Rare concurrent fixturing has given Australia the best possible opportunity to fast-track its squad development in a time where it is desperately needed.
Next up, the somewhat underwhelming E team:
John Edrich (c)
Godfrey Evans (wk)
It was a bit of a struggle to pick this team if I’m honest – and made worse by reliving Richard Ellison’s shooting star career.
Easily the weakest team to date and it might even struggle to beat the current Australian team.
A bit more on each player.
1. John Edrich (c)
Eng, LHB, 77 Tests (1 capt), 5138 runs at 43.54, 12 100s
As well as being unbelievably brave – described by Dennis Lillee as tougher to bowl to that Geoff Boycott – Edrich was a really outstanding opening batsman.
He is still the only person to hit 50 boundaries in a Test innings (which he did against New Zealand in 1965) and even at the age of 38 he averaged over 50 in the 1975 Ashes against Lillee and others.
His First Class record was mighty as well – nearly 40,000 runs and 103 tons. He was diagnosed with incurable leukaemia in 2000 but in typical style has batted on far longer than doctors said he would.
2. Matthew Elliot
Aus, LHB, 21 Tests, 1,172 runs at 33.39, three 100s
A bit of an enigma, Elliot is one of those who will look back as his Test career and wonder what could have been.
He was unlucky to play during a golden age of Australian batsmen but with his technique and thirst for runs (as seen by his First Class record), his Test record was highly disappointing – his last 13 innings only bringing 121 runs.
The highlight would undoubtedly be his 199 at Leeds in 1997 where he and a young Ricky Ponting put on 268 after Australia had been 4/50.
3. Bill Edrich
Eng, RHB, RM, 39 Tests, 2440 runs at 40.00, six 100s, 41 wickets at 41.29
Cousin of John, Bill was a fine batsman in his own right but was destined to live in the shadow of his Middlesex and England ‘twin’ Denis Compton.
Edrich scored 3539 runs in the 1947 First Class season which would still be a record if Compton hadn’t scored 3816 runs in the same season.
His relatively modest batting average is a bit misleading – he averaged over 50 batting at three, where he spent most of his career.
His top score of 219 was in the famous ‘timeless Test’ in Durban in 1939 as England fell 42 runs short of successfully chasing a ludicrous 696 to win a Test.
4. Farokh Engineer
Ind, RHB, 46 Tests, 2611 runs at 31.08, two 100s, 82 wicket keeping dismissals
Picked here solely as a batsman, Engineer batted in the Indian top order for most of his career, with both his tons coming at opener.
He was regarded highly enough to be picked at the World XI keeper for the Rest of the World matches in England and Australia in the early 70s (although he performed poorly with the bat) and spent much of his career keeping to the great Indian spin quartet.
5. Ross Edwards
Aus, RHB, 20 Tests, 1171 runs at 40.38, two 100s
Until the retirement of Justin Langer and Damien Martyn, Edwards was the only West Australian batsman to average over 40 in Test cricket (and averaged nearly 47 batting at 5).
While he was regular player during the Ian Chappell era (having debuted at 29), Edwards was ultimately too inconsistent at Test level to cement a long term spot. He is also the only non-Englishman with a top score at Lords of 99.
6. Mark Ealham
Eng, RHB, RMF, eight Tests, 210 runs at 21.00, 17 wickets at 28.70.
The Moises Henriques of his day, Ealham was one of a long and amusing line of mediocre English all-rounders in the 90s.
He promised much more after taking six wickets and scoring 51 on debut against India and then scoring 53* and taking 3/60 in the Ashes win at Edgbaston in 1997.
However, the rest of his career was rather forgettable – only passing 10 twice more in his six other Tests but at least taking a wicket in every match he played. Still, he’s good enough to make this side.
7. Godfrey Evans (wk)
Eng, RHB, 91 Tests, 2439 runs at 20.50, 219 dismissals
Easily the greatest player in this side and one of the finest ever wicketkeepers, Evans was one of the titans of the leading England sides of the 1950s.
By the time he retired, he held the records for most dismissals for a keeper and the most Tests played by any player.
His batting was passable and he was probably most famous for taking 97 minutes to get off the mark in Adelaide in 1947, allowing Denis Compton to complete his famous twin centuries in a match.
However, he did also score 98 before lunch at Old Trafford in 1950 on his way to his first ton.
8. John Emburey
Eng, RHB, ROS, 64 Tests (2 capt), 1713 runs at 22.54, 147 wickets at 38.41
When you look at his 38 average and 105 strike rate you do wonder how the hell Emburey played so many matches and had a 17-year career.
I was at the SCG when he took his best figures of 7/78 (in the Peter Who? Test) and his record after that match was a quite reasonable 115 wickets at 31.
However, his 22 Tests over the next eight years only yielded 32 wickets at 63. In First Class cricket he scored over 12,000 runs with seven tons and took 1608 wickets at 26.
9. Shaminda Eranga
SL, RHB, RMF, seven Tests, 49 runs at 8.16, 21 wickets at 37.19
Those who saw the Sri Lankans tour Australia last summer will understand my challenge in trying to pick this team. Eranga is a serviceable medium pacer who dismissed Shane Watson with his first ball in Test cricket.
Perhaps the best thing he can say about his career to date is that one in seven of his Test victims have been Michael Clarke.
10. Richard Ellison
Eng, LHB, RMF, 11 Tests, 202 runs at 13.46, 35 wickets at 29.94
After four Tests of the 1985 Ashes, the series was tied at 1-1 and was alive (with Australia only needing a draw to retain the Ashes). Then the Poms picked Richard Ellison and 17 wickets at 10 (and two innings victories) later the Ashes were secured.
Less than nine months later, Ellison, aged 26, played his last Test. In many ways, he was the England version of Bob Massie although in this pace attack he seems more like Dennis Lillee.
11. Fidel Edwards
WI, RHB, RF, 55 Tests, 394 runs at 6.57, 165 wickets at 37.87
His 5/36 on debut is the fourth best debut figures ever by a West Indian. That match also happened to be only his second ever First Class match, having been picked on his massive potential.
So it would be frustrating as a West Indian fan to see his relatively modest returns, highlighted by much brilliance (he has 12 five fors) but also much rubbish.
He’s still only 30 so barring injury and massive form issues, Edwards should still have a 200-wicket career.