The all-time Ashes XI: Yes to Botham and Gilchrist but no to Grace and Miller

Hard choices lead to glaring omissions. No Warwick Armstrong, who was no less mean in his determination to win than Douglas Jardine, but the team is chosen on the Australian principle that you pick your best XI, then the captain. There is no Keith Miller, no Glenn McGrath, no Richie Benaud, no Bill O'Reilly, no Denis Compton, no Herbert Sutcliffe. Does this suggest a faint English bias? Quite probably.

1: Jack Hobbs

Between 1911 and 1929, scored 12 of his 197 hundreds against Australia. One of 12 children of the groundsman at Jesus College, Cambridge, Hobbs was a run machine capable of playing crucial innings in difficult conditions. "He was perfect in the execution of every stroke. His footwork was a model for all and his style was irreproachable" (Jack Fingleton).

2: Len Hutton

England's top scorer at The Oval in 1938 (364) and 10 years later (30 out of 52), Hutton experienced the broadest range of exhilaration (1953) and despair (1948) in Ashes series. An uncompromising Yorkshireman, Hutton's cover drive is locked in the memory of anyone who saw it. "His bat was part of his nervous system" (Harold Pinter).

3: Don Bradman

His average against England was 10 runs lower than his legendary career Test average of 99.94, but he did average more than 100 in England. More a relentless accumulator than a stylist, Bradman was the greatest "run-stealer flickering to and fro". Disliked by many colleagues, he is, none the less, the obvious choice as captain.

4: Wally Hammond

Bradman's contemporary and rival - and the more rounded cricketer. "He would make a hundred or two against Australia, then bowl down their first three wickets, and make with ease a slip catch others would not merely miss but would not have rated a miss" (R C Robertson-Glasgow).

5: Victor Trumper

The streets of Sydney were blocked when he was carried to his grave, aged 37, in 1915, because of the dashing way he batted rather than the runs he scored. Average in 40 Ashes matches, 32.79. Plum Warner asked George Hirst where he wanted the field placed to him: "It doesn't much matter, sir. Victor will do as he likes."

6: Ian Botham

To be chosen ahead of Keith Miller is one the greatest compliments ever paid to Botham. Lacking Miller's elegance and charm, Botham's special ability was to conjure a win in matches that seemed quite beyond England (1981 and 1986-87). A force of nature, Botham's averages are less good than Miller's, but he took almost twice as many wickets.

7: Adam Gilchrist

There have been better wicketkeepers but no better keeper-batsman. Gilchrist's batting average against England is 61.18 in 10 games (compare Alan Knott's 32.98). He also has 47 dismissals. There has been no greater heart-breaker of bowlers since Gilbert Jessop 100 years ago.

8: S F Barnes

An off-spinner who could bowl leg-breaks and move the ball in the air and off the pitch; 106 wickets in 20 Tests. One spell in Melbourne in 1901-02 was 11-7-6-5. "The finest piece of bowling in Test cricket" (Fingleton). He bowled Trumper with a ball that "was fast on leg stump, but just before it pitched it swung to the off. Then it pitched, broke back and took his leg stump" (Charlie Macartney).

9: Shane Warne

No leg-spinner who has played more than 25 Ashes Tests can approach Warne's 132 wickets at 23.03, although Bill O'Reilly comes close. No leg-spinner has bowled a ball that has become as fixed in the memory as Warne's to dismiss Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993. As his skill diminished, he then frightened respectable batsmen into submission.

10: Dennis Lillee

The statistics tell only part of the story. Lillee has taken more wickets in Ashes Tests than any other bowler (167 in 29 Tests at 21.00) as much by force of personality as skill and speed. "[Lillee's] 'verbal aggression' has been something else in its spirit of near hatred" (David Frith). However, a lovable nature is not a requirement for selection.

11: Ray Lindwall or

Harold Larwood

The case for Larwood is that his bowling won an Ashes series in 1932-33 in improbable circumstances. The case against is the method - Bodyline. Ray Lindwall's flowing action was the most stylish of all fast bowlers. He took 114 wickets at 22.44, compared to Larwood in Australia - 51 at 26.82. If forced, the reluctant choice is Lindwall.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine