For some reason, I just couldn't get to sleep last night, despite being dog tired. I'd like to be able to say it was because my brain had been working overtime on some great new poem and just refused to stop composing.
I'd be lying, though. There was no particular reason and, when I tried to nod off by picking my All-Time World Cricket XI (to play an intergalactic outfit), I got so caught up in it that it just made me more wide awake. Usually it's a foolproof method, and my brain shuts down while I'm pondering that last batting spot, but this time I got down to the final bowling place and had a heated debate with myself over whether a second spinner was needed, and if so, who?
I set myself strict criteria with these selection challenges. I can only pick people I've actually seen play, which rules out anyone before about 1977. I have to pick individuals in isolation (ie. Desmond Haynes missed out because, although he formed a great partnership with Gordon Greenidge, I have to assume he might be playing alongside someone else). I assume that each individual is at the peak of their powers. I assume the pitch is a perfect test wicket, offering batsmen and all types of bowlers some help. Finally, I assume that this isn't just about entertainment (so sadly, no room for my hero, wine-quaffing, stunt-flying David Gower, or the likes of Aravinda DeSilva), but that the fate of the world is at stake. Of course, that last one means I also assume the existence of a race of genocidal, planet-grabbing aliens who, nevertheless, are quite prepared to stick to their word and back off if they happen to lose a five-day cricket match.
So, who made it? Well, here we go.
1. Gordon Greenidge
2. Sunil Gavaskar
3. Viv Richards
4. Sachin Tendulkar
5. Allan Border (C)
6. Ian Botham
7. Ian Healy (WK)
8. Malcolm Marshall
9. Shane Warne
10. Dennis Lillee
11. I finally fell asleep at this point, after deciding to cheat and pick a spinner and a pace bowler, and leave one out on the day of the match depending on the conditions. I then had a strange dream in which I met Sir Richard Hadlee, who was quite miffed to have missed the cut, but was calmed down by Joel Garner.
In the light of day, I've decided that last spot will go to Anil Kumble and Curtley Ambrose. I reckon the world is safe in the hands of these 12, but I'm prepared to justify it. Next time insomnia strikes, I'll write a little explanation of the selections. In the meantime, tell me I'm wrong, and why...