Sheek’s cricket selections: 1877-1966 and 1967-2016

sheek Roar Guru

By sheek, sheek is a Roar Guru

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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.


    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 (61)

    • January 18th 2016 @ 7:42am
      Peter Z said | January 18th 2016 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Nice work Sheek. I think you got the teams right. Hoped you could have found round for our most aesthetic batsman Mark Waugh, but he underachieved, its fair to say. Also, Smith and Warner would surely push for the 67/16 First XI once everyone is satisfied we have a big enough sample size to be scientific about their status.

      • Roar Guru

        January 18th 2016 @ 10:03am
        sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        Thanks Peter,

        I’m a huge fan of Mark Waugh, & it was one of my disappointments his test record didn’t match his first-class record. I think many of us thought he was much better & should have achieved higher. But we all loved the beauty of his batsmanship.

        Smith & Warner will obviously figure in the future providing they retain their current output. You would think this will be the case. But I’ve followed cricket long enough to know this doesn’t always work out.

        Doug Walters was running around 74 after about 16 tests, before dropping to 48.

    • January 18th 2016 @ 7:45am
      Jeffrey Dun said | January 18th 2016 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      Sheek – all excellent teams. The next obvious question is, which of the #1 teams would win, if they played each other?

      The 1877-1966 team has the edge in the spin department and the fast bowling looks pretty even. Perhaps the contemporary team has the edge in the batting, but then there is Bradman.

      If the test was played in Sydney, I would backing the 1877-1966 team to win. Anywhere else in Australia, it would be too tough to call.

      I’m so glad you found a place for Gregory in your second XI and your sentimental favourites. I first heard of Gregory in a radio interview with Bradman many years ago. He referred to Gregory as “mercurial”. He spoke of him in such glowing terms, I had to read up about him. He was such an extraordinary cricketer, he has been a favourite of mine ever since. Sadly, he is largely forgotten today.

      • Roar Guru

        January 18th 2016 @ 10:06am
        sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        Hi jeff,

        Surprisingly I hadn’t given that any thought. I must confess I’m cricket-ed out after contributing so much to Frank O’Keeffe’s articles.

        I’ll get back to you!

        BTW, I picked Simpson & Lawry as a package deal, but I think Hayden alone is a better bat than Lawry. Anyway, it is what it is.

        • Roar Guru

          January 18th 2016 @ 10:30am
          JGK said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          “Cricketed out”? I’ve never heard of such a thing.

          • Roar Guru

            January 18th 2016 @ 10:31am
            sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:31am | ! Report

            Yes indeed, my mind is frazzled!

        • Roar Guru

          January 18th 2016 @ 10:40am
          sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:40am | ! Report


          I’ve thought about it. Let’s call them the Ancients & Modernists.

          The Ancients 1st XI would beat the Modernists 1st XI precisely because of the presence of Bradman. The Modernists attack would curtail his effectiveness, but a pair of 70s (or thereabouts) from The Don still gives his side an advantage, most other things being equal. Best of three, 2-1.

          On the other hand, I think the Modernists 2nd XI would pip the Ancients 2nd XI. Again, best of three, 2-1.

          • January 18th 2016 @ 1:11pm
            Jeffrey Dun said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

            I’m inclined to agree Sheek. The Ancients appear to be a better balanced side, largely because the inclusion of Miller enables the selection of a second outstanding spinner.

            So, the ancients have three great quicks, and two great spinners, compared with the modernists with two great quicks, one great spinner and Mitchell Johnson, who on his day was great, but for long periods was less so.

            And then there is the Bradman factor, which gives the ancients the edge.

            I think 2-1 to the ancients sounds about right.

    • January 18th 2016 @ 10:05am
      Frank O'Keeffe said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      Good morning Sheek.

      Armstrong and McCartney seem to be the two people I missed in my sides – McCartney being a really big omission.

      I’m surprised you selected Johnson over Gillespe. At his best, Johnson was better. But he had such a short peak. Gillespie had a bowling average around 26, and was very similar to McGrath. I really admired him, except for this one time I decided to go to the cricket because I was anticipating Warne to bowl, and instead Gillespie stayed at the crease all day blocking the ball, while Langer made a century.

      There was a period where I really didn’t like Johnson, in the same way that I didn’t like Quade Cooper. Both got my respect back – Johnson my respect and more. That peak he had in 2013/14 honestly compares to the best of Lillee and McGrath.

      One person I’ve really warmed up to since writing my columns is Bob Simpson. I included him, but I really didn’t appreciate some of the finer parts of his career. He should definitely have been higher. It’s the best part of writing the articles I did – people pointed out my mistakes and next time I do this I’ll be better at it. But Simpson averaged 55 as an opener for a period! Incredible! I really liked the post some guy made who said Simpson should almost be in his all-time side.

      If I had my time again, Ian Chappell and Bob Simpson would be higher…

      That said, Lawry over Hayden? As far as Hayden is concerned, I’m in the “he’s a great opener” camp, and not the flat-track bully camp. When comparing, say, Taylor to Hayden, I allow that Taylor played in a really hard era – Ambrose, Walsh, Donald, Akram, Waqar – but Hayden is still ahead even when you factor in these things. I saw Hayden score innings in difficult circumstances, too. He was the most tentative player to make my all-time side. And if I made the side again, I might have Trumper or Ponsford in there.. and maybe Simpson. But Lawry?

      I don’t who my “favourite XI” would be. I always respected the batsmen who were the grinders more than the flair players – the openers who saw off the new ball, and the guys who saved innings like Steve Waugh and Alan Border. The innings I admire are the Dean Jones India innings, the Steve Waugh last ball century, the Ricky Ponting century from the 3rd Ashes Test of 2005, etc. My favourite XV probably wouldn’t have an amazing player like Ponting.

      Someone like Slater is my kind of opener – beautiful technique etc. I loved watching Damien Martyn around 2004. In that awesome side, his didn’t stand out. But he had the most beautiful technique. Greg Chappell is another in the perfect technique category.

      I prefer bowlers who tried to take wickets quickly. I loved, LOVED, watching Johnson in 2013/14. I’d rather a fast bowler with an economy rate of 3.50 and taking wickets faster than anybody, than someone like McGrath who was immaculate in line and length, but took time. For this reason, I’ve selected Johnson and a prime Thompson.

      Eh let’s have a go…

      1. Michael Slater
      2. Justin Langer
      3. Ian Chappell
      4. Dean Jones
      5. Greg Chappell
      6. Damien Martyn
      7. Adam Gilchrist
      8. Mitchell Johnson
      9. Shane Warne
      10. Dennis Lillee
      11. Jeff Thompson

      12th man: Glenn McGrath

      By the way Sheek, do you agree with me that Greg Chappell is Australia’s second greatest batsman?

      • January 18th 2016 @ 11:07am
        Jake said | January 18th 2016 @ 11:07am | ! Report


        “I always respected the batsmen who were the grinders more than the flair players – the openers who saw off the new ball…..”

        You then go on about your love for Slater?! I reckon he had less ‘grind’ in him than any other opening bat I can think of.

    • January 18th 2016 @ 10:13am
      Frank O'Keeffe said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:13am | ! Report

      It’s interesting how great opening pairs often come in twos – Simpson/Lawry, Taylor/Slater, Hayden/Langer, Morris/Barnes… There’s probably a really good cricket article someone could write about the top 5 or 10 best opening pairs, etc.

      • January 18th 2016 @ 1:24pm
        ChrisB said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

        Great pairs of anything generally come in two’s. Just saying…..

    • January 18th 2016 @ 10:18am
      Frank O'Keeffe said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      You chose Waugh as a captain over Border… interesting…

      • Roar Guru

        January 18th 2016 @ 10:30am
        sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        Yeah Frank,

        Border was a reluctant captain & I respect that about him. However, he makes a great lieutenant.

        Waugh had that mongrel in him, just like Chappelli. I like our captain to be a bloody-minded pain in the arse.

        To the opposition, that is!

      • Roar Guru

        January 18th 2016 @ 2:30pm
        The Bush said | January 18th 2016 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

        Actually what’s interesting is that the second eleven for the post-67 team actually has two far better captains in Chappell and Clarke than the first team with Border and Waugh. Whilst Border and Waugh both had obvious talents, neither struck me as guys who had that “knack” for changing a game with their captaincy (a la Taylor for example).

    • Roar Guru

      January 18th 2016 @ 10:28am
      sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:28am | ! Report

      Hi Frank,

      1. Re Johnson & Gillespie. Johnson’s left-arm bowling gave him the edge I thought, providing contrast to Lillee & McGrath.

      The great Bradman argued, re openers, all things being equal, the ideal is a right & left hand combo, to upset the line of the bowlers & the field. The same would apply to fast bowlers if you have two of comparable ability, that is, a right-armer & left-armer.

      2. Simpson is the best slipper in history, no doubt about it. His leggies were also quite lethal, with heaps of spin, but because he wasn’t a full-time regular bowler, he could struggle with direction. I will always welcome any opportunity to promote Chappelli!

      3. I picked Simpson & Lawry as a package deal, but acknowledge Hayden is better individually than Lawry.

      4. I think Taylor is overrated, which no doubt will upset some people. His first class average is at just under 42, which is actually lower than his test average at 43,50, which for an Aussie opener, is comparatively low.

      Hayden, Simpson, Lawry, Langer & Katich all have higher overall test averages, first-class averages & opening test averages than Taylor. So he is trumped by his opposition for opener in every category.

      5. I agree Slater was a wonderful player to watch, which is why he made my favourites. Mark Waugh was another, but both failed to match their potential with a comparable test average. So unfortunately, they get marked down.

      We shouldn’t be slaves to stats. But we can’t ignore them either, especially when comparing with contemporaries & near contemporaries.

      6. You always need an anchor in your team, among the top 6. I think that was another Bradman maxim, although he probably expressed it differently.

      Bradman was big on balance. He argued when you were choosing the best of the best, you were picking from a hugely talented pool, so you could afford to chase the ideal, which wasn’t always available in real time.

      I will always pick Border ahead of Ponting because he offers two things – he can play the anchor & he’s a left-hander. Neil Harvey offers the same advantage for earlier all-time teams. Being a left-hander that is, though not an anchor.

      7. Agreed, Greg Chappell is the best test batsman we’ve ever had, bar Bradman.

      I like your favourites XI. Remember, this is made up of guys you would presumedly walk over broken glass to see play!

      • January 18th 2016 @ 1:25pm
        ChrisB said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

        Point four – I totally agree. Taylor is the most overrated Australian crickets I can recall in my lifetime

      • January 18th 2016 @ 11:41pm
        Johnno said | January 18th 2016 @ 11:41pm | ! Report

        shield attacks in the 90’s were better than most Test-bowling attacks.
        Warne I think has a worst ODI and 1st-class bowling average than Tests.

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