Yes, I am the Lara fanboy - I've not read the blog just had a quick gander at the user comment Minty flagged up. I will say, and I've said it before, I don't see a great advantage in being a batsman surrounded by dross in the rest of your top order. Batting at test level is such an extraordinary mental challenge which can only be intensified by knowing that you cannot rely on your teammates a la Lara's situation for much of his career. I think we can surely all agree on this basic principle before we look at anything.
It's not an advantage, you're right, but it does skew the stats. That's not the only thing though Nick. There are many things not considered, like the day an innings was played, the state of the pitch, etc.
The main point I would make is you could come up with 100 different ways to statistically define 'effective runs' ... and then you could still never really be right because there are so many things statistics can never explain.
As one of your prime ministers once said - there are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics!
rv, I think Imran is without doubt in the top 5 cricketers to ever play the game...but that doesn't necessarily mean he's a lock for the all time world XI. He could just miss out for balance of the team considerations. Sobers is the better option at 6 if you're picking 5 batsmen...and with the batting line up as it is, he's really competing for 8 as a bowler, and he's in the mixing pot sure, but would you really rate him ahead of Lillee, Marshall, Ambrose, Hadlee, McGrath etc as a bowler? I'd rate him alongside most of those guys, but definitely not ahead of them. Akram obviously made it because he's a left armer and brings that other option...though I suppose you could argue that Sobers already provides that option. Still, I think I'd pick Ambrose before Imran purely as a fast bowler and being a different type of bowler to the others.
You're right though in that it seems they've only allowed one all-rounder and have had the team constructed in the classical way, with 5 batsmen, an all-rounder then keeper, then 4 bowlers. Bradman's all time XI only had 4 batsmen, then Sobers at 5, the keeper at 6 and 5 bowlers. Much more attacking that way. I think if I was picking my own XI I'd play the two all rounders at 5 and 6. Sobers 5 and 6 being probably Imran, with Hadlee and Miller the other two in the mix.
I agree with you re the keeper. And so does Ian Chappell (they have a whole series of videos on cricinfo with him talking about the team). He also picked Sehwag to open in his own team, which I reckon is great!
My all time XI
1. Katich (haha, just kidding, but I love the guy...would probably go with a more classical opener to balance Sehwag, like a Gavaskar or Hutton)