England vs Pakistan Dream XI: Which players make the cut?

After a dismal third-day washout of the second #raisethebat Test between England and Pakistan, The Cricket Debate dreamed of a day cricket might return and what an all-time combined XI between the two teams might look like.

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There was only one rule: those selected had to have played Test cricket from 1972 onwards, while performances in series between the two teams were weighted in comparison to career stats.

Mark Butcher tasked Dominic Cork, Azhar Mahmood and Osman Samiuddin with picking teams of their own before an overall side was chosen – listen to the discussion as a podcast in the player above.

The panel certainly were not always in agreement, particularly over who should open the batting and which spinner to pick, but there were a handful of players assured of their place in the side, with all-rounder and captain, Imran Khan, and bowlers Wasim Akram and James Anderson unanimous picks.

While Cork picked Imran, it pained him to leave out his hero, Sir Ian Botham, a man he had fought so hard for to be included in the England-West Indies combined XI picked earlier in the summer.

“It was the most gut-wrenching decision that I’ve ever had to make in my whole life,” said Cork. “Beefy, I’m sorry, it’s the only time it will ever happen.

“The reason why is for one man, Imran Khan! He is captain; you have got to have someone to lead the team like ‘cornered tigers’, as he said in the 1992 World Cup. Who would not have loved to play under Imran?”

Wasim was an ever-present in the three teams selected, and while his long-time partner in crime Waqar Younis did make the final XI, he was a notable absentee from Azhar’s team, with the former Pakistan all-rounder opting for payback from his playing days and instead picking England’s double-act of Anderson and Stuart Broad to complement Wasim.


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“I left Waqar out; when he was captain, he left me out enough times,” joked Azhar. “And I couldn’t leave out the two men from England, Anderson and Broad, purely based on their records – one with 500 wickets and the other nearing 600.”

There was some serious spin talent up for discussion, with Cork’s selection of Abdul Qadir ultimately getting the nod in the final team over fellow leg-spinner, Mushtaq Ahmed (Samiuddin’s pick), and off-spinners Saqlain Mushtaq (Azhar’s pick) and Graeme Swann, who was a notable absentee from all XIs.

As for the openers, it was Sir Alastair Cook and Alec Stewart who were selected, seeing off competition from Saeed Anwar and Michael Atherton, though Osman was not willing to let it go.

“Saeed Anwar is probably one of the most underappreciated openers of the modern age. People remember he was a beautiful player, but that actually makes you forget that he was a very effective player.

“It’s the only hill I’d die on, that Saeed should be in that side. Give me Saeed any day.”

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