There have been several World XIs put together for exhibition matches down the years, but there are always factors that skew the unit away from being genuinely cosmopolitan.
What we have done is set out to pick a World Test XI comprising one player from each of the top 11-ranked teams.
The picks are listed in the order they were selected, starting with the top-ranked team in the ICC Test rankings, India, and rounding off with 11th-ranked Zimbabwe. Ireland miss out by virtue of being the lowest ranked of the 12 full members.
India – Virat Kohli (captain) – Batting at four
It’s a predictable first pick, but there is little doubt that Kohli is the best batsman in the world right now across all three formats.
Kohli didn’t enjoy the same level of success in Test cricket through 2019 as he did in 2018, but he still lashed 608 runs at an average of 67.60 at a strike rate of just over 62.
Australia – Steve Smith – Batting at three
Despite Smith’s audacious ability with the bat, especially in Test cricket, this wasn’t an easy pick with Australia also featuring the likes of Pat Cummins and Marnus Labuschagne.
Although he has a complicated relationship with South African fans, few would argue that he is not one of the most captivating cricketers ever to have played the game.
England – Ben Stokes – Batting at six
Stokes is a player who stands out. Physically, yes, but his performances with bat and ball for England really demand attention.
He is the best international all-rounder since Jacques Kallis and could go on to be considered the greatest of all time. Proteas cricket fans need no reminding what Stokes can do.
New Zealand – Neil Wagner – Batting at 11
Wagner was the only Black Caps cricketer who turned up with any regularity in their recent Test series defeat by Australia.
A warrior of a cricketer, Wagner gets in faces and also gets people out. 2019 was the best year of his career to date. He took 43 Test wickets, including four five-wicket hauls.
South Africa – Kagiso Rabada – Batting at 10
Rabada has been the Proteas’ most consistent performer for the last three years, and he is the one player in the lineup most teams would love to have at their disposal. Quinton de Kock was also a serious contender.
His displays took a downturn in 2019. A well-rested and motivated Rabada has no equal, though.
Sri Lanka – Dimuth Karunaratne – Batting at one
The Sri Lanka opener played an incredible knock during their upset Test series win in South Africa last year and stands out as his country’s best batsman.
An old-school opener, he does the job of blunting the opposition attack very well.
Pakistan – Babar Azam – Batting at five
Azam has really come of age in Test cricket of late after a slow start in the format. He beats out competition from his team’s dynamic bowling attack.
He scored three Test tons in 2019 and has already notched another in 2020.
West Indies – Kraigg Brathwaite – Batting at two
Brathwaite’s stubborn resistance has helped the West Indies’ batting develop some much-needed backbone and improved their ability to compete in Test cricket.
He was brilliant for them in England, which is one of the toughest places in the world to open the batting.
Bangladesh – Mushfiqur Rahim (wicketkeeper) – Batting at seven
Rahim may have fallen out with the Bangladesh Cricket Board over his refusal to go to Pakistan, but he is a world-class counter-attacker and decent gloveman.
No shrinking violet despite his diminutive stature, Mushfiqur has clashed with opponents, teammates and board members, but he is a match-winner.
Afghanistan – Rashid Khan – Batting at nine
Rashid Khan is emblematic of Afghanistan cricket, and it would almost be wrong not to pick him as this team’s spin option.
Afghanistan have had limited opportunities to play Test cricket, but Khan has shown quality across all three formats.
Zimbabwe – Sikandar Raza – Batting at eight
Sikandar Raza has enjoyed an excellent career for Zimbabwe, but it might have been better were it not for ZC’s treatment of arguably their best player.
He is a Test quality all-rounder who might not be No 1, but is still capable enough to win matches.
- Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka)
- Kraigg Brathwaite (West Indies)
- Steven Smith (Australia)
- Virat Kohli (India)
- Babar Azam (Pakistan)
- Ben Stokes (England)
- Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh)
- Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe)
- Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
- Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)
- Neil Wagner (New Zealand)
Photo: Gallo Images