Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jauasuriya and Chaminda Vaas speak to the press

Murali, Sanath and Vaas: attack from all ends

Prakash Singh / © AFP

My Best XI

Who makes up the bowling attack with Murali and Shakib in Dav Whatmore's best Test XI?

And which Pakistan batsman opens with Sanath Jayasuriya?

As told to Mohammad Isam  |  

After a short international career as a batsman for Australia in the late 1970s, Dav Whatmore went into coaching and he has been head coach of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Zimbabwe in 87 Tests and 315 ODIs from 1996 to 2016. Here, he picks a Test side from the teams he played for and coached.

Sanath Jayasuriya
I have seen him develop beautifully from a youngster to a very good all-round cricketer. He brought his destructive capabilities to the longer version after a little bit of a bedding-in time. I saw him get his first Test hundred, in Adelaide, before the 1996 World Cup. The only technical change he needed to improve as a Test cricketer was to alter the top-hand grip. He was finding it difficult to play with a straight bat, but with a slight turning in the top hand, he better negotiated the new ball.

Azhar Ali
For me, his strength of mind, what he wanted to achieve single-mindedly, was evident right from the beginning. As an opening batsman, he has the capability and the defence to withstand good attacks, and also the concentration and temperament to lengthen his stay at the crease for very useful runs. He is a great team man as well. A good fielder, always willing to improve his game. He is a model player for any coach.

Kumar Sangakkara (wk)
You can't keep Kumar Sangakkara out of this XI. He debuted when I was the Sri Lanka coach, and in his second ODI he made 85 against South Africa in Galle. Just the way he was so self-assured in his approach and knew where he wanted to go was impressive. He had tons of ability and skills in batting and wicketkeeping, and he was also a wonderful tennis player. He was always very competitive. So you mix all that together and you get a potential superstar, and that's what he became. When he first started, he was much more comfortable against pace, so we always wanted him to bat up the order.

Shakib Al Hasan: boosting the XI with his all-round excellence

Shakib Al Hasan: boosting the XI with his all-round excellence © AFP

Aravinda de Silva
I think if he had played a little later, given the volume of matches we are playing now, he would have made a lot more runs. Aravinda missed my first Test as Sri Lanka coach in Peshawar in 1995 as he was finishing up his county stint with Kent. Earlier in that season he had made that wonderful hundred in the Benson & Hedges Cup final against Lancashire at Lord's. He came in for the second Test in Faisalabad, where he made a brilliant hundred. It was not easy against Pakistan in their backyard. He strengthened us and we went on to win the series.

You just see the amount of skill in that short stature. He had tremendous ability to play pace and spin, down the ground and square of the wicket. His knowledge of the game was second to none, and he was always willing to help his team-mates from a technical and mental point of view.

Mahela Jayawardene
Sanath was captain from 1999 to 2002, but Mahela was always destined to be a leader. He was astute and studied the game. In some ways, he had an answer for everything, which indicated he was a deep thinker. He really showed how elegant batting can be. Moreover, he had the mental approach to lengthen his stay at the crease and give us the big scores. It is not surprising that he has had so much success and that now we are seeing it as a coach in the IPL too.

Allan Border (captain)
We were contemporaries. He was a New South Welshman and I was a Victorian. He would always get caught in the slips whenever we played against New South Wales! We always planned to get him to play outside off stump to get him out. Once he reduced that mode of dismissal, he turned a corner. I think it surprised a few that he batted for long at the crease. And not to forget that he was also very good at batting with the tail. He was tremendous in developing partnerships.

Rodney Hogg: brings serious pace to the line-up

Rodney Hogg: brings serious pace to the line-up Robert Pearce / © Fairfax Media/Getty Images

Shakib Al Hasan
I knew he was going to be a long-term representative of Bangladesh cricket because of the way he went about his cricket. In one-day cricket he was very competitive. He had a bit of skill in batting and bowling, but as time went on, when he was ranked the No. 1 allrounder in the world as a spinner-batsman, it vindicated his effort and skill. Over time he became a lot more confident, a three-dimensional player, and the best allrounder in the world.

Chaminda Vaas
From a bowling perspective, he certainly grew as his physique got stronger. He was a skinny little kid when I was there in the 1996 World Cup. Over time, he worked really hard in the gym to have a strong upper body. He also had strong legs, so he could bowl longer spells and utilise his skills, including reverse swing. He always played in the shadows of Muttiah Muralitharan. In some ways, he could have done better as a batsman, but he had some very good contributions with the bat. He was an underrated player but a guy who picks himself in this team for all those attributes.

Rodney Hogg
I picked him because of his raw, frightening speed. Unfortunately, he played in an era where it was difficult for him to break into the Australian side and play more games. Certainly in my time, he had the ability to really test the character of any batsman. Hoggy didn't have too many variations in his bowling but he had a bouncer at the right height. Very rarely would he bowl one over your head; he would make it difficult for batsmen. I saw often that he came up to your neck height, where it's not easy to negotiate the ball at that pace. He certainly put the wind up on a lot of batsmen. He would give you the burst of pace when you needed it in the longer game.

The best I played and coached against

1. Sunil Gavaskar (capt)

2. Mark Taylor

3. Ricky Ponting

4. Sachin Tendulkar

5. Brian Lara

6. Rahul Dravid

7. Adam Gilchrist (wk)

8. Kapil Dev

9. Wasim Akram

10. Shane Warne

11. Glenn McGrath

Muttiah Muralitharan
His resolve to endure and get over those horrible situations [being no-balled for chucking] and continue to do what he did is unbelievable. He was, no doubt, one of the best match-winners in cricket history. Shane Warne would be up there as well, but this guy would almost ensure the team gets ten wickets in the innings. He would bowl a lot of overs, although you expect a spinner to do that. His economy rate would be so good that even if you went wicketless for an hour or hour and a half, he would ensure that the opposition didn't get away with the game. When he did get the breakthrough, he would open up one end and a whole bloody avalanche would descend. I benefited from Murali for four years and so did the coaches who came after me. Definitely the No. 1 match-winner for me.

Umar Gul
He had the ability to extract a bit of bounce, steeper bounce than most. When he was on song, when he was hitting that length and the ball was bouncing a bit and going in, wow, he wasn't easy to handle. He did that a few times when I was coach. It was wonderful to see. In this team, he would blend nicely with the pace of Hogg and the smartness of Vaas. This guy could bowl three or four spells in the day. He was also a good team man and a hard worker. He knew what to do with his speed and his yorkers were pretty good too.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84