Ricky Ponting believes it will be "difficult" for Usman Khawaja to force his way back into the Australia Test side.

Khawaja was a notable absentee when Cricket Australia announced its list of centrally contracted players last month.

The 33-year-old batsman has not played for his country since the drawn Ashes series in England last year and Marnus Labuschagne has looked very much at home at number three.

Former Australia captain Ponting thinks we may have seen the last of Khawaja in the longest format, despite the left-hander saying he believes he is among the top six batsmen in the country.

Ponting told ABC Grandstand: "I honestly think now he's going to find it difficult [to regain his place] and I feel for him.

"I love Usman Khawaja, I got really close to him over the last 10 years since he made his debut and I talk to him quite regularly.

"I've always felt he's a very good player and we probably never saw the absolute best of him at international cricket.

"We saw glimpses of it, and dribs and drabs, but not the consistently good player I thought he could have been for Australia."

Rugby Australia (RA) has said a World Rugby bailout will provide "certainty for the next 12 months" after the national association plunged into a financial crisis.

The impact of coronavirus has been a major factor in Rugby Australia suffering drastic economic worries, with a host of staff stood down for several months and players taking hefty pay cuts.

It has now secured a payout of 14.2million Australian dollars from the global governing body, released as part of a COVID-19 emergency relief fund.

All international tours scheduled for July have been cancelled, it was announced on Friday, meaning Australia's matches against Ireland and Fiji cannot take place.

It remains to be seen whether the Rugby Championship can take place later in the year, which would also help the Australian game financially.

Rob Clarke, interim chief executive of RA, said: "Our game has suffered an enormous impact globally from COVID-19 and we are very grateful for the support of World Rugby and commend them on their leadership in managing this issue for the global game.

"The financial implications of the virus have been significant for Rugby Australia and this emergency relief funding will provide us with certainty for the next 12 months and enable us to close off our 2019 accounts.

"The funding, in combination with the extensive cuts made across the business, provides us with the short-term impetus to see through the pandemic but does not solve all of the challenges.

"The board is continuing to work through its plans for organisational reform and additionally there are key conversations to be had across the game’s stakeholders about our rugby offering for 2020 and beyond.

"The World Rugby funding provides a much-needed boost and a level of security as we continue this important work."

Jason Gillespie remains hopeful the ICC T20 World Cup will go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic, while he sees a route for domestic cricket to not only survive but thrive in unprecedented circumstances.

The seventh edition of the T20 tournament is due to take place in Australia during October and November, though the ongoing global health crisis has raised logistical issues that have put the event in doubt.

Different guidelines will affect when players can return to practice due to the risks posed by COVID-19 in each country, while the international fixture list for 2020 has been decimated.

Then there are potential travel restrictions for those flying to Australia, with former South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis proposing a two-week quarantine period for players both before and after the World Cup.

Gillespie insists it should only go ahead if all countries can participate, but expects contingency plans are being put in place in case it needs to be moved.

"I'm still hopeful that we can have a tournament in one form or another," the former Australia fast bowler told Stats Perform. "Whether it's on when it's scheduled is another conversation, I think.

"My gut feeling would be potentially to push it back a little bit, but at the moment, I'm still hopeful that all the teams participating can do that. That will come down to the administrators, the authorities, to make the right calls at the time.

"But I think, at the moment, because there is a bit of time, I think we can assume things will go ahead, but I’m sure, behind the scenes, there'll be Plan B and Plan C in any situation that can crop up."

Gillespie should have been busy in his role as head coach at Sussex at this stage of the year, yet the 2020 English county season remains on hold.

However, there is the potential for a positive to emerge from the situation, according to Gillespie, as domestic teams around the world may suddenly benefit from having international stars available on a more regular basis.

“I'm trying to put a positive spin on this situation, and I think the one thing I keep coming back to is borders are essentially closed in all the countries, but local sport can play," he said.

"It's a really good opportunity for cricket. I think it's a wonderful opportunity for the various boards and Cricket Australia to really promote the fact that international players are going to play a fair chunk of the season for their respective states, which I think is absolutely fantastic.

"I’d be really pushing Sheffield Shield cricket hard [in Australia] and giving it a lot of coverage and promotion, because I think it's a wonderful competition.

"These days, international players don’t get to play much Sheffield Shield cricket. They love playing Sheffield Shield cricket, but with the schedules, it makes it very difficult, so I’d say really promote that.

"All around the world, can you imagine India having all their superstar players playing their domestic cricket? English cricket stars if cricket's able to played there, having all their international players; South African domestic cricket, Pakistan domestic cricket.

"All around the world, I think it could really give domestic competitions a shot in the arm, and that can only be really good for our sport.

"I'm sure a lot of people will be following domestic cricket if there is limited international cricket. Then the domestic game can not only survive, I think it can thrive."

Widely regarded as the best Australian batsman since Don Bradman, Steven Smith began his Test career as a leg spinner who batted at number 8.

However, in a matter of five years, he was the number-one batsman in the world.

Smith made his Test debut at Lords in July 2010, playing both Tests against Pakistan.

In the second Test, he was called to bowl only 10 overs and took no wickets. However, batting with the tail, he scored 77, helping Australia to set a competitive target after having been bowled out for 88 in the first innings.

In the 2010–11 Australian summer, Smith played three Tests in the 2010–11 Ashes series, this time playing more as a batsman, taking the number six spot in the order. His performances were solid during the series, getting a number of starts and scoring two half-centuries.

Since then he has rapidly scored more than 7000 Test runs including 26 centuries and now boasts a 62 average, the second-highest Test average of all time.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Steven Peter Devereux Smith

Born: June 2, 1989, Sydney, New South Wales

Playing role: Middle-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm leg spin

 

Test Career: Australia (2010-Present)

Mat        Inns        NO     Runs      HS     Ave        BF        SR        100s        50s

73           131         16      7227      239    62.84     13068    55.30     26           29 

     

Career highlights

  • Only player to win ICC Test Player of the Year more than once
  • 2nd most consecutive 1000-run performances in calendar year (2014-2017)
  • Fastest to 7000 Test runs (126 innings)
  • First batsman to score over 500 runs in three consecutive Ashes series
  • 2nd best batting average of players over 20 Test matches (62.84)

The audacious pulls, the rasping cover drives, garnished by the archetypal Aussie attitude.

Ricky Ponting burst onto the scene as a supremely talented teenager in the great cricketing nation and ended his days as one of the greatest batsmen the world has ever seen.

He scored more runs than anyone in the history of the game bar Sachin Tendulkar, stacked up innumerable hundreds, and despite the tailing off during a long and rather ordinary home stretch of nearly 50 Tests, his final numbers read phenomenal.

The huge scores were collected in every land and against every attack except for India and their spinners.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Ricky Thomas Ponting

Born: December 19, 1974 (age 45)

Place of birth: Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)

Batting style: Right-handed

Bowling style: Right-arm medium

Role: Batsman

 

Test Career: Australia (1995-2012)

Mat         Inns        NO          Runs       HS          Ave         BF           SR           100s         50s

168         287         29           13378       257         51.85      22782     58.72           41           62          

 

Career highlights

  • 3-times ICC Test Player of the Year (2003, 2004 & 2007)
  • Second on all-time Test runs scoring list (13, 378) 
  • Third-most centuries scored in Tests (41)
  • Second-most wins as captain in Tests (48)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Australian batsman Don Bradman is one of the most worshipped players in the history of cricket.

His batting redefined the game of cricket and his brilliance confounded opponents.

Throughout the 1930s and '40s, Bradman was the world's master cricketer, so far ahead of everyone else that comparisons became pointless.

In 1930, he scored 974 runs in a series against England, 309 of them in one amazing day at Headingley, and in seven Test series against the same opposition, he remained a figure of utter dominance; Australia lost the Ashes only once, in 1932-3

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Donald George Bradman

Born: August 27, 1908

Place of birth: Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia

Died: February 25, 2001 (aged 92)

Place of death: Kensington Park, South Australia, Australia

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Batting style: Right-handed

Bowling style: Right-arm leg break

Role: Batsman

 

Test Career:   Australia (1928-1948)

Mat      Inns    NO      Runs    HS     Ave     100s     50s       

52        80        10       6996    334    99.94     29       13      

 

Career highlights

  • Widely considered the greatest batsman in Test history 
  • Highest individual Test batting average (99.94)
  • Highest batting average for 5-Test series (201.5)
  • Most double centuries in Test history (12)
  • Only Test batsman to score more than 5000 runs v an opponent (5,028 v England)
  • Scored the most runs in a single day’s play 309 v England, Leeds in 1930   
  • His highest score, 334, stood as individual world batting record (1930-1933) 

 

 

 

Australia batsman Travis Head has backed proposals to stage the entire upcoming Test series against India at the Adelaide Oval.

Last month, the South Australian Cricket Association put forward its venue as a solution to make the four-match rubber between the number one and three Test nations viable during the coronavirus pandemic.

A 138-room hotel at the Adelaide Oval is due to be completed in September and the proposal would see Virat Kohli's team stay and train at the venue for the duration of the series, with interstate travel in Australia still problematic amid lockdown restrictions.

Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said at the time that the organisation was "not ruling anything out" as it looks to establish a biosecurity plan to host India.

For Australia vice-captain Head, who is also South Australia skipper, there would be an obvious benefit.

"It'd be nice to stay at home for the whole summer," he told reporters.

"Adelaide Oval is such a good ground. It's unique. If it comes down to that, I know that it will definitely be able to cope and withstand back-to-back Test matches.

"We've had instances where there'll be A-League games, rugby league or concerts going on. Houghy (Adelaide groundsman Damian Hough) has been able to prepare a Shield wicket and drop it in the middle of the square, day of the game or two days out of the game.

"And you wouldn't even notice as a player."

The playing surface at Adelaide has drawn widespread praise from players since the adoption of drop-in wickets at the venue, while it also has also hosted four day/night Tests since 2015, with Australia winning on each occasion.

"The bowlers and batters would probably be happy with [a whole series in Adelaide], it's probably been the best cricket wicket the last four or five years," Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood said in April.

"It gives a bit to both batting and bowling, I wouldn't mind it.

"It's not ideal though. We want to get around to all parts of Australia and challenge ourselves on all those different wickets."

India were victorious on their previous trip to Australia in 2018-19, winning the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1 as the hosts were depleted by the suspension of Steve Smith and David Warner for ball tampering.

From a country filled with great cricketers, it means quite a lot that former captain Greg Chappell was considered the finest batsman from that country in his generation.

His average of 53.86 says that, for the most part, he was a consistent runscorer and his 24 hundreds and 31 half-centuries from just 87 Tests tell a tale of a man who stuck to his guns.

Greg Chappell would score a century on debut in 1970 and at the end of his career in 1984. In between those centuries his steady improvement in technique made him a fine player by the end.

He started as a strong onside player but was suspect outside off stump, bringing the wicketkeeper and the slips into play for a good enough bowler. However, that wouldn’t last and in the space of a year, Chappell turned himself into a brilliant player on any side of the wicket.

That, added to a real fighter’s attitude to winning games, though he was the consummate gentleman, made for greatness.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Gregory Stephen Chappell

Born: August 7, 1948, Unley, Adelaide, South Australia

Major teams: Australia, Queensland, Somerset, South Australia

Playing role: Top-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm medium

Height: 1.87 m

 

Test Career: Australia (1970-1984)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS      Ave     100s  50s   

87        151    19     7110     247*    53.86    24   31    

 

Career Highlights

  • Considered the best Australian batsman of his generation
  • Scored 7110 runs in Tests at an average of 53.86
  • Scored 24 centuries and 31 half-centuries
  • 16 of his 24 centuries came at home

Like many ardent fans of the gentleman’s game I confess to being blown away by the awesome ferocity and near unrivalled destructiveness of Matthew Hayden, however, his opening pairing with Sunil Gavaskar at the expense of the grittier but slightly more consistent Graeme Smith is a delivery just outside off stump.  

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is very little hairs to split between the two.  A look at the most obvious metrics shows Smith has scored 9265 runs at an average of 48.25 and has a top score of 277, with Hayden scoring 8625 at an average of 50.73 and a remarkable 380 as his high score.  In terms of 100s, Smith compiled a respectable 27 with 38 half-centuries, while Hayden has scored 30 hundreds and 29 fifties.   

As previously stated, its remarkably close, but let’s begin this discussion by pointing to an often-overlooked consideration, Smith made his mark, while also shouldering the responsibility of being a captain. After taking the role at the tender age of 22 years old, Smith was often tasked with leading from the front with his bat and rarely failed to do so, despite the additional responsibility. For a great many players, the task of both has led to either one thing or the other suffering.

Smith was never technically as gifted as Hayden, but what he lacked in ability, he certainly made up for in sheer determination and toughness.  No one should ever forget his brutal double ton against England in 2008 or the way he battled away in poor light to score 154, a total that led the Proteas to a first series victory in England since their reinstatement. Smith also led South Africa in a chase of 418 in Australia where he scored a memorably aggressive ton and was the first captain to beat Australia, in Australia, in 16 years.

His mental fortitude was such that he averaged more away from home than within the confines of his country. The batsman averaged a healthy 54.99 away from home as opposed to 41.52 in South Africa.  By contrast, Hayden averaged 57.89 at home and 42.69 on his travels.

In making the selection we should also consider the argument that can be made for Smith being a marginally more consistent scorer. In revisiting the stats, we can recall that Hayden has scored 30 centuries compared to Smith’s 27, and his highest total of 380, compiled against Zimbabwe, is second only to Brian Lara’s world record 400. Smith’s best of 277 came against England in 2003. 

A closer look at the numbers, however, makes for interesting reading. 

Smith has scored a double hundred on five occasions compared to Hayden’s two.  In terms of daddy hundreds (scores of above 140), it is again Smith who leads the statistics with 11 compared to Hayden’s five, which shows that he got to bigger totals more often.

 

Shane Warne is a former Australian cricketer, widely regarded as the greatest leg spinner in the history of cricket.

Warne first caught eyeballs when playing for the Australia B squad. He took his first first-class five-wicket haul as he took 7/49 against Zimbabwe. Similarly impressive performances for the Australia A team saw him getting called up to his international debut.

On 2nd January 1994, Warne took 12 wickets in the second Test match against South Africa, asserting himself as a vital cog of the Australian bowling, despite losing the match by five runs.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Shane Keith Warne

Born: 13 September 1969 (age 50)

Place of birth: Upper Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia

Height:  1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)

Batting style: Right-handed

Bowling style: Right-arm leg break

Role: Bowler

 

Test Career: Australia (1992-2007)

Mat        Inns       Balls       Runs      Wkts      BBI         BBM      Ave        Econ        SR           4w          5w          10w

145         273         40705    17995    708         8/71        12/128   25.41       2.65        57.4         48            37           10

 

Career Highlights

  • 1st bowler to 700 wickets in Tests
  • 2nd most wickets in Tests (708)
  • 2nd most 5-wicket hauls (37)
  • 2nd most 10-wicket hauls (10)
  • Most wickets in a calendar year (96)

 

Glenn McGrath, throughout his career, has been compared to West Indies great, Curtly Ambrose. The comparison makes sense. Both quicks were pencil thin and mean as snakes. They gave nothing away. Like Ambrose was for the West Indies, so too McGrath was the greatest Australian of his time.

McGrath would retire from Test Cricket after 14 years at the top of the game in wonderful fashion, leading Australia to a 5-0 whitewashing of England at the 2007 Ashes where he was named Man of the Tournament.

But before that he would grab 10-wicket hauls on three occasions, five-wicket hauls on 29 occasions and have four-wicket days 28 times.

Those remarkable figures came from the insistence on bowling in a metronome fashion, hitting just back of a length on off stump, just the way Ambrose did. To add to that, the bowling ace would learn to bowl the delivery that came back into the right-hander after it pitched. Eventually, he became the man Australia would turn to when it needed a big scalp, like that of Brian Lara.

McGrath is the man to have gotten Lara out the most of any bowler he faced. Though the batting genius also scored most of his runs against Australia, chances are, if he got out, it was to a Glenn McGrath delivery.

McGrath’s importance to Australia can be underlined by the fact that he became the first fast bowler in the country’s rich history of producing them, to play more than 100 Tests.

  

Career Statistics

Full name: Glenn Donald McGrath

Born: February 9, 1970, Dubbo, New South Wales

Major teams: Australia, Delhi Daredevils, ICC World XI, Middlesex, New South Wales, Worcestershire

Playing role: Bowler

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm fast-medium

Height: 1.95 m

 

Test Career: Australia (1993-2007)

Mat    Inns    Balls      Runs       Wkts     BBI      BBM      Ave     Econ    SR      4w     5w     10w

124     243     29248     12186      563       8/24    10/27     21.64   2.49     51.9    28       29       3

 

Career Highlights

  • 5th all-time for most wickets in Tests (563)
  • 2nd most wickets by a fast bowler in Tests
  • Dismissed the most batsmen for a duck in Tests (104)
  • Averaged 21.64 while strike rate was 51.9

Adam Zampa still harbours aspirations of pulling on the baggy green for Australia's Test team, a dream he believes would be helped by more spinner-friendly wickets.

Leg-spinner Zampa, who turned 28 in March, has played in 55 one-day internationals and 30 Twenty20s since debuting for his country in 2016.

A first Test cap has so far proved elusive, though, with Nathan Lyon established as the five-day team's premier spinner and home conditions rarely calling for a second spin option.

"I think that's still my ultimate goal, to play red-ball cricket, to play Test cricket for Australia," Zampa told reporters.

"I think you'd be silly if you didn't take your chance as a spinner in Australia at the moment. So that's the ultimate goal.

"I'd love to get some more first-class cricket under my belt first, but I think with the way that I've been improving over the last couple of years, particularly at international level, the last 12 months have been a really good test for me and I've come out the other side pretty well.

"I've still got the goal to play Test cricket for sure."

Zampa's case would be helped if he could impress during Australia's domestic competition, the Sheffield Shield, though his international commitments have limited his involvement in the longer format.

Former Australia international Steve O'Keefe recently said it was "a matter of urgency" that the country produced more pitches conducive to spin if they wanted to win a Test series in India, something they have not done since 2004.

"Personally, I'd love to see that obviously as a spin bowler," he added.

"There's a lot said about bowling on flat wickets but I think Nathan does that really well himself. I think realistically us other spinners are going to be partnering Nathan in the upcoming subcontinent tour.

"I don't really know what it's like to bowl on a spinning wicket in Shield cricket. The closest thing I've ever had to a spinning wicket in Shield cricket is Adelaide Oval when it's green and thatchy. That then limits the amount of overs you bowl as well, so I think there should be an emphasis put on it.

"I think we put a lot of effort into playing the swinging ball in England, we've had the Dukes ball over the last few years in Shield cricket too.

"I think it's really important and I don't know if it has to be every wicket but there has to be some sort of emphasis in bringing spin bowlers in the game."

Ian Healy’s selection to the Australian team in 1988-89 was a shock. He never turned back, becoming a staple in the Australian side and more importantly, the beat by which the great unit of the 1990s took its timing. Until he was replaced by Adam Gilchrist and until Gilchrist came of age, he was Australia’s greatest of all time. His glovework to Shane Warne, one of the most deceptive spinners of all time was immaculate. ‘Bowling Warnie’ became the signature sound coming through the microphone stumps when Australia were in the field. He was annoying to the opposition, always getting in an earful before each delivery and appealing for everything made batsmen feel they were always in trouble. Healy’s impact was incontrivertible, so much so that he beat wally Grout, Don Tallon and Rod Marsh to the Australian team of the 20th Century. But outside of that, Healy was also handy with the bat, eking out those extra runs the Australian side needed to get them over the line and in the ‘90s, they usually did.   

Career Statistics

Full name: Ian Andrew Healy

Born: April 30, 1964, Spring Hill, Brisbane, Queensland

Major teams: Australia, Queensland

Playing role: Wicketkeeper batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Fielding position: Wicketkeeper

 

Test Career: Australia (1988-1999)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS     Ave     BF       SR      100s    50s     Ct     St

119      182     23       4356   161*  27.39   8760    49.72       4      22      366    29

 

Career Highlights

  • Former record holder for most dismissals in Tests (1998-2007)
  • Scored 4356 runs at an average of 27.91
  • Produced 4 centuries and 22 half centuries from 182 Test innings
  • Joint 2nd most dismissals in a calendar year ( 67)

Adam Gilchrist is considered by many, the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman of all time. Gillie could bat anywhere from number-one to number seven in the Australian team, but would feature in the lower-order in Tests simply because he would need a break after wicketkeeping. His philosophy on batting was, “just hit the ball”. To prove the point, his strike rate of 81 in Tests was nothing short of remarkable. In fact, once Gilchrist hit the second ball of the second innings of a Test match for six. What was interesting about that feat, is he was sitting on a king pair. Only Mark Boucher of South Africa has scored more than 5,000 runs as a wicketkeeper in the history of the game. And while his glovework may not match Boucher’s, his 416 dismissals is no small feat and is only surpassed by the South African. His wicketkeeping, like his batting, was uncomplicated and it was rare to see Gilchrist flying to one side or another to take a catch, but his footwork was good. He was also blessed with the soft hands a wicketkeeper needs and never dropped very many.  

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Adam Craig Gilchrist

Born: November 14, 1971, Bellingen, New South Wales

Major teams: Australia, Deccan Chargers, ICC World XI, Kings XI Punjab, Middlesex, New South Wales, Western Australia

Playing role: Wicketkeeper batsman

Batting style: Left-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm offbreak

Fielding position: Wicketkeeper

Height: 1.86 m

 

Test Career: Australia (1999-2008)

Mat    Inns    NO     Runs    HS     Ave     BF      SR       100s    50s   Ct     St

96        137    20       5570    204*  47.60   6796   81.95     17       26     379    37

Career Highlights

  • Most runs by a wicketkeeper in Tests (5570)
  • Most centuries by a wicketkeeper in Tests (17)
  • 2nd most dismissals by a wicketkeeper in Tests (416)
  • 3rd best batting average for a wicketkeeper in Tests (47.61)

Known as "Nugget", Miller was the golden boy of his country's cricket in the years immediately following the second world war.

When Miller was on centre stage, people took notice. On firm pitches, he could bat, right-handed, with power and panache, driving and cutting as well as any.

He was capable of bowling fast, hostile spells, forming, with Ray Lindwall, a formidable new-ball partnership that produced 243 wickets, a combination bettered for Australia only by Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie. At slip, where he might stand casually upright with his hands behind his back or just plonked on his thighs, he could catch swallows.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Keith Ross Miller

Born: 28 November 1919

Place of Birth: Sunshine, Victoria, Australia

Died: 11 October 2004 (aged 84)

Place of Death: Mornington, Victoria, Australia

Height: 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)

Batting Style: Right-handed

Bowling Style: Right-arm fast

Role: All-rounder

 

Test Career (Batting) - Australia (1946-1956)

Mat        Inns       NO         Runs      HS           Ave        100         50                     

55           87           7           2958       147         36.97     7              13          

 

Test Career (Bowling) - Australia (1946-1956)

Mat    Inns    Balls     Runs   Wkts   BBI     BBM      Ave    Econ   SR    4w    5w   10w

55         95     10461    3906     170    7/60    10/152   22.97   2.24    61.5   8       7       1

 

Career Highlights

  • Royal Australian Air Force pilot during World War II
  • Tallied 2958 runs at an average of 36.97
  • Scored 7 hundreds and 13 fifties in 87 innings
  • Secured 170 wickets at 22.97
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