Gilchrist, McGrath, Warne in all-time Australia team
SYDNEAY: Three members of Australia’s all-powerful side of this decade, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist, have been
voted into an all-time Australian XI by a Cricinfo jury, but there is no room for Ricky Ponting.
In June, Cricinfo announced the definitive search for the all-time greatest teams from all the Test-playing countries, starting with Australia. The Australia jury, which comprises cricket historians and print and radio journalists — among them Peter Roebuck, Gideon Haigh, David Frith, Warwick Franks and Jim Maxwell — were faced with the task of picking 11 from a shortlist created by Cricinfo’s editors from the 410 wearers of the baggy green.
Australia’s all-time opening pair was agreed to be Victor Trumper, whose average of 39.04 from 48 Tests belies his art, and Arthur Morris, part of Don Bradman’s Invincibles on the 1948 tour of England. “Victor Trumper was the prototype of an expressive Australian batsmanship based on boldness, instinct and natural talent,” said Haigh. Honorable mention was made of Matthew Hayden, arguably the most
aggressive opener of the modern era, who averaged over 50 in Tests, but failed to make the XI.
At No 3 is Bradman himself, whose selection Franks called “axiomatic”. The middle order is bolstered by Greg Chappell and Allan Border. The Waughs, Steve and Mark, were strong contenders but missed out. Jury member Mike Coward’s reasoning for the inclusion of Border was that “the sustained success of Australia over the past two decades or so is the direct result of his bravery, commitment and leadership”.
Keith Miller and Adam Gilchrist were unanimous picks for the allrounder and wicketkeeper slots, while contrasting legspinners Shane Warne and Bill O’Reilly both found a place, edging out Clarrie Grimmett and Bert “Dainty” Ironmonger.
The fast-bowling spots went to Dennis Lillee and Glenn McGrath, takers of 355 and 563 Test wickets respectively, who beat out the likes of the legendary Alan Davidson (186 wickets at 20.53), Ray Lindwall (228 at 23.03) and Garth McKenzie (246 at 29.78). This was the most difficult part of selecting an all-time Australian XI, because this group had the longest list, indicative of the massive depth in that department for Australia.
“In many ways, this team tells you why Australia have been such a dominant force over the years,” explained Sambit Bal, Cricinfo’s editor. “They have had great players through the ages, and you have them all here: Victor Trumper from the 1900s, Bradman and O’Reilly from the 30s and 40s, Arthur Morris and Keith Miller from the 40s and 50s, Greg Chappell and Dennis Lillee from the 70s and the 80s, Allan Border from the 80s, and McGrath, Warne and Gilchrist from the last two decades. That’s a wonderful spread.”
Cricinfo also asked readers to vote for their own favourites. Many did so, and in their view, Hayden, Ponsford, Ponting and Steve Waugh were chosen over Trumper, Morris, Greg Chappell and Border. The bottom half, however, remained the same.