The XI July 20, 2009

Australia's finest

Three legends from the 2000s feature in the jury's XI, which has a mostly even spread across the decades of Australian cricket

After six categories and two months of decisions, Cricinfo's selectors release their verdicts and reveal their all-time Australian XI. Don Bradman, Shane Warne and Dennis Lillee were universally picked by the 10 judges, while Greg Chappell and Keith Miller received nine votes, one more than Victor Trumper and Adam Gilchrist in their respective categories.

To balance the experts' outfit, we also include the readers' XI and there are a few disagreements. None of the openers are the same, with the masses pushing for Matthew Hayden and Bill Ponsford at the top instead of Trumper and Arthur Morris. The online judges also call for Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting in the middle order instead of Greg Chappell and Allan Border. However, there was agreement over the other seven spots in the side.

In the readers' poll, Hayden got more than twice the number of votes Ponsford did, and more than Taylor, Morris and Trumper combined. Bradman received almost 80% more support than Ponting in the middle order; Miller picked up nearly 65% to sweep past Richie Benaud for the allrounder's spot; and Gilchrist took eight votes for every one for Ian Healy.

Only 60 votes separated McGrath and Lillee, and each fast man polled more than all the others put together. Warne got nearly twice as much support as Bill O'Reilly, but the legspinners won spots in both XIs.

Either team would fancy their chances against any of the other all-time outfits, which will be decided over the rest of the year.

1 Victor Trumper
Trumper was the prototype of an expressive Australian batsmanship based on boldness, instinct and natural talent. By his modesty and courtesy, in an age that valued such qualities, he also made a hero to rally round. Gideon Haigh

2 Arthur Morris
Arthur Morris was well organised and serene at the crease, and from those twin centuries he made on NSW debut when aged 18 through his prolific Test match seasons and tours, he was the epitome of self-assuredness and unflappability. Don Bradman's instant support for him never wavered, and Morris' crowning moment was probably when he topped the figures on that memorable 1948 tour of England. David Frith

3 Don Bradman
Bradman's selection is axiomatic, and of course, has to refer to his stats because he dominated cricket in a way for which there is no comparison in any other sport, with the possible exception of Walter Lindrum in billiards and snooker. His cricket allowed him to become part of the fabric of Australian life - symbolised by the ABC's PO Box number of 9994 - in a way unmatched by any other individual. Warwick Franks

4 Greg Chappell
The remarkable Ricky Ponting has clouded the issue, but Greg Chappell remains the supreme Australian batsman since the retirement of Neil Harvey in the 60s. Chappell was a cricketing aristocrat, tall and commanding. But whatever his stature at the crease it was his performances at the wicket that raised him to immortality. In 1979 he hit SuperTest centuries in Trinidad and Guyana and 431 runs in four internationals at 61.57 against one of the greatest fast bowling attacks ever assembled in Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner and Wayne Daniel. No batsman in half a century could equal or eclipse this achievement. Phil Wilkins

5 Allan Border
He's never ever received the appropriate recognition, not only for what he achieved in Australian cricket, but for Australian cricket. It's 25 years in December since he was appointed captain and the sustained success of Australia over the past two decades or so is the direct result of his bravery, commitment and leadership. Mike Coward

6 Keith Miller
This country's finest and most flamboyant allrounder, Miller is just one of three Australians, with Shane Warne and Richie Benaud, to have scored more than 2000 runs and taken over 100 wickets. He batted mostly at No. 5, where he averaged 41.98 and scored five of his seven centuries. Malcolm Conn

7 Adam Gilchrist
How often in history has the most feared batsmen in a line-up come in at No. 7? Adam Gilchrist did. In a time when cricket was in danger of being routinised and industrialised, he played a hearty, heady, seemingly carefree brand that mocked convention, never looking other than excited to be out there. Gideon Haigh

8 Shane Warne
The boy with the bullet-train flipper grew up and became master of bluster, capable of derailing the best-set batsmen with balls spinning a mile or a millimetre. You'd pick both Warnes if you could. Christian Ryan

9 Bill O'Reilly
His fast legspin and hell-or-high-water attitude would make him the perfect companion for Shane Warne, whose coming he predicted but narrowly missed. However, the main reason for choosing Tiger is the thought of bumping into him in the afterlife. Peter Roebuck

10 Dennis Lillee
Dennis Lillee is the most excitingly hostile Australian fast bowler I've seen. His combination of pace, swing and intimidation was always threatening, and the crowd's rapture for him played out with the chant of "Lilleee, Lilleee". From wild, rawboned days as a genuinely fast bowler through back injuries to a more controlled, scheming and theatrical cricketer, Lillee was a consistent wicket taker, and much-feared opponent. Jim Maxwell

11 Glenn McGrath
McGrath is an automatic selection not only for his 563 Test wickets at 21.64, his inescapable line and length and his steepling bounce, but for his aura. It was fun to see him target the opposition's best batsman, get into his head, then follow a simple plan for success until the batsman succumbed. He also did a superb impression of a teapot when things weren't going well. Chloe Saltau

12th man Ricky Ponting

Cricinfo readers' XI
We invited readers to vote on the nominees in each segment. Here's who they picked.
Matthew Hayden, Bill Ponsford, Don Bradman, Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Keith Miller, Shane Warne, Bill O'Reilly, Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath


Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments