Test cricket is the purest form of cricket. A packed-house MCG on a boxing day Test is proof that it hasn’t lost the relevance even after more than a hundred years of its existence. Over the years, the number of nations who would play Test cricket has increased. Initially, there were only Australia and England, who were followed by the West Indies and South Africa.
New Zealand, India and Pakistan were the next three years to be inducted into Test cricket. With the birth of One-day cricket, countries like Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and later Bangladesh also got Test status. It was only in 2018, that Afghanistan and Ireland made their Test debuts making the 12-nation structure followed in Test cricket since. At Crictracker, we came up with a unique all-time Test XI with one cricketer from each country.
Without further to do, let us check out the list:
1. Alastair Cook (England) (C)
Sir Alastair Cook is one of the best openers in the history of Test cricket. Between 2006 and 2018, Cook played 161 Tests for England, scoring 12472. Apart from being the only English cricketer to score 10,000 runs in Tests, the stylish left-hander is also the only player to have scored more than 10,000 runs while opening the innings in Tests.
During his time, the Essex batsman was always rated as highly as anyone else. His class against both swing bowling and spin bowling was visible across his numerous knocks. He scored 33 centuries in Tests, another English record. The 35-year-old bid an emotional farewell to the game in 2018.
Interestingly, the batsman signed off Test cricket with another knock for the ages against India at the Oval in London. There is no doubt, had he been around for another two or three years, Sachin Tendulkar’s record for the most runs in Test matches would have been under some threat.
2. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
Kumar Sangakkara had started back in 2000 as a talented batsman from Kandy trying to make it big. However, it didn’t take long for people to start noticing that he was a special talent. The left-handed batsman didn’t even shy away to taking more responsibility in the Test side when he took over the glovework from Romesh Kaluwaitharana.
Then, there was captaincy in the middle. Sangakkara did it all for a Sri Lankan team, who didn’t always have a run great going abroad in Tests. One of his most memorable knocks would be 287 against South Africa in Colombo in 2006 when he shared a world-record stand of 624 runs with Mahela Jayawardene.
The Stalwart ended his Test career with a staggering average of 57.40. He scored 12400 runs in 134 Tests with 38 runs. He still is the highest run-getter for Sri Lanka in Tests.
3. Brian Lara (West Indies)
They used to call him the Prince of Trinidad and surely, he wasn’t anything less than that. Everyone who saw Brian Charles Lara in 1990, would tell you that he was a batsman who was just great to watch. The ease and class with which the left-hander to hit boundaries was nothing short of a treat for a cricket fan’s eye.
In 2004, Lara became the highest run-getter in Tests. It took another four years for anyone else to go past him. There are many records which the Prince holds. However, his knock of an unbeaten 400 in a Test against England in 2004 in Antigua is still the only occasion of a batsman reaching that figure in Tests.
In fact, some people not know but the record of the highest first-class score is also held by Lara. He is the only batsman to score a 500 in any first-class. He had scored an unbeaten 501 for Warwickshire at Edgbaston in a county championship match in 1994. Lara ended his career with 11953 runs at an average of 52.88 with 34 centuries.
4. Sachin Tendulkar (India)
When people have debated on the topic whether you are the best batsman to have ever played the game or not, surely you have achieved a lot. Such is the case with Sachin Tendulkar.
Back in 1989, a 16-year-old boy from Mumbai faced Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis on a pacy track in Karachi. Such was the beginning of a journey which saw Tendulkar achieve many heights. More than anything, it is his longevity which makes him stand out.
Between 1989 and 2013, the little master played 200 Tests scoring 15921 runs at an average of 53.78. He is the only batsman to score more than 50 Test centuries (51). He is the highest run-getter in the history of Tests. These are a few records which represent the stature of Tendulkar.
However, people across the globe, still are in awe of his ability to score runs with ease. Even though the Mumbaikar doesn’t play cricket anymore, the legacy of his achievements lives on and will forever stay upheld.
5. Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
Jacques Kallis is not only the best cricketer to have come out of South Africa but also the best all-rounder to have ever played the game. In 166 Tests, he scored 13289 runs at an average of 55.37. Having scored 45 Test centuries, he is only second to Tendulkar in that list. Apart from this, the tall man from the Cape of Good Hope also has 292 wickets at an average of 32.65. At his prime, he was nothing short of an asset for any team.
He was the man for every situation. Every time South Africa were in trouble, no matter who the captain was he would look at Kallis. From piling runs at No.4 to taking crucial wickets with his pace bowling, there’s nothing which this player couldn’t do.
He had an illustrious career between 1995 and 2014, where he achieved the greatest heights in cricket. He still remains the only bowler in Test cricket to get more than 250 wickets and also score more than 10,000 runs. Apart from this, he is the highest run-getter and sixth-highest wicket-taker for Proteas in Tests.
6. Andy Flower (Zimbabwe) (wk)
Zimbabwe always had talented players but they are hardly remembered. However, that isn’t the case with Andy Flower. Many would remember him as the England coach who guided them to an Ashes win in Australia, but his years as a player were exceptional too.
The left-arm batsman who would double-time as a keeper for the side is an inspirational figure in the country’s cricketing history. Flower played 63 Tests between 1992 and 2002. He scored 4794 at an average of 51.54. He also scored 12 Test centuries, most by any Zimbabwe player. Till date, he is the highest run-getter for Zimbabwe.
People talk about how Adam Gilchrist was a keeper who would bat and smash the bowlers, but it is not often one mentions Flower. The classy left-hander averaged more than 53 with the bat in the Tests where he kept wickets, the highest among all wicket-keepers in the history of Test cricket.
7. Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
If Jacques Kallis is the best pace-bowling allrounder, Shakib Al Hasan is undoubtedly the best spin-bowling allrounder to have ever played Test cricket. Over the years, Shakib has been the most reliable player for Bangladesh. He has been their man for almost every tough situation.
When it comes to bowling or batting, the allrounder has led from the front. Though Shakib has till now played only 56 Tests, we can hope he will play many more in the coming future. He has scored 3862 runs with an average of 39.40 and is the third-highest run-getter for Bangladesh in the format.
He has taken 210 wickets in Tests at an average of 31.12 and is the highest wicket-taker for his country in Tests. There is no doubt that the all-rounder is the best player to have played cricket for Bangladesh until now.
8. Shane Warne (Australia)
Australian cricket represents a lot of things. There’s resilience, there is courage and then there is their never to die attitude. Shane Warne had everything. There is no doubt in saying that he is the finest leg-spinner to have ever played the game.
There is nothing which he couldn’t do when he was on the field. Though his career was marked with a few controversies, the Victorian leggie always came on top of them. Between 1992 and 2007, Warne played 145 Tests for Australia. He picked up 708 Test wickets. At the time of his retirement, he was the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket. A few years later, Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan surpassed his record.
There many records which Warne holds. But, more than anything it is his bag of tricks which would fox any batsman in the world, still remains as his legacy.
9. Wasim Akram (Pakistan)
If there was anyone who could swing the ball more than usual, it was Wasim Akram. The left-arm pacer had a natural ability to swing the ball more than any other bowler would. There have been several occasions when cricketers have credited him to be the best pacer to have ever played the sport.
The Lahore-born pacer played 104 Tests between 1985 and 2002. He picked up 414 wickets at an average of 23.62. Akram had the ability to run in and bowl fast all day, something which not a lot of bowler managed to do ever. Years after he has bid his goodbye to the sport, Akram still continues to be the highest wicket-taker for Pakistan in Tests.
On the side note, his highest Test score is 257 and he scored 2898 runs at an average of 22.64. He also led his country for a significant amount of time.
10. Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
Afghanistan is one of the two new Test nations. And there is no doubt the Rashid Khan is the best player from the country. At 21, the leg-spinner has achieved several heights. Though he hasn’t really played much Test cricket, he has registered himself as forever in the history books.
Khan holds the record for being the youngest player to lead his country in Test cricket. In four Tests, he has picked up 23 wickets. His bowling average is of 21.08. Well, that sounds like a great start to his red-ball career for Afghanistan.
The leggie has just featured in eight first-class matches so far, including the four Tests. In those matches, he has a total of 58 wickets. We can only hope that Rashid goes on to play more Test cricket in the years to come and create his own legacy.
11. Richard Hadlee (New Zealand)
When Kapil Dev became the highest wicket-taker in the history of Test cricket, the record was previously held by this man, Sir Richard Hadlee. One of the most respected individuals in international cricket, Hadlee was nothing short of a genius. In the era of Ian Botham, Imran Khan and Kapil Dev, Hadlee was someone who could stand up tall in front of them.
He was the premier fast-bowler from New Zealand and he did everything right to stay at the top. In just 86 Tests, Hadlee had picked up 431 wickets. He had an incredible average of 22.29 with the ball. He had an ability to run throw batting line-ups with his brisk bowling.
Apart from this, he also scored 3124 runs at an average of 27.16. He is undoubtedly the greatest player from New Zealand and still holds the record of being the highest wicket-taker for them in Tests.
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