Best XI to ever play in a Test match

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Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by dummy_half on Sat 19 Aug 2017, 1:20 am

With the talk of how poor this current West Indies side is, I was having a look back at their great teams. Can anyone find a better Test team for any nation (at least on paper - some were past their best, others up and coming) than this one from the 1984 tour of Australia*

Greenidge
Haynes
Richardson
Richards
Gomes
Lloyd
Dujon
Marshall
Holding
Garner
Walsh

IIRC, from the 606v2 hall of fame we have at least 7 of that XI (Haven't checked if Richie Richardson made the cut).

I suspect the only team that can come close is one of the Aussie teams of the late 90s

* Surprisingly, the above got pretty well thumped in the 5th Test of the series, losing by an innings and a bit to what was far from a brilliant Australian side.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by guildfordbat on Sat 19 Aug 2017, 2:08 pm

Dummy,

''Best ever'' is hard to call. Even I don't go back to the beginning of time or even Tests. Furthermore, I didn't follow the Australian side that closely in the late '90s. However, as someone who saw the West Indies in their era of domination and remembers them so well, I have no hesitation in saying they were a very great and wonderful side.

One thing your research has cleverly achieved is to find a place for Richardson*. I would have guessed that his time came a little later and so would not associate him with several of the other players in that team. Often it was Gus Logie or occasionally Collis King in the number 5 or 6 spot and in some ways, putting it very harshly, making up the eleventh place.

The only feature of this team that I didn't like is the absence of Roberts. A clever and often underrated fast bowler. By many accounts, his approach was similar to a slow bowler as he carefully planned how to dismiss a batsmen several balls or even an over or two in advance. He also perfectly complemented Holding, Marshall and Garner. I would have Roberts in preference to Walsh even though (I'm pretty sure) it leaves me having to ditch Richardson for Logie on the understanding we have to go with an actual past eleven.

I don't deny that the West Indies had certain advantages at this time. In particular, no minimum number of overs in the day so their bowlers could send down just 12 or 13 in the hour (that would have wound MfC up no end! Wink ). Mind you, they always seemed to have enough time to skittle their opponents twice and win the match. Also, this was before DRS - its introduction has been shown to assist slow bowlers a lot more than the fast men which entirely formed this West Indies attack. That all said, you have to play the cards you are dealt according to the rules applying at the time and the West Indies, extremely well led by Lloyd, did that supremely.

* Yes, 7 of this team made our Hall of Fame. Haynes, Richardson, Gomes and Dujon didn't - or have still to - make the cut.


Last edited by guildfordbat on Sat 19 Aug 2017, 5:59 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by dummy_half on Sat 19 Aug 2017, 5:36 pm

Guildford

I'd have liked to include Roberts, but I don't think he quite overlapped with Richie Richardson, and I think Richardson + Walsh is a better combination than Roberts and (say) Logie*

*That team (Roberts + Logie instead of Walsh and Richardson) did play against India in the West Indies in 1983


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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by guildfordbat on Sat 19 Aug 2017, 6:09 pm

Dummy - I can't honestly dispute your thinking on Richardson + Walsh. Just that I liked Roberts so much.

Worth emphasising that it wasn't just that these players were so good but how well many of them played together and complemented each other.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by VTR on Sun 20 Aug 2017, 9:05 am

Australia put out a side in the early 2000s:

Langer
Hayden
Ponting
M Waugh
S Waugh
Martyn
Gilchrist
Warne
Lee
Gillespie
McGrath

That is frighteningly good!

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by dummy_half on Sun 20 Aug 2017, 9:41 am

VTR

That's a good call - I think I spotted that side (year 2000 against the West Indies iirc), and yes it is probably as strong an XI as that era of Aussies put out. This does highlight one of the points I was trying to make in starting this thread - we often talk of the great West Indies side of the 70s and 80s or the great Aussie side of the 90s-00s, but these sides went through more than one generation of players, so highlighting the 'strongest' XI that actually played together was I thought interesting.

If you were making a composite XI from those two, I'd start from the Windies site and switch in Hayden for Haynes, Steve Waugh for Gomes, Gilchrist for Dujon and Warne for Walsh (even that almost under protest - it would remove some of the intensity of having to face quick after quick). Richardson v Ponting a close call.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by VTR on Sun 20 Aug 2017, 10:29 am

I actually found that team in First Test vs SA in 2001/2 but may well have played together on other occasions. What I like about the Australian team is the spin bowling is obviously quite handy!

Third test in that series they fielded Warne and Macgill, which was great strength in depth, and came in useful when Mr Warne decided he needed to lose a few pounds

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by LionsV2 on Sun 20 Aug 2017, 10:59 am

It does highlight the inconsistencies of comparing batting averages across eras. Both Harden and Langer have a better average than Greenidge but under no circumstances would I pick either over him, same goes for Ponting and Waugh over Richards.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by sirfredperry on Sun 20 Aug 2017, 11:49 am

Those ultra-strong Windies and Aussie sides mentioned above look formidable. But how about the Australian team that toured England in 1948, including Bradman, Morris, Hassett, Harvey, Lindwall and Miller.
   The 1953 England side that regained the Ashes in 1953 weren't that bad either (albeit with rather a long tail)
   It was:
   Hutton
   Edrich
   May
   Compton
   Graveney
   Bailey
   Evans
   Laker
   Lock
   Trueman
   Bedser


   Some of the Indian sides of the 1990s featured Dravid, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Laxman and Azharrudin - quite a batting line-up.
The Windies sides that toured England in 1963 and 1966 were extremely powerful, featuring Hunte, Sobers, Kanhai, Butcher, Hall, Griffiths and Gibbs.
   Even before the Border-Waugh-Ponting era for Australia, there were the strong Ian Chappell sides of the mid-70s, with great batsmen and great bowlers.
   Going farther back, England's batting against Australia in 1926 started Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Woolley and Hendren, with Rhodes, Geary, Tate and Larwood in the bowling line up.
    A 1960s' equivalent in the batting could have been in the 68 home series v Australia, when England's first five were Boycott, Edrich, Cowdrey, Barrington and Graveney. (with Knott, Illingworth, Brown, Snow and Underwood also in the team).
    Reckon that's enough for now....

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by dummy_half on Mon 21 Aug 2017, 9:38 am

sir fred

Thanks for the England team - I'd guessed that the best England team would likely be somewhere within Trueman's career, and the one you list is certainly worthy of consideration - don't think it's quite of the same strength as the WI or Aus ones above, and doesn't benefit from being part of a long dominant period. I know that when you look at statistics, Trevor Bailey is something of a forgotten man as a quality all rounder - not quite of the Botham class but a very useful player to balance the team.

Of the others you mention, India certainly have had some great batting line-ups, but I think usually fall a bit short on the bowling (especially seam bowling) front to match the truly great XIs listed above, and similarly the 1960s Windies teams had several great players but one or two make weights and sometimes a tendency to under-perform.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by guildfordbat on Mon 21 Aug 2017, 10:25 am

dummy_half wrote:VTR

That's a good call - I think I spotted that side (year 2000 against the West Indies iirc), and yes it is probably as strong an XI as that era of Aussies put out. This does highlight one of the points I was trying to make in starting this thread - we often talk of the great West Indies side of the 70s and 80s or the great Aussie side of the 90s-00s, but these sides went through more than one generation of players, so highlighting the 'strongest' XI that actually played together was I thought interesting.

If you were making a composite XI from those two, I'd start from the Windies site and switch in Hayden for Haynes, Steve Waugh for Gomes, Gilchrist for Dujon and Warne for Walsh (even that almost under protest - it would remove some of the intensity of having to face quick after quick). Richardson v Ponting a close call.

Further good and interesting points made in this post and other recent ones.

The composite XI is always fun to speculate about. We obviously cannot know how good in reality it would have been. We do though know how well some cricketers played together. In particular, Greenidge and Haynes. As always a game of opinions but, for me, that partnership was too good to split up.

Some very strong actual sides named by Sir Fred. As regards an England team, I would also throw in Illingworth's side of '70/'71 that toured Australia and won the Ashes. That though falls short of containing eleven great (or close to great) players which is where Dummy came in when opening this thread; I would make a similar comment about the England side of the late '60s highlighted by Sir Fred - sorry to pick on an individual but David Brown doesn't make my cut. These sides - particularly Illingworth's - were greater than the sum of their parts which was mightily impressive but a different matter.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by kwinigolfer on Mon 21 Aug 2017, 1:44 pm

sirfred's England Team essentially won three Ashes series (with help from Cowdrey & Statham), then mostly aged out all at once. Not a bad little run though.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by guildfordbat on Mon 21 Aug 2017, 8:42 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:sirfred's England Team essentially won three Ashes series (with help from Cowdrey & Statham), then mostly aged out all at once. Not a bad little run though.

Hi Kwini - that's a fantastic run, no doubt about that. Not sure though that at least one of those actual England teams contained eleven individual greats (or near greats) to top those in the specific other teams named above. Cheers.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by Gooseberry on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 9:34 am

dummy_half wrote:VTR

That's a good call - I think I spotted that side (year 2000 against the West Indies iirc), and yes it is probably as strong an XI as that era of Aussies put out. This does highlight one of the points I was trying to make in starting this thread - we often talk of the great West Indies side of the 70s and 80s or the great Aussie side of the 90s-00s, but these sides went through more than one generation of players, so highlighting the 'strongest' XI that actually played together was I thought interesting.

If you were making a composite XI from those two, I'd start from the Windies site and switch in Hayden for Haynes, Steve Waugh for Gomes, Gilchrist for Dujon and Warne for Walsh (even that almost under protest - it would remove some of the intensity of having to face quick after quick). Richardson v Ponting a close call.


yeah its interesting to look through and see how few matches some of these classic line ups we "remember" actually polayed together.
The likes of Bichel, McGill and Gillespe for example pepper the Aussie legends era with Clarke coming in toward the end of it...with no drop off in results.

In some wyas what really stands out for the Aus era of dominance is the guys who couldnt get in the side or had to bide their time ... Brad Hodge barely got a test and Hussey had to wait till he was about 30, both ended with career averages in the 50's. The sheer depth of talent around and how far ahead they were in adapating to modern agressive cricket and professionalism is the reason why they dominated fr so long ratehr than any single group of XI that went out on a given day.

Interesting point that SirFred makes further down regarding that England XI that managed to stay largely unchanged for an extended period rather than evolving into existance then fading away.

I do like the notion of "best single moment" side though ... and the look of the Aussie line up proposed

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by sirfredperry on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 1:12 pm

How about this for an ultra-strong Windies line-up, with hardly a weak link. This X1 turned out at Brisbane v Aus in Nov 84
    Greenidge
    Haynes
    Richardson
    Gomes
    Richards
    Lloyd
    Dujon
    Marshall
    Holding
    Garner
    Walsh
    OK, so no spinner. But they wouldn't/didn't need one !

    And for a side we've not really considered in this category - Pakistan - have a look at this lot wot run up 708 at The Oval in 1987:

    Mudassar
    Ramiz Raja
    Mansoor Akhtar
    Salim Malik
    Imran Khan
    Ijaz Ahmed
    Salim Yousuf
    Wasim Akram
    Abdul Qadir
    Tausif Ahmed

   Another contender in the days before the Ganguly-Drav-Tend-Lax era was India's side that beat England at The Oval in 1971:
    
   Gavaskar
   Mankad
   Wadekar
   Sardesai
   Vishy
   Solkar
   Engineer
   Abid Ali
   Venkat
   Bedi
   Chandra


Last edited by sirfredperry on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 1:12 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : amending date)

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by msp83 on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 4:41 pm

dummy_half wrote:VTR

That's a good call - I think I spotted that side (year 2000 against the West Indies iirc), and yes it is probably as strong an XI as that era of Aussies put out. This does highlight one of the points I was trying to make in starting this thread - we often talk of the great West Indies side of the 70s and 80s or the great Aussie side of the 90s-00s, but these sides went through more than one generation of players, so highlighting the 'strongest' XI that actually played together was I thought interesting.

If you were making a composite XI from those two, I'd start from the Windies site and switch in Hayden for Haynes, Steve Waugh for Gomes, Gilchrist for Dujon and Warne for Walsh (even that almost under protest - it would remove some of the intensity of having to face quick after quick). Richardson v Ponting a close call.
I am in agreement with most of it, but for one change. You are not touching Courtney Walsh! I most certainly want Shane Warne in there, and I know Marshel has to be there. Mc Grath not making it is tough as is the case with many others. But like the Bangladesh Cricket Board president, all I want to tell you selectors is that I want Walsh and Warne in there, now go and figure out your combinations, that 's the real tough job. .

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by msp83 on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 5:06 pm

And the strongest xi for India might look something like this.
Gautam Gambhir
Virender Sehwag
Rahul Dravid
Sachin Tendulkar
VVS Laxman
Sourav Ganguly
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Anil Kumble
Harbhajan Singh
Zaheer Khan
Ishant Sharma
The last they all played together was in the 2008-9 series against Australia...

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by sirfredperry on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 6:21 pm

msp83 wrote:And the strongest xi for India might look something like this.
Gautam Gambhir
Virender Sehwag
Rahul Dravid
Sachin Tendulkar
VVS Laxman
Sourav Ganguly
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Anil Kumble
Harbhajan Singh
Zaheer Khan
Ishant Sharma
The last they all played together was in the 2008-9 series against Australia...
A side with Sehwag as well as Ganguly, Drav, Tend and VVS aint at all bad!

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by KP_fan on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 6:28 pm

msp83 wrote:And the strongest xi for India might look something like this.
Gautam Gambhir
Virender Sehwag
Rahul Dravid
Sachin Tendulkar
VVS Laxman
Sourav Ganguly
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Anil Kumble
Harbhajan Singh
Zaheer Khan
Ishant Sharma
The last they all played together was in the 2008-9 series against Australia...

msp....there are a few contenders depending on conditions......the above was a strong home track bully 11

the best overseas  XI has to be one of either
1971 ( won in WI and Eng);
1986 ( won 2-0 in Eng and almost made it 3-0 whitewash);
2003 overseas wins in WI and Pak

of those in my view the strongest was 1986 and the win at headingley being most memorable.....India seamers steam rolled eng in perfect seaming conditions...and Vengsarkar stood out with what I rate as best inning ever in seaming conditions at Leeds Headingley...on an uneven pitch and scored 163 runs ( 61 and 102*) where the next highest score was 35 in 4 innings of either sides

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/16812/scorecard/63433/England-vs-India-2nd-Test

Gavaskar
Srikanth
Amarnath
Vengsarkar
Azharuddin
Shastri
Kapil
More
Binny
Madanlal
Maninder

Blanaced.....3 seamers, 2 spinners and 4 of those 5 bowlers were bowling allrounders...all at the peak of their game
althouhg India varied their 11 a bit...Chetan sharma came in T3 but the core was same
and in 1987 when pak came to Ind, this same core produced some stupendous scores
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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by msp83 on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 7:27 pm

KPF, most of the 11 I originally listed also played significant roles in India's overall improved away performances. Said that, the 1986 side does look impressive for what they did. Said that, that wasn't the strongest England side going around those days...

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by msp83 on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 7:28 pm

And if the 2 sides are to play against each other, who would you have your money on?

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by KP_fan on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 8:21 pm

msp83 wrote:KPF, most of the 11 I originally listed also played significant roles in India's overall improved away performances. Said that, the 1986 side does look impressive for what they did. Said that, that wasn't the strongest England side going around those days...

Eng sides were about that strong ( or weak) on an average .....all through 1970s until early 2000s with occasional peaks
End of Hussain era as captain around 2004 and then Michael Vaughn time was when they started getting better and stronger and carried on from there under Strauss and Cook as a tough side.

as to your other question....between 1986 and 2008 sides...... undoubtedly the 1986 side was better in overseas conditions...they won in Eng and came back drawing a series in Aus also in 1985-86 where they should have won but for rain on last day when Ind needed 50 runs with all 10 wickets in hand at Melbourne..and came close to winning in Sydney but ran out of time.
At home both sides would fight hard but probably 2008 would be stronger....Kumble was the big difference
and Zaheer + Ishant were better in reverse than the 1986 medium pacers
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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by VTR on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 9:51 pm

There's some good teams so far, but surely nothing to match this:
Atherton
Maddy
Hussain
Thorpe
Stewart
Ramprakash
Irani
Caddick
Mullally
Tufnell
Giddens

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by Gooseberry on Wed 23 Aug 2017, 11:10 am

VTR wrote:There's some good teams so far, but surely nothing to match this:
Atherton
Maddy
Hussain
Thorpe
Stewart
Ramprakash
Irani
Caddick
Mullally
Tufnell
Giddens


Theyd still beat this current Windies side. And Maddy would still probably get selected as an England opener.

Jokes aside theres a core of genuinely good batting talent in that side (Ramprakash can be left to the side), and Caddick was a good bowler and Tufnell teh nearest thing to a talented spinner England have had in the past few decades.

If the intention was to joke its the worst test side ever ...let alone England one...Id question that.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by VTR on Wed 23 Aug 2017, 11:28 am

Certainly not the worst team ever, or probably not the worst England team in history, though can't be far off. There's some decent names on paper but that was a team with some really poor players that also played with no confidence whatsoever and had a ridiculously long tail - a real five out, all out line up

That series was a bit of a watershed moment as Central contracts came in after that and Hussain and Fletcher started to slowly drag England from being a joke outfit to a side that were at least tough to beat, and then a genuinely good side beyond that

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by guildfordbat on Wed 23 Aug 2017, 11:54 am

We really need Nathaniel's eye witness accounts and input as to whether VTR has gone for England's worst side since the war. However, it surely can't be far off.

Despite the public's constructive criticism / moaning down the years, you are never going to see an England side with eleven complete duffers. There are some proper batsmen in VTR's side and, yes, Caddick and Tufnell could bowl at Test level. It does though seem that the selectors were expecting an awful lot from those last two if they thought this attack was going to serve up 20 wickets.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by sirfredperry on Wed 23 Aug 2017, 12:39 pm

Much harder, it seems, to select the worst side than the best one. Even the weakest sides have, in cinematic terms, A Few Good Men in them.
   The Eng side that played P at Lord's in 82 had a tail that read:
   Pringle
   I Greig
   Hemmings
   Taylor
   Jackman
   Not many runs, and not many wickets either, from that lot as Eng lost by 10 wickets.  
   However, that side did contain Randall, Lamb, Gower, Botham and Gatting.

  Perhaps England's dismal showing in Australia in 1958-59 can be explained by the fact that Fred Trueman batted at SEVEN in the 4th Test, while in the 5th Test the tail read:
    Swetman
    Mortimore
    Trueman
    Tyson
    Laker. 

 From the dim, distant past emerges the summer of 1909 when the editor of Wisden said one of the England selection decisions had "touched the confines of lunacy".

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by VTR on Wed 23 Aug 2017, 12:48 pm

That England team were ranked 9th out of 9 Test teams after the series, even below Zimbabwe. It surely can't ever have got worse than that. They played 4 Tests vs NZ at home and didn't once pass 200 in a First Innings. I was a student back then and was able to watch most of the series, it was so abject and depressing the scorecards don't even do justice to how pitiful that side was, even if some of the names on paper look decent. Plus that team doesn't even include some of the joke players like Aftab Habib and a very callow Chris Read who also played in the series.

Building on guildford's post, and in the absence of the veteran cricket watcher Nathaniel I am actually happy to call it the worst England team of all time

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by LionsV2 on Wed 23 Aug 2017, 12:55 pm

That summer being best highlighted by Read ducking a slower ball and being bowled through his legs.

Atherton's back injuries had taken their toll so had Stewarts workload, Thorpe looked uninterested and then there was a host of players who either weren't good enough or on the 20th chance back in the team. It was an abysmal team.

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by sirfredperry on Wed 23 Aug 2017, 1:18 pm

What about the supposedly strong sides that got streamrollered. Eng in Australia in 58-59 is one. England went over with May, Cowdrey, Graveney, Bailey, Trueman, Statham, Tyson, Lock and Laker and....promptly lost 4-0.
   How about this Windies line up in Australia in 75-76?  
   It included:
   Fredericks
   Richards
   Rowe
   Kalli
   Lloyd
   Holding
   Boyce
   Gibbs
   Still managed to lose 5-1.

   England lost 4-1 to Australia in 1924-25. 
   The Eng line-up for the first Test of that series was:
   Hobbs
   Sutcliffe
   JW Hearne
   Woolley
   Hendren
   Sandham
   Chapman
   Tate
   Gilligan
   Freeman
   Strudwick

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

Post by Gooseberry on Wed 23 Aug 2017, 1:41 pm

VTR wrote:That England team were ranked 9th out of 9 Test teams after the series, even below Zimbabwe. It surely can't ever have got worse than that. They played 4 Tests vs NZ at home and didn't once pass 200 in a First Innings. I was a student back then and was able to watch most of the series, it was so abject and depressing the scorecards don't even do justice to how pitiful that side was, even if some of the names on paper look decent. Plus that team doesn't even include some of the joke players like Aftab Habib and a very callow Chris Read who also played in the series.

Building on guildford's post, and in the absence of the veteran cricket watcher Nathaniel I am actually happy to call it the worst England team of all time


Fair enough then VTR... I didnt realise that was the side form that particular moment. As you say it was the absolute nadir of a sustained decline, perhaps partly down to the traditionaly weak nations professionalising whiulst England continued to take an amatuer approach.
This comes back to the sum parts being being better than the output ... it was certainly not a side totally lacking in raw talent and by no means the worst individuals selected before or after.

Worst in terms of output that I remember I will grant you leave on.

Gooseberry

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Re: Best XI to ever play in a Test match

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