LONDON, AUG 13
India's batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar is the only player among the recent generation of leading batsmen to have made it to Sir Don Bradman's dream World XI, being preferred over Brian Lara and Viv Richards of West Indies and other stars that have graced the game ever since the first Test match was played in 1877.
The all-time ideal team to beat the rest drawn up by the greatest batsman ever, who died in February this year at the age of 92, was revealed in a new book 'Bradman's Best' chronicled by Roland Perry.
The book was released simultaneously in Sydney and London today.
Bradman had drawn a pool of 69 players from all the cricket playing countries since the first Test in 1877, over a five-year period from 1995, to pick 11 greatest players of the game, from W G Grace and Victor Trumper at the beginning of the 20th century to Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar at the end of it.
Besides Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev were the other two Indians who were named in the pool but they failed to make it to Bradman's final grade.
Bradman, who avoided publicity throughout his life, was reluctant to name his
dream team but agreed to the offer from Perry on the assurance that his
selection would be revealed only after his death.
The dream team includes (in batting order with twelfth man) - Barry Richards (South Africa), Arthur Morris (Australia), Don Bradman (Australia), Sachin Tendulkar (India), Garry Sobers (West Indies), Don Tallon (Australia), Ray Lindwall (Australia), Dennis Lillee (Australia), Alec Bedser (England), Bill O'Reilly (Australia), Clarrie Grimmett (Australia) and Wally Hammond (England)(12th man).
The legendary batsman picked six Test captains, representatives from five nations, one player from the present (Tendulkar) and seven Australians, including himself, in his eleven.
Bradman ranked Tendulkar above Brian Lara, Graeme Pollock, George Headley, Wally Hammond, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh, Viv Richards, Everton Weekes, Stan McCabe, Charlie Macartney, Neil Harvey, Greg Chappell, Denis Compton, Peter May and Victor Trumper.
"When you look at the statistics - and it's fair to say they mean something if sustained over time - most of these batsmen were close in performance. You could choose any one of them to come in at No 4 and he would do well. They are all greats," Perry wrote in his book quoting Bradman.
Nevertheless, "from our discussions, I had the impression that he (Bradman) ranked Tendulkar and Lara marginally above the rest, Perry said.
"Lara and Tendulkar proved to be the two best batsmen in the 1990s," Bradman
said. "Tendulkar has a very strong defence. But he can be very aggressive. On
balance, however, Lara has probably proved more aggressive though more
mercurial. Tendulkar is proving more consistent.
In the end, he selected Tendulkar, which seemed as much based on his similarity to himself than his superiority to Lara and the others. "Bradman felt he was looking at a mirror-image of himself when he watched the little Indian," Perry commented.
While branding these two as the best of the modern-day players, he was at pains to praise both the Waughs. He ranked Mark in technique with the best stroke makers, including Greg Chappell, and had high regard for Steve's "tremendous" application in tough situations.
Though Bradman said he did not want any "argument" regarding his selection of a best test team, "yet there were discussions and questions," the author said.
With so many openers of almost equal performance from whom to choose, he selected the best left-hander in his eyes, Arthur Morris, first. "What I saw in 1948 was enough for me (concerning Morris)," Bradman said.
Morris's partner in the World XI was Barry Richards, whom Bradman considered the best right-hand opener. "He was one of the best players of the short ball, opener or otherwise, ever," Bradman noted.
Bradman found both Len Hutton and Sunil Gavaskar fine "technicians" but thought their chief fault was lack of aggression. "It is not sufficient to keep the ball out of the stumps and not give a catch. There is a need to attack, take the initiative from the bowlers and set up conditions for the batsmen to follow," Bradman said.
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