December 17, 2010

Aussies tip the scales

The only current player the readers' put their faith in was Ricky Ponting
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Ricky Ponting has not had a whole lot to smile about in recent weeks, with his captaincy under scrutiny and his team under the cosh following England's innings victory in the second Test at Adelaide. However, he has received a timely vote of confidence from the cricket-watching public, after being named as the only active player in ESPNcricinfo's Readers' Ashes XI.

The poll, which was run in conjunction with ESPN Classic and conducted over the course of the first two Tests, reveals a formidable team containing eight Australians and only three Englishmen, a state of affairs that reflects the traditional balance of power in the Ashes, as opposed to the improbable dominance that the Poms are exerting in the current series.

Ponting has played a part in each of the last eight Ashes series, starting with a century at Headingley in his first appearance against England in 1997. To date he has made 2433 runs in 33 Tests against England, at an average of 46.78, and while he is in danger of becoming the first Australian in 120 years to captain his team in three losing Ashes campaigns, he is also sure to be remembered as the man who led Australia to a crushing 5-0 whitewash in the 2006-07 series.

After all, Ponting is one of five players named in the readers' XI who took part in that campaign, the others being Matthew Hayden, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and of course Shane Warne, who pooled more votes than even Don Bradman, and who, even at the age of 41, would be a shoo-in to the current Australian team, judging by the recent media clamour for his recall.

Bradman, inevitably, has been chosen to bat at No. 3, having amassed an Ashes record 5028 runs at 89.78 in his 37 Tests between 1928 and 1948. His tally of 19 Ashes hundreds is seven more than the next most prolific man on the list, Jack Hobbs, who edged out Len Hutton as Hayden's opening partner in the combined XI. The last out-and-out batsman in the team is Steve Waugh, whose flinty-eyed approach epitomised Australia's era of dominance in the 1990s and early 2000s, and who nudged Allan Border and Wally Hammond out of the reckoning.

There was never any doubt which of the many Ashes allrounders would find his way into this team, however. Despite strong challenges from Keith Miller and Andrew Flintoff, there was no way to ignore Ian Botham's reputation as Australia's public enemy No. 1. Four of his 14 Test hundreds came against the Aussies, as well as 148 of his 383 wickets, an Ashes tally that is exceeded by just three players, none of them English.

Warne, inevitably, is one of those players with 195 Pommie scalps. The other two are Dennis Lillee (167) and Glenn McGrath (157), and sure enough, both men make the final XI. The other quick bowler, and a man who would accept the role of first-change over his dead body, is none other than fiery Fred Trueman, the third and final English representative.

Though Trueman claimed only 79 Ashes wickets in 19 appearances, and missed out on England's triumphant tour of Australia in 1954-55, his self-proclaimed reputation as the "finest fast bowler that ever drew breath" clearly resonated with the voting public, who edged him into the team ahead of Sydney Barnes, Harold Larwood and Bob Willis, to name but a few.

The XI
1 Jack Hobbs, 2 Matthew Hayden, 3 Don Bradman, 4 Ricky Ponting, 5 Steve Waugh, 6 Ian Botham, 7 Adam Gilchrist (wk), 8 Shane Warne, 9 Glenn McGrath, 10 Dennis Lillee, 11 Fred Trueman.

Nominees

Openers Arthur Morris, Bill Woodfull, Mark Taylor, Bill Ponsford, Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Bill Lawry, Bob Simpson, Victor Trumper, Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Herbert Sutcliffe, Geoffrey Boycott, Mike Brearley, Graham Gooch, Mike Atherton, Michael Vaughan.

Middle order Don Bradman, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Greg Chappell, Ricky Ponting, Stan McCabe, David Boon, Charles Macartney, Neil Harvey, Mark Waugh, Wally Hammond, Frank Wooley, Colin Cowdrey, Ted Dexter, Kevin Pietersen, Ken Barrington, Stanley Jackson, Peter May, David Gower, Denis Compton.

Allrounders Warwick Armstrong, Monty Noble, Jack Gregory, Keith Miller, Richie Benaud, Tony Greig, Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff.

Wicketkeepers Rod Marsh, Jack Blackham, Don Tallon, Adam Gilchrist, Bert Oldfield, Ian Healy, Alan Knott, Bob Taylor, Alec Stewart, Jack Russell, Les Ames.

Bowlers Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Dennis Lillee, Ian Botham, Fred Trueman, Jim Laker, Sydney Barnes, Harold Larwood, Brett Lee, Bob Willis, Darren Gough, Derek Underwood, Bill O'Reilly, Ray Lindwall, Alec Bedser, Jason Gillespie, Frank Tyson, John Snow, Frederick Spofforth, Alan Davidson, Craig McDermott, Hugh Trumble, Clarrie Grimmett, Bert Ironmonger, Wilfred Rhodes, Hedley Verity, Charlie Turner, Garth McKenzie, Ted McDonald, Brian Statham.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on December 18, 2010, 23:15 GMT

    Mathew Hayden?? Ha Ha Ha. He would have lasted 2 balls facing up to Lillee and Trueman, and that too because he would have been beaten on the first one!

  • dummy4fb on December 18, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    My Ashes XI: Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Don Bradman, Wally Hammond, Steve Waugh (c), Ian Botham, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Fred Trueman, Dennis Lillee, Glen McGrath

  • ShAh00 on December 18, 2010, 12:35 GMT

    Hmmmm....... Good, But I would Like to Add ALLAN BORDER from Middle Order to Replace with HAYDEN in Opening Slot. And for those people, who are critic of PONTING Selection, just dont look at the last 3 years or so, Ponting has served Australian Cricket for a long period of time. And to be honest, Although, I am a big Fan of PONTING, I am also amazed to see his selection after seeing many big names in Middle Order. Anyways, 81/5... Go Aussies Go !!! and Next Match.... As per stats & observing this batsman over the years.... My Prediction.. You all are going to witness a Classy 100 from Mr. Ponting in next Match !!!

  • camflint on December 18, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    A devastating XI. Nigh on impossible to please all-comers, but this list would come close. Personally, I would make a couple of changes... Hayden out for Hutton, and Ponting out for Border.

    My Ashes XI: 1. Hobbs 2. Hutton 3. Bradman 4. S Waugh 5. Border 6. Botham 7. Gilchrist 8. Warne 9. Lillee 10. Trueman 11. McGrath

    A bit harsh not to have a place for the likes of Wally Hammond, Ricky Ponting, Keith Miller and Ray Lindwall... but imagine how good the second XI would be! Also, where the hell is Terry Alderman? How can he not even be on the list of nominees... the guy took 41 wickets during the '89 series!?! Brett Lee and Craig McDermott make the short list but no Alderman? Sacrilege.

  • ALLROUNDCRICKET on December 18, 2010, 11:38 GMT

    Not convinced that's the Best Ashes XI. While I agree with the Bowling XI, not convinced this is the Best Batting XI. A More Potent XI would be

    Victor Trumper Jack Hobbs Don Bradman Wally Hammond Greg Chappell Keith Miller Adam Gilchrist Shane Warne Denniss Lillee Fred Trueman Glenn McGrath

    An interesting take would be to form an alternative second XI to Challenge the Cricinfo XI

    Victor Trumper Len Hutton Wally Hammond Greg Chappell Kevin Pietersen Keith Miller Alan Knott Bill O'Reilly Sydney Barnes Fred 'Demon' Spofforth Frank Tyson

  • Aussasinator on December 18, 2010, 8:48 GMT

    Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh should make way for Greg Chappel and Kevin Pietersen. Not in an all time XI please.

  • onehorsetown on December 18, 2010, 1:13 GMT

    Bit harsh on Vaughany, flayed the best modern side and two of the best bowlers in history around all grounds on all occasions, and skippered England to we-all-know-what.

  • dummy4fb on December 17, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    We can even have a equally competitive 2nd XI from this

  • amitava0112 on December 17, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    Well, quite a few suprises in selection..Hayden comes in & Hutton-one of best ever openers does not find a place !!!.Cant imagine an Ashes team w/o Allan Border who was exceptional in Ashes showdowns..My team with reasons: Hobbs,Hutton(2 best ever openers in ckt history apart from Gavaskar/B Richards),Bradman(Ponting loses out here-no3),Greg Chappell(hot contest with Hammond-Chappell played better bwling attacks in 70-80s so just about gets in),Border(S.Waugh edged out as Border was simply the better player),Botham(Miller,Flintoff missesout),Gilly(edges out Healy,Knott & Marsh due to his impact as a batter),Warne(no contest-Orielly & Grimmet can come close),Lillee,Trueman(both better choices than Lindwall,Statham,Larwood) & McGrath(a supreme success in an era of batting domination-well above Mckenzie,Thommo,Willis)...comments pls

  • dummy4fb on December 17, 2010, 18:47 GMT

    I would take Dennis Lille out for Freddie Flintoff. Flintoff could bat as well!

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