With cricket’s World Cup starting in England on May 30, let us select the best all-time great Australian XI.
It will be based mainly on statistics in World Cup matches from 1975 to 2015.
Dynamic openers Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist will give Australia a flying start.
They have been associated in five century partnerships for the first wicket in the World Cup; the highest being 172 against Sri Lanka at Bridgetown in 2006-07. Gilchrist will also keep wickets, having made 52 dismissals (45 catches and seven stumpings) – a record in World Cup cricket.
Ricky Ponting will come in at number three. Besides his mountain of runs (1743, second only to India’s legendary Sachin Tendulkar with 2278 runs), he took the most World Cup catches for a non-wicketkeeper with 28.
Ponting also played the most World Cup matches, 46 – one more than Tendulkar.
Between the three, they smashed 73 sixes in 99 World Cup matches; Hayden 23 in 22 matches, Gilchrist 19 in 31 and Ponting 31 in 46. They also hit nine centuries each; Hayden three, Gilchrist one and Ponting five.
Ponting is my choice as the captain. He captained the most times, 29 matches and won 26, for a win percentage of 89.65.
Elegant stroke player Mark Waugh (1004 runs at 52.84, strike rate of 83.73) with four centuries comes in next, followed by the ambidextrous Michael Clarke (888 runs at 63.42, strike rate of 94.16) who batted right-handed but bowled slow left-arm orthodox.
Pugnacious all-rounder Steve Waugh will bat at number six. Apart from his gritty batting (978 runs at 48.90), he bowls at his best at the death, getting vital wickets in the thrilling final overs.
Has the run-rate slowed down? Then our man is Andrew Symonds. He averaged an incredible 103.00 at a strike rate of 93.29, belting ten sixes. He was also a right arm medium-pace bowler and an off-spinner who fielded brilliantly.
We need two fast bowlers and two spinners (a leg spinner and an off spinner). Who will spearhead the attack? The selection is easy; express fast bowler Brett Lee (35 scalps at 17.97, best 5/42) and the master swinger Glenn McGrath – who took the most number of wickets, 71, with best bowling figures of 7/15. Both are World Cup records.
Andy Bichel’s 7/20 is the second best spell in World Cup after McGrath’s. Bichel also averaged 117.00 with the bat scoring 117 runs in three innings, twice not out.
Shane Warne, the living legend, is the obvious choice as the leg-break googly bowler, having taken 32 wickets at 19.50 with a best of 4/29.
Left-arm spinner Brad Hogg is my choice as the other spinner. According to ESPNcricinfo, “With his booming grin, zooming flipper and hard-to-pick wrong’un, Brad Hogg is Australia’s most mercurial “left-arm wrist spinner” bowler since ‘Chuck’ Fleetwood-Smith in the 1930s.”
Here is my all-time World Cup Australian XI;
1. Matthew Hayden 2. Adam Gilchrist (wicket keeper) 3. Ricky Ponting (captain) 4. Mark Waugh 5. Michael Clarke 6. Steve Waugh 7. Andrew Symonds 8. Brett Lee 9. Shane Warne 10. Brad Hogg 11. Glenn McGrath.
12th man: Andy Bichel.
Reserves: Damien Fleming, David Boon, Dean Jones, Michael Bevan and Shane Watson.
Come on Roarers, select your best Australian World Cup squad.