Shane Warne inadvertently started this exercise yesterday during his Channel Nine commentary of the second day of the first Test against South Africa, at the WACA.
The world’s greatest leggie posed the question: would David Warner be one of the opening batsmen if an Australian Test side was picked from the last 25 years.
The question prompted me to select a side that has worn the baggy green sometime since 1991, even if they played the majority of their careers earlier.
The contenders, with their retirement year in brackets.
Mark Taylor (1999), Michael Slater (2001), Justin Langer (2007), Matt Hayden (2009), Simon Katich (2010), and David Warner (current).
Dean Jones (1992), Allan Border (1994), David Boon (1996), Damien Martyn (2006), Steve Waugh (2009), Ricky Ponting (2012), Mark Waugh (2012), Mike Hussey (2015), Michael Clarke (2015), Steve Smith (current), and Adam Voges (current).
Adam Gilchrist (2008), and daylight.
Shane Warne (2001), and Stuart MacGill (2008).
Bruce Reid (1992), Craig McDermott (1996), Terry Alderman (1996), Damien Fleming (2001), Jason Gillespie (2006), Glenn McGrath (2007), Stuart Clark (2009), Brett Lee (2010), Mitchell Johnson (2015), Ryan Harris (2015), and Mitchell Starc (current).
1 – Matt Hayden was awesomely powerful in the mood, no attack in the world could keep him quiet when he was in command.
2 – David Warner can be bracketed with the burly Queenslander. If they both teed off together, and it would happen more times than not, it would be a bowler’s ultimate nightmare. Both brilliant fieldsmen.
3 – Ricky Ponting was a super batsman with every shot in the book and the feet of a dancer. He too was a brilliant fieldsman.
4 – Mark Waugh was, in my book, the most naturally gifted batsman in this side, his strokeplay was so effortless, while his fielding in any position was right off the top shelf. The bonus was his ability to bowl medium pacers and offies with equal ability. An extraordinary cricketer.
5 – Steve Waugh didn’t have the natural ability of his twin brother, but he made up for it with a doggedness, the patience of Job, and nobody defended his wicket with more passion. Also a brilliant field and a very handy medium pacer.
6 – Allan Border to captain this crack side. He had the least natural ability, but he religiously kept his strokeplay within his limits to record Test stats even he wouldn’t have thought possible. Another brilliant fieldsman and a very under-rated slow left arm orthodox spinner.
7 – Adam Gilchrist rewrote the keeper-batsman manual with consistent batting of pure power and even though his glove work wasn’t top shelf, he rarely missed any chances.
8 – Shane Warne would be one of the first picked in any era, thanks to his incredible control, and accuracy – he was poetry in motion. Another brilliant fieldsman and a far better bat than his figures suggest. If only he concentrated on his batting as much as he did his bowling.
9 – Stuart Clark deserves far more recognition than he’s received. His injury ridden career doesn’t show his nagging accuracy and penetration to earn the respect of the very best batsmen.
10 – Brett Lee was a firebrand at the height of his career, no batsmen in the world felt comfortable facing him, and he was seemingly tireless, always ready to let fly.
11 – Glenn McGrath was the ultimate metronome, his accuracy at a brisk pace drove class batsmen spare, he never let up and as a result reaped rich rewards.
Having to leave out such great competitors like Steve Smith, Mike Hussey, David Boon, Mitchell Starc, and Mitchell Johnson took the gloss off the exercise.