An ODI team that has never played white-ball cricket
By now, we should have taken advantage of the start of a short white-ball streak between Australia and New Zealand.
I was particularly looking forward to the three ODI games as it seems like it’s been ages since Australia have played in this format. In fact, it had been around 190 days since the team had played ODIs in the West Indies. You remember ?
Anyway, the Black Caps are not coming, mainly because they would struggle to get back to New Zealand in time to play a Test series against South Africa, so we have what the it’s called in genteel circles a break or for those more down-to-earth fans, no bloody cricket.
Rather than leaving a void, I wanted to look at a team of Australian players who have never played in the ODI/50-over format we are used to.
I picked 12 players who I think would be at least as good if not better than Australia’s top white ball team.
Sure, they might lose a few games early in the game, but I doubt it would take them long to get back into play and their quality would allow them to earn many more wins than losses.
Rooms like this usually have plenty of stats to justify including players, but that won’t be the case here. There will be some numbers, but it’s mostly about who I think would do the job.
He is arguably Australia’s best batsman on any surface and a player who could score quickly. In a format where taking sides with flyers and taking risks is paramount, Trumper is a must-have at the top of the order.
The “Governor General” would be the perfect foil for Trumper, whom he idolized. Macartney scored quickly and was more than happy to take on the bowlers on the first ball.
Macartney was also a very useful left arm bowler. He rode at about the same pace as Derek Underwood and was said to be an orthodox finger spinner. He was also very good at varying his pace, a key to success in ODI cricket.
There is nothing to add. He would be an automatic selection not only because he was such a brilliant batsman, but because he was also an exceptional outfield player.
Batting three, he could either anchor the innings or hit, depending on the state of the game. And with modern bats, he would have no trouble clearing the strings regularly.
I was keen to get a left-handed and right-handed balance in the lineup, but not at the expense of quality and at Neil Harvey, I got both – a quality left-hander that would be perfectly suited for this format.
Like every other player on this team, Harvey’s first instinct was to attack, but his technique was so good he could play defensively to build an inning but still score runs.
He is also one of the best outfielders Australia has produced and with him on one side of the wicket and Bradman on the other I think there would be a lot of burnouts.
McCabe played three famous innings: 187 steps out in the Bodyline series at an 80 strike rate, 232 in the 1938 series against England at an 83 strike rate, and 189 steps out against South Africa under a si bad day, the pitch captain asked the referees to stop play because McCabe’s shots were endangering the outfield players.
That tells me he would be an exceptional white ball batsman.
He’s another useful medium booster, but with this attack he probably wouldn’t be needed.
Probably Australia’s best all-around player, Miller could easily open up both batting and bowling in this format. His skill set is perfectly suited for white ball cricket.
Perhaps not as well-known as some of the other team members, Gregory was another true all-rounder with a 36 batting average and a 31 bowling average.
He’s also a left-handed batsman who still holds the fastest century record in minutes (70) and in his prime he was a fast-paced. He would also be part of the slides cordon with a reach similar to that of Cameron Green.
This team needs a captain and Benaud would be my choice by far. This format requires skippers who can think quickly and be adventurous. That probably sums up Benaud’s captaincy style to a tee.
Good leggies in this format are worth their weight in gold and Benaud was better than good. He was also an extremely aggressive bat, scoring a Test century in 78 minutes.
Add his roster and here is another player perfectly suited for white-ball cricket.
It should be obvious by now that I’ve followed England’s approach and piled the squad with versatile players, which means Alan Davidson is batting nine. The big difference in this team is that all of these all-around bowlers are top quality bowlers and Davidson is among the best.
He would open the bowling alley and with his ability to move the ball back and forth he would be a handful for any batsman. He was also an excellent defender, while his test batting average doesn’t do justice to his raw scoring ability. He would be a power hitter in the last ten overs.
Nowadays, white ball cricket requires wicketkeepers to be batsmen first and keepers second. In this format, with this team, I opted for the player who I consider to be the best glover produced by Australia.
This bowling lineup is going to create a lot of chances and I want the goaltender I know to take 99.9% of the chances that come his way.
What if Tallon wasn’t the best bat in the world. In a line-up with so many quality batsmen, I doubt he’ll be successful in most games anyway!
I deliberately named 12 players because I think there is a hair to be split between O’Reilly and Clarrie Grimmett in this format.
I named O’Reilly on the side mainly because he’s a slightly better bat than Grimmett, though neither are anything more than true number 11s.
I could see ‘Tiger’ opening up bowling on certain pitches, especially ones with a hint of cornering or bouncing.
My only other concern about O’Reilly is where to hide him on the pitch (same with Grimmett) and how to make sure he’s not trying to use all the player criticism. The drummers were always absent when he appealed.
Shane Warne has had great success in ODI cricket and I see no reason why Grimmett can’t do the same.
The great thing about his bowling, aside from his accuracy, was his variations. That would make him such a tough pitcher to face.
If I were to name an 18-man squad to cover COVID conditions, I would have to include Fred Spofforth, Clem Hill, Hugh Trumble, Warwick Armstrong (the pre-WW1 version, not the 22 stone man ‘Big Ship’ ), Archie Jackson and Norm O’Neill.