Choosing the top 5 cricket teams of the decade isn’t what you think it is. It doesn’t mean five different international teams in some order. It means what a “Best Director” category means for a TV series – just like two different episodes can be chosen from the same show to nominate two separate directors, this list will mark the best cricket teams according to a dominant phase/series/year of the decade. For instance, the Indian T20 team of 2016 could be in contention with the Indian Test team of 2018-19.

Either way, here are the five best cricket teams of the decade, in no particular order:

ENGLAND ODI TEAM (2018-19)

The class of 2015 was led by Eoin Morgan when they were humiliated and crashed out of the World Cup in Australia. Morgan then led the revolution, in partnership with new ECB director Andrew Strauss, to make English cricket – otherwise obsessed with traditionalism and purist classes – the most evolved form of limited-overs cricket in the world. They won home and away, delighting masses and classes with an audacious style of ODI cricket that seemed like a direct extended version of T20 cricket. There were no middle overs, only batting all-rounders, many dashers, attacking openers, just one anchor and the license to keep smashing from overs 0-50. The results were both ridiculous and magnificent – collapses surrounded by record totals and crazy hitting. It concluded in England’s come-from-behind World Cup title at home earlier this year, their first and possibly not their last 50-over ICC title.

ENGLAND TEST TEAM (2010-12)

The decade began with India ranked as the no. 1 ranked Test team in the world (it ends the same way). But soon after their World Cup win, the Test team – full of twilight greats and untested youngsters – plummeted with 4-0 defeats in Australia and England. Around the same time, England, led by Andrew Strauss, were on the charge – winning the Ashes in Australia, a rare and stunning 2-1 in India, a home 4-0 demolition of India, home victories against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, with blemishes being a home loss to South Africa and a 3-0 defeat in UAE to Pakistan. By the end of 2011, they finished as the no. 1 ranked Test team, with their 2-1 in India arguably being the most courageous example of resilience and skill in Test cricket this decade.

INDIAN TEST TEAM (2018-19)

They fell short in South Africa and England, but not because they couldn’t win but because of some very questionable leadership and management decisions. Kohli’s men won in Australia, defeated everyone from South Africa to England at home, and have taken a huge lead at the top of the rankings. Their home record is second to none (haven’t lost a series at home since 2012-13), but their away record is still far from flattering. Yet, they are the only team capable of challenging teams like Australia and New Zealand in their own conditions. The next year will confirm the status of this Indian team as great or legendary. Time will tell.

NEW ZEALAND ODI TEAM (2015)

England’s resurgence ironically started with lessons from Brendon McCullum’s men who powered their way with thrilling skills to the final of the 2015 World Cup. Who can forget McCullum and Guptill smashing opening bowlers to pulp at the top before Southee, Bolt and co. would rip into opposition line-ups? The Kiwis played, just like in 1992 down under, an evolved brand of cricket that took teams by surprise. They won every single match of the World Cup till that Melbourne final, with current captain Kane Williamson being the fulcrum of a smashing batting order. They won hearts with their aggression and fearless cricket, and carried it on into the year before the retirement of McCullum forced them to change their strategy.

SOUTH AFRICAN TEST TEAM (2011-2014)

Arguably the finest cricket team of the decade, the South African Test class of these four seasons lost nothing and became the best overseas team of this century. They beat New Zealand, Australia, England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan away, demolished New Zealand, Pakistan, India and others at home – the only defeat came 2-1 to Australia at home in a freak series well after they pulled a reverse in Australia. The bubble burst only in 2015 when Indian pitches destroyed them 3-0, after which they were never the same team with the KOLPAC deflections and international retirements. But nobody can forget the dream run – by a team that did it with minimum fuss, raising the bar for all the other home-bullying Test pretenders that followed. 

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