WHAT IF THE WORLD TEST CHAMPIONSHIP HAPPENED IN 2007?
SOORAJ SURESH | 13th June 2021
2007 was one hell of a year. We got to witness 2 cricket World Cups (ODI and T20) in the same year, something that remains an isolated experiment. Milan exacted revenge over Liverpool after that night in Istanbul in 2005. Greatness was in the making with Alvin and the Chipmunks being up for release and of course, Corona was nothing but a beer brewing company from Mexico.
To make the year even more exciting than it already was, let’s add a hypothetical. Imagine if the ICC decided to conduct the World Test Championship (WTC) in 2007. That’s right- ODI, T20 and Test trophies to fight for in the same year.
In fact, the idea of having a WTC was first approved in the year 2010 and following a couple of failed attempts, it was finally inaugurated in the year 2019. So, the idea was most likely formulated in and around 2007. But would things be any different if they happened 14 years ago? With a completely different set of squads, there ought to be massive changes in the standings and the finalists.
And, there was no DRS at that time. That would have impacted the games heavily, more than a decade ago. How would things have panned out in 2007? How would each team have fared? Who would have won?
We have decided to dive into how things would have culminated for each team if the WTC had happened in 2007. Let’s see who ends up on top.
Presenting you, the ICC World Test Championship: 2007 Edition.
Current WTC Ranking – 10
Afghanistan has now earned the privileges of becoming recognized as a Test-playing nation after their comeback in 2017. The team has done fairly well in tests, thanks to some top-drawer players in their squad such as the likes of Rashid Khan, Mohammed Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Asghar Afghan to name a few. However, if the WTC were to happen in 2007, Afghanistan definitely wouldn’t have been a part of the tournament.
Their place would have been taken by Zimbabwe who were a Test-playing nation back then. Even with the likes of top players like Tatenda Taibu, Prosper Utseya and Elton Chigumbura, they most likely wouldn’t have cracked past 10th place in the table.
But as things go, the Zimbabweans would surely have put up a good fight against the top dogs, just like Afghanistan have shown they do every time they’re up against the upper echelon.
Current WTC Ranking – 9
Predicted 2007 WTC Ranking – 9
Probable XI: Javed Omar, Tamim Iqbal, Habibul Bashar(c), Shakib Al Hasan, Mohd. Ashraful, Aftab Ahmed, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Abdur Razzak, Syed Rasal, Shadahat Hossain.
Stats or rankings always don’t always reflect the state of reality and this is a prime example of that. When you look at the current rankings, it would be easy and also an extremely short-sighted approach to think Bangladesh haven’t progressed as a cricketing force over the span of 14 years. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Tigers have established itself as a superpower over the years and have won a number of notable series’ against top nations, which includes a tremendous semi-final entry in the 2017 Champions Trophy.
However, there’s no denying that aside from the romance of this tale, Bangladesh would have had an outing to forget in the 2007 WTC. With a solid but far from spectacular lineup featuring a handful of talented players like Tamim Iqbal, Shakib, Rahim and Ashraful, Bangladesh would have struggled to compete against the stacked top 9 teams of the yesteryear.
And much more like the actual WTC campaign, the hypothetical 2007 edition would also most likely see Bangladesh getting through with zero series wins.
8. New Zealand
Current WTC Ranking – 2
Predicted 2007 WTC Ranking – 8
Probable XI: Stephen Fleming(c), Nathan Astle, Lou Vincent, Craig McMillan, Scott Styris, Brendon McCullum(wk), Chris Cairns, James Franklin, Daniel Vettori, Shane Bond, Kyle Mills
Completely contrary to the Bangladesh situation, New Zealand’s ranking shows their immense progress in the cricketing world. They had been the ‘nearly team’ for a long time before emerging as a superpower in the past few years. However, if the WTC had to happen in 2007, it wouldn’t have been pretty for the Kiwis.
Cut to 2021 and New Zealand are in the final after what has been a run of pure domination as a Virat Kohli-inspired India stand between them and their first ever ICC trophy.
New Zealand had a stacked team back then as well, with some notable names like Fleming, Astle, Cairns, Vettori, and Bond proving that they’re undeniably world-class. Unfortunately, even a roster as gifted as theirs couldn’t always crack the code, especially against top oppositions, adding context to their lowly 8th ranking.
The inconsistency plagued their progress and the WTC would be too cutthroat a contest for such a flimsy bunch.
However, they have built themselves as a top side in the game now and the line-up in 2007 certainly laid the foundation for that.
7. West Indies
Current WTC Ranking – 6
Predicted 2007 WTC Ranking – 7
Probable XI: Chris Gayle, Darren Ganga, Brain Lara(c), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin(wk), Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Jerome Taylor, Daren Powell
Despite having a world-class lineup that is miles better than the current West Indies crop, it would take the most ardent Windies supporter to believe this side would have broken into the top 5.
West Indies had brilliant batting prowess in their ranks with Gayle, Lara, Sarwan and Chanderpaul all in their prime. While Lara had retired in 2006, the 2-year tournament would have been the legend’s last dance.
The bowling attack wasn’t any worse as the Carribeans had an array of talented fast bowlers including Bravo, Edwards, and Taylor. Even though they lacked a specialist spinner, part-time spells from Gayle, Ganga and Samuels would have been enough to do the job.
West Indies managed to win only 3 games out of their 12 in the present-day WTC. However, if the tournament were to happen in 2007, the Windies would have managed to win a few more games but the chances of them getting a better ranking are more hopeful than realistic.
Current WTC Ranking – 5
Predicted 2007 WTC Ranking – 6
Probable XI: Mohd. Hafeez, Imran Farahat, Younis Khan, Mohd. Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-haq(c), Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal(wk), Shoaib Akthar, Umar Gul, Mohd. Asif, Danish Kaneria
The difference in the ranking doesn’t do any justice to the real picture. Pakistan’s 2007 test side is light years ahead of the current Test side on paper and they certainly would have replicated the success on the field as well.
With an outstanding bowling attack that any team would kill to have and some of the best Pakistani batsmen of all time such as Inzamam ul-Haw, Younis Khan and Mohd. Yousuf in their ranks, Pakistan would have been a side that gave oppositions sleepless nights.
But unlike the actual 2019 WTC tournament, the 2007 edition would have been extremely competitive, ensuring that fighting for the top spots was a herculean task for even a team of such caliber.
Unlike the class of ’21, the ’07 legends would have been a nightmare to come up against.
5. Sri Lanka
Current WTC Ranking – 8
Predicted 2007 WTC Ranking – 5
Probable XI: Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara(wk), Marvan Atapattu(c), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas, Nuwan Kulasekera, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan
If you look at Sri Lanka’s cricketing journey in reverse, it would make for a great story. A struggling team with no thoroughbred match-winners who go on to become the T20 World Cup champions and 50-over World Cup winners. Unfortunately for them, it isn’t.
Sri Lankan cricket is going through a rough patch now and as it stands, they don’t seem to recover from this rut they have gotten themselves into anytime soon.
The Lankans managed to win only 2 out of their 12 games and ended up in 8th place in the table.
However, a WTC in 2007 would have been a completely different story. Sri Lanka had a fantastic side that was more than capable of going toe-to-toe with any teams across any part in the world.
A legendary batting lineup fronted by Jayasuriya, Atapattu, Sangakkara, and Jayawardene along with bowling stalwarts in Vaas and Murali is enough to annihilate any opposition if Sri Lanka have got their mojo.
In 2021, setting such levels of greatness only seem like a story worth telling.
4. South Africa
Current WTC Ranking – 7
Predicted 2007 WTC Ranking – 4
Probable XI: Graeme Smith(c), Herschelle Gibbs, Neil McKenzie, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher(wk), Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Nicky Boje, Andre Nel
Unlike during the ongoing WTC, South Africa would have had a brilliant chance if the tournament was held back in 2007. The Proteas were once a balanced outfit, with a frightening bowling line-up of Pollock, Ntini, Nel, and Kallis.
And with the likes of Kallis, Smith, Gibbs and De Villiers amongst the ranks, you truly are spoilt for choice between some of the greats of the game. However, it certainly wouldn’t have been enough for them to lift the trophy.
With everyone walking all over South Africa in the World Test champion, the state of cricket has plummeted and that’s being kind.
At this time, we really need to sort that time machine out to watch Kallis and Pollock in their primes again.
Current WTC Ranking – 1
Predicted 2007 WTC Ranking – 3
Probable XI: Wasim Jaffer, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid(c), Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, MS Dhoni(wk), Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth
Team numero uno in the actual edition of the WTC wouldn’t have managed to reach the top two slots in 2007. This doesn’t mean that the Indian team was a shadow of the class of ’21. The standard of opposition was well and truly, daunting. Ricky Ponting can’t relate.
Unlike the current era, where India managed to win their 2 test series down under, the Men in Blue would mostly struggle to be a spanner in the works for any overseas outfit.
The bowling attack looks like a dream with Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, and Anil Kumble in the lineup. However, Pathan and Zaheer’s injury problems would only make things worst for the Indians.
But the sublime batting lineup is one that we could relish for ages. Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, and Ganguly, all at their very best.
This one’s a nightmare to call.
Current WTC Ranking – 4
Predicted 2007 WTC Ranking – Runners-up
Probable XI: Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff(c), Geraint Jones(wk), Ashley Giles, Mathew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, James Anderson
Despite being world champions, England couldn’t replicate the same success in the unlimited overs format. Simply put, their test squad consists of inexperience and mediocrity which hasn’t helped their cause. However, the English in 2007 boasted a truly world-class lineup.
England would have secured a place in the WTC final if it had happened in 2007, thanks to their firepower in both departments. Their classic batting roster is littered with match-winners like Cook, Bell and Pietersen, who can turn the game on its head single-handedly.
They also had a superb bowling attack in Hoggard, Harmison and the timeless Anderson, along with the original Ben Stokes- Andrew Flintoff leading the side.
A clique full of Test cricket royalty.
Current WTC Ranking – 3
Predicted 2007 WTC Ranking – Winner
Probable XI: Mathew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting(c), Damien Martyn, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist(wk), Shane Warne, Bret Lee, Stuart Clark, Glen McGrath
Was there even a doubt? In any tournament in the 2000s, people would place their bet on Australia if their life depended on it and 9 out of 10 times, they’d survive. The Australian team of the 2000s was nothing short of a dream team and it would take a very brave certain to bet against them, let alone beat team in a series against.
And if the WTC were to happen in 2007, the Aussies would have cleaned up.
The Australian line-up was perfect in every aspect with the best players in every slot, from one to eleven and understudies that would walk into most opposition teams.
The current Australian team faltered miserably in the WTC, losing a crucial series at home, and would be no match whatsoever to the Australian line-up of the 2000s. This unstoppable force, led by Ricky Ponting has matchwinners galore and any team playing against this Australian side needs God on their side to have any pray.
No team ever gets close.