Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and Wasim Akram were the other players from the last two decades to make it to the XI, which featured seven players who made their debuts after 1970.
Four Australians, three West Indians, two Englishmen, an Indian and a Pakistani make up the XI.
Three players were unanimous choices, figuring in the first XIs of each of the 12 members of the jury (each juror was asked to pick a first XI and a second) – Don Bradman, Garry Sobers and Shane Warne, each of whom got the maximum points possible in the exercise, 60. Tendulkar followed with 51 points.
Perhaps the biggest surprise the XI threw up was the gap between Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, the two leading wicket-takers in cricket history. Murali made it to ESPNcricinfo’s World Second XI, tallying 34 points fewer than Warne.
The closest battles were for one of the opening spots and for No. 5. Sunil Gavaskar lost out to Jack Hobbs by one point and George Headley by two to Viv Richards.
Len Hutton (47 points) partners Hobbs at the top. They are followed by Bradman, Tendulkar, Richards and Sobers. While there was no competition to Sobers for the allrounder’s spot, Imran Khan (19) narrowly edged out Keith Miller to make it to the Second XI.
Adam Gilchrist beat Alan Knott to the wicketkeeper’s spot by eight points. The next closest contender was Kumar Sangakkara, who got nine points.
The bowling positions were all decided by handsome margins. Three of cricket’s most highly rated fast bowlers – Dennis Lillee, leading with 48 points, Wasim Akram and Malcolm Marshall (in addition to Sobers, who could bowl left-arm fast, spin and chinamen) -accompany Warne.
Four players figured in either the first or second XIs of each of the 12 jury members – Bradman, Sobers, Warne and Viv Richards. Five players were in 11 – Tendulkar, Akram, Hutton, Gilchrist and Marshall.
The jury comprised one former captain from each of the top Test-playing teams – Ian Chappell, Clive Lloyd, Tony Greig, Duleep Mendis, Ali Bacher, Intikhab Alam, John Wright, Ajit Wadekar – and four cricket historians and writers.
The World XI is the final instalment in ESPNcricinfo’s all-time XI series, in which all-time sides have been picked for the leading Test teams. The shortlists that the members of the jury picked their World XIs from consisted of the players who made it to the country XIs.
ESPNcricinfo readers were invited to pick their XIs in parallel, and six of the jury’s choices made it to the readers’ XI: Bradman, Tendulkar, Sobers, Gilchrist, Warne and Akram. Virender Sehwag and Gavaskar were the overwhelming favourites for the opening slots, while Brian Lara edged out Richards for a place in the middle order. The readers went with a two-spin, two-quicks bowling combination – their XI has Warne and Murali bowling in tandem. And Glenn McGrath and Akram comfortably beat competition from all the West Indian bowlers in the shortlist.
“It was only natural that our all-time XI series for the top Test-playing countries should culminate in an all-time World XI,” Sambit Bal, editor of ESPNcricinfo, said. “It’s the apt finale to what has been hugely successful exercise. Not only have these features been widely read, our readers have participated in huge numbers in picking their own XIs.”
“We have taken great care in choosing the jury for the world XI. All the cricketers on the panel have been captains, and are thus well-versed in the business of selecting teams. Also, they have either played alongside, or watched first-hand, a significant number of the nominees.”
The World XI: Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, Viv Richards, Garry Sobers, Adam Gilchrist, Malcolm Marshall, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Dennis Lillee
The Second XI: Sunil Gavaskar, Barry Richards, George Headley, Brian Lara, Wally Hammond, Imran Khan, Alan Knott, Bill O’Reilly, Fred Trueman, Muttiah Muralitharan, SF Barnes
Readers’ XI: Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Garry Sobers, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath