Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 40 Days Until the Ashes…
David Green aka The Reverse Sweep picks the Australian keeping position in their all time Ashes XI.
Australia has produced some of cricket’s greatest wicketkeepers and choosing one of them for an all-time Australian Ashes XI is no easy task. The decision rests between selecting the best wicketkeeper or perhaps the most devastating wicketkeeper-batsman in cricket history.
We’ve narrowed the choice down to four candidates with an honourable mention to Bert Oldfield who stumped 31 of his 90 Ashes victims and earnt a badge of valour during the infamous ‘Bodyline’ series.
The first of our four candidates is Don Tallon – the wicketkeeper of the 1948 Invincibles side and the man selected by Bradman as the gloveman for his all-time Australian Ashes XI. Tallon was by common consent of his contemporaries, Australia’s finest ever keeper. But in 15 Ashes tests he only scored 340 runs and averaged under 20. Given the more multi-facteted qualities of the other three candidates, that rules Tallon out of the equation.
Next up is Rodney Marsh – a familiar face from our childhood, who was a magnificently athletic keeper and a useful battling batsman down the order. Indeed, Marsh scored more Ashes runs than any other Australian gloveman (1409 at 25.61) in his 37 tests, as well as snaring 131 English victims. It will be hard to leave this combative keeper out.
It took Australia a few tries before they finally found a decent replacement for Marsh in the shape of Ian Healy. He became a very good batsman (scoring 1269 Ashes runs at 31) as we at the Reverse Sweep can testify having seen Healy’s belligerent 134 at Brisbane in 1998. Like Marsh, it is also hard to leave the wicketkeeper with the most Ashes dismissals (135) out, but they have been pipped to the post by a phenomenon.
Adam Gilchrist may not have been technically the best wicketkeeper ever and he was certainly not as good as the other three candidates here, but he was proficient enough and made few errors. We may be purists at the Reverse Sweep, but Gilchrist’s sensational batting tips the scales here. England bowler after England bowler was visibly scared of him and even if Andrew Flintoff got the better of him in 2005, he bounced back to hit that brutal 57 ball century against a shellshocked England at Perth in 2006/07. In all Gilchrist scored 1083 runs at 45 from 20 Ashes tests and hit three hundreds whilst making 96 dismissals.
For his ability to hit his side out of trouble or to embellish an already commanding total, it is Gilchrist that gets the nod here. The thought of him coming in after the top six we have selected is frightening.
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