Among the first entrants in the Test arena, Australia have consistently been the team to beat in the golden history of the traditional format. From 808 Tests thus far, they have notched a record 382 victories at an unparalleled win-loss ratio of 1.768. The cornerstone of their phenomenal legacy in the game stems from a firm domestic circuit.
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The Sheffield Shield, comprising of the six states in the country, has churned out world-class cricketers on a regular basis. Forming an all time Australian Test XI inevitably means that there are numerous viable contenders to choose from for each spot. Let us assemble such a formidable lineup which can dominate almost every star-studded team in the purest format of the game.
The powerfully built Matthew Hayden cut an imposing figure at the crease. While his stroke-play could have a brutal effect on opposition bowlers, it was his seemingly endless reservoirs of concentration that enabled him to play significant knocks across a wide variety of surfaces. The left-hander played 103 Tests and piled on 8625 runs at an average of 50.73 with 30 centuries and 29 fifties.
Connoisseurs of the game would prefer the technically proficient Arthur Morris to take up the second opener's slot. However, Justin Langer gets the nod for his unbridled grit and battling instincts. There is also the small matter of his proven opening combination with Hayden. The southpaw's average of 45.27 might seem relatively underwhelming. However, almost each of his painstakingly compiled 7696 runs set the platform for the more flamboyant middle-order.
The number three spot in any all time Test XI is reserved for the peerless Sir Donald Bradman. Needless to say, the great man walks into this distinguished Australian lineup. His astronomical average of 99.94 remains cricket's most renowned statistic. 6996 runs and 29 centuries from just 52 matches shed light on his astonishing consistency.
With a mammoth collection of 13,378 runs from 168 matches at an average of 51.85, Ricky Ponting is the leading run-scorer in Australia's long and illustrious Test history. The vast majority of his 41 centuries and 62 fifties came during an immensely productive peak phase in the mid 2000s. His extensive array of shots can lend an aggressive element to the batting lineup.
While the likes of Greg Chappell, Neil Harvey and Steve Waugh may present equally strong cases, Allan Border's unflinching resilience at the crease sees him take up the number five slot. In addition to his penchant for standing firm during even the most despondent of situations, he also brings steadfast leadership skills to the table. Among all Australian batsmen, only Ponting has gone past his aggregate of 11,174 runs from 156 matches.
#3 All-rounder & Wicket-keeper
Among all wicket-keepers in the history of the game, no one has scored more runs than Adam Gilchrist's tally of 5570 runs from 96 matches. Creating an impact beyond mere numbers, he changed the existing trend surrounding the role of wicket-keeper batsman. An average of 47.60 and powerful strike-rate of 81.95 provide an inkling of his prowess with the bat. The gloveman, who kept improving with each game, effected 379 catches and 37 stumpings.
In terms of genuine all-rounders capable of changing the flow of the match with both bat and ball, very few have been able to match the exploits of Keith Miller. Undoubtedly, the charismatic cricketer was one of Australia's most popular sportsmen during his heydays. In a Test career spanning from 1946 to 1956, he scored 2958 runs at an average of 36.97 and picked 170 wickets at an average of 22.97.
If ever there was a cricketing equivalent of the 'Wizard of Oz', it would have to be Shane Warne. The magical leg-spinner relied on his assortment of tricks and unmatched tactical nous to make novices out of accomplished handlers of the turning ball. The second highest wicket-taker in Test history scooped 708 scalps from 145 matches with a whopping 37 five-wicket hauls.
Representing Australia at a time when professionalism was beginning to get ingrained in cricket, Ray Lindwall's robust bowling captivated aficionados of the game across the globe. He generated stifling pace from a smooth run-up and ended up with 228 scalps from 61 matches with 12 five-wicket hauls. A strike-rate of 59.8 compares favourably with the prominent seam bowlers of his era.
Back in the 1970s, the extremely vocal Australian crowd chanting 'Lillee, Lillee' was so thunderous that it sent shivers down the spines of Clive Lloyd's West Indies team. From Sir Richard Hadlee to Imran Khan, plenty of eminent fast bowlers took inspiration from the deeds of Dennis Lillee. The menacing pacer picked 355 wickets from 70 Tests at an impressive average of 23.92.
With 563 scalps from 124 matches at a remarkable average of 21.64, Glenn McGrath is the leading wicket-taker among all fast bowlers in Test history. Possessing immaculate control, the metronome relentlessly examined the technique and temperament of almost every opposition batsman.
#1 12th man and Full squad
With four potent seamers already in the playing eleven, providing a twelfth man in the form of a spinner facilitates flexibility in the side depending upon the conditions. On surfaces offering substantial turn, a second specialist spin option will come in handy to partner Warne. In such regard, Clarrie Grimmett is an ideal choice. The legendary cricketer set the standard for leg-spin during the 1930s.
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If the lineup is expanded to a 16-member squad, the likes of Arthur Morris and Greg Chappell also enter the equation. While the former lends cover for the opening department, the latter bolsters the batting depth. All-rounder Alan Davidson presents a rare left-arm seam option. In case Gilchrist's glove-work does not pass muster with the meticulous purists, the reliable Rod Marsh can don the mantle of wicket-keeper.
Australia's All Time Test XI: Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Sir Donald Bradman, Ricky Ponting, Allan Border (c), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Keith Miller, Shane Warne, Ray Lindwall, Dennis Lillee and Glenn McGrath
Also in the 16-man Squad: Clarrie Grimmett (12th man), Arthur Morris, Greg Chappell, Alan Davidson and Rod Marsh