Don Bradman: The highest impact batsman in Ashes history.

The Pre and Post-War Ashes XI through the Impact Index sieve. We have kept a minimum of 15 Ashes Tests for every player.

The composition: The top five positions have been reserved for batsmen with selection according to Batting Impact at that particular position. The leading all-rounder comes in at number six while the highest-impact wicket-keeper is positioned at seven. Positions 8 to 11 are kept for the highest impact bowlers – with a maximum of two spinners in any team.

Note: A series-defining performance ( SD ) is a high impact performance which decides the series scoreline (in a deciding game to win, or to draw level behind) or two high impact performances (in matches won or drawn) in a victorious series. An SD , hence holds the highest value in our system.

Ashes XI (Pre-war) (1877-1945)

1) Arthur Shrewsbury snr: 1882-1893 (England) (19 Ashes Tests)

2) Jack Hobbs: 1908-1930 (England) (38)

3) Don Bradman: 1928-1948 (Australia) (27)

4) Wally Hammond: 1928-1947 (England) (30)

5) Stanley Jackson: 1893-1905 (England) (20)

6) Jack Gregory: 1920-1928 (Australia) (20)

7) Sammy Carter: 1907-1921 (Australia) (21)

8) Charlie Turner: 1887-1895 (Australia) (17)

9) Bobby Peel: 1884-1896 (England) (20)

10) Bill O’Reilly: 1932-1938 (Australia) (19)

11) Sydney Barnes: 1901-1912 (England) (17)

Notable Omissions:

Herbert Sutcliffe, with a batting average of 61, does not make the XI despite being a more prolific and consistent run-scorer than Hobbs, primarily because he has just one SD in 28 Ashes Tests (6 series). He registered a high impact performance in the series-decider in the 1930 Ashes but England were thrashed by Australia and as such Sutcliffe missed out on a second SD . Hobbs had 2 SDs in 38 Tests against Australia.

Jack Hobbs: One of the only two English batsmen (other being Botham) to produce two SDs in The Ashes

Notable omissions amongst bowlers included two great spinners – Clarrie Grimmett had 2 SDs in 22 Tests while Hugh Trumble one in 31. They miss out to Bobby Peel who had a higher propensity to take wickets and exceptional big-match temperament (with 3 SDs in just 20 Tests). In fact, he is the highest impact bowler in Ashes history.

Ashes XI (Post-war) (1945-2015)

1) Colin McDonald: 1952-1961 (Australia) (15 Ashes Tests)

2) Bob Simpson: 1958-1966 (Australia) (19)

3) Greg Chappell: 1970-1983 (Australia) (30)

4) Peter May: 1953-1961 (England) (21)

5) Keith Miller: 1946-1956 (Australia) (29)

6) Ian Botham: 1977-1989 (England) (32)

7) Adam Gilchrist: 2001-2007 (Australia) (20)

8) Shane Warne: 1993-2007 (Australia) (36)

9) Dennis Lillee: 1971-1982 (Australia) (24)

10) Craig McDermott: 1984-1996 (Australia) (16)

11) Terry Alderman: 1981-1991 (Australia) (17)

Notable Omissions:

Len Hutton had a higher Runs Tally Impact (proportion of runs scored in a match), a better ability to absorb pressure (of falling wickets) and was more consistent than both Colin McDonald and Bobby Simpson but misses out on an opener’s slot for not being able to add to his SD in 1933 – he had an opportunity in the series-decider in 1953 but missed out.

Ian Botham: One of the only two English players (other being Peter May) to make it to the post-war Ashes XI

Colin McDonald scored big-runs and gave a big SD (he was consistent throughout the series) in the 1958-59 Ashes series and thus scores over Hutton.

Bobby Simpson had serious big-match temperament, proof of which are his 2 SDs – this is the reason he grabs an opening spot despite being relatively inconsistent and low on Runs Tally Impact .

Bob Simpson: Despite being low on Runs Tally Impact , had a serious big-match temperament

Matthew Hayden, Alastair Cook and Ricky Ponting did not have a great Ashes record. They had a high failure rate with the bat, were not consistent big run-scorers and did not have a single SD .

Peter May is the second-highest impact Ashes batsman after Bradman. Consistency was his forte – with the lowest failure rate in Ashes history. His twin qualities – the ability to score big runs and absorb pressure (of falling wickets) make him high impact.

Glenn McGrath misses out to Craig McDermott for a lack of big-match performance in Ashes contests. He displayed a high propensity to pick up wickets and was brilliantly consistent and restrictive but failed to produce an SD purely on bowling merit (he produced an SD in the 2002-03 series but needed a little support from his batting). McGrath was the leading wicket-taker in the 2001 victorious Ashes. Despite producing high impact performances consistently throughout the series, he narrowly missed out on an SD . With McGrath, it was also a case of being part of a world-beating side which meant that on many occasions he had to share the Bowling Impact with other fellow bowlers which included a certain Shane Warne.

Terry Alderman is an interesting name here but a much deserved one. He is the highest impact Ashes fast bowler in history for his outstanding performances in 1981 and 1989.

Shane Warne takes the spinner’s spot over Jim Laker as he was a bigger series-winner with the ball for Australia.

Shane Warne: Second-most restrictive bowler in Ashes history after Bill O’Reilly

While we see England were the more dominant side till 1945 (with 6 players in the Ashes XI), Australia monopolise the post-war team (with 9 players). Peter May and Ian Botham are the only two Englishmen who make the XI here – not really surprising as Australia won 21 out of 40 Ashes series since 1945 (England won 13 and 6 were drawn).


Nikhil Narain/ Soham Sarkhel
Caricatures- Vasim Maner