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Wisden.com managing editor Ben Gardner, Wisden.com features editor Taha Hashim, and Wisden India editor Aadya Sharma recently gathered to discuss and pick a current world Test XI.
The three writers eventually settled on a formidable-looking side including in-form players like Joe Root, Mohammad Rizwan and Jasprit Bumrah. However, the panel were not in agreement regarding every position in the team, and even players such as Quinton de Kock and Babar Azam were left on the sidelines. Here are six players who were unlucky to miss out on Wisden’s current world Test XI.
Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka)
72 matches, 5176 runs @ 38.62, 12 100s, HS 244
AS: He’s been so good recently but I think I’m biased because of his recent form. [My opinion] has got a lot to do with his last five innings which really inflate his average. He’s been so good – he averages sixty in the last one and a half years. The only concern lies in how good he is away from home, and that does cast a bit of doubt in my head.
BG: I was tempted by Karunaratne, particularly given he scored a hundred the day before we’re recording. He’s got a brilliant record in Sri Lanka, a good record in the UAE and Zimbabwe, but doesn’t have a huge amount to shout about anywhere else. He’s got two other hundreds – one in South Africa where he averages 25 and one in New Zealand where his record is okay.
Tom Latham (New Zealand)
59 matches, 4056 runs @ 41.38, 11 100s, HS 264*
BG: If we’re going for a specialist opener, my shout would be Tom Latham, who doesn’t have a great record over the last couple of years, but if we were picking this team at the end of 2019 and start of 2020 he’d be right bang in there. He averaged 55 in the three years prior to 2020. He was getting doubles hundreds and doing it everywhere. Since then his record has tailed off a bit but I think there’s a little bit of form there.
TH: I like the Latham argument. Not least because he’s a key part in the best Test team in the world.
Babar Azam (Pakistan)
35 matches, 2362 runs @ 42.94, 5 100s, HS 143
AS: Babar has done really well to become that player who can do it in all formats. He’s really improving as a Test cricketer.
Quinton de Kock (South Africa)
53 matches, 3245 runs @ 39.09, 6 100s, HS 141*
TH: He has not only recent form – he did well against West Indies this year – he’s also got the overall career record. He’s averaging just under 40 after 53 Tests which, for a wicketkeeper is exceptional.
Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)
19 matches, 76 wickets @ 25.25, 3 five-fors, BBI: 6-51
AS: Again my pick was based on recent form and Shaheen has good numbers recently, albeit against weaker batting line-ups like West Indies and Zimbabwe. There’s so much more to come from Shaheen – we keep watching him and he just keeps on improving
TH: It’s still early days for him but he’s got it all. He can do everything. When he’s got the new ball he can swing it, he’s got the height to get that bounce, he can bowl his yorker, he can bowl a pretty mean short ball. The signs are there that it’s coming together in Test cricket – he’s already got a decent Test record and he just needs to keep building it.
BG: Shaheen was brilliant in the West Indies series, and I can imagine in two years time that he’ll be a shoo-in. If he’d done what he’s done for a couple more years and gone to England and Australia and torn up trees there, he would have been in the team.
Kyle Jamieson (New Zealand)
8 matches, 46 wickets @ 14.17, 5 five-fors, BBI: 6.48
TH: This pick is based mainly on the fact that we’re picking the best Test team right now, and you’ve got to have one more New Zealander. I’ve gone for Jamieson. [It’s been an] incredible start to his Test career, Player of the Match in the World Test Championship final. He’s a monstrous quick. He’s just exploded onto the scene and I thought he wouldn’t be a bad first change.
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