World XI: One XI to rule them all
Who'd make your cricket World XI?
Consistent top performers, including five from South Africa, find themselves in Nick's World XI.
1. Graeme Smith (South Africa, captain) - Generally doesn't get the recognition he deserves as one of the finest batsmen around. Has played most of his career as captain and, with a team dominated by South Africans, is an easy pick as leader.
2. Hashim Amla (South Africa) - Would have seemed ridiculous this time last year not to pick Alastair Cook to partner Smith. However, considering the England captain's poor year with the bat, Amla, an automatic pick, is promoted to opener.
3. Cheteshwar Pujara (India) - Class act. Averages 66 with six hundreds in 17 tests and was formidable in South Africa against the best attack in the world. Enough said.
4. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka) - His averages of 78 and 63 in tests and one-day internationals respectively this year is testament to his current form with the bat, although most of the test runs were against Bangladesh. Has been up there with the best for years and is too good to leave out.
5. Michael Clarke (Australia) - Another automatic pick. Top run-scorer in the world for 2013, as well as International Cricket Council cricketer of the year and test player of the year. Would be hard to argue against "Pup" being the best batsman in the world currently. Underrated part-time bowler, although contributions may be limited by back problems.
6. AB de Villiers (South Africa) - An absolute freak at anything he does. Hasn't gone a single game without at least a half-century this year and has been tidy with the gloves. Can take a bowling attack apart.
7. Misbah-ul-Haq (Pakistan) - This often-overlooked batsman has got his team out of miserable situations many times this year. He's had a outstanding year with the bat and has a solid attacking game when required. He can thank the retirement of Jacques Kallis for his inclusion.
8. Vernon Philander (South Africa) - Can land the ball on a dime and continues the unbelievable success he's had since starting his test career. More than handy with the bat.
9. Mitchell Johnson (Australia) - While I feel there are better and more consistent bowlers, Johnson takes the spot because of his unrelenting, aggressive fast bowling in the Ashes series. He would complement Philander and Dale Steyn nicely and balance the attack. He can also bat; not that this side will probably need it.
10. Dale Steyn (South Africa) - With 350 wickets in 69 matches at 22.90, if he continues at this rate he should go down as one of the legends of the game. Automatic pick.
11. Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan) - The king of variation and flight has a deadly doosra that is used to great effect. Clear choice for the spinner's spot in my opinion.
Ravichandran Aswhin (India) - Hasn't shown enough outside of the subcontinent to justify a spot. If the game was being played in the subcontinent, he would slot in at 7 as an all-rounder.
Ross Taylor (New Zealand) - Looking at his stats for the year, he's unlucky to miss out on a spot.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies) - Another often-overlooked player, he deserves a place in the World XI but narrowly misses out.
Ryan Harris (Australia) - Unlucky to miss out, but Johnson would be better suited to this side. Harris is also injury-prone.
Ian Bell (England) - Finished second-top run-scorer for the year and was the difference between Australia and England in the mid-year Ashes series. Technically one of the best batsmen in the world, but was in poor form in the last Ashes series.
Virat Kohli (India).
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