Top, from left: Tamim Iqbal, Imtiaz Ahmed, Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Lee Irvine, Asif Iqbal Bottom, from left: Imran Khan, Ray Illingworth, David Ironside, Jack Iverson, Bert Ironmonger © Getty Images
Top, from left: Tamim Iqbal, Imtiaz Ahmed, Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Lee Irvine, Asif Iqbal
Bottom, from left: Imran Khan, Ray Illingworth, David Ironside, Jack Iverson, Bert Ironmonger © Getty Images and Stuff Autographs

Alphabetical All Time XIs are great fun. Composing one from the cricketers with their last names starting with I, Arunabha Sengupta is constrained with limited choices, but still manages to come up with a rather strong line up.

We come to the I’s.

And with a serious shortage of last names starting with this letter of the alphabet, we need to borrow heavily from the Muslim world.

A word about Muslim names as used in this exercise is perhaps appropriate here.

We generally follow the same policy of first and last names as we do with the others. Hence Javed Miandad will be under M and not J.

However, there are exceptions when it comes to very frequently used last names: Khan, Mohammad, Ali and Ahmed, for example. In these cases, the first name is more distinctive.

So Imran Khan is under I and not K, Zaheer Khan is under Z and not K, Hanif Mohammad is under H, Moeen Ali under M. The same goes for Singh, unless followed by a last name such as Balwinder Singh Sandhu or Bishan Singh Bedi. Hence, Harbhajan Singh is under H and not S.

But even all these rules produce only 30-odd names under I who have played Test cricket. Only 12 of them have played more than 10 Tests.

Yet, when we finalise the team, we will find that it is a force to reckon with, with a layer of class in the batting and a bowling attack that is both varied and brilliant.

The first name jotted down on the team list is, obviously, Imran Khan. The Pakistani icon will be the genuine star of the side. With the batting, bowling and cricketing acumen, this one man already vouchsafes a lot of balance for the side.

As opening batsman Tamim Iqbal has come a long way, and is by now one of the mainstays of the Bangladesh line-up. So, he is the best man at the top of the order for this side.

Alongside him there is the hardworking Pakistani wicketkeeper-batsman Imtiaz Ahmed, who combined the tasks of keeping wickets and opening the innings as few others.

At No. 3 we have the talented, sometimes frustrating, presence of Ijaz Ahmed. His batting average remained rather ordinary through a long career, but he was always a dependable presence in the middle order across 60 Tests, associated with sporadic moments of brilliance that was responsible for 6 Test hundreds against Australia.

Lee Irvine managed to play just 4 Tests for South Africa before they went into isolation, but like many of his Springbok contemporaries he was a fantastic cricketer. Even in those 4 Tests he scored 353 runs at an average of 50 with a hundred. He comes in at No. 4. He also keeps wickets.

Inzamam-ul-Haq is the man who provides this line up with the shadow of greatness. Hyphenated enough to be ousted from the H XI, he is a prize catch for the I’s. There is no question about his quality and class.

At No. 6 I would like to have Asif Iqbal. A classy batsman who also bowled lively medium pace in his early days, Asif would be a very useful player down the order and would add to the balance of the team. He scored over three-and-a-half thousand runs at 38, and it speaks for his utility.

Of course, the middle order will be boosted by Imran coming in at No. 7. During the latter part of his career Imran could be considered a genuine batsman.

The man I will have to leave out is Frank Iredale. A prolific batsman who whipped up 807 runs at a remarkably healthy average of 36.68 in those ancient days of 1890s, he had every claim on a spot. Yet, surprising to say the least, the limited pool of the I’s has enough batting depth to keep him out of the side.

We did not even have to consider some Test cricketers with mediocre records, such as Jack Ikin, Doug Insole and John Inverarity.

The bowling, spearheaded by Imran, forms the potent department of this side.

There is the lethal Bert Ironmonger, with one of the greatest averages of all time, who could be deadly on his day.

There is the Ashes winning mystery spinner Jack Iverson.

There is the steady spinner in Ray Illingworth, who also adds plenty of value with his batting. Incidentally, in spite of the presence of Imran in the side I would like to see Illingworth as the captain. His captaincy record was one of the best among skippers across eras.

And finally, there is the tearaway South African fast bowler David Ironside, a man who captured 15 wickets at 18 in the 3 Tests he played. Had he not damaged his back on the plane en-route a Test match, this Mozambique-born man could have had a longer career. He will provide the surprise element in the side.

With three bowlers averaging under 20 and Imran with 22.81, this is really a fascinating and interesting attack.

Hence the team:

Name Runs Ave W Ave
Tamim Iqbal 3,677 39.53
Imtiaz Ahmed (wk) 2,079 29.28 C 77 St 16
Ijaz Ahmed 3,315 37.67 2 38.50
Inzamam-ul-Haq 8,830 49.60
Lee Irvine 353 50.42
Asif Iqbal 3,575 38.85 53 28.33
Imran Khan 3,807 37.69 362 22.81
Ray Illingworth (c) 1,836 23.24 122 31.20
David Ironside 37 18.50 15 18.33
Jack Iverson 3 0.75 21 15.23
Bert Ironmonger 42 2.62 74 17.97

12th Man: Frank Iredale

Manager: Doug Insole