Almanac Cricket – Gabba Test XI: the greatest performance in the greatest match

So here we are, another spring/summer/autumn of Australian international cricket. Having had four full rounds of the Sheffield Shield and some Australia A cricket to boot, the selectors have decided it’s all too hard and have picked Bancroft in the squad instead of players in form. The incriminating photos he must have of Justin Langer not looking earnest must be a sight to behold.


So, selection frustrations aside, let’s look at the upcoming Brisbane Test at the Gabba (or the Brisvegas Test at the Gabbattoir if you would like me to be violent towards you) and pick an XI from the finest men’s Test performances at the venue.


Here is the Australian men’s XI:






The first opener picked on his home deck is Matt Hayden with his twin centuries in the 2002 Ashes Test. Hayden’s 197, including a 272 run first innings partnership with Ponting (123) ensured Australia was in a barely pregnable position right from the start of the Test thanks to Nasser Hussain sending them in. England’s 325 (McGrath 4/87) and collapse for 79 (McGrath 4/36) meant Australia won by 384 runs.


Joining Hayden with twin centuries is that quiet young lad Davey Warner from 2015 against New Zealand. Australia won the Test by 208 runs. 161 run partnerships with Joe Burns (71) and 150 with Usman Khawaja (174) led Australia to a comfortable 4/556. The only substantial resistance from New Zealand came in the form of a brilliant 140 from Kane Williamson pushing NZ to 317 (Starc 4/57). The highlight of Australia’s second innings 4/264 was Warner’s 237 run partnership with Burns (129). New Zealand (295) and the Test were finished by lunch on Day 5, Warner unable to inspire the opposition to victory with his mouth in this case.


Honourable mention: Keith Stackpole with the only Australian opener’s double century at the Gabba, 207 coming against England in 1970.


Number 3

Coming in at No. 3 is Ricky Ponting in the 2006 Ashes. Another Gabba Test starting disastrously for England with the Harmison ball. Ponting likely didn’t add to the visitors’ moods, compiling 196, including a 209 run partnership with Mike Hussey (86) to get Australia to 9/602. Australia then bundled England out for 157 (McGrath 6/50), before giving the bowlers a quick rest to get 1/202. England put up more of a fight in the second innings, with 370 (Clark 4/72, Warne 4/124), but still fell 277 runs short.


Honourable mention: Don Bradman’s 226 against South Africa in 1931 did not leave opportunity for second innings runs as Australia won by an innings and 163 runs.


Middle order

More twin centuries as Greg Chappell lines up at No. 4 with 123 and 109* against the West Indies in 1975. Australia won by 8 wickets. After Gus Gilmour (4/42) rolled through the visitors’ first innings for 214, a 122 run partnership with Rod Marsh (48) aided Chappell to get Australia to 366 (a leap innings?). As can be the way at the Gabba, batting consistently got easier. The West Indies put on 370 (Rowe 107), but Australia (2/219) had little trouble running the target down as Greg put on an unbroken 159 run partnership with brother Ian (74*).


The top four runs compiled in this line-up have happened this century – perhaps the pitch has become a tad placid. Michael Clarke is next at No. 5 with 259 undismissed runs against South Africa in the drawn 2012 Test. Australia’s 5/565 (Quiney 9), featuring a 259 run partnership between Clarke and Cowan (136), and a 228 run partnership between Clarke and Hussey, answered South Africa’s 450 (Kallis 147). South Africa made it to 5/166 in the second dig to stave off any chance of an Australian win.


It’s suitable that the greatest Test played at the Gabba should feature. Norm O’Neill (batting at No. 4) qualifies against the West Indies in 1960 Tied Test. In response to the West Indies’ 453 (Sobers 132, Davidson 5/135) O’Neill’s 181 was the bedrock of Australia 505. Following the West Indies’ 284 (Davidson 6/87), and chasing 263 for victory, O’Neill the third wicket to fall (to Hall (5/63)) with the score on 49. This precipitated Australia’s to collapse to 5/57 before Davidson (80) and Benaud (52) righted the ship and led to that most famous result.



For the gloveman, it’s very hard to go past Ian Healy’s unbeaten 206 runs and four catches against the West Indies in 1996 (also the fourth best middle order performance for Australia at the ground). Australia won by 123 runs. Coming in at 5/196 Healy put on a 142 run partnership with Steve Waugh (66), getting Australia to a comparatively comfortable 479. A century to one of Adelaide’s finest, Carl Hooper, took the West Indies 277 in response (Reiffel 4/58). Australia batted again, making 6/217, before eventually ending the West Indies for 296 (McGrath 4/60).




Source: Trove


First bowler selected is left armed Invincible Ern Toshack who took an incredible 11/31 against India in 1947. Australia won by an innings and 226 runs. After declaring on 8/382 (Bradman 185), Australia made short work of the visitors. India crumbled to be all out for 58 as Toshack took their last five wickets in two and a half overs. India improved in the second innings, just, as Toshack’s 6 wickets took 17 overs this time as India fell for 98.


Shane Warne, not surprisingly, is next picked with his 11/77 against Pakistan in 1995. Australia won by an innings and 126 runs as Australia’s 463 (Steve Waugh 112 not out) left Pakistan, bamboozled by bounce and spin, far too much to chase. Warne’s 7/23 in 16.1 overs in their first innings 97 was followed up with 4/54 in their follow-on 240 (McGrath 4/76). The match was over early on Day 4.


Another Ashes performance gets the nod with Geoff Lawson’s 11/134 against England in 1982. Australia won by seven wickets. Lawson ran through England’s first innings 219 with 6/47. Followed by Kepler Wessels’s superb 162 on debut in Australia’s 341. England made 309 in their second dig with Lawson (5/87) taking the last four wickets after Thomson (5/73) took care of the top order. Australia got the runs just in time thanks to an unbroken 107 run partnership between David Hookes (66*) and Kim Hughes (39*).


Last but certainly not least is one of the finest Test match performances ever in one of the finest Tests. Alan Davidson qualifies with his 11/222 against West Indies in the Tied Test. That Davo was able to back up 11 wickets with 124 runs made him the first player to take 10 wickets and score 100 runs in a single Test. He has since been joined by Botham, Imran Khan and Shakib Al Hasan, but Davidson remains the only man to have done it without scoring a century – a unique feat in men’s Test cricket!


So, overall, a strong Australian line-up on the pitch. Batting, it makes 12/1868 (Average: 155.67) while taking 44/492 (Average: 11.18). Handy!





Not to be outdone, well, to be outdone, here is Pakistan’s XI based upon performances at the Gabba:



Having only played five Tests at the Gabba and getting trounced on most occasions, Pakistan’s pickings are a bit slimmer. Nonetheless, making 20/955 (Average: 47.75) and taking 20/606 (Average: 30.3) is not to be sniffed at, nor is Saeed Anwar’s second innings score.


Enjoy your cricket!


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About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. Dave, I saw Healy’s 161* against the Windies. ‘Cow Corner’ got a good working over among other, more orthodox strokes. I have a feeling that the term ‘cow corner’ gained traction to coincide with Healy’s career. It was his signature shot. Anyone able to set me to rights?

  2. Ta Dave, good stuff.

    Kim Hughes debut ton was at the Gabba in the opener of the 78-79 Ashes series. Maybe he can carry the drinks, or Carl Rackemann who bowled quite well there in the rain affected match against Pakistan in 1983-84.

    Cameron Bancroft can keep his photos of Justin Langer to himself. I’m sure none of us are interested.


  3. Dave, how good was Davo’s effort in the Tied Test? Epic.

    Some interesting names surfaced in this exercise.


  4. I don’t mind this series of pieces at all, DB.

  5. Thanks Dave. Always a treat. Hadn’t heard of Ern Toshack.5/2 is tidy at any level. Looking forward to the Adelaide XI.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    You had me at Saeed Anwar. Right up there with VVS Laxman as my favourite batsmen to watch. Sublime talent.

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