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 brothers Gavin and Scott 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.
- Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. He has two top drawer sporting namesakes: rugby world cup winning captain Martin Johnson and multiple 400m champion runner Michael Johnson.
- 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 champion Jahangir 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.
It is time for my usual sign off: