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An All Time Ashes XI

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Ashes_XI_all_time_Test_cricketThe Ashes have a rich history. From 1883 to 134 years later, the tournament has produced some truly great cricketers. Here is an all-time Ashes eleven that looks at some of the best players from the history of this rivalry.

No. 1. Jack Hobbs (England):

An automatic selection based on sheer magnitude of numbers. Hobbs is the leading English run-scorer in the Ashes and the second highest run-scorer in Ashes history only behind Don Bradman. In a glittering career where he amassed 61,000 first-class runs, Hobbs particularly relished playing in the Ashes. He has 3,636 runs from 41 matches at an average of 54.26 with 12 hundreds and 15 fifties.

A master of playing on uncovered pitches, the classy rightie still has more runs as an opener in the Ashes than anyone else. Had his career not been cut short by World War 1, he would have a lot more runs to his tally.

No.2. Leonard Hutton (England):

One of the greatest batsmen the game has seen, Leonard Hutton walks into the side with ease. While Herbert Sutcliffe also vied for the spot of the second opener, Hutton trumped him because of the extraordinary quality of his batting and his ability to compile massive scores. His majestic 364 in the fifth Ashes Test of 1938 at The Oval still remains the highest individual score in Ashes history.

Hutton had an ability to excel even on tough and uneven pitches and could bat for long hours, as was evident with his thirteen hour seventeen-minute stay at the crease during his triple hundred. Hutton featured in 27 Ashes Tests and scored 2,428 runs at an average of 56.46 with 5 hundreds and 11 fifties.

No. 3. Donald Bradman (Australia):

Talking about the ability of this batting genius is futile; so much has already been written on his legend. But Don Bradman’s records in the Ashes, much like his overall career numbers, are simply mind-boggling. He is the all-time leading run-scorer in the Ashes with 5,028 runs in 37 matches at an average of 89.78. No other batsman has even crossed the 4000-run barrier in Tests, which is testimony to Bradman’s dominance over England. The master struck 19 hundreds and 12 fifties in the Ashes. His best was the 334 at Leeds in the 3rd Ashes Test of 1930.

No. 4. David Gower (England):

Perhaps one of the most elegant batsmen of all time, David Gower would make an Ashes all-time eleven worth watching simply for his elegant strokeplay. The left-handed batsman thrived in 42 Tests against Australia, scoring 3,269 runs at an average of 44.78 with 9 hundreds and 12 fifties.

Gower makes the cut because of the sheer mastery of his strokeplay. He had style and panache and he was always relaxed at the crease, oozing tranquility. Of his several impactful Ashes knocks, perhaps his best is the magnificent 131 at Lord’s in 1972. If for nothing else, Gower should be in the Ashes eleven just for his glorious cover drives.

No. 5. Steve Waugh (Australia) – Captain:

In numbers, there are a few other players who can edge out Steve Waugh for this position. But Steve Waugh’s brilliance was not just in numbers, but his cricketing acumen and the kind of impact he had at the crease. England would never feel safe while Waugh was batting. On countless occasions he has turned the match around from dire situations – his twin hundreds in the third Ashes Test of 1997 at Old Trafford are a case in point.

From a numbers standpoint, Waugh is impressive, with 3,200 runs in 46 matches at an average of 58.18 with 10 hundreds and 14 fifties. While he led in just 9 Ashes Tests as a captain, he won eight of them with one of the greatest Australian sides ever. He makes a fine Ashes captain and a perfect batsman at No.5 with his solid technique and dogged demeanor.

No. 6. Ian Botham (England):

One of the greatest all-rounders of all time, Ian Botham’s impact on the Ashes has been tremendous. The 1981 series – where he scored 399 runs and took 34 wickets to help his team achieve a 3-1 triumph – is still remembered as ‘Botham’s Ashes’. It was probably the greatest one-man domination of a Test series in history.

Botham was part of five Ashes series wins in his career and contributed heavily with both bat and ball. In 36 Ashes Tests, Botham scored 1,673 runs with 4 hundreds and 6 fifties and also had a massive 148 wickets in his kitty – the most for England in the Ashes history – with nine five-wicket hauls.
As a batsman, Botham was free-spirited and buccaneering. As a bowler, he was astute and generated prodigious swing and movement. More than anything else, this burly English all-rounder had immense self-belief and could change any game on his own.

No. 7 Adam Gilchrist (Australia) – Wicketkeeper:

Widely regarded as one of the best wicketkeeper-batsmen of all time, Australia’s Adam Gilchrist was a powerhouse performer. Coming in at No.7, he posed a serious threat to opponents with the damage he could inflict in very little time. Perhaps the most influential Ashes knock that Gilchrist played was the whirlwind 59-ball 102 he smashed in the 2006 Perth Test. It was then the second fastest hundred in Test history and helped Australia win the match by 206 runs.

Gilly’s Ashes record stands at 1,083 runs from 20 Tests with 3 centuries and 6 fifties. A notable feature of his Ashes record is his strike-rate of 92.01, which is the best for any batsman with 1000 runs or more. As a wicketkeeper, too, Gilchrist has an excellent Ashes record with 96 dismissals (89 catches + 7 stumpings) to his name. He was nimble on his feet and with his gloves, whilst keeping to the likes of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

No. 8. Shane Warne (Australia):

Shane Warne wouldn’t just walk into any Ashes side. He’d sprint into any all-time great Test eleven as well. In the Ashes, this legendary Australian leg-spinner’s heroics are absolutely phenomenal. His single-handed dismantling of several English batting lineups is remarkable. Warne is the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes by some distance, with a whopping 195 wickets in just 36 Tests at an average of 23.25 with 11 five-wicket hauls.

Whether it was his ‘Ball of the century’ to Mike Gatting in his maiden Ashes series in 1993 or his absolute magic ball to castle Andrew Straus behind his legs in the 2005 Ashes, Shane Warne was the wrecker-in-chief on countless occasions.

No. 9. Bob Willis (England):

At 6 foot 6, Bob Willis was a rare find in English cricket. He wasn’t an incredible athlete, but he was an effective bowler. Willis is the second-highest wicket-taker for England in Ashes history and in his prime was one of the most intimidating fast bowlers in the world. The tall pacer could extract steep bounce and significant movement, and would trouble batsmen with his relentless accuracy.

Even on flat decks, Willis would bowl his heart out and it was his plucky approach to fast bowling that made him stand out. In the Ashes, Willis captured 128 wickets from 35 matches at an average of 26.14 and 7 five-wicket hauls. His sensational match-winning burst of 8-43 in 1981 Ashes Test at Leeds, when England defended a meager target of 130, is still one of the finest Ashes bowling performances ever.

No. 10. Dennis Lillee (Australia):

Part of the most fearsome Australian pace bowling attack, Dennis Lillee, in his heyday, was absolutely brutal and lightning quick. In the 1972 Ashes, Lillee took 31 wickets in five matches and continued to torment England all through his career, despite being repeatedly plagued with injuries. Lillee often reserved his best for the Ashes and is the second most successful bowler in the tournament with 167 wickets in 29 Tests at an average of 21 and with 11 five-wicket hauls. At his best, he could dislodge any batsman and he was always a real threat in the Ashes for England with his fearsome pace, swing and overall dominating attitude.

No. 11. Glenn McGrath (Australia):

One of the finest seam bowlers world cricket has seen, Glenn McGrath’s domination of England in the Ashes was simply remarkable. With his persistent line and length outside the off-stump and subtle movement, McGrath scalped 157 wickets in 30 Ashes Tests at an outstanding average of 20.92 with 10 five-wicket hauls.

Not the quickest, McGrath still put pressure on batsmen with his unwavering accuracy. Over after over, he would run up and keep bowling the same channel until the batsman would end up committing an error.  His 8-38 in the 1997 Test at Lord’s ranks as one of the finest spells of seam and swing bowling in the Ashes. McGrath has played a vital part in six Ashes series wins for Australia and will always be the top choice for the seam bowler’s slot in any all-time Ashes lineup.

 

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