In the second instalment of a two-part series, SA Cricket magazine’s writers pick their best international ODI XI of the past 30 years.
Over the past few weeks, the SA Cricket magazine writers have picked their best Proteas side of the post-isolation era. That process got us thinking – how many of those South African stars would crack the nod in a best international XI selected in the same era (1992 to 2020)?
JON CARDINELLI: AB de Villiers gets the gig as wicketkeeper-batsman. I considered picking him as a specialist, but felt he would lend the side more firepower than Kumar Sangakkara – another outstanding batsman-cum-gloveman – at the death of an innings. Adam Gilchrist was another candidate, but in the end De Villiers’ overall record and ability to cut loose at the death swayed me. De Villiers averaged over 70 as a wicketkeeper-batsmen for the Proteas.
This is limited-overs cricket, and I’ve picked bowlers with the ability to strike as well as contain. Glenn McGrath and Wasim Akram were known for their accuracy, while Muttiah Muralitharan – the leading wicket-taker of all-time with 534 victims – and Shane Warne had the knack of picking up wickets at crucial times. Jacques Kallis, the only all-rounder in the side, is the third seamer in this attack.
CARDINELLI’S WORLD ODI XI – 1 Sachin Tendulkar (India), 2 Chris Gayle (West Indies), 3 Hashim Amla (South Africa), 4 Virat Kohli (India), 5 Jacques Kallis (South Africa), 6 Ricky Ponting (c, Australia) 7 AB de Villiers (wk, South Africa), 8 Shane Warne (Australia), 9 Wasim Akram (Pakistan), 10 Glenn McGrath (Australia), 11 Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka).
WADE PRETORIUS: With Adam Gilchrist behind the stumps, it affords me the option of playing Ben Stokes, one of the most influential players in the game at present. He would be given licence to tee off from ball one and with Bevan and to a lesser extent Tendulkar, wouldn’t need to bowl out 10 overs should that be a concern.
My strike bowlers are Brett Lee, Shane Warne and Wasim Akram. Lee, one of the quickest ever, has a strike rate under 30 and took 380. And he was handy with the bat too. Warne over Murali for me … with Pakistan’s Saqlain Mushtaq the other spinner missing out. Warney was a born winner and could change a match in an instant.
Pakistan’s Akram is one of two players in the world with 500 ODI wickets and was widely regarded as the best ODI bowler for a decent spell in the early 90s.
And my bolter? I’ve gone current star Mitchell Starc over Australian all-timer Glenn McGrath. Hear me out, both have average of 22 and while the elder statesman has an impressive RPO of under four compared to Starc’s just over 5 to the over, the younger tearaway fast bowler is more destructive with a strike rate of 26 compared to McGrath’s 34. The kicker? Starc already has 11 four-wicket hauls, two more than McGrath achieved. Method in my madness. Oh, and now my team bats all the way to No 11.
I like the overall look of my side and have not batted any player out of position with Bevan and Stokes ready to finish off games. My bowling options have, rather strangely I’ll admit, two left arm options with Akram’s guile and skill complimenting Starc’s pace and aggression with Brett Lee another ready to unleash the speed. Warne’s abilities need nothing futher to sway the vote with Ben Stokes and Michael Bevan sharing the rest of the bowling duties.
PRETORIUS’ WORLD ODI XI – 1 Sachin Tendulkar (India), 2 Adam Gilchrist (Australia), 3 Ricky Ponting (c, Australia), 4 Virat Kohli (India), 5 Kane Williamson (New Zealand), 6 Michael Bevan (Australia) 7 Ben Stokes (England) , 8 Brett Lee (Australia), 9 Shane Warne (Australia), 10 Wasim Akram (Pakistan), 11 Mitchell Starc (Australia)
CRAIG LEWIS: Magic man Ben Stokes is the perfect all-rounder to slot in at 7 for me, and I do like the idea of going with two spinners, but I’m going against the grain here by not picking Shane Warne (ODI average with the ball: 25.73).
Instead, Muttiah Muralitharan (ave: 23.08) will be partnered by my gut pick of Imran Tahir (ave: 24.83) as his spin twin.
My two out-and-out pacemen would be Glenn McGrath and Allan Donald for accuracy and penetration with the ball.
Yes, that does mean I’d have the word’s longest ODI tail of bowlers who can barely bat. But I don’t care. Look below at my top 7 batsmen, and that wouldn’t worry me in the slightest.
LEWIS’ WORLD ODI XI – 1 Sachin Tendulkar (India), 2 Adam Gilchrist (Australia), 3 Virat Kohli (India), 4 AB de Villiers (South Africa), 5 Ricky Ponting (c, Australia), 6 Michael Bevan (Australia) 7 Ben Stokes (England), 8 Allan Donald (South Africa), 9 Glenn McGrath (Australia), 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 Imran Tahir.
JONHENRY WILSON: Leg-spinning all-rounder Shahid Afridi is the first of three Pakistanis in this bottom five. Countrymen Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis will share the new ball, with the former’s left-arm swing to complement the latter’s right-arm pace and swing. South Africa’s Shaun Pollock is in at eight, while Australia’s Glenn McGrath will take 11th spot. And so concludes a cosmopolitan but highly effective bowling attack.
WILSON’S WORLD ODI XI – 1 Sachin Tendulkar (India), 2 Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka), 3 Ricky Ponting (c, Australia), 4 Virat Kohli (India), 5 Jacques Kallis (South Africa), 6 Kumar Sangakkara (wk, Sri Lanka) 7 Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), 8 Shaun Pollock (South Africa), 9 Wasim Akram (Pakistan), 10 Waqar Younis (Pakistan) 11 Glenn McGrath (Australia).
ANDRE HUISAMEN: MS Dhoni will take the responsibility behind the stumps in my XI. Dhoni’s experience became unprecedented in ODI cricket and his ability to lead his team to success, including the 2011 World Cup, was instrumental. His batting ability can also not be doubted and he proved that until fairly recently when he made a return to the Indian ODI team and guided them to a series win in Australia in 2019. Pakistan’s 1992 hero Wasim Akram is next in my lineup. With 295 wickets in 208 ODIs, Akram had a decent strike-rate and was also a great leader for his country. Given the aggressive approach of the other candidates in my team, Akram should be a great addition in this context.
Australian bowling pair Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath are the next two members of my XI. Their dominance, which yielded two world cups in 2003 and 2007, made Australia such a feared outfit for a great number of years. Lee’s pace and bounce with McGrath’s consistent length was crucial to any team they played in. The difficult pick was whether to go with Muttiah Muralitharan or Shane Warne to complete my World ODI XI. After a lot of thought, Muralitharan gets the No 11 spot, despite Warne’s brilliance for Australia and winning two World Cups. Muralitharan’s unorthodox style was unique to world cricket and made him a very difficult bowler to face. His unpredictability always had batsmen guessing, which led to a total of 534 ODI wickets.
HUISAMEN’S WORLD ODI XI – 1 Adam Gilchrist (Australia), 2 Sachin Tendulkar (India), 3 Virat Kohli (India), 4 Kevin Pietersen (England), 5 AB de Villiers (South Africa), 6 Jacques Kallis (South Africa), 7 MS Dhoni (c & wk, India), 8 Wasim Akram (Pakistan), 9 Brett Lee (Australia), 10 Glenn McGrath (Australia), 11 Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka).