Top row, from left to right: Geoff Boycott, Eddie Barlow, Don Bardman, Ken Barrington, Allan Border. Bottom row, from left to right: Ian Botham, Mark Boucher (wk), Johnny Briggs, Alec Bedser, Ian Bishop, Syd Barnes © Getty Images
Top row, from left: Geoff Boycott, Eddie Barlow, Don Bradman (c), Ken Barrington, Allan Border.
Bottom row, from left: Ian Botham, Mark Boucher (wk), Johnny Briggs, Alec Bedser, Ian Bishop, Syd Barnes © Getty Images

There is hardly anything as enjoyable for a cricket addict as making up all-time XIs. Arunabha Sengupta creates a Dream Team from players whose last names start with B.

Don Bradman and Syd Barnes: the former undoubtedly the greatest ever batsman, the latter arguably supreme among bowlers. The names that follow are not so bad either. In fact, the B’s perhaps boast the best bunch among the Alphabetical XIs.

The openers

Geoff Boycott: It is perhaps the dream of every dream team to have a Yorkshireman start the innings. The men who have opened the innings for the northern county have been some of the best of all time. And in spite of not reaching the rarefied levels of Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton, Boycott was not far behind. He could bat forever, and in his case that was not really a hyperbole.

Eddie Barlow: There were strong claims of Sid Barnes and Bill Brown for the role of Boycott’s partner. However, Barlow’s additional skills with ball and as a slip fielder tilted the scales in his favour. Plus, there is something to be said about his Billy Bunter-like appearance.

The middle-order

Don Bradman: One need not justify the choice of this man. Bradman in the side is the mathematical equivalent of playing two great batsmen. He would obviously be the captain of the team as well.

Ken Barrington: He scored 6,806 runs at an average of 58.67 and somehow seldom figures in the discussions of the best batsmen. Apart from being almost impossible to dislodge, he was a wonderful bloke as well.

Allan Border: What a man to come in at No. 5. A limpet at the crease, amazing in crisis situations, and, like Boycott, the holder of the record for the highest aggregate of Test runs at the time of retirement. His left-arm spinners can come in handy as well, as will his slip catching and bulls-eye accuracy on the field.

The all-rounder:

Ian Botham: At his peak he was the greatest all-rounder in the world. Botham could swing the game with ease as he swung the bat or the ball. Additionally, he will form a formidable slip cordon with Border and Barlow.

The wicketkeeper

Mark Boucher: They don’t make them better than that. Boucher was one of the greatest of all time with the big gloves. With the smaller ones, he can be counted upon to scrap if the opponents somehow manage to get through Boycott, Bradman, Barrington and Border.

The bowlers

Johnny Briggs: It was a close tussle for the spot of the spinner with Colin Blythe. Both of them took over hundred wickets giving close to nothing away, and both bowled left-arm. However, Briggs could also bat, and boasted a Test century. 

Alec Bedser: He singlehandedly shouldered the England attack during the bleak post-War period. Bradman considered him the most difficult bowler to face. As captain The Don would be delighted to have him in the team.

Ian Bishop: Adding the dimension of serious pace in the line-up, the pre-injury Bishop was as lethal as any churned out by the feared factory of fast bowlers of the West Indies in the 1970s and 1980s.

Syd Barnes: Perhaps the greatest bowler in the history of the game, Barnes often preferred league to Test cricket. Nevertheless, he played 27 Tests and captured 189 wickets at 16.43 apiece. The only drawback is that he may be prone to get pissed if not given the new ball, and hence Bedser may have to run in first-change.

The reserves 

Sid Barnes: As long as he does not turn up with a salver as the twelfth man and tried to brush the hair of the players, Barnes can be an asset in the team as the reserve opener.

Colin Bland: It helps if your substitute is the best fieldsman the world has ever witnessed. Besides, Bland averaged 49 with the bat.

Shane Bond: In case the management decided to go for a full blown pace attack, Bishop and Bond can combine into one of the most destructive of pairs. 

Richie Benaud: In case it was a spinning wicket, Benaud could bowl in tandem with Briggs and Bradman could always pick his excellent cricketing brain. And he could bat too and was an excellent close field. 

Career averages

Name Tests R Avg 100 W Avg 5WI Ct/St
Geoff Boycott 108 8114 47.72 22 7 54.57 33
Eddie Barlow 30 2516 45.74 6 40 34.05 1 35
Don Bradman 52 6996 99.94 29 2 36 32
Ken Barrington 82 6806 58.67 20 29 44.82 58
Allan Border 156 11174 50.56 27 39 39.1 2 156
Ian Botham 102 5200 33.54 14 383 28.4 27 120
Mark Boucher 147 5515 30.3 5 1 6 532/23
Johnny Briggs 33 815 18.11 1 118 17.75 9 12
Alec Bedser 51 714 12.75 236 24.89 15 26
Ian Bishop 43 632 12.15 161 24.27 6 8
Sydney Barnes 27 242 8.06 189 16.43 24 12

Reserves

Name R Ave W Ave C/St
Sid Barnes 1,072 63.05 4 54.5 14
Colin Bland 1,669 49.08 2 62.5 10
Shane Bond 168 12.92 87 22.09 8
Richie Benaud 2,201 24.45 248 27.03 65