Having posted my all time Zs XI yesterday I am now attempting to analyse the merits of the respective XIs in competition. This is a major undertaking and will take a large number of posts. I start today with team A and cover its first five match ups.
THE As V THE Bs
To set the scene, here a table showing two teams with the most important details about the players:
Both of these teams are deep in batting, with potential matchwinners in that department all the way down to number nine in each case, both teams have five high class bowling options. Team B’s top batting is much stronger than that of team A. It is very close between the two pace attacks, with Barnes’ utter brilliance compensating for Botham’s slightly expensive wicket taking rate. The spin bowling palm goes to the A XI, especially given that Al Hasan would probably fare considerably better as part of a strong attack than he actually does as part of a comparatively modest one. I would expect the Bs to win, probably 3-2 over a five match series, maybe even 4-1. Envisaging five match series, and thus using a five point scoring scale I score this as B 3.5, A 1.5
THE As V THE Cs
Here, the Cs have a stronger top five than the As, but 6,7 and 8 are weak slots, in all of which they are outpointed, while as good as Cummins and Croft are, they certainly do not do more than match up to Ambrose and Anderson, while Akram is clearly superior to Constantine. Ashwin is streets clear of Cornwall and from a bowling point of view Chandrasekhar has Al Hasan beaten. Ames v Carter is a mismatch in Ames’ favour. Overall, the power of the Cs top five batters notwithstanding I give team A a commanding advantage in this one, scoring at as As 4 Cs 1.
THE As V THE Ds
Dempster wins the battle of the right handed openers, Anwar that of the left handed openers. Dravid has a clear advantage over Azam. Donnelly and Duleep are at least a match for Abbas and Azharuddin. D’Oliveira, especially when his circumstances are taken into account is better with the bat than Al Hasan. Ames has to considered a better bat than Dujon, but the West Indian compensates for that by being the finer keeper. Akram v Davidson is a clash of the titans, but Davidson just edges it, having better averages in both departments. Daniel and Donald match evenly against Ambrose and Anderson. Dennett is a better SLA than Al Hasan, but he is the sides only front line spinner, whereas Al Hasan is second spinner behind Ashwin. Overall, I marginally favour the Ds in this contest, scoring it as Ds 3 As 2.
THE As V THE Es
The As dominate on the batting front, with batters 2-7 inclusive outdoing their counterparts from the Es, while Abel’s performance on Victorian era wickets probably equates to rather better than Elgar’s on modern surfaces. Evans is a better keeper than Ames, but the Es have only four front line bowlers to the As five. The Es bowlers are very good, with Ecclestone the best spinner on either side. I think the As have a very clear advantage here, but not enough for a whitewash to be on, so my score is As 4, Es 1.
THE As V THE Fs
This is a hard one to call. The As are ahead on batting, but the Fs have stronger bowling. My own reckoning here is that Fs greater range of bowling options and the captaincy of Percy Fender, one of most astute ever in that role, give them an edge, and I score it as Fs 3, As 2.
THE As SCORE AT PRESENT
Tallying up the scores at this point, The As are on 13.5 of a possible 25, 54% of possible points. The only one of the five sides we have put them up against so far who have an absolutely indisputable advantage over them are the Bs.
Time for my usual sign off…