Jim Lyon – It’s all pointless but nice, nevertheless, to reflect on the game’s greats

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
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Hayden, Gavaskar, Kallis, Miandad, Lara, Barrington, Gilchrist, Hadlee, Lillee, Walsh, Muralitharan.

Or how about Hutton, Boycott, Ponting, Chappell, Botham.....

You may have seen Wisden chose this week to name their all-time Test match XI as part of celebrations to mark 150 years of the Almanack.

You might agree with their selection, but you probably won’t.

While these selections are all good fun they should never be taken as seriously as some to.

It always strikes me as an exercise in futility rather than one to get worked up about.

To contrast generations is impossible. It has been said for hundreds of years - comparison is odious.

The Wisden XI (Hobbs, Grace, Bradman, Tendulkar, Richards, Sobers, Knott, Akram, Warne, Marshall, Barnes), as a colleague of mine pointed out, has three people in it who few, if any, living people saw play.

While the records are there to be admired, it is tough to assess how Grace or Barnes would have fared in the modern game or indeed how Richards or Tendulkar would have coped 100 years ago.

Probably pretty well, but we cannot be sure.

It also depends on the criteria you set.

Statistics tell some of the story but do you go for doggedness, flair, the ability to change a game, the ability to win a game, the ability to save a game?

Does one acknowledge people whose careers were cut short by injury, war or the simple bad luck of being born in a country not allowed to play much Test cricket?

I have no doubt there is an amazing ‘What Might Have Been XI’.

There could be a stunning team of lefties, people who played for the country they were not born in, those with ginger hair, those born on a Tuesday. Who knows?

Indeed I can pick a side consisting of only those whose surname begins with H and I am sure they would put up a decent fight against the Wisden XI.

You would perhaps have Hutton, Hayden, Hassett, Hussey, Hammond, Headley, Healy, Hadlee, Holding, Harbhajan, Hoggard with Harvey, Hughes, Harmison and Hussain in the squad and carrying the drinks.

The point is, after all these years, there are dozens of people who could, with a bit of persuasive discussion, force their way in. It all just depends on your point of view.

On the plus side it does get people talking about what the game should be all about which is runs, wickets and outstanding achievement.

And that makes a nice change from urinating, punching, walking, fixing, urinating (again), sledging, betting...