Which MCC XI vs. ROW XI Stars Are Still Good Enough to Reverse Retirement?
A Marylebone Cricket Club XI took on a Rest of the World XI at Lord’s on Saturday in a match to mark the anniversary of 200 years of cricket having been played at the famous old ground.
However, which of the now retired stars on show at the home of cricket showed that they are still good enough to be playing at the international level?
Brett Lee (Australia)
It may be exactly two years to the day that Brett Lee last represented Australia in the international arena, however, if the fast bowler’s performance for MCC on Saturday is anything to go by, then the 37-year-old could still do a passable job for his country.
Lee was given the responsibility of opening the bowling at Lord’s, and while the paceman did admittedly take time to crank his initial pace up above military-medium levels that were hovering around the 70 mph mark, it did not take the Aussie long before he was soon ruffling a few batting feathers in the ROW lineup.
In fact, Lee’s speed caused more than a few problems for openers Adam Gilchrist and Virender Sehwag as he returned figures of two for 55 from his allotted 10 overs, including the wickets of the latter and Paul Collingwood.
However, the bowler’s biggest impact of the match actually came when he broke compatriot Shane Warne’s hand after sending down an accidental beamer first ball to the ROW captain.
Paul Collingwood (England)
It is more than three years now since Collingwood last played for England, although judging by the 38-year-old’s impressive display with both bat and ball for the ROW on Saturday, the all-rounder could definitely still do a job for his country.
Collingwood, who still turns out for his county Durham, walked to the wicket with his team in all sorts of trouble after a devastating spell of bowling from Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal had reduced ROW to 68 for five.
However, Brigadier Block, as he was known during his England days, then shared in a stand of 131 with Yuvraj Singh for the sixth wicket, with Collingwood’s contribution a typically belligerent 40 from just 64 balls, including three fours.
Then, when it came to ROW’s turn to field, Collingwood turned out to be his side’s best bowler after recording outstanding figures of two for 25 from his seven overs, a spell that also featured two wickets in as many balls by the medium-pacer.
And not just any old victims either, but the prize scalps of both Brian Lara and Rahul Dravid, with the one-time India batting star castled first ball.
Sachin Tendulkar (India)
For a while on Saturday afternoon at Lord’s as MCC got their run chase underway, it was as if the Little Master had never retired from international cricket at all as former India legend Sachin Tendulkar reminded us all once again of his prodigious abilities with the bat.
With his team asked to score 294 runs for victory from their allotted 50 overs, the 41-year-old, who finally decided to call it a day last November, put on 107 for the first wicket in partnership with big-hitting Australian opener Aaron Finch.
And the MCC captain’s contribution to that eye-catching stand was a quickfire 44 from only 45 deliveries, with seven glorious boundary fours that lit up the famous old ground and brought back memories of Tendulkar at his very best.
Not only that, though, but Tendulkar also showed that he can still outfox even the very best batsmen in the world with his vastly underestimated off-breaks. Yuvraj Singh found that out to his cost after being dismissed by his compatriot, albeit having made 132 at the time.
Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)
Former Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan may still turn out every year in the Indian Premier League, however the 42-year-old has not played international cricket now since his country lost the 50-over World Cup final to India in Mumbai in April 2011.
Yet the man with more wickets than any other bowler in all forms of the game can clearly still do an effective job at the highest level if his display for the ROW against MCC at the home of cricket on Saturday is any reasonable gauge.
Murali was the only ROW bowler to send down his full complement of overs at Lord’s, with the still mystery tweaker causing more than a few problems for MCC’s batsmen. He recorded figures of one for 55 on what was the flattest of surfaces.
And the Sri Lankan’s one and only victim of the day was his old adversary, Tendulkar, after the man with the most international runs in the history of the game went back to a characteristically fizzing Muralitharan off-break and missed.
Adam Gilchrist (Australia)
Wicketkeeper Gilchrist may have last put on Australia’s famous baggy green cap more than six years ago now, but on Saturday the 42-year-old briefly reminded everyone of his explosive batting talent at the top of the order.
The big-hitting opener faced the very first delivery of the match from compatriot Lee. While Gilchrist’s stay at the crease was far shorter than the full house at Lord’s would have hoped for, the left-hander still managed to unfurl six crunching offside fours in his 21-ball 29, before becoming one of Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal’s four victims.
The ex-Aussie stumper also demonstrated that he has lost none of his athleticism behind the stumps when keeping wicket to the ROW’s mixture of fast and spin bowlers, including a neat catch to get rid of Lara off medium-pacer Collingwood.
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