All Time XIs – The Scribes Battle

Another variation on the ‘All Time XIs’ theme, this time featuring top cricketers who were or became top cricket writers. Where would your money be on the outcome of the battle for the ‘Cardus-Haigh’ Trophy?

INTRODUCTION

My latest variation on the ‘All Time XIs‘ theme looks at players who turned writer. Before introducing my chosen players I will explain my envisaged scenario to set the scene.

THE SCRIBES BATTLE – THE CONTEST FOR THE CARDUS – HAIGH TROPHY

My teams comprise people who made their names as high level players and who also wrote about the game. In each case I my cricket library contains at least one full book authored or co-authored by the chosen player. The Cardus – Haigh Trophy name honours two of my favourite cricket writers who did not play at a high level – Neville Cardus, a useful off spinner in club cricket, but never a first class cricketer, and Gideon Haigh, a rather less useful club off spinner. Thus, I have two teams to introduce, and I think I can guarantee that this would be a contest not to miss…

THE SCRIBES TEAMS

First up in our contest for the Cardus-Haigh Trophy I give you…

DOUGLAS JARDINE’S XI

  1. Jack Fingleton – opening batter and excellent writer. His author credits include “Brightly Fades The Don”, “Brown and Company” and “Four Chukkas to Australia” among others. His cricketing achievements included four successive test centuries.
  2. *Douglas Jardine – captain, and although not a regular opening bat, he did do the job at test level on occasions. His writing credit is for “In Quest Of The Ashes”, his own account of the 1932-3 tour of Australia when he was England captain. He was always adamantly of the opinion that runs could be scored against the method he devised, and when in 1933 the West Indies, via Manny Martindale and Learie Constantine, turned his own tactics on him he gave a convincing defence of his own case by scoring his one and only test century (127).
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed bat, left arm orthodox spinner, author of “King of Games”. He has already featured in my Kent all time XI and in my Record Setters XI.
  4. Walter Hammond – right handed bat, slip ace, occasional right arm fast medium and author of two highly entertaining books, “Cricket: My Destiny and “Cricket: My World”. Had he not made an ill-advised test comeback after World War II he would have finished with 6,883 test runs at 61.75, and had the highest average of any England batter to play 20 or more test matches. As it was he became the first to reach the landmark of 7,000 test runs and finished with 7,249 at 58.45.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed bat, left arm wrist spinner, author of “Playing for England” and “Compton on Cricketers”, co-author with Bill Edrich of “Cricket and All That”. He features in my Middlesex and Record Setters XIs.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed bat, right arm fast bowler, author of “On Fire”. The X-factor all rounder features in my Durham All Time XI. There is no bespectacled left arm spinner for him to bat with in the closing stages this time.
  7. +Rodney Marsh – wicket keeper, left handed bat, author “The Inside Edge”.
  8. Alec Bedser – right arm fast medium, right handed bat, author of “Cricket Choice” and “Twin Ambitions”. He also features in my Surrey All Time XI.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner, right handed bat, author of “Cricket Task Force” and “The Bradman Era”. 
  10. Brian Statham – right arm fast bowler, right handed bat, author of “Spell At The Top”. He features in my Lancashire All Time XI, and should be an excellent foil to…
  11. Bob Willis – right arm fast bowler, right handed bat, author “Captai n’s Diary: Australia 1982-3”, “Captain’s Diary: New Zealand 1983-4” and “Six Of The Best”. He features in my All Time Warwickshire XI.

This side has a solid looking opening pair, an excellent trio at 3,4 and 5, all of whom can also contribute with the ball, an x-factor all rounder at six, a brilliant keeper  and four splendid bowlers. It lacks an off spinner, but has every other base covered, and of course has a ruthless skipper at the helm. It is now time to meet their opponents…

IAN CHAPPELL’S XI

  1. Len Hutton – right handed opening bat, author of “Fifty Years In Cricket”. One hald of the opening pair in my Yorkshire All Time XI (with my namesake, Herbert Sutcliffe), and scorer of 6.971 test runs at 56.67.
  2. *Ian Chappell – right handed bat, captain, author of “Chapelli Laughs Again” and “Chapelli Has The Last Laugh”. He usually batted three rather than opening, but I have moved him up one, because as you will see I have a rather stronger claimant to the no3 slot in this XI.
  3. Don Bradman – right handed bat, author of among others “Farewell to Cricket”. Quite simply the greatest batter of all time, and here given an opportunity to match wits once more with the only opposition captain who could claim with any justification to have got the better of him.
  4. Tom Graveney – right handed bat, author of “The Ten Greatest Test Teams”. He features in my Gloucestershire All Time XI, and had I not named there I would have done so for Worcestershire, the other county he played for. The first half of a supremely elegant middle order duo, with…
  5. David Gower – left handed bat, author of “Anyone for Cricket” (jointly with Bob Taylor), “On The Rack”, and an autobiography. 8,231 runs in test cricket at 44.25, he would need to me on his mettle in this contest as Jardine would without doubt keep two gullies in place for him owing to his tendency to fish at balls outside off stump. However I reckon that he would relish the contest. He features in my Leicestershire All Time XI and later played for Hampshire.
  6. Monty Noble – right hand bat, right arm medium and/or off spin, author of “Gilligan’s Men”, an account of the 1924-5 Ashes tour.
  7. +Bob Taylor – wicket keeper, right handed bat and co-author with Gower of “Anyone For Cricket?”. He has previously featured in my Derbyshire All Time XI and in the Staffordshire Born piece.
  8. Richard Hadlee – right arm fast bowler, left handed bat, author of “Rhythm and Swing”. He featured in my Record Setters XI and got an honourable mention in the Nottinghamshire piece.
  9. Ashley Mallett – right arm off spinner, right handed bat, gully specialist fielder, author of “Victor Trumper: The Illustrated Biography”.
  10. John Snow – right arm fast bowler, right handed bat, author of “Cricket Rebel”. He features in my Sussex All Time XI. In 1970-1 he blitzed the Aussies who had Ian Chappell in their ranks (captain for the final match after the deposition of Bill Lawry) in their own backyard. This time ‘Chapelli’ would be captaining Snow.
  11. Ian Peebles – leg spinner, right handed bat, author of “Batters Castle”, “Spinners Yarn”, “Woolley: Pride of Kent” and “The Fight For The Ashes 1958-9”. He featured in my Non-Cricketing Birthplaces XI.

This team has an opening pair who should combine well, the greatest batter of them all at no3, a supremely elegant combo at 4 and 5, a tough all rounder at six, a superb wicket keeper and four excellent bowling options. The presence of Hadlee and Snow gives them means to counter a barrage should Willis, Statham and Stokes provide one, something that the 1932-3 Aussies deprived themselves of (had Fingleton, Chapelli’s grandfather Vic Richardson, or Bill O’Reilly been given HOa say I suspect that at least two out of Laurie Nash, Jack Scott, Eddie Gilbert and ‘Bull’ Alexander would have been picked as part of the Aussie attack, and Jardine would not have had such on overwhelming advantage in fast bowling firepower).

HOW THE CONTEST WOULD WORK AND MY PREDICTION FOR THE OUTCOME

I envisage 10 5-day matches, five in England at Edgbaston, Lord’s, Headingley, Trent Bridge and The Oval, and five in Australia at Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. If after 10 matches the score is level, I would have the teams reconvene for a timeless match to settle the issue, to played at a neutral venue (Cape Town, Kolkata or Bridgetown would all be possibilities). Should that match be tied, then tie splitting option one would be for the trophy to go the team that took most wickets over the 11 matches played, and if that does not split them, then, and only then, would we resort to ‘super overs’ to find a winner (hope you’re still fit by then Mr Stokes!). In addition the main trophy, there would of course be player of the match and player of the series awards, and a special “Grace-Murdoch” medal (named after two of the early Ashes ‘heroes’) along similar lines to the “Compton-Miller” medal.

The umpires would need to be chosen carefully, and the only match referee who would even have a chance of handling this would be Clive Lloyd.

Notwithstanding the presence of Bradman in Ian Chappell’s XI I make Douglas Jardine’s XI slight favourites – and more than slight favourites if it gets so close that all the tie-splitting procedures are needed – assuming Stokes is still fit only one of these sides could win a ‘super over’ contest!

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The ‘Cardus-Haigh’ Trophy for the battle of the cricket scribes and the two XIs to compete for it have taken their bows, but before I apply my usual sign off I have a couple of links to share (the honourable mentions are just too numerous to even attempt):

  • The pinchhitter has again honoured me with a mention in today’s offering, which I highly recommend.
  • Van Badham has a piece in The Guardian (Cardus wrote for it in it’s great days as The Manchester Guardian, under the control of legendary owner-editor CP Scott) giving awards to all the worst responders to coronavirus (small but unsurprising spoiler, the overall grand champion currently resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue).
  • Finally, courtesy of brilliant.org, a little mathematical teaser (my current, personal record, problem solving streak there now runs to one day more than Dennis Lillee’s career tally of test wickets) – see screenshot and four available answers below. In my next post I will provide both my own (mathematical equivalent to Grace’s run out of Sammy Jones, as I freely admit) and a more authentic solution in my next post.
    Brilliant Challenge
    The four answers offered by the setter are 94, 96, 98 and 100. Over to you.

Now it is time for my usual sign off:

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A couple of illustrations photographed from Hammond’s “Cricket: My World”

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Scribes XIs
The XIs in tabulated form with abridged comments.

Author: Thomas

I am branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk and #actuallyautistic (diagnosed 10 years ago at the comparatively advanced age of 31). I am a keen photographer, so that most of my own posts contain photos. I am a keen cricket fan and often write about that subject. I also focus a lot on politics and on nature.

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