The following in an extract from my show James Colley Vs. His Own Stupid Brain running at the Adelaide Fringe Festival as part of RiAus’ excellent program of science-themed comedy. This piece is heavily inspired by Greg Proops’ fantastic list of Roman Emperor baseball players et. al.
The Prime Minister’s XI is a team of (usually) up-and-coming players personally selected by the serving Prime Minister to play an exhibition match in the nation’s capital against an international team. Despite it’s name, the Prime Minister’s XI isn’t actually composed of a team of Prime Ministers (with a notable exception mentioned below). As such, I have taken it upon myself to create a Prime Minister’s XI of our former and current leaders. Initially, I will name the team and its exclusions, and then go on to detail my reasons for the choice. If you disagree with a choice I enthusiastically encourage debate in the comments.
[A Small Note – Right/Left handedness does not correspond to the actual dominant hand of Australian leaders as sketchy information suggests we too firmly elect right-handers to form a truly balanced team.]
The selected team reads as follows.
Prime Minister’s XI made of Prime Ministers: Barton, Gillard, Fraser, Hawke, Menzies ( C ), Curtin (WK), Hughes, Howard, Deakin, Whitlam, Keating, Ford (12th man)
Stanley Bruce - Known to wear white spats and drive a rolls royce, Mr. Bruce would spend the majority of the game in the upper deck of the member’s stand.
John Gorton - Desperate to prove himself as a ‘man-of-the-people’, Mr. Gorton would spend the majority of the game in the TAB.
Kevin Rudd - Could have been a quality middle-order batsman. Unfortunately, due to an incident in the locker room he retired hurt before taking the field. An attempt to retake the field resulted in further injury.
Harold Holt - Quality sportsman. Retired hurt. Unavailable for selection.
THE PRIME MINISTER’S XI OF PRIME MINISTERS
- Edmund Barton
An obvious choice for opener. If a member of the Protectionist Party can’t see out the first session no one can. As racist as the day is long you can be assured that defence was important to him, even if his tactics and motivation were abhorrent.
- Julia Gillard
The greatest proponent of a strong front-foot defence in modern political history, Julia Gillard has earned her place as an opener. Though the tactics of her opposition hasn’t been exactly incredible, there’s something to be said for digging in and facing short ball after short ball and coming out the other side. She’ll take the shine off the new ball and perhaps even question why we think it’s okay to hurl a new ball at someone over and over again.
- Malcolm Fraser
Capable of coming in and dominating after a sudden loss, Fraser represents the perfect third man. His fondness for cuts should be a matter of concern but if applied with discretion he’ll be a fine anchor. He comes in with the numbers behind him and would be expecting a big total.
- Bob Hawke
The only member of this list to actually select himself for the Prime Minister’s XI, Bob Hawke was impossible to leave out. A true battler, he retired hurt after a miss-timed hook shot send the ball cascading into his own face, Hawke returned to score the winning runs. What an incredible metaphor for the electoral process. Hawke’s a hit with the crowds with drinks breaks lasting only 11 seconds before play resumes again.
- Robert Menzies (C)
A true anchor. Easy to knock down, it’s impossible to get Menzies out. It will seem like his own time after time but he’ll just keep coming back. A tribute to the Decision Review System. His devotion to the Queen might lead to loyalty questions during the Ashes series. Elected captain on the basis of seniority it’s hard to imagine the team without him.
- John Curtin (VC)
Wicketkeeper / Left-Hand Bat
Strong defensive prospects put John Curtin as our natural choice for Wicketkeeper. Nicknamed “The Human Curtain” by me just then, Curtin might have let the occasional ball seep through with dramatic consequences but all in all he was tight and safe. Happy to take control of the field in a pinch he’ll double up as vice-captain.
- Billy Hughes
All-Rounder. Right arm medium.
The man of many parties, there isn’t a position Billy Hughes won’t take. Spending 58 years in parliament, The Little Digger will have a spot in any team. His ‘total war’ tenacity saw him hold his spot through great conflict. A solid choice to start the tail.
- John Howard
Right Arm Off Spin
Though his bowling action has been criticised before (see below), Howard’s spin remains second to none. He can turn a delivery so it arrives without the batsman even noticing. Though his position in the side was initially thought to be promised to the up-and-comer Costello, he has remained long after his time.
- Alfred Deakin
Fast/Medium Swing Right Arm
Measuring up at an impressive 183 cm in the 1900s, Alfred Deakin will take his spot as the first bowling change. A master of swing, Deakin could move those around him to entirely new positions with a simple delivery. In an impressive bit of early reverse swing, Deakin would move away from the shiny side and towards the rough from his first few overs.
- Gough Whitlam
Left Arm Fast
Continuing the David Boon tradition of big-man bowlers, Gough Whitlam’s impressive 194cm high figure will open the bowling. He’s a classic strike bowler, not always incredibly well controlled but entirely capable of getting results when it matters. As a batsman he slashes around a bit and his unorthodox style leaves him liable to be given out off controversial decisions.
- Paul Keating
Left Arm Fast
Nothing in Australian political history has quite the bite and venom of a Keating delivery aimed at your head. Standing at a moderate 182 cm, Keating’s springy action will more than make up for his lack of height. Not always the most exciting bowler, he’s surprisingly conservative at times but can turn an unwinnable match back in his favour with a flick of his wrist.
- Frank Ford
Only serving 8 days in office, Frank Ford will carry the drinks. Getting on and off the field as fast as possible he’s the only person able to keep up with Hawke’s gatorade consumption.
SPECIAL MENTION – Tony Abbott, while never Prime Minister at the time of writing, may well become Prime Minister in the coming year.
Something about Mr Abbott gives me the impression that he would bowl bodyline. It’s not necessarily ineffective, but some would argue the tactic isn’t really in the spirit of the competition and is actually more about injuring your opponent than defeating them. He might well be selected but that’s too depressing a prospect about the changing nature of the game than I feel comfortable dealing with.
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