All-time Ashes combined XI

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Legendary English opener Jack Hobbs

The Ashes have been played for 135 years and remain, to date, one of the most historic rivalries not only in cricket, but in world sport.

During that period, scores of hugely gifted cricketers have turned out for either team and made the rivalry one of the most riveting cricketing contests due to the high-quality cricket that many of those players delivered over the years.

Which is why choosing an all-time Ashes XI is quite a tough ask and some fine cricketers will need not find themselves out of the team. The record in the Ashes series is the only metric that has been used to put together this eleven. So, here is the all-time Ashes combined XI.

1 Jack Hobbs

Legendary English opening batsman Jack Hobbs is not only the highest run scorer for England in Ashes but the most prolific batsman against Australia overall with a tally of 3636 runs. Hobbs' technical excellence and the ability to blunt bowling attacks made him one of the best opening batsmen to have ever played the game.

However, in the Ashes, he punished Australia over 41 Test matches spanning 22 years between 1908 and 1930. In total he scored 12 centuries and 15 half-centuries against the old enemies while clocking an average of 54.26.

No combined Ashes side can be complete without Hobbs as one of the opening batsmen.

2 Herbert Sutcliffe

Herbert Sutcliffe
Herbert Sutcliffe

No batsman has a higher batting average against Australia than English opening batsman Herbert Sutcliffe, who played 27 Tests in the Ashes between 1924 and 1934. An immaculate technique, coupled with an excellent temperament and the stomach to tackle difficult pitches, made Sutcliffe one of the finest opening batsmen to have ever played in the Ashes.

In those 27 Test matches, Sutcliffe scored 2852 runs and averaged an incredible 66.85, that places him head and shoulders above any other English batsman's average against Australia.

He scored 8 centuries and 16 half-centuries as well, to go down in Ashes history as one of the best opening batsmen across the two sides.

3 Sir Donald Bradman

Bradman Batting
Bradman Batting

It is fair to say when this eleven was being created, only ten names had to be considered since there is no contest as far as the number 3 position is concerned.

Sir Don Bradman is the greatest batsman to have ever played the game and England had to resort to Bodyline tactics back in 1932 in order to stop him from destroying them in yet another series. He played in 37 Tests from 1928 to 1948 and scored 5028 runs at a jaw-dropping averaged of 89.78.

Bradman scored 19 centuries in the Ashes, including two triple hundreds (one of them was scored in a day) and remains the highest run scorer in the history of this series.

4 Wally Hammond

Wally Hammond
Wally Hammond

At a time when Sir Don Bradman reigned as the best batsman in the world and piled up runs like no one else in cricket history, only one batsman was considered anywhere close to him. Hammond is one of the greatest batsmen to have played the game.

An outstanding defensive technique, coupled with excellent stroke making made him a batsmen who could take on any bowling attack in the world. He played 27 Ashes Tests between 1928 and 1947, during the course of which, he slammed 9 centuries and 7 half-centuries against the Australians.

Moreover, his average of 51.85 in tests against Australia is proof of just how good he was as a batsman.

5 Steve Waugh

Steve Waugh of Australia
Steve Waugh

He might not have been the most graceful batsman in history but Steve Waugh made up for through steely determination, gutsy approach to batting and a relentless desire to win games for Australia. Waugh was Australia's middle order lynchpin for close to two decades and one of the teams he always enjoyed scoring against was England.

He scored 3200 runs in Ashes Tests against England and scored 10 centuries along with 13 half-centuries, to become one of the most prolific batsmen in this particular fixture.

Waugh's average of 60.16 against England is a testament to his domination of the opposition and his innings had often been the bedrock of many memorable Ashes victories.

6 Ian Botham

Ian Botham
Ian Botham

One of the greatest all-rounders to have ever played the game almost always rose to the occasion when it came to the Ashes and there is absolutely no doubt, that he is the best all-rounder to have played for either of these two countries. In the 36 Tests that he played in the Ashes from 1977 to 1989, he scored 4 centuries and 6 half-centuries.

Among them was the unforgettable 149 not out he scored at Headingley to help England stage an unlikely comeback after following on. However, he was in a different class as a bowler and remains the most successful bowler against Australia in history.

Botham took a total of 148 wickets at an average of 27.65 and tormented Australia throughout his career.

7 Adam Gilchrist

Third Test - Australia v England: Day Three
Adam Gilchrist

No wicket-keeper in Test cricket history has had such a profound influence on the actual role of a wicket-keeper than Australia's Adam Gilchrist and following his staggering career, it became mandatory for wicket-keepers to be decent batsmen as well.

That said, he was an excellent wicket-keeper too and claimed 89 catches in addition to 7 stumpings in 20 Test matches from 2001 to 2007. However, it was as a number 7 batsman that he did so much damage and he celebrated his Ashes debut by punishing the English bowlers with a 152 run masterclass back in 2001.

Gilchrist scored 3 hundreds and 6 half-centuries in the Ashes and averaged 45.12, but what made him such a matchwinner was his strike rate of 92.01 against England (higher than his career strike rate of 81.95).

There was only one choice for the role of wicket-keeper/batsman in this team.

8 Shane Warne

Shane Warne...
Shane Warne...

Perhaps the greatest spin bowler who has ever existed walks into the combined eleven without much of a challenge from anyone.

Right from the time that he bowled that 'ball of the century' back in the 1993 Ashes, Shane Warne gained an edge over the psyche of English batsmen that lasted a total of 14 years and remains the most successful bowler in Ashes history with a total of 195 wickets in 36 Test matches.

Warne averaged 23.25 in games against England and had a strike rate of 55.1 across the 36 Test matches. He dominated generations of English batsmen and no batsman could ever quite dominate him.

9 Dennis Lillee

England v Australia 4th Test
Dennis Lillee

Dennis Lillee is among the greatest fast bowlers in cricket history and without a doubt, Australia's finest fast bowler. His fearsome pace, swing, seam movement and overall viciousness made him a nightmare for most batsmen and in Tests against England, he seemed to lift his game.

He played only 26 Test matches against England over a period of 11 years from 1971 and 1982, but emerged as the second most successful bowler in the Ashes across both teams, with a haul of 167 wickets.

Lillee took 10 wickets in a game 4 times and had also recorded 11 five-wicket hauls against England and remains one of the most consistent game-changing bowlers in Ashes history.

10 Bob Willis

England v Australia Headingley 1981
Bob Willis v Australia Headingley 1981

One of England's best ever fast bowlers, who ended up with 325 wickets in Test cricket in 90 Tests, he was also a performer par excellence in Ashes Tests.

Pace, guile, relentless accuracy and the ability to take wickets on even unresponsive pitches made Bob Willis one of the best bowlers of his generation. In the 35 Tests he played against Australia from in the mid to late 1970s and early 1980s, he took 128 wickets and remains the second most successful English bowler in the Ashes.

Willis averaged 26.14 against Australia and his best figures of 8-43 came in the famous Test match at Headingley in the 1981 Ashes, when England won the game after following on.

11 Glenn McGrath

Second Test - Australia v England: Day Five
Glenn McGrath takes a wicket against England.

During Australia's most dominant spell in the Ashes between 1989 and 2003, they won every series they played against England and Glenn McGrath was the wrecker in chief since the mid-1990s until the end of his career in 2007.

McGrath's accuracy, bounce and seam movement tormented generations of English batsmen during the 1990s and noughties, as Australia simply blew the opposition away time after time.

He played in 30 Tests against England and picked up 157 wickets at an average of only 20.92. McGrath's dominance of the English batsmen remains unsurpassed among fast bowlers and this team will remain incomplete if he is not included.

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Edited by Anuradha Santhanam
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