Almanac Cricket – (The) Adelaide Oval Test XI: a backhand for (the) Don

One Test down and before you know it we’re at Adelaide Oval (or the Adelaide Oval if you want to annoy historical pedants) for the social event of the year. If you’re not neck deep in a jug of Pimms out the back of the members’ during the Adelaide Test, then you are clearly not fit to be a part of SA’s hoity-toity. Actually watching the cricket is an optional extra.


Meanwhile, your humble correspondent will be there on Day 1 (and possibly other days), sipping his $11 beer like a butterfly drinking nectar from a summer lilac. But to business. Over the years Adelaide Oval has produced some thrilling matches and some remarkable performances. Let’s look at a few – here is Adelaide Oval’s all time Australian men’s XI:






First opener chosen is the current Australian coach, Justin Langer, with a substantial double century against New Zealand in 2004. Australia won by 213 runs. Langer combined for century first innings partnerships with Hayden (70), Ponting (68) and Lehmann (81) to ensure Australia was in a very strong position when he left at 4/445 (declaring on 8/575).


After McGrath (4/66) worked his way through New Zealand (251), Langer added another 46 in Australia’s 2/139. New Zealand was never a real shot at chasing down 464 and had to settle for 250 (all five Australian bowlers, including Darren Lehmann, taking two wickets).


In form Davey Warner (currently and historically) gets his second straight call-up into an all left-handed opening partnership courtesy of his twin centuries against India in 2014. Australia won by 48 runs in the Phil Hughes Test. With Australia batting first, Warner’s 118 run partnership with Michael Clarke was only broken by Clarke retiring hurt. Davey’s 145 was somewhat overshadowed, though, by Smith’s 162 not out in a total of 7/517.


India made it to 444 off the back of a sparkling Kohli century (Lyon 5/134). Warner went after quick runs in the second innings, his 102 including a 102-run partnership with Watto (33). Chasing, Kohli, sorry, India looked like they might get the runs required. But when Virat’s dismissal for 141 took the total to 7/304, Nathan Lyon (7/152) finished the game off five overs later.


Honourable mention: Arthur Morris with his twin centuries (122 and 124*) versus England in 1947 only scored one run fewer than Warner, without a Kaboom or roped boundaries.


Number 3

Who else to have at No. 3 at the Adelaide Oval than Sir Don, in this case against South Africa in 1932. Australia won by 10 wickets. Batting first, South Africa had little answer to Grimett’s (7/116) spin on its way to 308. In reply, Bradman put on what was then the highest Test score on Australian soil featuring a 176-run partnership with Woodfull (82) and 114 runs with Keith Rigg (35). However, Bradman was left stranded on 299 not out when No. 11 batsman Pud Thurlow was run out.


In On Top Down Under, with a not entirely flattering portrait of Bradman, Ray Robinson suggests he ran out Kippax for a diamond duck going for his century and Thurlow when he, initially going for a second run to get to his triple, sent him back. Robinson says “Partners’ falls by the wayside might have been little noticed by the public generally but watching players were more attentive.” Make from that what you will.


Grimmett (7/83) ran through South Africa even more quickly the second time around, finishing on 274 before Australia ran down the 70 odd runs needed without loss. This left Bradman a spot of time for some tennis.



The Sun, 3 February 1932. Source: Trove



Honourable mentions: Ricky Ponting’s 242 against India in 2003 and Justin Langer’s 231 against England in 1998, just because they were the only two performances in the top five not by Bradman. But, given they both make the side, don’t feel too bad for them.


Middle order

Speaking of Ricky Ponting, batting at No. 4 we have his effort against India in 2012 (India is becoming quite the frequent Test visitor to Adelaide). In Australia’s first innings 7/604, Ponting shared a monumental 386-run partnership with Michael Clarke (210).


Siddle (5/49) skittled India for 272 while Ponting and Clarke putting on another 71 together in 5/167 to give the bowlers a rest. Lyon (4/63) did the honours in the second innings as India staggered to 201 (Lyon 4/63), completing a 4-0 series loss. Remarkably, Siddle was given player of the match for his six wickets?!?


Michael Clarke comes in at No. 5 and is the only batsman to have scored two Test double centuries in the same calendar year at the one venue. The one that qualifies him for this team was against South Africa in a drawn match.


Pup made 230 of Australia’s first innings 550, sharing a 155 partnership with Warner (119) and 272-run partnership with Hussey (103). South Africa responded with 388 (Smith 122) but their effort is probably better remembered for Faf du Plessis batting throughout Day 5 for an unbeaten 110 to save the Test, eight wickets down in their second innings.


While we’re talking about double centuries against India, Kim Hughes circa 1981 rounds out the middle order. Batting first, with Hughes at No. 4, he put on 129 with Border (57) and was last dismissed with 213 from 301 balls in Australia’s 528. India scored 419 in response (Patil 174, Lillee 4/80), Australia then declaring on 7/221 to give India 331 to chase on the final day. India held on for 8/135. Batting 8, 9, 10, Kirmani (14), Ghavri (7*) and Yadav (0*) faced 145 balls between them to save the Test.



Pulling on the big gloves we have the 2008 version of Brad Haddin against New Zealand. Australia won by an innings and 62 runs. After Brett Lee (4/66) had contained New Zealand for 270, Hadding came in with Australia in an interesting position at 5/247. He then went onto amass 181 with Clarke (110) to give Australia a commanding 535. Lee then took 5/105 to dismiss New Zealand for 203, Australia clinching an innings victory and the series 2-0.



With naturalised South Australian, Don Bradman, making the batting line-up, it’s also nice to have naturalised South Australian Clarrie Grimmett (via New Zealand, NSW, and Victoria) as the first bowler picked from the same Test with 14/199 against South Africa in 1932.


This team was heavily reliant on the leg spin of Grimmett and O’Reilly. So much so that Stan McCabe (36 wickets in 39 Tests at 42.86) opened the bowling. Soon thrown the ball, Grimmett’s 7/116  and 7/83 combined with Bradman’s 299* saw Australia through to a 10-wicket win.



The Advertiser, 3 February 1932. Source: Trove



Back to the Phil Hughes Test against India in 2014, we’ll pick a second spinner just like Australia did in the 1930s. This time, Nathan Lyon’s (a temporarily adopted South Australian) 12/286 will partner Grimmett. As mentioned above, Lyon’s second innings 7/152 was vital in securing a narrow victory for Australia and may very well have marked his coming of age as a Test bowler.


Geoff Lawson has a habit of popping up in these teams and does so again with 11/181 against the West Indies in 1984 in a 191 run loss. Lawson was a lone hand in the West Indies’ first innings, taking 8/112 in a score of 356. Australia managed 284 in response (Wessels 98, Marshall 5/69), including Lawson coming in at 6/145 and compiling a fighting 49. The West Indies declared at 7/292 (Gomes 120) overnight on Day 4, and had little trouble knocking Australia over for 173 (Marshall 5/38, Harper 4/43) fifty overs into the final day.


Another India Test, 1992 in this case, sees Craig McDermott the other quick selected with 10/168 in a tight result. Put in first, Australia managed just 145 (Kapil Dev 3/33, Raju 3/11). With 12 wickets falling on Day 1 India made it to 225, recovering from 6/70 (McDermott 5/76, Kapil Dev 56).


As batting conditions improved, a Boon (135) and Taylor (100) inspired Australia made 451 (Kapil Dev 5/130). India looked a chance to score the 395 required until McDermott (5/92) knocked over Azharuddin (106), breaking a 101-run partnership with Prabhakar. India fell 38 runs short late on Day 5.


Honourable mentions: Plenty of impressive (and surprising) spin performances but we couldn’t justify taking three in: Michael Bevan’s 10/113 against the West Indies in 1997 and Colin ‘Funky’ Miller’s 10/113 against West Indies in 2000. Nice resemblance in those figures.


This Australian XI makes 15/1887 (Average 125.8) while taking 48/891 (Average 18.56).



An infrequent visitor, here is Pakistan’s XI based upon performances at the Adelaide Oval:





Having only played four Tests at Adelaide Oval, the most recent being in 1990, Pakistan’s pickings are much slimmer. Nonetheless, making 17/1171 (Average: 68.88) and taking 23/673 (Average: 29.26) still features some impressive performances. None more so than Wasim Akram’s 175 runs and six wickets the last time Pakistan played a Test here.


But, it’s not really fair, is it? Putting an all-time Australian Adelaide Oval XI up against four Tests worth of Pakistan. So, here is what the Australian Adelaide Oval XI would look like if you included only the Pakistan Tests:





With batting of 11/1249 at 113.55 per dismissal and bowling taking 28/690 at 24.64, that is still a reasonable team to put on the park. There are some classic moustaches in that XI. Robinson says of Chappell’s effort: “Australia needed his batting as much as a dowager needs a girdle. In his 30 Tests as skipper the opening pair only twice tamed the bowling for 100 runs. In 29 innings the total was fewer than 20 when he came in to face confident new-ball bowlers as trouble-shooter. Pakistan has a wicket in the first over in Adelaide when he began batting for his highest Test score, 196 off 57 overs. Sweeps and pulls for three sixes helped him plunder 21 off one over from captain Intikhab Alam.”


Enjoy your cricket… and your Pimms!


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About Dave Brown

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


  1. Great stuff yet again, Dave – well researched. Some mighty performances in there and quite a spread from across the decades. Good to see two spinners. I spent some years in Adelaide during the Mallett/Jenner era under Chappelli. Entertaining times.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Amazing stuff once more Dave.

    I still haven’t forgiven Marsh and Cosier for piking the last session run chase in the First Test in 1976 (which incidentally straddled Christmas Day).

    Being a batsman down after Thommo had his collarbone clobbered by Alan Turner, they shut up shop with victory well within reach. The second innings knocks from Zaheer and Asif that you mentioned proved very valuable.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Peak Deano in 1990 v Pakistan at Adelaide with those twin tons. Reckon I watched every ball. His golden summer, robbed of the “International Cricketer of the Year” award by the current Pakistan PM.

  4. Mark Waugh deserves a gig for his 1991 debut century against the Poms and in honour of the last day I spent at a Test at Adelaide Oval. Rating keepers on runs is a slippery slope that ends with Matthew Wade. Surely Grout or Healy had more dismissals? JANUARY 1990 test against Pakistan was memorable. Oz led by 84 and had Pak 5/90 in second dig. Calling for the medleys. Imran and Akram both made tons in 191 run stand. Oz hung on for draw with last day Dean Jones ton. Oz attack Hughes, Rackeman, Campbell & PTaylor. Greg Campbell was a Tasmanian who could swing the ball but body couldn’t stand up to rigours of constant bowling.

  5. Thanks for the read and comment, folks. For another time, maybe, Ian but it would be interesting to go through the Adelaide Test records and see how often two specialist spinners have been played.

    As mentioned on twitter Swish, Ray Robinson blames Greg Chappell for the decision not to chase the runs. That said, a different outcome would likely have occurred had Marsh not concurred.

    I can’t remember if I went to the 1990 Test or not, Luke. Was fortunate enough to see a number of outstanding Deano knocks in the flesh during that period.

    Stats do the art of keeping no justice, PB. Dismissals are not much more useful at describing the quality of a keeper than runs, more dependent on the bowler finding the edge of the bat. For the record though, Rod Marsh (1982) and Ian Healy (1993 & 1996) jointly hold the record for most fielding dismissals by for Australia at Adelaide Oval with eight. Considering batting contribution as well 1996 Healy would go through with 70 and 43 against Sri Lanka, while 1993 Healy got a pair in a Test Australia lost by one run and 1982 Marsh got 3 in an eight wicket win. Against Pakistan 1990 Ian Healy made seven dismissals (and made 12 & 27 fwiw).

  6. Brilliantly researched & thanks for reivving some old memories . That test vs. Pakistan in 89/90 was a beauty. I have a vague recollection of Merv Hughes having 4 for 5 (or something like that) in the second dig and looking like we were ganna rip through them before Imran and Wasim came to the rescue.

  7. Fascinating as always Dave admit surprised,Dean Jones missed out on the overall side obviously not having a go just interested thank you

  8. Thanks Dave. Looks like the weather will again be unfavourable, just as it was in 2017 during the Ashes with it then being more akin to a July night against the Suns. I do think the day/night format is worth pursuing.

    PB- I was also there for Mark Waugh’s debut ton and sat in the then new but now demolished Bradman Stand. It was a mighty fine display. Being a Saturday it must’ve worried Junior that he missed much of that afternoon’s gallops.

  9. Really enjoying this series, Browny. Keep them coming, please!

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