End of a year and, except for those who consider that there's another year to go, end of a decade, which means it's time for reflections, assessments and whatever about cricket (as well as just about anything you can think of).
A Cricinfo panel has selected the Test and ODI teams of 2000- 2009. Here they are (with the seven players who made the cut for both elevens highlighted):
Matthew Hayden, Virender Sehwag, Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Adam Gilchrist , Shaun Pollock, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath,
12th man: Andrew Flintoff
Sanath Jayasuriya, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Flintoff, Shaun Pollock, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan, 12th man: Shane WarneIn terms of runs scored Ricky Ponting and wickets taken Muttiah Muralitharan lead both Test and ODI tables: this is a fair reflection of their ability throughout the 2000s.
Malcolm Conn in The Australian pays tribute to Ponting, giving due emphasis to the fact that he has had to face the challenges of captaining his country as well as being its number one batter.
While Muralitharan may not be as highly regarded in Australia as he is elsewhere he also deserves due acknowledgment, which with "Out of our comfort zone" Gideon Haigh on Cricinfo (reprinted - or printed -in the anthologyThe Best Australian Essays of 2009 ) has done.
IMO a major omission from the Test team is Brian Lara who from 2000 onwards scored 6380 runs from 120 inns/ 2 not out, average 54.06 (this on top of his pre- 1990 tally of 5573 runs from 112 inns/4 no). Not bad, eh?
If he was to be included, who should make room? Rahul Dravid? Virender Sehwag? Perhaps Shaun Pollock (though this change the balance of the side and require some of the occasional bowlers eg Sehwag to turn their arms over more)?
Another poll, this time taken among 30 cricket writers is for the Cricinfo player of the decade : Chanderpaul, Dravid, Gilchrist, Inzamam, Hayden, Kallis, Muralitharan, Sangakkara, Smith, Tendulkar, Warne, Mohammad Yousuf are listed as front runners. The winner, we are told, will be announced soon.