For today’s all time XI cricket post we are looking at cricketing families. A team made up of groups of siblings do battle against an intergenerational XI. There are a number of famous cricketing families I could not include – I set myself a rule of including at least two members of each chosen family – not just select one and name their cricketing relations.
THE SIBLINGS XI
- *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career, captain. The way to get round 11 being an odd number when selecting a team of siblings is to pick one group of three siblings, and fortunately there is a darned good such grouping readily available. His test batting average was only 32.29, but he made his debut at the age 32 and played on at that level until he was almost 51 – had the first test in England been in 1870 rather than 1880 his record would have been considerably better. He won eight of his 13 tests as captain, and all 13 of those matches were against the oldest enemy.
- EM Grace – right handed opening batter, lob bowler, fearless close fielder. Seven years WG’s senior, that inaugural test in England was his only one, and he shared an opening stand of 91 with his brother in the first innings thereof. England would probably have fared better in the 1882 match that inaugurated the Ashes had he been present in place of AN Hornby. Before WG’s rise overshadowed everyone else EM had been regarded as a phenomenon.
- Andrew Flower – left handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He averaged over 50 in test cricket (see my ‘Minor Nations’ post from Monday), and makes a good selection for the critical number three slot, especially since other considerations prevented the use of the only other sibling to have been a really good test no 3, ‘Chappelli’.
- Mark Waugh – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, ace slip fielder. The first of two pairs of twins to make their appearances in this XI. He announced his presence at the highest level (selected in place of his brother!) with a scintillating 138 against England and went to establish a superb record.
- Steve Waugh – right handed batter, occasional medium pace bowler. He was first picked in 1985 at the age of 20 as a ‘bowling all rounder’, but it is his batting that gets him in – he averaged over 50 at the highest level, and that after taking 27 matches to reach his first century (177 not out at Headingley, as Australia, put in by England skipper Gower cashed in on an ‘attack’ comprising four medium pacers to the tune of 601-7 declared). He would be vice captain of this side.
- Grant Flower – right handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. Andrew’s younger brother, averaged just over 40 in test cricket.
- Eric Bedser – right handed batter, off spinner. His averages are just the wrong way round – 24.00 with the bat, 24.95 with the ball (833 first class wickets in total), and he is the first of three members of the XI not to have played test cricket.
- GF Grace – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler. In his case his sudden death from a freak illness prevented him from having a better record – he was 29 years old and just two weeks previously had played in the inaugural test in England, and had there been such a thing in 1880 his catch to dismiss George Bonnor would have been a shoo-in for the ‘Champagne Moment’. He averaged 25 with the bat and 20 with the ball, and the former figure puts him on a par with Richard Daft, rated no2 to WG Grace in the 1870s, GF’s decade.
- Alec Bedser – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. Eric’s identical twin brother – and they used to wear identical clothes as well apparently. Because they considered playing for separate counties unthinkable they tossed a coin for who would stick to medium pace, and who would work on batting and off spin, and Alec won. There is a story that once in a benefit match Eric finished an over that Alec had started, and no one noticed the substitution, which suggests that Eric remained quite useful as a medium pacer.
- +Thomas Mycroft – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The most obscure of my choices, but he did average almost three dismissals a game in his brief first class career, and his presence enables me to give some much needed punch to the bowling by selecting his brother…
- William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 138 first class matches, 863 wickets at 12.09 each, and hopefully a suitable new ball partner for Alec Bedser.
This team is strong in batting, and the three Graces plus Eric Bedser should between them be able to provide sufficient bowling back up to the new ball pairing of Mycroft and Eric Bedser.
I might have opted for a new ball pairing of half brothers, Fidel Edwards and Pedro Collins, with Alec Bedser coming on first change, but that could only have been done by giving Andrew Flower the gauntlets and dropping the Mycrofts, and I prefer my no3 not also have to keep wicket. Although both captained England neither Arthur nor Harold Gilligan had a record to merit inclusion, and I certainly could not accommodate both. The Pitheys of South Africa were good rather than great. John and Hugh Trumble and Richie and John Benaud were two pairings that each had one weak link and so could not be accommodated. Johnny and Ernest Tyldesley were also in the mix, but would you drop either the Flowers or the Waughs for them? Richard and Dayle Hadlee could also have been picked to share the new ball, using the same method as for Edwards and Collins.
- Ron Headley – left handed opening batter. The Headleys provide three members of this side. He opened for Worcestershire for many years, although his two matches for the West Indies were not a great success.
- Vic Richardson – right handed batter. He was not an absolutely regular opener, but he did do the job at test level. We shall meet one of his grandsons at no4 in this order.
- George Headley – right handed batter. Averaged 60.83 in test cricket, and no3 was his regular position. The first of the family to play top level cricket.
- *Greg Chappell – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace (started as a leg spinner), excellent slip fielder, captain. Averaged over 50 in test cricket, one of three grandsons of Vic Richardson who all played test cricket.
- James H Parks – right handed batter, right arm bowler. The only player ever to have scored 3,000 runs and taken 100 wickets in the same first class season.
- +James M Parks – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Son of James H Parks, a fine batter/ keeper for Sussex, and had today;s attitudes to selecting keepers existed in the 1960s he would have played many more times for England in that role than he did.
- Maurice Tate – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. One of the greatest of all bowlers of cutters, and the first bowler to be able to use the sea fret at Hove to facilitate movement in the air.
- James Lillywhite jnr – left hand batter, left arm orthodox spinner. England’s first test captain; 1,210 wickets at 15.12 in first class cricket. Nephew of…
- William Lillywhite – right arm fast roundarm bowler. Known as the ‘nonpareil’ such was his superiority to other bowlers of his era.
- Dean Headley – right arm fast medium bowler. The third of the Headley family trio, he played for England and would have had more success had he not been plagued by injuries.
- Fred Tate – off spinner, good close fielder. His one test appearance, coming late in his long career, was undistinguished, but 1,331 first class wickets at 21.55 confirms that he is not just here to get his son into the side.
This side has a solid batting line up, and the bowling looks adequate, albeit that Fred Tate is the only front line spin option.
OTHER CRICKETING FAMILIES
Sussex have a grand tradition of cricketing families, as the above team shows – and I did not include the two members of the ruling family of Nawanagar, ‘Ranji’ and ‘Duleep’. The Tremletts produced three generations of first class cricketers, but accommodating all three would have been a challenge. Chris Broad would have been preferable to Ron Headley as opening batter, and Stuart preferable to Dean as a bowler, but if I had made that call I would have had to drop George Headley, and likewise dropping Vic Richardson would have necessitated dropping Greg Chappell. The Cowdreys are the only cricketing family to have produced four successive generations of first class cricketers, but of them all only Colin was truly top class. I would have liked to include the D’Oliveiras but to do so I would have to have found room for either Damian or Brett, so Basil missed out. Charles Townsend, the Gloucestershire leg spinning all rounder would have been useful, but I would have to had to find a place for either his father Frank or his son David, neither of whom were genuinely top class. I could have selected Jonny Bairstow as a batter and David as a keeper in place of the Parkses, but considered JH’s bowling to be a valuable asset. Perhaps the biggest miss caused by my criteria of demanding at least two members of each family feature was Denis Compton, but that would have necessitated finding space for his grandson Nick. The Gunns of Nottinghamshire also missed out. Billy Quaife would have been a solid opener, but I would have had to accommodate his son Bernard, less good, as well. The Quaife’s once faced up as opening batters to Billy and Robert Bestwick, likewise related, but again Robert Bestwick would not have been worth his place. Len Hutton would have strengthened the batting, but accommodating his son Richard would have been a challenge, while the same applies even more strongly to Herbert and Billy Sutcliffe. The great-grandfather/ great-grandson pairing of William Cooper and Paul Sheahan obviously appealed, but neither were really of the highest class. Richard Hadlee missed out because there was no way to accommodate his father Walter. Vinoo Mankad was another in this mix, but again his son Ashok was not good enough to warrant a place. Had I been willing to forego Greg Chappell I could have had an adhesive opening pair of Hanif and Shoaib Mohammad.
The contest for the ‘Cowdrey-Tremlett trophy’ (honouring two of the great cricket dynasties) would be a good one, with a splendid contest within a contest between Alec Bedser and Maurice Tate at the heart of it. I think the better balance of the intergenerational side just gives them the edge.
Time for my usual sign off:
4 thoughts on “All Time XIs – The Family Game”
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