Picking Australia’s Greatest All-Time Test XI:
Cricket Australia played their first-ever test against England at Melbourne between 15th and 19th March, 1877. Australia won their first ever test by 45 runs. In Australia’s Test cricket history, they have had highly talented players from Sir Donald Bradman to a modern day genius in Steve Smith. Picking Australia’s all-time test XI is not an easy task.
Australia as a test cricket nation over the years have been hugely successful.
Can we really pick Justin Langer who took about seven years to become one of the most consistent opening batsman in the Australian test team. Langer debuted in 1993, but only managed to break into the Australian test team in the early 2000s.
Taking everything into account, who makes it into Australia’s best all-time test match XI?
Matthew Hayden & Justin Langer
Two complementary openers in Australia’s greatest all-time test XI.
A left hand opening combination that became the perfect opening pair in Australia’s all-time test match XI. Matthew Hayden is considered one of the all-time opening batsmen in Australian cricket history. Hayden played 103 tests and scored 8,625 runs with an average of 50.73 and 30 hundreds.
Justin Langer held a batting average of 45.3 and a strike rate of 54.2. Hayden, a proud Queenslander formed a successfully strong opening partnership with fellow left hander Langer.
Hayden and Langer became a destructive combination and a headache for opposition opening bowlers. They scored 5,655 runs together in 113 innings. As a result they became the second best opening pair in test history.
They averaged 51.41 from 2001-2007. Yes, it is hard to leave out David Warner with an average of 48.9. However, he has not been part of a successful opening partnership to the extent of Langer and Hayden. Langer just gets in over Warner and Michael Slater.
Steve Smith, Sir Donald Bradman & Steve Waugh
A prolific and electrifying middle-order trio of batsmen.
Steve Smith is been Australia’s most consistent player and the highest ranked test batsmen worldwide. Smith made his test debut on 13 July, 2010 against Pakistan. Since then, he has played 73 tests with an amazing average of 62.8 and an incredible 26 hundreds and 29 fifties to score 7227 runs.
He is arguably the or one of the best of all time test batsmen, since the great Sir Donald Bradman. Smith’s most remarkable test performances came when he returned after his 12 month ball tampering suspension in March 2018, as he smashed two centuries. It is probably Smith’s unique batting stance and technique that does it for him as he does not stay still. He is constantly fidgeting and twitching between each delivery.
Smith has a very unorthodox technique, but it works for him like how the traditional way worked for Ricky Ponting. When Smith debuted in tests he was a traditional batsman, but was not making much of an impact so he changed it up. As a result post 2013, he became one of the or the most consistently difficult batsman to dismiss.
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He became a star. Even though he is unorthodox he has been able to balance and hit shots well with a strong bottom hand grip and this has been key to assist him always with his shots. He does it with ease and can score centuries in all conditions making him a fine batsman.
Sir Donald Bradman has widely been recognised as the greatest batsman of all time. His test batting average is an amazing 99.94. Bradman was a right-hand batsman who played 52 tests and he scored 6,996 runs.
The first pick undoubtedly in Australia’s greatest all-time test match XI.
In his 52 tests, he made 29 hundreds and 13 fifties. Surprisingly, he only hit six sixes (five vs England and one vs India). Bradman grew up hitting a golf ball off a water tank. His highest score in test cricket was 334 runs. The man Don Bradman described himself as “predominantly a back foot player.”
Steve Waugh was a great right-handed batsman and a former Australian cricket captain. Waugh’s test average was 51.06 from his 10, 927 runs. In his test career, Waugh made a name for himself as one of Australia’s best test captains. His highest test score was 200. Waugh was one of the most respected players in cricket and highly regarded captain in world cricket.
The Wicket Keeper
Adam Gilchrist (WK)
The destroyer at number 7.
Adam Gilchrist is widely regarded as the best wicket keeper batsman of all time for Australia. Gilchrist played in 96 test matches for Australia. He was a feared and exciting left-handed batsman who used a high on the handle grip.
Gilchrist always wanted to attack by hitting good balls into gaps and smashing other balls he scored at 81 per 100 balls in tests. He played with his head straight, wrists soft and was well balanced. Gilchrist was mainly concerned about ticking over the runs on the scoreboard than his own average. His highest test score was 204 not out, test average 47.61 and a total of 5,570 runs.
An underrated Wicket Keeper?
Secondly, Gilchrist was not only a specialist batsman, but wicket keeper too. He holds the test record for the most test dismissals with 416. In the 96 tests he played, Australia only lost 11. Gilchrist rarely struggled as a batsman, only struggling in 2000/01 against India and in 2005 against England.
He was purely an entertainer with an unusual batting technique and unconventional. That is perhaps why many were in awe of him. Especially the way he would hit yorkers and smash the bowlers best ball down the ground. Despite the bowler’s best effort, Gilchrist always would put the bowler on the back foot due to his remarkable range of shots.
Adam Gilchrist easily finds a spot in Australia’s all-time greatest test match XI.
The All-Rounders – Australia’s All-Time Test XI
Keith Miller, Mitchell Johnson and Shane Warne
Keith Miller will go down as one of Australia’s highly successful all rounders. Miller was able to change the match result in favour of Australia with the bat or ball. With the bat, he was attacking and ferocious as a bowler.
In his 10 years of cricket, Mitchell Johnson became one of Australia’s finest test all rounders. He played in the same side as Shane Warne and Mitchell Marsh, but he was the one who did the most damage with the ball and bat.
In the 2014 test series against India, Johnson came to the crease at 6-247. Marsh and Brad Haddin had just fallen before him.
Australia were on the brink of defeat, but Johnson came out firing, smashing 88 of 93 balls and formed a seven wicket record partnership of 148 with skipper Steve Smith. This helped place Australia on the front foot in the match.
Watch – Shane Warne on the 2005 Ashes
Shane Warne was known as the spin king and is arguably the best bowler of all time. Warne’s bowling accuracy was truly impressive. His ability to spin the ball with drift and bounce to catch the batsman off guard was simply amazing to watch.
With his arm and wrist, he was able to spin the ball well. He even made the world’s best batsmen look second rate. Warne’s test bowling figures were 708 wickets, 8/71 and 37 five wicket hauls. Shane Warne is the only spinner in Australia’s best all-time test match XI.
Also, Read – Picking Australia’s Greatest ODI XI
The Bowlers – Australia’s All-Time Test XI
Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee
Glenn McGrath was extremely accurate as a bowler. He was able to wear the batsmen down with his on point line and length that made him so consistent as a bowler. If a batsman was on the front foot he would blame his bowling rather than the batsman being in form. McGrath was his biggest critic in his cricket career.
He was purely a perfectionist and he always aimed for greatness and he became a great of Australian cricket and world cricket, because of this.
Dennis Lillee was an incredible fast bowler in the 70s and 80s. He was a right-arm fast bowler. Lillee claimed 355 test wickets and his best bowling figures were 7/83. The bowling figures came against West Indies in 1981 at the MCG. He knocked over the great Sir Vivian Richards in his 7/83 and it helped Australia to a huge upset victory.
Lastly, Lillee formed a formidable bowling partnership with paceman Jeff Thomson and they became one of the most feared bowling forces in world cricket in their time. Also, England feared them in the 1974-75 series in Australia.
Two genuinely great fast bowlers in Australia’s all-time best test match XI.
Australia’s All-Time Test XI.
Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Sir Donald Bradman, Steve Smith, Steve Waugh(C) , Adam Gilchrist (WK), Keith Miller, Mitchell Johnson, Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath.
A superb team. Australia’s all-time greatest test match XI could perhaps rival any other nation’s side.
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