As Australia and New Zealand host the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup through February and March, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, an avid fan, was asked for his thoughts on the Cup and to choose his ‘dream’ Australian team from the players he had watched. Here’s his response.
“I’M very much looking forward to the Cricket World Cup. It’s a once-in-a-generation chance for Australia and New Zealand to host an event that has become one of the most anticipated in the cricket world.
“I know this because I have enjoyed cricket from a long time. I was hooked from an early age – I clearly remember watching the Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval in the summer of 1958-59.
“The Australian team was captained by Richie Benaud and included the likes of the great Ray Lindwall, who was playing his last series on Australian soil. I’ve followed cricket with a keen interest ever since.
“It’s not always easy to find the time. When the Gabba hosts a Test match, I try to get to the ground for at least one day.
“I had never been to the Gabba before I moved to Brisbane so that was a trip I looked forward to making as soon as possible.
“To coincide with the World Cup, I was asked to name my best Australian team from the players that I have watched.
“Therefore, I go back to that 1958-59 Ashes summer. I have not included players from before that season despite the undoubted class of some. I decided to do this as a team of Test players.
“I realise the World Cup is a limited-overs tournament but naming a Test team enabled me to go way back to my first memories of the game to put together a team. And, boy, it was a difficult task.
“Here are my choices, in batting order:”
Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s Finest Australian Test Cricket XI from 1958-59 onwards
(62 Tests, 4869 runs at an average of 46.81. 110 catches. 1957-1978)
(67 Tests, 5234 runs at 47.15. 30 catches. 1961-1971)
“I’ve chosen my openers as a combination. Simpson and Lawry were terrific together – a right/left-hand combination that excelled in a time of inferior wickets, inferior bats and high-quality opposition. They still hold the record for Australia’s highest opening partnership – 382 – batting through a full day in Barbados and then resuming the following day against an attack featuring Hall, Griffiths, Gibbs and Sobers.”
(168 Tests, 13,378 runs at 51.85. 196 catches. 1995-2012)
“When Ricky Ponting was in his best form, he looked impregnable. He could play shots on all sides of the wicket. He was outstanding for a long period. And he was a wonderful fielder.”
(87 Tests, 7110 runs at 53.86. 122 catches. 1970-1984)
“Greg Chappell had a majesty about his batting from his maiden hundred in his first Test through to a century in his last Test. He was a glorious stroke-maker and he made it look so easy. And he was also a fine fielder.”
Stephen Waugh (captain)
(168 Tests, 10,927 runs at 51.06. 112 catches. 92 wickets at 37.44. 1985-2004)
“I’ve chosen Steve Waugh as captain because you need to have a strong character to manage this galaxy of stars. And we know how strong Steve’s character was. He was not as elegant or dashing as others in this batting line-up but he put such value on his wicket. And he played against some high-quality attacks featuring the likes of Ambrose, Walsh and Hadlee. His feats over such a long time mean that he has to be in this team.”
(156 Tests, 11,174 runs at 50.56. 156 catches. 39 wickets at 39.10. 1979-1994)
“I struggled to split Allan Border and Doug Walters for the No.6 position. I went with Border because he is a left-hander and because his gritty style fits in well with this batting line-up. He was so reliable for such a long period. Plus, his left-arm spin would come in handy.”
(96 Tests, 5570 runs at 47.60. 379 catches. 37 stumpings. 1999-2008)
“This was another tough choice – Adam Gilchrist or Ian Healy? I went with Gilchrist because of his capacity to play the most extraordinary innings. We had seen nothing like his style until he came along.”
(145 Tests. 708 wickets at 25.41)
“Shane Warne is the greatest bowler I’ve seen – fast or slow. He was a master of technique, temperament and tactics. He was a leg-break bowler with the aggression of a fast bowler. He bowled unlike any leg-break bowler I’ve seen – with uncanny accuracy and a freakish tactical nous. He could dominate entire batting line-ups, not just individual batsmen.”
(64 Tests. 283 wickets at 27.84)
“He provides the attack with the left-armer it needs. At his peak, Mitchell Johnson is close to unplayable. I’ve picked this attack with combinations in mind and he provides this team with that explosive element. And he can also bat and field.”
(70 Tests. 355 wickets at 23.92)
“How could you not choose Dennis Lilllee in this team? He was simply a master of his craft with so much control and variation.”
(124 Tests. 563 wickets at 21.64)
“He really was the metronome. He didn’t look as formidable as his career figures suggest but he was faster than he looked and he hit the bat harder than it seemed. And his bounce was so dangerous. Glenn McGrath had phenomenal control and really was one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time.”
Doug Walters (12th man)
(74 Tests. 5357 runs at 48.26. 49 wickets at 29.08)
“Doug Walters really was a top-class player. He finished with a very good average against some mighty attacks. He was a terrific fielder and he could also bowl a bit, as his bowling average shows.”
“Yes, there are some players like Matthew Hayden who didn’t make this team. Matthew could play some extraordinary innings but I went for that Simpson-Lawry combination over the two left-handers of Hayden and Langer. There were other players clearly worthy of selection including Michael Clarke. But you can’t pick them all.
“I’ve been asked for my thoughts on the World Cup. It’s always such an unpredictable tournament because of the high calibre of teams and the fact that it runs over six weeks.
“I’ve got the winning chances down to Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. If I were to choose with my heart, I would choose Australia. But my head says South Africa.
“And I would have an each-way bet on the Kiwis. They really are building well for this tournament and they can play matches at home.
“It should be a very exciting tournament. Now to find time to watch a few overs.”