Friday, January 01, 2010

Jayasuriya features in ODI XI of the decade picked by Cricinfo's jury

This is delicate business, the kind that requires careful attention to statistics, quality and overall impact on the game. A decade is a long time, long enough for a sportsperson's career to run its entire course, and while the result of putting together world XIs for the 2000s may result in lists of 11 each, plenty of factors need to be taken into account to determine them.


Forget the fact that if they were to walk out together to open an innings today, the combined age of Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya, the openers in this XI, would be over 77 years. More pertinent is that they have a mind-boggling 30,822 ODI runs between themselves (over 17,000 of those scored this decade).

Ponting claims the one-drop spot here as well, having racked up over 9000 runs, with 23 centuries. He posted what was then the highest score in a World Cup final in 2003, and led his side to successive World Cup and Champions Trophy wins as captain.

The middle order has a combined career tally of a touch under 25,000 runs. Kallis, who got seven votes, can nudge and wallop in equal measure, and there's his bowling to consider as well. Andrew Symonds was similarly hard to overlook, having averaged 44.52 at a strike rate of 91.87 over 96 innings at No. 5 this decade, to go with 126 wickets and 79 catches. Yuvraj Singh (7249 runs at 37.36) and an erratic Shahid Afridi (3761 runs at 22.79 and 213 wickets at 30.30 this decade) were Symonds' nearest competitors.

At No. 6 is big Andrew Flintoff, who when fit was an irresistible force, as much for his hard-to-get-away bowling as his ability to clear the fence. Since 2000 he has scored 3294 runs at a strike-rate of 89.29 and taken 162 wickets, and just having him on the field is enough to lift a side.

No surprise who gets the wicketkeeper's spot. MS Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara got six votes between them, but with twice as many, Gilchrist it is who takes the gloves (even if a few of the jurors who picked him had him down as a specialist opener). The vast majority of his innings this decade were as opener, but here he moves down to the lower middle-order territory he occupied with devastating effect in the longer game, so Jayasuriya can open.

As in the Test team, Pollock grabs the No. 8 spot, with eight votes, testament to the value of his containment skills with the ball. The third most successful ODI bowler this decade, his miserly economy rate of 3.62 from 220 ODIs was outstanding. Pollock was one of South Africa's most consistent players and key to their claiming the No. 1 spot from Australia before the 2007 World Cup.

The opening bowlers are an Australian pair with 705 ODI wickets between them: Brett Lee offers raw pace and hostility, and yet an average of 23.01; not to mention handy skills with the bat. And McGrath was parsimonious and successful with an average of 20.28 and economy rate of 3.78. Lee's 324 ODI wickets since 2000 have been crucial to Australia's domination, while the lasting memory of McGrath is the 2007 World Cup, when he took 26 wickets and was named Man of the Tournament.

There's room for only one spinner and Murali it is, with 10 votes. The leading ODI wicket-taker of the decade, he took his 335 wickets at a sub-4 economy rate. That spells shoo-in.


Sanath Jayasuriya, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Flintoff, Shaun Pollock, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan

12th man: Shane Warne

The jury :

Sambit Bal, editor, Cricinfo; Harsha Bhogle, sports presenter and writer; Ian Chappell, commentator, writer, former Australia captain; Peter English, Australasia editor, Cricinfo; Jayaditya Gupta, executive editor, Cricinfo; Gideon Haigh, cricket historian, writer; Sanjay Manjrekar, sports presenter, former India batsman; Andrew Miller, UK editor, Cricinfo; Dileep Premachandran, associate editor, Cricinfo; S Rajesh, stats editor, Cricinfo; Christian Ryan, writer; Rob Steen, writer; Telford Vice, writer

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