In 1999 the world braced for what would become of global economies after clocks ticked over to 2000, international cricket sides may have been forgiven for hoping a Y2K breakdown might materialise within the seemingly unstoppable Australian cricket team. The worst fears of Y2K never materialised, nor did any slow down in the continuous stream of cricket talent from our shores.
Between 2000-2020, Australia amassed three World Cup wins and were constantly atop the rankings as the number 1 one-day side in the world. Australia had nursed and raised a wealth of talent over these past two decades, who had now graduated top of the class, albeit with a few who spent a stint or two in detention!
It’s a tough one, but here’s my pick for the greatest Australian one-day team in the 20 years to 2020.
Matches: 46 / Innings: 43 / Runs: 1,530 / Average: 40.26 / 100s: 5 / 50s: 6 / S/R: 74.85
Mark Waugh was one of the finest players of the turn of the millennium era, such an elegant batsman. By the year 2000 he boasted an imposing record. He managed to further his reputation with innings like the 173 vs the West Indies at the MCG. M. E. Waugh is one of the greatest exponents of leg side play and at times made batting look easier than shelling peas. Critics will point to his strike rate vs some openers who dominated the latter era of the two decades but for the time it was more than acceptable. Waugh edges out Warner due to his fielding and being a perfect foil for Adam Gilchrist’s left-handed aggression.
Matches: 210 / Innings: 204 / Runs: 7,219 / Average: 36.64 / 100s: 11 / 50s: 45 / S/R: 100.48
Catches: 325 / Stumpings: 37
Adam Gilchrist was a staple for Australia’s success in the early part of the period. Australian cricket owes Steve Waugh a lot for his decision to promote Gilchrist to opener vs South Africa in the late 90s. The rest they say is history. Gilchrist was famous for stepping up in the big games and taking it to the opposition from the outset. None more so than the 2007 World Cup final against Sri Lanka, with a squash ball in his glove for good measure. Gilchrist was more than tidy behind the stumps as well, he even boats a stumping off Glenn McGrath!
The opening partnership, Waugh & Gilchrist (Photo credit: www.cricket.com.au)
Matches: 283 / Innings: 273 / Runs: 10,381 / Average: 42.19 / 100’s: 24 / 50’s: 65 / S/R: 83.5
There’s at least one generation of cricket fans who grew up watching Ricky Ponting tormenting all kinds of opposition bowlers on grounds across Australia. It was a sight to behold seeing Ponting wielding the Kookaburra Ridgeback-come-Kahuna. Arguably, he was deadlier prowling the covers, with hairy forearms sticking out of the three-quarter sleeve Australian Gold shirt and spitting into his palms before each ball. Batsman were stupid to take on his arm, many did and paid the price.
Like Gilchrist one of his finest innings was in a World Cup final. This time it was the 2003 onslaught in South Africa against India, the white bail sailing far and wide on the Highveld.
Matches: 185 / Innings: 157 / Runs: 5,442 / Average: 48.15 / 100s: 3 / 50s: 39 / S/R: 87.16
You can’t leave a player like Mike Hussey out of the best team of the last 20 years. Hussey has the best average of any Australian batsman with over 50 innings and an impressive strike rate. Mr Cricket was versatile, batting in every position down to 7. His best spot was number 4 – scoring over 50 in 11 of 27 innings. Hussey was what all great teams have – a winner - he won 123 of 185 matches he played, in addition to 6 NR's & 2 ties.
Matches: 189 / Innings: 155 / Runs: 4,930 / Average: 48.15 / 100s: 6 / 50s: 29 / S/R: 92.79
Wkts: 126 / Ave: 37.46 / Economy: 4.99 / 5 wickets: 1
Symonds to many will be considered a controversial selection. However his record with bat and ball is hard to argue with. Like all good all rounders his skills could see him getting picked as either a stand-alone batsman or bowler. Like Ponting, batsman wouldn’t think twice about chancing his arm. Symonds was devastating on his day – ask Waqar, Wasim and Akhtar what they think of him after his 143 v Pakistan at the 2003 World Cup. That day he came in at 4/86 in the 16th over of Australia’s first match of the tournament and rescued them to post 310.
Matches: 110 / Innings: 89 / Runs: 2,990 / Average: 46.71 / 100s: 3 / 50s: 19 / S/R: 71.15
Before Dhoni, Kohli or even Faulkner, Bevan was the original “finisher”. Bev had a showreel of highlight innings in the 1990s which he carried into the early 2000s. Bevan was cricket's answer to Houdini. Just when time was about to expire and all hope looked lost, both were capable of stunning their fans with the greatest of escapes. Two of Bevan’s most famous partnerships shared a common theme – Andy Bichel. The pair got Australia home verse NZ at the MCG in 2002 and then again when Bevan scored 102 not out in an 83 run 9th wicket stand vs England.
Michael Bevan's Last Ball 4 against the West Indies (Video credit: damo3805)
Matches: 190 / Innings: 169 / Runs: 5,757 / Average: 40.54 / 100s: 9 / 50s: 33 / S/R: 90.44
Wkts: 168 / Ave: 31.79 / Economy: 4.95
On face value Watson is more accustomed to the top 3. However, he does have a more than respectable record at 7, averaging over 40 in the position. Watson was devastating finishing an innings off. That power hitting formed the basis of his game in the twilight of his career becoming a global 20/20 superstar. Watto boasts more than handy bowling stats and in this side would be capable of tieing up the middle overs economically and chip in with the occasional wicket.
Matches: 116 / Wkts: 153 / Ave: 25.94 / Economy: 4.52 / 5 wickets: 2
Controversy! A bit of trivia for all you playing at home, Brad Hogg has won more World Cups than Shane Warne! Hogg has a great one-day record, especially in the 2000-2020 era where he had mastered his craft. A man for all conditions, with a bowling average below 32 in every continent he played.
Matches: 221 / Wkts: 380 / Ave: 23.36 / Economy: 4.76 / 5wickets: 9