25 years is approximately the course of a generation, and hence it was a tough ask to pick an IX from an era that produced a plethora of stars, few of whom turned out to be legends of this lovely game. It is a team that can compete with any phantom XI from any period in history. A batting order that can knock anyone out and never let go. Including a pack of bowlers who, with their pace, control and swing, can tear the opposition down in whatever way imaginable. It is a combination that can be both stunningly entertaining and fiercely effective.
Amazingly, the selection was consensual. All 5 voters chose 5 players from the XI; the remaining 4 earned four points respectively. Only one tie occurred: for Virender Sehwag’s opening spot, wherein Matthew Hayden outplayed Alastair Cook. The greatest XI from past 25 years includes 5 Australians, along with 2 Indians, a West Indian, a South African, a Pakistani, and a Sri Lankan.
Big dude with a big spirit which made him play big shots, and get big scores for the yesteryear Australian team. Hayden’s athleticism worried rivals, and his approach towards pace and spin both made him a dangerous customer for the rival teams. Australia seldom failed when Hayden struck a 100. His amassed 8625 runs at an average of 50.73 from 103 Test innings, and thus becomes an automatic choice.
Even by the current ‘Bazball’ standards, his strike rate is incredible – 82! – moreover, he finished 7 runs short of becoming the only man in Test cricket history to score three triple-hundreds. Not just did Sehwag’s hitting generate frequent opportunities for success in red ball cricket, but he also introduced a new brand of cricket. Sehwag holds the benchmark for the quickest triple-hundred in terms of balls played (278). He is one of those players who changed the complexion of the game with his approach and skill.
Ricky Ponting (Captain)
As skipper, Ponting captained Australia to most Test triumphs than anybody else; as a one-down batter, he was better than all his contemporaries. He had both style and strength, and his signature pull shot was a treat for the cricket fans. Few batters have been as persistent on the hard, quick and bouncy tracks of Australia and South Africa in particular. Ponting remains the sole batter to score a century in each of his 100th Test innings.
No list of cricket greats is complete without Sachin Tendulkar, a man who carried the dreams of a billion people. India turned to Tendulkar for inspiration nearly from the day he started at 16 till he hung-up his boots at 40. The little master scored an incredible amount of runs and centuries in every imaginable condition of the game. Tendulkar is the only batter in history to have scored 10,000 or more Test runs while batting at No. 4. He tops the chart of most test runs with an envious average of 53.78.
Opponents admit to ripping their hair out in anger while admiring the class of Lara as he dismantled them. He was only 24 years old when he set the record of 375 in a test innings. Hayden broke the record of the West Indian legend but he reclaimed it with an unbeaten 400 against England, and remains the only person in the history of the game to score a quadruple century. Some of Lara’s most thrilling performances came in West Indian losses; however, on rare occasions when he had support, he led them across the finish line.
Kallis piled up heaps of runs with a unique combo of skill and talent. He took nearly 300 wickets with medium pace and outswing, and snaffled a staggering 200 catches, most of these in the slips. Kallis was the true embodiment of an all-rounder; he could win matches at will with both bat and ball. He is arguably regarded as the second best all-rounder ever after the great Sir Garry Sobers. Kallis holds the record of receiving most Man-of-the-Match awards in Test cricket, 23 during his career he was named best player of the match.
Adam Gilchrist redefined the role of a wicket-keeper in test cricket. When on song (which he usually was) he could quickly take the game away from the opposition. He, like Sehwag was one batter during the 90’s and early 2000’s, who replicated their one-day batting in test cricket. With an average of 47.60 and 17 hundreds, Gillie was and integral part of Australian XI that ruled the game during this era. Moreover, he also was lightning quick behind the stumps and has 416 dismissals to his name in test cricket, only South African Mark Boucher has more dismissals than him.
Touted as the Sultan of swing, the premiere Pakistani fast bowler possessed all weapons of a bowler, He could swing it both ways and become increasingly threatening when he went over the wicket to the right handers. Legendry batsmen like Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting consider him the best bowler they had come across their careers. He mastered the supposedly dark art of reverse swing and made full use of it to amass more than 400 test wickets. Wasim Akram is one of only 4 bowlers who have taken 2 Test hattricks.
Nobody spun the ball from leg to off like Warne, during the course of his career he created a mockery of leading world’s batsmen. He was arguably the greatest competitive player of his period, with a knack of rising to the big occasions. Warne is considered the greatest leg spinner of all time and played a vital role in making Australia the most deadly team during the 90’s and 2000’s. Warne’s delivery to English batsman Gatting is arguably regarded as the greatest ball of the 20th century. Great Aussie leg-spinner is also the second highest all-time wicket taker of all time in Test Cricket. He, sadly is the only player on the list who is with us no more, he passed away on 4th March, 2022, but his legacy continues.
When Murali started his Test career, the benchmark for maximum Test wickets was 431. He finished out with an incredible 800, using his brutally massive off-breaks and, later, a doosra that could put ordinary leg breaks to embarrassment. Bowling more Test deliveries than any other bowler was one thing; but, doing it while under relentless and merciless criticism of his bowling style was completely another. In Tests, Murali has a startling 67 5fers and 22 ten-for.
McGrath hunted and grinded his way to 563 Test wickets, with his exquisite accuracy, tall figure, and lethal cutters. He was equally comfortable in India or England as he was in Australia, thanks to his ball control. He never ever bowled a lousy ball. It would be a shame to summarize McGrath’s history without including his few unique statistics. He has knocked out the most batters on ducks in test cricket. In the World Cup, he took a wicket with his final ball. He was a key member of three World Cup-winning teams.
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