A talking point that often comes up regarding the state of cricket is the balance between bat and ball.
In Australia’s 64-run victory over England at Lord’s, nine of the ten English wickets to fall were taken by Australia’s duo of skyscraper south-paws, Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff.
In addition, over 41 per cent of Australia’s runs were scored by left-handed batsman. Based on this single match, it is clear that England have a fatal weakness against cack-handed cricketers (sample size be damned).
Based on this rather tenuous link, it is time to celebrate Australia’s fine history of left-handed cricketers by naming an all-time Australian one-day team which would comfortably defeat England, win the World Cup and bring about world peace.
1. David Warner
113 Matches, 4843 runs, Avg. 45.68, SR. 95.50, 16 centuries and 20 fifties
David Warner commenced his one-day career with a reputation as a one-dimensional hitter but has proven himself as a batsman of high quality against a variety of attacks in a variety of conditions.
His finest moment as a one-day player came in a losing cause to South Africa in 2016. Against a high-quality attack Warner scored 173 of 128 deliveries in a total of 296.
To demonstrate the difficulty of the situation, the next highest score was 35, and no other batter had a strike rate over 100.
2. Matthew Hayden
161 Matches, 6133 runs, Avg. 43.80, SR. 78.96, 10 centuries and 36 fifties
An imposing batsman with a mindset to match, Hayden continually sought to utilise his height and strength to dominate bowlers.
His style was simple but incredibly effective and relied on uncomplicated footwork with a powerful swing of the bat. Hayden was particularly impactful at the 2007 World Cup, scoring the most runs at the tournament at an average of 73.
3. Adam Gilchrist (vc)(wk)
287 Matches, 9619 runs, Avg. 35.89, SR. 96.94, 16 centuries and 55 fifties
At a time when Australia were the top dog in one-day cricket, Gilchrist best represented the way in which Australia sought to play the game.
Regardless of the situation, he stayed true to a simple batting philosophy, “Just hit the ball”.
At his best, there was no boundary in the world that he could not clear. Gilchrist’s wicket-keeping was not as spectacular as his batting, but he was a solid gloveman who minimised errors.
4. Michael Hussey
185 Matches, 5442 runs, Avg. 48.15, SR. 87.16, 3 centuries and 39 fifties
Hussey’s greatest strength as a one-day batsman was his adaptability. His natural game was reasonably safe, using soft hands and angling the bat to keep the scorecard moving.
As such, Hussey was able to stabilise a batting line-up in difficult situations. But he also could elevate his batting when needed, using ferocious pull shits and slog-sweeps to score quickly.
5. Darren Lehmann
117 Matches, 3078 runs, Avg. 38.96, SR. 81.34, 4 centuries and 17 fifties. 52 Wickets, Avg. 27.78, Econ. 4.83
Lehmann was unlucky not to play more games for his country, but a strong Australian line-up sometimes meant opportunities were limited.
Lehmann had a game that was well-suited to the one-day scene. He had an unconventional technique that married finesse with powerful cut and pull strokes. Lehmann finest moment was hitting the winning runs in the 1999 World Cup final.
He could also rush through a few overs with his left-arm “spin” bowling.
6. Allan Border (c)
273 Matches, 6524 runs, Avg. 30.62, SR. 71.42, 3 centuries andamp; 39 fifties. 73 Wickets, Avg. 28.36, Econ. 4.66
AB’s record does not do him justice as a one-day player. Early in his career, he opened the batting with skill but as he aged he moved further down the order to help finish off innings. Even though Border was renowned as a feisty cricketer who would not give away his wicket easily, he was capable of immense power at the end of an innings.
In one of his last innings, Border scored 40 of 17 deliveries against South Africa to showcase his finishing skills. As skipper, Border led Australia to its first World Cup victory in 1987 and was a shrewd leader. He could also bowl some rather crafty off-spin.
7. Michael Bevan
232 Matches, 6912 runs, Avg. 53.58, SR. 74.16, 6 centuries andamp; 46 fifties. 36 Wickets, Avg. 45.97, Econ. 5.05
At his peak, Bevan was possibly the most impactful limited overs batsman in the world. He was essential to Australia’s continued successes in orchestrating calm chases in challenging situations.
In particular, marvellous innings against the West Indies at Sydney in 1996, and New Zealand at Melbourne in 2002 demonstrated his ability to balance an innings.
He was never the most powerful hitter, but exquisitely picked gaps and ran well between wickets. He was also a quality left-arm wrist spinner who could share fifth bowler duties with Lehmann and Border.
8. Brad Hogg
123 Matches, 156 Wickets, Avg. 26.84, Econ. 4.51
In addition to being the cricketing version of a Jack Russell, Hogg was a darn good left-arm legspinner.
He married a good sense of control with a difficult-to-pick wrong’un which flummoxed many a top-class batsman. As Andy Flower found out to his cost, Hogg could also bowl a quality flipper.
Hogg was a key component of two Australian World Cup victories in 2003 and 2007. He could also hold a bat and scored two one-day half centuries.
9. Mitchell Johnson
153 Matches, 239 Wickets, Avg. 25.26, Econ. 4.83
Whilst many of Johnson’s best moments came in Test cricket, he was also a fearsome bowler in one-dayers – able to deliver pace and bounce with the new ball and a steady regime of bouncers, yorkers and crafty slower balls at the end of an innings.
As he lost a little of his pace, Johnson showed his intelligence as a bowler by relying more on subtle variation and cutters to lead batsmen astray.
10. Mitchell Starc
82 Matches, 164 Wickets, Avg. 21.07, Econ. 4.99
As one left-arm fast bowler named Mitchell was in decline, another rose in his place. Starc took over Johnson’s place as the leader of Australia’s one-day attack.
Starc is not quite as quick as Johnson was, but has a better control of conventional swing with the new ball and reverse swing with the old. A demonstration of Starc’s effectiveness is that he averages two wickets a match, with a wicket falling almost every four overs. That’s a heck of a weapon.
11. Nathan Bracken
116 Matches, 174 Wickets, Avg. 24.36, Econ. 4.41
Nathan Bracken was a bowler for all situations in one-day cricket. At his best he could open the bowling and move the ball both ways in the air and off the seam. In the middle overs he could often be relied upon to contain a difficult situation.
And at the end of an innings he utilised a wide range of slower balls and cutters to bring upon a batter’s downfall. Despite never being blessed with great pace, he utilised all the skills available to him to be an effective white-ball bowler for almost a decade.
There were some quality lefties that did not make the cut in this team. The hardest to omit was James Faulkner, while he is a quality lefty bowler he unfortunately bats right-handed meaning he was disqualified from consideration.
Other unlucky omissions were Rod Marsh, Bruce Reid, Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja.
It’s a testament to the many great lefties produced over the years that players as good as that were unable to get in the side.
For a team of left handers, I think they are all right.
In case you are wondering, yes I wrote this article just to squeeze in that bad pun.