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
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.
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.
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.
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
He has been South Africa's answer to Philander.
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.
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).