A current all-format world XI, filled with players who can dominate whatever the colour of the ball or the overs in the game.
The three different formats in world cricket demand completely different skillsets and only a handful of current players have managed to ace them all.
Identifying an all-format World XI comes with some stiff challenges – players bat in different positions in different formats and someone who is adept at two formats might not be as good in the third. Here, we put together a XI that can conquer conditions, the opposition and most importantly, all formats.
Few would argue about David Warner walking into this XI. Not many openers excel in both Tests and T20Is, something Warner has done ever so easily in world cricket. He averages 47.4 in Tests, 55.6 in ODIs and a stunning 94.6 in T20Is – complemented by a fine strike-rate of 138.3 – in matches after 2018.
The second opener was a tricky decision, especially with several quality middle-order options to fill in. Rohit Sharma comes into this side ahead of two players mainly: Quinton de Kock, who would add some dynamism to a potentially one-paced top-order in T20Is, and the newest sensation, Devon Conway, whom we wish had a better sample size. But given he’s now arguably the best Test opener in the world, as well as being perhaps the greatest ODI opener of all time, Rohit’s a must pick.
Virat Kohli (c)
Kohli is the easiest pick in this XI after the No.11 player, but he might need to move around the batting order in different formats to be the best version of himself. His record is impeccable and his unmatched ability to adapt across formats makes this decision a really quick one. He will also lead this side – with some able help from a few others in the team.
Williamson’s transformation into one of T20 cricket’s best anchor batsmen gives him more weight than someone like Babar Azam in this XI. Williamson is the perfect No.3 in Tests and in the shorter formats walks in below Kohli to do what he does best – go through the gears seamlessly. He averages 70.16 in Tests, 54.94 in ODIs and has boosted his strike-rate in T20Is to 140-plus, all since the start of 2019.
Ben Stokes is the third highest run-scorer in Tests since the start of 2019 and led England to a world title in ODIs two years back, all while bowling and doing fairly decently in T20I cricket. Make no mistake, he is no T20 gun, but such is his all-round value that Stokes’ place in this XI is very difficult to question.
Jos Buttler (wk)
We have gone slightly Ed Smith on this one and it’s not an easy decision. Such has been the run spree Mohammad Rizwan is on that it’s difficult to keep him out of this XI. However, Rizwan will have to bat in the middle-order in T20Is if we pick him, not his strong suit, while Buttler can easily be the floater here in ODIs and T20Is, especially with the short-form line-up needing a little extra oomph
To make it clear, Jadeja isn’t the best option to have in the T20I and ODI side as a bowler. Jason Holder does pose a strong case to make this team too. However, Jadeja’s terrific batting transformation – one that has seen him average 61.1 in Tests, 42.9 in ODIs and 50.5 in T20Is since the start of 2019 – has pushed him over a few other options to this XI, especially as it has another spinner that can do the attacking job in limited-overs cricket.
The best white-ball spinner in the world, Rashid Khan sent down a record 99.2 overs in Test cricket earlier this year, to show he can crack the longer format too. The sample size is small, but his record is excellent: 34 wickets in five Tests, with four five-fors and two ten-fors.
There are a handful of quicks who make a great case to be in this XI, but few have the oomph and aura of Jofra Archer. He is excellent in the shorter formats and when at his fittest, a deadly Test bowler to. Only six bowlers have more wickets than him in international cricket since the beginning of 2019 and only a handful of them do the job as well as him across formats.
It’s tempting to leave Boult out of this XI to accommodate someone like Mitchell Starc, especially when the Aussie enhances the batting strength and also adds more death bowling power to this side in limited-overs formats. However, Boult’s recent improvement as a death bowler combined with his potency to do a fantastic job with the new ball across formats, and most importantly Tests, puts him just above Starc.
The first pick on the team sheet. Jasprit Bumrah has been outstanding across formats, adapting seamlessly to different conditions, challenges and formats and can fulfill a multitude of roles in this bowling attack. With several excellent new ball bowlers and Rashid Khan in this XI, Bumrah could just be saved for the death overs in the shortest format to get the best out of him.
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