In this multi-part series, I’ll be picking my 21st century ODI XI for many countries alongside an associates XI of the 21st century. First up, Australia.
Having won five ICC 50-over tournaments this century, Australia are without question the best 50-over team of this century with relative ease. Having produced some of the best one-day cricketers of the world, here’s my Australian ODI team of the 21st century.
Opening the batting, I’ve gone ahead with David Warner and Adam Gilchrist. One of the finest white-ball openers, Warner has this knack of going after bowlers, especially with the field restrictions in play. Gilchrist is a similar player to Warner, preferring to take the aerial route against bowlers. A quality keeper as well, there was no second thought when giving Gilchrist the gloves in this XI.
At first drop comes Ricky Ponting. With the most ODI runs by an Australian, it’s practically impossible not to have Punter. An excellent student of the game with vast cricketing knowledge, Ponting was an outstanding skipper for Australia, winning four ICC 50-over trophies as captain. He stood up on the big stage including a blistering 140 in the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup final against India.
To stabilise the innings alongside Ponting will be Michael Hussey. He was a freak of a player and could find gaps all over the field effortlessly. The most significant trait of Michael Hussey was his ability to score runs regardless of the situation and his batting position. Naturally, he is a number five, but I still believe he’s good enough to bat in the top four.
At number five is the one and only Michael Bevan. Any team would be blessed with a player like Bevan. His ability to revive early collapses and pull off intricate chases is second to none. To date, no Aussie has got anywhere near Michael Bevan’s ODI career average of 53.58.
My two finishers are Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson. Both batsmen are destructive with the bat down the order. Symonds is arguably the world’s best fielder after Jonty Rhodes with a rocket of an arm and having had one of the safest pairs of hands in world cricket. Watson is Australia’s best white-ball all-rounder of all time, and after his retirement, Australia struggled to replace him adequately. Both Symonds and Watson would share the fifth bowling quota and are both capable of bowling ten overs if required.
My number eight is the one and only Mitchell Starc. The left-armer has been one of the finest ODI bowlers. With an unplayable yorker, late in-swinger, a fiery bouncer and many more successful bowling traits, Starc has shown his worth in ODIs – especially in World Cups.
With the lone spinner, Brad Hogg beats out Shane Warne based on the fact that Hogg played more ODIs in this century compared to Warne. Being a vital cog in Australia’s 2003 and 2007 World Cup defence also helped Hogg’s selection in this XI. Perfecting left-arm wrist spin is a tough task to craft, but Hogg was in a league of his own. He had everything required for a left-arm wrist spinner to succeed in ODI cricket and was rewarded with 156 ODI scalps. Not bad for someone who was in Shane Warne’s shadow for the majority of his career.
To round out my bowling attack, I chose two seamers from New South Wales, who are only the joint leading Aussie ODI wicket-takers. It was an absolute no-brainer choosing Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath. Both are fantastic bowlers in their own right and made world-class batsmen look like club cricketers on their day.
This is how the XI rounds up in the end.
1. David Warner
2. Adam Gilchrist (wicketkeeper)
3. Ricky Ponting (captain)
4. Michael Hussey
5. Michael Bevan
6. Andrew Symonds
7. Shane Watson
8. Mitch Starc
9. Brad Hogg
10. Brett Lee
11. Glenn McGrath