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In a preview of watching 50 years of sport come 2016, I thought I would present pre-emptive teams for Roarers to analyze and comment upon. I found the exercise tremendously beneficial for myself.
The thoughts on some players were confirmed, while the thoughts on other players may need to be reconsidered.
Fellow Roarers assisted in crystalising my memories in areas where there were gaps.
When presenting my best Australian football team, one Roarer asked why I hadn’t selected a 22-man squad, instead of simply a first XVIII and second XVIII.
This was a perfectly valid observation. Today, the players on the bench, either interchange or replacement, are often considered as important as the players who start the game.
Roarers will discuss ad infinitum on occasions whether the coach in a particular game/sport used his bench wisely and effectively.
With this mind, I re-present each of my first teams with a bench, effectively making them squads. Although I envisage changes to my teams if/when I present them in another year, for the moment I will keep them intact.
So the teams are all presented here together with extended replacement and/or interchange benches. Those Roarers who missed the recent series for whatever reason now have an opportunity to see all the teams presented together.
I will also make brief mention of comments from fellow Roarers, both positive and negative.
Sheek’s best Socceroos, 1967-present (4-3-3, right to left).
Mark Schwarzer (gk), Alan Davidson, Craig Moore, Peter Wilson (c), Lucas Neill, Johnny Warren (vc), Ned Zelic, Ray Baartz, Tim Cahill, Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell.
Bench: Mark Bosnich (gk), Paul Okon, Brett Emerton, Mark Bresciano. Coaches: Rale Rasic and Frank Arok.
The biggest criticism of my selections was in the seconds where I had current skipper Mile Jedinak ahead of Vince Grella. We might admire Jedinak for his leadership, courage and aggression, but clearly a Da Vinci he is not.
In the firsts I was taken to task for selecting only one specialist fullback. Scott Chipperfield and Stan Lazaridis were the two alternatives most often named. However, the FFA thought it good enough to select Neill as a specialist fullback in their all-time, and I concur (for the moment)!
Sheek’s best Test and ODI cricket teams, 1967-present:
Test XI: Bob Simpson, Matt Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Greg Chappell, Allan Border (vc), Steve Waugh (c), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath.
Squad: Justin Langer, Ian Healy (wk), Jeff Thomson, Stuart MacGill.
ODI XI: Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Ricky Ponting (c), Michael Clarke (vc), Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Andrew Symonds, Brett Lee, Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath.
Squad: Matt Hayden, Dean Jones, Mitchell Johnson, Craig McDermott.
Coaches: Darren Lehmann and Geoff Marsh.
While my Test team was well-received, I was severely criticised for omitting Dean Jones and Michael Bevan from the ODI team. I am comfortable with my decision (for the moment).
I feel that while Bevan’s record is impeccable, the pace of the game has become more frenetic, requiring faster scoring batsmen. Many Roarers wanted Watson dumped, but I believe he is essential to the balance of the team (again, for the moment).
Sheek’s best male and female tennis teams, 1967-present:
Men’s Davis Cup: Rod Laver (singles), Ken Rosewell (singles), John Newcombe (doubles), Tony Roche (doubles), Roy Emerson (reserve), Fed Stolle (reserve).
Women’s Federation Cup: Margaret Smith-Court (singles), Evonne Goolagong-Cawley (singles), Lesley Turner-Bowrey (doubles), Wendy Turnbull (doubles), Judy Teggart-Dalton (reserve), Kerry Melville-Reid (reserve).
Coaches: Harry Hopman and Neale Fraser.
It’s instructive that none of the men selected played past the 1970s. Generally, there were no complaints with the firsts. With the women, there was a push for Renae Stubbs and Alicia Molik, but again, this was mainly in the lower teams.
Sheek’s best Australian football team, 1967-present (3BK-3HB-3CT-3HF-3FW-3FL):
Francis Bourke, Steve Silvagni, Corey Enright, Bruce Doull, Royce Hart, Ted Whitten (c), Gary Ablett jnr, Ian Stewart, Keith Greig, Gary Ablett snr, Wayne Carey, Alex Jesaulenko, Leigh Matthews, Tony Lockett, Dean Cox, Graham Farmer, Ron Barassi (vc), Bob Skilton.
Interchange: Matt Scarlett, Kevin Murray, Greg Williams, Peter Hudson. Emergencies: Simon Madden, Kevin Bartlett. Coaches: David Parkin and Tom Hafey.
The biggest criticism leveled at my selection was Royce Hart at centre-halfback. Not because he wasn’t worthy, but because he was a renowned centre-half forward.
My excuse was that I wanted both Hart and Carey in the team. The other major criticism was the choice of Enright in the back pocket, which I accept.
There was also criticism of too many players chosen out of position (eg, the Abletts). However, I have merely followed the time honoured tradition adopted by the experts, who also choose players out of position when making these types of selections.
The other thing I noticed, is that of all the team sports, Australian football possesses the least consensus. I guess this is indicative of it not being an international sport, and is therefore highly partisan.
Sheek’s best rugby league team, 1967-present:
Graeme Langlands, Ken Irvine, Reg Gasnier, Mal Meninga, Greg Inglis, Wally Lewis (vc), Andrew Johns, Noel Kelly, Cameron Smith, Arthur Beetson (c), Bob McCarthy, Ron Coote, Johnny Raper.
Interchange: Bob Fulton, Johnathan Thurston, Glenn Lazarus, Bob Lindner. 18th man: Darren Lockyer. Coaches: Wayne Bennett and Frank Stanton.
Again, most of the discussion centred around the seconds, with the firsts being generally, if mutedly, accepted.
Sheek’s best rugby union team, 1967-present:
Matt Burke, David Campese, Dan Herbert, Tim Horan, Brendan Moon, Mark Ella, Ken Catchpole (vc), Mark Loane, George Smith, Simon Poidevin, John Eales (c), Dan Vickerman, Ewen McKenzie, Phil Kearns, Topo Rodriguez.
Bench: Jason Little, Steve Larkham, John Hipwell, Greg Cornelsen, Nathan Sharpe, Andy McIntyre, Peter Johnson, Dan Crowley.
Coaches: Rod MacQueen and Bob Dwyer. Team manager: Alan Jones.
The surprising thing here is that I had changed a couple of names in my starting XV from previously, and was criticised for the players I had omitted! This I actually found comforting in a curious kind of way.
While there were a number of contrary views, again it seemed to be mostly directed at the seconds. Roarers tended to accept that arguing on many selections was a case of splitting hairs.
Thanks again to all those Roarers who participated in these exercises.