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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2005, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Super Series explained
By Oliver Brett

Australia, as the team top of the ICC world rankings in April 2005, will take on a Rest of the World XI in the inaugural ICC Super Series this October.

Here, BBC Sport provides some background and context for the forthcoming three one-day matches in Melbourne and the six-day Test match in Sydney.

THE HISTORY

In an age where nostalgia has never been so in vogue, the concept of a Rest of the World XI playing Australia this October reminds one of previous such contests.

In 1971-72 Australia played a World XI featuring Garfield Sobers, Clive Lloyd, Bishan Bedi, Zaheer Abbas, Intikhab Alam and Tony Greig.

There were also 16 Super Tests involving Australia, West Indies and a Rest of the World side as part of Kerry Packer's World Series from 1977-79.

And in the most recent instalment, in August 1987, it was the MCC's turn to take on the Rest of the World in their bi-centennary.

That match, played at Lord's on a belting wicket, featured some memorable centuries.

Mike Gatting hit one of them, and leading the MCC side he was also able to call on the services of new-ball bowlers Richard Hadlee and Malcolm Marshall.

But a fascinating conclusion was ruined with a final day washout.

THE 'NEW' EVENT

ICC SUPER SERIES
Australia v ICC World XI
5 October
1st ODI, Melbourne
(start 0515 BST)
6 October
2nd ODI, Melbourne
(start 0515 BST)
9 October
3rd ODI, Melbourne
(start 0515 BST)
14-19 October
Test match, Sydney
(start 0130 BST)

This time though, the International Cricket Council is going to make the 2005 Super Series official.

Perhaps hurt by suggestions that so much top-flight cricket has become one-sided, the ICC has invested a lot to put on three one-day internationals and a six-day Test, and reward those who will be involved and indeed the winners.

Its website is plastered with Super Series info, some of which is ludicrously optimistic.

"More than a billion people around the world will have the opportunity to watch October's epic clash between Australia and the ICC World XI," trumpets the ICC's latest missive.

So at least you know you will have to fly to a remote corner of Siberia to escape television coverage of it.

And 'epic' is a bit strong a word to use two weeks before a ball is bowled in a anger.

THE PARTICIPANTS

In all seriousness the clash has lost much of its appeal now that Australia have relinquished the Ashes.

Andrew Flintoff
Will Freddie be up for the challenge of facing Australia again?

There will even be a sense of fin de siecle about the Australian side that takes the field.

Damien Martyn, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz have been discarded altogether, while Matthew Hayden is confined to the Test arena.

Meanwhile, Andrew Flintoff, the only England player in both the Test and one-day squads for the Rest of the World XI, has already dropped a bombshell.

Interviewed in Trafalgar Square the day after winning the Ashes, he intimated that the concept of a 20-hour flight to Australia to play yet more cricket was an unappetising prospect.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?

So that's the negatives out of the way. What about the positives?

As far as the one-day internationals are concerned, the Rest of the World team could provide some electric batting performances.

With Virender Sehwag, Shahid Afridi and Kevin Pietersen in the side, crash helmets for spectators should be given out with the scorecard.

Who knows? They may even persuade Flintoff to emerge from his post-Ashes hangover, while Brian Lara will also be in town.

It will be fascinating also to watch how Australia react to their Ashes bruising.

Will their defeat in England herald a more cautious approach? How will their inexperienced one-day bowling attack cope?

Whereas before the Ashes, the question might have been 'can Australia be beaten?', it may well now be more of a case of 'can they come back?'


SUPER SERIES SQUADS

TEST

Australia: Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Simon Katich, Justin Langer, Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting (captain), Shaun Tait, Shane Warne, Shane Watson.

World XI: Shoaib Akhtar (Pakistan), Mark Boucher (South Africa), Rahul Dravid (India), Inzamam-ul-Haq (Pakistan) Andrew Flintoff (England), Steve Harmison (England), Brian Lara (West Indies), Jacques Kallis (South Africa), Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka), Shaun Pollock (South Africa), Virender Sehwag (India), Graeme Smith (South Africa, captain), Daniel Vettori (New Zealand).

ONE-DAY INTERNATIONALS

Australia: Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist, Brad Hogg, James Hopes, Michael Hussey, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting (captain), Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson.

World XI: Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), Shoaib Akhtar (Pakistan), Chris Gayle (West Indies), Andrew Flintoff (England), Jacques Kallis (South Africa), Brian Lara (West Indies), Rahul Dravid (India), Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka), Makhaya Ntini (South Africa), Kevin Pietersen (England), Shaun Pollock (South Africa, captain), Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka), Virender Sehwag (India), Daniel Vettori (New Zealand).




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