Ricky Ponting, Steve Smith and Michael Clarke have each won the Ashes as captain.
Ricky Ponting, Steve Smith and Michael Clarke have each won the Ashes as captain.

Ashes juggernauts: How Smith’s stars stack up

CRICKET: It took Australia 15 days to win back the Ashes this year.

It took 14 in 2013-14 and 15 in 2006-07.

Those two series ended in 5-0 whitewashes of England, and after this week's innings and 41-run win for Australia, you get the feeling this one is going the same way.

All three outfits were led by captains near the height of their games and powered to success by all-star attacks.

But which set of players was the best team?

We've ranked each component of the three teams, disregarding their status in the game and instead focusing on what they were doing in their career at that stage and not just in the series.


2006-07: Matthew Hayden (413 runs at 51.62 in the series), Justin Langer (303 at 43.28), Ricky Ponting (576 at 82.88)

2013-14: Chris Rogers (463 at 46.30), David Warner (523 at 58.11), Shane Watson (345 at 38.33)

2017-18: Cameron Bancroft (126 at 31.50), David Warner (196 at 49.00), Usman Khawaja (134 at 33.50)

Has there been a more dominant top order in modern cricket than what Australia had for most of the '00s? 

In Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer, the class of 2006-07 had two all-time greats and an Australian great in Langer. By that point Langer's powers were starting to wane, with the opener calling it a day at the end of the series, but he still racked up impressive numbers for the series. Comfortably the best top order of the three.

Has there been a better Aussie opening pair?
Has there been a better Aussie opening pair?

It's a closer run thing between 2013-14 and 2017-18. David Warner features in both sets and while the 2013-14 edition enjoyed the better series - there's still two matches in the current series for modern Warner to change that - the 2017-18 model is undoubtedly the superior player.

Despite his critics, Shane Watson was no mug at No.3 and was averaging just over 40 batting in the top three at that stage in his career. It's far from a cut-and-dry thing whether or not Usman Khawaja is the better batsman.

Where the 2013-14 XI had today's side covered was Warner's opening partner. Chris Rogers was a figure of consistency for Australia throughout his career and starred that series, passing 50 more often than any other player.

Rankings: 2006-07, 2013-14, 2017-18


2006-07: Damien Martyn (45 at 15.00)/Andrew Symonds (232 at 58.00), Michael Hussey (458 at 91.60), Michael Clarke (389 at 77.80)

2013-14: Michael Clarke (363 at 40.33), Steve Smith (327 at 40.87), George Bailey (183 at 26.14)

2017-18: Steve Smith (426 at 142.00), Peter Handscomb (62 at 20.66)/Mitchell Marsh (181 at 181), Shaun Marsh (224 at 74.66))

While 2006-07 boasted comfortably the best top order, the middle order is a touch closer to the rest of the pack because of Smith.

Steve Smith celebrates after scoring a century.
Steve Smith celebrates after scoring a century.

Despite Martyn being on the decline in 2006-07 and retiring mid-series, the Australians found a stellar replacement in Andrew Symonds who made the most of another chance in Test cricket and went on to enjoy a commendable career under the baggy green. Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke enjoyed some of the best form of their own remarkable careers.

As good as Smith is and as impressive as the Marsh brothers have been, we'd still take the 2006-07 middle-order.

2013-14 lags behind as it was only the start of Smith's rise to world dominance and aside from one memorable over against James Anderson, George Bailey's impact on the series was minimal.

Rankings: 2006-07, 2017-18, 2013-14


2006-07: Adam Gilchrist (229 at 45.80)

2013-14: Brad Haddin (493 at 61.62)

2017-18: Tim Paine (130 at 43.33)

Adam Gilchrist watches on from behind the stumps.
Adam Gilchrist watches on from behind the stumps. THEMBA HADEBE


Despite Brad Haddin enjoying the greatest series of his life and Tim Paine shining in his second chance as a Test cricketer, Adam Gilchrist comfortably wins this round. Gilchrist went on to average 62.33 in Test cricket in 2007.

Rankings: 2006-07, 2013-14, 2017-18


2006-07: Glenn McGrath (21 at 23.90), Brett Lee (20 at 33.20), Stuart Clark (26 at 17.03), Shane Warne (23 at 30.34) + Andrew Symonds (two at 39.50)

2013-14: Mitchell Johnson (37 at 13.97), Ryan Harris (22 at 19.31), Peter Siddle (16 at 24.12), Nathan Lyon (19 at 29.36) + Shane Watson (Four at 30.50)

2 017-18: Mitchell Starc (19 at 21.05), Josh Hazlewood (15 at 23.20), Pat Cummins (11 at 30.09), Nathan Lyon (14 at 26.07) + Mitchell Marsh (Zero)

If we were making an all-time Australian XI, 2006-07 would have two shoo-ins with the ball. But we're not.


Glenn McGrath was still producing his metronomic best at the back end of his career but Shane Warne farewelled the game at the right time. Despite still having plenty of magic balls up his sleeves, he averaged more than 30 with the ball in his final year in cricket.

Australia's Mitchell Starc celebrates the wicket of England's James Vince, clean bowled for 55.
Australia's Mitchell Starc celebrates the wicket of England's James Vince, clean bowled for 55.

Stuart Clark was the standout bowler of that series but as good as he was there's no going past the new-ball pairing of Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris - who were both in career-best form - and the support cast of Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon.

Current-day Lyon obviously has the Lyon of 2013-14 covered, but there's still a gap between the two pace cartels because of Johnson.

Rankings: 2013-14, 2017-18, 2006-07