Three choices spring immediately to my mind: Arthur Morris, Mark Taylor and Matthew Hayden. Taylor's inclusion here may surprise some, but I feel that his brilliance as a captain and first slip fielder add a great deal to his overall worth. Hayden was also an excellent slipper and Morris was said to have been a "reliable catcher". I was wondering what CW thought about this since I think it's a very close competition.
Morris was good enough to earn a spot in Sir Donald Bradman's 'dream team'. His playing of spin bowling was rivaled only by another dazzling left-handed Australian in Neil Harvey. He was an attacking-minded batsman unafraid to loft his shots over the infield. Taylor's batting was tested against some of the most potent pace attacks in history (Waqar, Wasim, Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh, Donald, Pollock) and still emerged with a fantastic record. He was often extremely defensive (as his strike-rate shows) but this immovability provided a solid base for his team to work around. Taylor's almost-matching home and away averages show his mental toughness and adaptability in different conditions. Hayden was perhaps one of the most brutal strokeplayers in recent history, flourishing off the front foot especially.
In terms of batting, each have their downsides. Morris experienced one of the more phenomenal runs in cricketing history during his early days, outscoring Bradman on the famous "Invincibles" tour of 1948. His career faded gradually after his opening partner in Sid Barnes retired, and he never once touched the heights of his glory days. Hayden has an exceptional striker of the ball, but failed to perform as well overseas as he did at home. He hit 21 of his 30 centuries on Australian soil and his away average was never exceptional, finishing at 41.69. Taylor was never quite the wonderful talent of a Morris or Hayden, but none the less proved himself as a fantastic asset to Australia. So important was his presence that he was kept in the team for his captaincy and fielding alone whilst his batting slumped dramatically.
Tests: 46 matches, 79 innings, 3 not outs, 3533 runs, HS 206, average of 46.48, 12 centuries and 12 fifties
First class: 162 matches, 250 innings, 15 not outs, 12614 runs, HS 290, average of 53.67, 46 centuries and 46 fifties
Tests: 104 matches, 186 innings, 13 not outs, 7525 runs, HS 334*, average of 43.49, SR 41.48, 19 centuries and 40 fifties
First class: 253 matches, 435 innings, 20 not outs, 17415 runs, HS 334*, average of 41.96, 41 centuries and 97 fifties
Tests: 103 matches, 184 innings, 14 not outs, 8625 runs, HS 380, average of 50.73, SR 60.10, 30 centuries and 29 fifties
First class: 295 matches, 515 innings, 47 not outs, 24603 runs, HS 380, average of 52.57, 79 centuries and 100 fifties
I enjoyed that write-up. Thoughts?