In these uncertain times, we're going to need to come up with ways to entertain ourselves. So today's conversation is around a world test XI, and how many England players would make it into your lineup? I'm going to kick it off my giving you my test XI, and I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below:
I'm not sure this is going to be overly popular on an England cricket blog. However my team consists of just one English player. I thought about moving Root in ahead of Williamson, but if I can't fit Babar Azam in here, I can't fit Root. Sorry cap.
1) Cheteshwar Pujara - India - 49.48 average
Pujara is without doubt, one of my favourite batsmen to watch. Which may be a strange comment considering he's not considered an attractive batsmen. However he has that fight, and stubbornness to him that is ideal for an opener. He loves to bat, he bats time, he frustrates and he tires.
2) David Warner - Australia - 48.94 average
A pantomime villain but a fine opener with the stats to back it up. Forgetting how people view his personality, he's an incredibly talented player. Can take some time to get going, but when on song he's destructive. To say it's all about power would do a disservice though, he plays some incredibly beautiful shots as well.
3) Steve Smith - Australia - 62.84 average
During the ASHES I thought it was going to be impossible to get him out. Smith just loves to bat and although his technique won't be featured in too many coaching manuals, he's a run machine. I actually quite enjoy the battle that opposing captains have with Smith, changing fields only for him to adapt and find the gaps. Best batsmen in the world for my money.
4) Virat Kohli - India - 54.97 average
Kohli is a fine competitor (but quite annoying), and he scores bags of runs, often in difficult situations where his team really needs him. One of the most attractive stroke players in the game, some of his drives are stunning on the eye and he's not afraid to take on the best bowlers in the world, a vocal leader in the field too.
5) Kane Williamson - New Zealand - 50.99 average
A superb batsmen and leader, which is why he's my captain in this team. Williamson has that aura about him, the kind of aura that all great batsmen have. Well over 6,000 runs at an average above 50 should be applauded. A man for big occasions and cool under pressure. When it comes to test cricket and great batsmen, you think of Kane.
6) Ben Stokes - England - 36.54 average
Ben's not the best batsmen in the world, he's not the best bowler in the world, but he's the best cricketer in the world. Across all three disciplines, nobody influences the game more than Ben Stokes. He is the man for the biggest of occasions, that knock at Headingly will go down as one of the greatest performances in England test history.
7) Quinton de Kock - South Africa - 39.12
This was a difficult one between Quinton and BJ Watling of New Zealand. In the end I went with de Kock who's on the upwards trajectory. I also think that while Watling is better behind the stumps, de Kock's keeping skills are incredibly underrated. Quinton is now the main man for South Africa and I think he's about to enter his best years.
8) Jason Holder - West Indies - 32.72 average, 106 wickets at 26.37
Bowler, batsmen and captain, that's a lot of responsibility for a man who's not yet turned 30. However Holder looks like a man who's very comfortable with himself. Able to turn the game as a batter (he does have a double century to his first class cv) and as a bowler, who wouldn't want him in their team.
9) Ravichandran Ashwin - India - 28.73 average, 362 wickets at 25.36
Need to have a spinner in the team, and Ashwin is the best spinner in test cricket for me. Got a few variations, a top-notch googly and even a carrom ball. He's also a very good batsmen, so when you can have your #9 come in with an average over 25, who just so happens to be the best spinner in the world, you take it.
10) Pat Cummins - Australia - 17.02 average, 143 wickets at 21.82
Cummins has everything you need to be a dangerous fast bowler, he's got the height, he's got the speed and he's got the accuracy. It's that final trait that impresses me so much, during last summer's ASHES he seemed to be hitting the exact same spot time and again, and England just couldn't get him away. #1 fast bowler in the world for my money.
11) Jasprit Bumrah - India - 2.00 average, 62 wickets at 20.63
You can tell I like accuracy in my bowlers. Bumrah can hit a 20p coin without even thinking about it. His action is difficult to play and I don't think he's reached his true potential yet. He seems a humble guy, and he has the world at his feet. I wouldn't want to face Bumrah.
So there you have it. My World XI, now what's yours?