ESPNCricinfo is celebrating its 25th anniversary by choosing the dream teams from the last 25 years from 1993-2017. In this process, they unveiled the dream Men’s Test XI of last quarter of the century.
The team selection was done by a jury consisting of the likes of Ian Chappell, Sanjay Manjrekar, John Wright, Dav Whatmore and Mark Nicholas. Each selector sent in their all-time XIs and the best of the best was chosen from amongst these teams.
The last Twenty-five years of cricket also meant that many greats of the game didn’t make it into the dream XI and the team misses the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Rahul Dravid, AB de Villiers, Sir Curtly Ambrose, Anil Kumble and Waqar Younis.
As many as five from the XI were picked by all five selectors; another four received four votes each. There was just the one tie: for Virender Sehwag's opening partner, where Matthew Hayden muscled out Alastair Cook.
Australians dominate the dream XI thanks to their clout during the said 25 years of cricket.
The Dream XI features Australia’s Matthew Hayden and India’s Virender Sehwag as the openers of the team. Both loved to dominate their opponents, with the likes of Hayden stepping out to hit the fastest of bowlers and Sehwag toying with them at will.
No.3 position in the dream XI goes to the best batsman of all time at that position, Australia’s Ricky Ponting, who scored 13,378 runs from 168 Tests and is the only batsman to hit centuries in each innings of his 100th Test.
There could be none better than Sachin Tendulkar at the no.4 slot, as he is the only batsman to score more than 10,000 runs in Tests at that position and is often regarded as one of the greatest ever to play the game of cricket. No.5 spot goes to the Prince of Caribbean, Brian Charles Lara, the only batsman in Test history to score 400 runs in an innings.
Probably the greatest all-rounder in Test history along with Sir Garfield Sobers, Jacques Kallis occupies the no.6 spot in the dream XI. He scored 13,289 runs and took 292 wickets in his 166 Tests career. The sheer amount of workload he carried during his career is enough for him to make this XI.
Next comes in the man who changed the way teams looked at their wicket-keepers. The great Adam Gilchrist completely changed the role of a wicketkeeper, from being brilliant with the gloves; a keeper now had to be brilliant with the bat too. 5570 runs and 417 dismissals behind the stumps in 96 Tests proof what a phenomenon Gilchrist was.
Wasim Akram from Pakistan and Glenn McGrath from Australia will handle the fast bowling duties for this dream XI. Akram is regarded as the best left-arm fast bowler with 414 wickets in 104 Tests and the best score of 257* to his name, the XI richly deserves Akram. He is also one of the four bowlers in Test cricket to have two Test hat-tricks to his name, the other being Hugh Trumble, TJ Matthews, and Stuart Broad.
McGrath, on the other hand, is regarded as one of the best right-handed fast bowlers of his generation. With 563 wickets from 124 Tests, he led the greatest bowling attacks of his time, along with the next member of the dream XI.
Shane Warne, along with McGrath was a lethal combination. Warne regarded as the best spinner of all time and winner of Wisden’s cricketer of the century award made people sit up and notice the art of leg-spin once again. Warne's 96 Test wickets in 2005 are the most by any bowler in a calendar year; followed by Muttiah Muralitharan’s 90 wickets in 2006 season.
Though Warne never got to captain Australia in Tests, he was chosen as the captain of this world XI.
Muttiah Muralitharan is the 11th and final member of this dream XI of last 25 years. A wizard with the ball and owner of the most controversial bowling action of the world, Muttiah Muralitharan enthralled and bamboozled opposition batsmen with his guile and ability to spin the ball miles. 800 wickets in 133 Tests in a brilliant career is a testament to his longevity.
ESPNCricinfo Men's Test XI of the last 25 years:
Matthew Hayden (AUS), Virender Sehwag (IND), Ricky Ponting (AUS), Sachin Tendulkar (IND), Brian Lara (WI), Jacques Kallis (SA), Adam Gilchrist (wk- AUS), Wasim Akram (PAK), Shane Warne (C-AUS), Muttiah Muralitharan (SL), Glenn McGrath (AUS )