In an era gone by, long before satellite television came to become an integral part of our lives and long before the internet provided us unlimited access to information, images and videos, the favourite pastime for us cricket lovers was to put together a World XI. A Dream Team, if you like.
With only newspaper and magazine to access both the written word and still photographs, it was easy to let the mind wander and imagine what it was like, watching Barry Richards and Gary Sobers bat alongside each other. English county cricket, at one time considered the finishing school for international cricketers, threw up fascinating and unlikely team-mates. There was Imran Khan and Garth le Roux and Clive Rice at Sussex, Ian Botham and Martin Crowe and Viv Richards at Somerset, Gordon Greenidge and Barry Richards at Hampshire…. Just to listen to their exploits on BBC's Saturday Sports Special, anchored brilliantly by the incomparable Paddy Feeny, was an absolute treat. Saturday nights haven't quite been the same since.
Today, international superstars rubbing shoulders with each other, modern greats from different countries playing for the same footballing club, have become commonplace. Commonplace, because every weekend – and on several weekdays – during the European footballing season, live pictures are beamed from England and Spain, from Italy and Germany and France. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie testing their skills against the array of superstars at Manchester City, Lionel Messi and Xavi and Iniesta going shoulder to shoulder with Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil and Gonzalo Higuain – these no longer boggle the mind.