The ICC Super Series 2005 was a cricket series in Australia in October 2005 played between Australia, the world's ranked number one side at the time, and an ICC World XI made up of the best non-Australian cricketers. The major sponsor of the series was Johnnie Walker whisky.
While the matches themselves attracted reasonable interest and television viewing, small crowds led to the entire Super Series concept being taken back to the drawing board by the ICC. Both ODI and test squads are featured in Cricket 07, but with Australian players mixed into the squads.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Australian cricket side had become completely dominant in world cricket, and had a reputation of being unbeatable. In this climate, the concept of gathering the world's best players into one team to challenge them was born, and the ICC Super Series was developed.Warm-up match: Junction Oval, Melbourne, VIC
World XI vs. Victoria - 2 October
One Day Internationals: Telstra Dome, Melbourne, VIC
Game 1 - 5 October
Game 2 - 7 October
Game 3 - 9 October
Super Test: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, NSW
14 to 19 October
The World squads were announced on 23 August 2005, with additions on 23 September due to injuries to two players. Of the players in the final squads, five were from South Africa, three each were from England and Pakistan, two each were from India, Sri Lanka and The West Indies, and one was from New Zealand. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh were unrepresented. The players chosen for the rest of the world team were selected by a panel of former test players. They were Sunil Gavaskar, Mike Atherton, GIO, Jonty Rhodes, Aravinda de Silva, Clive Lloyd and Richard Hadlee. The colour of the World XI's uniform was predominantly blue and black. The coach of the team was India's former coach John Wright.
The Australian squads were announced on 20 September, and the axe fell on the lacklustre performers on the team during the recent Ashes series. Damien Martyn was dropped from the Test side in favour of Brad Hodge but retained his one-day spot. Stuart MacGill and Shane Watson, who toured England but did not play in any of the Ashes Tests, were included in the lineup. Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz were not found worthy for a place in the Test squad nor the ODI squad, while youngster James Hopes getting a surprise call-up for the ODI side following his 146 in a first class game for Australia A on their tour of Pakistan in September 2005.1 Inzamam-ul-Haq replaced India's Sachin Tendulkar, who was originally in the Test squad, but withdrew following an injury.
² Dravid and Gayle replaced Tendulkar and South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs, who were both originally in the ODI squad, but withdrew due to injuries.
³ Brad Hogg (who was originally called up for ODIs only) and Shaun Tait (called up for both Tests and ODIs) both withdrew from the Australian squad due to injuries. No replacement was named in the Test squad, but Stuart Clark and Cameron White were called up for the ODIs.
The International Cricket Council declared that the matches would count as official One Day Internationals and Test matches. Until recently, ODIs and Test matches had to be played between the teams of two countries. Moreover, the ICC's own rules stipulate that a player can only represent one Test match playing side, and that Test matches are only played between member sides of the ICC, which the 'rest of the world' is not. Some previous matches, such as the series between England and the Rest of the World in 1970, were initially regarded as Test matches but later stripped of Test status by the ICC. At first it was unclear whether the Super Series matches would be recognised as official internationals, but following the decision to recognise the World Cricket Tsunami Appeal match as an official ODI, the ICC decided to award official status to the Super Series matches too. This was the first official Test match not between two countries.
This decision proved controversial among players and writers alike.
Cricket historians have generally opposed the decision because of inconsistency in that the 1970 Rest of the World series in England is not accorded Test status. Statisticians such as Bill Frindall have said that they will not recognise the ruling and will exclude the matches from their records. Although it has been said that this "raises the possibility of two competing sets of cricket statistics being in circulation", that has in fact always been a reality because there has never been a standard for match status and statisticians have always used their own match lists.
Many current and former Test cricketers also joined in the debate. For example, former Australian captain Allan Border said: "I firmly believe that this status should be restricted to matches between national sides. Test cricket is an institution that has been built up over a period of 128 years, and it should not be tampered with". Conversely, Tony Greig, who played for the Rest of the World against Australia in 1971-1972, said "My understanding of the status of first-class and Test cricket is related to the standard of the players. These are all Test cricketers... [The 1971-72 matches] were played like Tests and were deadly serious. "
The matches themselves were characterised by poor crowds (half empty grounds) and lacklustre performances by the World XI. Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott described the series as a "bunfight" and said that there was "nothing that resembled cricket" in it. The authoritative publication The Wisden Cricketer summed up the Test match as follows: " [it] was a terrible game of cricket. It had a small crowd, little meaning and was forgotten quickly." The World XI players seemed to be there more for fun than anything else. Andrew Flintoff came up with some refreshingly honest statements amidst all the bullish officials: "I've got the Super Series in two weeks' time. I can't think of anything worse," he said, adding on arrival; "I'm only here for the food."
Captain Graeme Smith admitted to frustration in the aftermath of the series, saying he found it hard to deal with the fact that there weren't any repercussions to 'losing so badly'
In a practice match preceding the first One Day International, a fifty over game was arranged against a strong Victorian side. The game was thirteen-a-side, but with only eleven players allowed to bat and eleven to field. Andrew Flintoff was allowed to rest, with the other World players all playing. By agreement the World batted first, but they fared badly as they collapsed from 63 for no loss to 131 for 6, with Shane Harwood taking 4 for 37. Rahul Dravid's knock of 66 off 80 balls and Shaun Pollock's cameo of 54 not out off only 38 balls rescued the innings, which finished on a competitive 281 for 8. Victoria came close in reply, with Brad Hodge top-scoring with 92 before succumbing to Muttiah Muralitharan.
Australia won the toss and captain Ricky Ponting elected to bat first. They got off to a good start, with Gilchrist and Katich putting on 80 runs in only 14 overs before Gilchrist was bowled by Kallis. Katich and Ponting put on 48 in the next eight overs, and at 1 for 128 after 22.1 overs, Australia looked to be heading for a big score. But after that wickets fell regularly, with the spinners Muralitharan and Vettori working their way steadily through the middle order to restrict Australia to 8 for 255 at the end of their 50 overs.
The World XI never looked like challenging this total. They lost five of their top six batsmen — Sehwag, Kallis, Lara, Dravid and Pietersen — for single figures, to collapse to 5 for 82 inside 22 overs. Only Sangakkara's innings gave any hope, but when he was out for 65 to leave the World XI on 6 for 101, needing 7 runs an over off the last 22 overs, the game was over. Australia eventually wrapped up the World XI's innings for 162 to record a comprehensive 93-run victory.
Australia won the toss and captain Ricky Ponting elected to bat first. They got off to a good start, with Gilchrist and Katich quickly putting on 110 runs before Katich was bowled by a doosra from Muralitharan. Gilchrist and Ponting put on 63, with Gilchrist reaching his century off 73 balls, before missing a straight Sehwag delivery. Martyn and Ponting consolidated in a 103-run stand, working singles around. On 276, Ponting failed to beat Flintoff to the stumps at the other end and Martyn was bowled next ball, giving the World XI a sniff. However, Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke pushed the Australian total comfortably past 300, with 4 for 328 at the end of their 50 overs. Every bowler was taken to, except for Muralitharan, who finished with 1 for 43 off 10 overs.
The World XI initially looked like challenging this total. Chris Gayle blasted a 48-ball half-century as the World XI reached 125 off only 16.1 overs. From then on however, they consistently lost wickets, due to insipid running between the wickets and a few soft dismissals, with Lara again hitting Nathan Bracken straight to Symonds at cover. The World XI ended up being dismissed for 273, handing another victory to Australia.