Sim Series: 90s XI v Now XI

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We’re going to play another Sim Series. The last few were a bit Ashes-centric so this time we’re going to pit a World 90s XI against a World Now XI.

If you don’t about Sim Series, this is how it works: we pick two fantasy teams based on some flimsy premise or other and then we pit them against each other using the ‘All-Time Greats’ mode in long-running cricket management game, Cricket Captain.

A brief history of Sim Series

We started off by playing two Tests between Sri Lanka and England to fill in for the real-life ones that were postponed because of this whole thing that’s been going on this year.

After that, we played “the 1990s-est Ashes” and then, because England lost, we played a rematch Down Under.

That second match also went very badly, so in no way learning from our mistakes we then picked our favourite England team of all-time and put them up against our least-favourite Australia team of all-time in The Evil v Good Test.

This time around we’re going to try and distance ourself from proceedings a little. Rather than England v Australia, we’re instead going to pit two different eras against each other.

We do have some team selection questions to ask you though. Not to do with individual players – we’re not up to that bit yet. The issue is to do with qualification criteria.

Question 1: Which players are 90s cricketers?

This one is actually somewhat rhetorical because we think we have an answer we’re happy with.

Our answer is: anyone who was big in the 90s.

That is to say that you’re still eligible for the 90s team even if you had more success in the decade afterwards provided you were still one of the big players during the qualification decade.

A quick example: Jacques Kallis played 101 of his Tests in the 2000s, but he also played 32 in the 90s and was probably the best all-rounder during that period.

Happy with that? Hope so because Question 2 is a stinker.

Question 2: What is now?

Yeah, we know. Quite the poser, isn’t it?

Obviously now is… now… but what period do we take into account when we’re trying to name the World XI that is currently the best?

Firstly, hardly anyone’s been playing Test cricket this year. Secondly, even if you base it on 2019, that’s quite a narrow window.

We’re probably going to say that selection should be based on players’ overall records at this point in time, with minimal regard paid to any recent up- or downturn.

That probably cants things against the youngsters, but frankly they deserve it for being young so let’s not lose any sleep over that.

Please lodge your suggestions/complaints in the comments section and we will almost certainly ignore them before later concluding that yes, actually, maybe they did make sense with hindsight.

If you want to add the following important dates to your calendars, please do: we’ll be naming our two teams once we’ve picked them and then we’ll play the match at some point after that.

45 comments

  1. I don’t really care about the Now XI, I’m definitely not supporting them. Here’s a stab at a 90s one. Despite my personal inclination, I’m including 1990 instead of 2000, not sure if it’ll make much difference.

    I’m a bit #4 heavy, batting-wise.

    Jayasuriya
    Slater
    da Silva
    Tendulkar
    Lara
    Waugh S * (much as I really don’t want to pick him)
    Stewart + (top scorer in the 90s, gotta pick him, plus I don’t want Healy)
    Wasim
    Warne
    Waqar
    Ambrose

    1. Gah, I forgot Andy Flower.

      Put him in there at keeper and make Stewart a specialist opener instead of Slater.
      Should probably put Kirsten in there instead of not-so-benevolent uncle Sanath, too.

      And if we want broader representation, swap Wasim for Cairns.

      1. Stewart not Gooch as the Slater ouster? Similar to KC’s Tendulkar rationale tonight, the 90s May only have been a fraction of his career, but they were peak-Gooch.

      2. I really struggle to think of Gooch as a 90s player, even though he was. More of a 1990-1 player, in my memories.

  2. Oh God, now’s a tough one isn’t it? Here’s my go:

    Dean Elgar
    David Bloody Warner I suppose
    Kane Williamson (C)
    Steve Smith
    Virat Kohli
    Ben Stokes
    BJ Watling (wk)
    Ravichandran Ashwin
    Pat Cummins
    Kagiso Rabada
    Trent Boult

    12th man: Ravindra Jadeja
    Missing the cut: Latham, Rizwan, Hazlewood, Jimmy
    Not missing the cut by a long chalk sadly: Root

  3. For eligibility for “Now”, how about: must have played in his country’s most recent Test series

    1990s eligibility: must have played more of his tests in the 1990s than outside the 1990s

    I’d also encourage additional arbitrary restrictions like needing to ensure all test playing nations are represented in each team – in the 90s you’d have to allow a couple of nations to have an extra man and for ‘now’ exclude whichever country’s most recent match is furthest in the past.

    1. The problem with the “must have played more of his tests in the 1990s than outside the 1990s” is that you inadvertently rule out loads of the biggest players of the era.

      For example, Tendulkar only played 69 of his 200 Tests in the 90s, but that period was arguably ‘peak Tendulkar’.

  4. Will we be getting a separate article for each player or just an article for each team?
    Also, when will the match start?
    It had better be soon because this stupid modern inconvenience called the ‘IPL’ is rubbish and we need some proper entertainment.

    1. Probably just the one team selection article – or maybe one for each team.

      The match will start… fairly soon.

  5. This is terrific news.

    Not least, I love the fact that I have “an appointment to view” without the agonisingly boring details of exactly which date and time.

    I’ll give some more thought to the teams, but as a starter I cannot imagine the “Best Of the 90s” team without:
    Tendulkar
    Lara
    Waugh S
    Kallis
    Flower A
    Warne

    Really tough choices for the pace attack with McGrath, Donald, Wasim, Waqar, Curtly & Courtney vying for three places…two of which Sam has grabbed for weird reasons of his own. We might be saying goodbye to Sam if he sees through his threat.

    Opening batting slots also hard to fathom. Gooch is not 90s enough for me; in my mind his the lad I saw have a go in the 1970s so that means he really isn’t 90s, despite his late-career flourish.

    As for the current lot, again cannot imagine the side without:
    Quinton Expressway
    Sandpaper-Smith
    Kohli
    Williamson
    Stokes
    Holder
    Cummins
    Our Ashwin

    The remaining opener slot and the two additional pace bowlers is a really tough ask. Jimmy & Broady would make the side look well solid.

  6. Is Steyn still current? He would have to in there if he can loosely be called current? Pretty sure i saw him with a terrible haircut in the IPL… Although he may have retired from tests. I’d still pick him though…

    ???
    Warner
    Kohli
    Smith
    Williamson
    Stokes
    Watling
    Ashwin
    Cummins
    Steyn/Rabada
    Anderson

    Strikes me that openers of class are few on the ground. Elgar, Dhawan, Latham? None are reliable world beaters.

  7. Ranatunga was a big guy in the 90’s. I am sure he’s big even now. Will he be playing against himself?

    I’ve marked the two dates in my calendar – can’t wait for this to start.

      1. Chris Silverwood, too. Can’t find any that had an actual, y’know, international career.

        Some guy called Sadagoppan Ramesh, if you round up an odd number.

  8. Personally, my current XI would be (not in any order)

    Jos Butler (W)
    Virat Kohli (C)
    Steve Smith
    Ben Stokes
    Rohit Sharma
    Babar Azam
    Mitchell Starc
    Kagiso Rabada
    Stuart Broad
    Ravichandran Ashwin
    Pat Cummins

    I would put in Warner but you only need someone similar to Stuart Broad from the 90’s and he would be worthless (as seen in last years Ashes)
    Rabada is also one that could get suspended given half a chance, but if we excluded everyone then we would only be left with 11 Laurence Elderbrook’s (See https://www.kingcricket.co.uk/laurence-elderbrook/)

    TBH I wouldn’t know what I would pick but I’m sure that these would somewhat create a team you could partially put a bit of hope in.

  9. I would like to include Cook as well but I wouldn’t really class him as current

    In my other comment I said about putting hope in my team…. I think that there is a lot more of a chance of them winning than England would if they put Rashid on to bowl the last over when Archer, Wood or Curran would do a million times better. (FYI, I still can’t understand that decision, It was terrible)

  10. Kallis averaged 41 with the bat and 28 with the ball in the 1990s. Imran Khan averaged 61 with the bat and 30 with the ball. Wasim Akram averaged 23 with the bat and 21 with the ball. Pollock averaged 32 with the bat, 20 with the ball. Kallis and Pollock played for 4 full years, Imran 2, Wasim 10.

    Imran was a better all-rounder than Kallis in the 90s. Wasim, Pollock and Warne add up to an all-rounder and a half, were brilliant rather than competent bowlers, and all played more than Kallis did.

    You don’t have to pick Kallis. Your shouldn’t pick Kallis. Don’t do this to yourself.

    1. I wouldn’t pick an ancient Imran on the basis of a handful of tests at the end of his career, his case as a 90s player is even weaker than Gooch’s.

      Statistically, Kallis is marginally better than Pollock, but his bowling was very much his second string back then. I’d be inclined to pick Pollock but he’s just too dull. Maybe Brian McMillan? (was Kallis only the third best all-rounder in the 90s SA team? Or fourth, behind Klusener?)

      Anyway, I still want Cairns, although I’d be easy to convince that Hooper should make the team.

      1. I’m still not convinced by Gooch’s ineligibility. The two matches he is best remembered for- the 154 out of 250 odd and 450 odd in the match both occurred in the 1990s. Would you argue that he wasn’t not great 80s cricketer because his finest hours were in the 90s?

  11. As for the current team, I think it’s players who have already proved that they’re brilliant (rather than just having potential), and who aren’t over the hill (and haven’t retired). You can see it might be difficult in theory, but in practice I’m not sure there’s anyone who might be good enough to make the team, but fails to satisfy one of those two criteria. Archer, maybe.

    1. Labuschagne? Good enough on form to be alongside of above any other batsmen, but your formula would prefer Smith, Kohli, Williamson. And quite right too.

  12. Gooch, Anwar, Dravid, Tendulkar, Lara, Flower (wkt), Pollock, Akram, Warne, Ambrose, Muralitharan.

    Only two players from the best team of the 1990s, but sadly West Indies’ decline in the second half of the decade was pretty steep.

    1. Latham
      Warner
      Williamson(c)
      Smith
      Kohli
      Stokes
      De Kock(wk)
      Ashwin
      Cummins
      Starc
      Anderson
      Imagine opening the bowling with Jimmy and Starc!!

      1. Scratch that stupid Aussie, starc.
        Have the great batsmen and most annoying cricketer of all time, Stuart Broad.

      2. I maintain that anyone who picks de Kock over BJ (ooh-er) has been dazzled by Limited Overs. Possibly also a sign that we don’t have many, or indeed any, great Test keeper-bats around at the moment. I’d probably pick Foakes if he got more than one match every two years.

      3. But if you are 400-5 you want de Kock at the crease not Watling.
        And 400-5 would be likely with this batting lineup.

      4. There’s always a day when you’ll be 40-5. Always. Especially playing Ambrose and Wasim.

        When you’re at 400-5 you can send out Ashwin and Cummins and you’ll be alright. When you’re 40-5 you really really want a BJ Watling.

  13. Now XI:

    Nic Maddison
    Marcus Harris
    Matt Renshaw
    Cameron Bancroft
    Shaun Marsh (c)
    Mitchell Marsh
    Peter Nevill (W)
    Jon Holland
    Joe Mennie
    Chadd Sayers
    Steve O’Keefe

    Hilton Cartwright (12th man)

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