Welcome to this latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series, which I type just as coverage of an IPL game between Rajasthan Royals and The Kings XI Punjab gets underway. Today I conclude the coverage of my fifth XI and introduce the sixth XI in batting order. I will start my coverage of that XI with the bowlers for a reason that will be explained when I introduce the squad. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the fifth XI can be found here and the most recent post in the series can be found here. Before I get into the main meat of my post there is a bit of cricket to report on…
POPE AND SMITH PUT SURREY IN CONTROL AGAINST MCC
Surrey finished day 2 of the MCC v Champion County match in Dubai on 389-4, 124 ahead with six first innings wickets still standing. The architects of this unassailable looking position were Olly Pope with a career best 183 not out and debutant wicketkeeper Jamie Smith who had already impressed with the gloves, who was 123 not out by the close. Their partnership was worth an unbroken 245, a record stand for any wicket for Surrey v MCC. Smith needs two more runs tomorrow to set a new record for someone making their first-class debut for Surrey. He is still some way short of the all-time debutant’s record, 240 by a South African named Eric Marx. Pope has already had full England experience and would appear likely to get more in the not too distant future, while Smith has a ton in an under-19 international to his credit, and on the evidence of his innings today against a decent attack who had started the day well (Sam Cook took two wickets early on, and MCC captain Stuart Broad – a man with over 430 test wickets to his credit – also bowled well early on) may well be a candidate for full international honours as well. What should Surrey’s plan be for tomorrow (day three of four)? I would say all out attack with the bat in the morning session, and if not all out by then declare at lunch with what would be a huge lead and get stuck in to the MCC second innings. It is now time to for the business part of this post, starting with…
THE FIFTH XI SPIN BOWLERS
My spin bowlers for this squad are an off-spinner and a leg-spinner respectively, giving good variation. One was a great of the early 2000s, the other is a late developer who has only recently begun to establish himself at the highest level. I deal with them in chronological order, beginning with…
417 test wickets, albeit at a slightly expensive 32.46 each, are impressive bowling credentials. His performances against Australia in 2001, when he virtually won India a series against them were simply extraordinary, and when England visited India around the same time they were equally at sea against him. For a brief period in the early 2000s he was probably second only to the amazing Murali (mentioned in this post) among offspinners.
Only 60 test wickets at an average of 39.83, although his ODI record (128 wickets at 29.74, economy rate 5.58) is good. However, his recent performances since his somewhat controversial recall to the test ranks have been good, including his first five-for at that level, as England’s spinners outdid Sri Lanka’s in the latter’s backyard. England have not produced many internationally successful legspinners down the years – among English bowlers of this type only Doug Wright has as many as 100 test wickets, and he paid 39 a piece for them. Scottish born leggie Ian Peebles’ 45 test wickets at 30.93 included that of Bradman on two occasions (Peebles went on to become one of the better writers about the game). Tich Freeman (he was only 5’2″ tall), second leading wicket taker in first-class history with 3,776 at 18.42 was only asked to play for his country on 12 occasions, capturing 66 wickets at that level at 25.86 each. Adil Rashid is therefore faring better than most English legspinners, and I believe that he still has a few good years left in him.
THE FAST BOWLERS
It is now time to focus on my new-ball pairing, an Aussie combo featuring serious pace from one end and unrelenting accuracy from the other. We will start with…
310 test wickets at just over 30 a piece. At Trent Bridge in 2005 he caused nerves in the England camp after a match that the latter had largely dominated. England got home on that occasion, the margin being three wickets, but Lee’s bowling in the final innings with only 129 to defend certainly caused a few nerves. In the final match of that amazing series at The Oval he came off second best when a blistering post-lunch spell to Kevin Pietersen was met with spectacular and very successful aggression from the batter.
In the only Ashes series on which he was part of a losing combination Glenn McGrath (563 test wickets at 21.64) was out injured for both of the matches that his team lost, and this is no coincidence. In the first match at Lord’s England bowled Australia out for 190 and things seemed to be looking good for the home side. McGrath produced an opening burst of 5-2 to make things look very different, and Australia ended up winning by 239 runs, although Pietersen made two fifties on his test debut for one English positive. When Australia went to the Caribbean in 1995 (The West Indies were still a mighty fine side then) McGrath said before the series started that the Australian fast bowlers needed to give their West Indian counterparts a hard time, which was a brave statement from a genuine no 11 who knew he would be a sitting duck for any retaliation on their part. Australia, due in no small part to regularly dismissing the West Indies lower order cheaply went on to take the series, the first side to do that against the West Indies since 1980. From then until the end of McGrath’s career in the 5-0 whitewash Ashes of 2006/7 Australia dominated the world game, and he was one of the chief reasons why.
INTRODUCING THE SIXTH XI
Here in batting order is my Sixth XI:
- Sanath Jayasuriya
- Navjot Sidhu
- +Amy Jones
- *Virat Kohli
- Harmanpreet Kaur
- Chloe Tryon
- Deepti Sharma
- Malcolm Marshall
- Michael Holding
- Curtley Ambrose
- Courtney Walsh
This is my XI that features a West Indian pace quartet – an intention that I have mentioned previously. My next post will feature them in detail and will (I hope) be just a bit special – I have a reason for wanting that specific post to be somewhat special, see if you can guess before I reveal why at the start of it.
Here is my usual reward for those who have made it through to the end: