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Cricket's all-star game could be a space jam

15 February 2016
Adelaide Oval

An out-of-this-world game needs and out-of-this-world setting // Getty

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What if the best XIs from the northern and southern hemispheres faced off in an intergalactic Test match? We crunched the numbers

About the Writer:
 @samuelfez

Sam Ferris is a writer for cricket.com.au. He started in 2011 as a Big Bash League correspondent and continues to monitor the domestic scene and national sides closely.

As the best basketball players in the world squared off in the annual East versus West All-Star exhibition match in Toronto on Monday, Australian time, it's hard not to ponder what a cricket version would look like.

All-Star matches have been tried in the past, between domestic and international outfits, but nothing that compares to the glitz and glamour of our North American cousins.

Almost 40 years ago, during the revolutionary World Series Cricket days, Australia and the West Indies faced a Rest of the World team comprised of the players from South Africa, Pakistan and England.

In January 2005, Australia hosted the Tsunami Appeal one-day match between the ICC World XI and Asia XI to help raise funds for the victims of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that devastated, among other nations, Sri Lanka.

Later that year, following a decade of global dominance, Australia went up against a World XI in three one-day internationals and a six-day Test at the SCG, though the hype of the series was lessened by England's historic Ashes win only a month earlier.

And while the Indian Premier League and domestic Twenty20 competitions around the world have mixed together international stars with local players, there is no cricket equivalent to an American All-Star match like those in the NBA, NFL and NHL.

In an attempt to fill that void, cricket.com.au has commissioned a fictional Test match between the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere, to be played on Mars, where the pitch conditions remain unknown but the chance of rain impeding play is unlikely.

Only players currently fit and eligible to play for their country have been considered, meaning suspended Pakistan spinner Yasir Shah is ruled out, as is injured Australian quick Mitchell Starc.

Performances in the past 12 months only are taken into consideration, hence the absence of India Test captain Virat Kohli (447 runs at 34) and Proteas pace ace Dale Steyn (10 wickets in four Tests).

Northern Hemisphere XI

England captain Alastair Cook (1,541 runs at 49.70) and India's Shikhar Dhawan (485 at 53.88) form an all-left-handed opening partnership. Cook's calm composure complements Dhawan's destructive demeanour, and the pair can cover seam, swing or spin at the top of the order.

WATCH: Joe Root punishes Aussie attack during Ashes

Pakistan veteran Younus Khan (789 at 60.69) takes his place at first-drop in a middle order packed with right-handers. England's Joe Root – officially the world's No.2-ranked Test batsman – enters at No.4, ahead of Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews (822 at 45.66) and allrounder Ben Stokes of England, whose abilities with both bat (1,104 at 36.80) and ball (35 wickets at 41.31) warrant his inclusion.

Standing behind the stumps is Pakistan gloveman Sarfraz Ahmed, who in eight Tests poached 33 dismissals including 10 stumpings.

The bowling attack is well-rounded with two spinners and two speedsters. England's most successful new-ball partnership – Stuart Broad (69 at 23.92) and James Anderson (53 at 25.33) – will lead the NH XI.

WATCH: Broad the Ashes destroyer

Assuming the Mars strip takes spin, India off-spinner Ravi Ashwin (57 at 14.38) and Sri Lanka left-arm orthodox Rangana Herath (36 at 32.11) will make the most of any turn on offer.

Southern Hemisphere XI

Opening the batting for the SH XI is Australian duo David Warner (1,339 at 58.21) and Usman Khawaja (644 at 128.80). While Khawaja is batting out of position, he can often face the new ball early at his customary No.3, as he did, with aplomb, in the recently concluded first Test in Wellington.

WATCH: Khawaja's Boxing Day special

The middle-order is star-studded. In at No.3 is New Zealand champion Kane Williamson (899 at 64.21), alongside the world's No.1 Test batsman Steve Smith (1,357 at 71.42) and South Africa's Hashim Amla (601 at 40.06). It was a tight call between Amla and compatriot AB de Villiers, but his 201 against England won him the position.

At No.6 it's Adam Voges (1,267 runs) and his ridiculous average of 97.46. Voges's outstanding form has kept an allrounder out of the XI, with Williamson and Smith to combine for some part-time overs of spin if necessary.

WATCH: Adam Voges dominates Black Caps with double

Australia's Peter Nevill will keep wickets after taking 42 dismissals from 11 matches since debuting in the second Ashes Test at Lord's in July.

The bowling attack is pace heavy with Australia seamer Josh Hazlewood (55 at 22.94) the spearhead. Black Caps left-armer Trent Boult (34 at 32.47) and Proteas young gun Kagiso Rabada (24 at 24.70) adding some raw pace to the three-prong speed attack. Rabada has burst onto the international scene, taking three five-wicket hauls and one match haul of 10 wickets or more in his first six Tests.

WATCH: Rabada thrills with 13-wicket haul

Nathan Lyon (54 at 25.72) is the sole spinner in the side, and will also take nightwatchman duties.

Northern Hemisphere XI: Alastair Cook (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Younis Khan, Joe Root, Angelo Mathews, Ben Stokes, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Stuart Broad, Rangana Herath, James Anderson

Southern Hemisphere XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Kane Williamson, Steve Smith (c), Hashim Amla, Adam Voges, Peter Nevill (wk), Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Trent Boult, Kagiso Rabada

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