I continue my exploration of the all time XIs theme with an XI of the best players to have surnames beginning with U. As I type this post I am listening to Trent Rockets vs London Spirit in The Hundred – today should be day four of England v South Africa, but even with over half of day one lost to rain England went down to an innings defeat before yesterday’s play was done.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
- Taufeeq Umar (Pakistan). A left handed opening batter with a test double hundred to his credit, and an overall average of close to 40.
- George Ulyett (Yorkshire, England). Right handed opening batter and right arm fast bowler. His batting record looks ordinary to our eyes, but in the period between 1877 and 1890, when he played, scoring was much lower than nowadays. His batting and bowling averages were the right way round, and he achieved notable feats in both departments, with a test best of 149 and best bowling figures of 7-36.
- Imam Ul-Haq (Pakistan). A left handed top order batter with a respectable test record.
- Inzamam Ul-Haq (Pakistan). A right handed middle order batter with a test average just short of 50 and an occasional left arm spinner.
- *Misbah Ul Haq (Pakistan). My designated captain, a role he performed wirth distinction for his country. A right handed middle order batter, who briefly held the record for the fastest ever test century in terms of balls faced. He came very late to test cricket but still managed 75 appearances, and recorded a batting average of 46.
- Polly Umrigar (India). Right handed batter, part time off spinner. Until Gavaskar came along he held Indian records for most test runs and most test hundreds
- +Umar Akmal (Pakistan). An attacking right handed batter and this team’s wicket keeper. He really ought to have done better than just over 1,000 test runs at 34 given the talent he had.
- Umar Gul (Pakistan). Right arm fast medium bowler, right handed batter. A fine bowler with a splendid yorker.
- Umran Malik (India). One of the fastest bowlers around, and one who I am sure will fare well in test matches when the time comes. It is less than three years since he first bowled with a proper cricket ball, and he is already making waves in limited overs cricket.
- Derek Underwood (Kent, England). A specialist left arm slow medium bowler, especially effective on rain affected surfaces and pitches that had broken up (he would have been a destroyer on the Ahmedabad surface that saw England beaten inside two days in 2021) and very economical on all surfaces.
- Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan). An off spinner with a magnificent record in limited overs cricket. I am prepared to credit him with being able to bowl well in any format, and have chosen him on that basis, this being one of the more difficult letters.
This team has seven quality batters, five genuine front line bowlers (Ulyett being an all rounder is the key). Umran Malik, Ulyett and Umar Gul is a strong pace attack, albeit not quite on a par with the Ts, while Underwood and Mujeeb Ur Rahman offer craft and guile, and should complement each other well.
This is a short section. Derek Ufton was at one time Knott’s understudy at Kent, but was not good enough to be selected for this side. Andrew Umeed, a Scot who bats right handed and bowls a bit of leg spin has just started playing for Somerset. His record at present is very moderate, but he may yet develop into a fine player.
Time for my usual sign off…