Welcome to the next post in my “100 cricketers” series. The introductory post to the series can be found here, the post that introduces the third XI here , and the most recent post in the series here. Before getting into the main body of the post there are a couple of bits of business to attend to:
IRELAND V AFGHANISTAN
Afgghanistan look in control of this one, having taken a first innings lead of 142 (314 to 172) and taken an early wicket in the Ireland second innings (Ireland are 22-1 for at the close of day two of a possible five). However, plenty may happen yet – with two days of Headingley 1981 to go England were 220 behind with one second innings wicket down, and in the first half of the fourth day they continued to nosedive, plunging to 135-7, still 92 short of avoiding the innings defeat, before Botham, Dilley, Old and Willis staged a fightback leaving Australia 130 to win. At 56-1 in the chase Australia were still heavy favourites, but then Willis was switched to bowl downhill with the wind behind him, three quick wickets meant that by lunch the score was 58-4, and the first time in four and a bit days Australia were a bit nervy, while England’s confidence was surging. England won by 18 runs. Having acknowledged the possibilitiy of a turnaround it has to be said that Afghanistan remain heavy favourites to record their first test victory. An current scorecard can be viewed here.
SRI LANKA WOMEN V ENGLAND WOMEN
England women dominated this, and the rain intervention came too late to affect the result. Having scored 331 from their 50 overs, Natalie Sciver top scoring with 93, Amy Jones making 79, skipper Heather Knight 61 and Danielle Wyatt scoring 47 off just 26 balls at the end England then knocked the top off the Sri Lankan batting in brutal fashion, reducing them to 21-5 and then 46-7 (Chamari Atapattu, who has featured in this series of mine, contributing 30 of those. The 8th wicket pair saved some face, without ever threatening to get their side back into the contest by adding 88. The rain reduced Sri Lanka’s allocation of overs to 40, but because they were seven down after 35 when it came their required total was not much reduced as they had few resources (the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, DLS for short, is complicated but works better than any other rain rule that has been devised – reserve days tend to mean action taking place in empty or near empty grounds, while other attempts at adjusting for rain interventions have led to some very strange happenings (a South African target of 22 off 18 balls once became 22 off 1 ball due to the rain rule that was in place). Kathryn Brunt’s three wickets with the new ball took her tally in all forms of international cricket to within one of 250 (144 in ODIs, 66 in T20Is and 39 in tests. A full scorecard for this match can be seen here. Now for the main business of the post, starting with…
THE NEW BALL PAIR
The bowling will mainly be shared between two fast bowlers and two spinners in this XI, though one or other of A B De Villers or Steve Waugh might get called on to act os third seamer in extremis, while the fact that Virender Sehwag bowls offspin, as compared to the legspin of Ashwin and the left-arm spin of Jadeja may bring him in to the equation in certain conditions. I believe that if one had them together, both at their peak my chosen new ball pair are good enough not to need a third seamer to back them up. We start, taking in them chronological rather than batting order with…
By the time South Africa were welcomed back to the official test match fold after the dismantling of Apartheid, with a historic first encounter against the West Indies Allan Donald was not quite as greased lightning quick as he was in his early days, but was still a bowler of genuine pace and the highest class. He could still serve up something decidedly nasty when riled, as Mike Atherton once discovered when he stood his ground and was given not out having gloved a ball to the keeper (he later gave to the glove to Donald with an autograph neatly covering the offending red mark). Although his entry into test cricket was somewhat delayed he had time enough to play 72 matches in which he took 330 wickets (at the time of his retirement a record by a long way for a South African). While I am not completely unsympathetic to those whose careers were disrupted, or in some cases entirely thwarted by South Africa’s period of isolation I am a great deal more sympathetic by those, going back to Krom Hendricks as long ago is the 1890s, who were denied any possibility of a career in cricket due to the colour of their skin. Basil Lewis D’Oliveira got to show some of what he could do, for Worcestershire and England, finally appearing on the international scene in 1966 at the age of 35 (given how impressive his actual record is one can only wonder what he might have achieved had he been able to play at the highest level in his mid-twenties, the period when a cricketer is usually at their peak).
My choice of opening bowling partner for Donald is made on merit, but my also be seen as a recognition of those were denied any such thing in their own time…
37 test matches so far have netted him 176 wickets at 21.77 a piece (both the average, and the wickets per game ratio of 4.76 mark him as a bowler of the highest class). He played a leading role of the right kind in the controversial fairly recent series between South Africa and Australia (the one in which messrs Bancroft, Smith and Warner played leading roles of absolutely the wrong kind). He is still only 23 years old, so if his body holds up he could have another 15 years bowling for his country (James Anderson is still going strong with his 37th birthday on the horizon, and Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh remained the West Indies finest bowlers at that age) and set a record for South African bowler that would take a lot of beating. Certainly he is well worth his nomination is one half of an all South African new ball pairing.
Bearing in mind that I have off-spin available in the person of Virender Sehwag I opted for a leg-spinner and a left arm spinner as my front line spinners. The pair I have gone for regularly play together and function well as a partnership (it was for this reason that in his all-time XI Sir Donald Bradman opted for Bill O‘Reilly and Clarrie Grimmett as his spin twins, leaving out Shane Warne (see this post earlier in my own series) so as not to break up to the partnerhsip).
192 test wickets at 23.68, 1485 runs at 32.28 (from 41 matches so far) and he is one of the best fielders in the world as well. This is a truly outstanding player, worth his place for his bowling, possibly would even be worth picking as a specialist fielder if he did nothing else to the required standard, and is a more than competent batter. I suspect that following on the initial onslaught of Donald and Rabada and backed up by his mate Ashwin he would bowl even more effectively in this combination than he has for India, but for his selection to work that does not have to be so.
65 Tests have netted him 342 wickets at 25.43, and he is even more of a destroyer in limited overs cricket. Although his batting is not generally highly regarded he has been used as an opener in the Indian Premier League where his ability to get the innings away to a flyer is at a premium. On any pitch offering assistance to spinners he is deadly, and I have never yet found an example of him being collared even on the flattest of tracks (even when England beat India 4-1 in 2018 on pitches and in conditions that did not suit Ashwin or any other spinner he always commanded respect).
INTRODUCING THE 4TH XI
Ready for the continuation of this series here is my 4th XI in batting order:
- *Charlotte Edwards
- Herschelle Gibbs
- Suzie Bates
- Brian Lara
- V V S Laxman
- Sophie Devine
- +Adam Gilchrist
- Shaun Pollock
- Sophie Ecclestone
- Rashid Khan
- Jasprit Bumrah
For those of you have made it through to the end of this post here are some of my photographs: