My best Ashes XI: Ponting

21 November 2017
Our voices

Former captain Ricky Ponting picks the best Australian Ashes XI from the past 40 years to kick off a fan vote series

About the Writer:

Ricky Ponting is a former Australia captain and the country's all-time leading run-scorer. He has played in more Test and ODI wins than anyone, including three World Cup finals. He is also an astute commentator

During this summer's Magellan Ashes, Cricket Network is inviting fans to help us pick the ultimate Australia Ashes XI from the past 40 years. In coming days fans will have the opportunity to cast their votes in the categories of Openers, Middle-Order Batters, Wicketkeeper, Spinner and Fast Bowlers from a short-list based on Ashes performances (and guys we have all grown up watching play the game we love). To kick things off, Cricket Network correspondent Ricky Ponting selects his favourite XI below, with a couple of surprise choices. Will your votes be the same?   

Justin Langer (2001-07)
Ashes Tests: 16 | Runs: 1222 | Ave: 50.91 | HS: 250 | 100s: 4 | 50s: 3

Justin Langer is the first of the opening batsmen I've chosen and is one player I've played with and batted behind for most of my career. Towards the back end of his career he just stood there with a smile on his face, chirped away and just thoroughly enjoyed being out there.

Justin's average is just over fifty and he holds the highest individual score (250) in this 40-year period of Ashes cricket. He got us off to so many amazing starts not only in Ashes series but other formats around the world. So, I had to go for him.

Matthew Hayden (2001-07)
Ashes Tests: 20 | Runs: 1461 | Ave: 45.65 | HS: 197 | 100s: 5 | 50s: 2

I've gone with Matthew Hayden to join Langer as they formed a brilliant opening partnership for us over the years. Matty was that big imposing guy that would get in the bowler's face.

Hayden walked away with five Ashes centuries including a MCG hundred to complete his Ashes career in 2006-07. He averaged 45 as an opener and, as I said with Langer, those two always got us off to amazing starts so it's hard to go past them as openers.

Hayden and Ponting celebrate a 2002 win in Perth // Getty
Hayden and Ponting celebrate a 2002 win in Perth // Getty

Mike Hussey (2006-11)
Ashes Tests: 15 | Runs: 1304 | Ave: 59.27 | HS: 195 | 100s: 4 | 50s: 9

I have to pick four middle order batsman and first I've gone with Mike Hussey at number three. While some may think he is slightly out of position, he does average over 60 in Ashes Tests.

I played in a lot of memorable wins with Huss, including 'Amazing Adelaide' where he secured that Ashes win for us. Hussey was always the ultimate teammate, very reliable and good in the field so I think he slides well into the number three position.

Mark Waugh (1991-2001)
Ashes Tests: 29 | Runs: 2204 | Ave: 50.09 | HS: 140 | 100s: 6 | 50s: 11

My Channel 10 co-commentator Mark Waugh gets the number four spot. While he says it was 10 years too late, he made his debut in the Ashes series and made a century on debut.

He ended up with an imposing Ashes record, his average is over 50 in Ashes contests, which is a lot better than his career record. Waugh could also give me some handy overs with his off-spin or medium pace if required.

Steve Waugh (1986-2003)
Ashes Tests: 43 | Runs: 3025 | Ave: 61.73 | HS: 177no | 100s: 10 | 50s: 13

For number five I've gone with Mark's brother, Steve, and if you talk about Ashes records there is not many better than Steve Waugh in that five and six role that he played for so many years.

His Ashes average is more than 60 and he made a lot of hundreds in the Ashes, including his defiant century on one leg at The Oval. I also played under him as captain and he led the team exceptionally well. It's pretty hard to go past Steve.

From the Vault: Steve Waugh's famous ton

Allan Border (1978-1993)
Ashes Tests: 42 | Runs: 3093 | Ave: 55.23 | HS: 200no | 100s: 7 | 50s: 20

Number six is Alan Border, the man that is known as turning Australian cricket around. He was such a fierce competitor and whenever Allan Border was in Australia was never beaten and I think that is what we all idolised about him.

His Ashes record is incredible, he scored 20 half-centuries in 42 tests and had an average of more than 55 in Ashes contests. He was known as 'Captain Grumpy' but he'd be my captain in this XI."

Adam Gilchrist (2001-07)
Ashes Tests: 20 | Runs: 1083 | Ave: 45.12 | HS: 152 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 6 | Catches: 89 | Stumpings: 7

It's hard to go past Adam Gilchrist in this role. It was a tough decision given that there is also Ian Healy and Rod Marsh to choose from, but Gilly has been credited for changing the way keepers were looked at and still looked at now.

He missed nothing with the gloves and was an exceptionally explosive batsman that could change the game in the course of an hour. Gilchrist is that type of guy you want coming in late in the order for you in any contest, let alone an Ashes one.

Current Aussie players rave about Gilly's WACA hundred

Shane Warne (1993-2007)
Ashes Tests: 36 | Wickets: 195 | Ave: 23.25 | BB: 8-71 | 5WI: 11 | 10WM: 4

There's only one spin bowler for me and that's Shane Warne. He was just a freak at what he did and his ability to stand up on the big stage, execute when it mattered and mesmerise English opponents was second to none.

He was able to do that right through his career over such a long period of time with a few injury setbacks as well. I think that says a lot about the skill and the competitive nature of Shane Warne so he's my spin bowler.

Dennis Lillee (1977-82)
Ashes Tests: 12 | Wickets: 82 | Ave: 20.78 | BB: 7-89 | 5WI: 6 | 10WM: 3

My first pick is Dennis Lillee, he loved the battle of the Ashes. Having watching Lillee in his hay day you just continually hear that chant in your head, "Lillee, Lillee". That's one of the things that stood out in the Ashes when those guys were playing was just seeing the passion those guys had playing.

Lillee had an incredible record, he only played 12 Ashes tests but took a phenomenal 82 wickets at an average of just over 20.

Rodney Hogg (1978-83)
Ashes Tests: 11 | Wickets: 56 | Ave: 17 | BB: 6-74 | 5WI: 5 | 10WM: 2

I've included Rodney Hogg in my eleven and I know this selection might raise some eyebrows. I went through the cold hard facts, the stats, the numbers and it's pretty hard to argue against a player who has an average of 17 with the ball in Ashes cricket.

He wasn't picked on his batting but in the Ashes he was bowling at six, six and a half wickets a game and that is a record pretty hard to go past.

Glenn McGrath (1994-2007)
Ashes Tests: 30 | Wickets: 157 | Ave: 20.92 | BB: 8-38 | 5WI: 10 | 10WM: 0

The guy I have coming in at number eleven is one of my all-time favourite team mates Glenn McGrath. What more can you say other than that he had an outstanding record in every contest that he played in whether it was T20, ODIs or Test crickets.

Like the other guys on this list, Glenn was able to find another gear in the biggest contest that we have as Australian players.

McGrath and Ponting talk tactics // Getty
McGrath and Ponting talk tactics // Getty

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