Former Australia captain Michael Clarke has again assumed the role of selector, picking close friend Shane Warne as captain of his greatest-ever Test side while extending an olive branch to adversary Dale Steyn.
Warne skippers a well-rounded XI, edging out spin rival Muttiah Muralitharan – named as 12th man in the hypothetical team – for the lone slow-bowling spot in an XI made up of the best players Clarke has "shared a cricket field with”.
The 115-Test veteran revealed the line-up in his autobiography My Story, naming seven Australians alongside four players from opposing nations.
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Dashing duo Michael Slater and Matthew Hayden take on the new ball in the side, with Clarke’s predecessor as Test skipper Ricky Ponting coming in at first drop.
A star-studded middle-order features Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar at No.4, blazing West Indian Brian Lara at 5 and powerful Proteas allrounder Jacques Kallis at 6.
Adam Gilchrist takes the gloves, with 2013-14 Ashes hero Mitchell Johnson, fiery South African speedster Dale Steyn, legendary seamer Glenn McGrath and Warne forming a fearsome bowling attack
The selection of Johnson, who thrived under Clarke’s leadership to snare 37 wickets in the 13-14 Ashes, and McGrath, Australia’s leading Test wicket-taker among fast bowlers, are no surprises in a potent pace attack but Steyn’s inclusion may raise some eyebrows.
In the closing stages of an epic third Test in Cape Town in 2014, Clarke and Steyn clashed when the Australia skipper stepped in to defend his young charge James Pattinson, who was engaged in a heated exchange with Steyn.
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The South African later revealed he was unhappy with a particular sledge he’d received from Clarke, who admitted he’d overstepped the mark during the tense encounter.
Steyn nonetheless wins selection in the side from chief selector Clarke, who admitted that he rates the runs he scored off him more highly than any others he made in Test cricket.
Muralidaran rounds out the 12, with the Sri Lankan spin wizard named to carry the drinks in Clarke’s team.
Clarke’s World Test 12
“My first cricket hero,” Clarke wrote. “I fell in love with the refreshing, exuberant attitude Slats brought to the game.
“I didn’t play international cricket with him, but was lucky to share the field with him on a number of occasions for New South Wales.”
“Having certain players in a team makes everyone walk taller. Matthew Hayden was like that in the Australian team I came into.
“Physically and psychologically, he could dominate the best attacks.”
“He was a such a supreme batsman and mentor to young players, but if I could put his legacy in a nutshell, I would say that I most admired him for his performances with the bat when his country needed him most.”
“The Indian master had the best batting technique I have ever seen.
“Sometimes you know that you have met your superior, and that was what Sachin was for me…”
“I only played against him in the last years of his career, but he had been my idol since I was a little boy.”
“Jacques Kallis ended his career with a better batting average than Sachin Tendulkar and more wickets than Brett Lee…the complete cricketer, he couldn’t be left out of any World Test 12.”
“Because his batting revolutionised the game and drew all the attention, people underrated him as a wicketkeeper, and he was also the best vice-captain I ever knew.”
“The greatest athlete I played with.
“He scored Test centuries and took many great catches, as well as being a great all-round fielder. He was a very quiet individual, but when he walked on the field he gave everything.
“His bowling, at its best, was terrifying, unplayable.”
Shane Warne (captain)
“It doesn’t take me to say he was the greatest spin bowler of all time.
“But I also think he was the best captain Australia never had. His insight into the game, from every aspect – tactical, physical, psychological – is second to none.”
“As skilful with reverse swing as anyone, he could also crank it up to over 150 km/h.”
“We had some great battles on the field as we gave everything to the get our countries on top. I value the runs I scored against him more highly than any others.”
“The best fast bowler I’ve ever played with or against. Not the fastest, but definitely one of the smartest and most skilful.”
Muttiah Muralidaran (12th man)
“When conditions were hard for him he was tight and persistent. When they favoured him, he was a nightmare.
“I loved facing spin and that was a strength of my game, but Murali challenged my skills to the utmost with every ball he bowled.”