I just noticed that the squads for the upcoming superseries between an ICC selected World XI and world champions Australia, have been released. As usual, it baffles me how some of these selections could have been made. The result seems to be some kind of power play between selectors from each country. The selectors were Gavaskar (any team selected by him has to have Sachin in it :P), Hadlee, Jonty Rhodes, Clive Lloyd, Aravinda De Silva and Mike Atherton. A level-headed bunch, but some poor selections.
The following is the ICC selected World XI test squad for the World XI vs. Australia super series.
World XI Test squad Graeme Smith (capt), Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (vc), Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis, Andrew Flintoff, Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher, Steve Harmison, Shoaib Akhtar, Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Vettori.
Now, you can tick off Murali, Harmison, Pollock, Flintoff, Dravid, Smith and Sehwag for having very good records, or being in good form, or in the case of Sehwag for being something of a wild card. Kallis, as a batting all-rounder averages only 32.61 against the Aussies overall, but his average goes up to 41 when playing in Australia, thus justifying his place.
But the remaining players imnsho don't deserve a place in the side:
- Tendulkar: Here is a guy who has hardly lifted a bat in the last year, and will have been (if he recovers on schedule) fit for only a few weeks at the time of this series.
- Lara: Another guy who has hardly played any cricket in the last 6 months. Controversy or not, he isn't even in the Windies' playing XI. Considering that this is an ICC event, that's a nice li'l slap in the face for the WICB :P
- Boucher: Just recently recovered his place back in the SA team. Hasn't really played much International cricket recently. Averages 24 against Australia, and is not really a spinner's keeper. Will no doubt struggle against Murali..
- Shoaib: Averages close to 44 with the ball against Australia in Australia, and not much better anywhere else. Overrated, overhyped, unfit, indisciplined etc. etc. Hasn't been in the Paki squad for the last 6 months or so either.
- Vettori: While he's a good bowler and a decent bat, there are better specialist spinners around. Looks like the selectors thought that the World XI wouldn't be a World XI without a Kiwi in it :S Even if the test is going to be played at the SCG, why would you want two specialist spinners anyways?
My replacements for the above four would be:
Tendulkar|Pietersen: Pietersen is having a wonderful series against the aussies, playing Warne well and has "ze mental edge" over everybody. Lara|Chanderpaul: A lefty; Will lend solidity to the side; Averages 42.5 against Australia overall, and about the same in Australia. Boucher|Sangakkara: In excellent nick; Will be able to keep to Murali and averages a decent 35.5 against Australia in Australia in the 2 tests he's played there. Shoaib|Vaas: The best left-armer in the world atm; Committed, talented, decent with the bat etc. etc. Can't say enough about this guy :) Shame on the selectors for not picking him :| Vettori|Youhana/Bond: With Murali, Vaas, Harmison, Flintoff and Pollock around, why would you need another bowler? Kallis and Sehwag are also available if need be.. If I had to pick another bowler, I would choose Shane Bond - I'm sure we all remember the devastation he wreaked during his last visit to Australia, and he's now back and fit as a fiddle :) But I think the side would be better off with another specialist batsman, perhaps Youhana?
And the ODI squad selected is as follows:
World XI ODI squad Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar (vc), Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara, Kevin Pietersen, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Flintoff, Shaun Pollock (capt), Kumar Sangakkara, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Makhaya Ntini, Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Vettori.
Again, the following don't deserve their place in the side:
- Tendulkar: See above
- Lara: See above
- Gibbs: Averages 17.83 against Australia in Australia, and not much better overall. Not played much cricket lately and hasn't really been in great form either.
- Shoaib: See above
- Vettori: See above
Tendulkar|Fleming: As captain and opener. Plays well against Australia and is in good touch; Adds a left hander to the side. Lara|Yuvraj: In good nick. Solid bat, great fielder and handy bowler. Gibbs|Dravid: Anyone in their right minds should pick Dravid for ODIs. There isn't a more solid player in the world. Shoaib|Vaas: See above. Vettori|Bond: Along with Harmison, the best non-aussie fast bowler in the business today :)
Picking people for ODIs in Australia is not a trivial process, as hardly anybody has really performed well over there in the last 10 years or so.. But I think this side will be a lot more balanced and a more representative selection of the best players in the world today.