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)

    • Roar Guru

      January 18th 2016 @ 10:42am
      JGK said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:42am | ! Report

      As I mentioned in one of Frank’s articles, I think Trumper needs to bat at 5 or 6 where his record was staggering for the period compared to his modest record as opener.

      If that’s the case, I’d drop Macartney (whose bowling is not needed) to the seconds for Ryder, elevate Ponsford to the 1sts and put Woodfull in to the firsts to open.

      Re Ponsford v Woodfull, whilst Ponny got the headlines with his monster scores, Woodfull had the significantly better record until their lasts two tests on the 1934 series when Ponsford and Bradman were compiling 400 run partnerships for fun and Woodfull was still suffering the effects of his Bodyline injury. Indeed with two Tests to go in his career, Ponny only averaged 40. And Ponsford was dropped during Bodyline while Woodfull played every Test as captain.

      For what it’s worth, I also find it difficult to countenance a team with Tiger and Clarrie where Oldfield isn’t the keeper.

      And while I understand the selection of Spofforth (although query whether Turner is a better representative of the era) I reckon if you add Davo’s left handed swingers to Lindwall, Miller and the two great leggies, you would have a team to cover all bases.

      • Roar Guru

        January 18th 2016 @ 10:53am
        sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:53am | ! Report


        I’ll admit Trumper is an anomaly. But very powerful people in the game, who I presume know more than me, will not hear of Trumper being anywhere but at the top of the best all-time Aussie team.

        Are they right? I really don’t now. But for the moment i won’t argue with them.

        You’re right about Ponsford & Woodfull. Ponsford was the great under-achiever, while Woodfull is under-appreciated. I would bring Woody in for Brown & keep Ponny mainly because of his awesome first-class record. But he only pulled it all together in his series in 1934.

        • Roar Guru

          January 18th 2016 @ 10:58am
          JGK said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:58am | ! Report

          Re Trumper – no, they are not right.

          As for Woody v Ponny – their FC records are almost identical. About 13000 runs at 65.

        • January 18th 2016 @ 1:22pm
          ChrisB said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

          Trumper’s legend stands alone for pre-1914 Aussie players.
          But why would the opinions of “very powerful people in the game” count for more than yours (or mine) when it comes to cricketers they’ve not actually seen play?
          Surely they’re no more clued up than anyone else who has read the relevant histories and accounts (and seen the tiny bit of footage of him from 1905)

          • Roar Guru

            January 18th 2016 @ 6:25pm
            sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 6:25pm | ! Report


            It’s not just about stats, & I certainly don’t want to be a slave to stats, fascinating as they can be.

            Perhaps many of us are romantics at heart.

            I like the idea of Trumper coming in at the start & hitting a quick fire & elegant 40. We can be sure that Bradman would regularly then double that score, plus more.

      • January 18th 2016 @ 1:19pm
        ChrisB said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

        I read once that Grimmett had less than full confidence in Oldfield, certainly toward the end of his very long career

        • Roar Guru

          January 18th 2016 @ 1:30pm
          JGK said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

          Well Bert was 44 when he played his last Test.

          Did you see Gilly’s batting in his last couple of years?

    • Roar Guru

      January 18th 2016 @ 10:49am
      sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:49am | ! Report


      What I was trying to say in my previous article is that, with me, it’s never a case of simply picking players straight out.

      I like to pick my teams in batches of XI. Some selections are immediately obvious, say Bradman & Miller, while the last 3-4 might be made with consideration to the balance of the team.

      For me, balance is king. For example, I don’t want four batting bunny bowlers at 8-11, so I might move players around. I also want the variety that left-handers offer in the batting line-up, often aiming for a minimum two in the top 7.

      When I pick my all-time best Aussie XI, Bradman, Gilchrist & Miller are the first three picked. But Miller is the key. He allows me a 5 batsmen/5 bowlers split, with Gilchrist the keeper-batsman.

      Miller can occupy the dual role of specialist batsman & fast bowler, which also allows me to pick two specialist spinners. Keeping in mind also Bradman is already two 50-plus average test batsmen in one.

    • January 18th 2016 @ 10:53am
      Frank O'Keeffe said | January 18th 2016 @ 10:53am | ! Report

      I’m just going to do this once, and not going to go into much detail (I’m cricketed out too!). But my articles originally started out as an attempt to rank the top 10. I then realized it was much easier to simply create an XV.

      But now, having gone through this exercise, it’s easy to ask the question: I’m making a top 10, which players are the easiest to select?

      These are the easiest players to select…

      1. Sir Donald Bradman
      2. Shane Warne
      3. Dennis Lillee
      4. Keith Miller
      5. Bill O’Reilly
      6. Greg Chappell

      That’s my top six! I don’t know who would comprise the rest of that top 10, because after that, I don’t know who my openers should be. I don’t know who should accompany Chappell in the middle. Gilchrist is in there, but as a batsman, was he better than Ponting, Border, Waugh, Harvey? Probably not. Is it Lindwall or McGrath? Trumper has an iconic place in Australian cricket – should he be in there?

      A top 10 is too hard. But I’m settled on that top six, I reckon.

      I tried something similar with rugby union once. Campese, Ella, Eales, Windon, Catchpole comprised my top five (but I couldn’t figure out which order – there’s no Bradman in there), and then I had Allan, Horan, Loane in my next group (since they’re also locks in my all-time Australian XV). After that I had no clue. Topo was a lock in my all-time team. But he had four years as a Wallaby – should he be in the top 10?

      Selecting XI’s and XV’s are definitely easier.

      • Roar Guru

        January 18th 2016 @ 11:00am
        JGK said | January 18th 2016 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        Actually, I reckon there is scope to leave Miller out of an AT Aust XI for Davo in order to add some variety to an otherwise all RH attack.

        • Roar Guru

          January 18th 2016 @ 11:26am
          sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 11:26am | ! Report

          That’s interesting food for thought but also heresy to omit Miller!

          • Roar Guru

            January 18th 2016 @ 11:33am
            JGK said | January 18th 2016 @ 11:33am | ! Report

            Yes but it is the plight of the all rounder who is in valuable in normal Tests but perhaps less valuable in composite sides.

            • Roar Guru

              January 18th 2016 @ 11:55am
              sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 11:55am | ! Report

              No JGK,

              I would disagree. Like I said, after Bradman, Miller is usually the next player I pick.

              The all-rounder is usually critical to the structure of the team.

              • Roar Guru

                January 18th 2016 @ 12:03pm
                JGK said | January 18th 2016 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

                Maybe, but less so when picking composite teams because you are generally always compromising on relative batting or bowling strength in exchange for depth.

              • January 18th 2016 @ 2:37pm
                Frank O'Keeffe said | January 18th 2016 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

                According to my formula for ranking players, that means Miller is the second greatest Australian cricketer ever…

            • January 18th 2016 @ 1:10pm
              ChrisB said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

              I suspect you’d always pick Sobers in a composite World first XI

              • Roar Guru

                January 18th 2016 @ 1:19pm
                JGK said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                Well yes because he is the second best batsman of all time.

      • Roar Guru

        January 18th 2016 @ 11:52am
        sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 11:52am | ! Report


        I’m a huge fan of selecting my best 50 or 100 in batches of teams, either XIs, XIIIs, or XVs.

        If picking a cricket/soccer top 100, I would pick 9 x XIs, plus either an extra wicket-keeper or goal-keeper as the 100th player.

        If picking a rugby league top 100, I would pick 7 x XIIIs, plus nine other players (interestingly, one per position).

        And it goes without saying, if picking a rugby union top 100, I would pick 6 x XVs, plus ten other players (again, it works out to one per position).

        I don’t agree with picking a top 100 irrespective of position. How can you be sure a batsman is better than a fast bowler, or a striker is better than a goal-keeper, or a fly-half is better than a lock, or a fullback is better than a second-rower?

        It’s hard enough separating players in each position without trying to cross-position separate them.

        • January 18th 2016 @ 12:31pm
          Jeffrey Dun said | January 18th 2016 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

          Sheek, after reading your article and Frank’s, I was commenting to my wife about how difficult it is to choose a side, when you don’t know who you are playing and where.

          My wife suggested that it may be better to choose a touring squad of 17 that would be capable of competing in all conditions, whether it is a slow turner in India or a green seamer at Old Trafford.

          I think that that is a pretty good idea; however, I must confess to being cricket-ed out also having read all of Frank’s articles and the comments and your article also.

          Perhaps a task for another day.

      • January 18th 2016 @ 1:17pm
        ChrisB said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

        One problem with your short list (not your detailed longer articles I hasten to add) is it reveals a bit too much modern prejudice, ie. everyone in your list either played in your lifetime, or in the lifetime of people you know. Maybe apart from Bradman, and he’s always going to be an exception there.
        i read a great article once that was critical of the composition of the AFL Hall of Fame as being too heavily skewed to players from the 30/40s onwards (ie. the time of living memory) and especially to the 50s onwards (the time of mass media, especially TV coverage).
        Wouldn’t Spofforth, for instance, be deserving of a place in your Top 10, even top 6, as the whole concept of test cricket is primarily down to his success as a bowler making Australia actually successful against England?
        For sheer influence over the game he would have to be very high indeed. As would Jack Blackham as basically developing many modern keeping practices and standards, as would Monty Noble for transferring the art of baseball pitching techniques to develop modern swing bowling.

        • January 18th 2016 @ 2:46pm
          Frank O'Keeffe said | January 18th 2016 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

          This is an interesting post.

          I ranked Bradman, Miller and O’Reilly in my top six – I don’t think that shows modern prejudice.

          The main criteria I used was the impact the players had on Australia winning games. In the end, that’s the important thing, to win.

          I do give a tiny bit of regard to other things – like Warne reviving, modernizing, fashioning, the art of leg-spin. Gilchrist changing the role of keepers whereby they sort of have to be keeper-batsmen. All that stuff I give a bit of regard to… And when I put Spofforth in my second all-time side, it wasn’t his numbers that got him in – it was his impact on the game.

          But the criteria you used there doesn’t dominate my thinking. What about the English person who invented cricket? He surely had the biggest influence on the game by inventing it? Is he the greatest English cricketer ever?

          Sarfraz more or less modernized reverse swing. But I’m not saying he’s a better bowler than Khan or Akram or even Waqar…

          • January 18th 2016 @ 5:02pm
            ChrisB said | January 18th 2016 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

            Well you could claim WG Grace kind of invented modern cricket as we know it (cricket as a game having been invented by no one in particular of course), and some would say he is the greatest cricketer ever. He certainly dominated his era like no other person apart from, possibly, Bradman.
            But yes, you’re right, influence on the game is only one aspect. And i’m not at all suggesting that it should be a dominating factor.
            My point was more that, in lists, honours etc of this kind there is usually a bias toward those you have seen yourself, or you have heard about from relatives who saw them, or who are still relatively fresh in a lot of memories. Those who played in the time outside living memory can rapidly be forgotten. How many times does the name of Blackham come up in a list of our greatest ever keepers? Yet he was a colossus of his era as much as Marsh or Healy or Oldfield or Tallon or Grout, perhaps even more so as his era is so crucial

    • January 18th 2016 @ 11:36am
      Jameswm said | January 18th 2016 @ 11:36am | ! Report

      Sheek I chuckled at the thought of M Clarke being VC under Chapelli. Chappelli wouldn’t listen to a word he said, or seek his counsel!

      • Roar Guru

        January 18th 2016 @ 11:53am
        sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        James – True, true.

        It would be a case of, “Sonny, when I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.”

        • January 18th 2016 @ 1:09pm
          ChrisB said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

          As Chappell loves Warne and Warne loves Clarke, I suspect it’d be a lovefest

    • January 18th 2016 @ 1:08pm
      ChrisB said | January 18th 2016 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

      Love the idea of the favourite XI to play with a sense of fun and style. I;d make two changes to the 1877-1966 era one though.
      1 – Arthur Mailey instead of O’Reilly. While the latter is (with Warne) one of the greatest two leggies of all time by the length of a paddock, Mailey is one of cricket’s legendary comedians, and also a fine bowler by his record
      2 – The stylish Alan Kippax somewhere in there, or maybe Archie Jackson. Probably instead of “Bagga’ Barnes, who is by reputation more agent provocateur than showman. And he also turned himself into a fairly staid batsman. My grandad loved him for sticking it up to Bradman though…..

      • Roar Guru

        January 18th 2016 @ 4:19pm
        sheek said | January 18th 2016 @ 4:19pm | ! Report


        Both reasonable alternatives. Mailey was apparently quite a character.

    • January 18th 2016 @ 2:33pm
      Junior Coach said | January 18th 2016 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

      Nice selections but for a fun XI surely Merv would have to get a run

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