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Cricket's most famous umpire's greatest Test XI raises eyebrows

Controversy and the selection of an imaginary cricket team go hand in hand. No matter which cricketer is picked to be part of the final XI, the ones omitted make more news and legions of fans stand up to protest their omission.

Dickie Bird
Dickie Bird has named his greatest all-time Test XI. File Pic/AFP

Dickie Bird, the former international umpire, too, is sure to stoke controversy after announcing his greatest all-time Test XI. Bird, who's one of cricket's favourite and most famous men in white suits, hasn't included any of the this generation's cricketing greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Brian Lara or Ricky Ponting. Nor has cricket's biggest legend Don Bradman found a place in his squad. 

Englshman Bird, who turns 80 on April 19th, has made another 'error' by including only one fellow countryman in his team: wicketkeeper Alan Knott. 

The list published in The Telegraph has just one Indian -- Sunil Gavaskar, who's the opener along with South African great Barry Richards.

Bird, who officiated in 66 Tests, terms Gavaskar as "one of the two best opening bats" and says that Richards "would have broken all the records, but for apartheid".

The Englishman, who has the distinction of having umpired in three World Cup finals, has Caribbean batsman Vivian Richards and Australian legend Greg Chappell. The all-rounder in the squad is West Indian great Garfield Sobers whom Bird describes as  "the greatest I have ever seen play the game".

Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar
While Sunil Gavaskar has been included, Sachin Tendulkar is conspicuous by his absence. File Pic/AFP

There's a second South African in the playing XI: Graeme Pollock, who Bird feels was "largely lost because of apartheid".

Pakistan all-rounder Imran Khan has been chosen to captain Bird's greatest XI. While the bowlers are spinners Shane Warne and Lance Gibbs and pacer Dennis Lillee. Bird, who received the Officer of the British Empire, (OBE) medal in 2012, describes Lillee as "the finest fast bowler who ever lived".

  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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