Top, from left: WG Grace, Sunil Gavaskar, Gordon Greenidge, David Gower, Tom Graveney, Tony Greig Bottom, from left: Adam Gilchrist, Jason Gillespie, Clarrie Grimmett, Joel Garner, Subhash Gupte    Getty Images
Top, from left: WG Grace, Sunil Gavaskar, Gordon Greenidge, David Gower, Tom Graveney, Tony Greig
Bottom, from left: Adam Gilchrist, Jason Gillespie, Clarrie Grimmett, Joel Garner, Subhash Gupte Getty Images

Alphabetical All Time XIs are great fun. Composing one from the cricketers with their last names starting with G, Arunabha Sengupta comes across a number of giants.

There is one enormous figure one comes up against right at the outset. When one wanders through the lexicographic ordering of cricketers and pauses at G, it is this gargantuan great that stands there like a colossus. He towers over you as you try to decipher his expression through a forest of facial hair.

WG Grace, the father of modern cricket. The greatest batsman of his era, with a distance between him and his closest peer that has been matched only by the genius of Don Bradman. And let us not forget, he was one of the most successful bowlers of his day as well.

So not only is he the first man on the team list. He is the captain, and will also go in first. Grace always went in first. It was expected of him. That was the ritual of the time. So much so that certain critics of the latter day used his example to try and discover imaginary chinks in the Bradman phenomenon, simply because the greatest batsman of all time went in one drop.

That puts us in some sort of a quandary, because there are quite a few opening batsmen to choose from. Sunil Gavaskar for one, with his 34 centuries. Graham Gooch is another with an amazing second wind in his career.

Then there is the West Indian duo of Gordon Greenidge and Chris Gayle: one a combination of West Indian flair and English defence, the other a legendary striker of the ball who, in spite of his maverick approach, scored two triple-hundreds, one more than all the other mentioned openers managed together.

Additionally, there is the South African blaster Herschelle Gibbs. We don t even get to the likes of Gautam Gambhir.

One feels the necessity to get an opening batsman play at No. 3 to accommodate for the best of all these names and Grace.

The prospects are well-stocked in every department.

The middle-order has some of the most stylish names in cricket, with David Gower and Tom Graveney leading the way. Sourav Ganguly and George Gunn are two contenders who will probably have to sit out. As will Larry Gomes.

There is a formidable collection of all-rounders as well.

Grace is, of course, right at the top. There is the South African pillar of the 1950s and 1960s, Trevor Goddard, a man good enough to open the batting and bowling for his country. There are Jack Gregory and George Giffen, two fantastic Australian all-rounders of two distinct eras of the bygone days. There is the West Indian stalwart Gerry Gomez. Finally, an underrated name which stands out among all these august ones is Tony Greig, with 3,599 runs at 40.43 and 141 wickets captured in two different styles at 32.20.

The wicket keeping slot is perhaps the only no-brainer. Adam Gilchrist s extraordinary record with the bat and gloves puts him well ahead of Wally Grout.

When we come to the bowling we have exceptional riches of spin: Clarrie Grimmett and Subhash Gupte are two extraordinary leg-spinners and Lance Gibbs the off-spinner did hold the world record for highest wickets for quite a few years.

Turning to pace, there is the towering form of Joel Garner alongside the claims of Jason Gillespie, Darren Gough and two controversial quicks with suspect actions and fearsome reputations, Charlie Griffith and Roy Gilchrist.

So, this is what I will go with.

Grace and Gavaskar will open followed by Greenidge at No. 3. Gower and Graveney would come in at 4 and 5. Greig at 6 and Gilchrist at 7 will provide the finishing touches to a phenomenally strong batting line-up stacked with substance and style.

It is rather heartbreaking to leave out Goddard with his 2,516 runs at 34.46 and 123 wickets at 26.22, but Grimmett will be the official miser of the bowling attack, and there is Garner to start things off. So, a metronomically accurate Goddard may not be as useful as the more versatile Greig, who is also a better batsman.

Thus, Garner will open the bowling with Gillespie and there will be the double leg-break attack of Grimmett and Gupte. Finally, there is Greig with his fast-medium, and when required, off-spin. And, of course, there is Grace…

Why Gupte over Gibbs? The Indian leg-spinner took all those wickets at that fantastic average even though the close in fielding of his side was rather less than ordinary at that time. Several great cricketers who have watched him bowl vouch that he was at par with some of the greatest leg-spinners of all time.

Yes, Griffith, Gibbs (Lance and Herschelle), Gooch, Giffen, Gregory, Goddard all miss out. But, so is always the case when we need to choose from a plethora of genuine greats.

Hence the team:

Name R Ave W Ave
WG Grace (c) 1098 32.29 9 26.22
Sunil Gavaskar 10,122 51.12 1 206.00
Gordon Greenidge 7,558 44.72
David Gower 8,231 44.25 1 20.00
Tom Graveney 4,882 44.38 1 167.00
Tony Greig 3,599 40.43 141 32.20
Adam Gilchrist (wk) 5,570 47.60 C 379 St 37
Jason Gillespie 1,218 18.73 259 26.13
Clarrie Grimmett 557 13.92 216 24.21
Joel Garner 672 12.44 259 20.97
Subhash Gupte 183 6.31 149 29.55

Twelfth Man: Herschelle Gibbs

Coach: Graham Gooch