A few years ago, a poll was held to pick what would have been the greatest cricket team of all time. As I recall, the people chosen were:-
Certainly a very strong team!
Christopher Martin-Jenkins recently produced a book, “The 100 Best Cricketers of All Time”: his top eleven names make interesting reading (in this order):-
This is not quite a team, having too many batsmen and insufficient bowlers. (The next four names on his list were all bowlers: McGrath, Muralitharan, Imram Khan and Rhodes)
The “dream team” of the great cricket writer Sir Neville Cardus, from all the cricketers he had watched, was said to be:-
Cardus always preferred the elegant stroke-players and the “characters” to the grafters!
After Don Bradman’s retirement in 1948, journalists selected what they thought would have been his ideal Australian team from his era:-
And for an equivalent English team:-
The Australian team looks stronger; the English team being somewhat short on bowlers.
More recently, when Ritchie Benaud retired as a TV commentator, he nominated the ideal Australian team of his time:-
Chappell (Ian) (capt)
and also the ideal England team:-
It is noticeable that these two teams have much the same overall structure and balance. The Australians would be more difficult to bowl against, having more left-handers.
You can create fantasy teams of your own. For instance, here is a postwar team consisting entirely of Bs:-
The team could probably do with another fast bowler from somewhere; otherwise it looks very powerful
As far as real teams are concerned, rather than fantasy ones, the strongest team ever assembled in my time was, I think, the “Rest of the World” XI that played England in the summer of 1969 :-
Although Mackenzie was a little past his best, and Bland was selected mostly for his exciting fielding, I’m confident these players could have held their own against any fantasy side.
The most thrilling Test Match side I remember was the West Indies team of 1963 - the first series I ever watched on television. Ten of the team played in all 5 tests, beating England 3-1, with one match drawn. Oddly enough, they never settled on who should open the batting with Conrad Hunte. This is the team from the Lord's Test, the drawn match, which was the most exciting one in the series:-
It's a shame the West Indies can't manage to find such a team nowadays!