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The current combined England-Australia Test XI, based on the ICC rankings

England Australia XI
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Ahead of the 2021/22 Ashes, here’s presenting a combined XI of cricketers from England and Australia, based on the current ICC Test rankings.

Much like our earlier hypothetical XIs, this team has been chosen based on a simple set of rules. As per the current ICC Test rankings (on October 2, 2021), the top five batters, the top-ranked wicketkeeper, the top all-rounder, and the top four bowlers (including the top-ranked spinner) have been chosen.

It’s also a good split, with six Australian and five English players in there.


David Warner

86 Tests, 7,311 runs @ 48.09, 24 100s, HS: 335*

Current ICC batting ranking: 8

Remarkably fluid and pugnacious when on song, Warner has created his own brand of batting through a decade of sustained aggression in Test cricket. Along with his naturally attacking game, he’s also demonstrated sound temperament, even though his form has tapered off of late, with just one fifty-plus score in ten innings since his marathon 335* against Pakistan two years ago.

Rory Burns

29 Tests, 1,712 runs @ 32.30, 3 100s, HS: 133

Current ICC batting ranking: 24

Burns was under the pump ahead of the recent home summer, but fought back into form with a hundred against New Zealand and a couple of fifties against India. Wonderfully unorthodox and ever hungry for runs, Burns has scored more Test runs than any other opener since his debut in late 2018.

Joe Root

109 Tests, 9,278 runs @ 50.15, 23 100s, HS: 254

Current ICC batting ranking: 1

Arguably in the form of his life, Root is the current leader of the Test batting charts, having stitched together a set of remarkable scores over the past year. He averages over 66.13 in 2021, having scored six centuries already, three more than the best he’d managed in a calendar year. Overall, only Alastair Cook has scored more runs, or hit more centuries, for England.

Steve Smith

77 Tests, 7,540 runs @ 61.80, 27 100s, HS: 239

Current ICC batting ranking: 3

Test cricket in the modern era is incomplete without a mention of Smith, an out-of-the-ordinary run-machine, who continues to raise batting standards in the longer format. Armed with fine hand-eye coordination and tremendous concentration, Smith has worked his way to have the current third-best batting average in Tests (min. 20 innings).

Marnus Labuschagne

18 Tests, 1,885 runs @ 60.80, 5 100s, HS: 215

Current ICC batting ranking: 4

The heir apparent to Smith’s idiosyncratic run-making, Labuschagne carries the same love for runs. Calm and unflustered at the crease, Labuschangne has already racked up five hundreds in a short span, setting himself up as a future superstar, and the potential centrepiece of Australia’s batting for years to come.

Ben Stokes

71 Tests, 4,631 runs @ 37.04, 10 100s, HS: 258; 163 wickets @ 31.38, 4 five-fors, BBI: 6-22

Current ICC all-rounders ranking: 2

Stokes has already done enough to be counted among the game’s greatest all-rounders, and the Headingley miracle from two years ago is unlikely to be forgotten for decades to come. A clean hitter who can ably shepherd the tail, Stokes is a game-changer in the middle order, and doubles up as an incisive seamer who can also turn things around on the field. All in all, a dream cricketer.

Jos Buttler

53 Tests, 2,800 runs @ 33.33, 2 100s, HS: 152

Current ICC batting ranking: 37

The top-ranked wicketkeeper on the list Buttler has played 34 of his 53 Tests as a wicketkeeper, displaying the same efficiency behind the stumps that forms a good part of his resourcefulness in white-ball cricket. With the bat, Buttler has built himself into an uncomplicated lower-order bat.

Pat Cummins

34 Tests, 164 wickets @ 21.59, 5 five-fors, BBI: 6-23

Current ICC bowling ranking: 1

Tall, broad and fiery, Cummins is the perfect specimen for fast bowling, combining relentlessly good lines with breezy pace and bounce. Having fought injuries in the early part of his career, Cummins is now the leader of a formidable pack, and has spent much of the last two years enjoying the top of the Test rankings. He’s also a more than handy No.8.

Nathan Lyon

100 Tests, 399 wickets @ 32.12, 18 five-fors, BBI: 8-50

Current ICC bowling ranking: 20

Australia’s premier Test spinner, and one of the best (if not the best) slow bowlers in the world. No non-Asian spinner has taken more wickets this century – and, at 399 wickets, Lyon is behind only Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath among Australian bowlers.

Josh Hazlewood

55 Tests, 212 wickets @ 25.65, 9 five-fors, BBI: 6-67

Current ICC bowling ranking: 4

Remarkably accurate, Hazlewood is the silent engine of Australia’s pace attack, moving the ball both ways while using his tall frame to add an extra edge to his deliveries. Bowling with a smooth, uncomplicated action, Hazlewood combines well with his quicker compatriots in the pace attack, lending control and composure to the bowling unit.

James Anderson

166 Tests, 632 wickets @ 26.62, 31 five-fors, BBI: 7-42

Current ICC bowling ranking: 7

There are few signs of Anderson slowing down at 39, and Test cricket is only richer with him still around. Anderson bowls with the same verve and sharpness that has characterised most of his career, craftily seaming deliveries in and out of batsmen, often to a thought-out plan. With the old ball too, Anderson is still at the top of his game. In the last five years, only Kagiso Rabada – 13 years Anderson’s junior – has taken more Test wickets among seamers.

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