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Opinion

The best combined Ashes XI since 1980

Pommygranite new author
Roar Rookie
19th March, 2021
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Pommygranite new author
Roar Rookie
19th March, 2021
81
1125 Reads

In a mad moment, some cricket playing mates and I decided that we’d record a podcast.

In an even madder moment (or more accurately, 83 mad minutes) we actually did it.

It’s called Yes No Sorry and it’s proudly the cricket podcast that goes big on opinion and lets knowledge go through to the keeper.

The topic for the first episode was something that we – as two Pommies and two Aussies – could all agree on: the best combined Ashes XI since 1980.

Why 1980? Well, showing our age, the 1980s were our introduction as kids to the joys of Test cricket. And heck, it doesn’t get more iconic than the 1981 Ashes.

Ian Botham plays a hook shot

(Photo by Adrian Murrell/Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive)

Our rules for selection were that a player’s peak had to be in the period 1980-2021.

So, as good as they were in the 1980s, Greg Chappell (average of 62.50 in the 1980s Ashes), Dennis Lillee (65 wickets at 21.41) and Jeff Thomson miss out, having peaked in the 1970s.

And today’s cricketers – notably Pat Cummins – can’t be picked on potential, only on results so far. Sorry boys.

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And possibly uniquely on a podcast, we tossed a coin to determine a venue. This resulted in English conditions, with the game being held at Lord’s, rather than the Gabba.

That ruled out some bowlers who bossed it in Australian conditions and were bossed out of it in English ones: Craig McDermott (bowling average of 22 in Australian Ashes, 34 in English ones) and moustache-era Mitchell Johnson (21 and 34 respectively) being good examples.

Having got those niceties out of the way, and after a fair bit of debate, the selected XI was as follows.

1. Alastair Cook
2. Michael Slater
3. Ricky Ponting
4. Steve Smith
5. Steve Waugh (captain)
6. Ian Botham
7. Adam Gilchrist (wicketkeeper)
8. Stuart Broad
9. Shane Warne
10. Glenn McGrath
11. Terry Alderman

Alastair Cook celebrates reaching 200.

(Photo by Morgan Hancock/Action Plus via Getty Images)

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The 12th man was Allan Border, who was incredibly unfortunate to miss out in a jam-packed middle order, as was our 13th man, David Gower, selected as much for his knowledge of post-match London venues to keep Messrs Botham and Warne entertained as for his batting.

Most debate was around the opening slots, with six openers proposed and Matthew Hayden especially unlucky to miss out, largely due to English conditions and the desire for a left hand/right hand opening combination.

Terry Alderman may surprise some but was a unanimous selection. His 100 Ashes wickets at 21 – and a bowling average of 19 in England – speaking for themselves.

There is more on the pod. Have a listen and let us know what you think and what you’d like to hear next. Having got the bug, we’re already planning discussions on the next Ashes and what makes a great cricket captain.