Cricket: The world's best, without us

At the risk of copping more grief - his world XI last year included none other than erratic Australian left-armer Mitchell Johnson - cricket writer Adrian Seconi names his world test and limited-over XIs.

World test XI

Graeme Smith (South Africa), Chris Gayle (West Indies), Hashim Amla (South Africa), Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka), Michael Clarke (Australia), Jacques Kallis (South Africa), Matt Prior (England), Stuart Broad (England), Vernon Philander (South Africa), Kemar Roach (West Indies), Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan), Graeme Swann (England 12th man).

Last year: Alastair Cook (England), Virender Sehwag (India), Rahul Dravid (India), Sachin Tendulkar (India), Sangakkara, Kallis, Prior, Mitchell Johnson (Australia), Swann, Dale Steyn (South Africa), James Anderson (England), Daniel Vettori (New Zealand, 12th man).

This year's team was picked purely on form, rather than reputation.

Hence, swashbuckling batsman Virender Sehwag had to sit this one out alongside Indian team-mate Sachin Tendulkar.

Sadly, the little master has not been himself lately.

There was also no obsessive need to include a left-armer and definitely no room for the mercurial Mitchell Johnson.

Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara, South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis and England wicketkeeper Matt Prior are the only returning players.

England spinner Graeme Swann has been named 12th man after making the playing XI last year.

There are no New Zealanders, which is appropriate considering their lowly position of eighth. Daniel Vettori made the side last year as 12th man but can not command a spot this time. Doug Bracewell was the only New Zealander briefly considered.

Openers

West Indian Chris Gayle is back playing test cricket again and no-one can entertain quite like he can or promise a more explosive beginning to an innings. He takes over the role from India's Virender Sehwag and is the perfect foil for South Africa's Graeme Smith. Smith's batting can be ugly to watch but it is extremely effective. You can pencil him in for at least 50 every time.

Middle order

Graceful and elegant, Kumar Sangakkara's inclusion needed little thought. He is the ICC's No 1-ranked batsman for good reason. He has nearly 10,000 runs to his name and has scored them at an average close to 57.

The Sri Lankan is joined by unflappable South African Hashim Amla and resurgent Australian Michael Clarke. Both have test triple centuries to their name this year.

All-rounder

Jacques Kallis was the pick of the all-rounders this year, last year, the year before and long before Y2K threatened to plunge the world into darkness. He is arguably the greatest all-rounder in the history of the game.

Wicketkeeper

Matt Prior keeps his spot. The England gloveman is an excellent technician with 29 dismissals this calendar year. Brendon McCullum's keeping is better but, sadly, he does not put the gloves on at test level.

Pace bowlers

What? No Dale Steyn?

Sorry, but the South African quick missed the cut. His team-mate, Vernon Philander, has had extraordinary success and nabs one of the three spots available for seamers. His ability to move the ball both ways, find an impeccable line and hit challenging lengths has been a revelation. England's baby-faced assassin, Stuart Broad, is the leading wicket-taker in 2012 with 40 scalps and bumps national team-mate James Anderson.

Paceman Kemar Roach's strike rate this year has been first-class.

He has been South Africa's answer to Philander.

Spinner

Saeed Ajmal's golden run started last year and he has quickly moved through the ranks with pinpoint control, clever flight and a wonderful doosra. He has confused the best batsmen with his variations and won the head-to-head battle with England's offspinner, Graeme Swann, earlier this year, taking 24 wickets at an average of 14.70 during that series.

12th man

If you are going to play two spinners, Swann is your man.

Limited-overs

Brendon McCullum (New Zealand), Chris Gayle (West Indies), David Warner (Australia), Hashim Amla (South Africa), Virat Kohli (India), Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka), Shane Watson (Australia), Graeme Swann (England), Mitchell Starc (Australia), Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka), Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan), Steven Finn (England, 12th man).

Last year: McCullum, Watson, Kohli, Jonathan Trott (England), Sangakkara, Jacques Kallis (South Africa), Michael Clarke (Australia), Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), Mitchell Johnson (Australia), Dale Steyn (South Africa), Malinga (Sri Lanka), Mike Hussey (Australia, 12th man).