The top 25 Ashes play­ers of all time

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

Ian Chap­pell runs through his list of the best — and the ones he has left out will shock you

AN Ashes se­ries her­alds much de­bate over what might hap­pen, with the oc­ca­sional nos­tal­gic thought of what has al­ready hap­pened.

With nos­tal­gia in mind, I’ve ranked my top 25 Ashes per­form­ers and I chose 1972 as the start­ing point. Why 1972?

It was a wa­ter­shed Ashes year for the Aus­tralian team with a mer­i­to­ri­ous drawn se­ries against a strong Eng­land side, which con­vinced the tourists they could match it with any op­po­nent.

This was the gen­e­sis for the highly suc­cess­ful Aus­tralian teams of the early to mid-70s and many of those play­ers fea­ture strongly on this list.

Choos­ing a mere 25 play­ers from such an il­lus­tri­ous list is dif­fi­cult and it en­sures some fine play­ers from both sides miss out — names like Bob Wil­lis, Matthew Hay­den, Mark Taylor and Gra­ham Gooch.

How­ever, the list is en­tirely sub­jec­tive and unless I go bar-hop­ping next week I won’t be bom­barded with a plethora of al­ter­na­tive opin­ions.

In se­lect­ing my 25 I re­lied mainly on the eye test, with the oc­ca­sional ref­er­ence to sta­tis­tics. Like all “best of” selections there’s a ten­dency to rank highly play­ers from your own era be­cause, firstly, you saw close up how good they were and, se­condly, what they had to en­dure to reach such heights.

And fi­nally there’s a bias to­wards play­ers who sought vic­tory in pref­er­ence to per­sonal glory. Cricket is not a sta­tis­ti­cal ex­er­cise and I didn’t want self­ish play­ers on my team, hence the ab­sence of Ge­off Boy­cott and Steve Waugh.

These are my best 25 five Ashes play­ers from 1972 on­wards:

1 Den­nis Lillee

29 Ashes Tests

167 wick­ets at 21. BBM 11-138. 4x10WM, 11x5WI

A cap­tain’s dream and a bats­man’s night­mare. If an op­po­nent was able to over­come his many skills — a rare oc­cur­rence — he then had to deal with his iron- clad will. Lillee was al­ways the last man in the team to be­lieve vic­tory was im­pos­si­ble.


Shane Warne

36 Ashes Tests 1919595 wick­ets ata 23.25. BBM 12-246. 4x4x10WM, 11x5WI A highly skil­ful and ac­cu­rate legspin­ner with an ex­tremely alert cricket brain He was theth type of bowler — sim­i­lar to Lille — that at­tracted fans to the ground be­cause when­ever he was op­er­at­ing they felt “some­thing is about to hap­pen”.


Greg Chap­pell

35 Ashes Tests

2610 runs at 45.94. HS: 144. 9x100s, 112x50s 12x50s 1 This is not nepo­tism. Greg was the best men­tally or­gan­ised bats­man of my time and his el­e­gant strokes play ef­fec­tively dis­guised a ruth­less streak to his oc­cu­pa­tion of the crease. It was early onn in the fam­ily back­yard thatt I was alerted to his de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed.


Ricky Ponting

35 Ashes Tests

2476 run­runs at 44.21. HS: 196. 8x100s, 9x50s 0s One of those th rare tal­ents that could drivedri with­ith the best of them and yet w was stilltill in po­si­tion to deal se­verely with any short- pitched de­liv­ery. He had a highly de­vel­oped com­pet­i­tive streak that un­der- pinned his suc­cess but also told him when it was time to re­tire.

6 Jimmy An­der­son

26 Ashes Tests

87 wick­ets at 35.87. BBM 10-158. 4x5WI, 1x10WM He is the best swing bowler I’ve seen. He cer­tainly is the only one to move it both ways con­sis­tently over such a long ca­reer. Li­kee all great bowlers he’s con­stantly seek­ing im­prove­ment and he’s been able to find ways to take wick­ets when the ball isn’t swinging.


Adam Gilchrist

20 Ashes Tests

1083 runs at 45.12. HS: 152. 6x50s, 3x100s 89 catches, 7 stump­ings An ad­e­quate glove­man, he was one of those rare bats­men who was only ever a bound­ary shot away from be­ing back in form. A brave player who coun­ter­at­tacked no mat­ter what the cir­cum­stances, he could change the course of a game in a ses­sion.


Doug Wal­ters

36 Ashes Tests

1981 runs at 35.37. HS: 155. 13x50s, 4x100s A match- win­ning ge­nius who three times in Test cricket scored a cen­tury in a ses­sion. To the op­po­si­tion he was a pest — coun­ter­at­tack­ing bril­liantly when they felt they were on top — and

5 Glenn McGrath

30 Ashes Tests

157 wick­ets at 20.9220.92. BBM 9- 82. 10x5WI He re­lied on a sim­ple, metro­nomic ac­tion to pro­duce wa­ter- tight ac­cu­racy that lured bats­men into his web. A smart bowler wwho al­ways wanted the ball and when he oc­ca­sion­ally strayed from his plan he was ex­tremely hard on him­self. sim­i­larly he was a nui­sance in his own dress­ing room with his magic tricks. He achieved great suc­cess on 80 cig­a­rettes a day and very lit­tle sleep.


Dave Warner

13 Ashes Tests

1079 runs at 44.95. HS: 124. 2x100s, 8x50s It takes a spe­cial player with a very strong mind to at­tack the new ball with such fe­ro­cious com­mit­ment; Warner does it as well as any­one. His bril­liance at the top of the or­der pro­vides an enor­mous ad­van­tage to his team and quickly de­flates the op­po­si­tion. He’s a match­win­ner.

10 Kevin Pi­etersen

27 Ashes Tests

2158 runs at 44.95. HS: 227. 4x100s, 13x50s A player who po­larises but he en­hanced his team’s chances of vic­tory. He could score quickly and was pre­pared to take risks to dom­i­nate the op­po­si­tion bowlers; the ideal player to build on a steady start. A player who the op­po­si­tion thought: “He’s a bas­tard but we’d like him on our side.”

11 Jeff Thom­son

21 2 Ashes Tests

10000 wick­ets at 24.18. BBM 9-105. 5x5WI For two and a half years [ 1974-75 to 1976-77] un­til he busted his shoul­der he was the most lethal fast bowler I ’ve ever seen. He could make the ball lif t to throat height from just short of a length and was the only one I faced who I thought was un- hook­able. His la­conic de­scrip­tion summed up his unique ac­tion; “Aw mate, I just shuf­fle up and go wang.”


Steve Smith

18 Ashes Tests

1339 runs at 43.19. HS: 215. 5x100s, 4x50s His rise from a leg- spin­ning num­ber eight to a highly suc­cess­ful top- or­der bats­man says a lot about Smith’s men­tal strength. He’s one of those rare char­ac­ters who “does it his way” and i sn’t side- tracked by other peo­ple’s opin­ions. His way has been mighty suc­cess­ful.

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