This blog post continues the All Time XIs theme with a look at the letter E.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
- Dean Elgar (South Africa). Among the best contemporary long form openers, a very tough competitor. He also bowls left arm orthodox spin, although he is not likely to be needed for that by this side.
- John Edrich (Surrey, England). One of two Norfolk born cricketers in this XI (out of five members of their family to play FC cricket). Like Elgar a very tough competitor who had to be got out. He had the useful knack of really making it count when he got himself in, illustrated by a HS of 310* v NZ and scores of 175 and 164 against Australia.
- Bill Edrich (Middlesex, England). Lost six years of his prime to WWII, also often missed due to differences of opinion between himself and those in authority, but still averaged 40 in test cricket. He could also bowl useful right arm fast medium, more than once taking the new ball in a test match. Possessed of almost limitless courage, exemplified by his efforts as a flying ace during the war, he was a fine player of fast bowling in particular.
- George Emmett (Gloucestershire, England). A fine batter for Gloucestershire.
- Ross Edwards (Australia). Once scored 170* against England in a test match. In the 1975 Ashes, at the end of which he retired from test cricket he showed his battling qualities with a 56 in just over four hours at Edgbaston and a 99 that saved Australia from the wreckage of 81-7 (with the assistance of a certain DK Lillee, who produced 73*)
- Russell Endean (South Africa). A hunch pick by his captain Jack Cheetham for a tour of Australia after SA had been hit with a huge number of retirements, leading some to argue for the abandonment of the tour. SA drew the series 2-2 with Endean justifying his skipper’s faith by producing a score of 162* in seven hours at a crucial juncture.
- +Godfrey Evans (Kent, England). One of the greatest keepers of all time (173 catches and 46 stumpings, the latter an England record, at test level). His batting highlights included two test centuries and an innings where with England battling for a draw he was on 0* for 97 minutes, supporting Denis Compton who was batting at the other end.
- Tom Emmett (Yorkshire, England). A great left arm fast bowler and a good enough lower order batter to have scored a first class ton at a time when those were not easy to come by.
- Edwin Evans (Australia). A right arm slow bowler and reasonably capable lower order batter, his domestic record was outstanding, and he played in the second test match ever.
- Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire, Manchester Originals, England). A left arm orthodox spinner who takes her international wickets at 20 a piece overall and has had her moments batting down the order. Her stock bowling speed is in the low to mid 50s miles per hour, which is somewhat quicker than that of Matt Parkinson to give just one example. I would not pick a female seam/ pace bowler as they are a lot slower than their male equivalents, but spin is not principally about the speed at which one propels the ball, and I believe Ecclestone is up to the job.
- Gideon Elliott (Victoria). A right arm fast bowler who played less than anyone else to feature in any of these XIs – just nine FC matches between March 1856 and a similar time in 1862. In those nine matches he took 48 wickets at less than five runs a piece, including the performance in which wickets taken outstripped runs conceded by the greatest amount in FC history – 9-2 in a single innings.
This team has a solid top six, a great keeper and four splendid and varied bowlers. Given that Bill Edrich took the new ball on occasions at test level I am not that worried about him being the third bowler of above medium pace in this side, while the slower bowlers, Ecclestone and Edwin Evans provide a classic contrast in styles.
I will deal with the spin situation first: there were two obvious spinners whose surnames begin with E, John Emburey and Philippe-Henri Edmonds. As valuable as these two were to Middlesex’s cause over the years neither had a great test record, and Emburey blotted his copybook by going on both English rebel tours to South Africa, the only person to do so.
Fidel Edwards would have been a more conventional choice of a right arm fast bowler than Gideon Elliott, but my feeling is that Elliott’s absurdly cheap wicket taking average, even from so small a sample size justifies his inclusion.
The only challenger to Godfrey Evans for the gauntlets was Faroukh Engineer of India, but though he was a better bat than Evans he was not as good behind the stumps, and as usual I opted for the better keeper.
The only other test match opening batter whose surname begins with E that I could think of was Bruce Edgar, and his average was only just the right side of 30, considerably less than either Elgar or John Edrich.
Richard Ellison, a right arm fast medium bowler and useful lower order batter, had his moments for England, including the last two matches of the 1985 Ashes, but his record is not quite good enough overall.
My usual sign off…
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