I continue my exploration of the all time XIs theme with a look at the letter X. Filling the XI required a considerable amount of chicanery, so even though other players than the eleven I chose merited consideration I shall not be producing an ‘Honourable Mentions’ section today. Most of this XI have at least some international experience, and some are genuinely top class. Also, although we get into the all rounders a trifle too early for comfort, there are no absolute bunnies.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
- MaX O’Dowd (Netherlands). His country’s most consistent current batter.
- MaX Holden (Middlesex). A left handed opening batter. His FC record is modest, but he does average over 40 in list A cricket, and he is still young enough to do something about that FC average.
- Ted DeXter (Sussex, England). A dashing right handed stroke maker, a useful medium-fast bowler and a fine fielder.
- *Alan KippaX (Australia). His opportunities at international level were limited, not least because he did not get on well with Don Bradman, but an FC average of 57 tells you how good he was. He and Halford Hooker shared the all time record 10th wicket stand in FC history, turning 113-9 into 420 all out. He was a notably stylish batter to the extent that some even mentioned him in the same sentence as the immortal Victor Trumper.
- Sam LoXton (Australia). An aggressive right handed batter (the five sixes he hit in his 93 at Headingley in 1948 remained an Ashes record for a single innings until Old Trafford 1981 when Ian Botham hit six in his 118) and a right arm fast medium bowler.
- AXar Patel (India). A good enough left handed batter to average 33 in FC cricket and a very fine left arm orthodox spinner. His test opportunities have been limited by his being a contemporary of Ravindra Jadeja, but when England visited and Jadeja was injured he was the best bowler in the series.
- Xenophon Balaskas (South Africa). A leg spinner and good lower middle order batter.
- Ron OXenham (Australia). A right arm medium pacer, and a useful batter as well. He once shared a match winning last wicket stand of 76 while nursing an injury.
- +Tom BoX (Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex). A wicket keeper and right handed batter. The earliest player to actually feature in an XI in this series, having played FC cricket between 1826 and 1856. His 247 FC appearances yielded 235 catches and 162 stumpings, and given the make up of this team that high number of stumpings counts in his favour. Between 1832 and 1856 inclusive he played in every single match involving Sussex. Given what my reading on the game;s history has told me about the state of pitches early in cricket’s history I have mentally upgraded his batting average of 11.95 and moved him a couple of places up the order in consequence.
- MaX Walker (Australia). A right arm fast medium bowler, known as “Tangles” on account of somewhat unorthodox approach to the wicket. He was at his best as third seamer behind Lillee and Thomson. He took his test wickets at 27 a piece, a respectable figure.
- MaX Waller (Somerset). A leg spinner, and like Walker above him, a reasonably competent lower order batter rather than an out and out tail ender.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE XI
The opening pair of MaX O’Dowd and MaX Holden is definitely makeshift, but I would expect the latter to at least be able to bat for a bit of time even if he didn’t score many. Dexter at three and KippaX at four are the engine room of the side batting wise, with the latter the best batter in the side, and due being a contemporary of a number of superstackers is somewhat underrated. He is this XI’s answer to Joe Root, though a better captain than the Yorkshireman. LoXton is probably a place too high, but he did average closer to 40 than 30 with the bat. AXar Patel is probably the third most important player in the side behind DeXter and KippaX. Balaskas and Oxenham were both genuine all rounders as well, and Box, a superb keeper, never got to bat on properly prepared pitches – even Fuller Pilch, the best batter of his era, averaged under 20 at FC level, which lends some context to Box’s average of 11.95. MaX Walker was an authentically test class fast medium bowler, and Waller is not the worst of leg spinners, though his Fc record is modest. The XI is undoubtedly a touch light on batting, but the bowling is good to compensate. The big question is whether to open with OXenham and LoXton to enable MaX Walker to come on as third seamer, or use the one genuine test class seamer as a new ball bowler. DeXter is not the worst fourth seamer either.
Our brief cricketing excursion through the letter X is at an end and it remains only to apply the usual sign off…