A new month starts today, and in keeping with the theme of beginnings my latest ‘All Time XI’ variation features various milestones from the beginning of cricket’s history. For those of a geological turn of mind it can be thought of spanning the cricketing equivalent of Cambrian to Cretaceous. The scene thus set, we can introduce the teams, beginning with…
THE PIONEERS XI
- Jack Brown – right handed opening batter. Brown scored two triple centuries for his native Yorkshire in the course of his career, but his greatest innings came for England. The 1894-5 Ashes saw England leap out of the blocks by winning a thriller in Sydney and then more comfortably in Melbourne (this was the first ever five match Ashes series, and Sydney and Melbourne each got two games, with the middle match being played at Adelaide) before Australia hit back by winning in Adelaide and in the second Melbourne game. In the final match of the series (all tests in Australia at the time were played out until a definite result was gained, so a draw was not a possibility, and in any case England needed to win the series to recapture the Ashes, held by Australia) England were set 297 to win, lost two very early wickets, which brought Brown and Albert Ward together. Brown responded to crisis by reaching 50 in 28 minutes (still the fastest in time times by an Englishman in test cricket), and though he could not main this hectic pace he reached his hundred in a then test record 95 minutes, and his stand with Ward (93) was worth 210. Brown ultimately scored 140 in that innings, falling as victory beckoned, but the Australian resistance had been well and truly broken, and England won by six wickets to win the series and the Ashes. In travelling to Australia without the urn and returning with it England’s captain for that series, Andrew Stoddart, had achieved a feat since duplicated among England captains only by Warner (1903-4), Douglas (1911-2, with a sick Warner masterminding from his sickbed), Jardine (1932-3) and Illingworth (1970-1). In addition to his own role as a stalwart opener, Brown was one half of the game’s first recognized great opening pairs along with…
- John Tunnicliffe – right handed opening bat, brilliant slip fielder (667 catches in 408 first class games). Tunnicliffe was the first Pudsey product to open the innings for Yorkshire, and as such a forebear to more illustrious Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton. In 1898, against Derbyshire, he and Brown shared an opening stand of 554, accumulated very rapidly. This was the record first class stand for any wicket until Herbert Sutcliffe and Percy Holmes opened up with a stand of 555 against Essex in 1932. After he had retired from playing Tunnicliffe became a coach, working at among others, Cirencester Grammar School where his charges included a certain Walter Reginald Hammond. Unusually for a long serving Yorkshire opener he never got to play for England.
- James Aylward – left handed bat. In 1777, a mere eight years after John Minshull scored the first century recorded at any level of cricket, in a local derby match between Wrotham and Sevenoaks, Aylward playing against an England side racked up 167 in an innings which saw him occupy the crease for two whole days. This score stood as the first class record for 43 years, and the fixture in which William Ward who beat it scored his 278 would not today be regarded as first class.
- William ‘Silver Billy’ Beldham – right handed batter. I covered him in detail in my ‘one cap wonders v nontest stars‘ piece earlier in this series. He was the first to be anything approaching a consistently big scorer.
- William Lambert – right handed batter, brilliant close fielder and sometimes wicket keeper. In 1817 William Lambert, playing for Sussex, became the first ever to score twin centuries in a match, a feat next achieved by WG Grace over half a century later. His fielding skills are attested to by his partner in more than one double wicket game…
- George Osbaldeston – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler (underarm). The first acknowledged great all rounder. In his autobiography, which did not see the light of day until 1926, Osbaldeston describes a couple of matches in which he teamed up with Lambert, and mentions that the latter took catches and executed stumpings off his bowling, the fastest around at the time. In one of these encounters Osbaldeston and Lambert got the better of the decidedly ignoble Lord Frederick Beauclerk, one of the most unsavoury characters from that period of cricket’s history.
- +Jack Blackham – wicket keeper, right handed bat. The Aussie stumper who appeared in the first 17 test matches ever played, before missing a game due to a dispute and then returning to the side for another 10 years, was the first to habitually do without a ‘long stop’ fielder behind him – and he pulled of stumpings of the bowling of Fred ‘The Demon’ Spofforth on occasion. Blackham was also the first keeper to score fifties in both innings of a test, a record that remained solely his for half a century before Dilawar Hussain equalled it.
- *William Clarke – right handed (under arm) bowler, captain. Clarke established Trent Bridge (he was landlord of the Trent Bridge inn as well as a cricketer), and also founded the first of the great itinerant XIs who flourished until the mid 1870s. The MCC were sufficiently worried by the travelling elevens that WG Grace was proposed for membership of that club at the age of 21 (by the treasurer, with the secretary seconding) in an effort to secure the game’s biggest drawcard. Grace duly joined the MCC, but also until 1879 captained the United South of England XI, and earned good amounts of money from doing so. Clarke played high level cricket until his mid-fifties, continuing to bag hatfuls of wickets right up to the very end.
- William Lillywhite – right arm fast bowler (round arm). ‘The Nonpareil’ featured in my post about nicknames, and is here is the fast half of the first recognized great bowling partnership, along with…
- James Broadbridge – right arm fast bowler (round arm). His partnership with Lillywhite as pioneers of the then new craft of round arm bowling enabled Sussex to take on and beat The Rest of England.
- David Harris – right arm fast bowler (under arm). The first universally acknowledged master bowler, I included him in my T20 Clash post.
This team features a solid opening pair, a magnificent looking three, four and five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four varied bowlers. Clarke can provide the craft to go with the pace of the others, and the differing angles of attack offered by these bowlers will also pose a problem. Osbaldeston, as the all rounder and a very quick bowler will be used in short bursts as a shock weapon, while the front four will bowl more overs.
THE DEVELOPERS XI
- *WG Grace – right handed opening bat, right arm bowler of multiple types, captain. I covered him in my Gloucestershire post.
- Victor Trumper – right handed opening bat, fine fielder. The first to score a hundred before lunch on day 1 of a test match, the Aussie opener revolutionized batting in his own country.
- Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He defined the image of Kent cricket, based on attacking batting and slow bowling, throughout his long career.
- Charles Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The second batter ever to score a hundred on the first morning of a test match, what made Macartney’s performance even more extraordinary is that he was a blocker in his early years, before becoming more expansive and aggressive in approach as he grew older.
- Kumar Shri Ramjitsinhji – right handed batter, occasional right arm slow bowler, slip fielder. I covered him in my Sussex post, and he is in this squad as the pioneer of the leg glance.
- Bernard Bosanquet – right handed batter, right arm leg spinner. I covered the inventor of the googly in my Middlesex post.
- Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. This man has been in a number of my previous XIs, and he is here for his unique approach to batting, based on “doing everything we are taught not to – with consummate success”.
- +Ted Pooley – wicket keeper, right handed bat. Pooley (Surrey) should have been England’s keeper in the first ever test match, except that he was cooling his heels in a Kiwi prison at the time. He had got into a fracas with one Ralph Donkin over a bet. Pooley had bet Donkin at a shilling to a penny that he could nominate the scores for match England were playing in. Donkin took the bet, and Pooley simply wrote a duck against each batters name, which even in a first class match would have seen him a comfortable winner, while in a game against odds, which this one was it was even more of a certainty. Donkin refused to pay, and heated words and ultimately blows were exchanged. There was some sympathy for Pooley on the grounds that “a bet is a bet” and also because Donkin was notorious for being a trouble maker. Pooley set a first class match record while keeping for Surrey that stood unchallenged for over a century when he caught nine and stumped three of the opposition in a single game.
- Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium, right handed bat. Never has a piece of cricket terminology been more unfit for purpose than that standard descriptor of Barnes’ bowling method. The truth is he bowled every type of delivery then known save the googly, and that his special weapon, of his own creation, was a fast-medium leg break. Ian Peebles, in a chapter called ‘Barnes the Pioneer’ which appeared originally in “Talking of Cricket” and reappears in “The Faber Book of Cricket”, where it starts on page 12 and ends on page 15 explains Barnes’ methods in some detail. I have previously covered Barnes in the Lancashire and ‘Staffordshire Born‘ posts in this series.
- George Simpson-Hayward – right arm off spin (under arm). I mentioned him, and the possibility of reviving under arm, both slow in his manner and fast in the manner of the likes of Harris and Osbaldeston in my ‘Eccentrics‘ piece. The brief revival of under arm that he was the star of was initiated by Digby Jephson of Surrey who bowled fast under-arm, and must have come close to being picked for England. However, the crafty Simpson-Hayward (Worcestershire) not only did get to play test cricket, he was one of the stars of a series in South Africa (1909-10), when he took 23 wickets at 18 in the five matches, so it is he who I honour with a place in this XI. No one took up the cudgels on behalf of under arm after him.
- William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. The first bowler ever to take 17 wickets in a county game, for Derbyshire v Hampshire in 1876, a game that I featured in my Derbyshire post, he rounds out this XI.
This XI features a power packed and all attacking top five, a fine and innovative all rounder at six, the inimitable Jessop at seven, a class keeper who was no mug with a bat in Pooley and a splendidly varied trio of specialist bowlers in Barnes, Simpson-Hayward and Mycroft. The bowling is equally varied, with left arm speed, the all-purpose maestro Barnes, right arm speed for Jessop, leg spin from Bosanquet, under arm off spin from Simpson-Hayward, two purveyors of left arm orthodox spin in Woolley and Macartney (each had a ten wicket haul in a test match in their day) and the types of bowling pursued by Grace in his day, which included fastish round arm at the start of his career.
This contest would be a splendid affair, red blooded in the extreme (Grace and Osbaldeston on opposing sides would guarantee that even of the other 20 players were all anodyne, which they are most certainly not) and featuring a vast range of skills. I cannot even attempt to pick a winner.
A COUPLE OF BONUS CRICKET LINKS
I give you another problem from brilliant.org, one which I solved very easily this morning:
In it’s original setting this was a multiple choice question, but I reckon that makes it far too easy.
TWO FINAL LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Our two teams, dubbed ‘pioneers’ and ‘developers’ have made their appearances, there have been a couple of bonus cricket links, and a mathematical teaser. Before proceding my usual sign off I have a couple of related links to share:
- David Allan Green, a well known lawyer and legal writer, has produced this in depth analysis of Richard Branson suing the NHS.
- We Own It have a petition running calling for all private involvement in the NHS to cease, which I strongly urge you to sign and share.
And now, here is my closing flourish: