Australia’s greatest ever ODI team

sheek Roar Guru

By sheek, sheek is a Roar Guru

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    Back in late February 2007, ESPN selected its greatest Australian ODI team on the eve of the ICC World Cup in the Caribbean, which Australia subsequently won.

    To refresh your memory, here is the best-ever team that was selected:

    Adam Gilchrist (wk), Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting (vc), Dean Jones, Steve Waugh (c), Michael Bevan, Andrew Symonds, Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath, Greg Chappell (12th man).

    In the intervening almost six years, has anyone else put their name forward for inclusion among this team? Indeed, I nominate three players who are most worthy of selection in this XI – Michael Hussey, Shane Watson and Michael Clarke.

    In my humble opinion Hussey and Watson are shoo-ins, while Clarke might have to wait his turn a little longer. So who would Hussey and Watson replace?

    Hussey would replace no bigger a scalp than the nominated skipper above – Steve Waugh. Hussey’s batting average of 48.16 from 185 matches dwarfs Waugh’s of 32.91 from 325 matches.

    Hussey also has an excellent superior strike rate of 87.18 to 75.91.

    Keeping in mind that Hussey, like Waugh, is a tough-minded street fighter and also, like Waugh, a brilliant all-round fielder, his selection above Waugh is perfectly acceptable.

    The captaincy thus passes to Ponting with either Gilchrist or Warne (my choice) as the new deputy. The fact that Waugh was a useful bowler is compensated by the next selection.

    The other change I would make is Watson for Symonds. This is a tight decision but in the end the plusses outweigh the minuses. Symonds was a brutally powerful batter. His strike rate of 92.46 is second only to Gilchrist’s 96.95.

    However, Watson currently at 88.28 is not a shrinking violet either when it comes to belting the white ball. Symonds was a brilliant fielder, arguably the best of many great fielders, but again, Watson doesn’t lose much by comparison.

    Pertinently, Watson’s batting average of 41.48 is just higher than Symonds 39.75 but more importantly still, he is a much better bowler. It’s instructive to point out that Watson’s selection is predicated on him still bowling, which of course would happen in the ideal world of all-time selections.

    Right now at this point in time, Watson has captured 155 wickets in 154 matches (one wicket per match) at an average of 28.83 and S/R of 36.01.

    Both these figures dwarf Symonds’ bowling of 133 wickets from 198 matches at 37.26 and S/R of 44.62.

    Clarke is pressing Jones hard. His batting average of 45.07 from 223 matches just shades Jones’ 44.62 from 164 matches. Clarke also has the better S/R of 78.41 to 72.57.

    However, this is too close to call at the moment. We don’t know if Clarke has reached his highwater mark, or that he will get better. Meanwhile, Jones’ fielding in the covers helps keep him in the top side.

    For the moment.

    So a revamped Australian greatest ODI team now looks like this:

    Adam Gilchrist (wk), Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting (c), Dean Jones, Michael Hussey, Michael Bevan, Shane Watson, Shane Warne (vc), Brett Lee, Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds (12th man).

    This team bats down to Lee at no. 9 and has five frontline bowlers plus the extra options of M.Waugh and Bevan. It also possesses an outstanding array of all-round fielders.

    Often, in order to appreciate the best XI, we need to see who made the second XI. So, pulling Symonds out as 12th man and injecting him into the second XI along with S.Waugh, Clarke, Chappell and others, how good is Australia’s second best-ever ODI team?

    Geoff Marsh, Matt Hayden, Brad Haddin (wk), Greg Chappell, Michael Clarke (vc), Steve Waugh (c), Andrew Symonds, Simon O’Donnell, Brad Hogg, Jason Gillespie, Craig McDermott.

    This team bats even deeper to Gillespie at no.10. It also possesses five frontline bowlers plus more than useful support from S.Waugh, Chappell and Clarke. Again, there is an array of outstanding fielders.

    Two quick points here. Hayden has both a better average (43.81 to 39.35) and S/R (78.96 to 76.83) than Mark Waugh. However, it is not a straight swap of one batter for another. In Waugh’s defence is his much more brilliant fielding in almost any position and useful mix of pace and spin bowling.

    Brad Hogg is clearly our next best ODI spinner after Warne. He has a very useful batting average of 20.06 from 123 matches and 156 wickets at 26.85 and a S/R of 35.67.

    What do fellow Roarers think?

    In my next instalment, I will look at who might have made an Australian all-time ODI team from 1877-1970.

    A former rugby lock, cricket no.11 bat and no.10 bowler, and surfboat rower. A fan of the major team sports in Australia.

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    The Crowd Says (36)

    • January 26th 2013 @ 5:27am
      Johnno said | January 26th 2013 @ 5:27am | ! Report

      Sheek , such a tough call Watson and Symonds, so hard to split, I also think Simon O’donnell has to be seriously looked at, he was a brutal hitter, and a good bowler too.

      I’m going for Simon O’donnell to make the team. He batted at no 7, with a lot of power , was part of a winning ODI world cup squad too in 1987. Played against some tough teams like the windies, and Pakistan, and did well, and hammered both England and NZ to all part of the ground in 1990/91, and got the car lol, for benson and hedges cricketer of the year.

      Watson is probably a better bowler than O’donnell but not by much. Simon O’donnell and Steve Waugh , both have the 2 best slower balls i have ever seen to this day.

      And Steve Waugh was a quality World class ODI bowler for a lot of his career, he got over 100 wickets, plus Mark Waugh also bowled handy pace and spin too, to chip in. I remember Mark Waugh taking 5/24 vs the west indies 1992/3 at the MCG in front of 75,000 people, his bowling won the game that night for the aussies.

      And Mark Waugh to , had one of the best bouncers I have ever seen, he really could bowl a good deceptively quick bouncer.

      So Watson’s and Symonds bowling are not really needed, as Steve Waugh and O’Donnell , provide the 10 overs, in other words 5 overs between them plus Mark Waugh to, all 3 are easily capable of bowling 10 overs outright.

      And Steve Waugh in a crisis, i would back over Watto too. Steve Waugh made his runs in the 90’s to when batting was tougher, he also did okay in the 80’s too vs some good attacks in ODI cricket the west indies no less, and NZ and Pakistan so was very tough by the time he got to his mid-20’s, and had his great career.

      I know many will laugh but Shaun Tait in 2007 World cup was truly awesome, he was vital in that world cup win, so fast . Watch some highlights of Tait too, around 2004/5 bowling for NSW , he ripped though the NSW ODI team who were at full strength,. And yes Shaun Tait the wild thing was a really good ODI bowler from 2004-2011. But Brett Lee, still makes it for mine over Tait, almost as quick, more predictable than the wild thing, but still a genuine wicket taker. But Shaun Tait did press Brett Lee hard for a spot in my opinion, but Brett Lee wins out.

      So for mine the only change to the 1st 11, is Simon O’Donnell in for Andrew Symonds, as O’Donnell is a much superior bowler which will come in as handy , and almost as good an ODI batsmen as Andrew Symonds, at least for the role that he is designated to do from no 6 or 7, and that is to make a quick 50, or 30 or 20.

      -O’Donnell maintained a very good batting strike rate of 80.96 runs per 100 balls in ODIs,. A strike rate like that in O’Donnells time was just about the best in world cricket him and Viv Richards were near the top.
      And this is before all the ropes, and when bats were not as technologically advanced. O’Donnell and Lance Cairns from NZ, did some massive hitting on the MCG in the days without the ropes. Much tougher to bat on then, and also the WACA a big ground , and very fast back in O’Donells days to in the 80’s early 90’s.

      For six years, O’Donnell held the record for the fastest half-century in One Day Internationals (18 balls v Sri Lanka, Sharjah, 1990, until Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya scored 50 from 17 balls v Pakistan at Singapore on 7 April 1996), a record which still stands today as far as i’m aware.

      -So Scoop in , Andrew Symonds to the 2nd’s team. My only change.

      David Boon , Darren Lehman, and Damien Martyn, are all pushing Geoff Marsh for that opening spot in the 2nd team. All 3 could open, and Boony was a specialist opener. Boon made around 75 in the 1987 World Cup final, was man of the match,
      and played some good ODI knocks, .
      So David Boon for mine gets 1 opening spot ahead of Geoff Marsh.

      And Greg Matthews superior batting may push Brad Hogg, but I will still choose Brad Hogg in a close one.

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2013 @ 10:09am
        sheek said | January 26th 2013 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        Hi Johnno,

        Watson’s stats are better than Symonds, & their stats are both better than O’Donnell. Believe me, O’Donnell is a favourite, so I would include him if I could!

        You will note I swapped Hussey for S.Waugh. I think most would agree both are tough hombres so we lose nothing here.

        Shaun Tait was definetly frightening. His stats are very impressive, but he only played 35 matches, which tells aagainst him a bit. And he was quite expensive (over 5 runs an over).

        I didn’t compile Matthews stats for the roughly 50 cricketers i selected. So his stats mustn’t have impressed me in first perusal. The spinning all-rounders were Shane Warne, Brad Hogg, Peter Taylor & Steve Smith in that order.

        • January 27th 2013 @ 2:14pm
          Brendon said | January 27th 2013 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

          Not sure how you could compare the fielding of Watson to the fielding of Symonds. Symonds, Ponting and Rhodes were the best fielders I’ve ever seen. I’d probably have Symonds in front of Watson because of that fact, catches win matches. I’d also have Matty Hayden in for Mark Waugh and Mike Hussey in for Bevan.

    • Roar Guru

      January 26th 2013 @ 5:31am
      peeeko said | January 26th 2013 @ 5:31am | ! Report

      cant agree with swampy marsh getting a run in the second side, i also thought that McDermott was right up there with Brett Lee as well

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2013 @ 5:34am
        peeeko said | January 26th 2013 @ 5:34am | ! Report

        swampy had a SR of 55

        • Roar Guru

          January 26th 2013 @ 9:58am
          sheek said | January 26th 2013 @ 9:58am | ! Report


          You make a fair observation. Marsh’s value was seen in a different light, when openers were supposed to “build” the innings.

          Of course, several years after Marsh retired, this philosophy was overthrown circa 1995/96 by Sri Lanka’s philosophy of a “flying start.”

          Elevating Darren Lehmann is a good call, very good call. Batting average of 38.96 & S/R of 81.30 in 117 matches. Plus 52 wickets with his slow left-armers.

          • January 26th 2013 @ 10:04am
            Johnno said | January 26th 2013 @ 10:04am | ! Report

            No love for David Boon Sheek.

            • Roar Guru

              January 26th 2013 @ 11:41am
              sheek said | January 26th 2013 @ 11:41am | ! Report

              Johnno, Boon’s ODI stats aren’t strong enough. Higher S/R to Marsh, slightly lower averge.

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2013 @ 11:40am
        sheek said | January 26th 2013 @ 11:40am | ! Report


        Lillee played at the dan of ODIs, & his stats stand the test of time.

        Lillee; 63 matches, 103 wickets, 20.83 average, 34.88 S/R, 3.58 economy.

        McDermott: 138 matches, 203 wickets, 24.72 average, 36.75 S/R, 4.04 economy.

        Following observations for pure fast bowlers only (all-rounders & spinners excluded).

        Top 5 averages (over 30 matches) – 1. Lillee, 2. McKay, 3. McGrath, 4. Lee, 5. Bracken.

        Top 7 strike rates – 1. Tait, 2. McKay, 3. Lee, 4. Johnson, 5. Bracken, 6. McGrath, 7. Lillee.

        Top 5 economies: 1. Lillee, 2. McGrath, 3. McDermott, 4. Gillespie, 5. Thomson.

        • January 30th 2013 @ 10:16pm
          Thommo said | January 30th 2013 @ 10:16pm | ! Report

          Couldn’t leave the vintage pre-shoulder injury Jeff Thomson out of my top side. Sheer speed, the sand shoe crusher, a killer bouncer and the fear factor has him ahead of Brett Lee in my book. Would be interested to see the top team based on character as well, Merve Hughes, Max Walker, Dennis Lille, Dean Jones, Andrew Symonds and Warne are the first to come to mind.

    • January 26th 2013 @ 5:49am
      Jamie said | January 26th 2013 @ 5:49am | ! Report

      I reckon that the first team is pretty much spot on. I’ve made this point on a few different threads, but Watto the ODI player is a very different beast to Watto the test player. While his spot as a test allrounder is iffy for mine, I’d say he’s probably the most valuable short form player in the game worldwide right now (maybe Dhoni could compare).

      Re your second XI though, I think that there are a few guys who are unlucky to miss out. Given that you’ve already got one alrounder in the form of Symonds, I’d swap O’Donnell for Allan Border. AB’s batting speaks for itself and it shouldn’t be forgotten that he was in his younger days, one of the best fielders we’ve ever had. He can also fire in some darts as required.

      Gillespie and Geoff Marsh are probably the inclusions where there are decent cases for some others. I may be mistaken here, but I always thought that Dizzy was a much better long form bowler than he was in the shorter stuff. I’m not sure who’s actually a better replacement though – left field call, but maybe Clint McKay! He’s been doing a great job over the last 2 – 3 years confusing everybody with that moon ball.

      Geoff Marsh’s record is grand, but I can’t help thinking that he just isn’t explosive enough for the game as it’s played now. Perhaps Boof Lehman could come into the squad and Clarkey push up to open.

    • January 26th 2013 @ 8:50am
      jamesb said | January 26th 2013 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      Steve Waugh stays in the side. He took 195 wickets at 34. His vital bowling was crucial to Australia winning in ’87, and his key innings of 120* against SA in ’99 kept Australia in the World Cup.

      A key player for Australia in winning two world cups. More importantly, he put his hand up when Australia needed the most time and time again.

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2013 @ 10:00am
        sheek said | January 26th 2013 @ 10:00am | ! Report

        Hi James,

        We’ll have to agree to disagree here. Of course, we are discussing champions all, so it’s a bit like splitting hairs!

      • January 28th 2013 @ 9:02pm
        Dadiggle said | January 28th 2013 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

        Actually the bookies was to thank for that one.

    • Roar Guru

      January 26th 2013 @ 9:10am
      TheGenuineTailender said | January 26th 2013 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Hard to argue with your selections Sheek. All-time best teams are always a tough task so kudos to you for taking it on (with a little help from the existing ESPN XI admittedly).

    • January 26th 2013 @ 10:23am
      Blaze said | January 26th 2013 @ 10:23am | ! Report

      Just a question sheek, how do you rate Stuart McGill in your rank and file of spinners?

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [].

      • Roar Guru

        January 26th 2013 @ 11:44am
        sheek said | January 26th 2013 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        Hi Blaze,

        Surprised to learn that MacGill only played 3 ODIs for 6 wickets. Simply doesn’t even make the radar.

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