Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar is happy to be a part of Dickie Bird’s all-time Test XI even as some former cricketers called the ex-English umpire’s composition as “biased” and “ill-balanced”.
Bird, ahead of his 80th birthday, had his greatest-ever XI published in The Telegraph but conspicuous with their absence from the list were the top ten run-getters in the Test format as well as the man who finished his career with a batting average of 99.94.
“Dickie has been one of the most respected and popular umpires in the game, so it’s good to know that I am in his team,” Gavaskar said.
The cricket fraternity in India expressed shock at the omission of legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Don Bradman in the all-time Test eleven named by Bird.
Besides the omission of Bradman, Bird’s has not found space for three of the modern era’s greatest batsman – Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting as well as the West Indian fast bowlers Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Michael Holding.
Bird, who officiated in 66 Tests and stood in three World Cup finals during a 28-year career as a first-class umpire, included just one Indian in his XI – former opener and captain Sunil Gavaskar. Opening the batting with Gavaskar in Bird’s XI was South African Barry Richards. Gavaskar was termed by the English umpire as “one of the two best opening bats” while claiming that Richards “would have broken all the records, but for apartheid”.
Vivian Richards and Greg Chappell were shoo-ins, as was the West Indian great Garfield Sobers of whom Bird said was “the greatest I have ever seen play the game”. The second South African chosen was Graeme Pollock because in Bird’s view he was “largely lost because of apartheid”.
Others in the team, named by Bird in an interview with London newspaper ‘The Telegraph’ ahead of his 80th birthday today, are Imran Khan, Barry Richards, Vivian Richards, Greg Chappell, Graeme Pollock, Gary Sobers, Alan Knott, Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee and Lance Gibbs.
Dick Bird’s Greatest Test XI:
1 Sunil Gavaskar, 2 Barry Richards, 3 Vivian Richards, 4 Greg Chappell, 5 Garfield Sobers, 6 Graeme Pollock, 7 Allan Knott (wk), 8 Imran Khan (capt), 9 Dennis Lillee, 10 Shane Warne, 11 Lance Gibbs.
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