With the cricket world cup in full swing, Mark Waugh has put together his "best Australian team ever". I'd like to know how they would have fared against this team, combining the best players from that powerhouse of World Cricket, the mighty Roman Empire.
1. Livy- Often unfairly typecast as a plodder, Livy was a powerful right-hander who terrorised opening bowlers on pitches around the empire, overwhelming them with the sheer force of his strokes. He could drive with enormous power, though was capable of finer touches as well. With Cicero was among Rome's most prodigous scorers, with a truly amazing output.
2. Virgil (vc)- For fluidity and style it is hard to go past the dashing left-hander from Mantua. He impressed from an early age, and comparisons with the legendary Greek batsman Homer were inevitable. He had the rare ability to score runs quickly and with minimum of effort. His timing was impeccable and he was able to guide the ball through the gaps in the field with unerring precision. He and Livy formed a formidable partnership at the top of the order with their contrasting styles.
3. Tacitus- A truly complete player, Tacitus had great variation of shots and could score fluently on both sides of the wicket, off pace or spin. Coming in at first drop he had the ability to steady the team when an early wicket had fallen, or to score quickly when a more aggressive approach was needed.
4. Juvenal- One of the greatest players of spin Rome has ever seen, Juvenal was known in particular for his elegant strokemaking square of the wicket and through the covers. He also played well off his pads, and was lightening-quick between the wickets. In the field he was an athletic fieldsman within the circle, capable of creating spectacular run-outs, and a part-time finger-spinner.
5. Cicero (c)- Cicero's early career showed him to be a daring stroke-maker with command over a wide range of shots, but when he was dropped, he removed the hook shot from his repertoire and reinvented himself as a determined and tenacious middle-order batsman, often scoring runs through sheer force of will. As captain Cicero was famous for his composure under pressure (who could forget his famous sledge against Catiline in the 63BC world cup semi final "You just dropped control over the republic, mate."- before going on to score a century), and was a handy off spin-bowler through the middle overs, until a shoulder injury cut short his career.
6. Horace- Rome's greatest finisher- and some would say her greatest ever player. Horace had a habit of coming in late in the order, under pressure, and getting the job done. Was a master of batting with the tail, and producing the best out of them. A lively infielder and useful medium-pacer, Horace was also the ultimate team man and on one occasion played through the pain of a broken thumb to secure a century for himself and victory for Rome, practising what he preached- dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
7. Martial (wk)- Though often criticised for his unconventional technique by wicket-keeping purists, Martial brought far more to the game than simply his skill with gloves. Behind the stumps he was a master of sledging, and could put opposition batsmen off their games with a single barbed, yet elegant, elegaic couplet. He was also a powerful lower order hitter, and often came to Rome's aid in the final overs.
8. Catullus- The cheeky leg-spinner was often in trouble off the field and developed a love-hate relationship with the media, but on the field he let the ball do the talking and mystified batsmen with his stunning array of deliveries and magical control of his craft.
9. Ovid- A master of the mysterious art of swing-bowling, Ovid was lethal swinging the new ball away from right handers. A genuine pace bowler with a great yorker and deceptive slower ball, Ovid was also a handy lower order batsmen.
10. Plautus- Every team needs a prankster, and Plautus fits the bill nicely. His larrikin on-field persona and habit of tongue kissing team-mates in the ear belied a keen cricketing brain, fiercesome pace, and a ferocious bouncer.
11. Caesar- A line-and-length bowler with uncanny accuracy, Caesar had a phenomenal economy rate. He might not always take wickets, but he could tie up an end, making it hard for batsmen to score and building up the pressure in such a way that batsmen would be forced to take risks of his bowling partners. Caesar also had an annoying habit of talking about himself in the first person at post-match conferences.
Coach: Seneca- The moral philosopher was an inspiration as coach, and particularly encouraging in defeat, with his Stoic 'take-it-on-the-chin, stiff-upper-lip' attitude.