The Best Australian Ashes XI revealed
We asked fans to vote who they regarded as Australia's best players from Ashes contests in the past 40 years. Here are the results
1 December 2017, 04:52 PM AEST
The official Best Australian Ashes XI from the past 40 years reads like a who's who of Australian cricket legends.
The names roll off the toungue and conjur eternal summers, the glory of our youth captured in memories of our icons blazing away against the Old Enemy with bat or ball.
As this Magellan Ashes series featuring the latest crop of Australians to write their names into Ashes folklore unfolds, we asked fans to cast their votes for who they thought were the best players to don the Baggy Green against England in the past four decades.
Picking an Australian XI is no easy task, so votes were divided into five categories: Openers, Middle Order Batsmen, Wicketkeeper, Spinner and Fast Bowlers.
In some categories, the answers were clear cut and barely needed a vote - it would surprise nobody that Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne dominated the wicketkeeper and spin bowler votes.
None of the current crop of stars made the grade - their stories are still be written, literally before our eyes with the second Test underway on Saturday afternoon in Adelaide, but it is a measure of Steve Smith's standing in the game to note that he only narrowly missed out in the middle order category.
Before fans voted, we put the same question to Ricky Ponting, who declined to pick himself. But the addition of Ponting wasn't the only change to former Australian skipper's XI, which can be viewed here.
Read Ponting's XI, then read about the players you voted into your Best Australian Ashes XI of the past 40 years.
The players selected are not listed in batting order - which is always set by the captain. But with four players in the XI that captained Australia in Test cricket, and one who many argue should have, who would you make captain of your Australian Ashes XI?
Note the percentages refer to a player's percentage of votes received in their category.
Matthew Hayden (2001-07) 42.84 per cent
Tests: 20 | Runs: 1461 | Ave: 45.65 | HS: 197 | 100s: 5 | 50s: 2
Matthew Hayden was narrowly beaten to the vacant opening spot by Michael Slater on the 1993 Ashes tour he finally got his chance eight years later. An under-par 2001 tour to England was followed by an utterly dominant home series in 2002-03, in which the big opener smashed 197 and 103 in the first Test at the Gabba and followed it up with a century in the Boxing Day Test. After a lean time of it again in England through most of the 2005 series, he scored 138 in the final Test at The Oval, and completed his Ashes career with another MCG hundred during Australia's five-nil rout in 2006-07.
Justin Langer (2001-07) 27.83 per cent
Tests: 16 | Runs: 1222 | Ave: 50.91 | HS: 250 | 100s: 4 | 50s: 3
Justin Langer debuted in Test cricket January 1993 but had to wait almost six years after that to get his shot at Ashes cricket. When he did, he made it count, firstly with a superb 179no in Adelaide in the 1998-99 series, and again when he was recalled to the side for the final Test of the 2001 tour, when he made an aggressive 102. From there, he didn't look back, as a run of super form was highlighted by a mind-blowing 250 at the MCG in December 2002 – the highest individual score in this 40-year period of Ashes cricket. Another century at The Oval came in 2005 (a series in which Langer topped the Australian run-scorers), before he signed off from Test cricket in the 2006-07 whitewash, kick-starting that series with scores of 82 and 100no at the Gabba.
Ricky Ponting (1997-2010) 22.56 per cent
Tests: 35 | Runs: 2465 | Ave: 44.81 | HS: 196 | 100s: 8 | 50s: 9
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.
Steve Waugh (1986-2003) 18.32 per cent
Tests: 43 | Runs: 3025 | Ave: 61.73 | HS: 177no | 100s: 10 | 50s: 13
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.
Allan Border (1978-1993) 13.48 per cent
Tests: 42 | Runs: 3093 | Ave: 55.23 | HS: 200no | 100s: 7 | 50s: 20
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.
Mike Hussey (2006-11) 17.56 per cent
Tests: 15 | Runs: 1304 | Ave: 59.27 | HS: 195 | 100s: 4 | 50s: 9
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’.
Adam Gilchrist (2001-07) 85.62 per cent
Tests: 20 | Runs: 1083 | Ave: 45.12 | HS: 152 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 6 | Catches: 89 | Stumpings: 7
The legend of Adam Gilchrist is no less impressive when viewed solely through an Ashes lens. In his first trip to the middle, the left-hander blasted 152 from 143 deliveries with 20 fours and five sixes. He made 90 and 54 in the next two Tests of that 2001 tour, and after another couple of half-centuries in the home series of 2002-03, he scored a blazing 133 (121) in the SCG Test best remembered for Steve Waugh's dramatic 'last-ball' hundred. Incredibly, Gilchrist's career strike-rate of 81.95 jumps to 92.01 in Ashes contests, and at least part of that can be attributed to his spectacular 57-ball 102no in the '06-07 Ashes – then the second-fastest Test hundred ever scored. A blip on his batting radar came in the 2005 Ashes when Andrew Flintoff got the better of him, but with the gloves, his overall dismissals rate (4.8 per Test) is the highest of this group.
Shane Warne (1993-2007) 84.79 per cent
Tests: 36 | Wickets: 195 | Ave: 23.25 | BB: 8-71 | 5W/I: 11 | 10W/M: 4
For almost 14 years, Shane Keith Warne was the figure in Ashes cricket. The King of Spin took an unprecedented 195 wickets against England though none were better – or have become more famous – than his very first ball in Ashes cricket: The Gatting Ball. The highlights reel afterward was seemingly never-ending: 8-71 at the Gabba (in which the flipper played a starring role); a hat-trick on his home ground, the MCG; an even 40 wickets in the epic 2005 series; and a magical leg break to claim wicket No.700 on Boxing Day 2006. And through it all, he not only revived the art of leg-spin, but made cricket's oldest rivalry pure entertainment for a contemporary audience.
Mitchell Johnson (2009-15) 17.85 per cent
Tests: 19 | Wickets: 87 | Ave: 25.81 | BB: 7-40 | 5W/I: 5 | 10W/M: 0
The fiery left-armer's career might well have been remembered in a different light had it not been for THAT Ashes campaign in 2013-14. Tormented by English crowds in 2009, Johnson gave a glimpse of what was to come when he handed Australia their only win in 2010-11 with a stunning nine-wicket, player-of-the-match performance at the WACA. He was overlooked for the 2013 away Ashes as he struggled to piece together all the parts of a bowling action that seemed, at times, as irreparable as it was feared. With his international career on the line, Johnson tore England to shreds with 37 wickets in Australia's 5-0 13-14 whitewash in one of the greatest Ashes efforts of all time.
Dennis Lillee (1977-82) 23.68 per cent
Tests: 12 | Wickets: 82 | Ave: 20.78 | BB: 7-89 | 5W/I: 6 | 10W/M: 3
A cricket icon who inspired a generation to bowl fast with a thick upper lip, Dennis Lillee's lion-hearted efforts are the stuff of Ashes folklore. The right-armer with a classical seam bowler’s action was Australia's spearhead for over a decade and few can match his overall record of 82 scalps at a tick over 20. His ability to remain a force despite crippling injuries towards the end of his career was a testament to his iron will and reflected in his Ashes-best haul of 7-89 at The Oval in his penultimate Test against the old enemy in 1981.
Glenn McGrath (1994-2007) 31.63 per cent
Tests: 30 | Wickets: 157 | Ave: 20.92 | BB: 8-38 | 5W/I: 10 | 10W/M: 0
Perhaps the greatest indicator of just how good Glenn McGrath was is the fact Australia lost just one Test against England - dead rubbers excluded - with him in the side. After going wicketless in his Ashes debut (the only time that would occur in 30 matches against England) in 1997, McGrath went on to rack up more than a quarter of his 563 Test scalps against the old enemy. A force in both the United Kingdom and Australia, few fast bowlers inspired as much fear as the metronomic right-armer, and his infamous rolled ankle at Edgbaston in 2005 is generally regarded one of a major factors in England's drought-breaking series win.