I’ll admit it, the team is stronger than I thought it would be after I struggled with the openers. There is enough quality with bat and ball to give most teams a run for their money.
1. Joe Darling (c)
Aus, LHB, 34 Tests (21 capt), 1657 runs at 28.57, 3 100s
Darling’s average should give you some idea of the depth the D pool. However, as an opener, Darling averaged 37 which was very good for the turn of the 20th century.
As captain, Darling was famous for turning the batting order upside down on a notorious MCG sticky in 1902 (Barnes and Noble each took 13 cheap wickets in the match). Reggie Duff on debut and Warwick Armstrong batted at 10 and 11 and put on 120 for the 10th wicket to set up an Australian win. Darling himself opened and held off Barnes for an hour as the wicket dried.
2. Tillakaratne Dilshan
SL, RHB, ROS, 87 Tests (11 capt), 5,492 runs at 40.99, 16 100s, 39 wickets at 43.87
Another modest selection. Roarers will be familiar with him following Sri Lanka’s tour here last summer. He is a player capable of genuinely excellent innings but seems to be caught between playing like Virender Sehwag (which he can’t do consistently) and playing like a proper opener.
3. Rahul Dravid
Ind, RHB, 164 Tests (25 capt), 13,288 runs at 52.31, 36 100s
The Wall. Scored more runs batting at No. 3 than any other player in history. Still the holder of the fielding catches record (210) and the fourth-most capped Test cricketer (for a few months anyway).
On top of that, Dravid was exactly the sort of player you would be proud to have represent your country – wonderfully talented and elegant yet thoughtful and humble. A far cry from any number of prima donnas in certain international sides at the moment.
4. Ted Dexter
Eng, RHB, RM, 62 Tests (30 capt), 4,502 runs at 47.89, 9 100s, 66 wickets at 34.94
Nicknamed Lord Ted because of his aristocratic batting, perhaps the best way to describe Dexter is as an English Mark Waugh. Each made batting look easy and had all the shots; but they weren’t driven by averages and were too often out having paid the bowling insufficient respect.
Dexter left the game young after badly breaking his leg at the age of 30. He returned to cricket as England’s chairman of selectors, famously (and jokingly) blaming England’s performance in the 1989 Ashes on the juxtaposition of the lines of Venus. His record against Australia was poor compared to his overall record, perhaps resulting in him not being as highly regarded here as he should be.
5. Aravinda de Silva
SL, RHB, ROS, 93 Tests (6 capt), 6,361 runs at 42.98, 20 100s, 29 wickets at 41.66
Perhaps the reverse of Dexter in that de Silva seemed to save his best for Australia and actually had a modest record against most other countries.
Against New Zealand in 1991, he scored 200 runs in a day. Such a feat is now seen as common but at the time he was only the third player to do it since 1958. Also a truly great ODI player, his masterpiece was his 107* in the World Cup Final of 1996 against Glenn McGrath, Damian Fleming, Shane Warne and Paul Reiffel.
6. AB de Villiers
SAf, RHB, 85 Tests, 6,364 runs at 50.51, 16 100s, 144 wicket-keeping dismissals
The super little South African middle order batsman is currently keeping in Tests, but I haven’t selected him as keeper here because he is still reasonably raw. It did affect his batting when he started keeping full time, and in playing him as keeper you lose one of the best fielders in the game. Not yet 30, he should have an outstanding career record by the time he finishes.
7. Jeff Dujon (wk)
WI, RHB, 81 Tests, 3,322 runs at 31.94, 5 100s, 272 wicket-keeping dismissals
After debuting in the thrilling Boxing Day Test of 1981, Dujon became a fixture in the mighty West Indian side for their decade of dominance. He still has all the West Indian wicket keeping records and is likely to for some time. Acrobatic against the quicks, Dujon never had much chance to show his skills standing up to the stumps.
As a batsman, he varied between outstanding and okay – his first five innings in Tests were 41,43,44,48 and 51 against Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thompson, Terry Alderman and Len Pascoe, and he would frequently join Larry Gomes or Gus Logie to save the West Indians from collapse. As he scored his 1000th Test run, his average was 53. His remaining 2,300 runs came at 22. Perhaps he was beaten down by the net practice.
8. Alan Davidson
Aus, LHB, LFM, 44 Tests, 1,328 runs at 24.59, 186 wickets at 20.53
The only true rival to Wasim Akram for the title of best left-arm quick, Davo had a relatively slow start to his career (possibly overwhelmed by the legends of Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller), only taking 16 wickets at 34 in his first 12 Tests. However, his next 170 wickets took 32 Tests and cost 19.
While he wasn’t a true all rounder (only five times past 50 in 44 Tests) he was more than useful as a batsman. His legend, of course, was set in stone in the first Tied Test where he became the first player to score 100 runs and take 10 wickets in a match.
Davidson was superb in all conditions, including in India where he took 30 wickets at 15. A favourite of Benaud’s, the two of them formed one of the great spinner-paceman combinations.
9. Bruce Dooland
Aus, RHB, RLS, 3 Tests, 76 runs at 19.00, 9 wickets at 46.55
OK, I’ve cheated a little with this one. Described in his Wisden obituary in 1980 as “one of the last great leg spinners in first class cricket” Dooland gets in on the basis of his 1,016 first-class wickets at 22 (including 770 at 19 for Nottinghamshire). He was also handy enough to score four first-class tons and average nearly 25 with the bat.
10. Graham Dilley
Eng, LHB, RF, 41 Tests, 521 runs at 13.36, 138 wickets at 29.76
In cricketing terms, Dilley is famous for three things: his unusual bowling action; his role in the greatest scorebook entry of all time (Lillee caught Willey bowled Dilley); and of course his 56 at Headingley in 1981 as part of a 117-run partnership with some guy called Botham.
Dilley was England’s leading bowler in the late 1980s but he was another whose career was heavily affected by injury. He passed away in 2011 from throat cancer, aged 52.
11. Allan Donald
SAf, RHB, RF, 72 Tests, 652 runs at 10.69, 330 wickets at 22.25
Another whose career was affected by South Africa’s isolation, Donald was at least able to play a decade of international cricket. He hit the ground running, given his solid apprenticeship for Warwickshire, taking 24 wickets at 19 in his first four Tests.
Donald was involved in perhaps the finest period of Test cricket I have ever seen live. It was at the SCG in 1998, Donald and the Waugh twins were at the peak of their powers, and the contest between lightning-fast bowler and in form batsmen was utterly electric.
Despite that mesmeric couple of hours, Australians probably never saw the absolute best of Donald (53 wickets at 31) but the fact that we still rate him so highly shows how genuinely great he was.
All-time D XI
Ted Dexter (c)
Aravinda de Silva
AB de Villers
Jeff Dujon (wk)