So following on from last time’s B team, we come to the C team.
The Cs boast a great middle order aided by the Hall of Fame member Chappell brothers, and some very solid bowling options, although they are light on for top-class spinners. They also have a captain that will give no quarter.
Ed Cowan (NSW) – 18 Tests, 1001 runs at 31.28, one century, high score 136
Opening up is Ed Cowan, who was a solid if limited opening batsman who forged and long and successful first-class career for NSW and Tasmania. He played 18 consecutive Tests, occupying the crease and taking the shine off the ball like a true opening batsman (he averaged 75 balls per innings).
However, Cowan was unable to convert his crease occupation into significant scores and his form eventually tailed away, averaging only 26.5 across his last six Tests.
His first-class career has been distinguished with over 10,000 runs at an average of nearly 42 and 24 centuries.
Cowan’s lasting legacy maybe be a contribution to cricket vernacular – to score a Cowan is to occupy the crease for at least 100 balls, hopefully without disturbing the scorers or boundary rope to any great degree.
He also wrote an excellent book about the travails and anxieties of the average first-class cricketer as they make their way through a season.
Herb Collins (NSW) – 19 Tests, 1352 runs at 45.06, four centuries, high score 203
Joining Cowan at the top is Herb Collins, who was a distinguished cricketer during the 1920s. He captained his country in 11 of his 19 Tests and was Cowan-like in his ability to occupy the crease. After distinguishing himself as the captain of the Australian Armed Forces team that played in England in 1919, the highlight of his career was scoring 557 runs in his debut series in 1920-21 against the touring English.
Collins’ Test average peaked at over 63 after his 12th Test in the home Ashes of 1924-25, but his final two series were disappointing.
Collins was an accomplished bookmaker and earned the nickname ‘Horseshoe’ for his good luck with the ponies and also in winning tosses.
Ian Chappell (SA) (captain) – 75 Tests, 5345 runs at 42.42, 14 centuries, high score 196, Cricket Australia Hall of Fame
Ian Chappell is considered to be one of Australia’s greatest captains. As well as a top competitor batting at number three, Chappell was a key figure in the rise of World Series Cricket and an advocate for player rights.
Chappell had a slow start to his career from his debut in 1964 and after four years and 17 Tests was only averaging 29. But after a 548-run series at home against the West Indies in 1968-69, Chappell’s batting at three became key factor in the team’s fortunes and he was made captain after the demise of Bill Lawry in 1970.
He had another 500-run-plus series away to the West Indies in 1972-73 and was the undisputed man in charge until the captaincy was passed to his brother Greg in 1975. Chappell’s career average of 42.42 rises to 50 as captain.
Greg Chappell (QLD) – 87 Tests, 7110 runs at 53.86, 24 centuries, high score 247*, Cricket Australia Hall of Fame, ACB Team of the Century
And then at four there is younger brother Greg, not quite the captain his brother was, but as a batsman he was at the time almost universally considered the best since Bradman.
Chappell has the rare achievement of scoring centuries in his first and last Tests. He also scored a century in each innings of his captaincy debut. And there were 20 more during his career. In a very strong bowling era, Chappell scored over 7000 runs at 53.86. This rose to 55.38 as captain. And it was all done with elegance and calmness, with an onside game considered possibly the greatest of all Australians.
Chappell also collected another 1415 runs at 56.60 in World Series Cricket, the highest by any player, in what was possibly the most competitive cricket ever played. This included 621 runs at 69 in five away Tests against the fearsome West Indies attack in 1979. In fact, Chappell’s overall record against the West Indies was excellent, averaging 56 against them in Tests. This included 702 runs at a whopping 117 in the 1975-76 home series against them.
Chappell also enjoyed playing against England and in the 1974-75 home series, famous for the Lillee-Thomson bowling partnership, Chappell scored 608 runs and became one of only three Australians to have seven 50-plus scores in a single series (the others are Neil Harvey and Mark Taylor).
Bob Cowper (VIC) (off spin) – 27 Tests, 2061 runs at 46.84, five centuries, high score 307
Coming in at five, Bob Cowper was an immensely talented batsman, who retired from cricket at only 28 to pursue a successful business career. In today’s era of million-dollar contracts, who knows what his record may have been.
As it was, Cowper scored a triple-century against England at the MCG in 1966, and scored over 2000 Test runs at an average in excess of 46. He was also a decent off-spinner, picking up 36 Test wickets at 31.63. Across his last 13 matches Cowper averaged 38.79 with the bat and 25.22 with the ball, making him a true all-rounder. In those Tests he scored the most runs and took the second most wickets of any player.
Cowper’s 307 from 589 balls in 727 minutes was the first triple century scored in Australia and remains the longest innings ever played in this country. He was also the David Warner of his time, averaging over 75 at home but only 33 away.
Michael Clarke (NSW) (left-arm orthodox) – 115 Tests, 8643 runs at 49.10, 28 centuries, high score 328*
Speaking of triple centuries in Australia, our number six Michael Clarke was earmarked early as a special talent, to the point that Darren Lehmann said he would stand aside to allow Clarke into the Test team.
A spectacular 100 away in India marked his first series (he is also one of the few to hit a century in his first home and first away Tests) and he remained a key player for Australia for the next 115 Tests.
A controversial captain, Clarke was groomed for the role almost from his first Test. Like Border before him and Steve Smith more recently, Clarke had the burden of virtually carrying a brittle batting line-up. He did this with distinction and was natural on-field tactician, however his man management skills were often under scrutiny.
However, Clarke did lead Australia back to the number one Test ranking, a five-nil home Ashes thumping and an ODI World Cup title, and he was also ranked as the world’s premier batsman.
Clarke had a talent for big scores. His 328 not out against India at the SCG was accompanied by three other double centuries in Tests. He is one of only three batsmen to score a triple century and a double century in the same series and he later also scored back-to-back double centuries against South Africa.
Clarke was also an underrated bowler prior to chronic back injuries, bowling a couple of remarkable spells in Tests against India. He took six wickets for nine runs in Mumbai in 2004 and later took three wickets in an over to win a Test in Sydney in 2008.
Sammy Carter (NSW) (wicketkeeper) – 28 Tests, 873 runs at 22.97, 44 catches and 21 stumpings
Hanson ‘Sammy’ Carter was Australia’s wicketkeeper between 1907 and 1921. Carter was considered a solid keeper, standing further back than most of his contemporaries, and is credited by some with being the first keeper to rest on his haunches to await the ball.
Carter was also a limited but tenacious batsman. He may have been the first exponent of the over the shoulder scoop shot in cricket and he scored three 50s in his first four Tests. This included a precious 61 in Sydney. Coming in at 6-124 chasing 274 to win, Carter helped guide the team to victory with two wickets to spare.
Carter was a player advocate and boycotted the 1912 tour of England as part of the big six who were in dispute with the board over the selection of the tour manager (the others were Clem Hill, Warwick Armstrong, Victor Trumper, Tibby Cotter and Vernon Ransford, so he was in pretty good company).
Pat Cummins (NSW) (right-arm fast) – 30 Tests, 143 wickets at 21.82 and 47.2, best bowling 6-23
We just don’t know yet how good Pat Cummins will be, but the current number one bowler in Test cricket has already had a career that puts him among Australia’s best, with a truly elite average and strike rate.
Relentlessly accurate and hostile with both new and old ball, Cummins displays great consistency. He rarely takes a big haul, but equally is very rarely out of the wickets (he has failed to take a wicket only five times in 57 innings, although that includes two in his last eight innings).
His amazing debut in South Africa as a teenager – where he tore the Proteas apart with the ball taking 6-79 in their second innings, and then finished not out in the fourth innings run chase – was the last he would be seen for nearly six years due to a series of injuries.
But ever since his comeback in 2017 Cummins has been getting better and better, culminating in 29 wickets in Australia’s 2019 Ashes retention. He is now on par with Australia’s greatest bowlers.
Albert ‘Tibby’ Cotter (NSW) (right-arm fast) – 21 Tests, 89 wickets at 28.64, best bowling 7-148
Tibby Cotter was one of Australia’s premier bowlers in the early 1900s. He was considered express for his time and reputedly shattered at least 20 stumps or bails during his career. He took seven five wickets hauls in only 21 Tests. His match haul of 6-40 and 2-25 in his second ever Test led Australia to an emphatic victory by 218 runs over England.
Cotter’s career ended prematurely. He was among the big six players who refused to tour England in 1912 (see above) and then WWI intervened. Cotter was shot and killed by a sniper in 1917 at only 33 years old. He is buried in Palestine.
Cotter also had a reputation as a hitter and smashed five sixes in Tests in the days when sixes were much rarer than today, as the ball had to be hit out of the ground up until 1910.
Stuart Clark (NSW) (right-arm fast medium) – 24 Tests, 94 wickets at 23.86, best bowling 5-32
As Glenn McGrath neared retirement, Australia were wondering how they would replace him, and along came 30-year-old Stuart Clarke. In a too-short career, Clarke did a wonderful McGrath impersonation to take nearly 100 Test wickets at under 24.
Clark took 20 wickets at 15.75 in his first series against South Africa. This is included a five-wicket haul in his first Test innings. His match figures were the third best by an Australian on debut. He then took 26 wickets at 17 in 2006-07 home Ashes clean sweep to top the series wickets and overshadow his legendary retiring teammates, McGrath and Shane Warne. He took his first 68 Test wickets at an average under 20.
Clark never reached those heights again and by 2009 his age was against him and he played only a peripheral role as Australia lost the Ashes in England.
William Cooper (VIC) (leg spin) – two Tests, nine wickets at 25.11 and 49.5, best bowling 6-120
William Cooper only played two Tests for Australia in the 1880s. He only started playing cricket at 27 due to medical advice.
He took nine wickets in his debut match in Melbourne in 1882 with his slow leg breaks (this was only the fifth Test ever played). This match was notable as the first draw in Test history, with the English having to catch a steamer to New Zealand.
Cooper toured England in 1884 but he did not play any Tests. His second Test was in Adelaide in 1884 but he failed to take a wicket.
At first-class level, Cooper took 71 wickets in 26 matches at 24.49. This included 5-79 on debut against the touring English in 1881. He did it to the English again on their next tour, taking nine wickets for the match as Victoria defeated them by an innings.
Cooper’s last ever first-class match was smokers versus non-smokers in 1887, where the touring English and locals were mixed between the teams.
Cooper is the great grandfather of Paul Sheahan and they are the only great grandfather-great grandson combination to play Tests.
Next we have the D team, full of honest triers plus possibly Australia’s greatest all-rounder not called Miller.