Magellan Ashes 2017-18
Greg Chappell's Ashes icons: 30-26
Former Australia captain and current national selector Greg Chappell picks the 40 best Ashes players from the past 40 years
3 November 2017, 04:29 PM AEST
As a player, captain, selector and commentator at varying times between 1977 and 2017, legendary Australia batsman Greg Chappell is among those most qualified to judge the finest players to have taken the field in an Ashes Test across the past four decades. Here Chappell has delved into the memory bank and listed his 40 Ashes Icons from the past 40 years; men who have left indelible impressions on his memory through their deeds in Ashes cricket. Today we’re looking at numbers 30-26…
30. Derek Randall (England)
15 Ashes Tests 957 runs @ 39.87. HS: 150. 2x100s, 6x50s
Derek burst onto the scene in the Centenary Test when he made 174 in what had otherwise been a low-scoring match to that point. And while that match wasn't strictly an 'Ashes' Test, he went on to have an impact in those series as well. He was a very eccentric individual, and an exceptionally good player.
He was an irrepressible character who took the fast bowlers on – he was responsible for one of the great Ashes images when he doffed his cap to Dennis Lillee one day after getting hit on the head. You couldn't help but laugh. In the field, he used to walk a long way in from cover, to the point he was almost running by the time the ball was bowled – he was just the sort of bloke you couldn't miss.
He probably didn't reach the heights he may have done on the indications of that hundred in the Centenary Test, but he still played some fine Test innings after that, including a couple of Ashes hundreds.
29. Joe Root (England)
14 Ashes Tests 991 runs @ 41.29. HS: 180. 3x100s, 4x50s
While I want to see Australia win this summer, I won't mind seeing Joe Root bat. Any time he makes runs it is generally good to watch. He was a precocious young talent who burst onto the scene and did better than most expected. A very gifted player, he has a strong personality and a good cricket brain as well.
I'll be very interested to see how he handles the captaincy out here in Australia, and how it impacts his batting. I get the impression he will deal with it well, and become a better player, much like Steve Smith has as captain.
As a batsman, he's strong all around the wicket and is proactive rather than absorbing balls; I like his busyness and the fact he's looking to have a positive impact on the game, and that only makes him a more dangerous batsman, as we've seen in Ashes series of the recent past.
I imagine he'll have a similar attitude as captain; he'll want to take the game on, lead from the front. I don't think we've seen the best of him yet – he could go on to position himself in the top echelon of batsmen by the time he's finished.
28. Bruce Reid (Australia)
9 Ashes Tests 47 wickets at 20.40. BBM: 13-148. 2x5WI 1x10WM
For a couple of seasons there, Bruce Reid was the best bowler in the world, and one of the best bowlers ever. He bowled at good pace and from a great height. A left-armer, he swung it and got inordinate bounce, off a length.
It can be hard for tall bowlers to pitch it up – back-of-a-length is a default length for them – but he was able to pitch it up and still generate good bounce. He had a terrific wrist action, but just didn't have the muscularity to support his frame unfortunately. And with a long spine, it was under enormous pressure.
He was probably a mix of Joel Garner and Michael Holding; he had the lithe athleticism of Holding and the height of Garner. He would've been difficult as a left-armer to the right-hander coming from that height, with good speed, and swinging it and the bounce that he generated off a length.
He took 13 wickets in the Boxing Day Test of 1990-91 and was virtually unplayable. But it was all too brief at Test level, which is a shame because he was great to watch.
27. Justin Langer (Australia)
21 Ashes Tests 1,658 runs @ 50.24. HS: 250. 5x100s, 5x50s
JL was an intense character, a very good player with a great Ashes record, and he formed a great combination with Matthew Hayden. Their different statures, and the different ways they played – Hayden tended to hit them down the ground while JL was very strong square of the wicket – meant if you didn't adjust your length from one to the other, they would punish you.
He didn't get his Ashes chance until the last Test of the 2001 series and maybe because of that he put a very high price on his wicket. He was an integral member of that very strong Australian team, and was one who had immense pride in playing for Australia and a real love for the Baggy Green.
For periods of his career he eschewed some of his attacking shots but in the period where he did attack a little bit more he was a much more dangerous – and successful – player.
He didn't take his wicket lightly, he was very fit and well prepared, and all those traits were on show when he made that big 250 during the Boxing Day Test back in the 2002-03 series. England must have thought they were never going to get him out.
26. Andrew Flintoff (England)
15 Ashes Tests 50 wickets at 33.20. BBM: 7-107. 2x5WI 906 runs @ 33.55. HS: 102. 1x100s, 6x50s
Flintoff was a great competitor, a great athlete and a good all-round cricketer, but he was a wonderful bowler – some of his spells in Ashes cricket, in the 2005 series particularly, were just outstanding.
He must have been a frightening bowler at his pace, up over 140 clicks, because he didn't mind attacking the body when necessary. What a sight he was in full flight. His was a much more explosive action than Botham's, and his knee let him down in the end, but at his peak he put in some of the great bowling performances in Ashes cricket.
You would say Botham and Flintoff probably underachieved with the bat, but when you bowled the overs they bowled, and the stresses on the body that come with that, it becomes understandable.
They batted the way they did because they probably didn't have the resources to become regular run-makers, so instead they became explosive players. Whenever it came off – as it did for Flintoff on a few occasions in 2005 – they were very destructive.
Chappell's Ashes Icons
2017-18 International Fixtures:
Magellan Ashes Series
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 TBC, January 28. Join the ACF
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets
Gillette T20 INTL 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 13
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21