All Time XIs – Nature Themed vs Materials

Today’s variation on the all-time XI cricket theme pits a team of players with nature-themed names against a team of players with names that have links to materials. Also includes a solution to the teaser I posed on Thursday, some links to excellent posts by Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK and some photos.


Another day brings another variation on the all-time XI cricket theme. Today we havea team of players with nature themed names taking on a team of players with names that link to materials.


  1. Joe Vine – right handed opening batter, leg spinner. A Sussex stalwart for many years. A vine of course is a type of plant.
  2. Jack Lyons – right handed opening batter. A more attacking type of player than Vine, he was an Aussie regular between 1887 and 1897.
  3. Alexander Webbe – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, occasional wicket keeper. The most talented of three brothers, he did have one majorly embarrassing moment, when he overslept on the first morning of a game he was playing in for Oxford University v MCC. By the time he got to the ground an hour and a half late the University side had slumped to 12-9, and in his absence their innings had been declared closed.
  4. Joe Root – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. England’s best current test batter, though his output has been somewhat adversely by the captaincy, which for this reason I withhold from him in this team.
  5. Allan Lamb – right handed batter. Born in South Africa to English parents, circumstances in the country of his birth dictated that if he wanted an international career he return to the land of his parents, which he did. There do exist in some parts of the world species of sheep which live wild, notably the bighorn sheep of North America, and the word lamb applies to their young as much it does to that of their domesticated cousins.
  6. *Alonzo Drake – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner.
  7. Wilfred Flowers – right handed batter, off spinner. A fine all rounder in the late 19th century.
  8. +Arthur Dolphin – wicket keeper, right handed batter.
  9. Bill ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly – leg spinner. The only time in either squad that I have resorted to a nickname to get someone in – his record justifies stretching the rules to include him.
  10. Asher Hart – right arm medium pace bowler. A young hopeful, but a bowling average of 22.20 from his two first class appearances to date suggests that the hope may well be justified. His full is extraordinary – Asher Hale-bopp Joseph Arthur Hart – and given his DOB (March 30, 1997) it is safe to assume that the first of his middle names derives from the comet. One of the late legendary Carl Sagan’s books, simply titled “Comet” is a good way to find out more about these objects. A hart is an archaic word for an adult male deer (usually over five years old), particularly used in connection with red deer.
  11. Fred Martin – left arm fast bowler. He should be a good new ball partner for Hart. There are several types of martin, a bird related to the swallow. Click on the photograph below to view the Britannica article about these birds (the photo is from that article and is credited to Bruce Coleman).
    House martin (Delichon urbica)

This side looks pretty impressive, especially given the selection criteria, with decent batting depth, and a bowling attack of Martin, Hart, O’Reilly, Flowers and Drake backed by Webbe and Vine.


As well as the type of bird called a martin there is a type of mammal called a marten, and I might have selected William Marten in place of Asher Hart to include that. I could also have acknowledged the hazel nut by finding space for either left arm spinner Horace Hazell or off spinner Danielle Hazell. Finally, I could have replaced Lyons with a more recent attacking Aussie opener, Aaron Finch – there are various types of bird with finch in their name – see picture at bottom of this section which is one of my own recent ones. However, Mr Finch’s long form record is in relative terms, allowing for how much better batting surfaces are, less impressive than that of Mr Lyons, so he has to settle for a honourable mention.

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A goldfinch outside my front window yesterday.


  1. Cecil Wood – right handed opening batter. He carried his bat through a record 17 first class innings, including both innings of one game against Yorkshire.
  2. Rachael Heyhoe-Flint – right handed batter, captain. She averaged 45 in test matches, 58 in ODIs. Her best test innings was 179 in almost nine hours against Australia. As a world cup winning captain she was the logical choice for that role in this team. Here is a picture of a flint church, one of many in the county of Norfolk:
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed bat, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close catcher. I have sneaked him in on grounds of the first four letter of his surname – wool.
  4. Arthur Carr – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium. Carrstone is a dark coloured stone, used in quite a few prominent Norfolk buildings, notably Downham Market Railway Station, which I photographed in October 2017:
    Downham Market Station
  5. Allan Steel – right handed bat, leg spinner. A combination of the surname and an innings of 148 that set England up for an innings win over the old enemy get him in here.
  6. Stan Nichols – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The Essex all rounder gets in by means of bit of a quibble-cook (consult a copy of Ian Stewart’s “Hoard of Mathematical Treasures” for more on this term) justified by the fact that if you take the s of his surname you have ‘Nichol’, which sounds like nickel.
  7. +Arthur Wood – wicket keeper, right handed batter.
  8. Edric Leadbeater – leg spinner. Historically Yorkshire and England leg spinners are a rarity – he got his call up in the 1950s, and the next Yorkshire leg spinner to play for England was Adil Rashid, still part of the international set up. The first four letters of his surname spell lead.
  9. Mark Wood – right arm fast bowler.
  10. *Rockley Wilson – right arm slow bowler. Picked for the Ashes Tour of 1920-1 at the age of 40, he was one of England’s few successes in a series that was lost 5-0, topping their bowling averages. He was cricket coach at Winchester as well, one of his charges being Douglas Jardine. When he heard about Jardine’s appointment as captain for the 1932-3 Ashes Wilson is reported to have commented “He will win us the Ashes but may very well lose us a Dominion.” The only player to claim a place based on his given name – the first four letters of which form rock.
  11. Bert Ironmonger – left arm orthodox spinner. An ironmonger sells stuff made of iron.

This team has a good top five, an all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four varied bowlers. The bowling, with Nichols and Wood taking the new ball, Wilson, Leadbeater and Ironmonger to follow and Woolley, Steel and Carr all capable of playing supporting roles looks excellent.


The contest for the ‘Attenborough Trophy’ (going with the nature theme rather than picking a cricket name, though there was once a left arm pace bowled named Geoffrey Attenborough who had a respectable record for South Australia) should be a good one. I think that the ‘Nature Themed XI’ just have the edge and would predict a 3-2 series win for them.


In Thursday’s post I posed the following teaser:

All you need to do is imagine what the parallelogram would look like if it was way out of true as opposed to only just out of true, and you can deduce that any change of angles away from 90 degrees makes the shape narrower, which means that the circles, tangential in the original, will no longer fit in the new shape, so the answer is no.


Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK is in fine form at the moment. Yesterday he produced a twitter thread about how the government creates money, which can be accessed by clicking the screenshot below which shows the first three parts of the thread or viewed in blog form by visiting the article that appeared on Tax Research UK this morning.
Murphy Thread

I link to only one more of his recent pieces, titled “Climate, economic and tax justice are the same fight.” I urge you to read it.


Finally it is time to end this Saturday squib with my usual sign off…

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The fuchsia
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A close up of some of the flowers.

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Nature v Materials
The teams in tabulated form.

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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