Welcome the latest installment in this series. So far there has been the introduction, a post about Tammy Beaumont, and a post about the other specialist batters from my first XI. This post now deals with the all-rounders from that list, of whom there are no fewer than four (including the wicketkeeper)…
He took a long time to really establish himself at international level, but then had a couple of years when he could seemingly do no wrong, which included the fantastic 2005 Ashes series. Later on injuries took their toll, but even at the very end of his career his last involvement in the action was a direct hit on the stumps to run out Australian captain Ricky Ponting.
His performance at Edgbaston in 2005, when he scored 73 and 68 and took four wickets in each innings was outstanding, and helped to turn a series that very nearly died a premature death into one that nobody will ever forget. His 18 overs off the reel at the Oval in that same series to give England an unexpected first innings lead was incredible. In the second match of the 2009 series at Lords he bowled England to their first victory over Australia at that venue since 1934 when Hedley Verity took advantage of a rain affected pitch (remember, they played on “ooncoovered pitches” in those days) to record match figures of 15-104).
England were rather more sensible about Flintoff’s departure than they had been about Ian Botham’s in the early 1990s, when many young cricketers had promising careers effectively strangled by having the “next Botham” label draped round their necks. This time they realised that a straight replacement for Flintoff was, to put it mildly, unlikely, and set about building a different kind of team.
Flintoff had two and a half really superb years (2004, 2005 and 2006 before the tour to Australia at the end of that year which was an unqualified disaster for him and most of the rest of the squad) and produced flashes of brilliance both before and after that period.
She started out as a specialist bowler, batting low in the order. At one point she dropped out of the game but then made a comeback. Subsequently she has remained the England Womens team’s first choice opening bowler and has improved her batting to the point that she can be regarded as an all-rounder (she now habitually bats at no 6 or 7 in tests and ODIs, and often comes in higher than that in T20s when quick runs are wanted).
So long as her back holds out (she has been plagued by problems in that area down the years) she will be wanted by England (in the final ODI against India recently she took 5-28, her wickets being those of the top five in the Indian order, and was on 18 not out when England completed their victory).
I saw a very young Ellyse Perry live at the Adelaide Oval in 2009, playing in an ODI for the Australian Women versus the New Zealand Women. In those days she bowled fast with new ball, batted at no 8 (it was obvious that she would be moving up the order in the future) and had a superb throwing arm.
She still bowls fast with the new ball, remains a brilliant fielder, and is now just about the best batter in the women’s game (a test-match double century being her career highlight, along with her recent dominance of the Women’s Big Bash League – three individual centuries in the most recent tournament).
If you were selecting an Earth Women XI to take on Mars Women she would undoubtedly by the first name on the team sheet and it would go down in ink, not pencil.
She should still have a few years ahead of her at the top, and my advice would be: enjoy it while you can – talents of this magnitude do not come along very often.
One of the best wicketkeepers in the game, he has played five test matches for England and averages 41.50 with the bat as well as having demonstrated his skills as a keeper. Yet ridiculously his international future is in doubt because of the difficulty (in the minds of the current England selectors at least) of fitting him and Jonny Bairstow into the same England team. If they do not want to use Bairstow as a specilaist batter, filling the no3 slot, then as far as I am concerned he, and not Ben Foakes, should be the one to miss out.
Providing the England selectors see sense Foakes should go on to have a stellar international career.
THE NEXT POST IN THIS SERIES
My next post in this series will feature the specialist bowlers from my first XI and introduce my second X1 preparatory to posting about them.
A few of my own photographs to end: