Danielís All-time 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.
Victor Trumper; 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 5/41.
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 to win.
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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