The decade saw Indians top the ODI batting rankings at the start (MS Dhoni) and end (Virat Kohli) and in the middle we saw some phenomenal performances from one Rohit Sharma, plus India won their second-ever ODI World Cup in 2011, becoming the first home side to win a World Cup, an achievement that was lessened when the next two home sides both won World Cups (Australia in 2015 and England in 2019). There were some phenomenal performances and it is difficult to decide who are the best players, though a few stand out more than others.
(1) Rohit Sharma (India) – 8,249 runs at 53.56 avg / 90.63 SR
The second-highest run scorer of the decade, Rohit Sharma was clearly the best opener in world cricket. While he was erratic, especially at the start of the decade, when he was good he was very, very good, and by decade end he was finding some great consistency.
(2) Hashim Amla (South Africa) – 7,265 runs at 49.76 avg / 89.11 SR
He started the decade in phenomenal form, but then slipped significantly, but still finished the decade with near enough to a 50 average, which is incredible in ODI cricket, especially over a 10-year period, all while maintaining a fantastic strike rate of 89.11. He holds the record for the second-longest consecutive stint as world number 1, behind only Brian Lara.
(3) Virat Kohli (India) (c) – 11,125 runs at 60.79 avg / 94.11 SR
The highest run-scorer for the decade by a gap of nearly 3,000 runs to his compatriot Rohit Sharma, this was Kohli’s decade, as he was clearly the best all-formats player of the decade. He did this with the second-highest ODI average of the decade too, and had an incredible strike rate of nearly a run a ball. Second-highest you say? We’ll get to that in a moment.
(4) Ross Taylor (New Zealand) – 6,428 runs at 54.01 avg / 83.56 SR
Some people dispute Taylor’s inclusion in this team, preferring perhaps MS Dhoni or Eoin Morgan, but this was a phenomenal decade for the New Zealand vice-captain, who scored big runs for New Zealand more often than not, and overshadowed the great Kane Williamson even. Taylor scored more runs at a better average than Dhoni, and was only 2 points lower on strike rate. We’ll get into why Dhoni doesn’t make the mark as a wicket keeper later. Taylor deserves this spot and he isn’t letting it go.
(5) AB de Villiers (South Africa) – 6,485 runs at 64.20 avg / 109.76 SR
The best ODI player of the decade, A B de Villiers is perhaps best remembered for his fastest ever 150, but his consistency, with the highest average of the decade and one of only a handful of players to strike at over 100 for the decade is incredible. If only he had played in the 2019 World Cup, South Africa probably wouldn’t have done as badly.
(6) Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka) (wk) – 6,356 runs at 52.96 avg / 84.70 SR & 188 dismissals at 1.362 D/I) (wk)
Many have forgotten just how good Sangakkara was, or how much he improved before his retirement. He is the all-time leading dismissal-taker of wicket keepers in ODIs, and did much of that in the 2010s, and had a better dismissals per innings record than MS Dhoni, with more runs and a higher average. The one part where Dhoni surpasses Sangakkara is strike rate, and only by 1 point. Picking Dhoni because he won India the World Cup isn’t enough justification, as arguably India won the World Cup because they were hosts, just like Australia and England did in 2015 and 2019 respectively. Sangakkara was magnificent.
(7) Shakib al Hasan (Bangladesh) – 4,276 runs at 38.87 avg / 86.07 SR & 177 wickets at 30.15 avg / 4.72 ER
Given that none of the top 6 bowl very much (even though Rohit Sharma bowls occasionally), and given the need to have 5 bowlers for 10 overs each, there was a need for an all-rounder, and Shakib al Hasan was easily the decade’s best ODI all-rounder, with a differential of 8.72 between his batting and bowling averages. He was the second-highest wicket taker for the decade too. In the 2019 ODI World Cup he was phenomenal with the bat too. Just an amazing player.
(8) Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) – 133 wickets at 18.54 avg / 4.16 ER
For most of the decade, Afghanistan was an associate side, so Rashid Khan’s bowling average perhaps looks a bit better than it really is, but he showed that he is that good when he played in international tournaments against top players, and continued to do just as well, and pushed to the top of the world bowling rankings towards the end of the decade. He can bat well too and has even been known to open the batting on occasion.
(9) Mitchell Starc (Australia) – 172 wickets at 20.99 avg / 5.02 ER
Australia’s solitary member in the XI, Starc was player of the tournament in the 2015 World Cup, and backed it up by breaking the all-time World Cup record for most wickets in 2019, but failed to get the player of the tournament award – and he was pretty good in 2011 too. He has an average of just over 20, which is one of the best of anyone with that many wickets for the decade, and averaged more than 2 wickets per game. This was his format, and he was the master of ODI pace bowling.
(10) Trent Boult (New Zealand) – 164 wickets at 25.06 avg / 5.05 ER
In the 2015 ODI World Cup, Trent Boult and Mitchell Starc lined up. Boult reduced Australia to barely 100, then Starc came back but not quite enough. New Zealand won but then Australia got revenge in the final and won the tournament, Boult tied with Starc for most wickets but Starc got the player of the tournament award, but only just. New Zealand went back-to-back with ODI World Cup final appearances, coming oh so close in 2019, tying the final and the super over, and would have won but for overthrows. Boult was phenomenal through it all. And he has a great name for a fast bowler too.
(11) Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka) – 248 wickets at 28.74 avg / 5.46 ER
The leading wicket taker in ODIs by a margin of 71 wickets, Malinga was phenomenal and very consistent. His average wasn’t quite as good as some of his compatriots, but his longevity was impressive and he just kept on going. His yorkers were hard to cope with and his swing and movement had to be seen to be believed.
MS Dhoni was a bit unlucky, as he started the decade very well, but by decade end he was ever so slightly behind Sangakkara as both batsman and wicket keeper.
Imran Tahir was 3rd on the list of wicket takers, and the highest for a spin bowler, but he lacked some of the big achievements of his competitors.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel could easily have been included ahead of Malinga based on their averages, but I couldn’t leave out the leading wicket taker for the decade.
Saeed Ajmal was also in consideration, but the question marks over the legitimacy of his action and therefore the legitimacy of his wickets meant that he had to be left out. He was probably behind Rashid Khan and Imran Tahir anyway.
Glenn Maxwell was someone I considered, due to having the highest strike rate of the decade, and also having a bowling option, but his average was too low for me to make room for him, and his bowling was nowhere near good enough to justify his inclusion ahead of Shakib al Hasan.
There are a number of others that could have been considered, but when you look at their records, there wasn’t really much of a choice here. Eoin Morgan may have felt good but his record wasn’t as good as some of the others here. Andre Russell may have been a big hitter, but his record was somewhat disappointing.
It’s always controversial to pick a World XI, as everyone wants players from their own country in there. I tried to be as neutral as I could but I am sure that there are still some who are angry that their favourite player didn’t get included.