2001: An Ashes Odyssey XI

The 5th and final test of the 2013 Ashes series is soon to begin at The Oval and looks to be an elongated victory lap for England. The Oval has not been a happy hunting ground for Aussie teams this millennium with England securing the Ashes at The Oval in both 2005 and 2009. However there was a time when this wasn’t so; rewind to 2001 when Australia batted first racking up 4/641 declared including 3 individual centuries (Langer, M Waugh & S Waugh) and then knocked England over twice, thanks to 17 wickets to Warne & McGrath, to win at The Oval by an innings and 25 runs.

This is not really a fantasy XI – how ironic – it is in fact the XI Australia fielded against England for that 5th test at The Oval in 2001. Warm your heart by reminiscing about the glory days of yesty-year and despair as your compere this line up to the current Australian XI.

Here it is:

1. Matthew Hayden

Hayden was only averaging 38 in test cricket at the time despite coming off his career defining tour of India, and only managed  234 runs at 33 on this tour. England never was a  runfest for Haydos, he managed only one century in his final test in England, The Oval, 2005.

Hayden retired in 2009 after 103 test, 8600 test runs with 30 centuries and an average of 50.

2. Justin Langer

Langer returned to the team for the fifth test replacing Michael Slater and hit a century in his only innings, kick starting the highly successful opening partnership with Matthew Hayden.

Langer retired in 2007 after 105 tests, with 7600 test runs, 23 centuries and an average of 45.

3. Ricky Ponting

Ponting managed 338 runs on the 2001 tour with a top score of 144. He’d only made eight centuries in 47 tests by this stage of his career but his best was just around the corner.

Ponting retired in 2012 after 168 tests, 13000 test runs with 41 test centuries and an average of 51

4. Mark Waugh

Mark Waugh was Australia’s leading run scorer in the series with 430 runs at an average of 86 and two centuries. He topped off a fine tour with a series high nine catches.

Waugh’s test career ended in 2002 with 128 tests, 8000 test runs with 20 hundreds and an average of 41.

5. Steve Waugh

Steve Waugh averaged 107 with the bat in the series which included two centuries. He injured his calf in the 3rd test (Simon Katich made his Test debut as an injury replacement in the 4th test) but managed to return for the 5th test to flay England’s bowlers all around The Oval for 157* on one leg. He even brought up his century in comical fashion.

Waugh retired in 2004 after 168 tests, 10900 test runs with 32 test centuries and an average of 51.

6. Damien Martyn

The 2001 Ashes was the series that ignited Damien Martyn’s test career. His first innings on English soil, in the first Test at Leeds, brought him his maiden test century 9 years after his test debut. Martyn had returned to the test line up in 2000 as an injury replacement after 6 years in the wilderness, but it was the 2001 Ashes that cemented his spot in the team and set him on a four year run of playing 52 of the next 57 tests for Australia. He missed a West Indies tour and a Top End tour against Bangladesh in 2003 due to mangling a finger in the 2003 World Cup. After the 2001 Ashes Martyn’s test average sat at 51.

Martyn retired in 2006 after 67 tests, 4400 test runs with 13 hundreds and an average of 46

7. Adam Gilchrist

Gilchrist only got to bat 5 times in this 5 test series but managed 340 runs with a top score of 150. His career average was 51 after this test and he also pouched 24 catches and 2 stumpings in the series.

Gilchrist retired in 2008 after 96 tests, 5500 test runs with 17 centuries and an average of 47. He also had a then record 416 test dismissals.

8. Shane Warne

Warne loved bowling to Englishmen and 2001 was no exception with him taking 31 wickets at 18.70 and an economy rate under 3. The tail, numbers 8-11, was only required to bat 4 times in the series so nothing of note with the bat.

Warne retired in 2007 after 145 test with 708 wickets at an average of 25

9. Brett Lee

Lee was the weak link in this side after he had returned from elbow surgery. He managed just 9 wickets at an average of 55 despite playing all 5 tests. He managed to keep swing bowler Damien Fleming out of the team even though Fleming was probably a bowler ideally suited to English conditions. Funky Colin Miller also had to be content with playing tour matches as Lee held his test spot throughout the Ashes. It is the only example I could see of Australia picking players with one eye on the future during this series.

Lee’s test career ended in 2008 after 76 tests with 310 wickets at an average of 31

10. Jason Gillespie

Gillespie managed 19 wickets at 34. Not quite Warne and McGrath but still more wickets, a lower average and a better economy rate than any Englishman.

Gillespie’s test career finished in 2006 after 71 tests with 259 wickets at 26 He also managed a double century in his last test.

11. Glen McGrath

Glen McGrath, like Shane Warne, could not get enough of  bowling to Englishmen. In the 2001 Ashes, McGrath and Warne took 10 more wickets than all the English bowlers combined. McGrath rumbled England with 32 wickets at 17 and an economy rate of 2.7 on this tour and received the “Man of the Series” award for his efforts.

McGrath retired in 2007 after 124 tests and 563 wickets at an average of 22.

In 2001 Australia retained the Ashes in 13 days and won the series 4-1. The series result probably should have been 4-0 except for a very sporting declaration by stand in skipper, Adam Gilchrist, in the 4th test and the innings of a lifetime from Mark Butcher.

Australia had five of the top six run scorers in the series, of the 11 individual hundreds made in the series nine were made by Australians and only two by Englishmen and the top three wicket takers were all Australian. Australia used just 12 players during the 5 test series as opposed to England’s 19.

Complete domination:  2001 Ashes Odyssey XI

Note: Seven members of this Australian XI retired within a 2 year span – perhaps not the greatest future planning by Australia. Also, of the 17 man Ashes touring party excluding the XI who played at The Oval, of the 6 remaining players (Fleming, Noffke, Miller, Secombe, Katich, Slater) only Katich played Test cricket after this Oval test.



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Ross Slater

Blogging about the important things - AFL and cricket

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