THE ICC World Cup gets underway on Thursday and I have been asked in the past about who would make my best ever one-day side compromising of players who I played with or against in the competition.
As a bit of fun, I have had a think and come up with my top line-up. But unfortunately, given the fact that England were poor in both World Cups when I played in the finals in 1996 and 1999, there is no place for any of our players in my star XI.
I remember Sri Lanka being good in 1996 and I was close to putting Muttiah Muralitharan and a few others in.
But Australia were so dominant and won the World Cup in ‘99, so I had to put a few Aussies in.
Alternatively, I have also come up with a best-ever team of England players who I have lined up with. But first things first, here is my best world XI.
As openers, I have gone for Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya, whose quality speaks for itself.
Jacques Kallis – arugably the greatest all-round ODI player there has ever been and whose longevity at the top-level was remarkable. With his figures, you cannot leave him out.Darren Gough
Tendulkar holds the record for most ODIs, most ODI runs and ODI hundreds and was also the first man to score a one-day international double hundred, so he is the first pick really.
Number three is Ricky Ponting, followed by Jacques Kallis – arugably the greatest all-round ODI player there has ever been and whose longevity at the top-level was remarkable. With his figures, you cannot leave him out.
Then I would choose Brian Lara. He is one of only three non-Asian batsmen, along with Ponting and Kallis to have registered more than 10,000 ODI runs.
At number six, I have gone for Lance Klusener, who was just excellent in 1999 and horrible to bowl at – with the irrepressible Adam Gilchrist at seven.
I always say he was the hardest batsmen I have bowled to in one-day cricket.
Gilchrist is the only man to have scored half-centuries in three successive finals. No batsman who has scored more than 8,000 runs as an ODI opener has a better strike-rate than him.
Next in is Shane Warne, who is someone that you simply cannot ignore and his four-wicket hauls helped Australia win the semi-finals and then the final in 1999 in England.
My number nine would be Wasim Akram, who would wreak havoc with his left-arm seam. He was the first man to 500 ODI wickets and was the top wicket-taker in 1992 when Pakistan lifted the World Cup.
I would also pick Waqar’s compatriot Waqar Younis, with the pair of them being lethal when the ball was reversing.
Last but not least to finish off the side, there is only one man you can go for – step forward Glenn McGrath.
McGrath also has the most wickets (71), best average (18.19) and the best figures (7-15) at the World Cup.
He also has the best career average of any bowler to take more than 300 ODI wickets.
A lot of good players have missed out. But for me, those players I have selected were the best.
As for the top team of England players I have lined up with at World Cup finals, I have managed to get an XI together.
I have Marcus Trescothick opening the batting – no Englishman has scored more runs at the top of the order for us in ODI’s – with Alec Stewart and have gone for Graeme Hick at three.
Four is easy and I have opted for Kevin Pietersen followed by Eoin Morgan and Paul Collingwood in the middle order, although it was a close call for the latter with Neil Fairbrother, who was a fantastic player.
Pietersen’s quality speaks for itself and you must find a place for him. Morgan’s statistics also stack up; he has the most ODI caps for England and is our leading run-scorer.
My all-rounder is Andrew Flintoff, who took 168 ODI wickets at an average of just 23.6,
As for the attack, I will have to put myself in.
My record is not too bad, second in the all-time list of wicket-takers for England behind James Anderson.
Steve Harmison would also get a place alongside Phil DeFreitas, a two-time runner-up with England in 1987 and 1992.
My spinner would be Graeme Swann, our first spinner to take 100 ODI wickets for England.
For me, he just gets the nod ahead of Robert Croft, who was also pretty handy with the ball in one-dayers.
All in all, it is quite a handy side still, something that I hope you would agree with.
But the star world line-up is something else.