In the second decade of the 21st century, cricket witnessed new champions in ODI and T20I World Cup competitions, the advent of a new competition in the Tests to give much-needed legitimacy to the format and growth of the sport — as far as technology is concerned.
The same growth accolade, however, cannot be extended to the game reaching newer regions of the world, or at least not frequently enough. There were the lows of match-fixing, spot-fixing, boundary countbacks, corruption, the demise of Philip Hughes which highlighted the need for safeguards, sandpaper to name just a few controversies.
But there were also the highs of England finally breaking their duck in World Cups (the semantics of it all can, and will, be debated), bowlers bridging the gap on their batting counterparts, women's cricket getting the limelight it deserves, ICC take the control back from the 'Big Three' and on the pitch, Virat Kohli vs Steve Smith vs Kane Williamson (and Joe Root?) forming the cricketing equivalent of the Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate.
Away from these super humans, there have been many others who have done well. But picking XIs for a decade gone by is a tricky task: not everyone performs well across the 10 years, not everyone performs well at all venues and there are also debates over their overall impact to a team. But that didn't stop Firstpost writers from picking their teams in Tests, ODIs and T20Is. Further, they provide reasonings for their choices (not that that is going to stop the debates!).
Test Team of the decade: Alastair Cook, David Warner, Kane Williamson, Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Ben Stokes, BJ Watling (wk), Dale Steyn, Nathan Lyon, James Anderson, Stuart Broad
The top six of this team picks itself, there are the two best openers of the last 10 years and three of the “fab four”. Joe Root just misses out, but it is a close-run thing. Ben Stokes gets the nod as the best Test match all-rounder of the last 10 years, but Shakib Al Hasan runs him close. The three seamers are pretty easy picks, although Stuart Broad may be a slightly controversial selection, but only really because he is Stuart Broad. Along with Anderson, he makes up the most successful new-ball pair of this decade. Nathan Lyon just tips Ravichandran Ashwin as the spinner based on current form. The wicket-keeper is the hardest pick, but after much consideration it has to be BJ Watling. No keeper has more runs this decade, or more hundreds, and combined with his ability with this gloves he gets the nod.
ODI Team of the decade: Hashim Amla, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, Rashid Khan, Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell Starc
The top six of the ODI team is harder to select than the Test side, with only really Sharma and Kohli being men you can’t leave out. Hashim Amla opens with Sharma and AB de Villiers and Kumar Sangakkara join Kohli to make up a very classy top five. With Adil Rashid and Rashid Khan both making the team it is Ben Stokes who gets in as the all-rounder to give a third seam-bowling option, but Shakib could easily make this side. The two best white-ball seamers of the last decade, Mitchell Starc and Jasprit Bumrah, make up the rest of the team.
T20I Team of the decade: Chris Gayle, Jos Buttler (wk), Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Ben Stokes, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Rashid Khan, Sunil Narine, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Starc
There isn’t enough international T20s to make these selections based only on those games, so franchise success has been taken into account here. There are plenty of runs in this team, and a lot of bowling options. While Chris Gayle’s powers are declining there is no other player who can open in a T20 team of the decade, with Jos Buttler joining him at the top of the order.
There are plenty of spinners who could have made this team, with Shakib, Imran Tahir and Shahid Afridi all unlucky to not get into the team. Starc has not played many T20 matches, just 91 in his career, but with an average of 17 and an economy rate of 7.1 he has plenty of pedigree in the format. The other out and out seamer has to be Lasith Malinga who has been a stalwart in this format for so many years.
Virat Kohli this decade:
5,775 more international runs than anyone else
22 more international hundreds than anyone else pic.twitter.com/u1ZA97ARRn
— ICC (@ICC) December 24, 2019
Test Team of the decade: Alastair Cook, David Warner, Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Ben Stokes, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mitchell Starc, James Anderson and Rangana Herath
These pick themselves on the basis of the performances that matched their potential. There were three main points of debate. First, would Joe Root or Kevin Pietersen not compete with Kane Williamson for a place in the batting order? Williamson’s captaincy skills give him the edge. An argument arose over the off-spinner’s slot. Nathan Lyon pushed Ravichandran Ashwin hard, but the Indian won the berth because of his superior strike rate and economy rate, better average. Brad Haddin and Sarfaraz Ahmed challenged Quinton de Kock for the wicket-keeper’s position but the South African’s batting skills lent the edge to his claims.
ODI Team of the decade: Rohit Sharma, David Warner, Virat Kohli, Ross Taylor, AB de Villiers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c and wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Trent Boult, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Starc and Lasith Malinga
There was greater debate during the selection of the ODI squad. Hashim Amla and Kane Williamson could undoubtedly feel unfairly left out but with the left-right combination of Rohit Sharma and David Warner claiming the openers’ slots and with Ross Taylor’s consistency over a longer period of time, it was inevitable that they had to be left out. Mohammad Hafeez may have taken the spin-bowling all-rounder’s place ahead of Shakib Al Hasan, but he would have tempted the umpires to look at his action. Mitchell Johnson and Jasprit Bumrah ran the set of fast bowlers in the squad very close.
T20I Team of the decade: Chris Gayle, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine, Tim Southee, Rashid Khan and Lasith Malinga
With an increasing number of T20 matches being played around the world, it is never going to be easy picking a squad encompassing the world. Yet, one has stuck one’s neck out and picked the XI – and one is also mentally ready to be questioned on the choices made. Bumrah, Mustafizur Rahman, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and so many other names floated in an out of the debate when picking bowlers. The simple response to that will be: The bowling unit picked in the XI will be able to stop the best batsmen from running up big scores or to defend any total that the mighty batting line-up posts.
Test Team of the decade: David Warner, Alastair Cook, Kane Williamson, Steven Smith, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers (wk), Ben Stokes, Nathan Lyon, Rangana Herath/Stuart Broad, Dale Steyn, James Anderson
Little doubt over the openers, and absolutely no doubt on that middle order trio (no offence, Joe Root fans, but he is a tiny notch below this pack). Numbers six, seven and eight required the most amount of head-scratching — Kumar Sangakkara and BJ Watling were both worthy suitors for the 'keeper-batsman role, but de Villiers' average in 22 Tests as 'keeper this decade was a whopping 59.69; Ben Stokes over Shakib Al Hasan was a case of prioritising batting ability over bowling potential; Nathan Lyon versus Ravichandran Ashwin was a tough one to choose, but a battle Lyon edged on account of his better away record. Rangana Herath and Stuart Broad will trade places in this XI depending on conditions.
Near-Misses: Kumar Sangakkara, Misbah-ul-Haq, BJ Watling, R Ashwin, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada
ODI Team of the decade: David Warner, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni (c and wk), Jos Buttler/Ben Stokes, Shakib Al Hasan, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Starc, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah
Hashim Amla presented a compelling case as opener, but in the back-half of this decade, he fizzled when David Warner and Rohit Sharma sizzled in the ODI game. It felt piercing to have to leave out Sangakkara in this XI too, but de Villiers was probably the ODI batsman of the 2010s and MS Dhoni has got to be the captain/wicket-keeper/finisher. Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes is a trade-off dependent on whether one wants a sixth bowling option. Rashid Khan's numbers in the 50-over game are irresistible, but the Afghan misses out because Imran Tahir produced his goods against far better opponents. Dazzling as the batting order reads, the prospect of Starc-Boult-Bumrah as a three-man pace battery: Wow!
Near-Misses: Hashim Amla, Kumar Sangakkara, Kane Williamson, Saeed Ajmal, Rashid Khan, Kagiso Rabada
T20I Team of the decade: Brendon McCullum (c), Aaron Finch, Virat Kohli, Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Jos Buttler (wk), Shakib al Hasan, Rashid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah
A T20I team of the decade without any West Indian representation? The imperative bit here is the 'I' in T20I — check out the international record of the T20 giants that are Messrs Gayle, Narine, Russell, Bravo etc., and you'll know why they didn't make the cut. Rohit Sharma could feel a bit hard done by with his exclusion, but electricity is a common feature through this XI — and who better to lead such a mix than Brendon McCullum? Shane Watson may be batting slightly out of position, but he's not alien to batting in the middle of the order — and boasts figures more deserving than any other fast-bowling all-rounder in T20Is this decade. Perhaps a bit spin-heavy, but sample the T20I bowling numbers of Shakib, Rashid and Saeed Ajmal, and try presenting an argument against them!
Near-Misses: Rohit Sharma, Colin Munro, Shahid Afridi, Imran Tahir, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Amir
Test Team of the decade: David Warner, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting (c), Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, James Anderson, Nathan Lyon
This is a team of proven match-winners. There was a case for including Virender Sehwag as impact opener. But Jacques Kallis’ proven all-round ability was the clincher. Kallis usually bats at number three but has opened successfully in limited-overs cricket. His technique too is good for opening the batting, especially with an explosive batsman in Warner at the other end.
A similar logic is used to choose Sangakkara over other wicket-keeping contenders. Sangakkara’s batting capabilities are head and shoulders above other wicket-keepers. The fact that he keeps in limited-overs cricket was the argument that swayed the spot his way.
Lyon’s superior bowling showing in all conditions was preferred to Ravichandran Ashwin’s heavy success on Indian pitches. New-ball bowlers Steyn, Rabada and Anderson were all seen to be better bets in the longer format than some of their competitors, particularly Stuart Broad, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc. Ponting who led the Aussies to many victories is the natural choice as skipper. He and de Villiers were both preferred ahead of Steve Smith’s undoubted talent.
Tendulkar had a great 2010 when he made 5 Test tons at 87.25. This made him the natural number four for the decade. Ponting too retired in the first half of the decade but his performance was always fantastic during those years.
This way I’ve tried to ensure that there is no bias for cricketers currently in the fray. I’ve also made note of those who made an impact at the start of the decade and retired mid-way through the decade.
ODI Team of the decade: David Warner, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Ben Stokes, MS Dhoni (c and wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Rashid Khan, Mitchell Starc, Lasith Malinga
Every one of these players is an impact player. And that was the primary reason in selecting the team. Dhoni is the choice for skipper because he keeps his cool under pressure and also knows how to deploy spinners in the crucial middle overs. Besides Rashid, Shakib and Yuvraj , he also has pacers Malinga, Starc and Stokes to bowl in the match-defining 11th to 40th overs. The batting line-up is awesome. It has everything, left-right combination, power hitting ability, consistency and ability to run up massive totals. This side is truly the best of the best.
T20I Team of the decade: Chris Gayle, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Shane Watson, MS Dhoni (c and wk), Dwayne Bravo, Mustafizur Rahman, Rashid Khan, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga
It was a toss up between Andre Russell and Watson. The Aussie scored because he was better against pace bowling and a more consistent all-rounder. The Bangladeshi left-arm pacer Mustafizur was a champion bowler till he was brought short by injury. No batsman in world cricket could get the better of him when he was at his peak. In fact all the bowlers, Malinga, Bumrah, Mustafizur, Bravo, Rashid Khan and Watson are T20 greats
The batting too packs plenty of firepower. Gayle, Rohit, Watson, Bravo, Dhoni are all massive hitters. Kohli and Smith are champion batsmen who can bat in any situation. I went for Rohit Sharma instead of Warner because of the left-right combination. Otherwise there was little to choose between them.
Captain cool, Dhoni was a natural choice.
This is a crack outfit for sure.
Test Team of the decade: David Warner, Alastair Cook, Kumar Sangakkara, Virat Kohli (c), Steve Smith, Jacques Kallis, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mitchell Starc, Dale Steyn, and Rangana Herath
Virat Kohli, the man who helped India achieve many milestones in the last decade including a series win in Australia and number one rank in Test will lead the side. The team has two specialist spinners and only two seamers. Jacques Kallis, the reliable South African all-rounder will be the back up seamer. Eight of the 11 players selected occupied the number one slot for Test batsmen or bowlers during the last decade. Another notable feature is that six of the 11 players captained their respective countries in the last decade. Ashwin at number eight provides batting depth to the side.
ODI Team of the decade: Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum (wk), Virat Kohli, Mahela Jayawardene (c), Ben Stokes, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Starc, Brett Lee and Kagiso Rabada
The choice for captaincy between MS Dhoni and Mahela Jayawardene was a tough one. Cool heads both players have served their nations well. Ravindra Jadeja may have been used sparingly by India due to their fascination with wrist spinners but it is hard to leave out such a genuine match-winner. The fact that he is the best fielder in the side makes him an automatic selection to the side. Shakib Al Hasan missed out narrowly. Brendon McCullum, an opening batsman for New Zealand will occupy number three slot to give way to Gayle and Rohit. Stokes is the only Englishman in the side despite their remarkable improvement in shorter formats of the game in the last decade.
T20I Team of the decade: Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli, Mahela Jayawardene, Kieron Pollard, MS Dhoni (wk), Darren Sammy (c), Rashid Khan, Pat Cummins, Trent Boult and Lasith Malinga
The choice for captain – Darren Sammy will surprise many. There will be arguments that he is unable to hold onto a place in the side. But then, how many players have skippered their side for the World T20 title twice? Malinga took more wickets in white-ball cricket than any other bowler and he is a must. Pat Cummins provides pace while Trent Boult swing. In a side comprising many big hitters, Kohli and Jayawardene help hold the innings together. Rashid Khan so devastating in T20Is is the lone spinner. Glenn Maxwell, Sunil Narine, Mitchell Starc, Ben Stokes and Carlos Brathwaite narrowly missed out.
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