As picked out on the Wisden Cricket Weekly podcast

In a special episode of the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Wisden Cricket Monthly editor-in-chief Phil Walker, WCM editor-at-large John Stern and managing editor Ben Gardner joined host Yas Rana to pick out the men’s Test team of the 2000s.

After much debate, our panel decided on the XI below as the Test team of the 2000s. For the full discussion that ensued, make sure to listen to the podcast, available to download on the Podcast app and Spotify.

Statistics from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2009

Wisden’s men’s Test team of the 2000s:

Graeme Smith (c)

79 Tests, 6,451 runs @ 49.62, 18 100s, HS: 277

Phil Walker: Graeme Smith is far and away the most influential figurehead of the decade. I’m not gonna be rushing to the ground at 11 o’clock to watch him, but he makes the cut for the substance of what he achieved in the decade.

Virender Sehwag

72 Tests, 6,248 runs @ 52.50, 17 100s, HS: 319

Ben Gardner: Sehwag didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel with opening the batting, but he is that touchpoint when we talk about trying to find an attacking opener – you talk about trying to find your Sehwag. And I think what’s even more impressive is that he didn’t really change the game, because no-one else has really been able to replicate it like him, with the exception of David Warner.

Rahul Dravid

103 Tests, 8,558 runs @ 54.85, 22 100s, HS: 270

John Stern: He’s the leading batsman away from home in this decade: best part of 5,000 runs at 56, never mind all his other numbers. That’s good enough for me. As Ben’s alluded to, if you want him in the team, you want him at three.

Ricky Ponting

107 Tests, 9,458 runs @ 58.38, 32 100s, HS: 257

PW: Ponting was the batsman of that decade and while he had that famously bad trot against England in the 2010/11 series, that’s a year too late. Across this period of time, I think he was the complete player, really.

Jacques Kallis

101 Tests, 8,630 runs @ 58.70, 27 100s, HS: 189 not out | 205 wickets @ 32, four five-wicket hauls, BBI: 6-54

BG: An absolute no-brainer just through sheer weight of numbers even if it’s hard to remember a shot he played or a ball he bowled in Test cricket.

Kumar Sangakkara

88 Tests, 7,549 runs @ 55.10, 21 100s, HS: 287

PW: The 192 he made at Hobart, I happened to be awake watching that so I watched it all, and it’s up there with my top few favourite innings that I’ve ever seen. They [Sri Lanka] almost chased down 480 or something like that, pretty much on the back of this one-man show from Sangakkara against a crack Australia side. Sanga slips in there as one of my non-negotiables.

Adam Gilchrist (wk)

91 Tests, 5,130 runs @ 46.63, 16 100s, HS: 204 not out | 362 catches, 35 stumpings

PW: Gilchrist’s numbers, when you look at them in the cold light of day, further emphasise what a once-in-a-generation cricketer he was.

Shane Warne

65 Tests, 357 wickets @ 25.17, 21 five-wicket hauls, four 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 7-94

YR: Onto the spinners, it’s obvious isn’t it: Warne and Murali. I’m not really sure what there is to discuss here. 

Shoaib Akhtar

33 Tests, 144 wickets @ 22.21, 11 five-wicket hauls, two 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 6-11

JS: I’m allowing one maverick in there, and Shoaib’s my guy: 144 wickets at 22, 69 at 20 away from home and at neutral venues, and 20 at 22 against Australia – in a very competitive market, clearly not a bloke you would necessarily rely on, but when he was good…

Muttiah Muralitharan

84 Tests, 565 wickets @ 20.97, 49 five-wicket hauls, 20 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 9-51

PW: The numbers are almost Bradmanesque. There’s Murali and then there’s the rest. Fourty-nine five-wicket hauls and the next best from a spinner is 23 from Harbhajan.

Glenn McGrath

66 Tests, 297 wickets @ 20.53, 14 five-wicket hauls, two 10-wicket hauls, BBI: 8-24

BG: Glenn McGrath is obviously a shoo-in: loads of wickets, ridiculous average, could just bowl it down all day on that exact spot.