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Fellow Roarer Frank O’Keefe has just completed presenting his best 60 all-time Australian cricketers in five batches of 12. I have been inspired to do a similar exercise, but slightly differently.
I have divided Australian cricket history into two eras, 1877-1866 and 1967-2016. The first 90 years (1877-1966) contains players I never saw live but have only heard and read about.
The second 50 years (1967-2016) contains players whose careers I have – either completely or mostly – seen live.
I have decided on a first XI, second XI and favourite XI for each era. The favourite XI is where I can indulge choosing whomever I please without reference to the record books! So without further ado, here goes.
Baggy Greens first XI, 1877-1966
Victor Trumper – b.1877, RHB, RM
Arthur Morris – b.1922, LHB
Don Bradman (c) – b.1908, RHB
Neil Harvey – b.1928, LHB
Charlie Macartney – b.1886, RHB, SLA
Keith Miller (vc) – b.1919, RHB, RFM
Don Tallon – b.1916, RHB, WK
Ray Lindwall – b.1921, RHB, RF
Clarrie Grimmett – b.1891, RHB, LBG
Bill O’Reilly – b.1905, LHB, LBG
Fred Spofforth – b.1853, RHB, RFM
Baggy Greens second XI, 1877-1966
Bill Ponsford – b.1900, RHB
Bill Brown – b.1912, RHB
Clem Hill (vc) – b.1877, LHB
Stan McCabe – b.1910, RHB, RM
Jack Ryder – b.1889, RB, RFM
Warwick Armstrong (c) – b.1879, RHB, LBG
Jack Gregory – b.1895, LHB, RFM
Alan Davidson – b.1929, LHB, LFM
Jack Blackham – b.1854, RHB, WK
Hugh Trumble – b.1867, RHB, OB
Charles Turner – b.1862, RHB, RFM
Such is the enormous depth of early Australian cricket, that no place can be found for legends such as Richie Benaud, Monty Noble, Lindsay Hassett, Bill Woodfull, Arthur Mailey, Tibby Cotter and several keepers, Bert Oldfield, Sammy Carter and Wally Grout.
A feature of both teams is the tremendous depth in batting, plus the depth and variety of bowling options.
Baggy Greens favourite XI, 1877-1966
Victor Trumper, Arthur Morris, Neil Harvey, Stan McCabe, Charlie Macartney (vc), Keith Miller (c), Jack Gregory, Alan Davidson, Ray Lindwall, Wally Grout (wk), Bill O’Reilly. Syd Barnes (12th man).
While Bradman’s place as the greatest batsman in history remains mostly unquestioned (except in India, it seems), I have omitted him from my favourites in order to lighten the mood.
This team is meant to provide and have fun, the Harlem Globetrotters of cricket, and with Miller in charge, he will set the right mood between effort and fun. 12th man Barnes will attend to drinks in full tails attire (as indeed he did in a Sheffield Shield match).
Baggy Greens first XI, 1967-2016
Bobby Simpson – b.1936, RHB, LB
Bill Lawry – b.1937, LHB
Ricky Ponting – b.1974, RHB
Greg Chappell – b.1948, RHB, RM
Allan Border (vc) – b.1955, LHB, SLA
Steve Waugh (c) – b.1965, RHB, RFM
Adam Gilchrist – b.1971, LHB, WK
Mitchell Johnson – b.1981, LHB, LF
Shane Warne – b.1969, RHB, LBG
Dennis Lillee – b.1949, RHB, RF
Glenn McGrath – b.1970 – RHB, RFM
Baggy Greens second XI, 1967-2016
Matty Hayden – b.1971, LHB
Justin Langer – b.1970, LHB
Ian Chappell (c) – b.1943, RHB, LB
Michael Clarke (vc) – b.1981, RHB, SLA
Michael Hussey – b.1975, LHB, RM
Doug Walters – b.1945, RHB, RM
Ian Healy – b.1964, RHB, WK
Jason Gillespie – b.1975, RHB, RFM
Craig McDermott – b.1965, RHB, RF
Jeff Thomson – b.1950, RHB, RF
Stuart MacGill – b.1971, RHB, LBG
You will note the teams from this era are configured slightly differently, with just one first-choice spinner, and four primary bowlers with 3-4 backup bowlers. Thomson remains the fastest bowler I have seen.
Notable players to miss out are Mark Taylor, Rod Marsh, Dean Jones, Mark Waugh, Brett Lee, Graham McKenzie, to name just a few. I haven’t chosen either Steve Smith or David Warner because their careers are still evolving.
Baggy Greens favourite XI, 1967-2016
Michael Slater, Keith Stackpole, Ian Chappell (c), Greg Chappell (vc), Mark Waugh, Doug Walters, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Gary Gilmour, Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson. David Hookes (12th man).
Once again, the purpose of the favourites is to play an attractive style of cricket to have fans flocking to the game, or to watch it on TV.