Cricket Weekly #21: Reviewing the BBC Sport World Test XI

By Riley Taylor (@rileyttaylor21)

Welcome to the 21st edition of Overtime’s Cricket Weekly Column, where we look at the week’s biggest stories and games.

This week the folks over at the BBC have been running polls for people to vote on the best Test/ODI/T20 team in the world so I thought I would react to them and also give my own personal XI’s.

This week I’m giving my thoughts on the World Test Team selection and it’s going to be a controversial one so sit back, offer a long drawn out appeal from fine-leg and enjoy.

The BBC Fan-Voted Best Test Team in the World

The series of teams was started with the best Test team in the world, which was voted by fans on the BBC Sport website and then revealed over a live text within the coming days.

Below is the team as voted by fans.

It’s not the most controversial team that has been selected by BBC Sport viewers but in my opinion, it still has some major flaws.

In the opener department it is a very tough selection with two schools of thought do you pick based off ability or form.

Whilst Warner did score a triple hundred in Australia, he is very much what I would describe as a “hometrack bully” despite my hatred of that term, as Stuart Broad showed in the Ashes last year.

However, he is still one of the best batsmen in the world on his day and so he has to go in the XI, it’s Rohit Sharma where this XI raises one of its issues.

There is no doubt that Rohit is one of the best white-ball batsmen in the world and his recent second venture into Test cricket has shown his ability to carry across his form into the longer format.

The issue with Rohit is that despite his recent offerings in Test cricket, they have been against relatively poor opponents, in his own country. Now, this shouldn’t count against him but the fact Rohit has only opened six times in Test cricket cannot be compared to those that have been doing at a consistent level for several years such as Dean Elgar, Dimuth Karunaratne and Tom Latham.

This is one of my first changes come in, Elgar for Rohit, the sturdy South African opener when on form is unremovable and can occupy a crease for two days or more.

Elgar has played 63 Test’s and his opened in over 90% of them, averaging 38.49 across his stint in Test cricket. In his theoretical partnership with Warner, the two would balance each other nicely and would get the World XI off to the perfect start.

From three down to eight is almost spot on baring a few batting order changes. Can you imagine dismissing a dream middle-order consisting of Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Steve Smith before seeing Ben Stokes walk out to bat, it’s an absolute nightmare.

A few years ago, there may have been an argument for Joe Root, who I could vouch for being in over Williamson but in recent years the England captain has dropped off the big three with the argument of whether his captaincy is getting the better of his batting.

The XI that I have shown consists of Kohli at three, but I would have Williamson at three simply because he is the one who has batted there the most and so if the World XI would lose an early wicket, he would be best to see off the new ball.

Kohli has shown his most prolific and godlike form at four and Smith has batted so many different positions throughout his career, including batting at nine in the 2010 T20 World Cup, that he would be best to fill in at five.

At six, there can be no better player than Stokes and keeper Quinton de Kock is certainly the best keeper across all three formats, not just Test cricket.

Number eight is another big change with West Indian all-rounder Jason Holder filling in at eight. Holder has held the ICC number one ranking for all-rounders for a few years now and that must surely count for something. In the World XI, he would add another bowling option, therefore taking the workload off Stokes. His batting is a useful addition down the order with an average of 33, that’s pretty good for someone down at eight.

Nine, 10 and 11 I changed numerous times when I was coming up with my XI with names such as Jasprit Bumrah, Ravi Ashwin, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc all missing out in the end. A plundered for Stuart Broad, Nathan Lyon and James Anderson.

Nine was certainly the hardest, gone are the days of South Africans Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander who would’ve filled in if they played the format anymore and despite Cummins recent astonishing form he hasn’t been doing it at a consistent level for a long time, unlike Broad.

Starc was Broad’s closest rival but his recent drop off in form in Test cricket and his consistent injury problems sees Broad pip him. Broads iconic new-ball partnership with Anderson is one of the best of all time, not to mention his own stunning career which has seen him take 485 wickets and has seen him rise to the seventh-highest wicket-taker of all time.

Number ten is another one of the big changes and one of the biggest discrepancies I had with the original team. How in any world can you not play a spinner? If I was a captain on any pitch I would always play a spinner, it adds variety and a pitch is going to completely different by day four or five. Which is why I stuck Lyon in, he is the best spinner in the world as he has proved his skill all over the world unlike Ashwin, who despite his batting, cannot get in over Lyon.

The final position was a toss-up between two bowlers at either end of their careers Bumrah and Anderson. Bumrah is no doubt one of the best bowlers in the world currently but how can you leave out the greatest fast bowler of all time? Anderson rounds out the list of players.

Lastly, it’s the coach, with only two logical choices, Justin Langer or Ravi Shastri. Whilst Australia’s journey under Langer has been amazing to watch (if you’re Australian) and after their rise to number one in the world there is no doubt that he is leading them on the right path. But Shastri and Indian have been so consistent over the past four years, being world number one for most of that time, so for me its Shastri who gets the nod.

Here is my team below:

Hopefully you enjoyed and didn’t get too angry with me in the process, join me next week where I will be reviewing the Women’s World T20 team!

Clip of the Week: Vikram Solanki 106 v South Africa

Its a blast from the past in this week’s clip of the week with Vikram Solanki’s century versus South Africa in 2003.

Solanki was made Surrey CCC head coach this week after the departure of Michael Di Venuto, who had led Surrey to the County Championship title with just one defeat in 2018 but a poor spell across all three formats last year led to his departure.

In the clip, provided by legendary cricket archiver robelinda2, Solanki’s ton helped guide England to victory by six wickets with the hosts also winning the final of the tri-series with Zimbabwe.

Click here for last week’s Cricket Weekly where I review the week’s news including Liam Plunkett’s American Dream!

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