Sir Donald Bradman hit only six sixes in 52 Tests and had a strike rate of just 71.4.
It wouldn’t be the reverse sweep of statements to suggest taking risks was anathema to The Don.
Think of Bradman and there’s the trademark cover drive, the grainy, black and white image of the greatest cricketer of all time walking purposefully out to bat in oversized baggy green and creams typically rolled up just above the elbow.
Imagine the same batsman in today’s fast-paced Twenty20 game, with its gyrating dancers and leaping gas flames, sprinting to the centre of the wicket to avoid a “late” penalty, with Chumbawamba’s ‘Tubthumping’ blaring from the sound system.
It’s as incongruous as a Zooper Dooper in a winter lunch box.
But cricket was a different game back in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s and Bradman was simply playing it to the tempo of the time better than anyone else.
He famously honed his hand-eye co-ordination at his home at 52 Shepherd Street in Bowral, NSW, by hitting a golf ball with a cricket stump against a corrugated iron water tank.
There is no doubt he could have adapted to the modern game, which is why he is a lock at No.3 in Quarter By Quarter’s All-Time Australian XI T20.
One of the great Test all-rounders, Alan Davidson, passed away recently at 92, and another icon of the game Bill Lawry was asked whether he could have played the shortest form of the game.
“Had he played today (in T20 cricket) you would have not had enough money to pay him,’’ Lawry told News Corp.
WA cricket and football great Ken McAullay reckons the late Victorian allrounder and Melbourne footballer Graeme “Beatle” Watson should also come into consideration.
“He was a superb batter, bowler and fielder,” McAullay said.
All-Time Australian T20 XI
Dave Warner: 309 List A T20 matches with a strike rate of 140.65 (per 100 balls). Made his debut in Australian colours in a T20 match when he blasted 89 against South Africa. Just edges Aaron Finch , who has a better strike rate, but Warner’s weaponry at his best was greater and the cause of more headaches for opposition bowlers.
Adam Gilchrist (wk): It’s a pity Gilly did not play more T20s. Yet at times in the Test and one-day arenas he seemed to be playing T20 cricket anyway. He built a strike rate of 140 from 102 List A T20 games when the game was in its formative stages. Was innovative and deep thinking — and takes the wicketkeeping gloves, although it was tempting to pick another leftie, Rod Marsh.
Apologies to: Matthew Hayden, Keith Stackpole, David Boon, Arthur Morris.
No. 3: Don Bradman.
ABC cricket luminary Jim Maxwell had no doubt he could have made it in the T20 arena.
“Given his adaptability and hand-eye coordination he would have come up with something,” Maxwell told the ABC.
“He had extraordinary skill. You watch him hitting that golf ball with a cricket stump and you’d think he could adapt to whatever it was.”
Apologies to: Ricky Ponting, Dean Jones, Allan Border, Greg Chappell, Neil Harvey.
No. 4: Glenn Maxwell.
“The Big Show” has all the shots and while he can be hot and cold, the “hot” is as good as it gets. A strike rate of 151.22 from 188 List A T20 games can’t be ignored. Handy off-spinner too who can be a partnership breaker or even opening the attack. Rocket arm in the field.
Apologies to: Steve Smith, Mark Waugh, Shane Watson, Kim Hughes.
No. 5: Michael Hussey.
“Mr Cricket” could also be dubbed “The accumulator”. Excelled at all three forms and wins a spot on guile and graft, as much as ability. A strike rate of 124.94 from 161 List A T20 games, including a memorable 60 off 24 against Pakistan in the 2010 World Cup T20 semifinal. Had the cunning and poise to come in after a quick fall of wickets and steady the innings, or increase the run rate after a lull.
Apologies: Doug Walters, Brad Haddin (wk), Rod Marsh (wk).
No 6: David Hookes.
Never played T20, but according to Hookes’ former teammate Darren Berry was “made for the game”.
Just think of his Test debut in the 1977 Centenary Test at the MCG when he blasted five consecutive boundaries off England’s Tony Greig.
According to Berry, as Victorian coach Hookes often asked his tailenders to hit with the back of the bat in practice in the event it may be handy one day.
“His theory was that they can’t bat anyway so why not use the back of the bat,” Berry said of a practice that is commonplace in T20 games.
“At least that way none of the fieldsmen would have a clue where the ball would go as it flew off the angled rear side of the timber.”
Apologies: Michael Bevan, Steve Waugh.
No. 7: Keith Miller.
“Nugget” was a swashbuckling all-rounder of the 1940s and ’50s who took 170 wickets with his right arm fast-medium and hit seven centuries from his 55 Tests. Miller flew Spitfires for the RAF during WWII and famously said there was no pressure in a game of cricket: “Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your a..e.” It would have been interested to have had the debonair Miller and the flamboyant Maxwell in the same team.
Apologies to: Andrew Symonds, Graeme Watson, Cameron White.
No. 8: Shane Warne (C).
Played only 73 List A T20 games for 70 wickets and an economy rate of 7.22. There is no doubt Warne’s best came in the Test and then the one-day arena but the small sample of T20 games he played was proof he would have been a wicket-taking and game-changing machine. Doesn’t just think outside the square. There is no square. Picks himself as captain.
Apologies to: Richie Benaud, Warwick Armstrong, Adam Zampa (coming with a rush).
No. 9 Alan Davidson.
He played 44 Tests for 1328 runs at 24.5 and took 186 wickets at 20.52 and earned the nickname “The Claw” for his vice-like hands which held 42 catches.
When he died last week at age 94, another cricket great Bill Lawry said: “Davo was the real Big Show because he was actually consistent … and he was so good in the field his nickname was The Claw and he could catch a mosquito flying past.”
Had T20 existed in the 1950s and ’60s, Lawry said: “They would not have had enough money to pay him.”
Apologies to: Ray Lindwall, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie.
No. 10: Mitchell Johnson.
Will be remembered for having the Poms jumping out of the way with hostile bowling in the 2013-14 Ashes series but his T20 record is first class. His economy rate never climbed higher than 7.3. One of the great intimidators.
Apologies to: Craig McDermott, Brett Lee, Merv Hughes.
No. 11: Dennis Lillee.
Did not play T20 and Australian cricket fans are poorer for it. Did chalk up 63 ODIs and picked up 103 wickers at 23.46 with an economy rate of 3.58 Wouldn’t he have been one of the great T20 “death” bowlers? Crafty and able to adapt to the changing circumstances of an innings and quickly pick a batter apart.
Apologies to Glenn McGrath, Jeff Thomson, Terry Alderman.