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.