Test cricket has been around for nearly 150 years, so it is extremely difficult to sift through performances over a century old. Even so, some players have made an impression that has only grown over decades, which is why they are in this list.
Some great cricketers couldn’t make the cut here because we can only pick 11. Keeping all that in mind, here is the our All-Time Test XI.
ALASTAIR COOK (ENG)
The former England skipper is the most prolific Test opener in history. More than 12,000 runs from 161 Tests with 33 tons, including starring roles in historic Test series wins in India and Australia make Cook a fine choice to face the new-ball bowlers.
Cook didn’t possess the smoothest of techniques but in terms of effectiveness, there were very few like him.
SUNIL GAVASKAR (IND)
The Little Master is widely regarded as the best opening batsman the game has seen simply because he made a significant portion of his 10,000-plus runs against the iconic West Indies pace attack of the 1970s and 80s and that too without a helmet.
The great Caribbean quicks still marvel at Sunny’s batting on treacherous wickets with just a floppy hat on. Truly remarkable.
DON BRADMAN (AUS)
No one scored runs at the rate at which the Don did. An average of 99.94 from 52 Tests that produced 29 tons for 13 fifties. While he played Tests only in Australia and England, the brilliance of his numbers is unlikely to ever be matched.
To average well over 30 runs more than the next best in history is a monumental result.
VIV RICHARDS (WI)
Sir Vir or Brian Lara? Had to go with the King here. A central figure in the world-conquering West Indies side of the 1970s and 80s, Richards averaged more than 50 in his 121 Test that produced just over 8,500 runs.
The gum-chewing destroyer of bowling attacks is probably the hardest hitter of a cricket ball ever. Plus, that swagger.
STEVE WAUGH (AUS, c)
Tugga led the most ruthless team of contemporary cricket, maybe of all time, to worldwide domination in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Aussie great brought mental disintegration into the cricketing lexicon.
Waugh’s record of 41 wins and just nine defeats is easily the best in history. Many teams have had excellent players over the years, but no one galvanised them the way Waugh did.
GARY SOBERS (WI)
World-class left-arm seamer, hard-hitting batsman, left-arm orthodox spin, left-arm wrist spin, gun fielder, the highest Test score of 365 that stood for decades… there isn’t any greater all-rounder than the Windies legend.
Sobers’ first-class career produced more than 28,000 runs, over 1,000 wickets and a tick over 400 catches. Many consider him the greatest to have played cricket.
ADAM GILCHRIST (AUS, wk)
Have there been better, more classical wicketkeepers than Gilly? Most definitely. Has there ever been a player, apart from Gilchrist, who can claim to have changed the role of a player or position forever? No.
For the dynamism he brought to Test cricket as an attacking batsman, to go with his excellent glovework, Gilchrist makes it to the list.
SHANE WARNE (AUS)
If there is space for just one spinner in your team, who would you go for? It’s a close call between Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, but the Aussie edges ahead only because of the range of deliveries at his disposal.
Leg-spin is the toughest skill to master in cricket and Warne was the best in his trade. Also, a reliable batsman down the order.
WASIM AKRAM (PAK)
The Sultan of Swing is arguably the best left-arm bowler of all time. 414 wickets, in 104 Test, plus a double century with the bat. Akram and Waqar Younis were the finest exponents of reverse swing and oversaw a golden period of fast bowling in Pakistan.
No bowler did more with a cricket ball – old or new – than Akram.
GLENN McGRATH (AUS)
The Aussie legend could land the ball on a coin all day, every day. His unrelenting accuracy and ability to move the ball off the surface made McGrath the toughest bowler to face in the modern era.
Also, his 563 wickets from 124 Tests were taken all across the globe in all conditions; unlike James Anderson who took a major chunk of his scalps at home.
MALCOLM MARSHALL (WI)
The Caribbean has produced some terrorising fast bowlers, each more lethal than the last one. In the land of big, strapping fast bowlers, the diminutive Marshall who wreaked the most havoc. A bustling run-up, quick arm action and extreme pace resulted in 376 wickets from 81 Tests.
Famously took a seven-for against England in 1984 with a broken thumb.