Kersasp Shekhdar weighs in on the fan-selected ICC Dream XI:
The I.C.C.'s so-called 'All-Time' XI is the biggest load of bollocks I have ever seen as a sports lover. (You disagree? Okay, then 'Star Wars' and 'Wizard of Oz' are the two all-time greatest films.) I am not going to dignify I.C.C.'s nonsense with a link to it. It was nothing more than a case of non-serious Indians displaying their numerical might. But that is as nothing compared to the monumental organizational folly of the I.C.C. in putting out something titled "Sports lists' All-Time biggest load of bollocks" under their name.
Beneath, I am putting up a real All-Time XI. Wisden and M.C.C. experts may not necessarily agree with me about my team as-is but I would challenge them to ridicule it as – no doubt – they would privately have derided the I.C.C.'s 'fan selected' purported 'All-Time XI'. And I'd wager my soul with the Devil that my XI would crush not only any and all other elevens, but rout even a Satan's XI of fiends and demons the Evil One himself could muster.
A truly great team can sometimes intimidate opponents into submission upon sight. How would the opposing willow-babes feel when they see the Mighty Khan taking the ball – as first change . . . with six wickets already down (all castled, to be specific)? How would the opposing leather-trundlers feel when they see Sir Garfield walking to the middle – at no. 7 . . . and the scoreboard already reads 800-plus (six centuries, to be specific)? My team is Intimidation x 11. No hopping bunnies and lollipop-tossers here, only blazing godzillas.
Without further ado then, the real All-Time XI:–
Cricket's True All-Time XI
1. Hanif Mohammad (PK)
2. Sachin Tendulkar (IN)
3. Vivian Richards (WI)
4. Donald Bradman (AU)
5. Brian Lara (WI)
6. Adam Gilchrist (AU)
7. Garry Sobers (WI)
8. Imran Khan (C) (PK)
9. Shane Warne (AU)
Fred Trueman (EN)
Michael Holding (WI)
- Jonty Rhodes (SA)
Sachin for the epic gush of runs,
Viv for the guts and glory,
Lara for the style and grace,
The Don ’cause he's th' one and only;
And Garry for batting ferocity
And aye, the guileful spinning,
Gilly for bludgeoning savagery
Yet what soft-handed keeping;
—Ah, Shane – crafty fox's sly baits,
Oh, Imran – corner'd tiger's rank breath;
Now here's Fred for striking terror—
And Mikey for whispering – 'Death'!
Plus Jonty to pluck ’em with a dive, but most:
Little Hanif to bat, bat and bat – "to bat for . . . my life."
Only those who know a bit about Cricket will grasp a few allusions and recognize a cricketing abstraction, above. But that's assuming that anyone dares to, or is able to, read the list of godzillas all the way through without suffering palpitations or a panic-attack by the time they get to "11. Michael Holding"
Wait— Who was that? Who muttered, "No, thanks, I'm not going to waste my time!"? Hmm, I do believe that that was the Archfiend conceding defeat . . .