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Best Aussie Ashes XI: The Middle-Order

Cast your vote to help build the best Aussie Ashes Team since 1977 as we take a look at some of the best middle-order batters to play the game

During the Magellan Ashes series, we are asking fans to help us build the greatest Australian Ashes XI of the past 40 years.

Some of the greatest batsman to ever play the game have occupied positions between three and six for Australia, and together formed the backbone of some of the greatest sides ever assembled. Watch the above video which features some memorable moments from each player's career and then cast your vote below to have your say on which two players should make the final team.

To help you pick your side, click the link above to check out Australian Cricket Legend Ricky Ponting's own choices for his Best Aussie Ashes XI.

Allan Border (1978-1993)

Tests: 42. Runs: 3093. Ave: 55.23. HS: 200no. 100s: 7. 50s: 20

Allan Border plays a straight drive during the 1994 New Year's Test // Getty
Allan Border plays a straight drive during the 1994 New Year's Test // Getty

Heralded as the godfather of Australian cricket, Border revived a struggling Test team of easybeats to a hard-nosed unit on the cusp of world domination, and he led the way with the bat. Border’s career started against England in 1978 at the MCG, the first of 42 Ashes Test for the left-hander who amassed eight centuries with his maiden hundred coming in his fourth Test against the Old Enemy. Prolific series abroad followed in 1981 and 1985 despite his side’s failures, but that changed in 1989 when ‘Captain Grumpy’ led a young squad to England and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Ashes history. Four years later he returned and retained the Ashes, posted an unbeaten double century and unleashed a certain Shane Warne on a bamboozled English.  

Steve Waugh (1986-2003)

Tests: 43. Runs: 3025. Ave: 61.73. HS: 177no. 100s: 10. 50s: 13

Steve Waugh hits out during his 177no innings in Headingley, Leeds // Getty
Steve Waugh hits out during his 177no innings in Headingley, Leeds // Getty

Entering the 1989 Ashes, Waugh had played 26 Tests without reaching triple-figures. By the third match of that series the boy from Sydney’s west had two tons under his belt and had been dismissed just once. He finished the six-Test tour averaging 127 and from there he barely looked back. His omission from the Test side for twin brother Mark steeled his reserves, and returned a more compact and ruthless stroke-maker. His remarkable comeback from injury and then medical science-defying century on one leg at The Oval is the stuff of legend, but ‘Tugga’ left his best for last. Needing two runs from the final ball of the day to reach his hundred, Waugh crashed England off-spinner Richard Dawson to the cover boundary to send his home crowd of the SCG berserk and write his name into Ashes folklore.

Ricky Ponting (1997-2010)

Tests: 35. Runs: 2465. Ave: 44.81. HS: 196. 100s: 8. 50s: 9

Ricky Ponting acknowledges the crowd after his century in Adelaide in the 2006-07 series // Getty
Ricky Ponting acknowledges the crowd after his 2006 century in Adelaide // Getty

Australia’s most prolific Test batsman averaged 44 against England and posted eight centuries, but the numbers only tell half the story. In his maiden Ashes innings, the 22-year-old peeled off 127 at Headingley, then returned four years later and posted 144. The Tasmanian came of age in the 2002-03 series batting at his favoured No.3 and scored two more centuries. At that point he had yet to come close to Ashes series defeat but that all changed in 2005. Now as skipper, Ponting faced an inspired England outfit spearheaded by rampaging allrounder Andrew Flintoff. At Old Trafford, with the series tied and Australia staring down the barrel of a heavy defeat, the captain dug in and produced perhaps his finest Ashes innings, a stoic 156, that helped his side to a thrilling draw. Ultimately, England ended a 16-year drought and won the series 2-1, but Ponting had his revenge 18 months later when his charges inflicted just the second Ashes whitewash in history, with the right-hander savaging the English attack in the early stages with centuries in Brisbane and Adelaide. He had one more crack in England, in 2009, but again left the UK empty handed, the only blot on his imperious record.  

Mark Waugh (1991-2001)

Tests: 29. Runs: 2204. Ave: 50.09. HS: 140. 100s: 6. 50s: 11

Mark Waugh goes on the attack against England at Headingley in 2001 // Getty
Mark Waugh goes on the attack against England at Headingley in 2001 // Getty

There was perhaps no batter more aesthetically pleasing than Waugh. Whether it be whipping balls to the boundary off his pads or caressing drives through the covers for four, the junior Waugh oozed class and elegance. England felt his fine touch first hand on the right-hander’s Test debut, as he stroked his way to 138 in Adelaide having replaced his brother Steve in the XI. The graceful right-hander was at his peak against the England, scoring centuries in all but one series as he, like many of his generation, never tasted Ashes defeat. He finished his Ashes career on a high, scoring centuries at Lord’s and The Oval on his final series in 2001. 

Michael Clarke (2005-15)

Tests: 34. Runs: 2195. Ave: 41.41. HS: 187. 100s: 7. 50s: 7

Michael Clarke plays one of his signature cover drives at the SCG in 2011 // Getty
Michael Clarke plays one of his signature cover drives at the SCG in 2011 // Getty

Clarke’s Ashes legacy will be remembered for the fiery 2013-14 whitewash, but his efforts with the bat across seven series should not be forgotten. After making his Ashes debut surrounded by legends in the famous 2005 series, Clarke would post centuries against England as a blonde bombshell then as a gritty leader, seven hundreds in total and four in victories. His best knocks, however, came when his side was on the wrong side of the result. In the drawn Manchester Test on the 2013 tour, Clarke was majestic in compiling an Ashes-best 187, while four years earlier he posted 136 in a losing cause at Lord’s to pencil his name on the famous honours board. 

David Boon (1985-95)

Tests: 26. Runs: 1897. Ave: 47.42. HS: 164no. 100s: 5. 50s: 8

David Boon on his way to a century in the 1994 Boxing Day Test at the MCG // Getty
David Boon on his way to a century in the 1994 Boxing Day Test at the MCG // Getty

For the younger readers who know David Boon only as the hero who sunk 52 beers on the flight from Australia to England, we can exclusively reveal he was also a very, very good batsman. His first two Ashes series were lean – he averaged 18 in both 1985 and 1986-87 – but from then on he was a run machine when facing the English. Close to 1,000 runs flowed in his next two series before he cashed in on the 1993 tour of England, where he posted three centuries – including 164no at Lord’s – with bruising stroke play and that trademark thick, brushy moustache. 

Dean Jones (1986-91)

Tests: 17. Runs: 1320. Ave: 50.76. HS: 184no. 100s: 3. 50s: 8

Dean Jones starred in Ashes contests, compiling three centuries // Getty
Dean Jones starred in Ashes contests, compiling three centuries // Getty

Nobody will ever forget Jones’s 210 in Madras – Deano won’t let it happen – but the Victorian had a prolific time facing England too. His unbeaten 184 at the SCG in 1987 was made even more impressive considering no other Australian made more than 35 in the innings. He backed up that effort two years later in England with 157 at Edgbaston and 122 in the final Test at The Oval, along with three half-centuries to be to Australia’s second-leading run-scorer on tour behind Mark Taylor’s incredible tally of 839.  

Mike Hussey (2006-11)

Tests: 15. Runs: 1304. Ave: 59.27. HS: 195. 100s: 4. 50s: 9

Mike Hussey celebrates Australia's famous victory in Adelaide with Justin Langer // Getty
Mike Hussey celebrates Australia's famous win in Adelaide with Justin Langer // Getty

To this day, Hussey says his favourite moment on a cricket field is when he pushed James Anderson into the off-side to secure an incredible Test match victory in what’s become known simply as ‘Amazing Adelaide’. That match was embedded in the 2006-07 whitewash, where Hussey scored 103 on his home turf in Perth before finishing the series with a startling average of 92. Team-wise, tougher times were ahead, but on a personal level the Ashes runs continued to flow. On the 2009 tour abroad his 121 at The Oval was a lone hand as Australia surrendered the urn but when he entered the 2010-11 series at home his position was under threat. Any doubt about Hussey’s form was erased at the Gabba, where he put on 195 – his highest Test score. ‘Mr Cricket’ followed that knock with scores of 93, 52, 61 and 116 before he was finally cheaply dismissed on Boxing Day. While that series ended in England retaining the Ashes, Hussey will always have ‘Amazing Adelaide’. 

Steve Smith (2010-15)

Tests: 17. Runs: 1267. Ave: 42.23. HS: 215. 100s: 5. 50s: 3

Current skipper Steve Smith celebrates his century in Perth in 2013 // Getty
Current skipper Steve Smith celebrates his century in Perth in 2013 // Getty

Despite making his Test debut at Lord’s in July, 2010, Smith had to wait until December to make his Ashes debut. Called up after the hosts were hammered in Adelaide, Smith brought a youthful energy the team needed, and while Australia won at the WACA, ultimately the series went to the English. He returned to England in 2013 and registered his maiden Test century, reaching the milestone at The Oval with a mighty six down the ground. That innings kick-started a prolific run for the right-hander, who scored hundreds in Perth and Sydney in the following series on home soil as he began his march to the No.1 Test batting ranking. He lived up to the mantle of the world’s premier Test batsman at Lord’s in 2015 with an epic 215, but a string of single-figures scores played their part in Australia surrendering the Ashes. He concluded the series with another hundred at The Oval, and will be out to add to his Ashes tally this summer. 

Greg Chappell (1970-83)

Tests: 15. Runs: 1225. Ave: 49. HS: 117. 100s: 4. 50s: 4

Greg Chappell locks horns with Bob Willis in the 1986 Ashes Test in Perth // Getty
Greg Chappell locks horns with Bob Willis in the 1986 Ashes Test in Perth // Getty

Before Mark Waugh it was Greg Chappell who made batting at the highest level look ridiculously easy. Chappell started his Ashes career in style with 108 in his maiden innings against the English in Perth in 1970. A century at Lord’s followed two years later and another hundred at The Oval on the same tour. He dined out on the touring English in 1975-76, amassing 608 runs in six matches as the series top run-maker, with hundreds in Sydney and Melbourne the highlights. A poor tour in 1975 was forgotten with solid series in 1977 and in 1982-83, his Ashes swansong. A hundred in the opening Test in the west set up his series before 115 in Adelaide led to a 2-1 series victory. 

 

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21