The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Sunday evening announced their men's Test, ODI, and T20I teams for the decade, the qualification period being January 1, 2011, to October 7, 2020. The three teams were named as part of the council's Awards of the Decade series. While a lot many justifiable names were part of the lists, there were a few too many surprise omissions and selections made by ICC, one of the major omissions being the absence of Pakistan players from the Test and T20I team, for which they have received flak from across the globe.
ICC Test Team of the Decade
In August 2016, Pakistan had risen to the top of the ICC Test Rankings, for the first time since the inception of this system in 2003. The rise was built on the back of their unbeaten run in Test series between August 2014 and 2016 where they defeated Australia (2-0) in the UAE in 2014, Sri Lanka (2-1, away) in June 2015, England (2-0, UAE) in October 2015, Bangladesh (1-0, away) in 2015, and drew a Test series in England 2-2 and in the UAE against New Zealand 1-1. Some of the key players from Pakistan's rise to the top were Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, yet none of the Pakistani players found a spot in ICC's Team of the Decade, let alone these stalwarts.
England, however, have four of their players on the list - Alastair Cook, Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad, and James Anderson - despite the nation as a whole managing a win-loss ratio (1.22) far less than India (1.66), Australia (1.61) and South Africa (1.54).
One of the big questionable picks made by the ICC was Kumar Sangakkara both as a wicketkeeper and as a No.6 batsman. Neither did he keep wickets for Sri Lanka in this decade for once did he bat lower than No.6 in Test cricket in the aforementioned period. The last time he played as a wicketkeeper was in 2008. And No.3 was his preferred batting position where he batted 71 of the 77 innings he played in this decade. Hence the surprise omission was that of AB de Villiers, who had an average of 54.17, scoring 4063 runs while also reaching the top spot in ICC rankings in 2013 and 2014. In this decade only Steve Smith, Younis, and Sangakkara recorded better averages than De Villiers among batters who played at least 40 Tests.
Another big miss was Kagiso Rabada. Although he made his debut in the second half of the decade, Rabada is the only bowler apart from Dale Steyn who played at least 40 Tests and recorded a sub-25 average and strike rate less than 50. Pat Cummins, the present No.1 ranked Test bowler, is another big miss. Although he played only 32 Tests in the last decade, Cummins picked 152 wickets at 21.51 at a strike rate of just 46.7.
ICC could have also considered a left-arm pace option in Trent Boult (274 wickets @ 28.02 at a strike rate of 56.3) and Mitchell Starc (251 wickets @ 26.77 at a strike rate of 48). Neil Wagner, the workhorse, is another option, having picked 217 wickets at 26.31 and a strike rate of 51.6.
ICC ODI Team of the Decade
The only notable miss from the ODI team is that of Ross Taylor, who was one of the most prolific run-scorers in the format this decade. Only De Villiers and Virat Kohli averaged more than him among batters with 5000 runs or more.
ICC T20I Team of the Decade
Just three bowlers? Would MS Dhoni, the captain of the ICC team, prefer just three bowling options in a T20 side that he is leading? Doubtful. Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga are the two pacers and Rashid Khan is the sole spinner. Besides the three there are two part-time bowlers Kieron Pollard and Glenn Maxwell. Besides these, the balance of the team seems further off as Pollard is placed at No.8 in the batting lineup.
Moreover, Pakistan players are once again absent from the T20I list. They have been one of the most dominant teams in the T20I format in the last decade having registered four streaks of six or more wins - two of which comprises of nine and eight straight wins all in 2018. One of the key players behind Pakistan's streak has been the current No.1 batsman Babar Azam, who has the highest batting average in the format in this decade.
One of the questionable selections was that of Dhoni as the wicketkeeper-batsman despite Jos Buttler scoring more runs (1443) than the Indian at a well better strike rate (142.16) with 10 half-century scores. Dhoni managed 1176 runs in 61 T20I innings at a strike rate of 132.28 with just two fifties.