The Ashes 2019 – Third Test: The (SA) Great Australian Headingley XI

So, here we are. After two Ashes Tests Australia only needs to win one more to retain in the tiny urn (in as far as they don’t actually get to possess it at all). Conversely, they have the small out of losing the current greatest Test batsman while the opposition has been reinvigorated by a strong dose of Barbadian lightning.


Heading up the motorway towards Leeds, to whom should our band of Australian underdogs look for inspiration? Why, here of course. It’s time to compile another XI of Australian historical excellence, this time at Headingley. Here they are:



The first thing you might notice if you are as parochial as me is there is a decidedly South Australian flavour to this line-up with five having played shield cricket for SA (that six played shield cricket for NSW is neither here nor there), covering eight different Ashes tours. Waugh and Alderman’s 1989 series see them retain their selection from Lord’s while the other nine players are new to the team.


Let’s run the eye over them.



Opening the batting (and the South Australian account) is Andrew Hilditch who did his bit in Australia’s five wicket loss to England in 1985. After making a composed 119 (itself a very South Australian number) Hilditch left Australia in a strong position at 2/201. Things didn’t go so well after that as Australia fell to 331 all out and Tim Robinson’s career high 175 lead England to a 533 run reply. Hilditch again led the Australian top order, featuring a 139 second wicket partnership with Kepler Wessels before the innings again fell away to 324 (aided by a fighting 91 from Wayne Phillips – more later). Nonetheless, England chased the runs down with five wickets and very little time on Day 5 remaining.


Another famed SACAer, Matthew Elliott opens the batting with Hilditch. After Jason Gillespie wrecked England’s first innings (more later) for 172, Elliott came out and beat that on his own with a career best 199 (tragically bowled by Gough one run too early). This included a 268 run partnership with Ricky Ponting (127) who has been to South Australia. Paul Reiffel took five wickets in England’s second inning 268, leaving Australia ahead by 61 runs with an innings in hand.


Openers Honourable mentions: MA Taylor 196 (1989), AR Morris 188 (1948), WH Ponsford 181 (1934)


Batting at three is close to the most famous of all South Australians (little known fact: Cootamundra and Bowral are, in fact, in the Adelaide Hills) in Sir Don Bradman. Speaking of career bests, at the time Bradman’s 334 in 1930 was the highest Test score and remained the highest score by an Australian until Matt Hayden’s 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003. Australia’s first innings of 566 was largely built off Bradman’s partnerships of 192 with Bill Woodfull (50) and 229 with Alan Kippax (77). England responded with a leisurely 391 (SA’s Clarrie Grimmett taking 5/135) by which time almost 350 overs had been bowled and following on the poms made it to 3/95 before everyone gave up and went home.


No. 3 Honourable mention: RT Ponting 216 (2001)


To show the selection panel is not biased towards players from the Festival State, coming in at 4 is Peter Burge in 1964. In response to England’s 268 (Croweater Neil Hawke taking 5/75), Burge came in at 2/124. Despite his partners consistently and carelessly falling at the other end, Burge pulled together strong partnerships with Hawke (37) and Wally Grout (37) to drag Australia up to a commanding 389. Despite then falling to Titmus for 8 in the second innings Australia cruised to a seven wicket win.


To right the wrong of Lord’s, coming in at No. 5 is Allan Border courtesy of his 1993 unbeaten double century. In another thrashing, Border’s double ton included a 105 run partnership with David Boon (107) and a substantial unbroken 332 run partnership with Steve Waugh (157*), taking Australia to an impregnable 653 in just over two days of cricket. Giving themselves the best part of three days to bowl England out twice, Australia managed it with a couple of sessions to spare, Merv Hughes and Paul Reiffel doing most of the damage (although, those foolishly suggesting the non-selection of Nathan Lyon should note great South Australian Tim May’s 4/65 in England’s second innings, including both openers).


Steve Waugh liked Headingley, except for 2001 when his compartment syndrome prevented him from playing. Before the above mentioned 1993 century he achieved the feat in the first Test of the 1989 series with an unbeaten 177. Waugh took Australia from 4/273 to 601 including a 147 run partnership with Merv Hughes (71), establishing the foundation on which Australia built a 210 run win.


Middle order honourable South Australians: DG Bradman 304 (1934), IM Chappell 146 (1968)



In the Lord’s Australian XI the selection panel chose the wicketkeeper based on the most dismissals in a single Test. This time around it is based on the best batting performance for balance. The selection panel firmly refutes any suggestion that this method ensures a South Australian is selected instead of Adam Gilchrist. No correspondence will be entered into (actually, it will be, by all means leave a comment below).


Anyhoo, our keeper for the Headingley XI is none other than South Australia’s Wayne Phillips who compiled 121 runs across the two innings of Australia’s five wicket loss. Phillips’s fighting second innings 91 at least gave the bowlers something to defend, even if they were unable to do so. He also took two catches.


Wicketkeeper honourable mention: Adam Gilchrist 7 catches (2001)



First bowler picked is the left arm tweaks of Charlie Macartney with his 11/85 in 1909 leading Australia to a 126 run victory. After Australia made 188 in its first innings, the “Governor-General” claimed 7/58 in England’s reply of 182. He also contributed with the bat in Australia’s second innings, coming in at the fall of Trumper’s wicket at 6/126. His gritty 18 supported Tibby Cotter (30) and Frank Laver (13*) to get the Australian score to 207. Macartney (4/27) and Cotter (5/38) then dispatched England for 87, well short of their target.


The only question when including Terry Alderman in this line-up is “1981 or 1989?” In this case his 10/151 in 1989 beats out 1981’s 9/194. In the Test that saw Steve Waugh gain selection in this team, Alderman befuddled the English batting group with swing and seam. Taking 5/107 in England’s first innings (4 LBW) clearly wasn’t sufficient as he went on to grab 5/44 in their second innings (only one LBW this time, Gooch of course).


True, I can hear you thinking it’s been two players since we last selected a South Australian, so springing in on the run up is 1997 era Jason Gillespie. Qualifying in the same game as Matthew Elliott, Gillespie removed England from this Test almost from the start. With the last five wickets of their first innings he took England from 5/154 to all out 172. Dizzy then added to his 7/37 with 2/65 in the second innings to confirm the innings win.


And finally we have Gary Gilmour with match figures of 9/157 in 1975. Gus qualifies despite the controversial end to this Headingley Test after vandals dug up the pitch preventing Day 5 play with Australia 3/220 chasing 445 for an unlikely win. Coming in after Lillee and Thomson, the all-rounder did very well to pick up 6/85 in England’s first innings 288, cleaning up the tail. However, batting at seven he was only able to contribute 6 in Australia’s paltry 135 in response (Edmonds 5/28). Gilmour (3/72) contributed again in England’s second innings 291.


Bowling honourable mention: WJ O’Reilly 10/122 (1938)


So there you have it – South Australia, with limited support from the rest of the country, is clearly the key to Australian success at Leeds. Based on this we can expect big Tests from Travis Head and Nathan Lyon and Alex Carey should be helicoptered in immediately from Sussex to take a batting spot.


Enjoy your cricket!


For more of Dave’s work, click here:



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you really enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE

About Dave Brown

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


  1. Superb Dave love the 119 mention and those famous,Adelaide hills towns,Flipper will enjoy his selection also

  2. Great read Dave. Love the little known or long forgotten names. I took a double take when I saw Charlie McCartney listed as a bowler. The diminutive (160cm) “Governor General” was the best Australian batsman between Trumper and Bradman. Going back through the Cricinfo records was illuminating. He began test cricket in 1907 as an all-rounder who bowled quackish left arm orthodox in the style of Derek Underwood. He was very effective on the uncovered wickets of the era when they copped a rain affected “sticky”. He opened the bowling at Headingley in 1909 when Australia only took one fast bowler – Tibby Cotter – into the game. His 11/85 was a quarter of the wickets he would take in 35 tests between 1907 and 1926. Under the mentorship of his great friend Victor Trumper he was transformed into an aggressive unorthodox who averaged 42 in tests on uncovered wickets. So I don’t think we would want to be relying on him on a dusty turner but he would rival Border and Steve Waugh in the batting order.
    The other name is Queenslander Peter Burge a middle order batsman of the late 50’s/early 60’s. Balding and chubby he looked more like a country parson. Memory says he was a great sweeper when that was considered a very unorthodox stroke (“play straight lad”). In the shadow of Harvey, Lawry, Simpson – but had the gift for a big score when the top order stars failed.
    Dunno why I remember these things? Age or was test cricket much more precious when it was a rare and special commodity.

  3. Matthew Elliott..a great SACer? I guess the Vics can claim Darren Lehmann then. Well compiled team Dave.

  4. Brilliant Dave. Of course, AMJ Hilditch and JN Gillespie were both celebrated headband aficiandos. I can’t recall if the other South Australians in this squad were also fans, but am fairly confident Bradman wasn’t, preferring to wear his baggy green backwards. I reckon 1997 was peak Dizzy. He was great in full flight.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Couldn’t find a spot for Keith Conlon, Dave?

  6. roger lowrey says

    Dunno why I remember much these days too Dave but the SA names Les.Favell, Eric Freeman and Neil Hawke used to cause me grief when listening to Vic/SA games. Around our joint with my older brothers and others (and no I can’t remember ever winning a toss) I had to be SA rather than Vic so I knew the bowling actions of those last two better than they did and the in your face attitude of Favell L as well too!

  7. Dave Brown says

    Thanks for the read and comments all. I had to fit Flipper in, Rulebook. From memory it was a very good innings.

    Yep, PB, Macartney a verrry handy No. 9 in this team. Although in hindsight, perhaps he should be batting seven.

    Thanks Dan, all claims to Elliott are with tongue firmly pressed into cheek. You’re welcome to Lehmann providing you foot the ciggies and beer bill.

    Reckon Dizzy was built for a Day 4/5 Adelaide Oval pitch, Mickey (as well as many others). He hit it so hard that as it got a bit up and down he would become unplayable. His 1997 Ashes were exceptional – 16 wickets in 4 Tests at 20.75 and a strike rate of 34.3. Underbowled, really.

    Maybe next Test Swish.

    I missed all those as players, Roger, but have followed them through reading (and Freeman through his commentary). Favell being the captaincy archetype for Ian Chappell, Freeman getting off an Ashes tour plane and straight into a finals series as Port Adelaide’s full forward, Hawke’s early passing.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Agree with Mickey about 1997 being peak Dizzy, but would add 1997 being peak MTG Elliott. Wonderful player in full flight, should have played many more than 21 Tests and a solitary ODI with his ability.

    Look forward to a future article outlining all the areas the Adelaide Hills officially takes in!

Leave a Comment