David Di Somma: Gathering together Cricket World Cup's best of best

Gayle Richards Warne Akram Kallis
Chris Gayle, Vic Richards, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram & Jacques Kallis. Photo credit: Photosport/Reuters

OPINION: With the upcoming Cricket World Cup now just days away, what better time to consider the best modern-day World Cup XI?

Think openers (both batsmen and bowlers), strike-rates, closers, all-rounders, spin options and wicketkeepers.

To make it easy, the imaginary XI would play in what we can call 'neutral' conditions, so not the dusty pitches of the sub-continent, but not a wicket of fire like the WACA either.

Think Lords or the Basin Reserve.

The time-frame is from 1975 until the modern day - that includes 11 World Cups and literally several truckloads of players.

You would imagine successful teams to be well represented, with Australia winning the most World Cups (five), with India and the West Indies both two-time winners, and Pakistan and Sri Lanka just once each.

The best teams not to win include three-time runners-up England, New Zealand (beaten 2015 finalist) and South Africa.

For what it's worth, this is my XI - and why.

  1. 1. Adam Gilchrist
  2. 2. Chris Gayle
  3. 3. Sachin Tendulkar
  4. 4. Viv Richards
  5. 5. AB de Villiers
  6. 6. Jacques Kallis
  7. 7. Ian Botham
  8. 8. Wasim Akram
  9. 9. Shane Warne
  10. 10. Joel Garner
  11. 11. Glenn McGrath

Gilchrist is an absolute no-brainer. He revolutionised the role of the explosive wicketkeeper/batsman and is a must include.

His partnership with Chris Gayle would be the most fearsome in world cricket ever.

And who better to follow the 'Boss of the Universe' than the 'Little Master' himself.

Sachin Tendulkar gets the nod at three, because he is Sachin Tendulkar - he can accumulate or he can dominate, in much the same way that AB de Villiers can at six.

In between them, 'Master Blaster' Viv Richards adds undoubted intimidation to the middle order. There is no respite in this line-up.

The all-rounders are contentious, but Ian Botham is a given, and Jacques Kallis gets the nod over a specialist batsman like Virat Kohli or Brian Lara, because he can bowl a few overs if needed.  

You can't just have five specialist bowlers.

Garfield Sobers would have been a shoo-in, but he finished playing in 1974, a year before the first World Cup.  

The pace bowlers are the complete package - the height and bounce of Joel Garner, the swing and brilliance of Wasim Akram and the metronomic accuracy of Glenn McGrath.

Sachin Tendulkar in test action for India
Sachin Tendulkar in test action for India. Photo credit: Reuters.

To round out the bowling unit, who better than Shane Warne, both for his leg-spin and off-field amusement.

So many other players went close...


Brian Lara, Virat Kohli, Ricky Ponting, Martin Crowe,  Matthew Hayden, Sanath Jayasuriya, Javed Miandad, Clive Loyd, Virender Sehwag, Greg Chappell, Gordon Greenidge and Michael Bevan


Quentin de Kock, Kumar Sangakkara and MS Dhoni


Richard Hadlee, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Shahid Afridi


Dan Vettori, Anil Kumble and Muttiah Muralitharan

Pace bowlers: 

Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Dale Steyn, Brett Lee, Mitchell Starc, Dennis Lillee, Trent Boult

So many options, so few places.  Who else should be there? Who shouldn't be there?

Who will win this year?

India and England are the early favourites, but Australia have massive pedigree in this event (not to mention the ball tamperers), with the expectation that huge scores will be the norm.

It should be fun.

Bring on the 2019 edition.

David Di Somma is a Christchurch-based Newshub sports reporter. Join us for live updates of the Blackcaps' 2019 Cricket World Cup campaign.


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