The bowling selection for England is the easiest task ever. Just pencil in the top four bowlers, beautifully balanced already. Can we have a better attack than Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Malcolm Marshall and Terry Alderman? What about the next four bowlers: Ray Lindwall, Joel Garner, Lillee and Bill O'Reilly. And then come Curtly Ambrose, Michael Holding, Muttiah Muralitharan and Charlie Griffith. Three terrific quartets in the top twelve.

Allan Border is the 12th man.

© Anantha Narayanan

The Visiting XI is much stronger and the strong edge is with the Visiting XI: maybe 3-2 or even 4-1.

India-Home

India: Home - Shortlist
BatPtsBatsmanTestsRunsRpAIWtedRpAI||BowPtsBowlerTestsWktsAvgeWtedAvge
84.7Cheteshwar Pujara 302797 57.04 59.99||67.4Anil Kumble 63 350 24.88 21.72
82.5Sachin Tendulkar 947216 48.72 43.74||61.3R Ashwin 32 208 22.64 19.07
79.1Sunil Gavaskar 655067 47.94 46.81||59.4Harbhajan Singh 55 265 28.77 23.04
76.0Rahul Dravid 705598 48.16 43.07||58.5Ravindra Jadeja 22 121 19.88 16.79
74.2Mohammad Azharuddin 463412 52.30 47.44||53.9Kapil Dev 65 219 26.50 24.51
73.0Virender Sehwag 524656 52.76 43.27||49.9Pragyan Ojha 20 101 27.51 21.55
72.8Dilip Vengsarkar 543725 48.74 45.57||47.7Venkatapathy Raju 16 71 24.00 21.59
72.3Virat Kohli 292311 50.88 48.87||46.5Dilip Doshi 21 77 25.39 22.64
71.8GR Viswanath 483502 43.54 45.36||46.3Javagal Srinath 32 108 26.57 24.28
69.2Vijay Hazare 131113 55.65 49.73||45.2Bishan Bedi 30 137 23.99 26.36
66.6Navjot Sidhu 231726 52.30 46.09||43.0BS Chandrasekhar 32 142 27.70 28.09
62.3VVS Laxman 573767 42.83 37.49||42.6Vinoo Mankad 23 103 26.53 26.49

The selection of India team is both easy and hard. A few players select themselves but there are obvious surprises. Cheteshwar Pujara is at the top, no doubt due to the high quality of bowling he faced and the generally medium level scores. Then comes Sachin Tendulkar, the icon of icons. Sunil Gavaskar is the undisputed opener. Despite the steep drop in Virender Sehwag's RpAI, no doubt due to some indifferent bowlers and a slew of high scores, let me send him in with Gavaskar: a terrific and very effective opening pair.

Rahul Dravid is no surprise at all. How can we select an Indian team without The Wall? The sixth batsman is a real conundrum. Mohammad Azharuddin the stylist, the aggressive Virat Kohli, the elegant Gundappa Viswanath and the redeemer of lost causes, VVS Laxman, present themselves. Whom do I select? I have spent hours on this. I have pencilled in, and removed, names many times. Finally I realised that I could not ignore the numbers. Laxman's 281 and 73* notwithstanding, I cannot ignore the low RpAI figure. Hence I settled on GR Viswanath. On another day, I might have gone for Laxman and yet another day, for Azharuddin. You could say this is almost certainly my personal selection. At this juncture itself, I have decided on the 12th man: The legend, Laxman himself.

MS Dhoni is the undisputed captain who will be donning the gloves. He brings with him a 40-plus RpAI, just over three dismissals per Test and an unflappable temperament to handle this collection of stars.

Like England, the bowlers almost select themselves. The top three bowlers, Anil Kumble, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and the incomparable Kapil Dev, who is in the fifth position. I considered Bishan Bedi briefly but could not ignore the claims of the other feisty Sardar. The problem is also the impressive numbers of the wily Ravindra Jadeja.

VVS Laxman completes the team, but is outside the XI.

India-Visiting

India: Visiting team - Shortlist
BatPtsBatsmanTestsRunsRpAIWtedRpAI||BowPtsBowlerTestsWktsAvgeWtedAvge
81.7Everton Weekes 5 779111.29100.00||91.6Richie Benaud 8 52 18.38 19.18
77.0Jimmy Adams 3 520 86.67100.00||88.9Alan Davidson 6 30 15.77 15.43
75.0Clive Lloyd 141359 64.10 74.26||88.1Courtney Walsh 7 43 18.56 18.88
67.9Garry Sobers 8 899 69.15 76.20||87.3Jason Gillespie 7 33 21.73 17.13
65.1Andy Flower 5 820 82.00 74.24||87.0Roy Gilchrist 4 26 16.12 15.00
60.9Alvin Kallicharran 11 992 52.65 63.34||87.0Glenn McGrath 8 33 21.30 17.25
59.5Alastair Cook 131235 48.60 54.54||87.0Dale Steyn 6 26 21.38 15.17
59.4Rohan Kanhai 8 765 63.75 67.27||83.8Andy Roberts 7 37 19.81 19.55
59.4Ian Botham 7 554 61.56 73.01||83.6Wes Hall 8 38 20.95 19.85
59.0Steven Smith 6 660 55.00 69.52||83.2John Lever 8 37 19.76 19.83
57.1Younis Khan 6 768 64.00 63.74||82.8Graham McKenzie 8 34 19.26 19.40
54.4Mahela Jayawardene 6 628 62.80 63.54||81.6Lance Gibbs 9 39 23.38 21.00

Everton Weekes books his passage to India as, arguably, the surest selection, other than Bradman to England. Garry Sobers and Andy Flower are two left-handers of contrasting but amazing skills and huge RpAI values. Steven Smith is the next batsman selected. Smith's is an interesting case. His RpAI of 55.0 is increased by about 25% because of the quality of Indian bowling and tough batting conditions, in the recent Test series.

Now we come to the openers. Do I go with the regular openers, Alastair Cook and Hayden or do I go left field with an out-of-the-box selection of a middle-order batsman? Alvin Kallicharran and Younis Khan present themselves as candidates. I look at the numbers and reflect on what each of them achieved. So I select Younis to accompany Cook at the top of the innings. It seems as if Botham could walk in as a specialist batsman but I have to be true to my commitments on the balance of the team.

This story tends to get repeated often. Gilchrist comes in, backed up by his RpAI figure of 28 and four-and-change dismissals per match.

The bowling selection is almost a replica of what I have done so far. Four of the top five-six bowlers are selected. A lovely and balanced attack of Richie Benaud, Alan Davidson, Courtney Walsh and Dale Steyn form the quartet. Look at the huge improvement of Steyn's bowling average from 21.38 to 15.6.

Clive Lloyd is the 12th man. He just misses selection into the XI.

© Anantha Narayanan

A very strong visiting team. Two-thirds Visiting XI win and one-third Home XI win. There are possibilities of draws. Could even be 3-1 or 4-1 for the Visiting XI.

West Indies-Home

West Indies: Home - Shortlist
BatPtsBatsmanTestsRunsRpAIWtedRpAI||BowPtsBowlerTestsWktsAvgeWtedAvge
88.1Brian Lara 656217 56.77 54.33||67.2Malcolm Marshall 31 157 20.06 16.60
80.0George Headley 101241 72.49 69.09||66.8Courtney Walsh 58 229 23.69 22.11
78.2Clyde Walcott 252584 64.58 58.37||66.4Curtly Ambrose 52 203 21.19 20.51
75.4Desmond Haynes 493868 49.55 51.53||58.3Joel Garner 29 123 22.34 20.08
74.8S Chanderpaul 816187 46.97 42.96||55.3Colin Croft 11 66 19.71 17.93
73.7Garry Sobers 444075 57.43 49.38||54.7Lance Gibbs 32 126 29.66 22.71
71.5Everton Weekes 232420 62.15 53.19||54.0Michael Holding 23 86 23.76 20.25
70.0Viv Richards 483136 47.41 49.39||51.0Wes Hall 19 74 25.82 21.36
70.0Richie Richardson 423217 47.62 49.17||47.5Ian Bishop 21 71 24.59 23.48
67.5Gordon Greenidge 463209 45.18 47.04||46.7Jerome Taylor 22 83 26.53 24.92
60.3Clive Lloyd 442881 44.33 41.94||45.9Kemar Roach 21 90 24.50 25.92
60.1Rohan Kanhai 403064 46.70 41.16||44.6Garry Sobers 44 107 34.12 28.07

Barring one compromise, the West Indies batsmen selection is on expected lines. Brian Lara is the best, by a mile, and walks in as the surest selection. Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge form the opening pair, not a surprise since they could be ranked the second-best opening pair ever. Sobers, despite a steep drop in RpAI, is a certainty. Weekes achieved amazing batting feats and selects himself. Richards completes the sextet. I am afraid Shivnarine Chanderpaul is outclassed and Clive Lloyd does not have the required numbers. Richie Richardson is unlucky. What about George Headley? I would love to have him in the team. But he has never opened in Tests and which giant amongst the quartet do I leave out?

What do I do about Clyde Walcott, who boasts of the highest RpAI amongst all West Indian batsmen? A real problem indeed until I found out that Walcott dismissed around 40 batsmen, in the dozen or so Tests he donned the gloves. Voila! There is my solution. Clyde Walcott is my designated wicketkeeper.

As has happened in all the selections so far, the bowling selections are indeed rather easy. This time I left out Walsh and Colin Croft from among the top six bowlers. That makes the bowling quartet as follows: Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Joel Garner and Lance Gibbs. I am not going to adopt the scorched-earth policy of Lloyd. I will have balance in my bowling attack.

George Headley is my choice as the 12th man.

West Indies-Visiting

West Indies: Visiting team - Shortlist
BatPtsBatsmanTestsRunsRpAIWtedRpAI||BowPtsBowlerTestsWktsAvgeWtedAvge
79.6Neil Harvey 5 650 94.07 86.34||92.8Glenn McGrath 10 50 20.70 20.00
78.3Len Hutton 7 848 73.17 80.59||92.3Angus Fraser 12 54 20.30 21.02
73.6Rahul Dravid 171511 54.91 60.96||88.0Jason Gillespie 7 28 21.21 17.06
70.4Sunil Gavaskar 131404 58.50 59.21||87.5John Snow 4 27 18.67 15.00
68.9Steve Waugh 141096 54.55 63.73||87.5Bruce Taylor 4 27 17.70 15.16
67.4Dennis Amiss 5 663 73.67 70.84||87.0Max Walker 5 26 20.73 16.67
66.5Colin Cowdrey 101025 58.94 62.09||85.2Imran Khan 8 48 25.12 22.89
65.9Mohinder Amarnath 9 877 54.81 64.46||84.2Steve Harmison 6 27 18.11 19.11
65.4Hanif Mohammad 5 628 69.78 68.94||83.3Kapil Dev 9 35 23.11 21.10
63.3Glenn Turner 5 672 84.00 65.46||82.9Brett Lee 7 35 26.20 21.30
61.9Inzamam-ul-Haq 7 634 52.83 64.48||78.9James Anderson 7 26 24.92 21.21
61.9AB de Villiers 7 790 70.79 61.20||77.7M Muralitharan 6 37 23.00 23.93

Two magnificent opening batsmen, Len Hutton and Sunil Gavaskar will walk in to face the mighty and fearsome Caribbean opening attack. Both of them had great tours to the islands. Neil Harvey, with the best playing record in the West Indies, is in a pivotal middle-order position. Rahul Dravid, whose record in the West Indies is excellent, gets in next. Steve Waugh, gets selected in dual positions of No. 6 and captain. Finally, the underrated Mohinder Amarnath, whose brave exploits in West Indies are legendary, completes the top six positions.

Brad Haddin, whose RpAI is at par with that of MS Dhoni, gets the nod for the wicketkeeper position based on a better keeping numbers (4.60 against 4.14).

The top two bowlers in the short list, Glenn McGrath and Angus Fraser have had excellent tours of West Indies and get in as first choices. Muttiah Muralitharan is the best spinner available and gets selected quite comfortably. Muralitharan just about makes the shortlist. The final bowling position is a toss-up between Imran Khan and John Snow. Does Snow's bowling average of 15.0 get the nod ahead of Imran's undisputed all-round skills? He doesn't, and Imran gets the nod.

Colin Cowdrey completes the touring team.

© Anantha Narayanan

3-2 almost always with clear edge to the Visiting XI. Possibility of draws.

Let us see what happens to those two extraordinary outliers I had referred to earlier. Hammond's RpAI in New Zealand of 214.0 is adjusted downwards by 45% and gets down to 117.2. It is further capped at 100.0. Lohmann's Bowling average in South Africa of 5.80 is adjusted upwards by 67% and moves up to 9.7. It is further capped at 15.0. I am confident I have got this correct.

In Part 2, I will cover the remaining teams: South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. I will also summarise the Visiting team XIs.

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

  • jasprit on May 30, 2017, 3:59 GMT

    Thanks for your response Ananth. Only thing is if I am going to drop a batsman to get 5th bowler in, I would want my 5th bowler to be someone who gives me 20/30 runs with the bat. So, Kapil. Cheers! Thanks so much. Its been a treat, as Always!

  • jasprit on May 30, 2017, 1:35 GMT

    For Windies Visitors, Great Selections. Interesting to choose Steve Waugh as captain over Imran. But its perfectly perfect. But Sorry, once again, I would have to have a 5th bowler to get through that strong Windies batting. With Imran in as allrounder, maybe get Brett Lee or Kapil in and ask De Villiers to keep wickets and bat at 6. But with West Indies at their peak strength with 4 pacers and that jewel of a batting line up, they be hard to beat. Cheers!
    [[
    If you really want that extra bowler, there is no one other than John Snow: 4/27/15.00. But Kapil has been good in West Indies.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • jasprit on May 30, 2017, 1:33 GMT

    Windies.

    West Indies. Hi Ananth,,,Brilliant work and very thorough once again. Your tables are research based, scientific and mathematical. There is no questioning that at all. Its just the subjective selections that we can discuss. I feel West Indies truly have the richest wealth of talent, especially in batting. But George Headley would have to be in...maybe in place of Everton Weekes. And secondly, the thing that made Windies Windies was their 4 man Pace battery. Before that, Windies was a losing team. And as soon as Windies lost that incisiveness in their Pacemen, they started becoming a losing team again. The supreme reign of Windies was built upon their Pace, and lasted only for the time they had their Pace. Their 4-man Pace attack was their heart and soul. I cant imagine taking that away from them. So, for me, it would have to be any four of Marshall, Holding, Roberts, Garner and Ambrose. Sobers can fulfill the spinning duties.
    [[
    That will be a 'Lloyd' call. Would it be a 'Sobers' call. If you really want Headley in, I would trade him for Haynes or Greenidge (toss a coin) and ask Weekes to open.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • Ian on May 29, 2017, 9:12 GMT

    Heartening to see KP Pietersen in the all time home XI for England. To me he is one of the greatest match changers of his generation. No batsman has changed the outcome of as many Test matches since 2005. Shame he gets such a short shrift from the ECB and English commentators. In 2012 he turned more matches single-handedly than most 'greats' of the game did in their entire careers. Recognition long overdue.

  • jasprit on May 29, 2017, 5:41 GMT

    India Home X1. Great selections. Cant argue. Although I personally would take Vijay Hazare as my sixth batsman over Vishwanath. But I have a question. How come Pujara's WRPaI goes up whereas Tendulkar's goes down? Does'nt seem like today's bowlers are any better than Akrams and Donalds and McGrath and Warne and Murli.
    [[
    Lot of Tendulkar's early runs were against average attacks. Pujara has faced quality attacks almost always. In India, not many of the greats were greats.
    Ananth
    ]]
    With the home team chosen, it is only suited for spinning tracks. And on turners, I would not bet against this team. I have serious doubts about your predictions favoring visitors against this team on turners. ------ For visitors, am surprised Hayden is not in the shortlist after that 2001 series. And Clive Lloyd any day over Steve Smith. But great selections. Great work. But on turners, this team will have their head spinning against India. And on turners, I would not leave out Jadeja, even if I have to drop a batsman. Cheers!
    [[
    You would remember that I had chosen Hayden in my previous team. Then came Younis. His claims could not be ignored. So I made him open.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • jasprit on May 29, 2017, 5:06 GMT

    England's home X1 has an issue. They have a long tail. But you cant drop one of the top bowlers ever because of his batting. And on top of that, I want to drop Peterson to get Botham in because I know I will need 5 bowlers against the opposition I am up against. The only solution seems like strengthening the batting by bringing in the best batting wicketkeeper Alec Stewart. ------
    [[
    Yes, I get it now and probably missed it earlier.. There is no really batting keeper or all-rounder. Maybe as many have advocated, get Botham in for Anderson.
    Ananth
    ]]
    Visiting X1 to England is one cracking team. I am surprised Dennis Lille does not get in. But you can only take 4. Although in this case, with Marshall and Warne in the lower middle order, you could even drop a batsman and bring in Lillee to get 5 bowlers. That would make it a clean sweep for the visitors. Cheers!
    [[
    Alderman (12/83/17.65) vs Lillee (16/96/19.97). A real tough selection. Who to leave out. Last time, on bare unadjusted averages, I preferred Lillee over Alderman. Now I have changed.
    Ananth
    ]]

  • jasprit on May 29, 2017, 4:38 GMT

    Other than Ponting, seems like a solid team. Bradman's presence tilts the scales in Aus favour. If it was me, I would probably bring in Kapil for Faulkner to get 5 proper bowlers to counter Bradman. And then I would probably strengthen my batting by replacing Knott with the best keeper batsman I could find, maybe Sangakkara? But it would be a helluva series. Although, at home, Aus should still prevail. Cheers!

  • jasprit on May 29, 2017, 4:36 GMT

    ..... Ponting was the guy who brought the art of running between the wickets into Test Cricket. He was the guy who brought pushing for 2s and 3s into Test Cricket. Who ran quick 2s and 3s between the wickets before Ponting in the history of the game? Next guy who followed suit was Justin Langer. This quick scoring in Test Cricket revolutionized some minds and showed people a completely new way in which Test Cricket could be played...and then Sehwag and Gilchrist happened. I feel this quick scoring in some way somehow sowed the seeds that led to the birth/growth of T20. Although this art of quick scoring in Test Cricket is fading once again as people like Ponting, Sehwag, Gilchrist do not happen everyday. Cheers!

  • jasprit on May 29, 2017, 4:27 GMT

    Hi Anantha...I would like to say something else about Ponting as well. I feel Ponting is definitely a trendsetter for today's Cricket. There is been quite some talk about toughest batsmen in Cricket in these comments as well. I dont know about that(how do you define tough anyways), but Ponting is definitely someone who pushed the limits of batting in Test Cricket to new levels. The thing that made Aus such a strong team was that they discovered this secret of scoring quickly in Test Cricket. They were the first team in Test Cricket history to consistently score at over 4 runs per over(other teams were scoring at 2.5, 3rpo was considered attacking). This mindset showed their viciousness and intimidated the oppositions, not to mention the 500 totals they kept piling in no time with soooo much time left in the game. And Ricky Ponting was at the heart of this strategy. He walked in at number 3 and ruthlessly sunk his teeth into the opposition and kept hurting them......

  • parghi9953900 on May 28, 2017, 13:59 GMT

    hello anantha - why does the mighty vvs laxman not get a place in away teams (visiting teams) for australia ?
    [[
    This question has been answered about 10 times already. Please go through the comments an
    Ananth
    ]]

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