he big hullaballoo here is because the XI doesn't feature Sir Donald Bradman or Sachin Tendulkar. Chandu Borde, who represented India with distinction in the 1960s, put it down to Bird's lack of cricketing knowledge, forgetting that such tasks as picking an all-time XI are purely exercises in self-indulgence.
"That's his opinion. He must not have seen Bradman playing," said Borde. "By this team, one can see how good is his cricketing knowledge. Statistics will tell you about Bradman and Tendulkar. One need not refer to his eleven. From my point of view, it's the English media which has made Bird an umpiring legend."
Bird was a fine umpire in his time, one of the very best
Ajit Wadekar, who led India when they won in England for the first time in 1971, questioned the balance of the 'side', as though it would actually turn up at Eden Gardens and play a game tomorrow. "And who will be the new-ball partner of Lillee?" he asked."It's also surprising there is nobody from among the famed Indian spin quartet of Bishan Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna, B S Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan. It would also been ideal if Adam Gilchrist was there in place of Allan Knott."
Gilchrist was a superior batsman, but Knott was a markedly better keeper. In Bird's time, a keeper was judged on his primary skill and not what he did with the bat. As for the new ball, the name Imran should ring a bell or three. The greatest allround cricketer that Asia has produced was a magnificent swing bowler, more than capable of matching Lillee with the new ball. As for the Indian quartet, great as they were, few would argue against Warne being picked ahead of them. For the offspinner's role, Gibbs took 120 wickets more than Prasanna, at a better average.
It's impossible to leave personal bias and familiarity out of the equation when picking an XI. Mine would feature at least five West Indians, because they lit up my youth. Bird clearly watched more of Barry Richards than he did Tendulkar or Bradman. It's not as though any of the top six he chose are not bonafide legends.
At the end of the day, it was just an amusing exercise that illustrated one man's preferences. We all have them. It's just a shame that we can't respect someone else's.