Welcome to another variation on the ‘all time XI’ cricket theme. Today we look at two forms of rail based transport. One team consists of players who share a name with one of the locomotives in the stories by the Reverend W Awdry, while against them is a team of players who can be linked to London Underground. Hwoever, before getting to the main body of the bost I have one other piece of business to attend to.
Within a few moments of yesterday’s post going live up popped a twitter correspondent with the name of Johnny Wardle. Wardle should certainly have had a mention and a strong case could be made for his selection in place of Jack Walsh, though the case my correspondent made was less strong as he suggested Emburey the off spinner to be the one who dropped out. My name not being Dominic I tend not to edit blog posts I have already published, and I am not prepared to actually change my selection, but I freely acknowledge that Wardle coming in for Walsh specifically would be a valid decision.
THE STEAM LOCOMOTIVES XI
- Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. His ‘Awdry Alter Ego’ is of course Gordon the big engine. His 90 first class hundreds, amassed for Barbados, Hampshire and The West Indies provide solid back up for his inclusion.
- Edward Mills Grace – right handed opener, close fielder, ‘lob’ bowler. I have given him his full name, rather than the EM Grace that appears on scoresheets from the time, because the engine who has the number 2 in the Awdry stories is Edward. He was a phenomenon when he first appeared, an d he tends to miss out on his due recognition because he had a brother who was even better.
- Percy Perrin – right handed batter. Almost 30,000 first class runs including 66 centuries. Percy is the number six locomotive in the Awdry stories.
- James Horace Parks – right handed batter, right arm bowler. The only cricketer ever to score 3,000 first class runs and take 100 first class wickets in the same season. James is the splendid red engine with the number 5 in the Awdry stories.
- Percy McDonnell – right handed batter. He played for Australia in the 1880s, and his highlight came when he shared a partnership of 199 with Billy Murdoch, then an all time record test partnership for any wicket.
- Gordon White – right handed batter, leg spinner. One of the South African googly quartet of the period immediately before World War 1 (the other members of the quartet being Vogler, Schwarz and Faulkner).
- +Percy Sherwell – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He made one of the fastest rises up the batting order of anyone, starting his test career at no11, and three years later making a century as an opening batter.
- Thomas Emmett – left arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. He was almost always known by the diminutive Tom, but his full first name is of course that of the most famous of all the Awdry locomotives, Thomas The Tank Engine, no1. He was one of the more quotable of all cricketers. On one occasiona when Yorkshire’s fielders were having a particularly unimpressive time he remarked after one drop “there’s an epidemic round here but it’s not catching.”
- Kirstie Gordon – left arm orthodox spinner. The only member of this XI to have been selected on the basis of her surname. The Aberdonian is at the start of would should be a long and distinguished career, but has already done some impressive things.
- James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. England’s all time leading test wicket taker, and currently the leading test wicket taker among pace bowlers.
- Thomas Richardson – right arm fast bowler. The man who took over 1,000 wickets in the space of four seasons (1894-7). Another known by the diminutive Tom.
This team has a good top five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four varied bowlers. The bowling attack, with Emmett, Richardson and Anderson to bowl pace and White and Gordon to bowl spinners also looks good.
THE LONDON UNDERGROUND XI
Just before I introduce my players I am going to give a bit more detail about the selection process for this XI. In most cases it is the name that provodes the London Underground connection, and with two thoroughly explained exceptions I have not used birthplace or geographical location in my selections. Also, I did not allow myself to select former Leicestershire wicket keeper Tom Sidwell who has the distinction of the only person ever given out in first class cricket for reasons to do with London Underground. He was not out overnight at The Oval, and on the following morning got lost on London Underground, arriving late and being given out by the umpires for not being ready to resume his innings. As you will see when we get to him I had a decent keeper available anyway.
- Charlie Barnett – right handed opening batter. He came closer than any other England batter to reaching a hundred before lunch on the opening day of a test match, being on 98 when that interval arrived at Trent Bridge in 1938. I got him in because if you take the final t off his surname you get Barnet, and the northern terminus of one of the two outer branches of the Northern line is High Barnet.
- Cecil John Burditt Wood – right handed opening batter. Carried his bat through 17 first class innings, including twice in the match v Yorkshire. Wood Green is a station near the northern end of the Piccadilly line, while Wood Lane is nowadays an interchange between the Central line and the Hammersmith & City line.
- Tom Shepherd – right handed batter for Surrey in the early part of the 20th century. He averaged 39.81 in first class cricket, very respectable for his era. In a crucial match versus Middlesex which helped settle that year’s County Championship he was outsmarted by Middlesex skipper Pelham Warner. Warner had declared setting Surrey 244 to win three hours, and Warner spotted his opposite number Percy Fender signal the ‘general chase’ to the batters Shepherd and Sandham. Warner dropped Patsy Hendren back from short leg to long on, and a few minutes later Shepherd holed out to Hendren. He qualifies by way of Shepherd’s Bush, a Central line station and Shepherd’s Bush Market, a Hammersmtih and City line station.
- Alex Blackwell – right handed batter. The Aussie qualifies by way of her full first name, Alexandra. Although the current Alexandra Palace is a railway station with no official underground interchange (although Wood Green is walkable from there) there was at one stage a plan to incorporate various suburban lines in north London into London Underground, and one of the stations that would have been on a branch of the Northern line had that come to fruition would have been another station called Alexandra Palace which was the terminus of one the branch lines that featured in the plan. Also, as the District line approaches Wimbledon it runs parallel for the last stage of the journey with Alexandra Road.
- Jack Parsons – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler. It is his skill with the bat that gets him in, but he did also take his wickets at under 30 each, did once take seven in a first class innings. Parsons Green is a station on the Wimbledon branch of the District line. At one time there was a plan to create a new line running SW – NE which would have taken over the southern end of this branch, with District line trains terminating at Parsons Green, and then after cutting through London slightly to the east of the Victoria line would have taken over the southern portion of the Hainault loop.
- Vyell Walker – right handed batter, right arm underarm bowler. Vyell Walker is one of only two cricketers ever to score a century and take all ten wickets in an innings of the same first class match, the other being WG Grace. He is also one of a famous set of cricketing brothers who were referred to as ‘The Walkers of Southgate’, and Southgate is the third to last stop at the northern end of the Piccadilly line (followed by Oakwood and Cockfosters). Southgate station is in a hill, which gives it a unique feature of having platforms that are in a tube tunnel but from which daylight can clearly be seen – both ways no less. The Walker Ground at Southgate is sometimes used by Middlesex, when their landlords at St John’s Wood cannot spare Lord’s.
- +Jack Russell – wicket keeper, left handed batter. Russell Square is a station on the Piccadilly line, in between Holborn and King’s Cross St Pancras. The platforms are accessible either by lift or by stairs (175 in total, and these days of you use them you trigger a recorded messgae that tells you that this is equivalent to a 13 storey building). Among other places it serves the British Museum, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Coram’s Fields, a park which because of its purpose only allows adults in if they are accompanying children.
- Charles Kortright – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. One of the fastest and nastiest of all fast bowlers. He was known as ‘The Demon of Leyton’, and Leyton is a station that nowadays is near the eastern end of the Central line (it started life as part of what was then the Eastern Counties Railway). On one occasion he took exception to a youngster cocking his toe in his stance, and when warnings that WG Grace was the only person he allowed to do that fell on deaf ears the offending toe was smashed by a yorker.
- Gordon Parsons – right arm medium pacer. The Leicestershire bowler paid just over 30 each for his first class wickets.
- Alex Hartley – left arm orthodox spinner. She gets in on the same grounds as Blackwell at no 4. Although she has been overtaken in the England pecking order by the likes of Sophie Ecclestone and Kirstie Gordon she has a fine record at the ighest level, and at 26 years old it is not impossible that she will add to it.
- *Tich Richmond – leg spinner. He paid just 21 each for some 900 first class wickets, one of the better records for someone consistently ignored by the England selectors of his day (he got in one test appearance, at Trent Bridge, his home ground, in 1921). Richmond is the terminus of one of the branches of the District line, and between Kew Gardens and Richmond the railway crosses the Thames on a bridge, one of only two occasions on which a London Underground line crosses the Thames above ground level (the other being the Wimbledon branch of the same line). Between 1877 and 1910 there was a branch of what is now the Hammersmith and City line which connected to the Richmond branch by means of a station at Hammersmith Grove Road and a descent the remains of which can still be seen at the approach to Ravenscourt Park, while a London Overground line joins the branch at Gunnersbury (the other terminus these days is Stratford – it used by North Woolwich, but that latter section became part of a Docklands Light Railway branch which terminates at Woolwich Arsenal.
This team has a fine top five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four varied bowlers. Kortright and Gordon Parsons, backed if necessary by the other Parsons, should combine well with the new ball, while Richmond, Hartley and Walker command a fine range of trickery between them.
This one should be a fine contest. I think the ‘Steam Locomotives’ team has the edge on account of their bowling resources. However, I would fully expect this contest to go the distance.
Having set the scene, made a necessary acknowledgement and introduced the teams it remains only to provide my usual sign off…