Last week, you read about the Matt XI, a compilation of the best cricketers ever to represent the name Matt. And to be fair, it was exceptionally well represented with the likes of Matt Hayden, Matt Elliott and Matt Prior included in the side. This week, the Steve XI makes its debut, and like the Matt XI, it is not without its issues.

Opening the batting is none other than the solid, if unspectacular, Stephen Fleming. Ably supporting him is Steve Smith (no, not that Steve Smith). Steven Barry Smith played three Tests for Australia in the 1980s until he threw in his lot with the rebel tourists in South Africa. An opener who made 5000 runs at first class level at almost 36 is not to be discounted, however, and therefore is a solid choice amongst thin options.

Batting 3 is none other than Steve Cook, the South African opener, who, despite underwhelming in his 11 Tests, made 390 in a first-class game while batting for almost 14 hours. A total of15,000 first class runs at an average of nearly 40 is also noteworthy.

Who else bats at 4 other than one of the greatest modern batsmen in history, Steve Smith? Little more needs to be written about Steve Smith, but he may have to carry this team. He may also have to bowl some overs of leg spin if required.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 27: Steve Smith of Australia bats during day three of the Second Test match in the series between Australia and West Indies at The Gabba on January 27, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Steve Smith. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

If Steve Smith doesn’t get runs, then hopefully this side’s captain, Steve Waugh, does. 10,000 Test runs at an average over 50 speaks volumes to the batsman he was. His handy medium pacers (when his back permits) would also be helpful in this side.

Steve Rhodes, at 6, provides a pugnacious option, even if 294 runs in 11 Tests at an average of 24.5 would attest to unrealised potential at Test level.

Batting at 7 is the always reliable Steve Rixon. 394 runs at just 19 in 13 Tests leave much to be desired, but Rixon’s glovework was excellent and thus he takes position behind the stumps in this team.

Steven Finn provides some pace and bounce in the fast bowling attack. Stephen Boock, at 9 provides a spin bowling option, experience and guile as well as an excellent option at short leg, should the captain choose to have one. Steve Watkin and Steve Harmison, really interchangeable at 10 and 11, round out the batting order and provide more seam options.

Really unlucky to miss out is Steve O’Keefe, who never played the number of Tests that he deserved. A worthy 12th man, it’s hard to see who he’d displace in this side.

Also deserving of a mention are Steven Jack, Steve Elworthy, Steve Camacho, Stephen Peall and Steve James, all of whom had great careers in their own right. So, the XI looks like this.

1. Stephen Fleming
2. Steven Barry Smith
3. Stephen Cook
4. Stephen Smith
5. Steve Waugh
6. Steve Rhodes
7. Steve Rixon
8. Steven Finn
9. Stephen Boock
10. Steve Watkin
11. Steve Harmison

What do you think? Would they beat the Matt XI? I say that they would not.

1. Matt Hayden
2. Matt Elliott
3. Matt Renshaw
4. Mat Sinclair
5. Matt Maynard
6. Matt Wade
7. Matt Prior
8. Matthew Nicholson
9. Matt Henry
10. Matthew Hoggard
11. Matt Kuhnemann





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