Today I continue my exploration of the all time XIs theme with a team made up of players whose surnames begin with the letter O.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
- Ali Orr (Sussex). He has a less extensive career than most to feature in an actual XI in this series, having started his FC career quite recently. However, only one of the XI has an FC career average better than Orr’s current figure of 42.
- Edgar Oldroyd (Yorkshire). One place up from usual spot for his county. He scored over 15,000 FC runs at an average of 36. His grand daughter Eleanor is a radio commentator and regular presenter of sports programmes.
- Charles Ollivierre (Derbyshire). One of the first great batting talents to emerge from the West Indies. He came to England in 1900 as part of non-test tour by the West Indies (they gained test status in 1928), and stayed on, qualifying by residence to play for Derbyshire (who also found him a clerical job which meant he could retain his amateur status). His finest hour came at Chesterfield in 1904 in a match that almost defies belief. Essex batting first scored 597, Perrin 343 not out, Derbyshire responded with 548 (Ollivierre 229), Essex fared precisely 500 runs less well second time round, as Bestwick and Warren extracted revenge for some rough treatment in the first innings, and Derbyshire managed the resultant chase of 147 in 125 minutes with time and nine wickets to spare, Ollivierre finishing 92 not out, Billy Storer 48 not out.
- Norman O’Neill (Australia). He averaged 46 with the bat at test level. He illustrated his class on his test debut, when at the end of a match featuring mind-bendingly slow scoring (518 runs in the first four days, Bailey 68 in 458 minutes) he took Australia to a comfortable victory by scoring 73 not out in two and a half hours, proving that it was possible to score at a reasonable rate on that surface.
- Maurice Odumbe (Kenya). An all rounder who batted right handed and bowled off spin, and (along with Steven Tikolo) one of the two best cricketers his country has ever produced. He was good enough to have scored an FC double hundred.
- Alec O’Riordan (Ireland). He batted right handed and bowled left arm fast medium. Most of his cricket was club cricket played at weekends, but he showed what he could do against higher class opposition when Ireland played the West Indies. He took four cheap wickets as the illustrious visitors were rolled for 25 on an emerald coloured pitch, and then batted well for Ireland (it was a one innings match officially, but in order to entertain the fans Ireland batted on after completing a nine wicket victory, and declared, nipping out a couple more wickets in the WI second innings before the day’s action ended.
- +Bert Oldfield (Australia). One of the greatest wicket keepers ever to play the game, his career tally of 52 test match stumpings remains an all time record.
- Chris Old (Yorkshire, Warwickshire, England). A right arm fast medium bowler and an occasionally useful left handed lower order batter. His England highlights include taking four wickets in five balls against Pakistan and being the accurate, mean foil to Willis when that worthy produced his match winning spell at Headingley in 1981.
- Pragyan Ojha (Surrey, India). A left arm orthodox spinner, his record for India was respectable rather than truly outstanding, though he was a little unfortunate that his career overlapped with the emergence of Ravindra Jadeja. No one could play him when he turned out for Surrey and was instrumental in them winning promotion back to division one of the county championship.
- *Bill O’Reilly (Australia). One of the greatest leg spinners ever to play the game. He bowled quicker than most of his type, his stock pace being at least medium and possessed an almost undetectable googly by way of variation. I have named him as captain of this XI, that being a difficult role to fill for this letter, since he obviously had tactical acumen in spades, and I have read some of his writings on the game and been impressed by them.
- Duanne Olivier (Derybshire, Yorkshire, South Africa). He pays less than 30 each for his test wickets, and will probably feature in the upcoming series between England and South Africa. Fast medium rather than outright fast he is still a very fine bowler. Whether he or Old would share the new ball with the left armer O’Riordan is one of the main decisions facing the skipper of this side
This XI is patchy, with a somewhat makeshift opening pair, fine batters at three and four, a couple of fine all rounders, a legendary keeper and one great and three very good specialist bowlers. The bowling, with the seam in the hands of Old, Olivier and O’Riordan and leg spinner O’Reilly, left arm spinner Ojha and off spinner Odumbe to attend to that department is this side’s strong suit, though there is no express pace option.
Before I get to the main meat of this section, Qasim Omar does not feature, because as difficult as this letter is, Q is far harder.
Unlike either of the two guys I chose to open the batting Javed Omar of Bangladesh did that job at test level. However, his record is pretty ordinary, hence him missing out. Alan Ormrod of Worcestershire was a county stalwart, but his FC average was only just the right side of 30. William Oscroft of Nottinghamshire might have provided some genuine pace, but he was not often used as a bowler by his county, and even allowing for the difficulty of the pitches when he was in his prime an average of 19 in his main suit simply isn’t good enough. Insufficient records of his overall performances ruled George Osbaldeston, a fast bowling all rounder of the early 19th century, out of consideration. Simon O’Donnell was an Australian all rounder who bowled fast medium, but his batting does not command a place in its own right, and his bowling record was modest, plus he bowled with his right arm, meaning that his presence would give the attack less variation than O’Riordan does. Rodney Ontong had a respectable career for Glamorgan but couldn’t quite claim a place in this side. Thomas Odoyo, a fast bowling all rounder for Kenya entered my thoughts. Dominic Ostler of Warwickshire had a long career, but only averaged a tick over 30 with the bat. Among the pacers who entered my thoughts but just missed out on selection were the Overton twins (especially Jamie, whose extra pace would have been useful), Henry Olonga of Zimbabwe, Peter Ongondo of Kenya and Iain O’Brien of New Zealand (the latter getting an expert summarisers gig by way of compensation).
Niall O’Brien, a solid keeper batter for Kent and Northamptonshire in the championship and with a decent record for Ireland as well is the officially designated reserve keeper, but as is usual for me in these cases I opted for finer keeper, Oldfield. Kevin O’Brien, an all rounder who bowled right arm fast medium, had most of his best moments in limited overs cricket
In a few years time Hampshire’s off spinning all rounder Felix Organ may have a record that allows him to displace Odumbe from this side, but he is not there yet.
My usual sign off has two parts this time…
A TWOPENNY BLUE
James and Sons had a stamp sale earlier this week, and I acquired a two penny blue very cheaply. I am not in general enthusiastic about ordinary stamps, but the 2d blue has a connection which elevates it – every Victoria line station has a patterned mosaic displayed at platform level relating to it’s name, and because of the colour used for the line on the London Underground map the pattern at Victoria is based on this stamp, so I am pleased to have one in my possession.
PART TWO: REGULAR PICTURES
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