Best Australian ODI team 1877-1970
One Day Internationals (ODIs) began by accident in January 1971, so the official line goes. Australia and England had tossed to see who batted first in the third Test in Melbourne and also named their 12th men before the heavens opened up and the game was ultimately abandoned.
These two facts, the tossing of the coin and naming of 12th men caused consternation for years as arguments raged back and forth as to whether this constituted a start to the Test despite not a single ball being bowled.
Fortunately sanity eventually prevailed and the Test was declared to have never taken place.
Meanwhile, back in Melbourne the authorities decided to play a limited overs (8 ball x 40 overs) fixture on what would have been the last day of the Test and thus a legend was born.
ESPN selected its Australian greatest ODI team back in 2007 and in a recent post, I updated the selections.
However, I now intend to cast my eye back in time and consider a possible best Australian team from 1877 to 1970 that might have been worthy of representing Australia in ODIs. I actually found most of the first team selections to be quite obvious.
Here’s my all-time first XI ODI.
Victor Trumper, b. 1877
Right hand bat, useful right arm medium bowler. Born for one day cricket, he would have been a huge delight and was always entertaining. People would have paid money just to watch the magical artistry of this batting master.
Charlie (GG) Macartney, b. 1886
Right hand bat, slow left arm orthodox bowler. Once scored a Test century before lunch in 1926 at age 40. Nicknamed Governor General for his imperious domination of bowlers. Another who would have thrived in the shortened game.
Don Bradman (c), b. 1908
Right hand bat. What’s to say? Bradman scored his runs no matter the occasion or state of the game. Might well have destroyed one day cricket before it had progressed too far, had it begun in his day!
Neil Harvey, b. 1928
Left hand bat. Another who suffered from comparison to Bradman but nevertheless was able to be his own man. On his day he was as good as almost any great batsman.
Stan McCabe, b. 1910
Right arm bat, right arm medium bowler. Bradman himself reckons McCabe played a couple of the best Test innings he’d seen. His all-round abilities would have been useful in the one day game.
Keith (Nugget) Miller (vc), b. 1919
Right hand bat, right arm fast bowler. Made for one day cricket. Whether batting, bowling or fielding, you suspect Nugget would always have been involved.
Don Tallon (wk), b. 1916
Right hand bat, wicket-keeper. Much better batsman than given credit for and quite arguably our best-ever “pure” wicket-keeper. He would have been worth his weight in gold.
Alan Davidson, b. 1929
Left hand bat, left arm fast medium bowler. Another dynamo cricketer whether batting, bowling or fielding. Being a leftie gives his team tremendous variety.
Ray Lindwall, b. 1919
Right hand bat, right arm fast bowler. Strong as an ox, hugely athletic cricketer who would have imposed himself on the one day game. Played first grade rugby league for St. George before concentrating on cricket.
Bill (Tiger) O’Reilly, b. 1905
Left hand bat, right arm legbreak and googly bowler. Bowled his leggies at medium pace with a fast bowler’s aggression. He would have eaten any batsman who didn’t come prepared for a contest.
Fred (Demon) Spofforth, b. 1853
Right hand bat, right arm fast medium bowler. Long before McGrath came along, there was Spofforth with his unerring accuracy, subtle variations and consummate skill. Our first great fast bowler.
How good is this line-up? Bats down to nine with Bradman basically two batsmen in one. Six guys who can bowl pace to varying degrees and two spinners, plus outstanding fielders in every conceivable position.
As always, to appreciate how good the best XI is, it’s always instructive to see who made the second XI.
Bob Simpson, b. 1936
Right hand bat, right arm legbreak and googly bowler. Best-ever first slip fieldsman/catcher. Became the coaching guru of one day cricket. Superb batsman and all-round cricketer.
Arthur Morris, b. 1922
Left hand bat. Attacking opener made for one day cricket. Bradman always chose him in his Australian selections.
Bill Murdoch (wk), b. 1854
Right hand bat, wicket-keeper. Australia’s first great batsman, possessing quick footwork and subtle wrists. More than competent wicket-keeper.
Norm O’Neill, b. 1937
Right hand bat, useful right arm legbreak bowler. Suffered from being tagged the “next Bradman”, which in any case gives a clue to his quality batting.
Jack Ryder, b. 1889
Right hand bat, right arm medium bowler. Tall and aggressive, his all-round skills would have been suited to the one-day game.
Jack Gregory, b. 1895
Left hand bat, right arm fast medium bowler. Once scored a Test century in 1921 in just 70 minutes. A magnificent athlete and arguably our next best all-rounder after Miller.
Warwick (Big Ship) Armstrong, b. 1879
Right hand bat, right arm legbreak and googly bowler. Before his weight ballooned upwards, he was an athletic and energetic cricketer. Powerful and aggressive in everything he did.
Monty Noble (c), b. 1873
Right hand bat, right arm medium and offbreak bowler. Considered by sports historian Jack Pollard to be the best test captain Australia had produced up to 1995 (according to a book published that year). A superb all-rounder.
Richie Benaud (vc), b. 1930
Right hand bat, right arm legbreak and googly bowler. Before he became a revered TV commentator, he was an outstanding all-rounder and captain of Australia.
Charles (Terror) Turner, b. 1862
Right hand bat, right arm fast medium bowler. Was considered so close in ability to Demon Spofffoth that they nicknamed him Terror. Possessed great variation.
Albert (Tibby) Cotter, b. 1884
Right hand bat, right arm fast bowler. Before Jeff Thomson, there was Cotter who bowled with the javelin-like catapult action. Tragically died in the Light Horse charge at Beersheba in 1917.
What’s to say about this so called second team? There is genuine batting down to no. 9, four guys who can bowl pace, four guys who can bowl spin and Noble who can bowl both pace and spin.
The side has plenty of good fielders, especially Simpson and Gregory.
Unfortunately unable to find a place for either all-rounders George Giffin and Sam Loxton, batsmen Johnny Taylor and Vic Richardson, offie Hugh Trumble, leggie Clarrie Grimmett or paceman Ted McDonald.
Over to you, Roarers!
I used to think I was a pretty good rugby lock, but now realise I was deluded. My nickname is a truncation of my surname, so I'm not Arabic - phew! However, sometimes I imagine myself as a Beau Geste in the French Foreign Legion, fighting evil, righting wrongs, promoting good and rescuing damsels in distress.