Continuing the all time XI #cricket series with a tenth ‘through the alphabet’ post. Also includes some photographs.
Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the tenth in our alphabetic progression mini series. Unlike yesterday I also have some photos to share. Today we start with a Q…
IMAD WASIM’S XI
Willie Quaife – right handed opening batter, occasional leg spinner. When it comes to opening batters whose surnames begin with Q there is really only one contender, the man who played for Warwickshire for almost 35 years, signing off with a century at the age of 56 years and four months. In the later years of his career he did on occasion open the batting with his son Bernard, but the latter only ever got picked because of whose son he was – he was not close to being top player (my source for this is long serving Warwickshire keeper EJ “Tiger” Smith by way of the ‘autobiography’ he gave to Pat Murphy by means of a series of recorded interviews).
Chris Rogers– left handed opening batter. His test record for Australia was not stellar, partly because he was long past his prime before becoming a regular member of the side, but he was a seriously big scorer for Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and Middlesex in the county championship.
Robin Smith – right handed batter. One of those rare batters who positively relished doing battle with the opposition fast bowlers (George Gunn, the Nottinghamshire legend was another, as was an earlier Hampshire man, George Brown) and even rarer in being an England player who actually enhanced his reputation during the 1989 Ashes series (keeper Jack Russell was the only other of whom that could be said). Another rare club to which Smith belongs is the ‘winners of a sledging contest with Merv Hughes’ club, again from that 1989 Ashes series. After a Smith play and miss Hughes, the bowler, said to him “you can’t ****ing bat”, Smith smacked the next ball for four and said “we make a fine pair: I can’t ****ing bat and you can’t ****ing bowl”.
Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. Don Bradman, then a very old man, was watching a match an the TV at home and thought he had spotted something about the young man who was batting. He called his wife through to verify his observation, and Lady Jessie Bradman confirmed that yes, there was more than a passing resemblance between the methods of the batter in that match and Don’s own. The batter was, of course, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, who would go on to become the first and to date only batter to score 100 hundreds in international matches.
Polly Umrigar – right handed batter, off spinner. He was at one time India’s leading test run scorer. There was a question mark about him against genuine pace, which he never got to face in Indian domestic cricket. Fred Trueman once claimed that on one occasion when he was bowling at Umrigar the square leg umpire was nearer the wicket than Umrigar. At No5, behind this side’s top four he is unlikely to be facing fast bowlers who have not already done a fair amount of bowling.
+Roy Virgin – right handed batter, wicket keeper. He was only an occasional wicket keeper, but V is a difficult letter to fill. He was once named in the 12 for England but left out on the morning of the match, and that was as close to international cricket as he came.
*Imad Wasim – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, captain. He has played ODIs and T20Is with some success, but not yet test cricket. His first class record is 3,702 runs at 40.68 and 141 wickets at 31.14. I have named him as captain based on my thinking about slow bowling all rounders in this role. A cynic might say that since he is a Pakistani who is already an established part of their international set up I have a better than average chance of finding out how he handles the captaincy, given the way they go through captains.
Xara Jetly – off spinner. This side has a longish looking tail, with the young kiwi off spinner at no8. X is a difficult letter to fill, and there is enough in her recent performances to at least suggest promise, and at the age of 18 she is certainly young enough to improve.
Poonam Yadav – leg spinner. One of the attributes that is said to have made the Kent leg spinner Tich Freeman so difficult for opposition batters was his lack of height, which enabled him to release the ball upwards, making it difficult for the batters to follow its flight. Poonam Yadav is even shorter than Freeman’s 5’2″ and takes a similar approach to her own leg spin, releasing the ball upwards, and in her case, at as slow a pace as can ever have been seen in top level cricket.
Dawlat Zadran – right arm fast medium bowler. The best pace bowler to have come from Afghanistan thus far, and he has an experienced new ball partner here in the form of…
James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. 584 test wickets, and officially still counting. When the ‘bio-secure’ series starts next week we will see if he is in the England team. For me the choice is between him and Broad, with Curran (left arm, and a useful lower order batter), Wood (searing pace) and Bess the others chosen primarily for bowling and Stokes the all rounder providing a fourth pace option, with Parkinson possibly replacing Curran if a second specialist spinner is warranted (unlikely on a 21st century English pitch). However, whether or not he is selected for that match, his record speaks for itself, and in this team his experience will be invaluable.
This side has a fine top six, an admitted gamble with Roy Virgin, an occasional in the role in his playing days, trusted with the keeping gloves, an effective all rounder, two quality specialist spinners and an excellent new ball pairing.
Bransby Beauchamp Cooper – right handed opening batter. He once shared an opening stand of 283 with WG Grace, and as a participant in the inaugural test match at Melbourne in 1877 has the distinction of being the first test cricketer to have been born in what is now Bangladesh (he was born in what was then Dacca, India and is now Dhaka, Bangladesh).
Rahul Dravid – right handed batter. For many years the sheet anchor of the Indian test team. Probably his greatest innings was at Kolkata in 2001, when he played the support role to VVS Laxman’s pyrotechnics, as India came back from being made to follow on to win by 171 runs, scoring 657-7 declared in that second innings.
George Emmett – right handed batter. A Gloucestershire stalwart of the immediate post world war two era who played a few matches for England.
Francis Ford– left handed batter. He was in his prime in the last decade of the 19th century, when he acquired a reputation for ‘gentle violence’ at the crease. He played a part in the first test victory by a side made to follow on, at Sydney in 1894. He contributed an aggressive 48 to England’s second innings revival, which saw them reach 437, setting Australia 177 to win. Australia were then spun to defeat when overnight rain gave Peel and Briggs a vicious sticky to exploit.
John Gunn – left handed batter, left arm slow medium bowler. The youngest of three brothers who all played for Nottinghamshire. At one time he held the county record individual score with 294, and he took over 1,000 first class wickets at 25 each.
+IanHealy– wicket keeper, right handed batter. After Rod Marsh’s retirement in 1984 Australia struggled to find a keeper, as they did in other respects in that period. Then in 1989 along came Ian Healy, a champion keeper, a useful batter who reserved his best performances for the test arena (usually against England) and even in that Aussie unit a stand out sledger.
Jack Iddon – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Slightly out of position, as he was in reality more of a batter than a bowler, but his bowling record was very respectable, and given England’s fairly recent usage of Moeen Ali in the test team I am not going to be overly apologetic about this one.
Les Jackson– right arm fast bowler. A phenomenal bowler for Derbyshire, but picked only twice for England.
Anil Kumble – leg spinner. The third leading wicket taker in test history, and one of only two to have taken all ten wickets in a test innings.
David Lawrence – right arm fast bowler. A combination of the unwillingness of the then England selectors to pick him and Devon Malcolm in the same team and a horrific knee injury curtailed his test chances, but he was consistently successful for Gloucestershire.
This team has a solid top five, a couple of all rounders, a keeper who can bat and three excellent bowlers. Jackson, Lawrence, Kumble, Gunn and Iddon should be able to take 20 wickets between them on any surface.
This should be close. Jack Iddon’s XI are stronger in batting, but Imad Wasim’s XI have a somewhat better bowling attack. I cannot call this one.
The ninth ‘alphabetic progression’ post in my all time XIs series.
Welcome to the today’s all time XI cricket post. We continue the alphabetic progression, with today’s starting point being U.
JOE VINE’S XI
George Ulyett – right handed opening batter, right arm fast bowler. He opened the batting for England on occasions, including in the 1882 match that inaugurated the Ashes.
*Joe Vine – right handed opening batter, leg spinner, captain. A stalwart for Sussex for many years. It was considered unthinkable for a professional to captain a county side in his day, but in keeping with my thinking about slow bowling all rounders I have given him the job in this XI.
Everton Weekes – right handed batter. Of West Indians who have played at least 20 test matches only one, George Headley, with an average of 60.83 has a better batting average than Weekes’ 58.61 per innings. He holds the record for most consecutive test centuries, with five. He once started a tour of India by scoring centuries in his five innings in that country.
Xenophon Balaskas – right handed batter, leg spinner. No 4 is high in the order for him, but X is a very difficult letter to fill.
Michael Yardy – left handed batter, occasional left arm spinner. A solid batter whose bowling was almost exclusively deployed in limited overs matches where he was fairly economical though never a big wicket taker. He played a few games for England in limited overs formats.
Bas Zuiderent – right handed batter. The dashing Dutchman gets another outing in this team.
+Les Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A fabulous keeper batter.
Ian Bishop – right arm fast bowler. At one time he seemed set to be a world beater, but he was plagued by injuries (an early warning that the West Indian fast bowling production line was drying up – the greats of the 1970s and 80s were apparently only vulnerable to kryptonite) which prevented him from really scaling the heights. He once helped the West Indies to reach almost 200 after being 29-5, supporting Gus Logie in an important late partnership. He is now a commentator on the game.
Dean Cosker – left arm orthodox spinner. He did not quite make the grade, paying rather too much for his wickets.
Mark Davies – right arm medium fast bowler. Took his wickets at 22 a piece in first class cricket when his body allowed him to play – it was that latter caveat that prevented him from playing for England.
Hans Ebeling – right arm fast medium bowler. He played for Australia in the 1930s, and had a fine record in Shield cricket. However, his greatest contribution to cricket history was being the person who came up with the idea of the Centenary Test Match, which took place at Melbourne in March 1977, precisely 100 years after the first ever test match had taken place. Over 200 former Ashes players attended the match, and since it was a one-off match and not part of a series England skipper Brearley decreed that his team would make every effort to chase down the outlandish target of 463 that they were set to win. With Derek Randall making a test best 174 and various others also batting well England reached 417, meaning that the game finished in a victory for Australia by 45 runs, precisely the same as the outcome of the inaugural test match. In Australia’s second innings Rodney Marsh became the first Aussie keeper to reach three figures in a test match, six years after Bill ‘Phant’ Lawry had declared with him on 92. The success of this game, and the exact duplication of the margin from 100 years previously had one writer suggesting that the instigator, Ebeling, should really have been named Hans Andersen Ebeling, not just Hans Ebeling.
This team has a respectable top six, several of whom are also genuine bowlers, a great keeper batter at seven and four fine bowlers. Bishop, Ebeling, Davies and Ulyett make for a good seam attack, while Cosker, Balaskas and Vine are a handy trio of spinners.
IMRAN KHAN’S XI
Roy Fredericks – left handed opening batter. Gordon Greenidge’s first opening partner at test level, before the emergence of Desmond Haynes. The first player other than Dennis Amiss (who scored the first two such innings) to rack up a century in a one day international. After his playing days were done he went into politics became Sports Minister in the government of Guyana.
Sunil Gavaskar– right handed opening batter. The first player to amass 10,000 test match runs, the first batter to score as many 30 test centuries (34 in total). His 221 at The Oval in 1979 helped his team to come very close to chasing down 438 for victory (they lost their way in the closing stages and finished on 429-8, having been 366-1 at one point). 13 of his 34 test centuries came against the West Indies.
Walter Hammond– right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, occasional off spinner, excellent fielder. He dominated the 1928-9 Ashes, won 4-1 by England, scoring 905 runs in the five tests at 113.125 an innings, and in matches 2,3 and 4 of the series he had 251 at Sydney, 200 in the first innings at Melbourne and 119 and 177 not out at Adelaide. Four years later his 440 runs at 55 was joint leading series aggregate with Herbert Sutcliffe, and having finished the series with scores of 101 and 75 not out, with a six to end the match with a flourish, he proceeded to bash 227 and then a new test record 336 not out in the two match series England played in New Zealand on their way home, a record four innings sequence of 739 runs.
Clive Inman – right handed batter. He played for Leicestershire until Ray Illingworth was brought in as captain and decided that the team could not function as such with him and Peter Marner in it, whereat he moved to Derbyshire. He cashed in a combination of Nottinghamshire wanting to provoke a declaration and needing to speed up their over rate the reach a 50 in eight minutes, now quite rightly relegated to a footnote in the record books – big Jim Smith’s 11 minute effort for Middlesex was made against proper bowling.
Stanley Jackson – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. The fact that he played as an amateur and was never able to commit to a tour gave him a bizarre looking test record – five test hundreds, all scored against Australia and all in home matches. Like Fredericks he went into politics post cricket, although he was never a minster – he was at one time chairman of the Unionist Party. When he was preparing to make his maiden speech in the house the debate was not going well for his side and he was told “we are holding you back, it is a sticky wicket”, and then when the situation was looking rosier “Get your pads on, you’re in next”.
*Imran Khan – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. He emerged with the best record of the four great test all rounders who emerged in the late 1970s (Ian Botham, Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee were the other three), averaging 37.69 with the bat and 22.81 with the ball. He is another who went into politics after retiring from cricket, and is the current President of Pakistan.
George Lohmann – right arm medium pace bowler, right handed lower order batter. A little high at number seven, but he certainly could bat. However it is is his bowling, 112 wickets in 18 tests at just 10.75 each, that gets him in here.
Fazal Mahmood – right arm fast medium bowler. Once described as the ‘Bedser od Pakistan’, he took his test wickets at 24 each, including a 12 wicket haul in Pakistan’s first ever test match victory at The Oval in 1954.
+Wayne Noon – wicket keeper, right handed lower order batter. 215 dismissals in 92 first class matches, and an average of 20 with the bat including 12 first class fifties. He played county cricket for Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire, and also played in New Zealand for Canterbury.
Pragyan Ojha – left arm orthodox spinner. Had an excellent record in Indian first class cricket, and played for Surrey in the county championship, spinning them to promotion back to the first division.
Erapalli Prasanna – off spinner. One of four great spinners to play for India in the 1970s, along with Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan. In the only test match that all four of them played it was Prasanna who had the best figures.
This team has a strong top three, Inman and Jackson are not the worst at four and five, a great all rounder, four fine bowlers and a keeper. Imran Khan, Fazal Mahmood and George Lohmann, with Jackson as fourth seamer give good options in that department and the spin duo of Ojha and Prasanna is high quality, and there is Hammond as seventh bowler.
Imran Khan’s XI are clear favourites for this one – the only batters of absolutely indisputable class possessed by Joe Vine’s XI are Weekes and the keeper Ames, and the bowling while stronger is not sensational. Imran Khan’s XI by contrast is undeniably strong in both departments. I bring this post to a close by presenting the teams in tabulated form.
Martin Young – right handed opening batter. A consisten run scorer for Gloucestershire for many years.
Hazratullah Zazai– left handed opening batter. The attacking Afghan opener shuuld complement the more restrained Young very nicely.
Chris Adams– right handed batter. He played for Derbyshire for many years before moving south to Sussex, who he captained to their first ever county championship title. Although prolific at county level he never quite delivered for England (though it must be acknowledged that he was given few opportunities to do so). He has gone on to a coaching career in which he has also enjoyed some success, being involved with the Surrey set up for one of their championship wins.
Allan Border – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, vice captain. The first person to reach the career milestone of 11,000 test runs, and until another resolute left handed, Alastair Cook, went past it he held the record for consecutive test appearances, having played the last 153 of his 156 tests in succession. His career had two distinct components – part 1, when he was desperately attempting to hold together a struggling outfit, and was very often the only serious stumbling block faced by opposition bowlers, and part 2, when Australian efforts to rebuild began to bear fruit, and they went from chumps to champs in the space of a few years, a position they would occupy undisputed for another decade after Border’s retirement. I don’t often name vice captains in this series, but his status as the captain who turned Australia’s fortunes round in the late 1980s has to be acknowledged, and I had another player in the team I wanted to name captain.
Michael Clarke – right handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. To put it mildly he was not universally popular with Australian fans during his playing career, but the excellence of his record at the highest level cannot be denied. He had, in common with many of his team mates, a very poor series in the 2010-11 Ashes, and some of his efforts to avoid being seen to covet his skipper’s job were overdone to say the very least – such as suggesting that he at 29 might be retiring before the 36 year old Ponting. It may also have not have helped when in the final match of that series, with Ponting injured, the debutant Khawaja was given the job of filling the no3 slot while the veteran Clarke stayed down the order.
+AB De Villiers – right handed batter, wicket keeper. An explosive middle order batter and a fine keeper. Although he was best known for his performances in limited overs cricket his test record was also splendid.
Tom Emmett – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. Although it was his bowling for which he was chiefly noted he could definitely bat as well – at one time Yorkshire pressed him into service as an opening batter when they were short.
*Percy Fender – leg spinner, right handed batter. An all rounder who once scored a first class century in 35 minutes against proper bowling (various quicker efforts appear in footnotes in the record books as they were scored against bowlers who were trying to concede quick runs to bring about a declaration, a ‘tactic’ that was once common in county cricket. He never got to captain England, but was universally acknowledged to be superb at the job, which is why I have named as captain of this side.
Charlie Griffith– right arm fast bowler. One half of a great fast bowling pair. There is an amusing story from their schooldays featuring Griffith bowling off spin interspersed with the odd quicker one while the other member of the duo was keeping wicket.
Wes Hall– right arm fast bowler. He bowled the final over of the first ever tied test, at Brisbane in 1960, spilling a catch that he would have been well advised to leave to Rohan Kanhai along the way. At Lord’s in 1963, when the match ended in a draw with England six runs and the West Indies one wicket short of the line, he bowled an epic unchanged spell on the final day.
Bert Ironmonger – left arm orthodox spinner. Australia’s oldest ever test cricketer – he was 46 when he made his debut and 51 when he played his last test match. He and Bill O’Reilly were the bowling stars of Australia’s only victory in the 1932-3 Ashes series, at Melbourne, and the same duo shot South Africa out for 36 and 45 in a test match in which Bradman crocked himself and was unable to bat and Australia still won by an innings and 72 runs.
This team has a fine top six, including a keeper batter, and a bowling attack that is beautifully balanced, with left arm pace, right arm pace, leg spin and left arm orthodox spin. There is no off spin and no purveyor of ‘chinamen’, It is a side that I would expect to give a good account of itself.
MONTY NOBLE’S XI
Sanath Jayasuriya – left handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The MVP of the 1996 cricket world cup, and he had a fine test record as well.
Michael Klinger– right handed opening batter. One of the better batters never to play test cricket, he enjoyed a long and distinguished career for South Australia, and was often mentioned as a possible for the test side. He did get to play a few T20Is.
Roy Levy – left handed batter. He played 25 matches for Queensland in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and his record does not look stellar. He qualifies by virtue of an innings played at the age of 22 against South Australia with 37 year old leg spinner Clarrie Grimmett in their ranks. The match was desperately close in the final stages, as Levy shepherded the Queensland tail towards the target. Eventually Levy chanced his arm against the bowler at the other end to Grimmett, sent the ball into the air towards Grimmett who missed the catch, and then compounded the felony by shying wildly at the stumps and missing, which enabled Levy to complete the winning run. Levy in that innings finished with 85 not out, and Queensland won by one wicket. There is a detailed account of the match in Patrick Murphy’s “Fifty Incredible Cricket Matches”.
Stan McCabe– right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler.
*Monty Noble– right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler/ off spinner. A genuine all rounder and a fine captain as well. He and Warwick Armstrong once put on 428 together for Australia against Sussex for the sixth wicket.
Niall O’Brien – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The Kent, Northamptonshire and Ireland keeper established a fine record over a long period of time.
Anuja Patil – off spinner, right handed batter. Her international experience has been limited to T20s thus far, but her record makes impressive reading.
Abdul Qadir – leg spinner. 67 test matches, 236 wickets at 32.80 at a time when spinners were in eclipse due to the success of Clive Lloyd’s battery of four fast bowlers for the West Indies, and a tendency developed therefrom by other countries to treat spinners as ‘fill-in’ bowlers. Leg spin in particular was all but extinct – the only specialist leg spinner who played international cricket at the same time as Qadir that I can think of was the older Australian Bob Holland, and save for once against the West Indies dear old ‘Dutchy’ was never a match winner. In 1986 at Faisalabad Qadir took 6-16 in the second West Indies innings as they slumped to a then all-time low for them of 53 all out, and defeat by 186 runs.
Tom Richardson– right arm fast bowler. His thousandth first class wicket came in 134th match and his 2,000th in his 327th match at that level, both of which figures remain all time record. From the start of 1894 to the end of 1897 – four seasons and one tour of Australia – he captured over 1,000 wickets, a period of sustained destructiveness matched only by Kent leg spinner Tich Freeman. Neville Cardus selected Richardson as one of his “Six Giants of the Wisden Century” in 1963 because he was a real life version of a storybook fast bowler. He learned his craft on Mitcham Common, and as Surrey’s star fast bowler thought nothing of walking from his home in Mitcham to The Oval (a substantial walk, I can tell you, as someone who grew up in southwest London myself) with his kit bag, doing a day’s bowling and walking home again at the end.
Alfred Shaw – right arm slow bowler. His dictum was “length and successful variations of pace are the key to successful bowling.” He bowled more overs in his career than he conceded runs (admittedly for most of his career an over consisted of four balls). He took over 2,000 wickets at 12 runs a piece, with his best season seeing him claim 186 at 8.54 each in first class matches. He also dismissed WG Grace more often than any other bowler – 49 times in all (they met in many types of fixture, including Gentlemen vs Players, North v South, Under 30 v Over 30, etc.). He bowled the first delivery ever in a test match. In the 1881 Gentlemen vs Players match (he was a professional, so played for the Players) he made what turned out to be a crucial 8 not out in the Players second innings, and then took 6-19 in the Gentlemen’s second innings, ending the match by taking a blinder off his own bowling to give the Players victory by two runs. After retiring from Nottinghamshire who he served for many years he became coach at Sussex, and in a crisis came out of retirement for them and proceeded to show a new generation what all the fuss had been about 20 years earlier.
Jeff Thomson – right arm fast bowler. When there was all the hoop-la about Shoaib Akhtar’s first record 100mph delivery (which the batter played calmly to square leg with no apparent difficulty) one person who was resolutely unimpressed was Jeffrey Robert Thomson, who believed, not entirely unjustifiably that he had regularly propelled the ball at that speed 25 years earlier. He in tandem with Dennis Lillee and backed up the fast medium of Max Walker destroyed England in 1974 and 1975, and it was a 5-1 series defeat in that part of the world, again mainly caused by Lillee and Thomson that planted the germ of the four fast bowler idea in Clive Lloyd’s mind, and idea that crystallized when India scored 406-4 to win at Trinidad a few months later with the West Indies fielding three spinners because the pitch was expected to turn.
This side has some decent batting, a quality wicket keeper, and lots of bowling. Thomson, Richardson and Shaw, with Noble as fourth option in that department provide ‘seam’ options, while Qadir and Patil offer two contrasting spin options, with Noble as back up in that department as well.
SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER
I offered the following problem from brilliant to readers yesterday:
Here is Pall Marton’s published solution, a genuinely brilliant effort:
A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Alison, who some of readers will know as ‘the unabashed autist‘ now has a new site, alisonrising, which I recommend to all of you – please visit and subscribe. Now it is time for my usual sign off…
A Saturday Spectacular in the all-time XI cricket series, inspired by a combination of today’s retrolive commentary and the upcoming ‘bio-secure’ test series.
Todau a ‘retrolive’ commentary on the Headingley Test of 2017 between England and the West Indies began, and a week on Thursday the first ‘bio-secure’ test of the post Covid-19 era gets underway between the same two sides. Today’s all time XIs post therefore interrupts our sequence of ‘through the alphabet‘ posts to pit an England XI all of whom had great moments against the West Indies against a West Indies XI all of whom had great moments against England.
Dennis Amiss – right handed opening batter. In the Kingston test of 1973 England were staring down both barrels as they went into their second innings. They escaped with a draw, and when stumps were drawn at the end of the match Amiss was on career best 262 not out. In 1974 and 1975 a ferocious working over by Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson adversely affected Amiss but he bravely remodelled his stance to better enable him to stand up to the very fast bowlers, and at The Oval in 1976 England were facing a total of 687-8 declared. Amiss produced another double century, but this time the West Indies won the match.
Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pace bowler. In the first test of the 1991 series between England and the West Indies, at Headingley, England took a small first innings lead. Curtly Ambrose then served up a storm at the start of the England second innings, taking the first six wickets to fall, with only Ramprakash who exactly matched his first innings 27 having provided Gooch any support. Derek Pringle bravely held out for two hours making 27 of his own, and Gooch shepherded the nine, ten, jack as best he could. England were all out for 252, and Gooch had an unbeaten 154 to his name. The West Indies collapsed in their own second innings and England were victorious. This was by no means Gooch’s highest test score – he made 333 against India in 1990, 210 against New Zealand in 1994, 196 against Australia in 1985 and 183 against New Zealand in 1986 to give a few examples. However, these scores came on flat wickets and against largely modest bowling attacks – of the bowlers involved in those innings only Hadlee (for New Zealand in 1986) and Kapil Dev (for India in 1990) were performers of unquestionably top rank. The Headingley 1991 pitch was a difficult one, and the West Indies bowlers were Marshall, Patterson, Ambrose and Walsh, three of whom were unquestionably great bowlers and the fourth, Patterson, was seriously, blisteringly quick, although a trifle inconsistent.
Alec Stewart – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. In the third test of the 1994 series England needed 194 to win and had an hour to survive in murky light on the penultimate day. By the end of that hour they were 40-8, courtesy of the old firm of Ambrose and Walsh, and the game ended early the following morning with England out for 46, only one run more than their lowest ever total. The next match was at Bridgetown, Barbados (see yesterday’s post for more about that island’s cricketing pedigree) where no visiting side had triumphed since 1935. Stewart, opening with Atherton in that series, proceeded to notch up twin centuries and England rebounded from their humiliation in the third test with victory in the fourth. Given the make up of the West Indies bowling attack picking three recognized openers is a tactic with plenty going for it anyway.
David Gower – left handed batter. When England began their second innings in the final test of the 1981 tour of the West Indies defeat seemed certain. By the end of day four the odds were still in favour of a West Indies victory, but Gower was on 70, and had some good support from Peter Willey. On the final morning Willey fell, and Ian Botham, captaining the side and struggling for form also fell cheaply. Paul Downton joined Gower in the last chance saloon. The resistance held out, and the match was safe by the time Gower took one last single deep into the last hour to move to 154 not out, the highest individual score for England in the series. This innings, occupying eight hours and scored in the teeth of the most lethal fast bowling unit ever assembled (Andy Roberts had just been dropped after going wicketless in the previous match, leaving a foursome of Holding, Garner, Croft and Marshall, the new kid on the block) confirmed Gower’s place among the world’s top batters – his first century had been made against an ordinary New Zealand, his first Ashes century against an under-strength and badly captained Australian side and his 200 not out against India at Edgbaston was scored against a less than stellar attack on a very flat pitch. The next two series between England and the West Indies were both 5-0 to the West Indies, and it was at Headingley in 1988 that England next drew a match against them.
*Peter May – right handed batter, captain. In the Edgbaston test of 1957 England collapsed badly in their first innings against ‘those two little pals of mine, Ram and Val’ – Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine and were made to follow on. Both openers fell cheaply, and May walked out to play an innings in which England needed him to go big. The third England wicket fell with England still adrift, bringing Colin Cowdrey to the crease. May and Cowdrey who came together near the end of day 3 were still in occupation when then fifth and final day got underway. Cowdrey fell for 154 to end a stand of 411, still an England record for any wicket. By the time May declared to give the West Indies an awkward little session of batting he had been at the crease for ten hours and scored 285 not out, at the time a record for an England captain, beating the 240 scored by Hammond at Lord’s in 1938. Ramadhin had wheeled down 98 overs that second England innings and had just two wickets to show for it – and was never to same force again. The West Indies, having for a long time looked like winning were in the end relieved to come away with a draw, having lost seven wickets in the closing stages of the game. England went on to win the series.
+Leslie Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. In the last series before World War II, in 1939, Ames and Hammond shared a fifth wicket stand of 242, then an England record against all comers, to set up a victory.
Andrew Flintoff – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. He had a couple of magnificent years from 2004 through the summer of 2006, and one of the seemingly endless succession of highlights for him in that period was his highest test score, 167 against the West Indies at Edgbaston in 2006, in an England win.
Angus Fraser – right arm fast medium bowler. He twice took eight wickets in an innings in the Caribbean, including the best ever by an England bowler in that part of the world, 8-53. In 1990 England set off for the Caribbean in what seemed to be a very poor state. The last three series between the two had been 5-0, 5-0 and 4-0 to the Windies, and England had just been thrashed by Australia in the 1989 Ashes. In 1988, which included that 4-0 drubbing by the Windies, 28 players had been called up for England test teams. Then in 1989 against Australia 31 players were named in England test squads and 29 actually took the field for England. The only player to have played every game in both years was David Gower, and he was not picked for the tour of the Caribbean. Greenidge and Haynes started smoothly for the West Indies at Sabina Park, Jamaica, before their partnership was ended by misadventure – a ball was played to Devon Malcolm who fumbled it, which encouraged Greenidge to turn for a second, Malcolm unleashed a bullet throw and there was a run out. Then in a spectacular role reversal the West Indies middle order folded, and having reached 60 before losing a wicket they were all out for 164 and Fraser had 5-28. A big partnership between Allan Lamb and Robin Smith rammed home England’s advantage, and they won the match. Fraser subsequently had injury problems and also suffered like many others from the attitude of Ray ‘In My Day’ Illingworth when he was England supremo.
Steve Harmison – right arm fast bowler. When England under the captaincy of Michael Vaughan headed to the Caribbean in 2004 Harmison was just beginning to establish himself as a genuinely top class, genuinely fast bowler. That series underlined his improvement, with his personal highlight being a spell of 7-12 as the West Indies were hustled out for a record low of 47. Nb – when talking about bowling figures number of wickets take precedence, and it is only identical wicket hauls that are split by economy, a reflection of the fact that in non-limited overs cricket you need to take 20 wickets to win the match and that in limited overs cricket getting someone out is still the most definitive way to prevent them from scoring, so although on the basis of runs per wicket (1.71 against 6.63) 7-12 is better than 8-53 the fact that Fraser’s haul was eight wickets rather than seven trumps the difference in economy.
Phil Tufnell– left arm orthodox spinner. England came to The Oval in 1991 2-1 down in the series, needing to win the square it which after the disasters of the 1980s would be a very fine result. A century for Robin Smith and few other useful innings got England to 400 in their first innings. Phil Tufnell then got to work with the ball, beginning his spell of destruction with the psychologically crucial wicket of Viv Richards. That huge breakthrough achieved Tufnell took a further five wickets in his spell, at a cost of a mere four runs. His overall innings figures were 6-25, the West Indies were made to follow on, and England won and squared the series. Before this series, series scores between the two teams since 1980, with England first, had been 0-1, 0-2, 0-5, 0-5, 0-4 and 1-2 – a net 1-18 against England.
Charles ‘Father’ Marriott – leg spinner. The Lancashire and Kent leg spinner, who had been playing county cricket since 1920 was called up for the last test of the 1933 series. England batted first and scored 312. The West Indies were all out for 100 in their first innings, Marriott 5-37 (and Nobby Clark the left arm fast bowler 3-16). England enforced the follow on, the West Indies batted better second time round, but not well enough, being all out for 195, Clifford Roach making 56 opening the batting, Marriott taking 6-59, while the fast bowlers Clark, and Stan Nichols of Essex took two each, left arm spinner Langridge bowling seven wicketless overs. Marriott had 11-96 in the match, and was known to be a pure bowler (711 first class wickets at 20.11, 574 first class runs at 4.41), England had won by an innings and 17 runs, but that was the sum total of Marriott’s test career.
This side has a strong top six, a player who at his best was an x-factor all rounder, and four well varied bowlers. Harmison, Fraser, Flintoff, Marriott and Tufnell is an attack should be useful in all conditions.
THE WEST INDIES
Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. On the most difficult pitch of the 1976 ‘grovel’ series he made twin centuries, the first of them being 61% of his team’s innings total. His two double centuries in 1984 are also worthy of mention.
*Frank Worrell – right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. In 1957 he carried his bat through an innings, finishing with 191 not out. In 1963 he was captain, and the series was regarded as one of the greatest ever played.
George Headley – right handed batter. A man who averaged 60.83 in test cricket clearly had highlights against every opponent. However, the particular performance that gets him in here came in the 1939 series, when he became the first batter ever to score twin centuries in a Lord’s test.
Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Was his 232 in the opening match of the 1976 series better than his 291 at The Oval in the final match thereof, were they both trumped by the first test century to be recorded at St John’s Antigua in 1981 or were all other efforts trumped by his 56-ball century at Antigua five years later? That is even before we consider ODIs (138 not out in the 1979 World Cup Final, 189 not – then an ODI record individual score – in an innings total of 272-9 at Old Trafford in 1984). These details provide some indication of why even in 1991 when he was well past his prime his wicket which started Phil Tufnell on his merry way was so psychologically important.
Shai Hope– right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. When England and the West Indies convened at Headingley in 2017 533 first class matches had been played at the ground and nobody had ever scored twin tons there, even though some mighty fine batters called the place home, e.g. Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton. The person who finally entered the record books by achieving that feat, and did it in a test match to boot, was Shai Hope. Three years on those remain his only two test centuries at test level, a remarkable quirk.
Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. He had a stack of extraordinary performances against all opposition, as befits the most complete player the game has yet seen. The particular match I have picked on to include him here featured the West Indies deep in trouble when their fifth second innings wicket went down and Sobers being joined at the crease by David Holford, primarily a leg spinner. The pair put on an undefeated 274 together for the sixth wickets, Sobers 163 not out, Holford 105 not out, and England ended up being glad to escape with a draw after losing a few second innings wickets.
+Jeff Dujon – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Although the West Indies largely dominated the 1988 series (4-0, and the drawn first match owed more to the weather than to the stoutness of England’s resistance), but there was one occasion therein when they hit trouble – 53-5 in their first innings, and Dujon, with support from Logie rescued them – the sixth wicket stand was worth 130, and got the West Indies back into the match.
Malcolm Marshall– right arm fast bowler. At Headingley in 1984 he sustained a broken arm, a rare case in that era of a West Indian being on the receiving end of an injury. When the ninth West Indian wicket fell Gomes was on 96, and so Marshall went in to bat one-handed to see his team mate to a century. Then, to English consternation, he proceeded to take the new ball. He proceeded to rip through the second England innings with career best figures of 7-53, displacing the 63 and 36 scored by Tennyson batting one-handed against Australia with Gregory and McDonald as the greatest test performance by a cricketer playing with one usable hand.
Michael Holding – right arm fast bowler. In August 1976 England was baking in a heatwave, the pitch at The Oval was absolutely flat and lifeless and the outfield was almost grassless due to the drought. The West Indies piled up 687-8 declared, but even their bowlers could get little out of the pitch, with one exception. Michael Anthony Holding took 8-92 in England’s first innings, the best innings figures at that time by a West Indian fast bowler (a spinner, Jack Noriega, had taken nine wickets in a test innings for them). The West Indies declined enforce the follow-on, giving their bowlers a breather. A declaration at 182-0 left England needing to match their first innings 435 to win. This time round Holding took 6-57 to give him 14-149 in the match and his side victory and a 3-0 series scoreline.
Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler. I have already mentioned his bowling at Headingley in 1991 and at Trinidad in 1994 (the 46 all out game), but before that he had settled the 1990 series in the West Indies by destroying England in the last two test matches thereof. England had won the opener (see under Fraser), the second, scheduled for Guyana, had been washed out without a ball being bowled, and a combination of more bad weather and some scandalous (and unchecked, never mind punished) time wasting by Desmond Haynes as stand-in captain had condemned the third match at Trinidad to another draw, in spite of Malcolm picking up ten wickets in a test match (6-77 in one innings) for the first time in his career. However, in the final two tests, Ambrose was simply unstoppable, his figures including an 8-45 in one innings. England’s best resistance in those matches came from pugnacious wicket keeper Jack Russell who produced a day-long rearguard in one of them.
Alf Valentine – left arm orthodox spinner. He made his test debut in the 1950 series and proceeded to capture the first eight England wickets to fall, only to be denied absolute immortality to Berry and Hollies, two of the game’s greatest ‘ferrets’. The feat still remains a record, and helped the West Indies to their first win on English soil, as he and as spin twin Sonny Ramadhin weaved their webs around England’s batters. England did not properly counter this duo until the 1957 series and the May-Cowdrey partnerhsip at Edgbaston.
This team has a stellar top four, a record breaker at five, the most complete player in the game’s history at six, an excellent keeper who can bat and fine quartet of bowlers. The choice of Valentine as specialist spinner means there is a little overlap in skills with Sobers, who numbered left arm orthodox spin among his bowling styles. Marshall, Holding and Ambrose, with Sobers left arm as fourth pace option and Worrell also available looks a superb pace attack, while Valentine’s finger spin and Sobers’ wrist spin should be sufficient in that department.
There are of course many, but I will mention just some of the more obvious. Andy Sandham scored the first ever test match triple century at Sabina Park in 1930, but that match, supposedly ‘timeless’ ended in a draw because England had to go home, taking some of the gloss off the innings. Fred Trueman had a fabulous series against the West Indies in 1963, including a career best test match haul of 12-119 at Edgbaston. Among the all rounders I felt that Greig’s presence would fire the West Indies up too much, so his 13 wicket match haul at Trinidad did not get him in, Ian Botham’s record against the West Indies was very ordinary (one innings haul of 8-103 at Lord’s in 1984, but even that came in a losing cause, and a highest score against them of 81) and Stokes has not had one of his greatest performances against them as yet (the ‘bio-secure’ series may well change that). Brian Lara twice made world test record scores against England (375 in 1994, 400 not out in 2004, both at St Johns, Antigua), but both were accumulated on flat wickets in high scoring, stale, draws, and the latter, as was that case with his 501 not out for Warwickshire v Durham, was definitely an example of the individual counting for more than the team. Courtney Walsh had a magnificent series in England in 2000, at the age of 38, but lack of support from the rest of his team caused it to be in a losing cause, so, with regret, I was not able to pick him. Sonny Ramadhin, Valentine’s spin twin, missed out because of the history making nature of Valentine’s debut. Finally, Ellis ‘Puss’ Achong caused cricket’s terminology to expand when he dismissed Walter Robins, and the chagrined all rounder said as he headed back to the pavilion “fancy being bowled by a chinaman”, which is why that type of delivery is now called a chinaman.
This has all the makings of an absolute cracker. The odds definitely favour the West Indies, especially as Worrell has to be considered a better captain than May, but it should be a good contest.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND TEASER
As a lead in to my regular sign off, here is a teaser from brilliant.org:
Today’s all time XI cricket post continues the alphabetic progression theme. Lots of Photographs as well.
Today’s all time XIs cricket post is our seventh alphabetic progression. We finished yesterday with a B, so today we start with a C.
JW HEARNE’S XI
Chetan Chauhan – right handed opening batter. He was overshadowed by his regular opening partner for India, Sunil Gavaskar, but his record was not a bad one.
+Tillekaratne Dilshan– right handed opening batter, wicket keeper. One of the most innovative of all iternational batters. I admit that he was not a regular wicket keeper, and that the combination of keeping and opening the batting is a tough one, but he did keep on occasion, and I think he could do both jobs.
Bill Edrich – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. A regular number three and occasional opener. In the last ever ‘timeless’ test match (the 99th such ever played, and it was the events of that game that pretty much killed the notion of timeless tests stone dead – after ten days play it ended in a draw because England had to get back to Cape Town to catch their boat home) Edrich who had endured a nightmare start to his test career produced 219 in the second England innings, as they got to 654-5 chasing 696 to win.
Neil Fairbrother – left handed batter. He holds the record for the highest first class score at a London ground – 366 for Lancashire v Surrey at The Oval, in a monstrosity of a match in which Surrey made 707 and Lancashire 863. He failed to establish himself at test level, partly because the powers that be typecast him as a one-day specialist, where he did have an excellent record.
David Gower – left handed batter. 8,231 runs at 44.25 in test cricket, and it would have been more but for the narrow-minded, intolerant attitude of then captain Graham Gooch, which brought the curtain down on his career when he still had plenty to offer. Gower, unlike Gooch, resisted the bait dangled by apartheid South Africa, and did not sign up for either of the two England rebel tours of the 1980s. He scored 58 in his first test innings, making his maiden century against New Zealand later that summer, and scoring a crucial maiden Ashes hundred at Perth on the 1978-9 tour. His 123 at Adelaide on the 1990-1 tour, one of two centuries he made in that series (the only England player to do so), was rated by Don Bradman as among the top five innings he ever saw played in Australia. That tour also saw an epic sense of humour failure by Gooch and manager Mickie Stewart over an incident in which Gower and John Morris of Derbyshire buzzed the upcountry ground at which England were playing in tiger moth planes.
*Jack Hearne – right handed batter, leg spinner. In first class cricket over the course of a long career he averaged 40 with the bat and 24 with the ball, although he did most of his bowling before World War 1, playing largely as a batter thereafter. He was not actually related to the original Jack Hearne, a medium pacer who claimed 3,061 first class wickets (the fourth most ever), but they did both play for Middlesex, and their careers overlapped. I have named as captain, following my belief that all other factors being equal a slow bowling all rounder should be best equipped for the job (exhibit A among actual captains in favour of this theory the late legendary Richie Benaud, exhibit B Ray Illingworth – and as an effective captain who because of the mores of his time never officially had the job I give you exhibit C, Wilfred Rhodes – as witness his comment about Percy Chapman’s England captaincy “Aye ‘ee wor a good ‘un – he allus did what me and Jack telt him”).
Doug Insole – right handed batter. He normally batted a little higher than this, but his attacking approach, often further highlighted by the fact that he was batting in partnership with one TE Bailey, makes him well suited to batting in this position, and I is not the easiest of letters to deal with. After his playing days were done he became a selector, and as chairman of selectors once dropped a well known Yorkshire opener on disciplinary grounds immediately after said worthy had scored 246 not out – an incident with which TMS listeners no longer have to fear being regaled while listening to commentaries.
Ravindra Jadeja – left arm orthodox spinner, left handed lower middle order batter. Test averages of 35 with the bat and 24 with the ball make for a mighty useful no8, and he is also one of the best fielders currently playing the game. For those who produce ‘ah, but he is not so good away from home’ I suggest you check out the away records of James Anderson and Stuart Broad and then come back to me.
Bart King– right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. In 65 first class matches he took 415 wickets at 15.66 each while also averaging 20 with the bat. In the last of his four visits to England with the Philadelphians he claimed 87 wickets in 11 first class appearances to top that season’s bowling averages. He was the pioneer of swing bowling – it was a commonplace in that era before World War 1 for bowlers to rub the new ball in the dirt to remove the shine, and many sides reckoned that to give the opponents a varied challenge it was best to open the bowling with a fast and a slow bowler. Kent, champions four times in the last eight pre world war one seasons, regularly gace the new ball to left arm spinner Blythe alongside right arm fast bowler Arthur Fielder, while Lancashire a decade earlier had used a similar pairing of Briggs and Mold. It was King who taught the cricket world how to use the shine of a new ball as an extra weapon in the bowler’s armoury, and it is now very rare for a slow bowler of any type to get the new ball, although Muralitharan sometimes took it for Sri Lanka.
Jim Laker– off spinner. Probably the best of all classical off spinners, most famous for his destruction of the 1956 Australians (58 of the first 100 wickets he took that season in first class matches wore baggy greens, 46 of them being claimed in the five test matches). On the 1958-9 tour of Australia, although the hosts regained the urn, they were, much to their chagrin, obliged to treat Laker with a degree of respect, and in the four test matches for which he was fit and available he claimed 15 wickets at an economical average. Among English off spinners only Fred Titmus four years later, John Emburey and Geoff Miller against an ill-equipped and badly captained rabble in 1978-9 and John Emburey again in 1986-7 also against a less than full strength side have fared better down under.
Ted McDonald – right arm fast bowler. One half of the first great fast bowling duo seen at test level, along with Jack Gregory (Tom Richardson and Bill Lockwood, pioneer of the slower ball, had opened together for Surrey). After the Ashes series of 1920-1 and 1921, in which Australia won eight straight tests before England drew the last two of the home series he accepted a Lancashire league contract, and went on to playfor the county for some years, combining with Cecil Parkin and Richard Tyldesley to form a bowling unit that saw Lancashire dominate the second half of the 1920s.
This team has a solid batting line up, a competent keeper and a fine array of bowlers. McDonald and King look a splendid new ball pair, Edrich is available if a third pace option is needed, and in Laker, Jadeja and Hearne there is a wonderfully varied trio of spinners.
SYDNEY SMITH’S XI
Mike Norman – right handed opening batter. A consistent county pro rather than a real star.
Alan Ormrod – right handed opening batter. Played for Worcestershire for many years, before finishing his career at Lancashire. He was part of the Worcestershire side involved in the ‘ten minute game’, when Somerset skipper Brian Rose declared after one over, deliberately losing the limited overs match in order to protect his side’s wicket taking rate. The powers that be took a dim view of this, and Somerset were booted out of the competition anyway. Declarations were late banned from limited overs cricket, a move I consider unduly hamfisted, especially now that net run rate is used to split ties. Why shouldn’t a side who are 300-2 after 40 overs and facing possible weather interruptions say to their opponents “OK, we reckon we can defend in this over the full fifty if we have to do, over to you to have a bat”?
Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. He averaged 60.97 in test cricket before his country were forced into international isolation by the fallout from the D’Oliveira case (in fact South Africa were lucky to have lasted as longs as they did in that first incarnation as a test playing nation – various moments could have seen them given the boot well before they were.
+Stanley Quin – right handed batter/ wicket keeper. He played for Victoria in the 1930s, averaging 33 in first class cricket, including a double century, and given how difficult a letter Q is I think this is a pretty good solution. His 24 first class appearances brought him 35 catches and 24 stumpings.
Vernon Ransford – left handed batter. He averaged 37.84 in test cricket – at a time when Victor Trumper, universally regarded as an all-time great, averaged 39.04 at that level, sufficient indication of his class as a performer.
*Sydney Smith – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was Northamptonshire’s first ever overseas signing, coming over from the West Indies in 1909, twenty years before they took their test bow, and doing the double in his first season of county cricket. He finished his career averaging 31 with the bat and 18 with the ball. Making a standard ‘covered pitches inflation’ adjustment of 50% up for each average that equates to averaging 46 with the bat and 27 with the ball today.
George Thompson – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. The man, along with Bill East, who was most responsible for Northants’ elevation to first class rank in 1905, and the first Northamptonshire cricketer to play for his country – and he did not fare badly at that level either, more especially given that by the time the chance arrived he was already past 30.
Rana Naved Ul-Hasan – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. He first appeared on scoresheets as Naved Ul-Hasan, before indicating a preference for Rana Naved, and U is not an easy letter to fill. He played for Sussex for some years, and had a lot in common with an earlier Sussex stalwart, Maurice Tate, both being fast medium bowlers who loved to give the ball a good clout with the bat.
Vince Van der Bijl– right arm fast medium. Took his first class wickets at 16.54 each. A combination of the political situation in South Africa and his unwillingness to completely cast adrift from his native land cost him a test career. He was a popular overseas star for Middlesex. On one occasion when the county lost a Sunday League (an aeon or so ago counties played 40 overs per side matches on Sundays, accumulating points towards a league title) match by eight runs and when they got back to the dressing room Van der Bijl opened the post -mortem by saying “sorry folks, those two half volleys I bowled early in my spell cost us”, thereby preventing any recriminations from developing.
Jack Walsh – left arm wrist spinner. Australian born, but moved to England and enjoyed a long career with Leicestershire – one of a number of Aussie spinners of that era to decide that the grass was greener elsewhere.
Xara Jetly – off spinner. The trickiest letter of the lot, but the teenage Kiwi may yet go on to establish herself as a top player – it is certainly a name I will have half an eye one for the future. The women play almost exclusively limited overs cricket, which reduces the potential for really big wicket hauls, but there is a 3-35 among her recent sets of figures.
This team may be a little short of really top drawer batters (only Pollock and Ransford qualify for that description), but it does have great depth – everyone down to no8 has the capacity to play a match winning innings. The bowling, with a pace trio of Rana Naved Ul-Hasan, Vince Van der Bijl and George Thompson backed by tweakers Xara Jetly, Jack Walsh and Sydney Smith looks really good.
This should be a cracker. JW Hearne’s XI are stronger in batting, but not quite as strong in bowling. I suspect that Sydney Smith’s XI would need Graeme Pollock to ‘come to the party’ to win, but he usually managed that, so I cannot predict a winner.
Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. He was a crucial part of the West Indies success in the 1980s. In the 1984 series in England the West Indies were twice in deep trouble, and both times were hauled out of it by Greenidge. At Old Trafford he saved the day with an innings of 223 in 10 hours at the crease, and the Windies emerged victorious. At Lord’s the Windies were set 342 to win in just under a full day (and Gower, the England captain, was criticized for not declaring earlier, and for allowing his batters to accept on offer of the light when they should, four fast bowlers notwithstanding, have stayed out there. The West Indies won by nine wickets, with Greenidge blazing his way to 214 not out, while Larry Gomes (92 not out) played the supporting role to perfection. In the MCC Bicentennary match he made a century, notable for the setting of a fielder specifically to cut down the number of runs the reverse sweep was bringing him. A long county career with Hampshire helped him to score more first class hundreds (90) than any other West Indian bar Viv Richards.
Desmond Haynes – right handed opening batter. He was Greenidge;s regular opening partner for Barbados and the West Indies. Barbados, a coral island similar in size to the Isle of Wight has produced over 70 test match cricketers – an all time batting order with these two opening, the three Ws at 3,4 and 5, Sobers at six, a keeper and four bowlers, two of them Marshall and Garner is shaping up mightily impressively. The Isle of Wight for comparison has produced a few cricketers who reached the dizzy heights of the Hampshire 2nd XI. Haynes and Greenidge put on over 6,000 runs together in first wicket stands at test level, although their average opening stand is not quite as eye-popping as the 87 of Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe.
Shreyas Iyer – right handed batter. The young Indian, noted for his aggressive approach, has yet to play test cricket, but hes an averages 52 in first class cricket and has made a remarkable start to his ODI career. I can envisage him being devastating after Greenidge and Haynes have given the innings their usual strong start (and similarly when the time comes coming in after the Sharma/ Agarwal opening partnership has been broken).
Mahela Jayawardene– right handed batter. He holds the record for the highest test score by a right handed batter, 374 vs South Africa, when he and gthe left handed Kumar Sangakkara put on 624 together for the third wicket, starting from 14-2. Three higher individual test scores have been recorded, Lara’s 400 not out and 375, which both came in high scoring draws, whereas Jayawardene’s set his side up for an innings victory, and Matthew Hayden’s 380, scored against a hapless Zimbabwe team at Perth. Following the list on down, Sobers’ 365 not out was made against a Pakistan side who fielded only two front line bowlers, Hutton’s 364 at The Oval set his side up for a crushing victory, Jayasuriya’s 340 came in a monstrosity of a game at Colombo (over 100 runs per wicket through the five days), Hanif Mohammad’s 337 secured a draw for his side, Hammond’s 336 not out and Bradman’s 334 both came in drawn games- not that many of the super-huge scores have actually helped their team to win.
Rohan Kanhai – right handed batter. His record at first class and test level is highly impressive, and I have the word of CLR James, that he was an absolute genius with a bat in his hand.
Geoffrey Legge – right handed batter. He played for Kent and England. He managed only one century for his country, but it was a big one – 196.
+Billy Murdoch – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Fred ‘the demon’ Spofforth missed the first ever test match because he believed that only Billy Murdoch could keep to his bowling (he came in to the side when the second match was arranged, apparently convinced that the chosen keeper, Blackham, was good enough after all), so although it was not where he usually played in test cricket he did have pedigree as a wicket keeper. His batting deeds included 153 not out in the first test on English soil at The Oval, the first ever test double century at the same ground four years later, 286 for Australia in a tour match and a first class triple century, at a time when only WG Grace (twice) and Walter Read of Surrey had previously achieved the feat.He played county cricket for Sussex and was part of WG Grace’s ultimately ill-fated London County venture.
Dion Nash – right arm fast medium bowler. An effective swing bowler for New Zealand in the 1990s, and by no means valueless as a lower order batter.
Bill O’Reilly– leg spinner. Nicknamed ‘tiger’ for his on field ferocity (he was later to be fairly ferocious with a pen in his hand as well), he bowled faster than most of his type (one action shot of him was erroneously labelled ‘Bill O’Reilly, Australia fast bowler, and seeing it one can understand how the mistake happened).Donald Bradman rated him the best bowler he ever saw or faced, although as O’Reilly himself acknowledged Bradman was the one opposition batter who generally had his measure. World War II basically ended his career at the top level, although he played a one-off test against New Zealand, taking a hatful of cheap wickets but also learning the hard way that his knees were finally knackered.
Jamie Porter– right arm fast bowler. Has done good things for his county Essex, but has not yet been given the opportunity to perform at a higher level. I hope he does get the chance to prove himself at the highest level. He has 329 first class wickets at 24.31.
Hamidullah Qadri– off spinner. He currently pays 35 per wicket in his fledgling first class career, and needs to reduce that figure, but he is still very young, and he did enjoy some success in the last U19 world cup. Given that I already had a legspinner (more on this later), the alternative was Imran Qayyum, a left arm orthodox spinner, but he pays 43 per wicket, which is simply too expensive to hold out serious hopes of him making the grade.
This side has a stellar batting line up but is a trifle light on bowling options. Nonetheless I would expect it to give a good account of itself.
Strong cases could be made for the selection of Gavaskar or Gooch as my opening batter whose name begins with G, and a respectable one for Chris Gayle, while Jack Hobbs and Matthew Hayden could both have been picked as the opener whose name begins with H, with Tom Hayward also a possibility. However, Greenidge and Haynes functioned superbly well as a pair, and I have opted for them because of that detail. Abdul Qadir deserves credit for keeping the embers of the torch of leg spin bowling aglow in the 1980s, to be fanned in full blazing flame by Shane Warne in the 1990s, but with Bill O’Reilly in the side I did not especially want a second leg spinner, so I went with the unknown quantity of Hamidullah Qadri.
ANDREW STRAUSS’ XI
Jack Robertson – right handed opening batter. A test average of 46 is testament to his class. In the great 1947 season when Denis Compton and Bill Edrich rewrote the record books Robertson hit 12 first class centuries, very often teeing the innings up for the other two.
*Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter, captain. The man who captained England to no one in the world at test cricket, and who averaged over 40 with the bat, both as captain and in the ranks gets the nod here.
Johnny Tyldesley – right handed batter. In the first decade of the twentieth century only two professionals were selected in England teams purely for their batting, this man and David Denton of Yorkshire.
Inzamam Ul-Haq – right handed batter. He announced his arrival at the top level with an innings of 60 off 37 balls in the 1992 World Cup (back then, performances like that were not commonplace).
James Vince– right handed batter. Has a good record for Hampshire, and has done fairly well in limited overs matches for England. His test career has featured far too many well compiled 20s and 30s and no really major innings (83 at Brisbane is his highest).
+Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Selecting him as wicket keeper, enables me to pick a strong bowling line up.
Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, right handed batter. This is about the right position for him, and X is a difficult letter.
Bruce Yardley– off spinner. He was effective for Australia in the late 1970s and early 1980s, once being te match winner against the West Indies at a time when defeats for them were a great rarity.
Dawlat Zadran– right arm fast medium bowler. Has done some good things for Afghanistan and may yet get better still. Certainly worth his place.
James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. Zadran could only benefit from sharing the new ball with an experienced partner, and they don’t come much more experienced in that regard than the man who has taken more test wickets than any other pace bowler, and the most by any Eng;land bowler (and officially he is still counting).
Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. The list of visiting quick bowlers to really rattle the Aussies in their own backyard is not a long one, although the West Indies in the great years under Lloyd and Richards had a few. The list of Indian bowlers of serious pace is also not a long one – Amar Singh in the 1930s, and Javagal Srinath in the 1990s are the only two before the present era who I can think of. If one were to use the two lists to create a Venn diagram, there would be one name in the overlap between the two circles: Jasprit Bumrah, whose sheer speed in the 2018-9 series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy was more responsible than anything else for India’s triumph.
This team has an excellent top six, Xenophon Balaskas at seven can be considered an all-rounder, Yardley may provide some assistance to the top order, and then there are three pace bowlers. With Anderson to guide and encourage them the two younger bowlers, Bumrah and Zadran should fare well. If there is real turn Xenophon Balaskas and Yardley should be capable of exploiting it. This looks a fine side.
Bobby Simpson would have his advocates for the opening slot I gave to Strauss. I thought about picking Radha Yadav, the left arm spinner, for the no eight slot but decided that gave me too long a tail (Anderson at 10 is definitely in the ‘rabbit’ category with the bat, while Bumrah is a ‘ferret’ – someone who comes after the raqbbits).
Bill O’Reilly XI have a very deep batting line up packed with class, but they are short of bowling guns. Andrew Strauss’ XI have less in the way of batting riches, although their top order is strong on any reckoning, but they do have what looks a strong and balanced bowling unit. My reckoning, based on the evidence from cricket’s history is that it is the bowlers who settle matches, and so my reckoning is that Andrew Strauss’ XI start as firm favourites.
Here is Chew-Seong Cheong’s excellent published solution:
As an habitue of brilliant.org I recognized a trick when I saw it and realized that the trick answer given the wording of the question was that the areas were equal and therefore went for that as my answer.
I have introduced today’s teams, assessed the contest and presented the solution to yesterday’s teaser. The only thing left to for this post to be complete is my usual sign off…
Today’s ‘all time XI’ cricket post continues the alphabetic progression theme. Also features a mathematical teaser and lots of photographs.
Welcome to today’s all time XI cricket post. We continue the alphabetic progression theme. Yesterday’s second XI ended with a J, so we start with an opening batter whose name begins with K.
SHAUN UDAL’S XI
Don Kenyon – right handed opening batter. A consistent and reliable opener for Worcestershire over a number of years.
David Lloyd – left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. After a distinguished career for Lancashire and nine appearances in test matches he went to become a highly entertaining commentator and writer, and a good coach.
Roy Marshall – right handed batter. He usually opened, mainly for Hampshire. Regular openers often fare well at number three – Mark Butcher and Michael Vaughan are two who did so for England.
Brendan Nash – right handed batter. Australian born, but played for the West Indies.
Simon O’Donnell – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Toured England in 1985 as a promising young all rounder, but did not quite make the grade at test level (he was a casualty of a rebuilding effort that paid dramatic fruit starting in 1989 with an Ashes win in England and going on to become a dominant international force). He finished his first class career with a first class batting average of 39 and a bowling average of 37.
+Quinn Sunde – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Finding Qs to fit the bill calls for some flexibility. He is only just 19 and has not yet played first class cricket, but has played for NZ U-19.
Graham Rose – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. A Somerset stalwart, who did not do quite enough to attract the attention of the England selectors. I saw him in action in 1996 at Swansea, and he took four cheap wickets in a Glamorgan total of 310 in the first innings. Somerset took a small lead, with Lathwell playing fluently early in their innings and Hayhurst and Bowler providing grittier efforts, while Steve Watkin had a very similar analysis to Rose’s. Somerset’s advantage was insufficient – Robert Croft spun them to defeat on the final day. His averages are just the right way round, and hos bowling average is just less than 30.
Brian Statham – right arm fast bowler. 252 test wickets at 24 each, mainly from the wrong end – for Lancashire when he had the choice of ends he took his wickets at just 16 a piece. Like his successor as Lancashire and England new ball bowler, James Anderson, he batted left handed, occasionally playing very useful innings – in one of the 1954-5 Ashes matches he was involved in a crucial partnership in England’s first innings – the last wicket stand between him and Johnny Wardle account for 43 of a total of 154, and England won that game by 38 runs. Also, at a time when quite a few of his colleagues had to be ‘hidden’ in the field he was excellent in that department as well.
Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. The other half of that 1954-5 Ashes winning new ball pairing. His was a brief but spectacular career – he had other strings to his bow, which meant that he did not have worry about prolonging his career, and by the end of the 1950s he was finished as a professional.
*Shaun Udal – off spinner, captain. A long career, mainly for Hampshire, before moving to Middlesex for his last few years. He did get to play for England but did not fare very well at the highest level.
This team has a decent top four, one good and one great all rounder, a wicket keeper and a bowling foursome that looks pretty good. It is deficient in the spin department – the only back up available for Udal’s off spin is Lloyd’s part time left arm spin.
GEORGE DENNETT’S XI
Joe Vine – right handed batter, leg spinner. The role he played for Sussex for many years, and briefly for England. Sussex in that period were a magnificent batting side, but somewhat light on bowlers, so they never seriously threatened in the county championship – there is a vast mass of evidence to support the contention that if you are going to a little short in either of these departments it is better to be light in batting – good bowlers do not need absolutely huge totals to defend, whereas unless you get lucky with opposition declarations you cannot win games without taking 20 wickets. This is why, when I started this series with a look at the 18 first class counties and restricted myself to one overseas player per county that overseas choice was nearly always a bowler, occasionally an all rounder and almost never a pure batter.
Benjamin Wilson – right handed opening batter. He was Wilfred Rhodes’ most regular Yorkshire opening partner in the years immediately before World War 1. He was sometimes criticized for taking an overly defensive approach to his innings (I have an idea that there was a more recent Yorkshire opener who also got that kind of criticism!).
Xavier Marshall– right handed batter. A man who has played for two international sides – the West Indies where he was born and the USA. X, like Q, calls for a wee bit of flexibility.
Mohammad Yousuf– right handed batter. After a slightly suspect top three we come to someone who averaged over 50 in his test career. He finished under something of a cloud (and I saw every ball of that shocking match in Sydney which he basically handed to Australia after Pakistan had taken a first innings lead of 200). First, with Hussey and tail ender Siddle resuming overnight and Australia only 74 to the good he failed to set attacking fields, and his tactics allowed Australia to reach lunch with no further loss. Then, with Pakistan needing 176, when it should have been under 100, he surrendered his own wicket to an appalling stroke, leaving his side 54-4 and with no experienced front line batters left.
Bas Zuiderent – right handed batter. England’s performance in the 1996 World Cup was one of their most disgraceful ever in any tournament, on-field incompetence being matched by bad behaviour off it (skipper Atherton, who should have been nowhere near a limited overs side in any case, called one reporter who was having difficulty phrasing a question in what was after all not his first language a buffoon, and there were other cringeworthy stories as well). England reached the quarter finals only because they had been put in a group with two non-test playing nations, Holland and the United Arab Emirates, the only two teams they beat in that competition (justice was done in the quarter-final when they were marmalised by Sri Lanka). The Holland win was decidedly unconving, with Zuiderent, then only 18, and Van Noortwijk plundering a century stand together – it was only Van Noortwijk’s dismissal to a boundary catch that finally put England in control. Zuiderent’s share of the spoils was a merry 54. He did not go on to great things after that start, but his innings that day, which garnered more plaudits than Hick’s century for England had, gets him his place as a middle order batter beginning with Z.
+Tim Ambrose – right handed batter, wicket keeper. He made a century on test debut, but never fully established himself. For Sussex and then Warwickshire he was a consistent run getter in the middle of the order and a superb wicket keeper.
Katherine Brunt – right arm medium fast bowler, right handed batter. She began as a pure bowler, but although not doing so as effectively as Ellyse Perry who also began down the order she has developed her batting to a level that allows her to be described as an all rounder.
Tom Cartwright– right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. The obverse of Brunt in terms of career development – he started as mainly a batter, and actually scored a first class double century playing as such, before dropping down the order because his bowling was more valuable to the side than his batting. He started with Warwickshire and moved to Somerset. He became so metronomically accurate that it is claimed that at the end of a season at Taunton there would be a worn patch two feet long and six inches wide at one end, where he had been lading the ball time after time through the season. He played a walk-on role (more accurately walk-off) in the D’Oliveira affair – he was initially selected in the 1968-9 tour party to South Africa, while D’Oliveira to general consternation was left out. Cartwright then withdrew citing injury, but as he later admitted, actually because he did not wish to go to South Africa. His replacement was D’Oliveira, mainly a batter, and Balthazar Johannes Vorster, then South African president, proceeded to state that D’Oliveira would not be accepted (attempts had earlier been made to bribe D’Oliveira, as documented by Peter Oborne in his book “Basil D’Oliveira”), and the tour was promptly cancelled. England and South Africa next went head to head in 1994, and a visit by Bradman to South Africa in which he had a face to face meeting with Vorster, and the latter, erroneously feeling safe, gave vent to some unvarnished racism led to the final isolation of apartheid South Africa.
*George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. When cricinfo tweeted yesterday asking for people’s suggestions for the best player never to have played test cricket this man was mine. 2,151 wickets at 19.82 each in first class cricket, mainly for Gloucestershire, and never an England call up. This is because when he was in his pomp first Wilfred Rhodes and then Colin Blythe (2,503 first class wickets at 16) were ahead of him in the pecking order of left arm spinners, and Frank Woolley, worth his place as a batter anyway, also bowled left arm orthodox spin. Similarly, when I named my Gloucestershire all-time XI (second post in this series), Charlie Parker, third leading wicket taker in first class history got the left arm spinner’s position, with the off-spin of Tom Goddard (no 5 on the all time first class wicket taking list with 2,979) in support. The mores of his time prevented it from even being a consideration then, but I have named him as captain of this team, a job I think he would have done well.
Fidel Edwards – right arm fast bowler. A genuinely fast bowler for the West Indies, at a time when they as a side were struggling. His tendency to waywardness is partially addressed by the fact that the support pace bowlers, Cartwright and Brunt are both noted for accuracy.
Chuck Fleetwood-Smith – left arm wrist spinner. He was the reason for Denis Compton choosing this most difficult type of bowling when he decided to add a second string to his bow. He was often expensive, but always capable of bowling the wicket taking ball.
This team has a respectable top order, a quality keeper who can bat well in the middle od the order, and five players selected principally for their bowling, although two of them could definitely make significant contributions with the bat. There is not a front line off spinner, but Dennett, Fleetwood-Smith and Vine are a fine and varied trio of spinners, while the presence of Brunt and Cartwright should enable Edwards ton be used in short bursts.
Shaun Udal’s XI are somewhat stronger in batting (if only because they bat deeper) than George Dennett’s XI, but their bowling attack is not as well balanced. I would expect George Dennett’s XI to prevail, and would be absolutely certain that they would do so on a turner, as Udal backed by Lloyd’s part time stuff hardly compares with Dennettt, Fleetwood-Smith and Vine.
A MATHEMATICAL TEASER
This problem came up on brilliant.org today:
The original question has multiple choice answers, but I am not offering that. I will offer you a gentle hint – there are three possible answers to this question. In tomorrow’s post I will include an official solution and an explanation of my own ‘method’.
Our all time XIs resume the alphabetic progression seen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Lots of photographs.
For today’s all time XI cricket post we revertto the alphabetic progression that I started on Friday and continued on Saturday and Sunday. No 11 in Sunday’s second XI began with an N, so today’s first XI starts with an opener who begins with O.
HEDLEY VERITY’S XI
Javed Omar – right handed opening batter. His test record looks modest, but he had very little support at the top of the Bangladesh order (his most frequent opening partner, Hannan Sarkar, was once out to the first delivery of each of three successive test matches).
Alviro Petersen – right handed opening batter. A so-so record in test cricket for South Africas, but a regular big scorer in the county championship. His overall FC average is just above 40 runs an innings, good enough to suggest a player of quality.
Willie Quaife – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. A fine and consistent upper order batter for Warwickshire for a very long period, signing off with a hundred in his last match, at the age of 56 years and 4 months, the oldest scorer of first class hundred there has ever been (WG Grace notched his 126th and last on his 56th birthday, going on to 166 in that innings). There were question marks about the legality of his bowling action, and the most famous occasion on which his bowling featured prominently did not end well for Warwickshire – when Hampshire made their astonishing recovery at Edgbaston in 1922 after being rolled for 15 in the first innings he bowled 49 overs, being then 50 years of age, as Hampshire reached 521 at the second attempt. Warwickshire, exhausted from their efforts in the field and dispirited by Hampshire’s Houdini act then collapsed to 158 all out in their own second innings, the match ending in a Hampshire victory by 155 runs at 4:20PM on third and final scheduled day.
Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Had he been able to play all five tests of the 1976 ‘grovel’ series against England Don Bradman’s 974 runs in the 1930 Ashes series would almost certainly have been overtaken. Richards missed the third match of that series through injury, scoring 829 in the other four games. In the final match of the 1985-6 home series v England, with quick runs the order of the day as the Windies pushed for a second successive blackwash of their opponents, Richards smashed a century off 56 balls, at the time the fewest ever to reach that mark in a test match (still third on that list).
Kumar Sangakkara – left handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. Only one left handed batter has scored more test career runs than him, Alastair Cook. The biggest partnership for any wicket in first class cricket is the 624 that he and Mahela Jayawardene put on against South Africa.
+Sarah Taylor – right handed batter, wicket keeper. One of the most accomplished keepers the game has ever seen and a fine stroke making batter as well. Mental health issues cut short her career, but she did plenty enough in the time she did play to justify her selection.
George Ulyett – right arm fast bowler, right handed batter. An attacking all rounder for Yorkshire and England in the late 19th century. He had a test best score of 149, and test best innings bowling figures of 7-36. In the test match at The Oval in 1882, the second ever on English soil after 1880, he top scored with 26 in the England first innings, and was third out in the second, with the score at 51, and only another 34 needed to win. Grace fell two runs later, having become only the second player in the game to record a 30+ innings, and the middle and lower order froze in the face of Fred ‘the demon’ Spofforth’s unbridled hostility. In the end Peate’s wild heave against Harry Boyle might contact only with fresh air, and the stumps were rattled, leaving England beaten by seven runs. He also had a famous fielding moment in the course of his England career, when he took a catch of a shot that Bonnor, the legendary Aussie hitter had absolutely middled.
*Hedley Verity– left arm orthodox spinner, useful lower order batter. 1,956 first class wickets in less than a full decade at that level, at 14.90 each. 144 test wickets at 24 – when contending with a combination of doped pitches and Bradman’s batting. I have awarded him the captaincy that the mores of his time withheld from him, because I believe he would have been excellent at the job.
Bill Whitty – left arm fast medium bowler. He had an excellent record in the years just prior to World War 1 breaking out. In terms of bowling averages only two Aussie left armers of pace have subsequently had records to compare with his (65 wickets at 21.12 from 14 test appearances), Alan Davidson (186 wickets at 20.53) and Bill Johnston who will be meeting later.
Xara Jetly – off spinner. The young Kiwi is very much a prospect rather than an established player, but her last set of bowling figures recorded on cricinfo were 3-35, and I expect the hear more of her in due course (she is only 18, and has appeared a handful of time for Wellington Women).
Waqar Younis – right arm fast bowler. Has all the ingredients – extra pace, rikght handed as opposed to left, etc, to make an excellent new ball partner for Bill Whitty. His first big moments were in the 1992 test series in England, when the home batters simply could not handle him. He subsequently played county cricket for first Surrey, and then Glamorgan, spearheading the bowling for the latter when they won the championship in 1997. Once in an ODI against England he took the first seven wickets to fall, the first time that had ever been done.
This team has a fine top five, albeit there is a question mark over Javed Omar, a great wicket keeping all rounder at six, the perfect type of all rounder to be coming at seven, and four well varied bowlers. Waqar Younis and Bill Whitty as mentioned should combine well with the new ball, Ulyett wuld be an excellent third seamer, and Verity’s class as a left arm spinner as unchallengable. His ‘spin twin’, Xara Jetly is admittedly an unknown quantity, but bowling in tandem with Verity could only help her. Quaife’s leg spin is more than adequate for a sixth bowler.
DON BRADMAN’S XI
Hazratullah Zazai – left handed opening batter. Whatever he does he will do at a rapid rate.
Azhar Ali – right handed opening batter. Averages 42 in test cricket, and had some very fine innings for Somerset as their overseas player. He and Zazai don’t need to score bucket loads opening for this team, just enough to set the stage for…
Don Bradman – right handed batter. The greatest batter there has ever been, and number three was his preferred slot.
Denis Compton – right handed batter, occasional left arm wrist spinner. A man who averaged 50 in test cricket, including scores of 145 and 184 against the 1948 invincibles. His record would have been even more amazing but for a long term knee injury.
Basil D’Oliveira – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. Had he been able to make his debut for his native land when in his mid 20s, instead of for his adopted land ten years later he would probably have had a record to put him among the all time greats. As it was, he averaged 40 in test cricket, starting at age 35 and ending at age 41. He also played probably the most important innings ever, the 158 at The Oval in 1968 that underlined his claim to a place in the tour party to South Africa that winter, and that triggered the events that led to the sporting isolation of apartheid South Africa.
Grant Elliott – right handed batter, right arm medium paced bowler. Another cricketer born in South Africa who sought pastures new, albeit for different reasons. He has played for New Zealand, mainly in limited overs cricket.
+Bruce French – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was in his prime when the England selection approach was at its most inconsistent – the second half of the 1980s, which saw the England gauntlets spread around Paul Downton, him, Jack Richards and Jack Russell (and probably others I have forgotten).
Joel Garner– right arm fast bowler. His ODI economy rate was just 3.09 runs per over, he also had a magnificent test record, and as a youngster possessed one of the most powerful throwing arms ever seen on a cricket field. He was broad and solid in proportion to his 6’8″ height, which helped to spare him from the kind of stress related injuries that plagued beanpoles such as Bruce Reid. The immense height from which he brought the ball down (approx 10 feet given the length of his arms and the fact that he had a high action) made things extremely tricky for opposing batters, especially at his native Barbados where his arm was coming from above the height of the sight screen.
Bill Hitch – right arm fast below. Over 1,000 first class wickets at 21 a piece, but he was never an England regular such was the bowling strength available in his day. Playing for Surrey meant that a lot of his bowling was done at The Oval, not a ground that tops many bowler’s lists of favourites.
Jack Iverson – right arm wrist spinner. A one place promotion from his usual spot for ‘wrong grip Jake’. I have used the designation right arm wrist spinner because although he bowled with a leg spinner’s action (augmented by flicking the ball with his middle finger) his principal delivery was the off break, which confused opposition batters no end. He was only once collared in first class cricket, when Keith Miller and Arthur Morris realized that getting well down the pitch was the way to play him. He played one test series, and was instrumental in Asutralia winning it, capturing 21 cheap wickets.
Bill Johnston – left arm medium fast bowler, left arm orthodox spinner. Three times in the post World War Two era he was Australia’s leading wicket taker in a series. It was not unknown when conditions warranted it for Johnston to switch straight from spinning the old ball to swinging the new. His 40 test match appearances yielded 160 wickets at 23.91.
This team has an adequate looking opening pair, the incomparable Bradman at three, Compton at four, two fine players at five and six who can fill in as support bowlers, an excellent keeper and a marvellous line up of bowlers. Garner, Hitch and Johnston look an excellent pace trio, while Iverson’s spin would pose a stern test, and if a second spinner is needed Johnston can bowl in his slower style.
AN HONOURABLE MENTION
Some would argue that I should have picked Sobers ahead of Sangakkara, but with virtually all of Sobers’ bowling skills covered by specialists in the persons of Verity and Whitty I felt that Sangakkara’s batting style was more suited to the team’s needs than that of Sobers. It is a very close call.
This is a close call – the advantage the Bradman gives his own XI is to an extent negated by the presence of Verity, the one bowler he acknowledged facing as an equal in the opposition. Also, bearing in mind 1932-3, if Younis were to strike early with the new ball I would be tempted to set a 7-2 legside field for him and see how Bradman stands up to a barrage – possibly deploying Ulyett from the other end, also with a packed legside field as well. I would just about favour Verity’s XI to emerge victorious, and if the match was being played on an uncovered pitch I would make them distinct favourites, because they are better equipped to take advantage of a rain affected surface than Bradman’s XI, and Bradman himself rarely succeeded with the bat on such surfaces.
Two teams of players who share names with leading competitors in other sports.
Today I am taking a break from the alphabetic progression I started in this all time XI series on Friday. Previously on Mondays I have looked at an international set up, but I lack options there by now, so I have come with something else. Two teams of players who have namesakes from other sports do battle today.
TIP FOSTER’S XI
Reg Sinfield – right handed opening batter, off spinner. One of three front line spinners Gloucestershire had in the 1930s, alongside Tom Goddard and Charlie Parker, and a consistent batter at the top of the order. He played briefly for England as well. His namesake from elsewhere in the sporting world is Leeds rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield, who was man of the match in the Grand Final in his last game before retiring.
Percy Holmes – right handed opening batter. One half of the most productive opening pair in first class history along with Herbert Sutcliffe. These two had an extra link – they were born exactly seven years apart, with Holmes the older. At the time of his retirement Holmes had five of the ten highest individual innings for Yorkshire to his credit. His namesake from elsewhere in sport is Dame Kelly Holmes, double gold medallist (800 and 1,500m) at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Mark Butcher – left handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. His greatest moment came at Headingley in 2001 when he scored a scintillating 173 not out to carry England to an unlikely seeming victory over Australia. His namesake is former England football central defender Terry Butcher.
*Tip Foster – right handed batter, captain. He did captain England in the course of his fairly brief test career, which he launched with an innings of 287 v Australia at Sydney. He is a particularly appropriate person to be captaining this side because he is alone in captaining senior England teams at both cricket and football. For his namesake we dive into the world of swimming, specifically former champion over 50m butterfly and freestyle Mark Foster.
Brian Hastings – right handed batter. He once shared a stand of 223 with Bevan Congdon, who was an archetypally New Zealand type of cricketer, later exemplified by such as Jeremy Coney and Chris Harris – the gritty middle order batter who could keep things tight with the ball at a pace that barely even justified the description medium. As a Kiwi he would have no objection to sharing his spotlight with folk from the rugby world, and his sporting namesakes are the great Scottish rugby playing brothersGavinandScott Hastings.
Charles Townsend – right handed batter, leg spinner. He was the second ever to achieve the season double of 2,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class games, after his fellow Gloucvestershire player WG Grace (the third to do so was another Gloucestershire cricketer, Gilbert Jessop). His father Frank also played for Gloucestershire, and his son David was picked for England while still at university but never did anything significant in the game. Andros Townsend is a current England football player.
Frank Laver– right arm medium pace bowler, useful right handed lower order batter. He discovered a way to bowl a vicious late swinger at cricket while practicing baseball pitching. He used it to achieve a then record test innings analysis for an Australian bowler of 8-31. His namesake is of course the ‘Rockhampton Rocket’, Rod Laver, who twice won the calendar year tennis grand slam (1962 and 1969, the latter being the first year professionals were allowed to compete in the grand slam events, and for that reason the first time Laver had been involved since 1962 – had he played right through the 1960s at the grand slams he may well have set an untouchable record).
+Hugo Yarnold– wicket keeper, right handed lower order batter. It was he who got my thoughts turned towards this post, when I used him to fill a ‘Y’ slot in one of my alphabetic progressions. His sporting namesake is twice skeleton bob gold medallist (2014 and 2018) Lizzy Yarnold.
Fred Barratt – right arm fast bowler. Played for Nottinghamshire in the 1920s and early 1930s, capturing over 1,000 first class wickets at 22 each. As a youngster, before his cricketing talent was identified, he worked down the mines, like another rather better known Nottinghamshire right arm quick of that era. England’ strength at that time restricted his test opportunities. His namesake is Australian former swimming champion Bronte Barratt.
Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler. His record for England would have been even more remarkable had he not signed up for both Packer and the first South African rebel tour, the latter decision effectively ending his international career. As it was he finished with 297 test wickets, still an England record for any bowler of less than medium pace. His sporting namesakes are a pair of England rugby playing brothers, Rory and Tony Underwood, the former of whom scored 49 tries for his country.
Given the selection criteria this looks a solid and well balanced side, with a strong top six including two all rounders, some decent support batting down to number nine. The bowling with Johnson, Laver and Barratt to bowl various types of pace, Underwood’s craft and guile at slow medium and the spinners Townsend and Sinfield also looks impressive. This team should give a decent account of itself.
MAJID J KHAN’S XI
Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter. Has a fine record at the top of the order since being given the job for England Women in 2015. Her sporting namesake is of course Bill Beaumont. I never saw him in action on the field, but am just old enough to remember him as a team captain on Question of Sport.
Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter. His combined tally of First Class and List A runs is over 65,000, the most in the history of the game across multi-formats of top level cricket (Graeme Hick is number two on that list, having lasted long enough to play all three formats professionally, while Hobbs’ 61,237 first class runs in the days of single format top level cricket put him third). His sporting namesake is British former speed skater Nicky Gooch, who has gone from own fairly successful career to be a fine coach, his charges including multiple European champion Elise Christie.
Sidney George Barnes – right handed batter. Often an opener, he also played well at no 3. He averaged 63 in his truncated test career (disrupted by World War II and terminated early by his rows with authority figures). His namesake is the Liverpool football legend John Barnes.
Sam Coe – left handed batter, left arm slow medium bowler. The first batter eevr to be dismissed by a deliberately bowled googly, with 98 to his name at the time. He amassed over 17,000 first class runs in his career. He owes his place here to Sebastian Coe, twice 1,500m Olympic champion (1980 and 1984) and currently head honcho of world athletics.
*Majid Jahangir Khan – right handed batter, captain. One of three cousins (Javed Burki and Imran Khan are the others – their mothers are sisters) to have captained Pakistan. A stroke making batter who in the early days of ODIs when such were still great rarities scored a century off 88 balls, in what was the first ODI to feature three such individual scores (two for Pakistan who emerged victorious). He also played county cricket for Glamorgan, once producing an innings of 147 for them that included 13 sixes, at the time the joint record for a first class innings in England, shared with another overseas star, Gordon Greenidge of Hampshire. I gave his full name here to justify his inclusion in this side, which comes courtesy of six time world squash championJahangir Khan.
Ellyse Perry – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. A regular new ball bowler who is also one of her country’s finest batters. Her range of accomplishments includes a double century in a test match (she averages 78 with the bat in that format) and a seven-for in an ODI. In the last edition of the Women’s Big Bash League she scored over 750 runs, taking her team to the final. She gets the all rounder slot in this team courtesy of three time Wimbledon champion Fred Perry.
+John Murray– wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of only two wicket keepers ever to achieve the season double of 1,000 runs and 100 dismissals in first class matches (the other, Les Ames of Kent, achieved the feat three times in all). In career terms only Bob Taylor made more first class dismissals. His sporting namesakes are the tennis playing Murray brothers, Andrew (twice Wimbledon singles champion) and Jamie (multiple doubles champion).
Jack Simmons – off spinner, useful lower order batter. Played for Lancashire for many years, was the first to captain Tasmania to Sheffield Shield success, and his taste in food caused his local chippy to name a particular combo the ‘Simmons Special’ in his honour. I have slightly cheated here because no cricketer named Simmonds with the d in has a record I can use for this purpose, and once I had decided to do this post I wanted to include a mention of multiple disabled swimming champion Ellie Simmonds.
Doug Wright – leg spinner. More first class hat tricks than any other bowler – seven in total in his career. He had a long run up for a spinner, and could prevent opposition batters from automatically getting on the front foot by the simple expedient of sending down a bouncer. His namesake is former Arsenal and England footballer Ian Wright.
Glenn McGrath – right arm fast medium bowler. A promotion for the Aussie metronome from his usual position. He was only once involved in a losing Ashes series in the course of his long career, and was absent injured from both the games Australia lost in that series. He took 563 test wickets in all, a record for a bowler of pace until Jimmy Anderson beat in 2018. He gets his place as one this team’s new ball bowlers courtesy of US tennis player Meredith McGrath. She was good enough to reach number 18 in the world in singles and number five in the world in doubles. I saw her playing her first Wimbledon, when she came through the qualifiers and then reached the last 16 of the main event. The following season she won the Wimbledon warm up event at Eastbourne.
Gideon Elliott– right arm fast medium bowler. A brief but spectacular career which included innings figures of 9-2. Exhibit A against the contention that a higher batting average than bowling average makes an all rounder – he averaged 7.91 with the bat in first class crickets, and his 48 wickets cost 4.87 each. His namesake comes from the world of track and field athletics – former distance runner Peter Elliott, who ran for GB at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
This team has a solid top six, including a great all rounder, a wicket keeper who can bat and four excellent and varied bowlers. Elliott, McGrath and Perry provide an excellent trio of seam options, and Wright and Simmons provide a contrasting pair of spin options. Sam Coe is a fair sixth bowler as well.
Albert Trott the Australian born Middlesex slow bowling all rounder is a namesake of British cyclist Laura Trott (now Kenney), but I could not fit him into either side. Other possibilities will doubtless occur to readers of this post.
These are two good, well balanced sides to compete for what in keeping with the multi-sport theme I have decided to call the ‘Jess Ennis’ trophy in honour of a great all round athlete. Probably the issue would be settled by which version of Mitchell Johnson showed up – the 2010-11 version would see the opponents win, while the 2013-4 version would very likely win it for his side.
*Graeme Smith – left handed opening batter, captain. Scored large numbers of runs for South Africa. Appointed captain at a very young age he did that job very well as well.
Glenn Turner – right handed opening batter. The only New Zealander to score 100 first class hundreds. In reversal of the more frequent pattern of development he started out as an absolute barnacle and developed an impressive range of strokes as he matured and grew in confidence – his 100th first class hundred as reached in the morning session of the first day of that game. This opening pair should blunt the opposing attack nicely for…
Polly Umrigar – right handed batter, off spinner. India’s leading test run scorer prior to Gavaskar.
Bryan Valentine – right handed batter. A great stylist for Kent and England.
Everton Weekes – right handed batter. One of the greatest of all time to strengthen the middle order.
Jerome Xaba – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. X is a very difficult letter in this context, hence my inclusion of a player who has yet to feature in first class cricket.
+Hugo Yarnold – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Holds the all-time record for stumpings in a first class innings, with six (six successive batters no less, only David East of Essex who caught eight in a row beats that sequence). In total he made almost 700 dismissals in his 287 first class matches. I accept that he is a trifle high in the order.
Bhagwath Chandrasekhar– leg spinner. Our only front line spinner, and one member of this team whose position in the batting order will not cause any controversy.
This team is weaker in batting than is usual with my selections – Weekes is likely to need to remember how to count to six in the latter part of the innings.
CB FRY’S XI
Ian Davis – right handed opening batter for Australia in the second half of the 1970s, known to his team mates as ‘wiz’ after a TV character of the time, ‘the wizard of ID’.
John Edrich – left handed opening batter. A scorer of over 100 first class hundreds, and with a fine record at test level. He is one of five Surrey batters to have reached 100 first class hundreds (Hayward, Hobbs, Sandham and Ramprakash are the others).
*CB Fry – right handed batter, captain. The English Leonardo, with an astonishing range of accomplishments to his credit.
Syd Gregory– right handed batter, brilliant fielder. A record eight tours of England, the first in 1890 and the last in 1912, the first test double century in Australia (Billy Murdoch scored 211 at The Oval in 1884), 201 at the SCG in 1894.
Graeme Hick – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. His international record makes disappointing reading when compared to his stellar first class record, but there are two bog mitigating factors: his promotion to international cricket was rushed through, pitching him in to the fray against a very formidable West Indian fast bowling line up, and he was then dropped for the Sri Lanka game at tbe end of that season, and subsequently, when he was producing consistently at the top level for the first and only time of his career Ray Illingworth became supremo of English cricket (good idea, utterly wrong choice of person), and publicly described Hick as being ‘soft’, and Hick found himself back to being in and out of the side, as the Illingworth era was marked not so much by selectorial policy as a selectorial merry-go-round. Hick was merely the most prominent of a number of cricketers, along with Devon Malcolm, to be victims of the combination of crassness and insensitivity that marked the Illingworth era.
Jack Iddon – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Just five England caps, because he was in prime during the tail end of Rhodes’ career and with Roy Kilner also well to the fore, but his first class record, coinciding with his county, Lancashire, enjoying their most successful ever period was 504 matches, 22,681 runs at 36.76 and 551 wickets at 26.90. He was also a decent fielder – once when Hammond commenced a day’s play by hitting the great Ted McDonald for five successive boundaries it was only a great stop by Iddon that prevented ball number six of that opening over going the same way.
Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. The ultimate x-factor player to be coming at seven.
+Jim Kelly – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He succeeded the great Jack Blackham as Australia’s wicket keeper and held the post for some 15 years.
Geoff Lawson – right arm fast bowler. Had an excellent record in the 1980s, including being well capable of making irritating lower order runs, most notably his 74 at Lord’s in 1989 in support of Steve Waugh who was on his way to a second straight 150 (and was undefeated in both those innings).
Sarfraz Nawaz– right arm fast medium bowler. The highlight of his distinguished career was a spell of 7-1 in 33 deliveries that turned seeming defeat against Australia into victory – 305-3 became 310 all out.
This team has solid batting, and a bowling attack of Lawson, Nawaz, Muralitharan, Jessop and Iddon is hardly shabby, though not as stellar as some I have part together in this series.
CB Fry’s XI have greater depth in batting, while Graeme Smith’s XI are heavily reliant on their top five to score lots of runs. Graeme Smith’s XI has a stellar bowling unit, especially Ambrose, Barnes and Chandrasekhar. I see this as a close contest, with the odds possibly favouring CB Fry’s XI.