All Time XIs – Davids v Goliaths

My latest variation on the ‘all time XI’ theme pits Davids against Goliaths. I also present the answer to yesterday’s teaser, an important post about disease prevention and of course some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

It is time for another variation on the ‘All Time XI‘ theme, this time pitting a team made of players of small stature against a team of some of the tallest of all cricketers. I will also answer yesterday’s mathematical teaser.

THE GOLIATHS XI

  1. Chris Gayle – left handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. He stands 6’5″ tall. His career highlights include two test triple centuries. However, he would be banned from using the DRS because of his record in that department.
  2. Will Jefferson – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm fast medium. At 6’11” the Essex and later Leicestershire opener is one of the tallest of all professional cricketers. He never quite managed to attract the attention of the England selectors, but achieved a very respectable output in first class cricket.
  3. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. At 6’4″ one of the shorter members of this team. He averaged almost 50 in test cricket, with his highest score 227 at Adelaide. Late in his career he came within two of the highest score ever made for Surrey, with 355. He was not always popular with team mates – his departures from his first two counties, Nottinghamshire and Hampshire were both decidedly acrimonious, but his record speaks for itself.
  4. Tom Moody – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer. The 6’7″ Aussie scored stacks of runs for Warwickshire and Worcestershire over the years and was also a fine fielder. One of the few to have admitted to being embarrassed by making a century due to the circumstances of its making. The innings in question, which saw the normally prized landmark arrive in just 26 minutes, was played against bowlers who were deliberately giving away runs to expedite a declaration was at the time greeted as a new first class record, but wiser counsels have since prevailed and it is now entirely correctly relegated to a footnote. Moody made ample numbers of runs that he had to earn, and his genuine embarrassment at effectively being handed a century speaks volumes for him.
  5. *Clive Lloyd – left handed batter, cover specialist fielder, captain. The 6’5″ bespectacled Guyanese ace featured in my piece about the West Indies. Against Glamorgan he once reached 200 in precisely two hours against genuine bowling. In the inaugural men’s world cup in 1975 (the women played one two years earlier, won by Rachael Heyhoe-Flint’s England) he scored a ton in the final to put West Indies in charge of the contest, a position they never relinquished.
  6. +Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Wicket keepers are rarely particularly tall, and Walcott was over six feet tall. I wrote about him in the West Indies piece.
  7. George Bonnor – right handed batter, medium pacer, excellent catcher. Bonnor was one of the first renowned big hitters, with his best test innings being a score of 128 that included sending the ball clean out of the ground four times. He was inclined to attempt to ‘bat properly’, a policy that did not work for him – his best moments came when he realized that he was a big hitter and did not try to play a real innings.
  8. Sulieman Benn – left arm orthodox spinner. At 6’7″ the West Indian is probably the tallest specialist spinner there has ever been, and he did have his moments. When I watched the West Indies play Australia at Adelaide in 2009 he was one of only two of their bowlers, greased lightening quickie Kemar Roach being the other, to cause the Aussie batters genuine apprehension. That match should have been an all-time classic, the West Indies being all out early on the final morning to leave Australia needing 330 off 81 overs on a pitch that was still pretty good for batting. Unfortunately, influenced by being already one up in a three match series, the Aussie skipper ‘Punter’ Ponting declined to live up to his nickname and Australia made no serious attempt to mount a chase that they should have had a fair chance of pulling off.
  9. Mohammad Irfan – left arm fast bowler. The Pakistani paceman at 7’1″ is officially the tallest international cricketer there has ever been.
  10. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler, excellent boundary fielder. The 6’8″ Barbadian who has one end of his home ground, the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, named in his honour was a very difficult bowler to score off, and took ana average of just over four wickets per test match. His ODI economy rate of 3.09 is unapproached in that format. He was my chosen overseas player for Somerset.
  11. Bruce Reid – left arm fast bowler. The 6’8″ Aussie had a fine test record for those matches when he was able to play, though he spent a lot of time on treatment tables (his only rival that I can think of in that regard was another Aussie, Damien Fleming).

This team has a good top six, including a serviceable wicket keeper, a big hitter at no 7 and four fine bowlers. It is weak in the spin bowling department, with only the part time tweakers of Gayle and Pietersen to supplement Benn’s left arm spin. That is the suitably Brobdingnagian “Goliaths XI”, and now, slings at the ready, here are their opponents:

THE DAVIDS XI

  1. Bobby Abel – right handed opening bat. The diminutive Surrey opener (officially 5’4″ but perhaps less) was the first to carry his bat through an England innings, finishing on that occasion with 132 not out. He also holds the record for carrying his bat through the highest first class team total to feature such an innings, and in that same innings the highest score ever made for Surrey. In 1899 at Taunton, Surrey scored 811 all out, with Abel batting through for an undefeated 357. Abel and Tom Hayward shared the Surrey record partnership for any wicket, 448 for the 4th. Playing for the Players against the Gentlemen at The Oval Abel scored 247, a score only beaten in that series by his fellow Surreyite Jack Hobbs (266). Abel also formed a contrasting friendship with WG Grace, and was among the pallbearers at the latter’s funeral. There is a biography of him by David Kynaston that I recommend.
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening bat. She has established a magnificent record at the top of the order in recent years (visit my post of two days ago to see a clip of highlights from one of her innings), and while the women play scandalously little test cricket, her record in ODIs is significantly better than her record in T20s, leading me to take the view that if she got a proper chance in long form cricket she would be highly successful.
  3. *Don Bradman – right handed batter, brilliant outfielder, captain. He was just a little over 5’6″ in height, the second tallest of my chosen XI. A test average of 99.94 renders further comment superfluous. This is his third appearance in this series of posts, after Australia and the Scribes.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. The Indian maestro, scorer of 100 international hundreds is an automatic selection at four as Bradman was at three.
  5. Gus Logie – right handed batter. The West Indian, one of the smallest players of his era, was not anything like as heavy a scorer as his immediate predecessors in this order, but he tended to score his runs when his side really needed them.
  6. +Mushfiqur Rahim – right handed batter, wicket keeper. The Bangladeshi, one of the smallest players ever seen in the test arena, has two test double centuries to his credit, and averages 36.77 overall with the bat, and he has not all that often had the luxury of being able to build on a strong start by his team. He has also taken 104 catches and executed 15 stumpings in test cricket. Bangladesh has probably during his career only had five players who can genuinely be regarded as top class, opener Tamim Iqbal, all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan (currently suspended), off spinner Mehedi Hasan, fast bowler Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (now a member of the Bangladeshi parliament, and a spent force as a player) and Mushfiqur Rahim himself. In this team he is part of a strong unit, which would be a new experience for him.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. At 5’7″ the tallest member of my chosen XI, he is the x-factor all rounder in the side. He featured in yesterday’s post.
  8. Katherine Brunt – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed bat. The Barnsley born Brunt is approximately 5’5″ tall – among her regular England team mates only Beaumont and Danielle Wyatt are noticeably shorter. It is her skiddy bowling that has earned her a place in this XI, but she has also developed her batting to a very considerable degree, and shares with Logie the knack of producing the goods when they are most required – her career best 72 not out got England to a total in excess of 200 when at one stage a prediction of 150 would have been viewed as seriously optimistic.
  9. John Wisden – right arm fast, useful lower order batter. The Sussex pacer, also founder of the United All England XI, a touring XI which played matches against local teams who had a numerical advantage – 18 and 22 were the two most frequent sizes of team for such matches, and sometimes secured the services of professionals, described as ‘given men’, once took all ten in a first class innings, all clean bowled. He stood only 5’4″, probably the shortest specialist fast bowler there has ever been.
  10. Tich Freeman – leg spinner. The 5’2″ Freeman (his actual given names were Alfred Percy) was the second most prolific wicket taker in first class cricket history, with 3,776 (and he played only about half the number of matches that Yorkshire’s Wilfred Rhodes, the no1 in this category, did). He holds all manner of records for large wicket hauls. Even more remarkable by today’s standards is the age at which he achieved these feats – a combination of his being a late developer and World War 1 meant that by the age of 30 the Kent leggie had precisely 29 first class wickets to his credit.
  11. Poonam Yadav – leg spinner. The tiny Indian leg spinner was one the stars of the recent Women’s World T20, again and again confounding opponents with her flight and spin. She is also one of the slowest bowlers of any description to have been seen in top level cricket.

This team has an opening pair who should combine well, a powerhouse combination at three and four, a battler at no six, a wicket keeper batter at six, the most explosive batter the game has ever seen at seven, and four varied bowlers to round out the XI. I regret that both spinners are leg spinners, but I think there is enough difference in their methods that this is not a very serious weakness.

THE CONTEST

This contest for the ‘Sling Trophy’ as I shall call it should be a fine one. However, especially if Wisden, Brunt and Jessop, the pace bowlers for the Davids, concentrate on yorkers, which the Goliaths would find it difficult to get down to, I would still expect this to go the same way as the original David vs Goliath – in favour of the Davids.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Yesterday I offered up this, from brilliant.org

Measurement

The key lies in that word ‘similar’. All the four rectangles (the big overarching rectangle, with long side 16, the intermediate rectangle that is half the area of that one and the two smaller rectangles all have the same proportions. This means that the key shape, the triangle is an isosceles right angled triangle and its longest side can be calculated from the similarity of the rectangles to equal to 4 x the square root of 2. This squares up to 32, and Pythagoras tells us that the sum of the squares of the other two sides is equal to the square of the longest side (aka hypoteneuse). Since the triangle is isosceles as well as right angled, the square of each remaining side is half of 32, i.e. 16. 16 has two square roots, 4 and -4, and the length of the side of a triangle is a positive number, so the answer is four.

Here is David Vreken’s elegant published solution:

VrekenSol

Just to complete this mini-section, it took me much less long to actually solve this than to type my explanation, and I am a fairly rapid typist.

A FINAL LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The Davids and Goliaths of cricket have been paraded in all their glory, and I have a single link left to share before finishing with my usual sign off. Phoebe MD has hosted a post by Barbara Leonhard titled “Avoiding the Tragedy: A Look into Disease Preventionwhich I consider to be a must-read. My thanks to both Phoebe and Barbara for that piece.

Finally, my usual sign off…

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David v Goliath
The teams in tabulated form with abbreviated comments.

All Time XIs – T20 Clash

In today’s variation on the all-time XI theme we look at T20 cricket, with a team of former greats all of whom would have been well suited to that format pitted against a team of the best actual T20 players.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s variation on the ‘all time XI‘ theme looks at the game’s shortest regular format, T20 (one innings each of 20 overs per side), and I pit a team who were in their prime before top level limited overs cricket was played against a team of T20 experts.

T20 PLAYING CONDITIONS

At least five bowlers must be used, and no bowler may bowl more than four overs in a T20 innings. For the first six overs no more than two fielders may be stationed more than 30 metres from the bat, and thereafter no more than five. This format has been very successful since its top level introduction in 2003, with T20 tournaments flourishing all round the world. Having briefly set the scene it is time to meet our teams starting with…

THE PRET20 FRANCHISE XI

  1. Garry Sobers – left handed bat, every kind of left arm bowling known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete cricketer ever to play the game, he was an absolute must for this side.
  2. Gilbert Jessop – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler and brilliant fielder. Even if his batting was his only recommendation the most consistently fast scorer the game has ever known would have been a ‘shoo-in’. Add his intelligent bowling and fielding that was estimated as being worth 30 an innings to his team and, from a century before the format was used at top level you have the blueprint for the perfect T20 exponent.
  3. *WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of various styles, fine close catcher. My chosen captain.
  4. Frank Woolley – left handed bat, left arm orthodox spin bowler, brilliant close catcher.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed bat, left arm wrist spinner, fine fielder.
  6. +Leslie Ames – right handed bat, wicket keeper. He won the Lawrence trophy for the fastest hundred of the season twice in the first three years of its existence. He was one of the Kent batters who combined to chase down 219 in two hours, with no fielding restrictions in place.
  7. Bill Lockwood – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler. He was one of the pioneers of the ‘slower ball’, a type of delivery that is especially useful in T20, and it is for that reason that I have included him here.
  8. Jim Laker – off spinner and right handed lower order bat.
  9. Alfred Shaw – right arm medium/ slow bowler, lower order bat. The Nottinghamshire man bowled more overs in first class cricket than he conceded runs. He paid just 12 a piece for his first class wickets. He once said that “length and variation of pace are the secrets of successful bowling”, and though he would probably get hit occasionally I think his method would work beautifully in T20.
  10. Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, useful lower order batter. His match against Nottinghamshire in 1932 provides a vignette of his bowling skills – in the first Notts innings on a pitch not assisting him he operated as a stock bowler taking 2-64 in 41 overs. In their second innings, after an overnight thunderstorm had gingered up the pitch he took 10-10 in 19.4 overs, with 16 maidens, still the cheapest ‘all ten’ in first class history. He was noted for being especially skilled at varying his pace to suit the conditions, and even in T20 it is hard to imagine anyone ‘collaring’ him.
  11. David Harris – right arm fast bowler. Hambledon’s finest, who once sent a spell of 170 deliveries from which one solitary single was garnered by the opposition. I have argued elsewhere (see the Eccentrics post in this series) that proper styles of underarm bowling such as his, and the lobs of Simpson-Hayward mentioned in that post, as opposed to Trevor Chappell style grubbers should be legal. The grubber can be covered under today’s legislation with the single addition that a ball rolled along the deck is considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and will therefore be called no-ball.

This XI is strong in batting, everyone other than Ames would be capable of contributing with the ball, and the bowling is staggeringly rich in variety as well. Their designated fielding substitute can be Sydney Copley, who while on the Notts groundstaff took an astonishing catch as sub in the 1930 test match there to dismiss Stan McCabe (who unlike another Aussie top order batter dismissed by a sub in more recent times did not give vent to a string of obscenities on his way back to the pavilion), breaking a threatening partnership. Now we we turn to…

T20 ERA FRANCHISE XI

  1. Chris Gayle – left handed opening bat, occasional off spinner. The ‘Universe Boss’ has to open the innings for this team, his record in this format being simply astonishing. As a very tall left handed bat he forms a perfect contrast to the person I have chosen to open with him…
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening bat of diminutive stature but possessed of a full range of strokes, good footwork and incredible timing. Her many highlights include a 47 ball hundred against South Africa. Additionally, I consider that the completeness of the contrast between her and Gayle would pose a huge challenge to opposition bowlers. Yesterday’s post featured a video clip showing her in action – please go back and watch it.
  3. *Virat Kohli – right handed batter. The best all format batter currently in world cricket – Steve Smith is better at test cricket, and Chris Gayle is better at T20.
  4. Glenn Maxwell – right handed batter, off spinner. A man with an incredible record in limited overs cricket, and had I failed to select him I probably wouldn’t have needed radio equipment to hear the howls of protest from Australia.
  5. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The x-factor all rounder.
  6. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. His career started before the establishment of top level T20, but he did play the format before he finished.
  7. Rashid Khan – right arm leg spinner, lower order batter. The Afghan has a phenomenal record in limited overs cricket, and has had some successes in his few forays into long form cricket as well. Save for being brutalized by Eoin Morgan in the 2019 world cup he has had few bad days.
  8. R Ashwin – off spinner, lower order bat. An excellent limited overs record. Also, the possibility for what would be the cricket incident to end all cricket incidents were he to (as he has done to others) ‘Mankad’ WG Grace!
  9. Jofra Archer – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. He went in a few months from people questioning whether England should pick him to being an essential part of a world cup winning outfit.
  10. Chris Jordan – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order bat, brilliant fielder. One of the most effective bowlers at mixing the pace up and sowing confusion that way, his fielding is so good as to practically be worth picking him even if you don’t plan to use his bowling.
  11. Lasith Malinga – right arm fast bowler. The Sri Lankan slinger would be especially dangerous in the ‘death overs’.

This team has depth in batting, with only Malinga absolutely ruled out of making a significant contribution in that department, and a splendid range of bowling options to choose from. As a designated fielding sub I give them (who else?) the one and only Gary Pratt. I apologize for the player names not being formatted as links to their cricinfo profiles – that site is currently malfunctioning – hope normal service will soon be resumed.

THE CONTEST AND AN EXPLANATION

This would be a heck of a contest, with I think the PreT20 team just about favourites, but any of these 22 players could be the match winner.

Until this post my all-time XIs have all been picked with long form cricket in mind. The reason I changed that today was because of the following tweet from the folks at cricinfo:

They were asking specifically about T20 and their options were Gayle or Kohli, and I voted for Gayle, but as I explained, it is actually a very poor comparison, since Gayle’s bowling gives him a second string that wins it for him at T20 (and at that format, and only that format, he is of more value even purely as a batter than Kohli). I decided to use this blog post to address their question at greater length than can be managed in a tweet, meaning that post I was mentally planning for today will feature tomorrow instead (yes, when sufficiently provoked even an autistic person can make rapid changes to their plans). Note that while I have named Gayle as one half of the ultimate example of a contrasting opening pair I have also named Kohli as no 3 and skipper.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few of links before signing off. First, the pinchhitter has again mentioned me in today’s offering, which I urge you to read. Second, to bring to the cricket part of this post to a close, a quiz in The Guardian.

Finally, a mathematical teaser adapted from a problem I solved on brilliant.org this morning (I considered their version waaay too easy, since they had made it multiple choice):

Measurement

 

Finally, after a good sized chunk of cricket and a measure of mathematics it is time for my regular sign off:

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The first squirrel I have seen recently.

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All Time XIs -The Cognominal Clash

For my latest variation on the ‘All time XI’ cricket theme I offer you the Cognominal Contest for the ‘Nugget-Davo’ Trophy! Also features a video clip of the little gem that is Tammy Beaumont, an important autism related link and a few photos.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest variation upon an ‘all time XI‘ theme. This one requires a little bit of preliminary explanation, so without further ado…

THE COGNOMINAL BRIEF

I have devised the word cognominal myself from the Latin cognomen, meaning nickname. Some Roman cognomina were merely functional: Scaevola indicated that the cognominee or an ancestor (cognomina were often inherited) was left handed, Magnus or Maximus indicated achievement, arrogance or some combination of the foregoing, since the meant great and greatest respectively, and there were many other such. Others pointed up features, so that if an ancestor had a wart on their nose one might inherit the cognomen Cicero, meaning chickpea because that was what the wart looked like. Others were ironic – the first Claudius to be cognominated Pulcher meaning beautiful was so dubbed because he had a decidedly unbeautiful character, and some could be cruel – the already multiply cognominated Gaius Julius Caesar Strabo Vopiscus (Caesar implying possession of a luxuriant head of hair, Strabo meaning ‘cross-eyed’ and Vopiscus meaning that he was the survivor of what had been a pair of twins) subsequently acquired Sesquiculus, not just an arsehole but an arsehole and a half! Cricketer nicknames can be excellent or they can show an utter lack of imagination. The Cognominal Clash features an XI who had impressive nicknames and an XI whose nicknames were all in the ‘must do better’ category. Some of the players I have placed in the latter XI also had less unimpressive nicknames, but I have played fair in terms of creating a contest by picking two decent looking teams. It is now time to meet the teams starting with the…

LAME NICKNAMES XI

  1. Graham Gooch – Goochie – right handed batter, right arm bowler of a pace that was described at various stages of his career as anything from fast medium to slow medium, scorer of 8,900 test runs, one of the openers for my all-time Essex XI. As well as his ‘must do better’ nickname his moustache caused him to be dubbed ‘Zap’ in honour of the Mexican revolutionary Zapata. I personally rate the 154 not out in a team total of 252 all out on a pig of a pitch and in the face Ambrose at his most host hostile at Headingley in 1991 to have been the finest innings he ever played, although he scored more on quite a few occasions.
  2. Matthew Hayden – Haydos – left handed batter, very occasional medium pacer. He was also referred to as Hulk on account of his size and his approach to batting. He was the first to cash in on the brain fade that led Nasser Hussain to put Australia in at the Gabba in 2002, walloping 197 in the first innings and then belting another ton in the second innings. He finished with a test average of over 50, in spite of a dreadful run spanning the first four matches of the 2005 Ashes.
  3. *Michael Vaughan – Vaughany – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, uncertain catcher. The elegant right hander, who also had the nickname Virgil, crunched three centuries in ultimately losing cause in the 2002-3 Ashes series (not a record, Herbert Sutcliffe hit four centuries for England in the 1924-5 Ashes which Australia won 4-1) but got his revenge when he captained England to victory in the 2005 series. In the home summer of 2002 the Indians found weaknesses, but not generally until a double century (approached closely on two occasions but never actually reached) was on the horizon!
  4. Neil Harvey – Harv – left handed batter. At the age 19 Neil Harvey ran up a ton in his first Ashes innings, at Headingley in 1948, and by the time he called it a day he had amassed over 6,000 test runs at an average of 48.41.
  5. Mike Gatting – Gatt – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. He benefitted from being far more chances to establish himself in test cricket than most, and after taking over 50 innings to notch his first three figure score at that level he ended up producing sufficiently much more to finish with an average of 35.
  6. Ian Botham – Both – right handed bat, right arm fast medium bowler. The all rounder, who also had some more colourful monikers such as Beefy (for his build), Guy and Gorilla, both in honour of a popular resident of London Zoo, took just 21 matches to complete the test double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets.
  7. +Ian Healy – Heals – wicket keeper, right handed lower middle order bat. The most accomplished male Australian wicket keeper I have actually seen in action, and without doubt, even in a team captained Steve Waugh, the undisputed world sledging champion for pretty much his entire career. Adam ‘Church’ Gilchrist was of course a far better wielder of the willow, though Healy could be a major irritant in that department as well. Why did I specify male Australian wicket keeper? Well, Alyssa Healy, Ian’s niece, is a very fine practitioner with the gloves as well and undoubtedly a finer striker of the ball than her uncle was.
  8. Shane Warne – Warney – leg spinner, attacking lower order bat. He took over 700 wickets in test cricket, and was only once in 14 years on the losing end of an Ashes series, in 2005. He was also a shrewd tactician, and although I have honoured Vaughan with the captaincy, I name him as vice-captain, and was severely tempted to name him as captain.
  9. John Emburey – Embers – off spinner and unorthodox right handed lower order bat. He also had the marginally less unimaginative moniker Ernie, derived from his middle name of Ernest. He was four times an Ashes winner, at home in 1981 and 1985 and away in 1978-9 and 1986-7.
  10. Jeff Thomson – Thommo – right arm fast bowler and occasionally useful right arm lower order batter. One of those mentioned when discussion arises about who was the fastest bowler ever. He was at his best in the second half of the 1970s, and although he toured England in 1985 he was by then approaching 35, and unlike Lillee, his most famous bowling partner, he did not have the technical virtuosity to turn himself into a quality operator once the pace had gone, which meant he posed little threat by then.
  11. Matthew Hoggard – Hoggy or The Hogster – right arm fast medium, sometimes adhesive as a lower order batter. He took over 300 test wickets, and unlike many who make their names gaining movement on green pitches and under grey English skies he did not lose much of his effectiveness abroad. His career batting highlight was undoubtedly at Trent Bridge in 2005 when his cool head pulled England through what had every appearance of a crisis – chasing 129 to win and go one up with one to play England were 116-7 with only Harmison and a crocked Simon Jones to follow when Hoggard walked into bat. Hoggard and Giles scored those 13 runs, with Hoggard latching on to a full toss from Brett Lee for a crucial boundary to ease the tension. The full value of that little innings was illustrated a couple of weeks later, when a combination of the weather, some odd Australian decision making (accepting an offer of the light when they were pummelling England’s bowlers, and they needed there to be as much play as possible, since only a win could do them any good) and an extraordinary knock by Kevin Pietersen, well supported by that man Giles, saw England draw the match and claim the Ashes which had been in Australian hands since 1989.

The ‘Lame Nicknames’ have a solid opening pair, a contrasting 3,4 and 5, an x-factor all rounder, a keeper who can bat, two spinners who would complement each other nicely and Thommo to take the new ball with the wind behind him, while Hoggy gets his regular job of opening into the wind. Now it is time to meet…

THE COOL NICKNAMES XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – The Master – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. The scorer of 61,237 first class runs, including a 197 centuries at that level, both all-time records. His tallies of 3,636 runs and 12 centuries are England Ashes records, beaten only by Bradman (5,028 runs and 19 centuries). You may have seen other figures given for his first class records, but Hobbs himself vehemently opposed any changes to traditionally accepted figures. I am 100% certain that Hobbs would not have retired had he believed himself to be only one short of 200 centuries rather than three. He opens for my Surrey All Time XI.
  2. *WG Grace – The Champion – right handed opening bat, right arm bowler of various types, close fielder. He had a wide variety of other nicknames over the course of his long, illustrious and richly storied career. He tallied 54,896 first class runs, including 126 centuries and took 2,876 first class wickets, both records at the time of his retirement, and both still in the top half dozen all-time figures. The revisionists who increase Hobbs’ tallies decrease Grace’s, reducing his century county by two, an action which retrospectively nullifies the scenes at Taunton in 1925 when Hobbs scored his 126th and 127th first class centuries there to equal and then break the Grace record. Of course it is unthinkable for anyone else to captain this side, just as he captains my all time Gloucestershire XI.
  3. George Headley – Atlas – right handed batter, nicknamed after the titan of Greek mythology who carried the world on his shoulders, because he carried the West Indies on his shoulders. Twice he scored twin tons in test matches.
  4. Mike Hussey – Mr Cricket – left handed batter. He averaged over 50 in test cricket, and in the 2010-11 Ashes series down under it was only when England got him cheaply at Melbourne and Sydney that Australia’s resistance definitively crumbled.
  5. Clem Hill – Kruger – left handed batter, brilliant fielder. Hill amassed eight test centuries, which was a record until Hobbs overhauled it. At Old Trafford in 1902, when Australia secured the Ashes with a victory by three runs he had a ‘champagne moment’, when he sprinted thirty yards and then dived to take a catch that accounted for Dick Lilley – and it is claimed that his momentum carried him on a further twenty yards beyond where he actually held the catch! This catch made the difference between England needing eight with one wicket left and needing four with two wickets left, so it can genuinely be claimed as a catch that won a match. He was one of the ‘big six’ who refused to travel to England in 1912 because of a quarrel with the then newly established Australian Board of Control for International Cricket, later the Australian Cricket Board and now Cricket Australia. During the 1911-2 Ashes, won 4-1 by England, Hill was involved in a selectorial row that turned physical – he and Peter McAlister who were at loggerheads regarding the board anyway disputed over the right make up of the team, insults were exchanged, and an outraged Hill snapped and slapped McAlister’s face, which was the start of a brawl between the two that allegedly lasted twenty minutes. The ‘Kruger’ nickname arose because of a supposed physical similarity between him and the great South African leader.
  6. Alfred Mynn – The Lion of Kent – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The best all rounder of the 1830s and 40s.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – The Croucher – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. His nickname was derived from his batting stance, and is perhaps not all that cool, but I was prepared to compromise to set up a contest in which Jessop and Botham were on opposite teams.
  8. FR Spofforth – The Demon – right arm fast bowler (added many variations later in his career), right handed bat. Frederick Robert Spofforth announced himself to English audiences at Lord’s in 1878, when he was brought on to replace Frank Allan (dubbed ‘bowler of the century’ in the pretour publicity – Aussie mind games are nothing new) with the MCC score reading 27-2. MCC were all out for 33, Spofforth 6-4 in 23 deliveries! The Australians fared little better, inching their way to a very slow 41, after which the Australian captain did not call on Allan but went straight to Spofforth and Harry Boyle. This time MCC were all out for 19, with Boyle the chief destroyer capturing 6-3, while Spofforth had 4-16. Needing 12 to win, Australia lost one wicket getting them, the game ended on the same day it had started, and that aggregate of 105 runs for 31 wickets remains the lowest ever for a completed first class match. Spofforth was injured for the inaugural test on English soil in 1880, which the hosts won, but in 1882 he produced the bowling performance that created The Ashes, 14-90 in the match, seven of them in the second England innings, when needing only 85 to win the hosts crashed for 77 and were beaten by seven runs. England reached 50 with only two batters, Hornby and Barlow, gone, but then Ulyett was out 51 and crucially, Grace at 53, for only the second 30 plus score of the match, 32. Lyttelton and Lucas froze like rabbits in headlights, and Hornby, a poor choice as skipper, started tinkering with the batting order, and that was where the match was lost. Spofforth ultimately settled in England, marrying a woman from Derbyshire, and turning out a few times for that county.
  9. Charles Turner – The Terror -right arm medium-fast. Just as England were thinking that the terrors of Spofforth and Boyle were safely behind them, another amazing Aussie bowling pair arrived on the scene, Turner and the left armer Jack Ferris. Medium-fast described Turner’s pace, but leaves his method entirely out of account. He had formidably strong fingers (he could crush an orange to pulp between his thumb and forefinger), and gave the ball a ferocious rip, generating vicious .movement in any and all conditions. Only one bowler has ever taken 100 first class wickets in an Australian season – Turner in 1887-8.
  10. William Lillywhite – The Nonpareil – right arm fast, right handed lower order bat. He was one of the pioneers of ’round arm’ bowling, the form that came between under arm and over arm, and with his regular partner James Broadbridge he turned Sussex into a force that could take on the Rest of England, a situation that has never been the case since then and had not previously been the case. Some bowlers today still bowl with their arms at similar height to the position used by Lillywhite – I refer you to Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lankan slinger. In any case, I suspect Lillywhite would have been delighted to be allowed to bowl proper over arm and would have done so magnificiently – a champion in one era would be a champion in any era. About that nickname, courtesy of merriam-webster.com:
    Nonpareil MW

    Note the first entry under the ‘noun’ section.
  11. +EJ Smith – Tiger – wicketkeeper, was wont to say that he was willing to bat at no 1 or no 11 but nowhere in between, so I have given him his second choice, no 1 having a prior claimant! The nickname owed to his ferocious disposition. He kept at a time when wicket keepers habitually stood up no matter who was bowling, and I would guarantee that ‘St Smith B Spofforth’ would appear at least once, and probably more in scorecards featuring these teams.

This team has a top of the range opening pair, a wonderful array at nos 3-5, two ferocious all rounders at six and seven, a fine and varied trio of bowlers who would live up to their fearsome cognomina and a brilliant keeper who would let nothing through.

THE CONTEST

The battle for what I shall call the “Nugget – Davo” Trophy, honouring Keith Miller and Alan Davidson, who I could not find a place for in the two teams would be intense and hard fought, but I think the ‘Cool Nicknames’ would have the edge on as well as off the field and I would expect them to emerge victorious.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The scene has been set for the Cognominal Clash for the ‘Nugget-Davo’ Trophy, but I have a few links to share before applying my usual sign off.

One final cricket related link – as drawn to my attention by the pinchhitter blog, England cricket are honouring their female batting stars this week. Our ‘cool nicknames’ XI features a fast scorer of diminutive stature, 5’7″ Gilbert Jessop, and this video courtesy of England cricket shows and even smaller player, Tammy Beaumont climbing into South Africa to the tune of a 47-ball hundred (and it’s not slogging – these are high class cricket shots struck with perfect timing):

Charlie Hancock, an autistic writer who I follow on twitter has contributed two magnificent pieces to spyglass magazine this month, which between them make a superb ten points:

Please read both, and on that note, due to the weather being uncooperative I there is less to my standard sign off than usual…

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Nicknames battle
The teams in tabulated form with abbreviated comments.

All Time XIs – The West Indies

Today in a break from some of my more esoteric ‘all time’ XIs we take a look at the West Indies. Also features, politics, nature and a couple of family blogs, plus a mention for the fulltossblog.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series of ‘All Time XI‘ themed posts. It being a Monday (yes, even in the somewhat strange circumstances in which I am currently living I am managing to keep track of what day of the week it is!) I am looking at an international outfit, in this case the West Indies, before reverting to more esoteric matters for the rest of the week. As usual with an international set up I will start with a team from my cricket lifetime and move on from that to an all-time version.

THE WEST INDIES WITHIN MY LIFE TIME

For this purpose I am considering only players I actually witnessed.

  1. Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter, for Hampshire as well as his home island of Barbados and the West Indies. He scored two contrasting double centuries in the 1984 series, 223 not out in ten hours at Old Trafford, and 214 not out in about half of that time to win the Lord’s test for his side. I saw him score a ton in the MCC Bicentennial match, when he hit one square cut with such ferocity that the ball actually went through an advertising board. He was one half of a legendary opening partnership with…
  2. Desmond Haynes – right handed opening batter, also Barbadian, and played county cricket for Middlesex for many years as well as international cricket for the West Indies. Where Greenidge was an attacker by instinct but capable at need of defending for long periods, Haynes was by inclination an anchor man, who could when circumstances demanded it absolutely annihilate bowling attacks, as shown by his magnificent ODI record.
  3. Brian Lara – left handed batter. The Trinidadian holds the record test and first class scores, one of only two ever to have the double distinction (Bradman did so for a couple of years, between Headingley in 1930 where he made 334 to go with his 452 not out for NSW v Queensland and Christchurch 1933 where Hammond scored 336 not out) – 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994 and 400 not out v England at Antigua in 2004. Ten years earlier he had hit 375 v England on the same ground, the only player to hold the world test record twice (Hayden intervening with 380 v Zimbabwe at Perth). A small caveat over these feats of tall scoring by Lara is that none came in winning cause – all three matches were drawn. Just for the record, the full progression of test record high scores is: Bannerman 165 in the first test innings of all in 1877, Murdoch 211 at The Oval in 1884, Foster 287 at Sydney in 1903, Sandham 325 at Kingston in 1930, Bradman 334 at Headingley in 1930, Hammond 336 not out at Christchurch in 1933, Hutton 364 at The Oval in 1938, Sobers 365 not out at Kingston in 1957, Lara 375 at Antigua in 1994, Hayden 380 at Perth, Lara 400 not out at Antigua in 2004.
  4. Viv Richards – right handed bat, occasional off spinner. The ‘Master Blaster’. Among his many credits are a 56 ball hundred v England at Antigua in 1986, and an innings in 1990 against the same opposition when he twice mishit Devon Malcolm for sixes. He came into bat in a manner equivalent to a prima donna taking centre stage in an opera – all eyes immediately focussed on him, while everyone else, especially opposition bowlers, seemed simply to have the task of feeding him lines.
  5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – left handed bat, occasional leg spinner. He announced himself by scoring a double century in an under-19 match, and unlike his English equivalent who went straight back to his county second XI after doing so, he was fast tracked in the West Indies full team, and immediately began scoring runs (he would tally over 12,000 in test cricket).
  6. Carl Hooper – right hand bat, semi-regular off spinner. This man simply exuded elegance and class – the main criticism that he attracted being that he did not often enough go on for the really big score.
  7. +Jeff Dujon – Wicket keeper, right handed middle order bat – quite simply the best keeper the West Indies have had in my lifetime, and an average of over 30, including four test tons. He tended to get his runs when the team really needed them, not by thrashing already demoralized bowlers.
  8. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, useful lower right handed lower order bat. By my reckoning the greatest fast bowler of the West Indies’ golden age of fast bowling – and 376 test wickets at 20.94 is substantial backing for that claim. He was pretty much the ultimate pro, as he demonstrated during his years as Hampshire’s overseas star, and developed bucketloads of  craft and guile to go with the pace he always possessed.
  9. Michael Holding – right arm fast bowler, aggressive right handed lower order bat. ‘Whispering Death’ as he was known because of his silent run up was another magnificent fast bowler, one of the stars of the attack during both the ‘blackwashes’ the West Indies inflicted on England in the 1980s.
  10. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler (later in his career slowed to fast medium, if not medium fast). Twice he won test matches by destroying the England batting, once with 8-45 in an innings at Bridgetown, and he was only prevented from the being the match winner at Headingley in 1991 by the batting of Graham Gooch (154 not out in a total of 252 all out on a pig of a pitch, second highest score 27 jointly by Ramprakash and Pringle) and a display of ineptitude by his own colleagues in the face of England’s much less threatening bowling ‘attack’. Against the Aussies in Perth he once produced a spell of 7-1 which unsurprisingly settled the outcome of that match. I saw him in action last year for Lashings World XI, when he bowled two overs off a reduced run up, and the opposition simply could not lay a bat on him.
  11. *Courtney Walsh – right arm fast bowler (slowed late in his very long career to fast medium if not medium fast). The first bowler of any description to capture 500 test wickets. Although I do not usually think that fast bowlers make the best captains, he did the job well, suffering mainly from the fact that a once great side was becoming ordinary around him. His last bow, in England in the year 2000, showed up the problems in sharp relief (under the captaincy of Jimmy Adams), with the batting folding on a regular basis, and the bowling other than that of the then 38 year old Walsh being little to write home about – Trescothick made his test debut in that series, showed great character to survive the new ball but was still on 0 not out when Walsh was relieved, and got off the mark from the first ball bowled by Walsh’s replacement, going on to a fine 66.

This team has six quality batters, five of them definitely meriting the label ‘great’, a top drawer glove man who knew how to bat and four of the finest fast bowlers you would ever meet. There is little in way of spin for reasons I will go into in the next section of this post, with Hooper’s off breaks the nearest thing to a front line spin option.

EXPLANATIONS, HONOURABLE MENTIONS AND A SPECIAL FEATURE

I will start with a few honourable mentions: Chris Gayle, ‘Universe Boss’, scored two test triple centuries, and I saw him make a classic 167 not out at Adelaide in 2009, but I felt that the value of the Greenidge/Haynes combo was too great to include him. Richie Richardson was a fine batter, at one time rated no1 test batter in the world, but I could only have got him in by sacrificing Hooper at no 6. Clive Lloyd was a fine batter and captain, but I never actually witnessed him in action, so could not select him. Ramnaresh Sarwan was also a fine batter who I regretted not being able to fit in. Denesh Ramdin probably believes he was a candidate for the keeper’s slot, but in truth, a double ton against England on a feather bed of a pitch in Barbados notwithstanding, he was not in Dujon’s class in either department.

SPECIAL FEATURE: BALANCE, ALL ROUNDERS, BOWLERS AND THE WEST INDIES GOLDEN AGE

As mentioned in my overview of it the team lack either an all-rounder or a genuine spinner. The reason for this is that in my lifetime the West Indies men have only produced four cricketers who could be dubbed all rounders, Eldine Baptiste, Hamesh Anthony, Franklyn Stephenson and Ottis Gibson, and none were really good enough with the bat to drop a front liner for, nor with so many genuine fast bowlers to pick from could they force their way in that category. If I am mandated to select an all rounder then Stephenson comes in for Hooper, but under protest. Roger Harper, a middle order batter who bowled off spin and was a great fielder, was not quite good enough in either department to be considered. I only gave serious consideration to two specialist spinners, Suleiman Benn and Sunil Narine, but although Narine especially would have his advocates, neither have a test record that really commands respect, though Narine is an outstanding limited overs bowler.

Even had there been a spinner in the period concerned with a really fine test record, I had a particular reason for picking four specialist pace bowlers (albeit Marshall and Holding were both capable of scoring useful runs) – the four pronged pace battery propelled the West Indies to the top of the cricket world under Clive Lloyd and kept them there under Viv Richards. At Trinidad in the 1975-6 series against India Clive Lloyd, in anticipation of a turner was given a team containing three front line spinners, Inshan Ali, Albert Padmore and Raphick Jumadeen, to match the three India would play, Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan. For three of the four innings, things went to plan, and India were set 406 to win. India knocked those runs off, a test record at the time, for the loss of just four wickets, the three West Indies spinners leaking 220 of the runs. Lloyd decided there and then that he wanted his best available bowling attack irrespective of conditions, and secured an all pace quartet (initially Andy Roberts, Wayne Daniel, Bernard Julien and Vanburn Holder) for the future. The West Indies did not look back from that point. One series was lost to New Zealand in 1980, but otherwise the West Indies ruled supreme until the rise of the Aussies in the 1990s. Other pace stars who featured for greater or lesser periods in this period were Colin Croft, Joel Garner, Sylvester Clarke, Milton Small and Tony Gray. Later, even after their domination had faded the West Indies produced a few other notably quick bowlers – Ian Bishop who was blighted by injuries, Kemar Roach (who I saw bowling at over 150kph at Adelaide, not a ground beloved of many bowlers) and most recently Shannon Gabriel. It is now time to move on to…

WEST INDIES ALL TIME

Of the players I named in the XI from my life, Lara, Richards, Marshall, Holding and Ambrose make the all-time XI. They are joined by the following:

  • George Headley – right handed bat, nicknamed ‘Atlas’ because he carried the team on his shoulders, like the titan of Greek mythology carried The Earth on his shoulders. He averaged 60.83 in test cricket, converting 10 of his 15 fifty plus scores into centuries. He usually batted three, but the West Indies in his day so often lost an early wicket that he was effectively opening anyhow, which is how I use him in this team.
  • *Frank Worrell – right handed bat, left arm fast medium and occasional left arm spin. He sometimes opened, which is the task I have given him in this team, and CLR James’ ghost would haunt me for eternity if I dared named anyone else as captain of an all-time West Indies XI. He was the first black player to be West Indies captain, breaking a particularly vile shibboleth that black fellows needed to be led by someone with white skin, and he led the West Indies to the top of the cricket world, becoming the first to succeed in banishing inter-island rivalries from the dressing room.
  • Everton Weekes – right handed bat, averaged 58 in test cricket, including a run of five successive centuries (ended by a run out 90). He also represented his home island of Barbados at Contract Bridge, a game that I enjoy playing.
  • Garry Sobers – left handed bat, left arm fast, left arm swing or seam and left arm finger and wrist spinner, brilliant fielder. Quite simply the most complete cricketer the world has ever seen, averaging 57.78 with the bat and taking 235 test wickets. If Ellyse Perry (still only 29 years old, though she has been around a long time) takes up spin bowling to add to her other cricketing accomplishments she may match him in that regard. Sobers was actually first selected as a left arm spinner, developed his batting after that, and then as a Lancashire League pro developed the ability to deploy pace, seam and swing because pros there are expected to be able to contribute heavily with both bat and ball no matter what, and the heavy skies and green surfaces that are both such regular features of north western England tend to lend themselves more to pace, swing and seam than to spin.
  • +Clyde Walcott – right hand bat, wicket keeper. He was a recognized wicket keeper, as well averaging 56 in test cricket, and the only way I could have got him in as other than a keeper would have been by dropping King Viv.
  • Lance Gibbs – off spinner, taker of 309 test wickets (world record at the time). While there was a reason why the West Indies team from my lifetime should feature an all-pace battery, for this combo I revert to a more balanced attack.

Thus my all-time XI in batting order reads: Headley, *Worrell, Lara, Weekes, Richards, Sobers, +Walcott, Marshall, Holding, Ambrose, Gibbs. This combination has a splendid looking opening pair, a stellar 3,4 and 5 with Lara a left hander for extra balance, the most complete cricketer of all time at six, a batter/keeper at 7, three fast bowlers and an off spinner. The bowling, with the three specialist quick bowlers backed up by Gibbs’ off spin, Sobers’ variety of left arm options, Worrell and possibly Richards as seventh bowler, looks awesome (the only base not covered is right arm leg spin).

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

George Challenor and Percy Tarilton, the pioneers of ‘Caribbean style batting’ never got to show what they could do at test level. Allan Rae and Jeff Stollmeyer were a highly successful opening combo, but had I opted to pick an opening partnership Greenidge and Haynes would have got the nod. Conrad Hunte was a great opener who never benefitted from having a truly established partner. I have the word of CLR James that Rohan Kanhai was an absolute genius with a bat in his hands, but just who could I drop to make way for him?

Among the great fast bowlers not getting the nod were: George John who flourished before his country played test cricket, Herman Griffith (also a tough captain – he was once captaining a youngster of whom big predictions were being made and when it came to time for the youngster to bowl he requested a suggestion of field placements beginning with the word ‘deep’, and when he prefaced his fourth successive position with that word Griffith snapped, and called up another bowler, saying “No, you obviously intend to bowl foolishness” – a refusal to accept low standards of which I wholeheartedly approve), Learie Constantine, Manny Martindale, Roy Gilchrist, Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith. Spinners to miss out included Ellis Achong (from whom the term ‘chinaman’ for the left arm wrist spinner’s equivalent of a googly derives – his parents came to Trinidad as indentured labourers, and were indeed Chinese, and the story is that when Walter Robins fell LBW to him, misreading the spin, he said en route back to the pavilion “fancy being done by a chinaman” and so the term was born), and my little pals Ram and Val (Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine, who took the first eight wickets to fall in the first test innings in which he bowled). Had I been able to accommodate a specialist wicket keeper Deryck Murray would have got the nod, but with only 11 spaces to fill there was just no way to do so.

I am well aware that at least one of the regular readers of this series of posts knows a very great deal about West Indian cricket, and I hope that ‘africanherbsman’ as he identifies himself feels that I have done something approaching justice to the cricketers of his islands, for whose achievements I have great admiration.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Well, our virtual Caribbean cruise is at an end, but I have a few links to share before applying my usual sign off…

Finally, it is time for my usual sign off…

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West Indies
The teams in tabulated form with abridged comments.

All Time XIs – Arthurians vs Bills

Another twist on the ‘all time XI’ theme as the Arthurians (11 players with given name Arthur) take on the Bills (11 players with given name Bill) for a trophy I have playfully dubbed “The Grail Trophy”.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest take on the ‘All Time XI‘ theme that I am exploring while ‘Pandemic Stops Play’ remains the case. Today we look at two teams of players whose common factor is their given name.

THE BRIEF

The Arthurians, a team moniker plucked from the realms of mythology (knights of the round table etc), all have the given name Arthur. The Bills, a team moniker borrowed from an outfit based in Buffalo, NY each have the given name Bill. I stuck resolutely to the given name theme, ignoring players surnamed Arthur and Australian batter Wendell Bill. I also ignored nicknames, so no ‘Bill Fender’ or (Graeme Swann has the “credit” for this one) Tammy ‘BIll’ Beaumont. Also I stuck rigidly to Bills, no mere Billies allowed, sadly for  Barnes and Gunn of Nottinghamshire, Bates of Yorkshire, Murdoch of Australia and Sussex or Messrs. Godleman (Middlesex, Derbyshire) and Taylor (Hampshire) of more recent vintage. Similarly, for readers of my most recent post, ‘Silver Billy’ Beldham had to be disqualified. I also stuck resolutely to the ‘team’ principle – no crowbarring players in out of position here. Ground rules laid out it is time to meet the teams, starting with…

THE ARTHURIANS

  1. Arthur Morris – left handed opening bat, flourished immediately post World War II. He is one of relatively few players to have had a seriously big score overshadowed by someone else scoring a blob in the same innings. It occurred at The Oval in 1948, when Don Bradman was bowled second ball by Eric Hollies ot be left with a test average of 99.94. Morris batted through the Aussie innings on that occasion, leading to the following oft repeated snatch of conversation:
    questioner: did you see Bradman’s last test innings? Morris: “Yes, I was batting at the other end” questioner: “how many did you get” Morris, deadpan: “196”
  2. Arthur Shrewsbury – right handed opening bat, famously rated by WG Grace as second only tp himself.
  3. Arthur Jones – regular number three for Notts and England in his day. He lalso bowled leg spin.
  4. Arthur Mitchell – vital part of Yorkshire’s top or middle order in the 1930s, specialist gully fielder who turned himself into one of the best around in that position. When his playing days were done he became a hugely successful coach. Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird and Michael Parkinson (later famous as writer and broadcaster), then  opening partners for Barnsley in league cricket were summoned to the Yorkshire nets when he was coach, Parkinson got Maurice Leyland’s net, enjoyed himself but did not get invited back, while Bird got Mitchell’s net, was reduced by the stern “Ticker” to a quivering wreck, but did enough right to be asked back (the story appears in “Parkinson on Cricket”, by the aforementioned Michael Parkinson).
  5. Arthur Carr – Nottinghamshire middle order bat, inclined to attack (he hit 48 sixes in the 1925 season) and a shrewd tactician. He helped Jardine with his tactics for the 1932-3 Ashes Tour (he was county captain to two of the key bowlers). It was also Carr who confirmed to Jardine that Larwood and Voce were accurate enough to bowl to a 7-2 field. Incidentally, the two injuries sustained by Aussie batters in taht series both happened while Larwood was bowling to an offside field, and one of them, Oldfield’s, was admitted by the victim to be his own fault – he took on the hook shot and edged the ball into his own head.
  6. Arthur Chipperfield – right hand bat and leg spinner. He still has a place in the record books as the only amle to score 99 on test debut (it was a lunch interval that did for him – he was out second ball on the resumption, while Jess Jonassen an Aussie of more recent vintage hit 99 in her first test innings). Chipperfield did eventually manage a test century, a feat that Ms Jonassen has yet to accomplish, though she has time to do so.
  7. +Arthur Wood – wicket keeper and right handed lower middle order bat. In 1935 he became the first Yorkshire keeper to score over 1,000 runs in a season. In 1938 he made his test debut at the Oval, and walked out following Hutton’s dismissal for 364, with the score reading 770-6 and is alleged to have announced his presence in the middle by saying “Always wor a good man for a crisis, me”. No Aussie responses to this have been recorded. He rattled up 53 in that debut innings, being out with the score on 879. Another Yorkshireman, Verity, followed him to the crease and was with Joe Hardstaff, when the 900 came up, and Hammond having had confirmation that Bradman would not be batting finally declared, to the relief of all save Oval groundsman ‘Bosser’ Martin who had wanted to see a score of 1,000 achieved on his pitch.
  8. Arthur Wellard – right arm fast medium bowler, very attacking right handed lower order batter. In all he smote 500 first class sixes, 66 of them in 1935 alone, which stood as a season’s record for 50 years, before Ian Botham wellied 80 maximums in just 27 innings. Like Botham, Wellard played for Somerset, and he appears to have been every bit as inclined to deposit balls in the river Tone. In a match against Nottinhamshire he featured in a ‘gotcha’ sequence – when Notts batted a certain H Larwood was out B Wellard 0, while the corresponding line in the Somerset scoresheet read AW Wellard B Larwood 0.
  9. Arthur Fielder – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order bat.
  10. Arthur Jepson – right arm fast medium, right handed lower order bat.After his playing days were done he became an umpire, and in that capacity was responsible for one of the great refusals of an appeal against the light. It was a limited overs match, and the time was closer to 9PM than 8, and when the issue of light was raised Jepson pointed to the sky and said “You can see the moon, how far do you need to be able to see?”
  11. *Arthur Mailey – leg spinner, no 11 batter. Until Rodney Hogg surpassed it in 1978-9 he held the record for wickets by an Aussie in an Ashes series, with 36 of them in 1920-1. In a tour match against Gloucestershire he dismissed the county by himself, recording innings figures of 10-66, which gave him the title for his autobiography “10 For 66 And All That” – and it is a splendid read. When Victoria put up their all time record first class team total of 1,107 (Ponsford 352, Ryder 295, Woodfull 133, Hendry 100, FL Morton run out for 0  amidst the carnage) Mailey took 4-362, still the most runs conceded by a bowler in a first class innings, although for me the 1-298 recorded by ‘Chuck’ Fleetwood-Smith in the Oval test match of 1938 is a worse shocker, because at least Mailey was getting wickets. Mailey himself claimed to have regretted that Jack Ellis, the last Victorian dismissed, had run himself out “just as I was striking a length” and also pointed out that “a chap in the shilling stand dropped an easy chance from Jack Ryder early in his innings”. In 1930 the manager of the Australian tour party upbraided him for passing on bowling tips to Scottish born leg spinner Ian Peebles and Mailey produced the classic response: “Spin bowling is an art and art is international.” Well spoken, Mr Mailey.

That is the Arthurian cast in all its glory, so now it is time to meet…

THE BILLS

  1. *Bill Woodfull – prolific opener for Victoria and Australia, twice regained the Ashes as Captain on his birthday (1930 and 1934). He was known in his day as ‘the unbowlable’, and did once go two entire seasons without being dismissed by that method.
  2. Bill Ponsford – regular opening partner of Woodfull for Victoria and Australia, scorer of two first class quadruple centuries.
  3. Bill Brown – right handed top order batter, usually an opener but could also go in at three, where I have put him in this team.
  4. Bill Bruce – attacking top order bat for Australia in the 1890s.
  5. Bill Alley – left handed bat, right arm medium fast. Became an umpire once his playing days were down.
  6. Bill Lockwood – right arm fast, right handed bat. Played for Nottinghamshire, Surrey and England. He was among the first fast bowlers to become noted for bowling a ‘slower ball’, and it would seem that not until Franklyn Stephenson, approximately 90 years later did anyone else wreak quite such havoc with that type of delivery. He achieved the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a seaosn twice
  7. +Bill Storer – wicketkeeper and combative right handed bat. The Derbyshire man toured Australia in 1897-8. In 1904 it was he who partnered Charles Ollivierre in the match winning second wicket stand at Chesterfield, when Derbyshire set 149 in 125 minutes knocked them off easily. Ollivierre and Storer were each also eyeing up personal landmarks – Ollivierre a century to go with his double in the first innings and Storer a fifty, and neither got there – Ollivierre 92 not out, Storer 48 not out. Storer was one of the players involved in the ‘netting boundary’ scheme trialled briefly in the late 1890s: netting 2-3 feet high was erected around the boundary, and batters got three for shots clearing the netting and two plus any they had managed to run if the ball rolled into the netting. This scheme, intended to discourage slogging and encourage gentle ground strokes made snicks through the slips very remunerative indeed. Storer did produce a score of 175 under this scheme, while in that same innings Wood was credited with 10 off a delivery from Cuthbert Burnup. The scheme was abandoned pretty swiftly however. Andrew Ward covers it in “Cricket’s Strangest Matches”.
  8. Bill Voce – left arm fast medium bowler, right handed batter. Toured Australia three times, successfully in 1932-3, as part of a narrowly beaten side in 1936-7 and in the ‘goodwill tour’ of 1946-7 where Bradman did not get the memo and an ill-equipped England were utterly routed. Cliff Cary, an Australian who commentated during that series, also wrote a book length account of it, “Cricket Controversy”.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner, greatest bowler of the inter-war years and excellent writer (e.g “Cricket Taskforce”, his book about the 1950-1 Ashes).
  10. Bill Johnston – left arm fast medium, left arm orthodox spin, tail end batter. He was Australia’s leading wicket taker in the 1946-7, 1948 and 1950-1 Ashes series, and although hampered by an injury on the 1953 tour he became only the second after Bradman to average 100 for an English season (102 runs at 102.00, courtesy of 16 red inkers in 17 innings, some of them gained with the active connivance of team mates who saw the amusement value in him claiming a batting record). In the 1954-5 series, his last outing, he helped Neil Harvey to add 39 for the last wicket on the second test match, but too much damage had already been done, and England eventually got that last wicket to level the series at 1-1 (Harvey 92 not out), a position from which Hutton’s team never looked back.
  11. Bill Bowes – right arm fast medium, genuine no11 batter. His county, Yorkshire, were champions seven times in the 1930s, and in that decade he was only once outside the top 10 of the national bowling averages. His test opportunities were limited, but 68 wickets at 22 from 15 appearances does not exactly betoken failure at that level. In retirement he became an entertaining writer – he contributed the chapter on Jardine to “Cricket: The Great Captains”.

That is the Bills introduced, and we move on to:

AN EVALUATION

The Arthurians have a nicely contrasted opening pair, a useful look 3-5, an all rounder, a wicket keeper who can bat, three pace bowlers of varying types and a quality leg spinner. They are short in the finger spin department, but apart from that the look a pretty good unit.

The Bills have a solid opening partnership, nos 3,4 and 5 look pretty useful, they have a genuine all rounder at six, a good wicket keeper and combative bat at seven, and four widely varied bowlers to round out the XI. They are also a little short finger spin wise, but Johnston could bowl that, and Voce occasionally deployed it to.

I would expect a close and entertaining contest for the trophy (provisional name, given the presence of the Arthurians, The Grail!). One final section:

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Arthur Morton of Derbyshire only just missed out for the Arthurians, while there were also two other possible wicket keepers for them, another Yorkshireman, Arthur Dolphin and Gloucestershire keeper and WG Grace’s best man, Arthur Bush. The Bills, even with my tight restrictions had a surplus of top order riches – Bill Lawry missed out on an opening slot, while Bill Hitch was unlucky among the bowlers, and Bill Edrich would also have his advocates. Bill Andrews of Somerset was another who merited consideration for his bowling. Bill Athey could not be accommodated in a side that had two renowned stickers opening the batting.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My chosen combatants for the ‘Grail Trophy’ have been introduced, along with a few potential replacements, and all that now remains to apply my usual sign off…

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A small beetle making use of one og my clothes pegs, which is holding a t-shirt on the line (three pics).

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A bug scuttling across the page of “Summer of Success”, the book about Essex’s first County Championship triumph in 1979, that I was reading.

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Arthurians v Bills
The teams in tabulated form, with abridged comments.

All Time XIs – One Cap Wonders v Nontest

Another variation on the ‘all time XI’ theme, this time ‘one cap wonders’ against ‘nontest stars’, with a bonus feature on women’s cricket and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

It is time for another variation on the “All Time XI” theme. This one features an XI made up of one-cap wonders and and XI designated Nontest.

THE BRIEF

The ‘one cap wonders’ XI is fairly self explanatory – these people made precisely one appearance at the highest level for various reasons. The Nontest XI comprises players who either flourished before their country gained test status or belong to a country that has never enjoyed test status. Many of these players are making their debuts in this series of posts, but in some cases they have featured elsewhere. First be introduced, in most cases representing decisions that appear to make as much sense as cluttering up an already overloaded cricket calendar with a new competition featuring innings of 100 balls per team and a raft of rule changes are…

THE ONE CAP WONDERS XI

  1. Ken Eastwood – brought in for the final test of the 1970-1 Ashes series when the Australian selectors decided to replace Bill Lawry as skipper and without consulting their new skipper to be Ian Chappell decided that the old skipper could not play under the new. Eastwood, already 35 years of age, was like Bill Lawry a blocker by instinct, but he was nowhere near as good a batter, hence why he had not previously caught the selectors eyes. He is an example of what I consider the worst kind of ‘one cap wonder’ story – someone brought in at the end of a series who unless they do something very special is practically guaranteed never to get picked again. England in the 1980s and 1990s were continuously guilty of doing this, indeed Mike Brearley was only confirmed as skipper for the sixth test of the 1981 Ashes on the understanding that he would accept an ‘experimental selection’ for that game, with the series already decided, and I personally think that Mr Brearley should have said “If you are going to be experimental bring in your envisaged new skipper as well.”
  2. EM Grace – played in the first test on English soil in 1880, by when he was 40 years of age. He contributed 39 to opening stand of 91 with his brother WG in the first innings. He had toured Australia with an amateur party in 1863-4. He should have played in the 1882 test that inaugurated The Ashes, rather than AN ‘Monkey’ Hornby (the Hornby of “my Hornby and my Barlow, long ago”), who was as much Spofforth’s bunny as another Lancashire opener, Atherton, would be McGrath’s bunny in the later 1990s. Hornby’s bizarre tampering with the England batting order in the final innings contributed to the defeat – CT Studd, with two centuries against the Aussies to his name already that season was held back, getting progressively more nervous, until no10, and ended up 0 not out having not faced a ball! In addition to his aggressive top order batting EM Grace was a fearless close fielder (he once caught AE Stoddart, a renowned hitter, while standing so close in at point that he was able to pass the ball to the wicket keeper without moving his feet) and had moments with his bowling, which included lobs (he once dislodged renowned stonewaller Harry Jupp by landing a steepler directly onto that worthy’s bails).
  3. Jack MacBryan – the only capped test cricketer who never batted, bowled or fielded at that level – the match was ruined by rain, he was waiting for a bat when the weather made its final intervention and he was never called up again.
  4. Andy Ganteaume – the West Indian right handed batter suffered from a doctrinaire interpretation of the situation – he was selected in place of an injured player, scored 112 in his only innings, and then the injured player returned. Ganteaume thus had a test average of 112.
  5. Rodney Redmond – the Kiwi left hander is his country’s equivalent of Ganteaume – one test match in which he made 107 and 56, a record match aggregate for a one cap wonder.
  6. GF Grace – in his case the selectors cannot be blamed, since by the time of England’s next game after his solitary cap he was in his grave. However, he rated second only to his brother WG as an attacking batter at the time, had his moments with the ball and was a brilliant fielder.
  7. Arnold Warren – the Derbyshire fast bowler who was also a good enough bat to have a first class hundred was called up for one match in the 1909 Ashes, collecting 6-113 overall, including 5-57 in one innings.
  8. +Leslie Gay – when he was called up to keep wicket for England at the SCG in 1894 Gay completed a curious double – he had also kept goal for England at football. His performance with the wicket keeper’s gloves was not a distinguished one, and in England’s second innings 437 he was the only person not to reach double figures (bowled off his pads by a full toss with his score on 4). Nonetheless, England won the game (it was the ‘follow on’ match at the start of that series).
  9. Jack Durston – the giant Middlesex fast bowler was among the many called up by England during the 1921 Ashes (30 players appeared in home colours that series), and match figures of 5-136 suggest he was unlucky to be dropped, even if you do not subscribe to my opinion that ‘one cap wonders’ in general; say more about the inadequacies of the selectors than they do about the players.
  10. Charlie Parker – the Gloucestershire left arm spinner took more first class wickets than anyone else bar Rhodes (Yorkhsire, SLA) and Freeman (Kent, LS) and yet had to make do with one test cap. He was named in the XII for Leeds in 1926 but was the player left out, and skipper Carr then put Australia in, saw Bardsley out to the first ball of the game and then dropped a sitter from Macartney in the same over, and watched Macartney reach 100 by lunch time and ultimately 151 at a run a minute.
  11. Charles ‘Father’ Marriott – the Lancashire and Kent leg spinner and genuine no11 was called up against the West Indies in 1933, took 11-96 in the match and was never picked again.

Our assemblage of ‘one cap wonders’ has a strong looking top five, an all rounder at six, some good bowlers and a wicket keeper. It is now time to meet the opposition…

NONTEST STARS XI

  1. Percy Tarilton – one of the pair considered by many, including CLR James, to be the forefathers of West Indian batting (the other, George Challenor, did get to play test cricket, but only when well past his best).
  2. Mahadevan Sathasivam – reckoned the first great batter to be produced by the island then known as Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. He only played 11 first class matches, recording an average of 41 in those games with a best score of 215. Mike Marqusee in “War Minus The Shooting”, his account of the 1996 World Cup, tells some good stories about ‘Satha’ as he was known.
  3. William ‘Silver Billy’ Beldham – two centuries before Graham Thorpe this Farnham native was rated the best batter around. At a time when centuries at any level were rare (the first ever documented individual century was scored by John Minshull in 1769) Beldham amassed no fewer than three in matches considered to have been first class. He lived, as befits a character from the game;s old testament, to a great age, 96 to be precise, and in equally classic old testament fashion became the father of sons and daughters (no fewer than 39 of them, 11 with his first wife and 28 with his second!) According to one witness, James Pycroft, his speciality shot was the cut, which if Pycroft is even close to accurate must have rivalled the Robin Smith version for ferocity.
  4. Charles Ollivierre – the right handed batter came to England with the 1900 West Indians and stayed to play for Derbyshire.
  5. Clive Inman – among the first Ceylonese to be a regular in the County Championship, for Leicestershire and Derbyshire  (Laddie Outschoorn of Worcestershire, a near contemporary, was also from that island).
  6. Duncan Fletcher – A fine all rounder for Zimbabwe, batting left handed and bowling right arm fast medium. He was just too old to get to play test cricket, his playing highlight being 69 and 4-42 v Australia at the 1983 World Cup. After his playing days he coached, first at Glamorgan and then with England. He was in charge for the 2005 Ashes triumph, and although he overused the provisions of central contracts, effectively using them as a blanket ban on their holders playing county cricket overall he did a splendid job for England, the first of two Zimbabweans who did not say much to do so, the other being Andrew Flower who guided England to the top of the test match rankings, a mere 12 years after they had been bottom thereof. The story of England’s renaissance in the early 2000s spearheaded as it was by these two Zimbabweans is well told in Steve James’ (who experience Fletcher the coach in his Glamorgan playing days) “The Plan”.
  7. +Lebrun Constantine – West Indian middle order batter and wicket keeper. He made the 1906 tour party to England only after fans raised a subscription to pay for his passage. His son Learie did get to play test cricket as a brilliant and dashing all rounder and went on to achieve considerable success in the field of human rights, ultimately becoming Baron Constantine of Nelson and Maraval (Nelson was the Lnacashire town for whom he played league cricket, and where he settled, Maraval the place in Trinidad from which he hailed).
  8. Bart King – the USian (acknowledgement to Kiwi blogger Heather Hastie for this handy term) fast bowler was the original ‘King of Swing’ as I mentioned in my ‘non-cricketing birthplaces XI’, and took his wickets at a mere 15 a piece. He made four tours of England with The Philadelphians, on the last of which he took 87 wickets in 10 first class appearances.
  9. *Palwankar Baloo – those who saw my India post will already know that I was impressed enough by this mans achievements in the matches he did get to play to name him in my all-time India XI. It will come as no surprise that I chosen to name a spin bowler (left arm orthodox in this case) as captain, a distinction he was denied in life due to caste prejudice.
  10. George John – CLR James for one insisted that this man was one of the all time great fast bowlers. The West Indies gained test status too late for him to benefit (although his slightly younger regular bowling partner George Francis did play test cricket near the end of his career).
  11. Sandeep Lamichhane – the Nepalese leg spinner (see my ‘100 cricketers series‘, especially this post) has a magnificent record in limited overs cricket. Any county signing him as an overseas player would get a round of applause from me (he is still not yet 20), although I would not recommend an effort to fast track his country to the top table – Bangladesh were promoted at the wrong time and have suffered in consequence, Ireland’s promotion came just as a gifted generation were fading from the scene and has not worked out that well for them, though Afghanistan have benefitted from their promotion. Lamichhane the county overseas star could be one of the great stories of post Covid-19 cricket – I truly believe that if a county could secure his services it would be a case of ‘who dares wins’.

This team has a fine looking top five, an all rounder at six, a keeper who can bat and spectacular quartet of bowlers.

THE CONTEST

While according full respect to the ‘one cap wonders’ I would confidently expect the ‘Nontest Stars’ to dominate proceedings – the lower half of the ‘one cap wonders’ order is unlikely to score many runs, and King and John would seem to have the edge on Warren and Durston as new ball bowlers, while I would also expect Lamichhane and Baloo to compare decently with Marriott and Parker. Allowing for the uncertainties of cricket I will settle for predicting a series score of 4-1 to the Nontest Stars (no McGrath style 5-0 predictions for me!). The acknowledgement of the Nontest Stars in this post sets up a nice bonus feature.

FOR MORE WOMEN’S TEST MATCHES

It is time to attend to half of the potential pool of cricketers (see this post for nore on my opinions on women playing alongside the men), the women. At the moment, the women’s game is thriving, but save for one match every two years between the two oldest foes it is exclusively played over limited overs. I would like to see much more women’s test cricket played, involving many more countries. Here are just a few who will almost certainly miss out on what cna confidently predicted to be successful test careers:

  • Smriti Mandhana – the attack minded Indian opener fares better in ODIs than in T20s and it is my reckoning that she would be better still in tests.
  • Laura Wolvaardt – the 20 year old South African is a superb technician with the bat, fares considerably better in ODIs than T20s, and given the chance to open in test matches (her natural position in any batting order) she could well establish an Agarwal-like record.
  • Deepti Sharma – the Indian off spinning all rounder is another whose ODI record far outweighs her T20 record, and whose fundamentally correct batting approach seems to have all the right ingredients for long form cricket, while spinners usually benefit from being able to bowl more overs.
  • Shabnim Ismail – the South African quick bowler is impressive in limited overs cricket, and given the opportunity in test cricket she could be devastating.
  • Poonam Yadav – the diminutive Indian leg spinner is fabulous in limited overs cricket, and is a huge wicket taker, which latter suggests that she would make excellent use of the opportunity to bowl for long spells.

Also of course, if long form cricket were a regular feature of the women’s game there would be more who would be well suited to it.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Our two teams for today’s contest have strutted their stuff, and it remains only for me to apply my usual sign off…

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A fly resting on top of my back gate.

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My back gate has also been alimed as a hime by one of our eight legged friends (two pics).

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OC v NTS
The two teams in tabulated form with abbreviated comments.

All Time XIs: Functional Left Handers v Elegant Right Handers

My latest variation on the ‘All Time XI’ theme, the answer to yesterday’s maths teaser, an important petition, a soupcon of science and nature and some photographs – enjoy!

INTRODUCTION

Another day brings another variation on the ‘All Time XIs‘ theme. Today’s is based on a well known piece of cricket folklore – the belief that left handers are naturally more elegant than their right handed colleagues. Like all good folklore it has a basis in fact, but it is definitely an overstatement of the case. Thus today I challenge it by providing an XI of strictly functional left handers and to oppose it an XI of notably elegant right handers. Note that some the bowlers in the left handers XI  batted with their right hands – it is their bowling for which they are picked, and mutatis mutandis for the right handed batter who bowled with his left. First to parade their skills are…

THE FUNCTIONAL LEFT HANDERS XI

  1. Gary Kirsten – the South African, half brother of Derbyshire’s Peter Kirsten, had seemingly limitless patience and concentration but a decidedly limited range of strokes.
  2. Sir Alastair Cook – the Essex and England man, his country’s all time leading scorer of test runs, was another who cultivated a limited range of strokes but used those he did possess to great effect.
  3. Graeme Smith – the former South African was mighty effective, but an aesthetic disaster (among top order batters named Smith it is an interesting question as to whether he or current Aussie right hander Steve represents the greatest aesthetic outrage).
  4. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – the Guyanese stayer had the oddes batting stance I have ever seen, so open that he was almost at 45 degrees to the bowler as opposed to the recommended side-on position (Austin Matthews who played for Glamorgan many decades ago as a bowler of medium pace and lower middle order batter wrote a coaching manual after his retirement in which he stated “cricket is a sideways game”), and while the method worked for him it was very much ‘one not to watch’.
  5. *Allan Borderthe nuggety NSW, Queensland and Australia middle order man had in the words of Frances Edmonds “not so much a style as a modus operandi”. This quote appears in “Cricket XXXX cricket” her humorous book about the 1986-7 Ashes (she also wrote “Another Bloody Tour”, which somehow managed to be amusing about England’s unqualified disastrous Caribbean excursion of 1985-6. For about the first decade of his long career he pretty much was, in batting terms, Australia’s resistance.
  6. Jimmy Adams – his obdurate approach saw him dubbed ‘Jimmy Padams’.
  7. +Jack Russell – wicket keeper and as a batter just about the ultimate in lower middle order irritants, sometimes very usefully for his country.
  8. Richard IllingworthWorcestershire and England slow left armer (emphatically NOT a spinner – if he ever turned one I never saw it). His economical, reliable but unthreatening methods were often preferred by England selectors of the time to the higher risk Phil Tufnell.
  9. Ryan Sidebottom – the Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and England fast medium bowler had long run up which his pace never quite seemed to justify.
  10. Doug Bollinger – the NSW and Australia fast medium bowler was another whose run up appeared to promise more pace than he actually proved capable of delivering. I saw him bowl live at Adelaide v the West Indies in 2009, and, the first innings scalp of Gayle not withstanding he looked unimpressive, while his ‘efforts’ at the same ground in the 2010 Ashes match there were of a very low order.
  11. Paul Adams – the left arm wrist spinner’s action was once memorably likened to a frog in a blender. South Africa have not in recent times been overly understanding or supportive of spinners, and Adams probably should have played more test cricket than he actually did.

This line up has a solid top six, though no genuine all rounder, a splendid keeper who could do useful work with the bat and four bowlers of differing left handed types. They would take some digging out and might put up some decent totals because of that, but they would struggle to capture 20 wickets unless Paul Adams found some assistance in the surface. Now we meet their opponents…

THE ELEGANT RIGHT HANDERS

  1. Jack Robertson – the Middlesex man was a highly regarded stylist, and although he only got picked for 11 test matches an average of 46 at that level suggests that he had steel to go with that style.
  2. Reggie Spooner – opener for Lancashire and occasionally England. Noted for grace and poise at the crease. Neville Cardus used to watch Lancashire whenever he could in his schooldays, and later, established through his decades of work for the Manchester Guardian as one of cricket’s finest writers he waxed lyrical about Spooner and his part of what Cardus claimed as a uniquely distinctive top three – MacLaren, Spooner, JT Tyldesley. (the latter an ancestor of Michael Vaughan – can elegant batting be inherited?!). Spooner was the first ever to score 200 in a ‘Roses’ match, and did so in under four hours at the crease – they were not always dour affairs.
  3. *Sir Frank Worrell – the first black captain of the West Indies (yes, as with England and so-called ‘amateur’ skippers the Windies had their own captaincy fetish, in their case a belief that blacks had to be led by someone white skinned), and generally reckoned the most stylish of the ‘Three W’s” who dominated Caribbean batting in the 1950s and early 1960s.
  4. Tom Graveney – another whose grace and elegance at the crease had folk waxing lyrical – and he backed it up with over 47,000 first class runs.
  5. Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings – noted as one of the most attractive batters in a very successful Kent unit (four championships in seven years) that was also noted for playing particularly dazzling cricket. Such was the nature of his driving that for him and him alone George Hirst would retreat a few yards from his usual mid off position.
  6. Keith Miller – whether batting, bowling fast (or his occasional off spin with which he once took a test match seven-for on a rain affected Gabba pitch) or fielding he never failed to cut a dash. Once when playing in a ‘picnic match’ at East Molesey (the opposite bank of the Thames to Hampton Court Palace) he took on a challenge to land a ball on Tagg’s Island, a carry of 140 yards (just over 125 metres), and was only just short of making it.
  7. +Jeff Dujon – wicket keeper who kept with panther like grace to the quick bowlers (given the nature of Caribbean bowling units is his day it is impossible to comment on his keeping to class spinners) and batted attractively in the middle order, scoring four test centuries and averaging 30 at that level.
  8. Ray Lindwall – fast bowler, attacking lower order bat. His run up and bowling action are routinely described as being ‘poetry in motion’, and in addition to the pace he possessed he could swing the ball both ways seemingly at will.
  9. Michael Holding – fast bowler, referred to as ‘Whispering Death’ on account of the silence of his approach to the bowling crease. His opening over to Boycott at Bridgetown in 1981 has become a classic cricketing scare story – the Yorkshireman was beaten by four of the six deliveries, got bat on one and was comprehensively bowled by the sixth. Five years earlier, on a pitch at The Oval from which no one else could even raise a squeak he had recorded match figures of 14-149, the best ever test match figures by a West Indian.
  10. Sydney Barnes – the greatest bowler of them all. Even at Warwickshire in 1894 where he achieved little his bowling action was noted for its beauty, and CLR James, watching a 59 year old Barnes in action in the Lancashire League, noted that his arm remained classically high and straight. Mr James, by the way is the author of that sine qua non of cricket books “Beyond a Boundary’, which takes as its theme the question “what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?”, and my collection also features a book of his writings titled “Cricket”, and he contributed a chapter about Worrell to “Cricket: The Great Captains”, as well as being the author of “Black Jacobins”, a history of the Toussaint l’Ouverture rebellion in what is now Haiti.
  11. David Harris – cricket’s first great bowler (see Phil Edmonds “100 Greatest Bowlers” and John Nyren’s “Cricketers of My Time”) and even if you refuse to permit under arm (he played in the late 18th century when all bowling was under arm) I counter by saying that I reckon he could have mastered over arm had it been legal in his day. See also my Eccentric XI post for my opinion on real under arm, as opposed to Trevor Chappell style grubbers (although Harris was in part responsible for a change in cricket’s approach from relying on balls either rolling or at least shooting through to looking to cause problems by generating extra bounce, which he was an expert at – the very early bats looked more like hockey sticks than today’s cricket bats precisely because they were intended to counter balls at ground level, and it was Harris who was more responsible than any other for the shape of bats changing towards what we now recognize). Late in his career Harris suffered dreadfully from gout, but such was the value of his bowling that his team would bring an armchair on to the field, and when not actually engaged in bowling he would have a sit down. The Hambledon ace, who I felt I could not mention in connection with Hampshire, for all that he lived there, gets his moment in the sun this time round.

This team as a high quality to five, a great all rounder at six, an excellent wicket keeper at seven and four varied bowlers (Barnes, for all his official fast medium designation, can be classed as a spinner, while Harris if his actual bowling style is permitted offers a variation of a different sort, Miller as mentioned had off spin as a variation, and Worrell was a recognized bowler of left arm fast medium who also occasionally turned his hand to left arm spin.

THE CONTEST

I suspect that what I shall provisionally call the Strauss/ Trumper trophy, honouring a functional left hander and a stylish right hander, would go to the Elegant Right Handers, because while the functional left handers would take a lot of dislodging I have no doubts that the right handers could take 20 wickets, whereas the left handers are lacking in that department. The big question for Worrell as captain of the right handers, given that Barnes would not tolerate not being given the new ball is which of Holding or Lindwall does not get it – my reckoning is probably that Lindwall shares the new ball with Barnes and Holding comes on first change when Lindwall needs a rest.

A QUESTION ANSWERED

Yesterday I included a teaser from brilliant.org:

Brilliant Challenge

The four possible answers were 94, 96, 98 or 100.

My own method of solving this, a mixture of cheat and punt, was to start by ruling out 100, as that is a square number, and it would therefore be out of keeping with brilliant for it to be the right answer. I then looked at the the areas given and noted that they added up to 56 – could I see a connection between 56 and one of the other answers? Yes, a very appealing one came instantly to mind – both have seven as a factor. A quick mental calculation confirmed that the ratio of 98 to 56 was 1.75, and that was enough for me to take a punt (I had already ensured that my problem solving streak had gone into another day – and it is now equal in days to Bobby Abel’s indvidual Surrey record innings in runs), and I was right.

Here is a more authentic solution courtesy of David Vreken:

DV Sol

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

As we move towards the conclusion of today’s post I have a few links to share.

  • The pinchhitter have given me an extended mention in today’s offering, and apparently a copy of one of the ‘Chapelli’ books I mentioned in yesterday’s post is en route to pinchhitter HQ. If you have found this blog by way of pinchhitter please comment, and likewise, if anyone has found pinchhittter by way of me why not let them know.
  • A very important petition on change.org, calling for the surcharge that penalises NHS and Care workers from abroad to be scrapped – as someone who owes a huge debt of gratitude to workers in both categories I urge you to sign and share.
  • A science piece from Culture’s Ways about Sagittarius A*, believed to be the location of a supermassive black hole – the picture below is formatted as a link:
    Sagittarius A*, thought to be the location of a supermassive black hole Culture's Ways

And now it is time to sign off with my usual photographic flourish…

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This butterfly, which strayed into my bungalow yesterday, set me a poser – it was not in a my Butterfly book. My sister responded to my twitter inquiry with a reference to butterflyconservation.org and a suggestion of either Brimstone or Clouded Yellow. My own feeling having visited the site and looked at their pictures is that is a Brimstone.

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The combination of the colour and the delicate veining in the wings lends them the appearance of small green leaves – a fine example of mimicry in the natural world.

P1320112 (2)P1320115 (2)P1320116 (2)P1320118 (2)P1320119 (2)P1320120 (2)P1320123 (2)P1320129 (2)P1320131 (2)P1320132 (2)P1320133 (2)P1320134 (2)P1320136 (2)P1320136

The teams
The teams in tabulated form with abridged comments.