Greatest Australia & England XIs
There was a section
in Brisbane's The Sunday Mail during 1998 entitled Hands On,
produced by Guy Hand. The page was basically an off-beat look at the world of
sport that week. In the lead-up to the first Test of the Ashes series in
November 1998, Guy asked readers to submit their all-time greatest elevens for
both Australia and England. I decided to go one step further and give a running
commentary of the match between those two teams as well. To my eternal
gratitude, part of my letter was printed in the following Sunday's Hands On
page. Below is the letter I sent.
Here is my attempt
at naming all-time best XIs for Australia and England. I confess that aesthetic
considerations affected my selections.
Michael Slater; Sir Donald Bradman; Allan Border; Stan McCabe; Doug Walters;
Keith Miller; Richie Benaud (c); Bert Oldfield; Dennis Lillee; Fred Spofforth.
England: (yes, I
chose the captain first!)
Sir Jack Hobbs; Archie
MacLaren; Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji; Walter Hammond; David Gower; Percy Chapman
(c); Ian Botham; Alan Knott; Harold Larwood; George Lohmann; Jim Laker.
My prediction for
the match, to be played at the Gabba, is that Benaud's wretched luck with the
toss would see Chapman elect to bat. Lillee and Spofforth would take advantage
of the first day 'juicy' Gabba pitch to leave England reeling. Keith Miller
would clean up the slightly weak tail once he'd finished analysing the horse
racing results on the electronic scoreboard. England all out for 154, Lillee
Australia would be
all out for around 400 scored in two sessions, Bradman top scoring with 124 in
two hours. After Lillee's dismissal, he was seen taking his new gambling
partner, Fred Spofforth, to a betting tent where an England win had been posted
at 500/1. They returned in time to be pummelled by a magnificent stand between
Ranjitsinhji and Gower (who did not bat in the first innings after his planned
entry to the ground in a Tiger Moth landed in Coorparoo), which ended when
Benaud bowled Ranjitsinhji round his legs. Australia would then be chasing 244
Botham would then
take three early wickets, the dismissal of Bradman being brought about when
Chapman decided that his entire team would give Sir Don three cheers on his
arrival to the wicket. He was out for a second ball duck. At tea on the fifth
day, Benaud and Walters would have taken Australia to 6/150.
At tea, Sir Donald
would ask Benaud, "Are you going for a win or a draw?"
"A win, of
course," Richie would reply.
"I am very
pleased to hear it."
Play after tea would
resume for two overs before the famous sub-tropical rains would ruin yet
another perfectly set-up Gabba test.
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