Today we revisit all-time XI territory with a bit of a twist, and then I have a bonus section prompted by today being the 40th anniversary of Trevor Chappell’s most (in)famous moment on the cricket field.
THE GROUND RULES
I have given this post a hint of an ‘Ashes’ flavour – my Blast From The Past XI is mainly English, though this being put in a T20 setting I have allowed myself two overseas players, while similarly my BBL10 Composite XI is mainly Australian with two overseas players permitted. It is two XIs, with the ‘x-factor sub’ idea given the treatment it deserves – in the bin. A variant on the ‘Bash Boost’ could be used as a tie-splitting procedure if a Super Over doesn’t do the job, while the Power Surge would remain. Naturally, DRS would be in use for this contest, though with my chosen on-field umpires, of whom more later, Claire Polosak as TV Replay umpire probably wouldn’t be overturning many deicisons. If you think I have had mistakes with either XI please feel free to make alternative suggestions, but remember that balance and variety are important, and tell me who should be dropped to make way for the people you want.
THOMAS SUTCLIFFE’S BLASTS FROM THE PAST XI
All members of this team played before T20 was a thing in top level cricket, and only three even played what is now called List A cricket.
- Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, ‘gun’ fielder. The fastest scoring batter with a first class average of over 25 that the game has ever seen, a useful fast bowler and an electrifying fielder, the ‘Croucher’ is a must for this side.
- Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close catcher. All-out attack was his natural tendency with the bat anyway, his all round record was astonishing – 58,969 runs at 40 an innings, over 2,000 wickets at 19 a piece and 1,018 catches in first class cricket, the latter a record for any outfielder.
- Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. One of my overseas players, and one of the three members of this side to have played List A cricket – he actually held the record in that format with an innings of 222, which stood until Ally Brown hit 268 for Surrey v Glamorgan at The Oval, with the pitch for that game being way off centre, giving a very short boundary on one side.
- Denis Compton – right handed batter, occasional left arm wrist spinner.
- Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of pretty much every type known to cricket. The first person ever to hit six sixes in an over in first class cricket, and without a doubt the most complete player the game has yet seen. My second overseas player, and one of the three members of this side to have played List A. He averaged 38 with the bat and 21 with the ball in list A, though his only ODI innings was a duck (he did bowl respectably in that game).
- +Leslie Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Twice a winner of the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season, the only keeper ever to score 100 first class hundreds, all-time record holder for first class stumpings – 418 in total in his career.
- *Percy Fender – right handed batter, leg spinner, brilliant fielder, captain. He scored the fastest century ever scored off authentic first class bowling, in 35 minutes versus Northamptonshire.
- Billy Bates – off spinner, useful lower order batter. Took England’s first ever hat trick, part of a performance in which took seven wickets in each innings and scored 55 with the bat.
- Bill Lockwood – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. One of the first fast bowlers to develop a slower ball as part of his armoury, and he caused as many problems with it as any player prior to Franklyn Stephenson.
- Alfred Shaw – right arm slow to medium bowler. Bowled more overs in his first class career than he conceded runs, took his wickets at 12 a piece, and once said “length and successful variation of pace are the secrets of good bowling”, a philosophy which would stand him in good stead for T20s.
- Derek Underwood – left arm slow-medium bowler. The third member of this side to have played List A cricket. His economy rate in ODIs was 3.44.
This team has massive batting depth, with only Shaw and Underwood unlikely to contribute in that department. Only Pollock and Ames of the XI are completely unrecognized as bowlers, with Sobers’ three styles meaning that there are in total 10 front line options plus Compton’s left arm wrist spin.
#BBL10 COMPOSITE XI
This XI have been selected on their performances during the tournament and with an eye to balance and variety. Note also that I have only allowed myself two non-Aussies.
- Alex Hales – right handed opening batter. He has had a quite magnificent tournament, and in many people’s eyes should be back in the mix for England’s T20 team.
- +Josh Philippe – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Excellent with both bat and gloves this tournament.
- Chris Lynn – right handed batter. Usually an opener, I put him at three here, with his four fifty plus scores in the tournament indicating that he is far from finished just yet.
- Sam Heazlett – left handed batter. His ‘Sambulance rescue‘ innings of 74 not out off 49 when his team were in big trouble against Thunder yesterday sealed his place in this XI.
- Jordan Silk – right handed batter, excellent fielder. There were many possibilities for this slot, but ‘Astrophysicist’ (in honour of Joseph Silk FRS) gets the nod because in a tournament where there have been rather more sinners than saints in the field he has shone in that department.
- *Mitch Marsh – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, captain. A T20 side really needs six front line bowling options at minimum so that you have cover if one misfires, and Marsh’s batting is unequivocally good enough to be no six, usually considered mainly a batter’s position.
- Rashid Khan – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. The Afghan, rated the no1 T20 bowler in the world, did superbly for the Strikers before his country’s needs took over and he left the tournament.
- Steve O’Keefe – left arm orthodox spinner. He has bowled very economically this tournament.
- Peter Siddle – right arm fast bowler. The veteran impressed for the Strikers, still being able to hit the 140kph mark, and generally being very accurate.
- Jhye Richardson – right arm fast bowler. The leading wicket taker in this tournament.
- Jason Behrendorff – left arm fast medium. Close between him and Ben Dwarshuis for this slot.
This side has good batting strength, and a strong and varied bowling attack, and should be able to give a good account of itself.
MY ON-FIELD UMPIRES
In keeping with this post I choose one umpire who is in the ‘blast from the past’ category and one from the modern era to officiate on the field. I am opting for Frank Chester, who stood in 48 test matches, a record at the time and for many years afterwards as my ‘blast from the past umpire’. One story about Chester to sum up his skill in this role: there was an occasion when he was officiating and a ball went through to the keeper with an audible click en route, the fielding side went up in a huge appeal for caught behind and were shocked when Chester gave it not out, while the umpire, unflustered, walked up to the stumps at the batter’s end, looked at the off stump and nodded to himself – he had identified the faint red mark that confirmed that he was right, and that the click has been the ball brushing the stump not quite hard enough to dislodge a bail. The other on-field umpire for this contest, from the modern era, is Aleem Dar.
THE CHAPPELL INCIDENT AND UNDER ARM BOWLING
It was 40 years ago today that with New Zealand needing six off the last ball to tie the match and no11 Brian McKechnie on strike Greg Chappell ordered his brother Trevor to roll that last ball along the ground. This disgraceful incident led to under arm bowling being ruled illegal, an overreaction in my opinion. Since that time a law change has seen balls that bounce multiple times called no balls, so the Chappell situation can be handled simply by adding a note that a ball that rolls along the deck is considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and is therefore a no-ball. This would keep the way open for a latter-day Jephson or Simpson-Hayward, or indeed a would-be reviver of the art of David Harris to emerge, while preventing dishonourable tactics such as those used by the Chappell brothers 40 years ago (if you would have it so Greg can be considered the chief culprit, but Trevor cannot be held blameless, since he could have challenged his brother and said that he would not adopt those tactics but would bowl the best yorker he could summon up).