Welcome to Raja's Pretension Palace
  ...built for those in relentless search of eternal damnation

Cricket was my most favorite sport until I discovered my passion for tennis and soccer in my 3rd standard (grade in the US) (1986). I still used to follow the sport seriously until I came to America (2000). My interest in the sport started decreasing around 1995 when I started getting over-saturated with too much of non stop cricket. It used to be great back in the 80s when there were few cricket tours and tournaments through out the year and there was prestige involved with most of the series. But with the influx of vast amount of money in the game, I feel the sport organizers decided to capitalize on it and started coming up with random tournaments out of nowhere which made the cricket season jam-packed and more quanity-oriented than quality-oriented. I was also not very impressed with India's performances outside of India in the 90s. India had won the World Cup in England in 1983 and World Championship Of Cricket (held only once) in 1985 in Australia. Those two are in my opinion, India's greatest achievements in Cricket. I think the World Championship win was even more impressive considering that they did not lose a single match and won all their matches comprehensively.

Ever since I have moved to the US, I haven't been following the sport. I do watch some of the World Cup which happens every years; but even that not very seriously. It is still my #3 sport and that is the reason I even have this page. Cricket is a unique sport. It is considered a team sport like football (soccer) and unlike tennis. But it is essentially a combination of team and individual sport. When you are batting, you are essentially playing the opponent team individually. You do have a running partner but you do not pass the ball to your partner and the rest of the team is in the stadium watching you. Unlike football which is 11 vs 11, Cricket is essentially 11 vs 2 or if you exclude the runner batsman at the other end, it is essentially 11 vs 1. So having cricket in this website makes sense - I have an individual sport (tennis), team sport (soccer) and individual/team sport (cricket).

There are three forms of cricket as of today. Test Cricket (since 1877 just like tennis), One Day International (since 1971) and Twenty20 (since 2004). I have yet to watch an entire Twenty20 match entirely, so I wont event comment on it. All I would say for cricket novices is that it is the shortest form of cricket which gets over in 3 hours (20 overs a side - one over being six bowls) - that seems whopping amount of time for a game but considering that the other two forms of cricket are even longer, it is too short for cricket fans. The most popular and my favorite form is ODI which lasts a whole day (6 hours total with 3 hours a side and one hour break, meaning a total duration of 7 hours). The final and earliest form of cricket is Test Cricket which lasts an insane duration of five days with eight hours of duration per day. I used to enjoy it once in a while but I detested the slow pace of the game. There is not incentive for the batsman to score fast with the focus of the game is pacing yourself while batting and tiring the opposition out. Another frustrating part of Test Cricket is that most of the time, the result is a draw. Test cricket is what they say is where the real talent and strategies show. But I find it pretentious and not in a good way. ODI international on the other side is long enough, in my opinion to display skills and talent (unlike Twenty20 which rewards plain brute force and rashness).

Since I like ODI, the most, I will focus on that the most. The most prestigious event for ODI form of cricket is the World Cup. It started in 1975 and is played every 4 years just like the Soccer World Cup. It may not be as popular as World Cup Soccer but is religiously followed in Indian subcontinent, Carribean, Australian, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe and England. This is by far the most presitgious cricket ODI tournament.

These are the winners of the World Cup since its inception
2015 - Australia (Hosts: Australia and New Zealand)
2011 - India (Hosts: India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh)
2007 - Australia (Hosts: West Indies)
2003 - Australia (Hosts: South Africa)
1999 - Australia (Hosts: England)
1996 - Sri Lanka (Hosts: Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka)
1992 - Pakistan (Hosts: Australia and New Zealand)
1987 - Australia (Hosts: India and Pakistan)
1985 - India (Hosts: Australia)
1983 - India (Hosts: England)
1979 - West Indies (Hosts: England)
1975 - West Indies (Hosts: England)

ICC Champions
1998: South Africa
2000: New Zealand
2002: India & Sri Lanka
2004: West Indies
2006: Australia
2009: Australia
2013: India
2017: Pakistan

World Championships Of Cricket
1985: India

As you see Australia has dominated the sport in the 21st century. When it started however, West Indies (a common term for a host of Carribean nations forming this team) was the best in the 70s at this form of cricket and it it slowly spread to the Indian subcontinent with India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka winning it once in the 20th century. So far only Australia, West Indies and India have won it multiple times as you see above.

I don't want to list cricket statistics on this page. You can get all the stats on wikipedia and several other cricket websites. Nor am I going to do a list of greatest batsman, bowlers, fielders or wicket-keepers. You can use the statistics to make your own conclusion or read lists out there to deduce that. What I am going to talk about are cricketers who excited me the most. I am going to have a ODI match (50 overs) between two fantasy elevens. This is somewhat similar to my twelve-man musician ensembles. I am grouping cricketers by assuming that they will gel together. I am picking cricketers from 8 nations - the World Cup winners - West Indies, India, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and other three top cricket nations England, South Africa and New Zealand. I am representing players from all the 11 World Cups between 1975 to 2015 and the 1985 World Championship of Cricket which was highly prestigious featuring all the 7 full-time one day nations at that time.

I have created three teams of XI. There are some surprise inclusions. I have chosen some players who peaked in a major tournament and then quickly fizzled out. As I said, this is not a greatest player list. This is just a list of players who fascinate me the most with some of them being coincidentally being the the greatest cricketers ever as well. All three teams follow a similar structure. Their wicket-keepers are opening batsmens. And there are 5 batsman who follow them, followed by five bowlers some or all of whom might be all-rounders. There are 4 fast bowlers and 1 spinner. The batsman at #3 is the captain in all the three teams and the batsman at #7 is the vice captain. So basically I am having a batsman captain and all arounder bowler as a vice-captain.

I have chosen three of the greatest wicket-keeper batsmen in recent times for opening the innings. Sangakkara scored 14k runs and is second only to Sachin Tendulkar in terms of runs scored, Gilchrist scored 9k runs in ODI and Brendon McCullum scored 8k runs. The idea of having a wicket-keeper opener is simple - it gives the team a psychological advantage. Traditionally wicket-keepers are not considered regular batsman and usually show up lower in the batting order and contribute insignificantly to the runs. When you elevate the wicket-keeper to the opening spot, you put an additional responsibility on him. You can also use him essentially as a pinch-hitter (someone to score quick runs). It will only work if the wicket-keeper is indeed a good batsman with a good eye. Also when you do lose the wicket-keeper opener, you do not feel like you have lost a batsman as such. The opposition still hasn't got any regular batsman out. So that wicket gives the opposition not much morale boost. Both Brendon McCullum and Adam Gilchrist regularly opened while Sangakkara used to come in at #3. Whenever a wicket falls quick (and it used to happen in case of Sri Lanka), #3 pretty much functions like an opener, so promoting Sangakkara to opening position is not too much of a stretch, in my opinion.

The wicket-keeper opener is accompanied by a batsman opener. I have chosen explosive batsman who were most feared during their peaks for this role. These chosen openers (Srikkanth, Gayle and DeVillers) though explosive and unpredictable did have solid defense as well and could play defense if needed. Srikkanth played back in the 80s, when there were not many matches per season. He scored only 4k runs but he did have 4 centuries and 27 fifties to his credit from the 146 ODI matches he played. You have to consider that back in the day the pitches were not as flat and batsman friendly as today and Srikkanth constantly faced the best bowlers from West Indies, Pakistan, Australia, and England in his prime. Those days the opening batsman played with caution as the new ball moved around too much for their comfort, even in ODI's. Srikkanth was a pioneers for big hitting from the very start of the innings. He was not often successful but was fun to watch. He used to be my favorite batsman back in the mid 80s. He was at his best between 1983 and 1988 right before he was made the captain which I think was a big mistake. He was dropped from the side in mid 89 and only returned back in late 1991. He did have some great knocks to play in 1992 but was more or less a failure in the World Cup in 1992 and was dropped and quickly retired. In his best tournament (1985 World Champions of Cricket), Srikkanth scored three fifties in five matches scoring 238 runs with those fifties coming against England and Australia in the group stage and Pakistan in the final. Still this is a risky choice, as Srikkanth scored only 4k runs, but you have to consider that many of the other great batsman who exclusively played in the 80s (Sunil Gavaskar of India, Mudassar Nazar of Pakistan and David Gower of England scored around only 3k, Geoff Marsh of Australia, John Wright of New Zealand, Graham Gooch and Allan Lamb of England scored only 4k and even the ever dependable Gordon Greenidge of West Indies and the talented Martin Crowe of New Zealand scored around only 5k). Srikkanth was a decent off spin bowler as well taking 25 wickets. My choice for batsman opener for my second team Team B is Chris Gayle who is the only active player as of August 2017 when I write this piece. He has scored 9k runs with 22 centuries and 47 fifties. He is a massive hitter who has even scored a double century (215) in ODI. He is another off spinner like Srikkanth. And he is a good bowler who has taken 163 wickets so far. For team C, I have the dashing Indian opener Virendra Sehwag who was probably the most successful big hitting opener apart from Chris Gayle. He scored 8k runs 15 centuries and 38 fifities. He is also one of the six batsman who have scored double centuries in ODI. He scored 219 against West Indies in 2011. He had great technique and was considered almost a replica of Sachin Tendulkar having a similar batting stance and even facial features! His best moment was probably winning the World Cup in 2011 though he was not consistent in the tournament. His best tournament was the 2002 ICC championship trophy which India jointly won with Sri Lanka after the final was washed out by rain twice.

The captain is always one-down at #3. In my opinion, #3 is a critical position and should go to the most responsible batsman of the team. He should be also one of the most unpredictable batsman's out there who could play fast or cautiously depending on the situation. I cannot think of any other batsman apart from Viv Richards or Ricky Ponting for this role. And hence they both get placed at #3 in their teams. The first reserve batsman is for the #3 spot. I chose Zaheer Abbas as a replacement for Viv Richards, if needed and Hershelle Gibbs for Ricky Ponting, if needed. Just like #3, #4 is an extremely important position. It can only go to the most reliable and technically sound players out there. I cannot think of any other player apart from Clive Lloyd and Sachin Tendulkar for this position. The reserve for Lloyd is Brian Lara who is considered to be greatest West Indian batsman by many. I chose Lloyd over Lara primarily because Lloyd won two world cups for West Indies whereas Lara won none. The reserve for Sachin Tendulkar who is considered the greatest batsman ever is Zaheer Abbas of Pakistan who was considered a great talent who never achieved as much as he should have. I am giving the #5 spots to players who can guide a team to victory witb brisk shots while showing a proper technique and ability to hit the bowlers with proper technique. Sandip Patil was one of the main reasons India won the World Cup in 1983. He scored well in all the important matches we wib - even the low scoring ones (27 against West Indies in the final, 52 against England in the semis, 36 against West Indies in the opening group match shocker that we won and 30 against Australia in the final group stage match which was essentially a knock out match). Sehwag has been the opener for India for most of his career, but he did start as a middle-order batsman. In my opinion he has the right technique and temperament to steer teams to victory. He is also a massive hitter just like Sandip Patil.

Team A
Adam Gilchrist (Australia - Wicket Keeper) - (453 runs in 11 matches in World Cup 2007 World Cup with 149 runs in the final which Australia won)
Kris Srikkanth (India) - (238 in 5 matches in World Championships of Cricket with 67 runs in the final which India won)
Viv Richards (West Indies - Captain) - (217 in 4 matches in World Cup 1979 with 138 runs in the final which West Indies won)
Sachin Tendulkar (India) - (482 runs in 2011 World leading India to win with 53 in quarters against Australia and 85 in semis against Pakistan)
Sandip Patil (India) - (216 from 8 innings with a 51 of 32 balls against England in the semis and a useful 27 against West Indies in the final which India won)
Sanath Jayasurya (Sri Lanka) - (226 runs, 7 wickets and 5 catches to help Sri Lanka win 1996 World Cup)
Kapil Dev (India - Vice Captain) - (303 runs and 12 wickets and led India to World Cup win)
Lance Klusener (South Africa) - (17 wickets and 250 runs in the 1999 World leading South Africa to semis)
Shahid Afridi (Pakistan) - (21 wickets in the 2011 World Cup helping Pakistan reach the semi-finals)
Ian Botham (England) - (16 wickets in 10 matches in the 1992 World Cup helping England make the final)
Richard Hadlee (New Zealand) - (14 wickets in 6 matches in the 1983 World Cup narrowly losing out second spot to Pakistan in group stage in 1983 World Cup)

Team B

Brendan McCullum (New Zealand - Wicket Keeper) - (Led New Zealand to World Cup 2015 final runner-up with 330 in 9 matches with 59 of 26 balls in semi final)
Chris Gayle (West Indies) - (474 runs in 8 matches in the 2006 Champions trophy in which West Indies finished runner-up with 133 in semi-final)
Clive Lloyd (West Indies - Captain) - (158 from 3 innings with 102 of 85 balls in the final leading West Indies to World Cup win in 1975 World Cup)
Martin Crowe (New Zealand) - (456 in 9 innings leading New Zealand to the semis in 1992 World Cup making 93 runs in 83 balls in the semis)
Allan Lamb (England) - (299 in 7 innings in 1987 World Cup leading England to finals)
Yuvraj Singh (India) - (362 runs in 9 innings and 15 wickets leading India to World Cup win in 2011)
Imran Khan (Pakistan - Vice Captain) - (17 wickets in the 1987 World Cup helping Pakistan reach the semi-finals)
Madan Lal (India) - (17 wickets in the 1983 World Cup helping India win the World Cup)
Shane Warne (Australia) - (20 wickets in the 1999 World Cup)
Malcolm Marshall (West Indies) - (12 wickets in the 1983 World Cup helping West Indies reach the final)
Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka) - (23 wickets in 10 matches in the 2003 World Cup helping Sri Lanka reach the semis)

Team C

Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka - Wicket Keeper) - (465 runs in 9 matches in 2011 World Cup, leading Sri Lanka to runner up with 54 in semis and 48 in finals)
Abraham De Villiers (South Africa) - (482 runs in 7 innings in 2015 World Cup leading South Africa to the semis scoring 65 of 45 in the semis and 162 of 66 balls against West Indies)
Ricky Ponting (Australia - Captain) - (415 from 10 innings in 2003 World Cup which Australia won, with 140 runs of 121 balls in the final)
Zaheer Abbas (Pakistan) - (313 from 7 matches in 1983 World Cup leading Pakistan to semis)
Jonty Rhodes (South Africa) - (fielding in the 1992 World Cup and leading them to the semis)
Virendra Sehwag (India) - (274 from 4 innings with 59 in semis in 2002 Champions trophy. The final was abandoned due to rain and India and Sri Lanka were co-winnners)
Andrew Flintoff (England - Vice Captain) - (9 wickets in the 2004 Champions trophy leading England to the finals)
Wasim Akram (Pakistan) - (18 wickets in the 1992 World Cup helping Pakistan win the World Cup)
Roger Binny (India) - (18 wickets in the 1983 World Cup helping India win the World Cup)
Zaheer Khan (India) - (21 Wickets in 2011 World Cup final)
Mutthiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) - (23 wickets in the 2007 World Cup helping Sri Lanka make the final)