In the rummage of an all time XI we must dig in to the past histories of 465 Test matches played by West Indies so far that have been on the talks since 82 years. There have been in total 285 players from which the battle of all time XI needs to be cropped up. Hence the execution of final XI among the greatest seems to be an uphill task to conclude. Considering the best output ever produced by any national team in the world of cricketing history this team had already scratched the legendary surface through it’s legendary players.
While selecting the side the management has come across only one player, the immortal George Headley, who was on the scene before 1950. Pondering on their elite game playing, there was no place for allrounder Learie Constantine or for fast bowler Manny Martindale. This team had it’s own sway during the 1960s to 1990s and the stance behind their successful feats was the great players who represented West Indies during their glory days. During the era of 1960s, they were arguably the best in the world, and from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, they were the undisputed champions.
As an opening batsman, Gordon Greenidge and Conrad Hunter who have went through the selection procedure surfaced their impact among the greatest that too after leaving the dashing left-hander Roy Fredericks behind. The same scenario gets to be seen during the selection of specialist wicketkeeper Jackie Hendriks whereas the flamboyant batsman Jeffrey Dujon, was expecting a call within the XI.
For a man like Garry Sobers, who has been the all time greatest batsman in the Test format, a left arm fast bowler, an orthodox left-arm spin bowler, or a back-of-the-hand spin bowler, the allrounder’s position was a cakewalk.
Things got difficult during the selection of a spin bowler while three greatest spinners of all time, Sonny Ramadhin, Alfred Valentine and Lance Gibbs were on the line. But at the end the final analysis went onto the favor of Gibbs, the tall, clever offspinner, the man who took 8 for 6 off 15.3 overs in an amazing spell during a Test against India.
The focal reasoning behind West Indies’s dominant walk through the past ages have been steered by their extensive middle-order batting and hostile fast bowling which has served their nation as a gleaming trademark. Hence the selection of Headley, Vivian Richards, Brian Lara, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Curtly Ambrose could have appeared a easy execution but in reality it was not that easy especially considering the fusion of Andy Roberts, Colin Croft and Joel Garner along with Marshall and Holding. This amalgamation of bowling onslaught had been the most ferocious line up ever possessed by any national team till now. Despite comprehending their potency in the pinnacle accomplished during the Australian tour in 1980s, these three failed to make their spot in the XI.
The cloud of regret shaped up on the matter of leaving the other quality players of West Indies batsmen like Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott, and Rohan Kanhai, an allrounder like Constantine, spin bowlers like Ramadhin and Valentine, and fast bowlers like Wes Hall and Courtney Walsh.
All Time XI:
“If he was limping, watch out. And if he took a liking to a bowler, watch out some more. When he was in the mood, he could destroy a bowler almost at will, from the very first ball of an innings, if he took a shine to him.” Desmond Haynes.
“Hunte’s statistical record alone as an opener, and status alongside Sobers and Kanhai as successors to the legendary Three Ws, mark him as an exceptional talent in an all-conquering team. But his humanity, sense of fairness and contribution to the game – especially in South Africa – after his playing days elevate him to the ranks of the extraordinary.” Fazeer Mohammed.
Between the wars, when the West Indies batting was often vulnerable and impulsive, Headley’s scoring feats led to his being dubbed “the black Bradman”. His devoted admirers responded by calling Bradman “the white Headley” – a pardonable exaggeration.” Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.
Viv Richards, more than any other cricketer in the post-colonial world, represented the compelling philosophy that it was necessary to place at the centre of all political life the idea of social justice and mutual respect in human relations, and was prepared to be activist about it.” Hilary Beckles.
“One of the best batsmen of my generation, if not the best ever.” Sachin Tendulkar.
“Lara is the greatest batsman I have ever bowled to.” Glenn McGrath.
“He is simply the greatest cricketing being ever to have walked the Earth…” Don Bradman.
“The first complete Caribbean folk hero after George Headley.” Michael Manley.
“Jackie Hendriks only played in 20 Test matches between 1962 and 1969. But his is a case of quality over quantity. Technically outstanding, he was what all bowlers want, a consistent keeper; one who has the distinction of not conceding a bye in three innings that crossed 500 runs. Adept to the pace of Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith and the spin of Lance Gibbs, and a capable batsman, there has probably not been a better all-round wicketkeeper for West Indies.” Garth Wattley.
“He was my fast-bowling idol. He picked the mistakes of batsmen straight away and spotted their weaknesses. He was a nice fellow off the field, but a fierce competitor on it.” Wasim Akram.
“Michael Holding was the fastest I ever faced. I don’t think anyone can bowl as fast as he did. I cannot imagine a human being with such a smooth action and with so little effort being able to bowl 95mph-plus, ball after ball.” Sadiq Mohammad.
“All I will say about Ambrose is that he could have bowled in any era and been admired. He is quick, he knows what he wants to do with the ball and he is pinpoint accurate. One of the best.” Fred Trueman.
“Lance Gibbs used his great height, lean, athletic build and long, supple fingers to become not only the greatest West Indian spin bowler (309 Test wickets) – but one of the most combative of all West Indian cricketers.” Frank Birbalsingh.