All Time XIs – The Cricketing United Nations

A whimsical look at cricket as a world game, as two multinational sides are pitted against each other in an imagined battle for The Midwinter Trophy.


Welcome to another variation on the ‘all time XI‘ cricketing theme. Today we look at two teams of cricketers with multinational connections. For our first side we focus on people who play for or in a different country to that which their surname points to, while our second side features players whose stories take in multiple countries. After I have introduced the teams there will be some honourable mentions.


  1. Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter. The opener and former England captain was a perfect fit for the three lions except for his surname, which is of Austrian origin. Famous Strausses include the two Waltz Kings Johann Strauss I and II, light opera composer Richard Strauss and a few other musical figures of varying significance. Strauss made 112 and 83 on his debut, falling victim to a dreadful call by Nasser Hussain in the second innings, and never really looked back. As a skipper, although he is one the select band to have guided England to a series victory down under he was sometimes overly defensive in approach which is why I have not awarded him that role in this team.
  2. Thomas Klose – right handed opening batter (for South Australia). The least impressive record of any cricketer I have included thus far in this series of posts, partly because of World War II. He did once share a century opening stand with Ken Ridings, who was killed in that war, which set the stage for his captain and no3, Don Bradman, to utterly dominate the rest of proceedings with 267 not out. That Kl start to a surname is of Polish origin – German footballer Miroslav Klose, the best known possessor of this particular surname being of Polish ancestry.
  3. Mike Veletta – right handed batter. He did on occasion don the wicket keeping gauntlets as well but I have thought it best to draw a veil over his efforts in that department. Though his test record was unimpressive, the Westralian had a fine first class record. That surname is of Italian origin.
  4. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. One of England’s finest in their greatest period of the 21st century. The surname is of Danish or possibly northern German origin (more on this -sen name ending to come later).
  5. Scott Styris – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer. The Kiwi, who also played county cricket for Middlesex, has a surname of Greek origin.
  6. Marcus Stoinis – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. Best known for his deeds in limited overs cricket where his figures are outstanding. Stoinis is another surname of Greek origin.
  7. +Ricardo Vasconcelos – left handed batter, wicket keeper. The Northamptonshire man was born in South Africa but is of Portuguese descent and his possession of a passport from that country enables him to play as a non-overseas player. He has a double century to his credit, albeit in a match in which 19 wickets fell for over 1,300 runs. England may have a decision coming up as to whether or not they wish to make space for him at international level. Personally with a relative abundance of batter/keepers already available I would not do so, but England selectors have rarely seen eye to eye with me on such matters!
  8. Ray Lindwall – right arm fast,right handed attacking lower order batter. That surname is anglicized from a Swedish original – Lindvall – with the v changed to a w. Briefly, before being overhauled by Benaud, Lindwall was Australia’s leading test wicket taker. Don Bradman picked him in his all-time World XI.
  9. *Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. I wrote about him in detail yesterday. Both surname and given name are of Greek origin, though he was actually born in South Africa.
  10. Buster Nupen – right arm fast medium bowler. Rated as one of the best ever on matting wickets (various countries over the years have used matting pitches, the South African version involved a base of hard packed rubble over which coir matting was stretched tight, a surface that gave a uniform bounce somewhat higher than standard on a turf pitch, but could also allow large amounts of sideways movement – the three most destructive operators ever on these pitches in South Africa, Briggs, Lohmann and Barnes all relied on generating such movement in one way or another, as did Fazal Mahmood who did brilliantly on jute matting when such surfaces were in vogue in Pakistan). Eiulf Peter Nupen to give him his full name does not merely have a name of Norwegian origin, he was actually born in Norway, near a place called Alesund (I have visited Norway, a very beautiful country, but I do not recollect seeing Alesund – a search of google maps reveals that it is southwest of Trondheim).
  11. Jack Iverson – right arm wrist spinner whose stock delivery was the off break! A genuine no11 and hopeless in the field, but 21 wickets at 15 each in the one test series he played. Gideon Haigh has written a biography of him titled “Mystery Spinner”. Iverson;s grandfather, a northern German musician named Ludwig Iversen emigrated to Australia hoping to improve his fortunes, and in the years running up to World War I he anglicized his name to Louis Iverson, making the change just before a law banning such practices was passed! Anti-German sentiment was so strong for a time that to give just one example Matilda Rockstroh, a postmistress with 33 years of unblemished service to her credit was dismissed from her job purely on account of that surname. John Monash was targetted at this time by enemies who were wont to render his name as ‘Monasch’, inventing a German connection that was not there. A quarter of a century later our Iverson fought in another World War, suffered serious illness while serving, and found himself accused of cowardice once when recuperating – he was wont to visit the beach near his home, and one occasion found a white flag planted at his usual spot.

Selection criteria notwithstanding, we have an opening pair, one of whom can definitely by described as top class, a respectable 3,4 and 5, one of whom is authentically a great player, a good keeper/batter and four excellent front line bowlers. Lindwall and Nuoen, backed by the spin twins Balaskas and Iverson and with Stoinis as fifth bowler looks a decent attack. It is now time to meet the opposition…


  1. Charles Bannerman – right handed opening batter. Born in Woolwich, then in Kent, now in Greater London, scored 165 for Australia in the inaugural test match.
  2. Bransby Cooper -right handed opening batter. Born in what is now Dhaka, Bangladesh, was then Dacca, India, raised in England and opened the batting in that inaugural test match alongside Bannerman for Australia.
  3. *Douglas Jardine – right handed batter, captain. Jardine was born in India to Scottish parents, and played for and captained England. His grandfather and father had both lived and worked in India, and only a Raj tradition that no more than two successive generations of any given family could do so prevented Jardine from following in their footsteps. This tradition was based on explicit fears that continual presence of a family in India might cause them to develop native customs and habits, and an unstated but definitely felt fear that it might cause them to develop darker skin. Jardine did visit India a year after the 1932-3 Ashes tour, with another England team. This trip marked the end of Jardine;s involvement with international cricket.
  4. Kepler Wesselsleft handed batter. In general I have avoided products of South Africa’s period of international isolation for this squad, but I make an exception for the only person to have scored over 1,000 test runs for two different countries. Wessels made a career for himself in Australia during the period of isolation, and subsequently returned to his native land in time to play for them when they gained readmission.
  5. Billy Murdoch – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Australia’s second ever test skipper after Ned Gregory, he later played county cricket for Sussex and was also involved with the brief and unsuccessful London County experiment, captained by WG Grace with whom he became friends. In 1891-2 when Grace captained Lord Sheffiekd’s team to Australia, Murdoch travelled to South Africa in another England tour party, his last involvement in international cricket. In the inaugural test on English soil in 1880 he topped Grace’s 152 with 153 not out in the Aussie second innings, not quite enough to save his side, but enough to win him a sovereign from Grace, a trophy he had put on chain which he wore round his neck for the rest of his life. Betting on cricket is as old as organized cricket itself by the way – there are stories from the 18th century that make Cronje look a model of probity!
  6. Sammy Woods – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Born in Sydney, settled in Somerset. He played a couple of times for Australia against England and later turned for England against South Africa.
  7. Albert Trott – right handed bat, right arm spin bowler. I covered him in my ‘what might have been XI’ and in the ‘under-appreciated ashes’. He played two tests for Australia against England and later turned our for England against South Africa.
  8. +Sammy Guillen – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Born in Trinidad, went on tour of New Zealand with the West Indies, stayed there and ultimately turned out for his new home country as wicket keeper, the only person to play for this particular combination of countries.
  9. Jack Ferris – left arm medium fast bowler. Part of the second great Australian bowling partnership, with ‘Terror’ Turner, he also went on the 1891-2 tour of South Africa for England.
  10. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. He was born in New Zealand, crossed the Tasman in search of cricketing fulfilment, finally established himself in the third state he sought to make home, South Australia, after being baulked in both NSW and Victoria. 33 when called up his test debut, he played 37 times at that level, capturing 216 wickets, and it could have been more except for Bradman developing a mistrust of him. Grimmett, a keen experimenter, was believed by Bradman to have lost his leg break because he spent so much time on his latest creation, a new variation of the googly. Then, in a joint benefit game for himself and Vic Richardson, Grimmett produced a classic leg break that cleaned Bradman up just before the lunch interval. Grimmett was delighted to have proved his point, Richardson aware of the effect that Bradman’s dismissal would have on attendance was less so. Such was Grimmett’s obsession with his craft that when his mate Bill O’Reilly was part of a group on HMS Victory who were shown the musket ball that killed Nelson that worthy said “for goodness sake don’t show it to Clarrie – he’ll try to bowl it.” His cunning was reflected in some of his nicknames, notably ‘Fox’ and ‘Scarl’. the latter derived from “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, and giving rise to the chapter heading “Pimpernel of Spin” for the chapter about him in Roland Perry’s “Bradman’s Best Ashes Teams”
  11. Athanasios John Traicos – off spinner. This man is the champion of cricketing multinationalism. He was born in Egypt, to parents of Greek ancestry and played for South Africa immediately before their isolation, and then, after a test record hiatus of 22 years and 222 days he turned out for Zimbabwe in that country’s first four official test matches!

This team has a pair who opened together in test cricket, a solid 3,4 and 5, two genuine all rounders in Woods and Trott, a good keeper and three varied specialist bowlers. The attack of Woods and Ferris with the new ball and Grimmett, Traicos and Trott to follow also looks pretty impressive.


Billy Midwinter, the only player to have played for both England against Australia and Australia against England is the most obvious miss. Philippe-Henri Edmonds, half-Belgian, born in Zambia and an England regular at one time was another to merit consideration. Among others were two South Australians with the surname Nitschke, Jack and Shelley, separated by about 70 years. Shelley in particular might have been accommodated at the expense of Stoinis. Albert Hartkopf, a one-cap wonder for Australia in the 1920s (he made 80, but the leg spin for which he got the honour proved expensive at test level) was another, while more recently Ben Hilfenhaus (Dutch) and Nathan Hauritz (German) have surnames that reflect ancestry far removed from their own countries. Finally, just failing to qualify because the ancestry is on the wrong side to be reflected in his surname, Shane Keith Warne’s mother was born in Germany – Warne and Iverson as spin twins would be one for the connoisseurs.


Though I could not get him into either side I have honoured Midwinter’s unique status by provisionally naming the trophy for this contest in his honour. It is a fine looking contest, but my money would be on the ‘Multinational Links’ team to emerge victorious.


We have met the contenders and a few honourable mentions in the battle for The Midwinter Trophy, and now it is time for my usual sign off, but on this occasion it comes in two parts:


Yesterday I had a glorious sight of the moon through my front windows as evening moved towards night, and I thought the series of photographs I captured over the course of approximately an hour warramted a bit of extra showcasing, so here we are:

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A first glimpse in a still light sky.
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The tree featured in these pictures is the same tree all the way through – in this one the moon is off to one side…
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…as it his here
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While here the branches partially obscure it.

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Here it is just separated from the branches.
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By now it has moved to a position above the tree.
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Overlapping with the highest part of the tree.
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Fully separated from the tree,
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A final close-up as the sky was darkening.


Finally, we these:

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A bug running across the pages of my book (Hugh Aldersey-Williams’ “Periodic Tales”).

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A close up of the bug.

Cricket UN

Author: Thomas

I am a founder member and currently secretary of the West Norfolk Autism Group and am autistic myself. I am a very keen photographer and almost every blog post I produce will feature some of my own photographs. I am an avidly keen cricket fan and often post about that sport.

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