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Dream Team – Tom Cooper

The Somerset batsman picks the best XI he has played with and against…

CHRIS GAYLE – Jamaica Tallawahs
He was just a different level and he keeps doing it. No-one could have predicted that he would perform quite that well for us so it was pretty special to watch it live. He is also a great bloke, very laid-back and a genuine good guy.

I played for a Prime Minister’s XI with him against West Indies, in which Gayle hit 140. Obviously one of the greatest openers Australia have ever had. We batted together a bit – we were chasing about 400 in 50 overs so it was all about swinging hard.

STEVE SMITH – Australia
I played a lot of junior stuff with him and actually lived with him at the cricket academy. Very laid-back bloke who backed his ability and as of a week ago, he was No.1 in the world. He was always talented but you have the likes of AB de Villiers and you think they are a different level, so he has done very well.

He was a great bloke who churned out runs. Whether he was fairly treated or not in the Test side, he just kept knocking on the door, scoring century after century. I was hit as hard as anyone by the news last year and I miss him very much.

BEN STOKES – England
I picked him because he is the man of the moment. I played Big Bash with him. He came from the English winter without having hit many balls and first game for us he smacked 70 off 30. I was very surprised he wasn’t in the World Cup squad but for the Melbourne Renegades it was a blessing.

KIERON POLLARD – Barbados Tridents
Record speaks for itself, a bit like Gayle. We have played a few years together in Australia and he is a great bloke. Very relaxed but when it comes to big moments in the game, more often than not he stands up and wins that moment.

In Australia we didn’t know too much about him before he joined the Renegade but his stats spoke for themselves. To get him was great and he showed what a good player he is, making a 96-metre straight boundary look quite small. Like Stokes, has made England spot his own since then.

SHAKIB AL HASAN – Bangladesh
He only played a few games for the Renegades but he is the highest-ranked all-rounder in all forms of cricket, so I thought it would be good to sneak him in! Very experienced, you know what to expect from him and he does it very well.

Obviously been in very good form recently, especially with the white ball, and hopefully for Australia he can replicate that in the Ashes. Everyone talks about Mitchell Johnson but he is just as quick and he swings it more. I played against him quite a lot and then we went on an Australia A tour over here a couple of years ago and it was nice to have him on your side.

Played a lot with him and unfortunately had to face him in the nets. In his heyday, when he was one of the quickest in the world, he was a handful for all batsmen. I remember my first year in Adelaide, watching guys back away and almost be off the wicket. He scared a lot of people.

Obviously a genius – the leading Test wicket-taker and against all odds, I guess, because he copped criticism for his action throughout his career. Genuinely one of the nicest, kindest guys you will ever meet as well. He was always having a joke and keeping a light-hearted mood in the dressing room.

ANDRE RUSSELL – Jamaica Tallawahs (12th man)
Coming off the most valuable player at the IPL I thought I’d better get him in there. He is very relaxed off the pitch but, like Gayle and Pollard, once he gets on the pitch it’s very much ‘do what you need to do’.

This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper on Friday July 17, 2015

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