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The Ashes 2017/18 – Greatest Australian XI in Ashes history

The oldest and the most historic rivalry in cricket history is all set to go on-board one more time, this time in the land Down under.

bowling partnerships in Cricket
Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne played their final game for the Aussies against England at Sydney. (© Getty Images)

The Ashes is almost two weeks away from commencement and Mitchell Starc sent a fiery statement to the English with his domestic performances. The fast bowler picked up two hat-tricks in a Sheffield Shield Match (One in each innings) and embarked the festive season for the Kangaroos with some encouraging news.

Whilst both sides have been performing decently at home over the years, the English did manage to beat the Aussies 3-1 in Australia back in 2010/11. The next time England visited them, a certain Mitchell Johnson pulled off one of the greatest individual performances of all time to hand them an unforgettable humiliation and trauma.

Over the years, the series has given us some unforgettable moments and every player who plays a crucial role in the Ashes gets quite a recognition. The oldest and the most historic rivalry in cricket history is all set to go on-board one more time, this time in the land Down under. On this eve, let’s take a look at the best Ashes XI for the Kangaroos in the history of the gentlemen’s game.

Honorable Mentions: Some absolute legends missed out by a whisker, like Ricky Ponting, Jeff Thompson, Matthew Hayden, Ian Chappell, Greg Chappell, Richie Benaud, Mark Taylor, Brett Lee etc.

1. Justin Langer

Quintessentially made for Test cricket, Justin Langer was arguably one of the best openers of his generation in the longest format. A resolute technique backed up by an incredible amount of courage helped him become an all-time great in Aussie history. With five tons and five half-centuries, he amassed 1658 runs against the English at an average in excess of 50 and that’s brilliant indeed for an opener.

2. Mark Waugh

Although he remained a little bit under the shadow of his elder brother, Mark Waugh was a prolific run-scorer at the top of the order for the Aussies. In 29 Ashes games, the opener scored 2,204 runs at an average of 50.09. His performances fluctuated against the other opponents, but the motivation of playing in the Ashes can bring the best out of a player, just the way it did in Mark’s career.

3. Sir Donald Bradman

No such list is complete without the presence of the greatest batsman of all time. Sir Donald Bradman played a majority of his career against the arch-rivals, combatting with them on 37 occasions. At a staggering average of 89.78, he amassed 5,028 runs, which also includes 19 centuries. He was the one who immortalized the series with his impeccable performances and he rightfully takes the number 3 spot, which always has been his place.

4. Allan Border

The Aussies turned the “Mighty Aussies” by the time the 21st century commenced, but the process began under the leadership of the great man, Allan Border. The southpaw led the Australian side in 1987 to gift the Kangaroos their first ever World Cup and he was a fighter par excellence in every format. Against the arch-rivals, he amassed 3,548 runs at a breathtaking average of 56.31, gifting him a place in this list without any debates.

5. Steve Waugh (C)

Leading this unit of some mind-boggling players is their uncrowned king, Steve Waugh. Taking over the reigns from Mark Taylor, the legendary middle-order batsman pulled off some amazing results over the course of his career. Against England, he was at his imperious best. At a stellar average of 58.18, he amassed 3,200 runs in 46 games, which also includes 10 centuries.

6. Keith Miller

Another famous name from the era of Sir Don is Keith Miller, who remained a backbone of the middle-order during their playing days. He played in an era where an average in excess of 30 was considered brilliant and though the game has evolved drastically, Keith Miller’s contributions can never be forgotten. In 29 matches against the English, he amassed 1,511 runs at an average of 36.97.

7. Ian Healy (WK)

Ian Healy was one of the first cricketers in Australian history to play over 100 Test matches for the country. Although his batting record doesn’t sound too compelling, he played some great second-fiddle knocks throughout his career. But as a keeper, not many can come close to equalling him. He inflicted a total of 135 dismissals in his Ashes career to go with 1,269 crucial runs in 33 appearances.

8. Mitchell Johnson

Mitchell Johnson is solely remembered for his flabbergasting spell of fast bowling in the 2013/14 Ashes, but apart from the 37 wickets he took in that series, he was always brilliant against the Three Lions. In just 19 games against them, he picked up a whopping 87 wickets at a stunning average of 25.81, to go with five half-centuries with the bat coming in the lower order.

9. Dennis Lillee

The talismanic spearhead of the Australian fast bowling attack in the 80s, Dennis Lillee was stupendous over the course of his career. It’s often reiterated that he’s the best Australian fast bowler of the 20th century and it’s really hard to argue with that. In 29 games against England, he picked up a jaw-dropping 167 wickets, which includes a whopping 4 10-wicket hauls.

10. Shane Warne

If turning the ball is an art, Shane Warne is definitely its Picasso. The highest wicket-taker in Australian cricket history, Shane Warne was the first cricketer to pick up over 700 wickets in Test cricket. It all began for him in the Ashes when he bamboozled Mike Gatting with what many call “The Ball of the Century”. Over the years, on numerous occasions, he managed to puzzle the batters with his skills. Unsurprisingly, he’s the highest wicket-taker in Ashes history, with 195 scalps in just 36 Tests.

11. Glenn McGrath

The man who made people believe that pace is not everything for a fast bowler, Glenn McGrath is not far behind Shane Warne. He’s the second highest wicket-taker in Ashes history with a majestic 157-wicket tally in 30 matches. Undoubtedly one of the greatest cricketers of his generation, McGrath achieved all the amazing results thanks to his perseverance, hard work and diligence, which makes him a perfect role-model for the younger generations.

12. Adam Gilchrist (12th man)

The swashbuckling Adam Gilchrist misses out on this amazing list by fine margins. Rated as the revolutionary who gave equal importance to both keeping and batting, Gilchrist set a new benchmark for his competitors. Though he was predominantly a middle-order batsman who came in at number 6 or 7, he averages 47 in his Test career. He scored 1,083 runs against the English at an average of 45.12 and also inflicted 96 dismissals in the Ashes.

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