Dream Team: Eleven comprising Christmas Day-born cricketers
The Christmas Day-born XI (clockwise, from top left): Marcus Trescothick, Alastair Cook, Mansoor Akhtar, Charlie Smith, Walter “Tich” Cornford, Mansoor Amjad, Walter Lees, Hedley Howarth, Tapash Baisya, Simon Jones and Clarrie Grimmett

December 25 is celebrated the world over as the birthday of Jesus Christ — a festival that is now celebrated by non-Christians as well. What joy it is to share one’s birthday with Christ himself!

Shiamak Unwalla researches to pick a Dream XI of cricketers who were born on Christmas day.


1. Marcus Trescothick:
Born in 1975, Trescothick played 76 Tests and 123 ODIs for England. At the height of his powers, Trescothick was one of the most dominant openers of his era, scoring his runs at a strike rate of over 85, well clear of his England teammates. He will open the innings for the side.


2. Alastair Cook (captain):

Cook got his Test career off to a dream start with a half-century and a ton against India and for a long while was expected to be one of England’s greatest batsmen. He is on his way to within striking distance of being England’s leading run-scorer in Tests. He has scored 8,423 runs in 109 Tests. He will lead the side and open the innings with Trescothick.


3. Mansoor Akhtar:

Born in 1957, Akhtar had a middling career for Pakistan. He played 19 Tests and had one century and three fifties; he never crossed 47 in 41 ODIs. However, he found form late in life, smashing the India seniors bowling all over the park for Pakistan seniors in the Veterans series in 2006 and 2007.


4. Charlie Smith:


The South African-born Smith was a right-handed batsman who had a very brief career. He was able to play only 10 First-Class games, three of which were Tests. He played all three of his Tests in 1902, scoring 106 runs at 21.20.


5. Walter “Tich” Cornford (wicketkeeper):


At just over five feet, Tich Cornford was one of the shortest men to play the game. A wicketkeeper of considerable talent, Cornford played as many as 496 First-Class matches. A proper ‘keeper, but not much of a batsman, Cornford scored 6,554 at 14.96 with 16 half-centuries. He also played four Tests for England.


6. Mansoor Amjad:


The young Pakistani leg-spinner was an integral part of the team that won the 2004 Under-19 World Cup. A handy lower-order batsman as well, Amjad has been unlucky not to get more opportunities in international cricket; he has played one ODI and one T20I. He has the unlucky distinction of taking three wickets in what proved to be his only over in T20Is.


7. Walter Lees:


Born in 1875, Lees was a right-arm pace bowler who was not too shabby with the bat either. He played 364 First-Class matches for Surrey, and appearing in five Tests for England, in which he captured 26 wickets. With over 1,400 wickets in First-Class cricket, Lees is one of the most prolific names on the list.


8. Hedley Howarth:


The Auckland-born Howarth played 30 Tests and nine ODIs for New Zealand, and performed reasonably well as a left-arm spinner. He was a big name in First-Class cricket, where he took 541 wickets in 145 matches.


9. Tapash Baisya:


One of Bangladesh’s most promising pace bowlers, Baisya could be unusually brisk on his day. Along with Mashrafe Mortaza, Baisya was one of Bangladesh’s go-to pace bowlers from his debut in 2002. He took 36 wickets in 21 Tests and 59 wickets in 56 ODIs before being dropped after the ICC World Cup 2007. Baisya later defected to the Indian Cricket League. He still plays domestic cricket, but has not played an international game since 2007.


10. Simon Jones:


Standing at an imposing six foot three, Jones was one of England’s tallest players, and one of the architects of the Ashes 2005. His ability to swing the ball and extract bounce made him an ideal foil for the likes of Matthew Hoggard, Stephen Harmison, and Andrew Flintoff. Jones seemed destined for great things, but for an injury-prone body that caused him to miss almost as many matches as he played.


11. Clarrie Grimmett:


Perhaps the greatest Australian leg-spinner before Shane Warne, Clarrie Grimmett had an outstanding Test career that saw him take 216 wickets in 27 Tests at 24.21 with 21 five-wicket hauls. Grimmett was known for his accuracy and for being one of the canniest bowlers of his era. He is also one of the few bowlers to have taken all 10 wickets in a First-Class innings.


(Shiamak Unwalla is a proud Whovian and all-round geek who also dabbles in cricket writing as a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)