It's not so simple now. There are now three cricket formats and I reckon across them Australia now typically uses 30 to 40 cricketers over a summer. There are quite possibly more current cricketers that have represented Australia - or at least made a national squad - than there are mere state players.
|You've changed, man!|
So here's a helpful guide to literally all of them. Number 81 is my favourite.
There have been two full rounds of Shield cricket, the first coinciding with the abandoned New Zealand versus Cricket Australia XI tour match, and the second with the 'Gabba Test. That's back-to-back weeks where 77 Australian cricketers have been on display simultaneously.
I've rated every single one of them - 92 players in all, as some haven't played both weeks.
I've used two basic criteria:
- What I See - I watch a lot of cricket: most of the Big Bash League (BBL), the Tests when I'm not working, and the night portions of the limited overs internationals. But I'm not going to pretend I've seen most of these players enough to make a real assessment.
- What I Read - opinions and news reports and stats checks. With stats, I lean towards first-class averages. I want to focus on weighting the rankings towards a players prospects of playing Test matches.
I've also excluded injured cricketers, the most notable are Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, and Chris Lynn.
Also all these players are really amazingly good, even the bottom ranked ones. So if I say something critical it's because I've compared them relative to other pros, not because I'm some dickhead who doesn't appreciate their talent and dedication.
Here's the list:
Category A: THE TEST TEAM
1. Steve Smith (NSW)
The Australian captain and probably the best batsmen in the world, although he started as teenage leg-spin bowling prodigy, and was heavily mocked early in his Test career for his unorthodox technique. Sometimes, cricket is a funny game.
2. David Warner (NSW)
Warner started as a novelty act - selected for Australia in Twenty 20 before playing a first-class match - and is now Test vice-captain. Sometimes, cricket is a very funny game. I've covered before how he theoretically can't speak Hindi.
3. Mitch Johnson (WA)
DK Lillee said when Johnson was a teenager that he would be Australia's next great quick. How we laughed at that prophecy as he "bowled to the left, bowled to the right" in the 2009 Ashes. Years later he would bowl straight and terrify those same batsmen in a way rarely seen since the advent of helmets. Sometimes, cricket funny something something.
4. Mitch Starc (NSW)
Probably the best one-day cricketer in the world, hasn't got to the same level in Tests yet.
5. Nathan Lyon (NSW)
This probably seems too high, but the rest of the Test team doesn't appear as secure of their place as the unfashionable and underrated spinner. He's no Warney but is probably our best offie in 30 years. He also leads the team victory song and they don't give that honour to just anyone.
6. Adam Voges (WA)
The veteran was the Shield leader runscorer last season and in a relatively inexperienced Test batting order his experience will be highly valued.
7. Josh Hazlewood (NSW)
The man most likely to be referred to ask "the next Glen McGrath". Has a very good Test bowling average for a guy who seems to get dropped every other game.
8. Joe Burns (Qld)
9. Usman Khawaja (Qld)
Two Queenslanders, one home grown and other imported, one consistent but under-the-radar and the other higher profile and often discarded. Both scored hundreds in a limited over tour game to secure their Test spots, and then delivered impressive maiden Test centuries on their home ground.
10. Phil Nevill (NSW)
Reliable 'keeper and Australia hasn't yet seen the best of his batting.
11. Mitch Marsh (WA)
Enormous potential but not quite sure he fully warrants a Test place yet. His future appears to be mainly as a batsmen, although his defensive technique needs tightening, and his bowling is probably a bit underrated.
Category B: NEARLY MEN
12. Peter Siddle (Vic)
His Test recall helped Australia save face in the recent Ashes, but it's clear from his axing from the Gabba side they don't really want to pick him. At 30 is considered too old and too slow, both probably unfair.
13. Cameron Bancroft (WA)
Would've made the Test team with a century in the opening Shield game. Instead got one in the second, by which time his rivals were doing the same for Australia. The selectors will like his patience - a player prepared to bat slowly is probably a good thing for this current Aussie side.
14. James Faulkner (Tas)
A brilliant limited overs all-rounder, from 2011 to 2013 he was also the most prolific bowler going around the Sheffield Shield. Probably needs the chance to take more first-class wickets to make the Test team, as his batting isn't quite good enough for top six at Test level.
15. James Pattinson (Vic)
All the injuries mean it's forgotten that Pattinson was considered at least as good as Starc and Hazlewood.
16. Michael Klinger (WA)
Probably the best current cricketer to have not played for Australia. Has started the year with a double century, following a winter dominating country cricket. Has a reputation as a slow scorer, yet one of the best one-day and Twenty 20 records around.
17. Ed Cowan (NSW)
Made a century in his first Shield game back for NSW after a stint in Tassie that saw him become an international Test opener. Might have been a bolter for a future recall if the selected batsmen failed. They didn't, and it appears his international career is over.
18. Shaun Marsh (WA)
Has had more Test chances than his modest and inconsistent Shield record deserves - meaning with Watto's retirement, he is probably Australia's most despised cricketer. Conversely has probably played less limited overs cricket than he should have.
19. Andrew Fekete (Tas)
A shock callup to the Australia squad for the cancelled Bangladesh tour.
Category C: SELECTORS COULD DO WORSE
20. Matt Wade (Vic)
21. Peter Handcsomb (Vic)
Handscomb is a highly rated young batsmen, but it might help his cause with the national selectors if he could usurp Wade as Vic wicketkeeper. His problem is that Wade is a better 'keeper, with a better batting average, and will still be pushing for an Australia recall.
22. George Bailey (Tas)
A very good captain, it still raised eyebrows when he was selected to lead Australia on his Twenty 20 debut. Over time he proved himself as a fine limited overs interntational batsmen, although a single Test Ashes series suggested he wasn't up to it against the red ball.
23. Doug Bollinger (NSW)
Doug the Rug is still going for NSW, and Hobart in the BBL. I think he'd still be decent at international level, but is probably too old for a recall now.
24. Steve O'Keefe (NSW)
A spin bowler with a first-class bowling average under 25, it seems ridiculous that he has played just one Test, when the Aussie selectors seem to have tried literally everyone as a Warnie replacement
25. Fawad Ahmed (Vic)
If nothing else, Farad Ahmed showed the most effective path to permanent residency for refugees: be a semi-professional cricketer.
26. Glen Maxwell (Vic)
Maxwell is best summed up by the Spinal Tap line that "there's a fine line between stupid and clever". People are okay with Maxwell tap-dancing all over that line in pyjama cricket and for his state, just not for the Test team.
27. Sam Whiteman (WA)
Highly rated young 'keeper-batsmen from the west.
28. Callum Ferguson (SA)
Similar to Shaun Marsh in that he's too inconsistent to fulfill his Test match potential, but possibly deserved to play more shorter format internationals.
Category D: QUICK BOWLERS I LIKE
29. Ben Hilfenhaus (Tas)
30. John Hastings (Vic)
31. Jackson Bird (Tas)
32. Gurinder Sandhu (NSW)
33. Ben Cutting (Qld)
34. Jason Behrendorff (WA)
35. Michael Hogan (WA)
36. Chadd Sayers (SA)
Hilfy is perhaps over the hill. Hastings and Bird are very effective at Shield level, but short a yard of pace for troubling good Test batsmen. Sandhu may be the same, although it's too early to tell, and I like his clever limited overs bowling. Cutting is almost more of a batting all-rounder in Twenty 20 these days - the cleanest hitter in Aus cricket. Behrendorff has a strong record but some great left-armers ahead of him. Hogan has been prolific in English county cricket. Sayers is the best fast bowler you've never heard of, with a first-class bowling average under 25.
Category E: RELIABLE SHIELD PLAYERS
37. Mark Cosgrove (SA)
Real talk - if Cosgrove was 20kgs lighter he plays far more than three ODIs for Australia.
38. Alex Doolan (Tas)
39. Rob Quiney (Vic)
Remember when these batsmen with moderate first-class records batted at #3 in Test matches for Australia?
40. Peter George (Qld)
I forgot seamer George played a test match about five years ago!
41. Nic Maddinson (NSW)
42. Ryan Carters (NSW)
Two promising NSW batsmen that will push for Australia selection down the track.
43. Travis Head (SA)
44. Marcus Stoinis (Vic)
Both players have promised more than they've delivered so far. Head was made his state's youngest ever captain before he made a hundred. He finally did this week as SA successfully chased over 300 in the 4th innings. Stoinis bats at #3 in the stacked Vic side and has been selected once for Australia in each limited overs format. Both are handy bowlers too.
45. Chris Hartley (Qld)
Underrated 'keeper-batsmen who has been around so long he was briefly Adam Gilchrist's understudy.
46. Kane Richardson (SA)
Has played both limited overs formats for Aus, and has a big IPL contract. Yet from what I've seen doesn't look that good… and his FC bowling average is 38.
47. Tim Paine (Tas)
Tidy 'keeper but seriously overrated with the bat - FC average is under 30, with one century made almost a decade ago when not behind the stumps. Also one of the slowest scoring limited overs batsmen of the last decade for Australia.
48. Moises Henriques (NSW)
49. James Hopes (Qld)
50. Dan Christian (Vic)
Three jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none types. Their all-round ability has made for useful Australian players in limited over formats, but none have ever looked good enough as a batsmen or bowler to force his way to Test honours. Henriques is probably the best ever cricketer born in Portugal though.
Category F: THE ENIGMAS
51. Ben Dunk (Tas)
A revelation in OD cricket (highest score 229*), and BBL (2013-14 player of the tournament), Dunk finally scored a maiden first-class century this week.
52. Sean Abbott (NSW)
A very young and promising fast bowling all-rounder who has already played for Australia in both limited overs formats. Limited opportunities in Sheffield Shield so far.
53. Cameron White (Vic)
Victorian captain for forever, yet can't even make the side now! Also a very prolific and underrated Twenty 20 player.
54. Tom Cooper (SA)
Arguably Netherlands best batsmen when he's not busy being SA's fourth best one.
55. Ashton Agar (WA)
Started the season with a maiden century, and probably needs to convert from a spinner to batsmen like others (Smith, White) to regain international selection.
56. Travis Dean (Vic)
Early days but a good start. Scored twin centuries on first-class debut, just the seventh player in the history of cricket to do so, the second Aussie, and first in the Sheffield Shield.
57. Aaron Finch (Vic)
An automatic pick for Aus as an opener in limited overs cricket, Finch recently scored 288* for the CA XI… finally pushing his FC average over 30, and earning him a Shield recall as a #5 batsmen.
Category G: THE REST
58. Kurtis Patterson (NSW)
Made 157 on debut, but still hasn't established a regular place in the star-studded NSW side.
59. Joe Mennie (SA)
A regular seamer for SA is, like seemingly half the players in Sheffield Shield, originally from NSW.
60. Scott Henry (Qld)
Another NSW player making a name elsewhere - he scored a century of FC debut for Queensland at the start of this season.
61. Mark Steketee (Qld)
62. Scott Boland (Vic)
Two good young quicks, although only one has the coolest surname in Australian cricket.
63. Nathan Reardon (Qld)
Veteran who has never established himself in the Qld Shield team, but has a very decent record in limited overs formats.
64. Tim Ludeman (SA)
Decent 'keeper, but not good enough with the bat to get to the next level.
65. Cameron Boyce (Qld)
66. Xavier Doherty (Tas)
67. Adam Zampa (SA)
Three spinners with average records that are probably within a shout of Aus Test selection anyway. Boyce looks the best, but gets selected the least, and in unfriendly conditions at the 'Gabba. Doherty is an ODI regular, but doesn't put enough work on the red ball to be effective. Zampa will gets loads of opportunities in a dodgy SA side.
68. Ben Rohrer (NSW)
A steady veteran batsmen who can be counted to fill in for NSW when the international stars are away.
69. Sam Heazlett (Qld)
70. Matt Renshaw (Qld)
The debutants filling in for Queensland when Burns and Khawaja got their Australia callups. The scorebook looks promising - Heazlett scored a century and fifty on debut, while Renshaw at least occupied the crease, making 37 off about a gajillion deliveries in his first innings
71. Evan Gulbis (Tas)
A seam bowling allrounder, almost half his career first-class runs to date have come in one innings of 229.
72. Marcus Harris (WA)
Harris was once touted by Mark Taylor in the media as a potential opener for Australia. His stats suggest otherwise.
73. Sam Mackin (WA)
74. Josh Lalor (NSW)
75. Chris Tremain (Vic)
Three fast bowlers. Mackin has a decent record early in his career, Lalor must have something about his as NSW keep picking him, and Tremain has just moved to Vic for further opportunities.
76. Jake Doran (Tas)
Just 18 and fast-tracked into the Tas Shield team this year from NSW age-group teams.
77. Markus Labuschagne (Qld)
78. Jack Wildermuth (Qld)
Here's a couple more cool, possibly made-up, surnames in the Qld side.
79. Wayne Bosisto (WA)
80. Tom Beaton (WA)
Both recent Australia U19 captains are getting some early season opportunities at Shield level this season.
81. Daniel Worrall (SA)
The Banksy of cricket, but with less appreciation for his art.
82. Hilton Cartwright (WA)
83. Mitch Swepson (Qld)
Probably the best performed batsmen and bowler in the vastly overmatched Cricket Australia one-day squad.
84. Ashton Turner (WA)
Made his first-class debut for the touring Australians during the 2013 Ashes tour. It was a wild time for selectors.
85. Jay Lenton (NSW)
Wicketkeeper who made his debut for NSW last week.
86. Liam Hatcher (NSW)
Australian U19 quick who ripped through the England U19 in a recent series.
87. Alex Ross (SA)
88. Kelvin Smith (SA)
Two young SA batsmen looking to establish themselves in the Shield.
89. Jason Floros (Qld)
From watching BBL, he strikes me as a bits and pieces role player who will struggle for a regular first-class place.
90. Dom Michael (Tas)
Journeyman opening batsmen originally from Queensland.
91. Matthew Short (Vic)
92. Jake Reed (Vic)
A young Victorian all-rounder and seamer.