Was Lloyd's Team The Best Ever?
Fri, Dec 6, '02
The arrival of former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd in South Africa this week got me thinking about the claim doing the rounds that the current Australian cricket team is the "greatest ever".
The West Indian, who will referee the forthcoming Test and limited-overs series between South Africa and Pakistan, was captain of the last team to earn plaudits as the best. Another team to earn top-line approval were the 1948 Aussie "invincibles" who went unbeaten in 34 matches on their all-conquering tour of England.
And don't forget South Africa's marvellous team of 1970 that destroyed Ian Chappell's Australians 4-0 in that never-to-be-forgotten series.
So here are composite lists of those four teams at the height of their powers. There may be the odd player or two who occasionally played for each of them during their pomp, but I'm keeping the numbers down to 11 for each.
Don Bradman (capt), Lindsay Hassett, Arthur Morris, Keith Miller, Sidney Barnes, Bill Johnston, Neil Harvey, Don Tallon (w/k), Ray Lindwall, Ernie Toshack, Doug Ring.
West Indies circa 1980:
Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Larry Gomes, Viv Richards, Alvin Kallicharan, Clive Lloyd (capt), Jeff Dujon (w/k), Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts.
South Africa 1970:
Trevor Goddard, Barry Richards, Ali Bacher (capt), Graeme Pollock, Eddie Barlow, Denis Lindsay (w/k), Tiger Lance, Mike Procter, Peter Pollock, John Traicos, Pat Trimborn.
Australia circa 2002:
Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Damien Martyn, Steve Waugh (capt), Adam Gilchrist (w/k), Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath.
It would take a brave man to place those teams in order of merit. Trying to compare teams through history, with the different conditions, technology and cultures prevailing, is a well-nigh impossible task.
One of the few judgments you could make would be on the variety and attractiveness of the fare on offer. In that regard, the two Australian teams probably come out on top. Both scored their runs at about four to the over, both had superb pace attacks balanced by world-class (or in the Invincibles' case very good) spinners.
Three reservations I have about Lloyd's team would be the appalling over rate (12 to the hour), a lack of variety in their (peerless pace) attack and their often indiscriminate use of short-pitched bowling.
But whatever your thoughts, discussing their respective merits is a pretty good way of killing a couple of hours with your buddies over a beer or two...
*SOURCE: Independent Online.