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.
- Ellyse Perry – right handed batter, right arm fast medium.
- +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’.
My usual sign off…
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