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1990s in Review

The players unlucky to miss out on Wisden’s Test team of the 1990s

by Wisden Staff 4-minute read

As part of the 1990s in Review series, our panelists went about picking a Test team of the decade and were forced to leave out a few unlucky legends.

After much deliberation on the latest Wisden Cricket Weekly podcast, former England batsman Graham Thorpe, Wisden Cricket Monthly editor-in-chief Phil Walker and editor-at-large John Stern picked the Wisden Test team of the 1990s.

Below are a few players who were discussed in the podcast but failed to make the cut.

All stats refer to the period between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 1999

Graham Gooch

45 matches, 4,176 runs @ 51.55, HS: 333, 100s: 12

JS: He played only the first half of the Nineties, and he was towards the end of his career as we know, but for a period in the early Nineties he was arguably the best batsman of the world. Certainly one of the best. The 1990 series away in the West Indies when he was captain and got injured partway through, remains one of the great England overseas performances against a really strong side, given where England were at the time. You’ve got the 333 at Lord’s and the 154* at Headingley in ’91 which is routinely regarded as one of the great innings by an England batsman.

PW: Gooch kind of defined the early part of that decade really, for me. As an England fan becoming acquainted with the uneven nature of this England team that would go to Australia, and get turned over and then come back to England and then there’d be shoots of recovery and so on, two steps forward and one step back… Gooch was that constant throughout, really.

GT: On my debut, 1993 v Australia at Trent Bridge, I got a hundred and batted with Gooch in the second innings, and he got a hundred as well. I always say to people, nowadays when people get a hundred there’s helmets off, there’s hugging, there’s everything going on. I can remember Graham Gooch got his hundred and I was batting with him at the time, he kind of raised his bat, there were no histrionics at all with him, and I shook his hand and that was it. I can remember, when I got my hundred in the second innings, Nasser was batting with me who I’d played a lot of cricket with as a youngster coming through, and I can remember I took my helmet off and I grabbed Nasser. I’ve got a picture of it in my loo, with Nasser on my debut, and I’m grabbing him around his neck.

Mark Waugh

99 matches, 6,371 runs @ 41.64, HS: 153*, 100s: 17

JS: He partly suffers in comparison with his brother [Steve]. He scored 14 hundreds at No.4, one of the greatest slippers of the time, averaged 40 in the West Indies. No one scored more in that position over the course of the decade. With these kind of things I’m a bit of a sucker for style and a bit of flair as well, even though it’s not like we’re short of it. He clearly had his ups and down – I think he got five ducks in Sri Lanka in the Nineties, averaged nine.

PW: What’s interesting about the comparison between the two is the records are a lot more similar than I thought. Mark Waugh passed fifty 54 times in the Nineties and Steve Waugh passed fifty 46 times. The difference is that Steve Waugh made it count. He was not out 160s, 170s, a double hundred at Headingley in that terrible Test match in ’93. He used to grind home and make sure he had that red inker at the end, whereas Mark Waugh would come in, charm the pants off you for a couple of hours, get a 70-odd or an 80-odd and nick off to slip. That’s my kind of cricketer, far more than Steve, but we needed a captain so I went with Steve Waugh, but only really by a whisker.

Jacques Kallis

32 matches, 1,849 runs @ 41.08, HS: 148*, 100s: 5 | 53 wickets @ 28.45, BBI: 5-90, 5WI: 1

GT: He was a colossus of a player to me. He was very different to Mark Waugh. I knew his character quite well. Once he got a hundred, he’d be, ‘Well, what else is there to do?’ Whereas Steve Waugh and Jacques Kallis’ view would be, ‘We’ll make sure we grind the opposition in’. Being on the park with them, you knew, once these guys got in, Kallis and Steve Waugh, these guys were going to change this Test match and make life hell for you.

Andy Flower

39 matches, 2,580 runs @ 44.48, HS: 156, 100s: 6

JS: Healy played 102 Tests in the Nineties, and the next most as a keeper is Alec [Stewart] with 42, so there’s kind of no contest. But Flower scored some big hundreds. Fair play, he didn’t score against Australia or West Indies, but that’s not his fault. I’ve got a soft spot for Flower, playing for Zimbabwe he was a properly international-class player in a very modest, emerging side. I’ll be honest, I can’t really vouch for his keeping, and keeping to our spinner might be a challenge. As a batter, Healy was a very useful batter, but he was probably more of a No.8 than a No.7.

Waqar Younis

56 matches, 273 wickets @ 21.71, BBI: 7-76, 5WI: 21

JS: He got more ten-fors than anybody else, the variation, the old ball skills.

GT: It was hard, but my personal experience of playing against Waqar was he was more lethal to right-handers than he was to left-handers. Waqar got me out twice with the new ball, whereas he never got me out with the old ball, whereas Wasim would get me out with the old ball, because Waqar could not reverse-swing the ball back into the left-hander, so for me he was easier to play.

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