Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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The problem with the world’s best XI
With the greatest respect for the experts who make decisions on behalf of Wisden, the English cricket’s “bible” for the game, I do not share their view entirely with reference to their selection of the world’s best cricket team.
I suppose that there will be many persons from all over the globe who may also disagree with certain choices, but that is expected when we try to make assessments of players who have played in different eras, under varying conditions, and judged by some who did not even have the opportunity to see many of the players of yestertear.
My difficulty to agree entirely with the experts stems from the fact that there seems no criteria in their choices, whether it was the quality of their batting in isolation, their highest bowling or batting average, their contribution to their countries in test cricket, of by records they have held or are holding.
No one could say that the task is not an easy one, simply for the reasons listed above and despite the fact that every name on the list deserves to be among the legends of world cricket, it would not been too difficult to make cases for some of the omitted stars of the game in one era or another.
Clearly, the name of Sir Donald Bradman stands out for his high batting average and the fact that few persons alive have seen him displaying his skill alongside the stalwarts who have carved their niche in a different period when almost every aspect of the game has changed.
Even some of the rules were changed, together with different types of wickets, and modern techniques leading to a more intense level of physical capabilities by the players.
Taking all these issues into consideration, and having the experience of witnessing test cricket since the late forties right to today, many outstanding cricketers have jogged my memory, and my minds keeps jotting out names like Michael Holding, Graeme Pollock, Everton Weekes, George Headley, Sunil Gavaskar, Subash Gupte, and the world’s most impacting cricket captain Frank Worrell, whose ability to bat or bowl would have gained his selection in any cricket team.
But having placed some level of bias (not deliberate) for these superstars of the game, I believe that a proper case can be made for Brian Charles Lara.
Few can challenge his ability to entertain wherever he played, despite his presence in teams which at some times during his career were not as successful as others.
But when one makes a statistic on the dapper lefthander, think of the number of test matches, the number of centuries, his batting average, they will surely measure well against some of the selected ones.
However, not one single player in the cricket world can match his scores of 501 in a first class match, 400 in a Test match, and broke the highest batting aggregate in Test cricket on two occasions.
I wish that there was some statistic to identify the number of fans across the cricket world, who would have crossed the various oceans to watch him ply his trade.
Yes, I am aware that we in the Caribbean have always been accused of insularity in team selection, although this comment can relate to those who selected this world team.
Finally, why would a bowler be selected on the basis of him being the best left hand bowler of his era? Does it mean that the glut of world’s great fast bowlers had to give way to someone whose quality is based upon which hand he uses to bowl?
With no disrespect to Wasim Akram, it is difficult to justify his selection over Andy Roberts, Holding, Dennis Lillee, Keith Miller, among others, whose records are easy to recognise, and moreso, whose consistent success is easy to identify.
So I commend all the chosen ones for their outstanding contribution to the game , while the others must be remembered in some form of fashion.
The joy of sport is not only about making money, but maybe more importantly, the appreciation and respect which the world sees their qualitative performance levels during their careers.
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