Almanac Cricket – Test Team of the 80s

What do you do when you can’t sleep? I start compiling super teams in my head.  Footy teams in winter.  Cricket teams in summer.  Am I the only person who suffers from this affliction?  I usually fall asleep before I complete such teams, but last night I managed to complete the Test team of the 80s.  When compiling such teams, there is only one rule, no consultation of stats via the smartphone.  It has to come from the deep recesses of the brain.  For whatever reason my powers of recollection are a lot stronger for the 1980s, than for the decade that has just (almost) passed.  I came up with a squad of 17 players, which I whittled down to 12.


Gordon Greenidge

Sunil Gavaskar

I.V.A Richards

Javed Miandad

Allan Border (c)

Ian Botham

Jeff Dujon

Imran Khan

Richard Hadlee

Malcolm Marshall

Abdul Qadir

Kapil Dev (12th man)


I also had two bowlers and three batsmen in the squad.  The bowlers were Joel Garner and Michael Holding, whom I felt did their best work in the first half of the decade (if the side was for 1975-85 it would have been hard to leave them out).  The three batsmen were Desmond Haynes, David Gower and Martin Crowe, whom I just couldn’t squeeze into that top order.  I would have loved to have had Desmond opening with his pal Gordon, but how can you leave out Sunny Gavaskar?


The Aussie greats Lillee, Chappell and Marsh were not considered because they were gone by 83/84, while others such as Curtly Ambrose (who may well have been the player of the 90s) and Wasim Akram started too late.


I’m delighted to include all of the four great all-rounders of the 80s: Botham, Imran, Hadlee and Kapil Dev (albeit as 12th man).  This gives the team great flexibility with the bowling attack and allows us to include Abdul Qadir.  We may not have seen the best of Abdul in Australia but this should not be a barrier to entry (Australia has always been a hard slog for overseas spinners).  There’s a case for Imran to bat higher, but I want him batting at no.8 to help steady the tail (if indeed you can call that a tail).  Imran’s batting got a lot better as the decade wore on, when he was unable to bowl as much due to injury.  He was technically very apt, but I like the idea of the Botham coming in at no.6 and going the tonk.  Marshall at no. 10 is also a luxury.  Some argued that he was the 5th Beatle when it came to all-rounders of the 1980s.  One thing for sure though, he was one of the greatest bowlers of all time (not just the 80s).  It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for almost 20 years now.


I couldn’t consider South Africans due to obvious reasons, and Sri Lanka was a new player on the Test stage in this decade, though I recall Aravinda De Silva started to make his mark.  For what it’s worth, there were two other openers who popped into my head: 1) Graham Gooch, whose decade was interrupted by a rebel South African tour and Terry Alderman, and 2) the Pakistani opener Mudassar Nazar who could score heavily, but was a helluva bowler as well (I’m hard-pressed to remember an opening batsman who was so handy with the ball).


So there you have it.  My Test team of the 80s.  Who did I leave out?



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About Damian Balassone

Damian Balassone is a failed half-forward flanker who writes poetry. He is the author of 'Strange Game in a Strange Land'.


  1. Hard to fault that team, DB. AB was the outstanding batsman of that decade and the only consistently outstanding Australian. Only other batsmen I would consider would be Gower and Richie Richardson. Dujon, Marshall and Hadlee pick themselves and if you could have Imran and Botham, why wouldn’t you?

  2. Thanks Damian, A brilliant side. At first i though that maybe Gower was unlucky and Gooch as well but hard to argue the case. Only trouble is that Greenidge and Gavaskar would deny the rest of them a bat!
    Pretty versatile 12th man too- K Dev.

  3. Gooday Damian. How did AB get the captaincy ?

    The World Cup 1987, Ashes, 1989 were his two great triumphs of nigh on six years holding the reins. He took over a disjointed, divided side, as there was no one else around, holding on for nigh on a decade.

    I V A Richards inherited the number one test team, keeping it there for the rest of the 1980’s. Imran Khan’s greatest triumph was the World Cup in 1992 , however his captaincy of Pakistan in the 1980’s was superb. Pakistan captaincy is a poisoned chalice but he was more than competent throughout his period of captaincy, holding the side together, probably the second best side of that decade.

    Mudassar Nazar made a mess of England at Lords in 1982 picking up 6-32. Also made 10 test tons. Not bad.


  4. Shane John Backx says

    Top heavy with quicks, another spinner for me

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great team DB.
    Have there been any better all-rounders than Imran, Botham, Dev and Hadlee ?
    Abdul Qadir an inspired choice as spinner.
    Some possible contenders:
    Desmond Haynes
    Zaheer Abbas
    John Emburey
    Very disappointed not to see Murray Bennett in the team !

  6. John Butler says

    No room for Dirk Welham?

  7. Dave, Richie Richardson is a good nomination. The coolest cat alive. I was very surpised to hear he had a breakdown of sorts towards the end of his career. Goes to show, you never know what’s happening beneath the surface.
    Agreed Dan, Gower was the most elegant batsman of the era. I loved watching him.
    Glen, I went for AB because he took over when we were a mess (e.g. Hughes stepping down, the Big 3 retiring, the Rebel tours) and then took us back to the top. He would also keep a few egos in check in this team. I did consider Imran, for all the reasons you mention, but I seem to remember the captaincy been a revolving tour between Imran, Javed and Zaheer during the 80s. IVA Richards never lost a series, but inherited the greatest team of all time. Lloyd would definitely be captain if the team was for 75-85, he molded the Windies into world beaters. I still recall Clive being a bloody good batsman when he hung up the boots in 84/85. I like that stat re Mudasser at Lords at Lords. He could really move the ball around. I also recall him destoying the Windies in semi-final of the World Championship of cricket in ’85, which incidently was Lloyd’s last international game.
    Shane, I couldn’t think of another quality spinner in the 80s – but certainly a side in the 90s would have to feature Warnie and Murali…
    maybe Phil’s nomination of Murray Bennett? I’m tempted to pick him Phil just for those retro 80s spectacles. Mind you his mate, Dutchy Holland had a couple of memorable ten wickets halls at the SCG.
    JB, Dirk Wellham was an enigma. A century on debut and then a golden shower from the golden boy as well. And don’t forget this……

  8. Very difficult to argue with that team, Damo.
    But as mentioned above: another spinner, perhaps?

  9. The coolest cat alive?
    Wasn”t that Greg Matthews.
    if yo need a backup spinner Mo is the man.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    No complaints about that team Damian. Any side that has no room for the great Martin Crowe is a super team.

  11. Andrew Starkie says

    Good team, Damo.

    Yeah, Gower maybe. Recently departed Bob Willis?

    Martin Crowe?

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Those wonderful all-rounders. Imran the pick of them for mine. You rightly point out that Marshall was very good with the bat too. What a pity Clive Rice didn’t get to join them on the Test cricket stage in the 1980’s.

  13. It’s a pity we didn’t get to to see Clive Rice. And weren’t Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock still kicking around on those rebels tours in the mid-80s?

    Fair call re Imran. I think he ended up as a batting all-rounder, who bowled a bit, but in his prime he was definitely a bowling all-rounder. I remember him being hailed as the best bowler in the world when Pakistan toured in 81/82. A serious injury hampered his bowling thereafter. What I like about Botham is that to me he was a true all-rounder in that his batting & bowling were equal. Hadlee and Dev were definitely more bowling all-rounders. It was a golden era.

  14. DB awesome side geez toss of the coin,Javed and Martin Crowe I admit I’m biased towards the Crowe family
    Brother Jeff hit the winning run for the redbscks to win the shield in 81-82 and red back winning shield players don’t grow on trees he’ll it should have been a public holiday in SA on Tuesday we won a game
    I’d have Marshall at 9 but that’s a toss of the coin also thank you

  15. You’d probably have a soft spot for Joel Garner too, I’m guessing Rulebook?

    Bloody Vics. Were the only state from that era who didn’t take imports. Too proud.

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