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Tony

Colin Funky Miller, that is.

Tony

Coincidentally, just now on SEN, KB and Patrick Smith note that Bill Lawry, Flatty Hayden and Rod Marsh look set to miss the top 25.

TKYC

Surely there must be a spot for Les Favell, the father of the modern Australian style.

Tony

Patrick Smith: "I think Matty Hayden was adored by Aussie fans."

Tony

TK, since voters were told ''you may pick personal heroes of yours'' Les was certain to get at least one vote.

TKYC

And you have seemingly missed a gig at The Age (your new home as occasional special comments man), insteard they have turned to Tony Wilson.

Tomorrow we feature former Australian captain Ian Chappell welcoming the fifth-greatest of all-time; author and journalist Malcolm Knox follows on Thursday with No. 4; ex-England captain and psychoanalyst Mike Brearley opens up on No. 3 on Friday; and author and broadcaster Tony Wilson hails No. 2 on Saturday. In The Sunday Age, our chief sports writer Greg Baum concludes the series with his tribute to the greatest ever.

Your a football-only contributor...? You must steer the boffins at Fairfax HQ to this site.

Matt

My top 5, completely different than the top five selected by the panel

1. Bradman
2. Warne
3. Trumper
4. Lillee
5. McGrath

Hon. mentions to Hill, Healy and Ponting.

Tony

TK, yes I saw that. Tony Wilson is in august company, but no complaints from me. All are authors, commentators and pundits and eminently up to the task.

Tony

Matt, my five are the five I figure are still to come the list. Were I picking a list unfettered I would have gone:

1) Warne
2) Bradman
3) McGrath
4) Lillee
5) Gilchrist

m0nty

I can't see how anyone gets ahead of Bradman. Homer era bias to choose Warne.

1. Bradman
2. Warne
3. Border
4. Miller
5. Gilchrist

Tony

I reckon Warnie was the greatest match winner in the history of the game.

AB was my 6.

Pidge is almost as crucial as Warnie.

lou

I like Monty's list. That's my list, though I'm tempted by OoohAaah.

TKYC

I'll take m0nty's list, but slide DK Lillee into 3, and push the rest down one peg each.

The Don has risen

Bradman would be 1 of course. Best way to understand Z scores was examining Bradman. One in ten thousand years.

Warney, yes great match-winner

Lillee yes best fast bowler of all time.
Gilchrist. yes gave respectability to tonking. averaged over 60 at his peak.

Miller. no great fast bowler but vastly over-rates as a batsman, like sobers was no all-rounder.

Border saved a nmber of tests but never won any. Used the 'edge' to perfection as well. To think he only started at Mosman's 5th grade because they lacked numbers.

Put in Thommo. Fastest of all time. that's good enough

Tony

For the record: Miller's bowling average is 23 and his batting average 37.

Tony

Chappelli on Miller:

The Miller escapade I most admired was one of quick-thinking ingenuity. He was lounging around at mid-on and the pro-South Australian crowd was baiting him over the lack of interest he appeared to be taking in the thrashing NSW were administering. When a lofted shot went over his head, to the right, he loped after it, casually got his hands under the ball, then let it fall to the ground. The crowd erupted and began calling Miller a mug. What they didn't realise was there'd been an early no-ball call under the old back-foot law. Once the batsmen saw the ball hit the turf they called for a second run. Seizing his opportunity, Miller pounced on the ball, whirled and threw to the bowler's end. John Drennan was run out for nought.
Tony

Of course, Miller may have just dropped the catch and made a sharp recovery, but Chappelli's story is still interesting.

The Don has risen

Miller won a test with the bat.
Possibly because he batted far too high.
if he went in at 6 or 7 he may well have been an allrounder to consider with Botham however he didn't.

take 48 with that most over-rated team. both Lindwall and Tallon had better batting records.

In my greatest team he would be first change ,taking the ball after Lillee and Thommo. he was a seamer rather than a swinger. A faster, much faster, version of McGrath.

m0nty

My list was dictated not just by stats or on-field achievements, because "greatest" also denotes the effect they had on the game. Bradman, as TDhr said, can't be thought of as anything other than the greatest cricketer of all time if you understand statistics, and vying for greatest sportsperson of all time - and that's not even taking into account the fact that his dominance caused an international incident and had the game changed as a result, or the amount of legends that have grown around events in his career. Warne revived spin bowling, sure, but he's no Bradman. Maybe if he'd averaged 7 wickets per innings and had the ICC change the rules to ensure batsmen never got out to balls pitching outside leg.

Border, he dragged this country's cricket almost single-handedly out of the rut it got into after WSC and into the dominant force it was for 15-20 years. He is a colossus of the sport in Australia, you kind of forget that watching him be one of the boys on Fox Sports but his achievements with the bat and (more importantly) with the captain's grumpy beard are a large reason why Waugh, Taylor and Ponting had winning teams.

I included Miller instead of Lillee because I think while their records are similar enough in terms of amount of achievements, Miller stands as a more iconic figure in his era, emblematic of Australian cricket and what makes it great. Lillee's recovery from back issues and modification of technique made him a better bowler, but I think we probably over-rate his achievements today. 355 wickets was a lot for the time but I think those accumulative records are a bit naff given the amount of cricket that is played has been increasing steadily since the 60s, so those records are always going to be broken on a consistent basis.

Gilchrist, you could argue that he was a cherry on top of an already fantastic era so what did his achievements mean, really. Nevertheless, there's no doubting he is the greatest wicketkeeper of all time, especially according to how we value modern keepers. The likes of Grout, Marsh and Healy were better keeping technicians, but Gilchrist took the batting element of his game through the stratosphere. Bradman may have given TLM his blessing as the player who played most like him, but I reckon if he had lived long enough to see Gilly in his prime, he would have changed his mind. TLM bats like a batsman, Gilly batted like a machine - the latter of which is what they used to say of the Don. (The Don died in February 2001, Gilly became Test keeper in 1999 and didn't really break out until the Ashes series of mid-2001.)

Tony

Fair call, m0nt.

AB is one of my few sporting heroes; that includes Demons.

He consistently performed ridiculous batting feats in a loser team over a long period and toughened up a bunch of flakes.

Russ

I'm with m0nty on Bradman at 1.

Warne I am not sure about. His overall value to the side is immense, and he was a match-winner par excellence. But I think McGrath was better, his record against everyone is insanely good, his dominance of key moments unparalleled, even by Lillee. He is not a glamourous cricketer, but I'd put him second, because in a decade of inflated batting stats, and flat as flat Australian wickets he just slaughtered batsmen.

Border third, for the reasons cited above.

Warne fourth, Miller fifth. For reasons already stated. I don't rate Gilchrist as highly, coming in behind a loaded lineup, and struggling at times against the moving ball.

I'd put forward too, that Spofforth and Trumper were as important, in their own ways. England didn't Australia seriously until Spofforth routed them at home - from that loss was birthed the Ashes, regular tours, test match cricket itself. He was instrumental in the development of fast bowling too. Trumper's record is merely excellent (for the time), but his contemporaries raved about him, his ability to manufacture strokes and score from good balls, or on bad wickets. Before Trumper Australian batsmen had a reputation for being a little agricultural and unreliable. After him, we never looked back.

Tony

That's a good call on Pidge, Russ. He had a spectacular knack for pinching early wickets. We sorely miss him now. And not just early wickets: whenever we dawdled in the field, Pidge would conjure a wicket, think of Cook in Perth in 2006. Compare that Perth with Perth 2008 against SA. What wouldn't I have given to have Pidge nick out a couple extra wickets late on day 4.

m0nty

The archetypal image I have of Border is his depiction in the Larry Pickering nude calendars. He's got pads on and not much else, including the middle stump, and the middle stump is as large as leg and off. Sadly not reproduced on the Pickering site (though Lillee is, NSFW).

Tony

Brearley on Lillee:

The acme of menace

ONE day in Perth I played a defensive push and Dennis Lillee picked the ball up in his follow-through, shaking his hand, as if I'd stung him with the ferocity of my drive. I enjoyed that. Dennis could be genuinely and collegially funny. He was also the best bowler I played against.

Somehow I get the impression Spanky would like to write like Brearley, but lacking the juice, he instead packs his articles with wordy garnish.

The Don has risen

sorry but border merely saved tests he never won any.

Hopeless captain as well.

Agree on the Demon and Victor. Remember wickets back then were NOT the batsman friendly ones we see now

lou

I don't see how there's anything 'mere' about saving matches. Not with the team we had for much of the 80's. Besides he took a ten for once. Punter and Chappell never did that.

m0nty

And with that tenfer he won a match, I recall.

Tony

Pity AB's bag was in a dead rubber.

Maybe back in the 80s we should have played the Sydney Test first up.

RT

18 tests, 12 wins. A 66.66% winning record is pretty damned fine. Also played in 4 draws, so only 11.11% of his test matches were losses. No wonder Miller's name is regularly slotted in any top 5.

A mate met him in a pub a while back and they played a few games of pool. Colin was still dirty at Michael Slater for dropping TLM in '01, who went on to make a crucial century in one of the 2 losses the Funkster was involved in. Bowlers simply don't forgive and forget.

I'd put O'Donnell in too. Regular Player Of The Year.

Excellent article by Brearley. As you say, Roebuck must read that and spank himself. That's how a cricket article should read.

Tony

Tony Wilson on Warnie:

An ode to our Warnie

HE IS our Warnie. His presence at the top of his mark, spinning a ball from hand to hand, zinc cream across his nose and blond hair blowing in the wind, was as reassuring to Australian fans as it must have been demoralising to batsmen. If the pitch wasn't turning, survival was difficult; on a turner, it was near-impossible. The combination of spin, flight, control, endurance, disguise and physical intimidation was like nothing ever seen. Even after his non-wicket-taking balls, Warne would make an “O” shape with his mouth, as if in total disbelief that the batsman had kept it out.

“Bowling, Shaaane.” Back to his mark. Do it again.

Professor Rosseforp

A tough one. Bradman must be included ; for one thing, there are only a couple of players who have had the rules changed because of their playing -- Muralidharan of course, but the laws were changed IN his favour, whereas reducing the size of the ball worked AGAINST Bradders.
I would think Bill O'Reilly should be somewhere thereabouts if not in the top 5.
Richie Benaud must stake a claim for his bowling -- he always underestimates himself when compared to Warnie, but he had the added burden of captaincy. From the same era, Bobby Simpson would also come close -- not only for his impeccable batting and fielding, but for the influence he has had as a coach. Allan Border probably owes him a lot for the early work Simmo did with him. Chappelli for the same reason -- he changed the nature of cricket as a captain because he actually wanted to win, whereas the 1960s seems to be a dull procession of draws. Australia's "ugly Australian" tag comes from the Chappelli era, and it heralds the "win-at-all-costs" mentality that is associated with Australia as a test cricket nation -- Chappelli probably got some of that mongrel from Les Favell, I suppose.
But you could probably throw a blanket over 50 cricketers for the top 5. I think we underestimate many of the 19th century players and any from the 20th century that we haven't seen personally.

Tony

Baum on Bradman (and the Red Bandanna):

Swiftly fades the Don

As a cricketer, the Don at least faded brightly. As an immortal, there has been some sort of eclipse. It is just on 10 years since he died, a blip beside the 70 of living legendhood that preceded them. But he is gone already from the country's vernacular. The term “Bradmanesque” is rarely heard, and it is an age since the last “next Bradman” was anointed. Peter FitzSimons never did write a book on him. It is as if he has slipped the country's mind.

The Don has risen

Bradman was not liked by team-mates until after [email protected] when he became the headmaster in charge.

His leaking to the papers of what Woodfull said in the dressing room in Adelaide during the Bodyline series and allowing Fingleton to take the blame left a bad taste.
This was exacerbated in 1936 when 6 catholics were hurled up to have a meeting with the Cricket board after losing the first two tests.

Bradman said he knew nothing about it. no-one believed him.

Stan McCabe had a sport-shop in the CBD in Sydney and had quite a few stories.

Bert Oldfield never denied them but also never enlarged upon them.

As a batsman we will never ever see anything like him again.

Yobbo

Lots of commentators rating Ponsford + Spofforth very harshly.

Spofforth basically invented fast bowling as we know it.

Honey

from cricinfo live conrtmeamyAvanti has a fact-trivia for us: The first testicular guard was used in cricket in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. It took 100 years for men to realize that the brain is also important! The species has to continue even if produces mad people. I think the priority is perfectly fine!

m0nty

I would be quite happy to never read a word written by Tony Wilson again in my life.

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