New Delhi: Dickie Bird, the former international umpire, has not found space for three of the modern era's greatest batsman - Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting - as well as the legendary Don Bradman in his list of the greatest Test XI. Bird, ahead of his 80th birthday, had his greatest-ever XI published in The Telegraph but conspicuous with their absence from the list were the top ten run-getters in the Test format as well as the man who finished his career with a batting average of 99.94.
Bird, who officiated in 66 Tests and stood in three World Cup finals during a 28-year career as a first-class umpire, included just one Indian in his XI - former opener and captain Sunil Gavaskar. Opening the batting with Gavaskar in Bird's XI was South African Barry Richards. Gavaskar was termed by the English umpire as "one of the two best opening bats" while claiming that Richards "would have broken all the records, but for apartheid".
Vivian Richards and Greg Chappell were shoo-ins, as was the West Indian great Garfield Sobers of whom Bird said was "the greatest I have ever seen play the game". The second South African chosen was Graeme Pollock because in Bird's view he was "largely lost because of apartheid".
The designated wicketkeeper was England's Alan Knott and the captain of Bird's greatest XI was Pakistan allrounder Imran Khan. After Khan, the bowlers were Shane Warne, Lance Gibbs and Dennis Lillee - "the finest fast bowler who ever lived" according to Bird, who umpired his final Test between England and India at Lord's in 1996,
Dick Bird's Greatest Test XI: 1 Sunil Gavaskar, 2 Barry Richards, 3 Vivian Richards, 4 Greg Chappell, 5 Garfield Sobers, 6 Graeme Pollock, 7 Allan Knott (wk), 8 Imran Khan (capt), 9 Dennis Lillee, 10 Shane Warne, 11 Lance Gibbs.
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