Eventually time catches up with all of us. We can remember Ryan Giggs as an exciting teenager bursting onto the English football scene; now look at him – he’s literally the oldest man in the world. Similarly, the cricket world ebbs and flows. Players come and go; the game carries on regardless, like a river flowing endlessly towards the sea. Or an infinite queue of hot sexy women trying to get their hands on Steven Peter Devereux Smith.
As we mentioned here, recently we’ve seen a number of big name players call time on their careers, the likes of Kallis, Tendulkar, Hussey and the Graemes, Smith and Swann. Plus Ajit Agarkar as well, although that might not have made quite the same headlines. The relentless work of the cricketing grim reaper did breifly make us sad, and a little bit tearful, until it occurred to us that all these retirements could form the basis of a (hopefully) decent article. So, how do the retirees of the two thousand and teens compare with those from the
nils zeros noughties and the nineties (phew!).
Those maths nerds amongst you will have noticed that the sample size for this team is much smaller than the other two. If that bothers you then just assume the team below includes Dale Steyn and Jimmy Anderson, because they’re the only changes that will be made in the next six years. Although Chris Martin might keep his place so that he can sing the team song.
The batting line-up kind of picks itself, given the quality of players who have hung up their bats in the last couple of years. The only debate is the order, particularly which one of Sachin and KP has to give up their beloved no. 4 spot. With Graeme Smith, Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting ahead of them, and Mike Hussey and Jacques Kallis coming in behind, it’s about as good a batting line up as there is, including the four highest Test runs scorers of all time.
They’ll need all those runs on the board though as the bowling currently looks unbelievably weak, Graeme Swann excepted. Black Cap legends Daniel Vettori (we’ve assumed he’s retired) and Chris Martin take their place at 10 and 11 with Mark Boucher keeping wicket despite competition from Kamran Akmal (we choose not to check whether or not he’s still playing). Ajit Agarkar can do his best Jonny Bairstow impression and carry the drinks.
Eventually swapping in Steyn and Anderson for Hussey and Martin (with Kallis in his all-rounder pomp) would make that team unbeatable, you might think. But wait…..
You will be unsurprised to hear the majority of this team is made up of the world record breaking Australia team from the same decade, before they all retired after the 06/07 Ashes series to jump on some annual pink Sydney bandwagon. Editor Steve would like us to point out we think Cancer Research is a wonderful cause, which it is, but the Sydney Test does seem to have forgotten it’s actually a cricket match in recent years.
Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer open up, Steve Waugh anchors the middle order and Adam Gilchrist does whatever the hell he wants (unless Freddie is bowling round the wicket). Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath pick themselves. The number four spot is sewn up by Brian Charles Lara, thus pushing out Mark Waugh and preventing Jimmy Ormond his moment in the sledging sunshine. Mohammed Yousuf / Yousuf Youhana is bumped up to first change to accommodate Lara.
We have the three remaining bowling spots left to fill and would need a lot of games of rock, paper and scissors to help decide if we were picking these teams by committee. We aren’t, so Murali, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose get the nod. Anil Kumble, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis can feel very hard done by. Ian Ward’s omission is a little less contentious.
We have to confess that we haven’t seen much of this team in the flesh (we’re old, but we’re not that old) given that most of them retired in the first half of the decade. That being said, this correspondent’s first recollection of watching cricket was sitting through tha majority of Graham Gooch’s 333 against India at Lords back in 1990. As a quick aside, although he batted for over ten hours in that innings his strike rate was a shade under 70, almost identical to Lara’s world record 400 not out. If you want to destroy a legacy, become a full time batting coach it seems.
Gooch rightly opens the batting in this team alongside Gordon Greenidge. The middle order is not only hugely talented but also going to be great company in the bar after play. David Gower and Allan Border can hopefully set a platform for the entertainers, drinkers, best pals and fellow knights of the realm – Viv Richards and Ian Botham. Ian Healy was a better wicketkeeper than he is a Segway driver and so takes the gloves.
The one element this team lacks is a front line spinner however the quality and variety of the pace attack should make up for that. Imran Khan and Kapil Dev add a total of 796 Test wickets and batting averages of 38 and 31 respectively. With Richard Hadlee (431 wickets) and Malcolm Marshall (376) providing the pace and ably supported by Beefy’s outswingers, taking 20 wickets shouldn’t prove too difficult, especially after Healy has done his thing on the pitch.
So, in summary, it’s always sad when great players retire to the great commentary box in the Sky but others will always follow on to replace them. This article updated in ten years will no doubt recall great innings from the likes of Cook, Clarke, Kohli and Plunkett. It’s one of the eternal beauties of sport. And which of the teams above is the best? Well, that’s one for the comments section…