Friday, 30 May 2008
The Global Peace Index (GPI) was launched in May 2007 and claims to be the first study of its kind ranking nations according to their peacefulness. Last year's report covered 121 countries. The latest increased it to 140. Australian entrepreneur Steve Killelea conceived the idea and won some dubious endorsements. Among them, the Dalai Lama.
He served as a CIA asset from the late 1950s until 1974 and may again be in tow if the Bush administration's awarding him a Congressional Gold Medal last year and closeness to him now is an indication. Other endorsers include Jordan's Queen Noor; another member of her royal family; four members of the British House of Lords; Ted Turner; Virgin Group's Richard Branson; other business and community leaders; Australia's former Prime Minister JM Fraser; other former high-ranking government officials; academics; a former BBC war correspondent and MP; plus six Nobel Laureates, including Jimmy Carter. In fairness, a few distinguished names join them, including Helen Caldicott and economics professor James Galbraith.
These organizations prepare GPI's report - The Economist Intelligence Unit, an international panel of peace experts from peace institutes and think tanks, and the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. Their stated purpose is to "highlight the relationship between Global Peace and Sustainability (stressing that) unless we can achieve" a peaceful world, humanity's major challenges won't be solved. No argument there, but does GPI's statement belie its real interest?
GPI uses 24 indicators to rank nations according to their relative internal and external peacefulness. They include their:
-- military expenditures as a percent of GDP and number of armed service personnel per 100,000 population;
-- relations with other countries;
-- respect for human rights;
-- potential for terrorist acts;
-- number of homicides per 100,000 population, including infanticide;
-- level of violent crime;
-- aggregate number of heavy weapons per 100,000 population and ease of access to small arms and light weapons;
-- number of jailed population per 100,000 population; and
-- number of internal security officers and police per 100,000 population.
Conspicuously absent is a measure of outside influence causing internal violence, instability and/or disruption. Venezuela ranked an implausible 123rd behind America at 97th. Something is amiss, and the above rating raises suspicions that angered Venezuelan National Assemblyman Jose Albornos. He stated:
"Sometimes things tip over into irrationality just like they're doing just now....(it's) part of a plan....there are sectors who decide that they want to get rid of Chavez, who have seen that they cannot (do it by) coup d'etat and are trying to penalize the whole country in a campaign of attrition."
He then added that the 2008 GPI "doesn't correspond with the truth," and plenty of evidence backs him. It's examined below.
By GPI's criteria, scoring Venezuela high and America lowest should be no-brainers. The US hands down is the world's most violent nation and primary reason for Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel's bottom rankings. The same holds for Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Colombia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda, the Philippines and a host of other nations.
By comparison, Venezuela is placid and tranquil but GPI's criteria don't show it. It certainly ranks above Rwanda, Albania, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Turkmenistan, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, China, Jordan, and other countries outscoring it. Why not is the question? Think politics for an answer in spite of America's low ranking and Israel near the bottom. It's not low enough. It should be last hands down.
The US alone endangers global stability, world peace and the planet's survival. It alone wages permanent war, targets peaceful nations, and claims a unilateral right to use first strike nuclear weapons preemptively. It also has over 800 military bases (perhaps 1000 or more with secret ones) in 130 or more countries, hundreds more at home, and still more troops deployed in other countries throughout the world. It further spends more on its military than all other nations combined. It uses it aggressively, supports Israeli repression against Palestinians, assassinates foreign leaders, installs more "friendly" ones, and backs despots like Colombia's Uribe, Egypt's Mubarak, the Saudi royal family, Mexico's Calderon, and various installed stooges like Afghanistan's Karzai and Iraq's al-Maliki.
America ranks lowest on peace. It keeps sinking lower. It alone threatens planetary survival. Failure to register that in a "peace index" is unimaginable. It makes the entire project suspect.
Under Chavez in contrast, Venezuela's record is envious. It embraces its neighbors, offers no-strings aid, and engages in mutually beneficial trade, political relations, and other alliances; it also:
-- assassinates no other leaders;
-- doesn't seek regime changes abroad;
-- has no nuclear weapons and seeks none; and
-- spends less than one-half of one percent of the Pentagon's (grossly understated) military budget (around $1 to $2 billion) and less half of that, in fact, of America's total defense spending - in FY 2008: a conservatively estimated $1.1 trillion with all military, homeland security, veterans, NASA, debt service and miscellaneous related allocations included; according to Chalmers Johnson, it's not only "morally obscene," it's "fiscally unsustainable" and is heading the nation for probable "insolvency and (the world for) a long depression," or potentially worse.
-- In addition, Venezuela doesn't export weapons to neighbors or incite conflict; in contrast, America is the world's leading arms and munitions supplier by far - and to many belligerent states with disturbing records of using them internally and/or against neighbors; Colombia, Mexico, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Israel to cite five;
-- Chavez is socially responsible at home;
-- doesn't practice torture;
-- has no secret prisons;
-- threatens no other nation;
-- wages no wars;
-- is a model democracy;
-- governs peacefully;
-- supports human rights and social justice;
-- affirms free speech;
-- bans discrimination; and
-- uses his resources responsibly - for his people, yet is friendly to business as well. He's earned world class stature and immense popularity at home as a result. Under George Bush in contrast, America is feared and hated worldwide. Growing numbers don't trust him at home either, and it shows in his poll ratings - some of the lowest ever for a US president with vice-president Cheney and Congress scraping rock bottom.
A stunning (but long known) fact came out as well. It's in a US Justice Department Inspector General's 370 page report. It revealed that the FBI opened a "War Crimes" file documenting witnessed systemic Guantanamo Bay torture. It's so inflammatory that the administration suppressed it. It asserts that orders came from the top, including the White House, Pentagon, DOJ and NSC. It implies but doesn't state that this practice goes on in all US military prisons plus ones outsourced to in rogue states for some of the most barbaric treatment anywhere - and mostly to innocent victims.
Some GPI-Reported Comparisons - America v. Venezuela
Prisons everywhere are harsh, and Venezuela's are no exception. But consider America. It has the largest prison population in the world by far at 2.3 million, greater than in China with four times the population. It also adds over a 1000 new prisoners a week. It's justifiably called a gulag, so imagine what goes on offshore. No remediating efforts are planned. Reforms are off the table. America's prison-industrial complex is burgeoning. Prisons are being privatized. Profiting on human beings is big business, and consider who they are. Most are black, hispanic, poor, unempowered, nonviolent, and imprisoned for offenses like drugs possession.
In contrast, Venezuela is humanizing its prisons. It's no simple task, and no miracle cures are expected. Nonetheless, positive steps are being taken for a prison population numbering 20,000 that's down from its 1992 31,400 high. The National Assembly is "committed to giv(ing) priority to (revising) the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code." It's to make it more just and improve prison conditions in health care, food, access to education and more. Reducing incarceration lengths is also planned as well as tackling root causes of crime such as poverty and lack of opportunity. Doing this in America is impossible. Things keep worsening. The nation is uncaring. It shows across the board. That highlights the problem, but GPI didn't notice.
Number of homicides per 100,000 population is another category. GPI ranks America low (in number) and Venezuela high. It's unjustified. From it's beginning, America has been violent at home and abroad. It's been at war with one or more adversaries every year in its history without exception. It's called a "gun" and "rape culture" and has the highest homicide rate among all western nations. Violence is endemic, pacifism sinful, legal and illegal drug use out of control, young children introduced to violence through films, television and video games that should be outlawed. They're exported everywhere to make all societies like America. Venezuela is no exception but nowhere near to matching the US.
Implausibly, America also scores well on the following:
-- its number of internal security officers and police; it refers to "civil police" only; omitted are National Guard forces, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, FBI, CIA,16 spy agencies, drug enforcement, and since October 2002 the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) that preempts Posse Comitatus limitations that no longer apply; no nation on earth has more internal (or external) security, spends more for it, and no country uses it more aggressively;
-- ease of access to "weapons of minor destruction;" Venezuela ranks below America; impossible as guns in the US are as accessible as chewing gum even in cities where they're banned; the Second Amendment (on right to bear arms) practically equates it with religion even though the law's original intent bears no relation to its current interpretation that's promoted by the gun lobby;
-- "likelihood of violent demonstrations;" Venezuela scores high; unconsidered is why any take place and who's behind them - America, not Venezuelans except for those recruited and well-paid to cause trouble to destabilize an otherwise peaceful country;
-- violent crime; Venezuela scores high again and America low; wrong as violence in the US is endemic; GPI understates it;
-- political instability; Venezuela scores moderately high; again no mention why there's any or who instigates it;
-- human rights; America and Venezuela get equal scores; preposterous again and insulting to Venezuelans; America's disdain for human rights is unmatched; Venezuela's is excellent by comparison; the Constitution mandates it; GPI ignores it;
-- political democracy; America outranking Venezuela is impossible; the US's democracy is illusory; in Venezuela it's real and should be highest rated relative to other countries;
-- the electoral process; America besting Venezuela is false and insulting; Venezuela has a model participatory democracy; all Venezuelans are enfranchised; the Constitution's Article 56 mandates it; it affirms that "All persons have the right to be registered free of charge....after birth, and to obtain public documents" so stating;
-- US elections, in contrast, are deeply corrupted; big money runs them; candidates are pre-selected; machines do our voting; no recounts are possible; losers are declared winners; independent candidates are shut out; the media ignore them; they keep people uninformed; issues aren't addressed; just "horserace" theater ad nauseam; voter disenfranchisement is rife; election theft common; mountains of evidence document it; none reported in the mainstream; it's why half or more of the electorate opts out; it mocks democracy in a nation having little; it's exemplary in Venezuela; not according to GPI;
-- "functioning of government" defined to mean freely electing representatives and effective checks and balances; the US wins again completely belying the facts; America's democratic governance is a sham; Venezuela's is real; GPI has things backwards;
-- civil liberties; America on top here, too; it's outrageous in a growing police state climate; post-9/11 repressive laws, executive and military orders, directives and other measures are in force that would make any despot proud; presidential authority is unchallenged; Congress is mere rubber-stamp; Homeland Security is a national Gestapo; FBI and CIA also; internal spying is pervasive; dissent stifled; human rights disdained; and the rule of law is now consigned to the dustbin of history; Venezuelan society is mirror opposite; GPI failed to notice;
-- "corruption perceptions;" America scores high and Venezuela low, and indeed there is a problem; yet it's minor compared to the US's all-pervasive kind - in government, business and throughout high levels in society; it involves trillions of dollars; again it didn't register;
-- Reporters Without Borders (RWB) is the source for GPI's comparative "freedom of the press" assessment; RWB no longer publishes an index with assigned country rankings; instead it rates them: No. 1 good, No. 2 satisfactory, No. 3 noticeable problems, No. 4 difficult situation, and No. 5 very noticeable problems;
-- RSW's reputation is tainted; it lacks credibility; it disgraced itself last year by baselessly criticizing Chavez's justifiable decision not to renew RCTV's VHF license and accusing him of violating free speech and press standards; not surprisingly, it showed in its 2007 survey with rankings still used; it rated America somewhat low at 48th but Venezuela far lower at 114th - below Chad, Morocco, Uganda, Indonesia, Albania, Congo, Liberia, Kuwait, the Central African Republic and numerous other questionable higher-ranked choices; in 2008, Venezuela jumped considerably; GPI scored it 36.9 (an apparent 37th in the world); the US fared much better at 14.5; tops were Iceland and Norway at 0.8;
-- GPI and RSW should be embarrassed; consider the facts; no country outranks Venezuela in press freedom; outlandish dissent is tolerated; censorship banned, and the law affirms it; RCTV lost its VHF license for backing insurrection against the government; its officials avoided prison for their lawlessness; they were merely slapped on the wrist instead;
-- America is mirror opposite; RCTV type broadcasting would be illegal, an act of sedition or treason; those responsible would be prosecuted; but it's not how major media operate in the US; they "filter" news; one-sidedly support a state and corporate agenda; shut out opposition to it; keep the electorate uninformed by operating no differently than a state-controlled ministry of information and propaganda; RSW approves; so does GPI;
Its data is suspect throughout. Adult literacy (unrelated to violence) is another example. It scores America at 99%. It's laughable. Even the US Department of Education estimates it at 80% tops, and their number way overstates it. It's far lower based on inner-city math and English test scores plus painfully low computer literacy levels.
Other Questionable Rankings
GPI isn't alone in targeting Venezuela. Transparency International (TI) does as well. It calls itself "politically non-partisan" and a "global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption (with a) mission....to create change toward a world free of corruption." Consider its 2007 "Corruption Perceptions Index." To achieve its aim, it better tighten its standards that fall far short of "transparency."
America easily outscores other nations in corruption. It's broad, deep and extends throughout government, business, and high levels of society in the trillions of dollars. But it's not how TI sees it. It ranks the US No. 20, just behind France and ahead of Chile. In contrast, Venezuela scrapes bottom at 162nd - behind Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Kazakhstan, Congo, Pakistan and dozens of other dubious choices. Venezuela (like all countries) has corruption problems. But nowhere to the degree TI suggests. Its April 2008 report is rife with errors and why not. According to Calvin Tucker in a May 22 article, it was prepared by "an anti-Chavez activist who backed the 2002 military coup against democracy." His full account can be accessed by the following link: guardian
The Fraser Institute is a right wing, business-backed, Canadian-based think tank. It prepares an annual Economic Freedom of the World Index that has nothing to do with freedom. It's not kind to Venezuela and sidesteps facts in its assessment. Following the country's 2002-03 oil management lockout, growth has been impressive and remains so. Business has profited hugely. All economic measures are strong and improving except for inflation. It remains stubbornly high, but efforts are being made to curb it.
Nonetheless, Fraser reports with blinders. It ranked Venezuela practically at the bottom - 126th out of 130 nations, only besting Congo, Zimbabwe and two other countries. It's the sixth consecutive bottom-scraping rating and mirror opposite those for pre-Chavez years. Since then, Venezuela prospered. Chavez is friendly to business. Fraser turns a blind eye. It's part of a corporate-led conspiracy to crush democracy and reempower capital. It raises questions on whether GPI, RWB, TI, Fraser and others are part of a larger scheme.
Iran is America's top target. Venezuela is next. Both countries are nominated for regime change. Continued efforts work toward it. It's no secret why. Each is oil rich, their leaders independent, and they refuse to be US clients. For Washington, that's sinful and unforgivable. The media are on board. They relentlessly bash both countries and report fiction as fact. Destabilization efforts continue. Anything may erupt anytime. GPI and the others may be helping.
Their low Venezuelan rankings are suspect. Washington may be behind them. Corporate backers as well. They get what they pay for. In this case, vilifying Chavez. GPI's facts are bogus. So are RWB's, TI's and Fraser's. It discredits their Venezuela v. America's rankings. Their entire reports as well. View them with caution. Understand what's likely going on. Part of a greater scheme to destabilize Venezuela and end its model democracy. Exposing them is the best way to prevent it.
News and politics
Environmentalists want a ban on military activity and mineral mining in the Arctic Ocean, where higher temperatures are melting the ice, eventually enabling coastal countries to search for oil and gas thought to lie beneath the seabed.
"I hope for a concrete result," Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller told reporters in the town of Ilulissat on his way into the meeting of senior officials from Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States.
"Those that say there is a legal vacuum in the Arctic are wrong because the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention prevails in the Arctic as it does in other oceans," said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere.
Denmark called the meeting in its self-governing province in an effort to end squabbling over ownership of huge tracts of the Arctic seabed.
Denmark and Norway have urged all involved to abide by U.N. rules on territorial claims and hope to sign a declaration that the United Nations would rule on any disputes.
The talks will cover not only territorial claims but also cooperation over accidents, maritime security and oil spills.
Joining Moller and Stoere were Greenland Premier Hans Enoksen, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Canadian Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn.
Environmental groups have criticized the scramble for the Arctic, saying it will damage unique animal habitats, and have called for a treaty similar to that regulating the Antarctic, which bans military activity and mineral mining.
"We would suggest that all the nations up there should agree not to open it up for drilling," Tarjai Haaland, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Nordic, told Reuters by phone.
Scientists believe rising temperatures could leave most of the Arctic ice-free in the summer months in a few decades' time.
As the ice sheet shrinks, icebergs will form and threaten shipping -- which may increase because the Northwest Passage will cut thousands of miles off some shipping routes.
Haaland said drilling for oil in the Arctic was a very bad idea because the world already had four times more fossil fuel reserves than it could afford to burn.
Under the 1982 U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, coastal states own the seabed beyond existing 200 nautical mile zones if it is part of a continental shelf of shallower waters. The rules aim to fix shelves' outer limits on a clear geological basis, but have created a tangle of overlapping Arctic claims.
News and politics
It has become clear that one of John McCain’s major lines of attack against Barack Obama will be that the Illinois senator lacks the experience to be president.
For a young man with very little experience, he’s done very well. I appreciate his very great lack of experience and knowledge of the issues. He’s been very successful.
Now there are signs that this talking point about Obama’s “inexperience,” particularly on foreign policy, is starting to seep into the mainstream media’s coverage of the race, taking on the status of an established fact.
On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News asked his guest, Karl Rove: “How would you deal with the inexperience issue if you were [Obama] right now?” (Click on “Watch: What Would Karl Rove Do?”) The question, which took for granted that Obama is indeed inexperienced, simply set Rove up to hammer the point home. Obama should “go get some,” he replied. (We’ll leave for another post the absurdity of asking a question like this of Rove and expecting any kind of good-faith response at all—a point that Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, among others, has made before.)
Before this notion gets hammered into the narrative of the race any further, it would be a good idea for the press to independently assess its validity. Because, although Obama undoubtedly has less political experience than McCain (who’s been in Congress since 1982 and in the Senate since 1986), he doesn’t have much less than the last two presidents did when they took office. And in terms of foreign policy, which is the issue at the center of the inexperience charge, he has more.
Obama spent eight years in the Illinois Senate, and by November will have spent four in the U.S. Senate. Since coming to Washington, he’s served on the foreign relations committee, and worked on legislation to prevent the spread of nuclear material.
George W. Bush ran for office in 2000 on the basis of six years as governor of Texas—a state that gives its governor an unusually small amount of real authority. He had barely set foot outside the country, and famously failed to name the president of Pakistan when asked by a reporter. (Bush’s campaign, of course, was masterminded by Karl Rove, who now claims to worry about Obama’s lack of experience.)
And in 1992, Bill Clinton had been governor of Arkansas for ten years. That’s more experience—in terms of being a chief executive—than Obama has, but in terms of foreign policy, it’s far less.
Of course, some observers point to Clinton’s lack of foreign policy experience as the reason for his administration’s early missteps in Bosnia and Rwanda. And we all know how Bush’s foreign policy turned out. So if McCain and the GOP want to argue that only the Arizona senator has enough experience to be “Ready on Day One”—as first Hillary Clinton and now McCain himself have put it—that’s obviously their right (though anyone who backed Bush in 2000 would be hypocritical for making that argument).
But the media shouldn’t play along. When it reports the GOP attack, it should also, as often as possible, seek to offer the context laid out above, that lets voters judge the question for themselves. And it should definitely avoid endorsing the charge by accepting it as an unassailable statement of fact, and putting the onus on the Obama camp to “address” it.
News and politics
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Post WSC test cricket World XI
The choice of an opening partnership for my lineup in the end did not pose too many difficulties. There is one player in the last 30 years who is one of the greatest opening batsmen of all time and picks himself, that man is Sunil Gavaskar. In a career at the highest level spanning 16 years (1971-87), he built his game around two of the most important attributes required of an opener, a near impregnable defence and limitless amounts of concentration. His impeccable technique allowed him to score 13 of his 34 test centuries against the team who dominated cricket for the majority of his career, the
Videos of Sunil Gavaskar:
221 vs England The Oval 1979
ESPN Legends of Cricket
The man I chose to partner Gavaskar in the end chose himself based not only on his achievements in the game but by the type of aggressive, domination of all bowling he has encountered throughout his career. This type of player would make for the ideal opening partnership with Gavaskar. There were a number of players to choose from who I've seen at the test match level who deserve honourable mentions. Players such as Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Mark Taylor, Virender Sehwag & Saeed Anwar all argue a strong case for inclusion but the player I chose to take on the new ball in my dream team is the tall left handed Queenslander, Matthew Hayden. He casts an imposing shadow on the cricket field, using brute strength, power, attitude, high levels of concentration and a technique for all conditions to dominate all bowlers who take up his challenge. Hayden is a powerful driver on both sides of the wicket and is merciless on anything short of a length. A high class catcher in the slips and gully add to this skill set. After a number of aborted attempts to kick start his test career in 1994 & 1996/67, Hayden came of age in the new millennium during the memorable 2000/01 series in India, establishing his place in the all conquering Australian test team with 542 runs during the 3 match series. His 203 in the deciding 3rd test at Chennai was an innings of rare class. He was able to successfully take on Harbhajan Singh who himself was destroying all who stood in his wake on his way to 32 wickets and a man of the series performance. Hayden showed peerless concentration and wonderful shot selection mastering the sweep shot in trying conditions to give
In 2003 he formed a potent opening combination with Justin Langer, later that year he hammered 380 against Zimbabwe at Perth, briefly borrowing the Test record from Brian Lara. Hayden has continued his prolific run scoring in all forms of the game and with Gavaskar as the perfect foil, they form the ideal partnership at the top of the order to get my World XI on to the front foot whilst being well equipped to handle all bowlers in all conditions.
Videos of Matthew Hayden:
India vs Australia 2001 3 test match series extensive highlights, Hayden 119 in 1st test, part 1 & 2, Hayden's 203 in 3rd test Part 9 & 10
part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5 - part 6 - part 7 - part 8 - part 9 - part 10 - part 11 - part 12 - part 13 - part 14 - part 15
197 vs England Brisbane 2002
153 vs England Melbourne 2006
181* in ODI vs NZ 2007
124 vs India Melbourne 2007
123 vs India Sydney 2008
103 vs India Adelaide
Middle Order Batsmen
Things got much tougher when it came to selecting 4 batsmen for my team. With so many fine players to choose from, one of the deciding factors for me was the fact that I was choosing a team, so having seven guys who bat like Adam Gilchrist might sound wonderful in theory, I don't believe it's going to bring together a team who would beat all comers in all conditions.
No.3 and 4 slots in my batting order are without doubt the two finest batsmen to stride to the wicket for the
The 'Master Blaster' from
His run a ball 146 vs the Australians at Perth in 1988 was very memorable for me due to the manner in which he was able to take away any possible initiative from the opposition in a session of carnage and devastation It was this appetite for destruction and his game changing ability that set him apart from his contemporaries. His strength was an wonderful asset, not to mention his natural ability as an all round fieldsman usually close to the wicket or in the covers, setting such high standards which would have easily seen him at home in today's game. Richards was a more than useful slow to medium paced off spin bowler who often played an important role as the 5th bowler in ODI's, sending down his overs quickly and accurately. His greatness was confirmed when in 2000, Richards was selected as one of the Five Wisden Cricketers of the Century.
Videos of Viv Richards:
146 vs Australia Perth 1988
110* vs England Antigua 1986 Fastest 100 in test history (56 balls)
Highlights package of his 208 vs Aus Melbourne 1984 & 146 vs Aus Perth 1988
package of Richards vs England
189* vs Eng in ODI
ESPN legends of cricket
Brian Lara comes in second wicket down for my team. During his time at the top, this left hander showed an appetite for runs that is matched by few in the history of the game. He left the game in 2007, his barrow overflowing with records. He achieved the multiple feats of being the all-time leading aggregate run scorer in test cricket (11953), holding the records for the highest individual scores in test cricket (400*) & first class cricket (501*).
Many other superlatives and skills come to mind immediately when I think of Lara and his innings I have witnessed. His appetite for the long innings draws comparisons with Bradman. It's the style and panache of his strokeplay that few modern day batsmen can match. Lara's wrists of steel, excellent footwork and an ability for unerringly accurate placement must have been so demoralising for all bowlers, it's no wonder he so frequently made large scores. 18 of his 34 test match centuries being scores over 150 with 7 double centuries, 1 triple century and of course his world record 400 not out in 2004 vs England to reclaim the test record from Matthew Hayden.
Having made his test debut vs Pakistan in 1990, Lara was unable to gain regular selection in the
At the age of 24 he had scaled cricket's Mount Everest by breaking Sir Garfield Sobers 36 year old world record for the most runs in a test innings scoring 375* vs England at St John's. Seven weeks later he broke the world record for the highest score in first class cricket blasting 501* for Warwickshire vs Durham at Edgbaston. With these feats came the massive weight of expectation from the Caribbean, especially now that he was seen as the only hope for
With so many epic innings to choose from that I have seen Lara play in a career glittering with highlights, it's extraordinarily difficult to decide on one as the very best. His 132 on an ugly WACA wicket in 1997 was courageous. The 182 at Adelaide in 2000 was sublime. The Prince's counter-attacking brilliance came to the fore in his amazing 213 at Sabina Park, Jamaica in 1999 along with the sheer inevitability of his glorious 226 at Adelaide in 2005 to surpass Allan Border as the leading run scorer in test history were all masterpieces to be savoured.
In the end for me it will be the one that is etched in my memory so vividly for many reasons that it will never be forgotten. Lara's match-winning epic 153 not out at Bridgetown,
Two further wickets fell early on the final day which left seeming only Lara and Jimmy Adams standing in
Steve Waugh in his first test series as captain went for his trump card after the interval, the colossus, Shane Warne. The leg spinner had just returned to the test side from reconstructive surgery on his right shoulder that he had suffered from the wear and tear of bowling. Having taken 3 wickets at an average of over 100 in those preceding games, Lara could smell the blood in the water and his savage attack on Warne in the post lunch session was one to behold. He smashed a Warne long hop for 6 to bring up his fifty, putting the ball onto the grandstand roof. The carnage continued with his second 50 coming up in 51 balls. It took a Glenn McGrath gem to remove
With Gillespie back into the attack and 7 runs still required, Lara almost succumbed when trying to glide one past 1st slip. He edged but Healy grassed the chance and with it seemingly
I'll finish with a quote from someone who I have enormous respect for, Steve Waugh. "Lara is a good player against average bowling sides and a great one against formidable attacks but when harassed into a corner by his own brinkmanship or if he's targeted, he elevates himself into a genius."
Videos of Brian Lara:
277 vs Australia Sydney 1993 Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
375 vs England St John's 1994 part 1 part 2
World Record 501* for Warwickshire vs Durham Edgbaston 1994
179 vs England The Oval 1995
153* vs Australia Barbados 1999
400* vs England St John's 2004
226 vs Australia Adelaide 2005
130 vs Pakistan Barbados 2005
202 vs South Africa Johannesburg 2003
196 vs South Africa Port of Spain 2005
Sachin Tendulkar is another obvious choice for my lineup, coming in at no.5. No batsman in the modern era has captured the imagination of the cricketing public quite like this right hander from Mumbai. On the sub continent he is a cricketing deity, to the rest of the world a genius in flannels. He has demonstrated a superiority over his contemporaries that has rarely been seen since Bradman. Making his test debut at 16, he made an impact immediately scoring his first hundred on his first tour of
While Tendulkar throughout his career has played many glorious innings, knocks where he tore attacks apart in the blink of an eye, no doubt everyone had their favourite. I'll choose an occasion where I was privileged to be at the ground to watch a Sachin masterpiece unfolding ball by ball before my eyes. His 241 not out against Australia at the SCG 2004 was an innings that right from the moment he strode to the crease, you could tell he was looking for a big score. He added an extra helping of patience to his batsmanship from on a first day wicket, leaving numerous balls that on other occasions he would have flashed through the off side off both front and back foot. Once he and Laxman settled into their 4th wicket 353 run partnership, the hosts had little answers with all bowlers being dispatched to all corners and the Sydney crowd calling out for suspended leg spinner Shane Warne. Tendulkar was chanceless, he refused to be baited by balls bowled outside his off stump, biding his time making the bowlers bowl to him. It was a perfectly crafted innings, implementing a well thought out plan to perfection and in doing so taking away any chance Steve Waugh had of a fairytale victory in his final test match with the irony being that it was an innings straight out of the Waugh playbook.
Statistically, barring injury he will end his career with the highest total runs scored in test cricket. He already has the most test centuries (39) not the mention the most ODI runs and 100's. He perhaps doesn't have the voracious appetite for the long innings that Brian Lara has but he scored more hundreds than Lara and has a slightly better conversion rate once he passed 50. This invariably leads to the question who is better, Lara or Tendulkar. They are both geniuses and have dominated all attacks from the same era. If I had to make a decision I would give it to Lara by a hair's breadth. They are so close to each other in all categories that the only thing that enables me to rate Lara slightly higher is the fact that Lara for the majority of his career has played for an inferior, fractured team with a declining bowling attack while being required to carry a relatively weak West Indian batting lineup on his shoulders. Tendulkar has had the benefit of playing in a high quality test lineup featuring batsmen including Dilip Vengsarkar, Mohammad Azharuddin, Rahul Dravid, Navjot Sidhu, VVS Laxman & Virender Sehwag. Lara's team has not had anyone of the bowling quality of Ambrose and Walsh since 2000 yet the Indian side throughout Sachin's career has always had someone of the likes of Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath & Harbhajan Singh. This is in no way a detraction from Sachin Tendulkar's ability or magnificent achievements throughout a stellar career, he has just had the benefit of playing in a much stronger team. I believe the pressure of having to perform in a weak team is greater than the expectations of a billion Indians because the very same Indians give Tendulkar undying support every time he takes the field. Tendulkar is a talented and underutilised bowler who often delivers a variety of off breaks, leg breaks and googlies with excellent partnership breaking effect.
Videos of Sachin Tendulkar:
119* vs England Manchester 1990
148* vs Australia Sydney 1992
177 vs England Nottingham 1996
113 vs New Zealand Wellington 1998
116 vs Australia Melbourne 1999
155 vs South Africa Bloemfontein 2001
169 vs South Africa Cape Town 1997
126 vs Australia Chennai 2001
241* vs Australia Sydney 2004 part 1 part 2
154 vs Australia Sydney 2008
153 vs Australia Adelaide 2008
ESPN Legends of Cricket
The number 6 position in my batting lineup caused me much angst and there are a number of great batsmen who cannot find a place in my team. Players of the quality of Greg Chappell, Martin Crowe, Allan Border, Javed Miandad, David Gower, Jacques Kallis, Aravinda de Silva, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Rahul Dravid & David Boon all must be considered but in my opinion the batsmen required in this position is Steve Waugh. I believe to perfectly round out the top 6 and have an ideally balanced lineup, Steve Waugh is the one who deserves the nod.
Waugh has seen it all throughout a career that saw him finish as the most capped test match player (168). First picked for
With limited opportunities at test level in the following 18 months, he set about discovering what it would take for him to succeed at the highest level. Waugh removed the hook shot from him game completely, eschewing risk of dismissal and forcing bowlers to bowl to his strengths. The results speak for themselves, prior to his recall for the West Indies home series of 1992/93, Waugh had played in 44 tests, scored 13 50's 3 100's at an average of 37. For the remainder of his career he averaged almost 56 and scoring a further 37 fifties and 29 test centuries. But Waugh's career is much more than mere statistics. Possessing mental determination, resolution and persistence, these attributes made him the man best suited to weather any storm and save his team during a crisis. He consistently displayed the highest levels on patience and concentration that help set him apart from the other contenders for the final spot in the middle order. He still ruthlessly punished anything loose but had complete confidence in his technique having molded himself into a truly classical batsman.
He played many epic innings throughout his career, both match winning and match saving against all attacks under all conditions but to me it was his efforts during the 1995 Frank Worrell Trophy series in the
Succeeding Mark Taylor as test captain in 1999, Waugh led his all conquering side to series victories against New Zealand, South Africa, West Indies, England, Pakistan and Zimbabwe (home and away) and triumphs against India & Bangladesh at home . Success as a leader on the sub continent proved elusive for Waugh as a world record 16 consecutive victories was abruptly ended at Eden Gardens, Kolkata during the 2nd test of the Border/Gavaskar trophy series. Having led by 274 runs on first innings, Waugh failed to recognise the momentum built by VVS Laxman early on the 3rd day during his 1st innings half century. Enforcing the follow on proved to be disastrous as Laxman made a 2nd innings century, punishing the bowling for over 10 hours in his innings of 281 while India compiled a massive 657/7 dec. He also failed to drop Ricky Ponting when it was painfully obvious that he was without a clue against Harbhajan Singh while one of the best players of spin bowling in
Any summation of Steve Waugh's career would be incomplete without recounting his famous century against England in Sydney 2003. As someone who was at the ground, it truly is a day I could never forget. Waugh came into the last test of the series under intense media scrutiny and speculation that this could be his final game for
Videos of Steve Waugh:
152* vs England Lord's 1989
134* vs Sri Lanka Hobart 1989
147* vs New Zealand Brisbane 1993
112* vs Pakistan Brisbane 1995
200 vs West Indies Jamaica 1995 plus highlights of 2nd, 3rd and final day
131* vs Sri Lanka Melbourne 1995/96, 170 vs Sri Lanka Adelaide 1995/96
122* vs England Melbourne 1998
157* vs England The Oval 2001
102 vs England Sydney 2003 Last Over of this innings, hundred off the last ball
ESPN Legends of Cricket No.23 part 1 part 2 part 3
A select group of individuals have had such an impact on the game of cricket that their feats and actions have literally changed and shaped the very game being played by their contemporaries. Adam Gilchrist is one such player, redefining what is required of a wicket keeper to be successful in the modern game. Due to his swashbuckling, game altering stroke play, all of Australia's opponents realised that having an attacking and competent batsman in this position was a prerequisite with players in the mold of Kumar Sangakkara, Brendon McCullum, Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Kamran Akmal seen as essential to success in international cricket since they all at a minimum average over 30 with the bat and could find their way into the top 6 if necessary.
He initially made his first class debut for NSW in 1992/93 as a left handed batsman before moving to
Gilchrist made this type of innings seem commonplace. Coming in at no.7 in the vaunted Australian batting lineup, invariably on the few occasions where Australia were 5 down and perhaps could have been bowled out cheaply, Gilchrist took control of the game and posted a quickfire century. Three very special innings of his immediately come to mind when I contemplate his achievements in the test arena.
His 122 v India at Mumbai in 2001 was one of the signature moments of what has been dubbed by many the greatest test series ever. Combining with Matt Hayden, the pair took
Gilchrist also captained the Australian side on 6 occasions in a variety of replacement roles with the crowning achievement being his leadership of the side as
videos of Adam Gilchrist:
149* vs Pakistan Hobart 1999
152 vs England Birmingham 2001
133 vs England Sydney 2003
113 vs Pakistan Sydney 2005
162 vs New Zealand Wellington 2005
102* vs England Perth 2006
149* vs Sri Lanka World Cup Final 2007
We have been privileged to have witnessed many great all-rounders during the past 30 years. Kapil Dev, Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee, Shaun Pollock and Imran Khan all deserved lengthy consideration for a place in this XI. For mine I've decided to go with someone who is rated by many as the finest left arm fast bowler of all time, Wasim Akram. For the ideal balance of this team, having such a left arm bowler with his ability to move the ball both ways with swing and seam, with the new and old ball complements this attack perfectly. With a very deceptive ball-concealing action, he could bowl equally well from both sides of the wicket. His batting record does not stack up against the other contenders, probably an area which Akram would freely admit that he perhaps underachieved during his career. Since we already have another genuine all-rounder at No.7, I believe this gives you room for Wasim, rounding out the batting lineup and bowling attack ideally. As I said earlier, it's all about picking the best XI, not necessarily the eleven best players during this era.
Wasim Akram first came into prominence on the world stage as an 18 year old being picked for a tour of
There have been numerous highlights including the four hat-tricks he took in international cricket, two each in Tests and ODIs. He only scored 3 test match centuries but I will always remember him blazing 123 vs Australia at Adelaide in 1990, thrilling and booming straight hitting was always his trademark and he showed it to full effect in this innings, where he shared a wonderful 6th wicket partnership with his mentor Imram Khan. In the first test of this series he took a match double of 6/62 & 5/98 which left a lasting impression on me showing that he truly was a world class all rounder.
While he formed a highly successful opening partnership with Imran, this was to be superseded by his famous union with Waqar Younis during the 1990's. They wonderfully complimented each other, forming a potent combination that terrorised all batsmen during this period as the pioneers of reverse swing bowling. They were at the peak of their powers against New Zealand in Hamilton in 1993 where the duo were able to bowl Pakistan to a famous victory by 33 runs, dismissing the home side for 93 in the 4th innings. Wasim taking 5/45, Waqar 5/22.
For me, the pinnacle of his achievements came during the 1992 World Cup final against England in Melbourne where his late flurry of an innings, 33 off 19 balls, pushed
Since he is going to bat at No.8, it's also worth noting that Wasim has also achieved the highest score by a number eight batsman in Test cricket - 257 not out from 363 balls against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura. The innings contained 12 sixes which is also a world record for Test cricket.
He also captained
Videos of Wasim Akram:
5/21 vs Australia Melbourne 1985
1992 World Cup Final 33 & 3/49
Test Hat Trick vs Sri Lanka
Test hat trick vs Sri Lanka
ODI Hat trick vs Australia 1990
ODI Hat trick vs West Indies
Wasim Akram Wickets highlight package
Wonderful sequence to Rahul Dravid vs India Chennai 1999
Magic ball vs England The Oval 1996
ESPN Legends of Cricket
Wasim Akram Pioneers of Cricket Part 1 Part 2
No player has made more of an impact on the game of cricket in the past 30 years than Shane Warne. Much has been written about the man during his career so leaving all incidents and controversies aside, he is simply the greatest leg spinner the game has ever seen, quite possibly the greatest bowler ever. Such is Warne's preeminence that half way through his career, he was selected as one of the Five Wisden Cricketers of the Century. His success' revived the dying art of spin bowling in the early 90's after a period where fast bowlers were the dominant force in world cricket bringing a much needed balance back into bowling attacks.
Warne was a fiercely competitive and attacking bowler, always looking for a way to weave his magic, disorienting many opponents with his wizardry. Warne had multiple variations of his leg break, he had the top spinner, the flipper and the googly along with his many subtle differences in speed and flight. He also got wonderful shape on his deliveries getting large amounts of drift to leg to the right hander before like a spitting cobra, the ball would pitch and turn sharply across the batsman, often producing many memorable dismissals along with numerous near misses that would leave everybody gasping. What has always set Shane Warne apart from all that have come before him was not only his prodigious turn but his unnerving accuracy and control of all these variations. It was this combination that made him a marvelous attacking weapon in the one day game when until his time, it was unheard of to regularly play a leg spinner in an ODI. This paved the way for the successes of many fine spin bowlers in both forms of the game and we have been privileged to witness a number of world class spinners during the last 15 years including Muttiah Muralidaran, Anil Kumble, Daniel Vettori, Stuart MacGill, Saqlain Mushtaq, & Harbhajan Singh.
After an inauspicious debut against the touring Indians during the 1991/92 season, his first performance of note came the following summer during a test series in Sri Lanka that is remembered for Mark Waugh scoring 4 consecutive ducks. During the first test having trailed by 291 on first innings, the Australians managed to set home side a modest total of 181 runs to win the game.
Warne was again the predominant figure on his first Ashes campaign. He led all bowlers taking 34 wickets in the series and formed an attacking spinning duo with Tim May. It's impossible not to mention Warne's first delivery of the series, dubbed the 'ball of the century' which drifted well outside leg stump, spun back sharply and clipped the top of Mike Gatting's off stump. A remarkable ball which set the tone for
Perhaps Warne's most extraordinary bowling sequence was his 5 for 5 off 22 balls against South Africa at the SCG in 1993/94. And it wasn't a case of 'running through the tail'; his victims included, Jonty Rhodes, Gary Kirsten and Kepler Wessels. What made this even more remarkable was that this occurred on the first day of the test on his way to figures of 7/56, his match analysis of 12/128 was a career best.
From that breakthrough 7/52 effort against the
So much more can be said about Shane Warne and such a fabulous career, you could go on forever recounting glorious tales about many of those 708 test & 293 ODI wickets. One of my favourite memories for me is when he claimed the world record for the most Test wickets as he overtook Muttiah Muralitdaran's tally of 532 in the 2nd test vs India at Chennai in 2004. The Chennai crowd are renowned in India as being the most thoughtful and knowledgable cricket watchers and I was privileged to be at the MA Chidambaram Stadium watching one of the great test matches unfolding as Warne took his only 5 wicket haul against the Indians. On the previous two tours he was carrying injuries - the shoulder in 1998 and trouble with his spinning finger in 2001. But he was at his best during this four test tour, troubling all batsman in the first 3 tests before injury ruled him out of the last test in Mumbai. This second test was the best game of the whole tour despite it ending in a draw as rain ruined the 5th day when India were required to chase 220 to win. The game ebbed and flowed each and every day, the Aussies batting first with Hayden and Langer adding 136 for the first wicket in good time. After Harbhajan Singh removed both openers in the same over, Kumble took control with a 7 wicket haul to dismiss the tourists for 235. He bowled without luck during the first test loss on his home ground and thoroughly deserved each and every wicket. Warne broke the record when Irfan Pathan tickled one through to Matthew Hayden midway through the morning session on the 2nd day but Virender Sehwag then stole the limelight. He rode his luck with a number of sharp chances on his way to a breathtaking 155, keeping the crowd at fever pitch the entirety of his innings. When Viru was the 6th wicket to fall on 233, the game was delicately balanced but
We missed out on a wonderful finale to this test as no team has successfully overhauled more than 155 to win a Test at Chepauk so it would have made for a gripping 5th day. Could another match winning chapter have been written into the annuals of Shane Warne's career? In the end we will never know.
Videos of Shane Warne:
3/11 vs Sri Lanka Colombo 1992
7/52 vs West Indies Melbourne 1992
1st Ashes Test 8/137 vs England Manchester 1993
8/159 vs England Lord's 1993
3rd & 4th Ashes Test 1993
12/128 match figures vs South Africa Sydney 1994
11/110 match figures vs England Brisbane 1994
6/64 & 3/16 Vs England Melbourne 1994 including hat trick
9/110 match figures vs England Manchester 1997
6/46 vs England Birmingham 2005
World Cup Semi Final 1996 4/36 vs West Indies Mohali
World Cup Semi Final 1999 4/29 vs South Africa Birmingham
World Cup Final 1999 4/33 vs Pakistan Lords
King of Spin wickets package part 1 part 2
Warne dismisses Basit Ali Sydney 1995 0'23"
Warne dismisses Chanderpaul Sydney 1996
Warne dismisses Strauss Birmingham 2005
Deliberating over the final two fast bowling spots in this World XI were the toughest decisions I had to make in selecting this team. This era is littered with many great fast bowlers who all deserve mention and came into serious contention. Curtly Ambrose, Dennis Lillee, Joel Garner, Richard Hadlee, Michael Holding, Waqar Younis, Allan Donald, Courtney Walsh, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee are ranked here in my order of preference. Ambrose and Lillee were on a knife edge during the entire selection process but eventually found themselves on the outer by the barest of margins as I went for two quicks who I believed could do it better and with more consistently. With that said my last two selections for this team are Malcolm Marshall and Glenn McGrath. Both of these bowlers are counted amongst the very best to have ever played for their respective countries.
Once given this opportunity,
My favourite memory of Malcolm Marshall was during his man of the series performance in
Success continued unabated for
Videos of Malcolm Marshall
2/39 & 5/82 vs Australia Brisbane 1984
6/32 & 4/60 vs England Lords 1988
Malcolm Marshall highlights package 1
Malcolm Marshall highlights package 2
ESPN Legends of Cricket
Glenn McGrath stands alone in my opinion as the best fast bowler Australia has ever produced. Dennis Lillee is the only genuine contender for that mantle but I will take McGrath based on his ability to overcome injuries and comeback just as effective as he ever was. His accuracy and consistency were unfailing, a constant nagging off stump line and additional bounce were his modus operandi, making him extremely hard to face as a batsman. One characteristic of McGrath's that helped separate him from a healthy list of contenders was the fact that due to those qualities I just mentioned, he would bowl more deliveries to a batsman that he doesn't want to face, more balls than any other bowler in areas that force the batsman to make a tough decision. Curtly Ambrose had similar qualities but I rate him just behind because I believe Glenn McGrath was always going to turn up for you day in and day out with 100% commitment and determination to defeat batsman and win the game for his team. Ambrose sometimes lacked that hunger so if I want my World XI to beat any opposition in any conditions, I need players who I am sure will be switched on to play no matter what the circumstances.
Selected for the test team after making his first class debut in the previous season (1992/93) having played only eight first-class matches, McGrath made an impressive impact without taking a large haul of wickets. He played three tests that summer against the touring
Those successes in the
In 1999, he returned to the
In a career full to the brim with highlights, it's difficult to narrow it down to one favourite in my mind from McGrath. Securing his 500th test wicket at Lords during the 2005 Ashes tour on an unforgettable 1st day's play had to be seen to be believed. His career best performance of 8/24 at Perth against Pakistan in 2004 was amazing in the manner in which he completely outclassed and dominated his opponents, doing so after returning from injuries that could have ended his career. His match haul effort of 10/27 verses the West Indies at Brisbane in the 1st test 2000 has many of those qualities I've just mentioned Matching wits with his old foe Brian Lara, whom he dismissed 15 times in test cricket, he deliberately (and publicly) targeted the opposition's best batsmen prior to the series in an attempt to distract them, a ploy which regularly worked. He dismissed Lara both times in this game. McGrath embarrassed the West Indies on this occasion, taking 6/17 off 20 overs & 4/10 off 13 overs as
It's McGrath's feats in the 2nd test in Perth which stand alone in my mind as his signature moment. Coming into this match, he was on 298 test wickets and boasted that he would get both Sherwin Campbell and Brian Lara as his 299th and 300th Test wicket. Steve Waugh had sent the opposition into bat on an even but grassy WACA surface. Within the first hour, McGrath removed Sherwin Campbell, caught at first slip by Ricky Ponting with a lovely good length off cutter. Very next ball he bowled an unplayable leg cutter to secure the prize wicket of Brian Lara again, caught by Stuart MacGill at 4th slip to bring up his 300th test wicket. The players were ecstatic, the crowd in raptures with the theater being played out before their eyes. With Jimmy Adams coming to the crease at 3/19 to face the hat trick ball, could McGrath conjure up something to secure his place in cricket folklore? He delivered a sharpish, short of a length ball to
Videos of Glenn McGrath
6/47 vs West Indies Trinidad 1995
4/77 vs South Africa Johannesburg 1997
7/76 vs England The Oval 1997
3/44 vs Pakistan Perth 1999
4/49 vs Pakistan Perth 1999
6/17 & 4/10 vs West Indies Brisbane 2000
Hat Trick vs West Indies Perth 2000
61 vs New Zealand Brisbane 2004
5/53 & 4/29 vs England Lords 2005
Glenn McGrath highlights tribute on retirement
Glenn McGrath's last over in ODI's in Australia
Glenn McGrath's last over in test cricket
Final team & Captaincy Selection
My post World Series Cricket Test Match World XI is a wonderfully balanced side. The batting lineup has two contrasting openers who will complement each other perfectly with stout defence and aggressive shot making. The middle order is chock full of batsmen who are all match winners but will also save you a game if necessary. The bowling cupboard is full of variety. Three genuine options with the new ball and capable of match winning performances in all conditions, accompanied by each other, enhancing the overall strength of the attack. You have the best spin bowler to ever play the game in Shane Warne making for a very potent attack. Steve Waugh is a genuine fifth bowling option with his aggressive medium pace with Richards and Tendulkar providing contrasting part time spin options, give this team an overall attack that I would back to bowl out any team twice in test match conditions.
This team has 8 players who have captained their country at international level but my choice as skipper for this team will be the only one who was never given the opportunity in test matches. If it wasn't for his personal & public indiscretions, Shane Warne would no doubt have been remembered as one of the best captains to ever grace the game. The Australian cricket authorities in their own wisdom chose not to give him the honour to captain the test team. Put simply Shane Warne was the best captain
Shane Warne (c)
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