A Pakistan Cricket Dream Team

Posted on November 24, 2006
Filed Under >Khalid R. Hasan, Sports
37 Comments
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Guest Post by Khalid R Hasan

Clicking on the photos in this article will take you to that individual’s career record site at cricinfo.org. The rankings noted in the following are valid as of November 25, 2006.

The recent post on statistics of leading Pakistani batsmen (here) prompted me to look at the ICC’s ‘Best Ever’ Player Ratings, to see where our players stand.

ICC ratings take into account the quality of the opposition and the overall context in which each performance was achieved, unlike simple averages. Also, the ‘best ever’ ranking attempts to show how good players were at their peak, rather than over their whole career. As such, they suggest how players from different eras would have compared, though not everyone may agree with the conclusions drawn.

Generally speaking, ratings of over 800 indicate that the player has consistently produced outstanding performances, while anything over 900 is world class. There are only 19 bowlers and 20 batsmen who have achieved Test ratings over 900, out of the hundreds who must have played in the last century or so. Pakistan has two bowlers, Imran Khan and Waqar Younis, and one batsman, Mohammed Yousuf, in this elite group.

Test Match Dream Team

I thought it would be interesting to try and compile a Test squad from the top Pakistani players in the ICC’s list of 100 “best ever players.

Let us start by looking at the players who made it into the ICC list. I begin by looking at the bowlers and batsmen seperately.

World Ranking. Bowlers (rank; points):
Imran Khan (#3; 922); Waqar Younis (#10; 909); Fazal Mahmood (#25; 898); Shoaib Akhtar (#42; 855); Wasim Akram (#57; 830); Mushtaq Ahmed (#59; 827); Saqlain Mushtaq (#94; 771); Iqbal Qasim (#95; 770); Sarfraz Nawaz (#98; 767)

World Ranking. Batsmen (rank; points):
Mohd Yousuf (#18; 914); Javed Miandad (#30; 885); Inzamam-ul-Haq (#42; 870); Younis Khan (#46; 856); Saeed Anwar (#62; 824); Hanif Mohammed (#66; 819); Zaheer Abbas (#78; 803); Majid Khan (#86; 791); Saeed Ahmed (#92; 784)

If we drop the last from each list, we will have 8 specialist batsmen and 8 bowlers. By chance, this is also a well balanced group, though there is no wicketkeeper. To complete a squad of 17, we need only to add Wasim Bari, who was undoubtedly Pakistan’s finest specialist keeper and acknowledged in his time as among the world’s best.

Most of the above players have captained their country, so selecting one leader is not easy. However, I would opt for Imran Khan for his attacking approach. Selecting a final playing eleven from these players involves subjective judgement and no longer relies only on statistics. One logical selection (in batting order) is as follows:

Pakistan’s Dream Team (Tests)

Hanif Mohammed
Saeed Anwar
Mohammed Yousuf
Javed Miandad
Inzamam-ul-Haq
Imran Khan (captain)
Wasim Akram
Wasim Bari
Mushtaq Ahmed
Waqar Younis
Fazal Mahmood

Shoaib Akhtar would be the reserve fast bowler, while Saqlain Mushtaq and Iqbal Qasim would replace one or more of the fast bowlers depending on the type of wicket. Zaheer Abbas, Younis Khan and Majid Khan would be the reserve batsmen.

Except for benching Shoaib Akhtar in favour of Wasim Akram (more useful as a left armer and all rounder) and Mushtaq Ahmed (to have at least one specialist spinner), this team follows the ICC rankings. As openers, Saeed Anwar and Hanif Mohammed take precedence over Younis Khan (The squad should really have a reserve wicketkeeper rather than an extra middle order batsman, but for that one would have to go outside the Rankings again, which I preferred not to do).

The only problem I have with this team is the one down position. Both Yousuf and Inzamam have been reluctant to bat at number 3, while Miandad was a regular at 4. In principle, the best batsman should come in at 3, which would be Yousuf according to the rankings. However, in view of his expressed reluctance, I would prefer to see Zaheer Abbas in this position, as he was definitely the best one down we have had. If he comes in, though, either Yousuf or Inzamam would have to join the reserves.

One Day Dream Team

Similar to the Test team, one can use the ICC Ratings to select a one day squad.

Players before the seventies obviously don’t feature here, and although there are 11 Pakistani batsmen and 15 bowlers in the top 100, only the top 7 or 8 in each category are listed below:

World Ranking. Bowlers (rank; points):
Wasim Akram (#15;850); Saqlain Mushtaq (#22; 804); Imran Khan (#31; 780); Abdul Qadir (#32; 778); Waqar Younis (#32; 778); Azhar Mahmood (#48; 748); Sarfraz Nawaz (#49; 744)

World Ranking. Batsmen (rank; points):
Zaheer Abbas (#2; 930); Javed Miandad (#6; 910); Salim Malik (#26; 822); Saeed Anwar (#36; 808); Inzamam-ul-Haq (#41; 801); Mohammed Yousuf (#52; 777); Aamir Sohail (#59; 766); Ramiz Raja (#62; 762)

There are 7 bowlers and 8 batsmen, again well balanced but without a wicketkeeper. I would personally choose Wasim Bari as keeper here also, because I feel one should choose the best player for the position, even though the current trend is to prefer a batsman who can keep rather than the best keeper if he isn’t an outstanding bat. If one wanted to play safe, one could choose between Moin Khan, Rashid Latif or Salim Yousuf, all of whom could be relied on as batsmen.

My personal playing eleven for the dream one-day team would be as follows:

Pakistan’s Dream Team (ODIs)

Saeed Anwar
Aamir Sohail
Zaheer Abbas
Javed Miandad
Inzamam-ul-Haq
Imran Khan (captain)
Wasim Akram
Wasim Bari
Abdul Qadir
Waqar Younis
Saqlain Mushtaq

If an extra medium pacer is needed, Azhar Mahmood can come in instead of one of the spinners, which would also strengthen the batting. Sarfraz Nawaz and Ramiz Raja make up the reserves in a 14 man squad.

Purely as a personal prejudice, and my only significant deviation from the ratings, I have not included Salim Malik, though he is rated the third highest Pakistani batsman in one day internationals. I would rather have Inzamam, as being more reliable when the chips are down.

Also, as a middle order bat, Mohammed Yousuf loses out to Aamir Sohail and Ramiz Raja (the latter being the reserve opener), even though Yousuf is ranked higher by the ICC.

What do you think aboutmy Dream Teams? Woudl you like to suggest your own? How closely do you feel the ICC Ratings reflect the real achievements of players?

Those who are interested in the full rankings can go to ICC website and navigate from there.

Khalid R Hasan lives in Karachi and has avidly followed cricket since the West Indies toured the country in 1958.

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