Alex Massie

The XI of the Decade

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It's that time of year and that time of the decade. So, what's the best XI of the last ten years? In some ways it is a disappointingly easy selection. But here it is anyway:

1. G Smith

2. V Sehwag

3. R Ponting

4. S Tendulkar

5. B Lara

6. A Gilchrist* (Wkt)

7. S Pollock

8. S Warne (Capt)

9. J Gillespie

10. M Muralitharan

11. G McGrath

Criteria: Anyone who retired before 2006 is ineligible. Lara, Tendulkar and Warne etc could also, of course, be in a team of the 1990s.

As you can see - and as you know - there's been a severe shortage of top-class, truly-fast bowling in recent years. You could make a case for Shoaib Aktar or perhaps Dale Steyn to play instead of Gillespie. Choosing a third seamer is the only difficult selection. You could play Kallis, but the top six selected should get you enough runs and so you'd want a more threatening bowler as your fifth man.

Then again, you could make a different choice. Consider Simon Wilde, cricket correspondent of the Sunday Times, and his selection:

1. V Sehwag 

2. M Hayden 

3. R Ponting 

4. S Tendulkar

5. K  Pietersen 

6. J Kallis 

7. A Gilchrist 

8. A  Flintoff

9. S Warne 

10. M  Muralitharan 

11. G McGrath

Obviously I don't know what Mr Wilde's criteria were but I think my team beats his. Apart from anything else he only has one truly great fast-bowler. I think my team has enough batting to save matches; I wonder if his has enough top-class bowling to win them. Kallis as first change = QED.

And even if you exclude, for whatever baffling reason, Brian Lara from your team, why would you select Pietersen ahead of Rahul Dravid?

I'll accept that there is a case for picking Hayden rather than Smith but I'd ask you which of them you'd rather see bat for your life? I'll take Smith and fancy my chances if you've picked Hayden. Doubly so if the wicket or the attack isn't susceptible to flat-track bullydom...

But, readers, what do you think? Email me - use the helpful "Email Alex" button at the top of the page - or leave your verdict in the comments...

*Typo corrected. Doh! Also, I've selected Shane Warne as captain. Because a) I can and b) he should have skippered Australia.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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