100 Cricketers – 4th XI Opening Batters

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with the openers from my 4th XI. Also features mentions of Afghanistan vs Ireland and the womens game between Sri Lanka and England.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. Last time I took the bowlers from my fourth XI out of position because one of them was in the news that day, so now I move on to the opening pair. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, and the post introducing the 4th XI can be found here. There are two other bits of business to attend to as well…

CONGRATULATIONS AFGHANISTAN AND COMMISERATIONS TO IRELAND

Yesterday I outlined ways in which things might get tense in the test match between Afghanistan and Ireland. In the event, none of those possibilities eventuated as Ihsanullah (65 not out) and player of the match Rahmat Shah (76 to go with his first innings 98 – he now has a test batting average of 48 from two matches) took Afghanistan to 144 before the second wicket fell, and although a third fell in the dying embers of the game as well, there was no way back for Ireland and the final margin was seven wickets. In winning their second ever test match Afghanistan have made a better start in this form of the game than any side since 1877, when the original combatants Australia and England each won one match (Aus the first, Eng the second). Ireland can also take plenty away from this game, having fought hard all the way. They now travel back to more familiar climes, and their next test match assignment is against England, which will be very tough for them, but I do not expect them to simply allow themselves to be steamrollered by their much more experienced opponents. A full scorecard can be viewed here and a match report here.

ENGLAND WOMEN SEAL SERIES IN SRI LANKA WITH A MATCH TO SPARE

Sri Lanka won the toss and batted, but that was about all that went right for them in the second game of this three game series after they had been walloped in the opener. England restricted them to an inadequate 187-9 from their 50 overs, spinner Alex Hartley taking 3-36, while Anya Shrubsole was parsimony personified with 2-21 from her full 10 overs. Amy Jones then blasted 54 off 39 balls to put her team in an unstoppable position, Lauren Winfield following up with 44 off 41, while Tammy Beaumont played the anchor role with 43 off 60. Heather Knight was unbeaten on 20 and Danielle Wyatt 13 when England coasted home with six wickets and 99 balls to spare. Even in the absence of Brunt, missing with a back problem, the England women were simply too strong for their opponents. It is hard to see this series finishing anything other than 3-0 to England, so dominant have they been in both matches so far. A full scorecard can be viewed here and a a report here. Now on to the business part of the post, starting with…

CHARLOTTE EDWARDS

Many years ago the England Women were playing against their Australian counterparts and being given a thorough beating (as I recall, Lisa Keightley had contributed a century to what was by the standards of women’s cricket at that time a huge total of in excess of 250), but one person did not surrender tamely, battling on with virtually no support, and the age of just 17, to make 74 and given England one positive to take from the match. This was Charlotte Edwards and that was merely the first of many big performances she would produce over many years.

Edwards came into women’s cricket when it was still regarded by most as something of a joke, and then players still wore skirts. By the time of her retirement the game was being taken properly seriously.

As well as being a heavy scoring opening batter and a magnificent captain (note that asterisk against her name in this XI) she also bowled occasional spin, on one occasion in an ODI effectively enough to take 4-30. 

HERSCHELLE GIBBS

6167 test runs at 41.95, and a record as an ODI opener that included the rare feat of six sixes in an over (Daan Van Bunge of The Netherlands was the victim), his achievements speak for themselves. He suffered from the fallout around the disgraced Hansie Cronje, being one of two players (medium pacer Henry Williams was the other) who had been suborned by Cronje into underperforming in a match. When it came to it neither actually did so – Gibbs scored 74 in the game in question. 

Perhapos Gibbs’ most remarkable innings came at Johannesburg after Australia had scored 434 from their 50 overs. South Africa knocked them off, Gibbs scoring over 170. Medium pacer Mick Lewis for Australia had in the indignity of being butchered for 113 from his ten overs. 

The next post in this series will look at numbers 3, 4 and 5 from my 4th XI, but now it is time for…

PHOTOGRAPHS

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These four mosaics are on the walls opposite the lifts used for transferring bed bound patients between floors at Addnenbrookes (down on level two, the entrance level to the hospital)

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Health Update

A brief account of what happened in my appointment at Addenbrookes today.

INTRODUCTION

This will be a brief post related to today’s visit to see my team at Addenbrookes hospital. There will be a more substantial post coming later about a different subject.

GOOD NEWS IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES

Regular readers of this blog will be well aware that healthwise I am in a position analogous to the person who asked an Irishman for directions and was told “Oi wouldn’t have started from here”. In view of that the fact that the preliminary finding from my bronchoscopy is that there has been some bleeding in the lung qualifies as good news, since it is unquestionably better than the alternatives. Also, the fact the Dr Mazhar decided that he does not to see me again for four weeks can only be regarded as positive news. The operation to remove the testicle that was the origin of all the trouble is probably still a couple of months away.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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Just three pics with this post – I am saving the rest for my next post.

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100 Cricketers – 4th XI Bowlers

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series, starting the fourth XI with the bowlers for reasons that should be self-explanatory. Also features some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series. I am taking the my 4th XI in a different order from usual, starting with the bowlers, for reasons that should become clear during this post. The series will continue with the opening batters, then nos 3,4 and 5 and then all-rounders, which post will se my fifth XI introduced in batting order. The introduction to the whole series can be found here, and the most recent post in it, listing the 4th XI in batting order at the end, can be found here. Before getting into the meat of my post I have a but of related business to attend to…

AFGHANISTAN VERSUS IRELAND DAY 3

Ireland, helped by a substantial last wicket stand for the second time in the match did just enough to keep interest in this match alive. They brought their second innings tally to 288, setting Afghanistan 147 to win in the final innings. By the close Afghanistan had reached 29-1, needing a further 118 to win with nine wickets remaining. If either:

a) Ireland pick up wickets early tomorrow morning or

b)Afghanistan score score slowly in the morning and then lose wickets immediately before the lunch interval

Or both of the above happen, nerves could set in leading to a very close result. Whatever happens tomorrow, one team will have its first test match victory on the board and the other team, though defeated will not have been disgraced.

It is unfortunate for Ireland that as I acknowledged in response to a comment yesterday their elevation really came five years too late for them, with the result that most of the players who had earned it had either finished their careers or were finishing their careers, while Afghanistan were elevated as they hit the crest of a wave.

The official close of play report can be read here.

It is now time to look at those bowlers starting with…

THE SPINNERS

My four selections who are in this XI purely as bowlers (there is also a seam bowling all-rounder to back them up, plus an occasional off-spinner) comprise two spinners and two quicks. We start with the person who caused me to take the bowlers first when dealing with this XI…

RASHID KHAN

The 20 year old legspinner is already rated the world’s number one bowler in T20, and has just a very successful season in the Australian Big Bash League, but today he made history by becoming the first Afghan to take a five wicket innings haul in a test match. His 5-82 followed 2-20 in the first Ireland innings, meaning that in the two test matches his country have now played he has total figures of 9-256, a bowling average of 28.44. I can see this improving considerably as he gains more experience (before his 1993 visit to England which really set him on his way Shane Warne had been cuffed around at test level, notably by Ravi Shastri on his debut test), and especially if he gets to bowl second and fourth rather than first and third as he did in this game (pitches which have had more use tend to help spinners a bit more). The match now approaching its denouement will be remembered for many things – Tim Murtagh’s two remarkable efforts from no 11, the second innings batting of Andrew Balbirnie and Kevin O’Brien and Rahmat Shah’s effort in the Afghanistan first innings that came up just two short of being their first ever test century, but probably the single most important individual achievement in the game will end up being Khan’s five-for. As the saying goes – watch this space! On which note we move on to our second spinner…

SOPHIE ECCLESTONE

The 19 year-old left arm spinner has only played in one test match (the women play far too little of this form of the game), but her records in ODIs (25 wickets at 18.96 each) and T20Is (24 wickets at 20.04) show that she is already a very fine bowler, and at her age she will still be improving for a number of years. Although she has yet to record an international five-for she has a 4-14 in ODIs to her credit and a 4-18 in T20Is, and I for one will be surprised in 2019 does not see a five-for to her credit somewhere. Note that once again I have a pair of spinners who do different things with the ball, and a part-time spinner who purveys yet a third variation. Now it is time to move on to the…

FAST BOWLERS

My two specialist pacers are a genuine speedster, who recently rattled the Aussies on their own pitches and someone who started out quick before slowing down later in his career and becoming pretty much unhittable, such was his accuracy. I am going to start with…

SHAUN POLLOCK

His 421 test wickets at 23.11 each are testament to his class as a bowler, while a batting average of just over 32 makes him a good person to be coming in at number 8. His father Peter was a magnificent fast bowler for pre-isolation South Africa, and until the recent career of Adam Voges (average 61.87 from 20 test matches) his uncle Graeme was second among those who had played enough innings to qualify behind Bradman in the test batting averages with 60.97. In his early days when he bowled seriously fast and his temperament seems to have matched his red hair Shaun Pollock is reckoned to have hit the helmets of over 30 opposition batters, but his career had a second phase when he mellowed, the pace was down, but replaced with intense accuracy to the extent that along with Glenn McGrath he was among the last ODI bowlers to have an economy rate below 4 runs per over. Playing as an overseas player for Warwickshire he once took four wickets in four balls, a very rare occurence in top-level cricket. In this XI of mine I see his accuracy as a counterpoint to the sheer pace of…

JASPRIT BUMRAH

His recent effort at the MCG, when his nine wickets in the two innings, including a career-best 6-33 in the first, sent Australia reeling to the defeat the saw India wiin the BorderGavaskar trophy is a performance (I listened to it on the radio) which I will remember for a long time to come. His ten test matches so far have brought him 49 wickets at 21.89, though with a current batting average of 1.55 he is heading for the title of “Number 11’s Number 11”, being 0.45 of a run per innings below current holder Mpumelelo Mbangwa of Zimbabwe. The fact he is only 25, and my spinners are 20 and 19 respectively is why I want specifically the Shaun Pollock from the latter part of his career – as well as steadiness he will bring experience to the bowling attack. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

As usual, I finish by showing some of my recent photographs…

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This and pic no 2 and 5 were taken through the window of my bungalow.

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This and pic no 4 were taken while out making a circuit of the grass in front of my bungalow.
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A pity that somebody could not be bothered to dispose of their cigarette butt properly, but these little flowers caught my eye.

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We had a bit of hail today, and this picture and especially the next, taken from my aunt’s kitchen/ dining area show it through the window.

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Another of my aunt’s collection of bird mugs – a Kingfisher this time.

 

 

 

100 Cricketers – Third XI Bowlers and Introducing the Fourth XI

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with the bowlers from my third XI and an introduction to the 4th XI. Also features mentions of Afghanistan v Ireland and Sri Lanka Women v England Women plus some of my won photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next post in my “100 cricketers” series. The introductory post to the series can be found here, the post that introduces the third XI here , and the most recent post in the series here. Before getting into the main body of the post there are a couple of bits of business to attend to:

IRELAND V AFGHANISTAN

Afgghanistan look in control of this one, having taken a first innings lead of 142 (314 to 172) and taken an early wicket in the Ireland second innings (Ireland are 22-1 for at the close of day two of a possible five). However, plenty may happen yet – with two days of Headingley 1981 to go England were 220 behind with one second innings wicket down, and in the first half of the fourth day they continued to nosedive, plunging to 135-7, still 92 short of avoiding the innings defeat, before Botham, Dilley, Old and Willis staged a fightback leaving Australia 130 to win. At 56-1 in the chase Australia were still heavy favourites, but then Willis was switched to bowl downhill with the wind behind him, three quick wickets meant that by lunch the score was 58-4, and the first time in four and a bit days Australia were a bit nervy, while England’s confidence was surging. England won by 18 runs. Having acknowledged the possibilitiy of a turnaround it has to be said that Afghanistan remain heavy favourites to record their first test victory. An current scorecard can be viewed here.

SRI LANKA WOMEN V ENGLAND WOMEN

England women dominated this, and the rain intervention came too late to affect the result. Having scored 331 from their 50 overs, Natalie Sciver top scoring with 93, Amy Jones making 79, skipper Heather Knight 61 and Danielle Wyatt scoring 47 off just 26 balls at the end England then knocked the top off the Sri Lankan batting in brutal fashion, reducing them to 21-5 and then 46-7 (Chamari Atapattu, who has featured in this series of mine, contributing 30 of those. The 8th wicket pair saved some face, without ever threatening to get their side back into the contest by adding 88. The rain reduced Sri Lanka’s allocation of overs to 40, but because they were seven down after 35 when it came their required total was not much reduced as they had few resources (the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, DLS for short, is complicated but works better than any other rain rule that has been devised – reserve days tend to mean action taking place in empty or near empty grounds, while other attempts at adjusting for rain interventions have led to some very strange happenings (a South African target of 22 off 18 balls once became 22 off 1 ball due to the rain rule that was in place). Kathryn Brunt’s three wickets with the new ball took her tally in all forms of international cricket to within one of 250 (144 in ODIs, 66 in T20Is and 39 in tests. A full scorecard for this match can be seen hereNow for the main business of the post, starting with…

THE NEW BALL PAIR

The bowling will mainly be shared between two fast bowlers and two spinners in this XI, though one or other of A B De Villers or Steve Waugh might get called on to act os third seamer in extremis, while the fact that Virender Sehwag bowls offspin, as compared to the legspin of Ashwin and the left-arm spin of Jadeja may bring him in to the equation in certain conditions. I believe that if one had them together, both at their peak my chosen new ball pair are good enough not to need a third seamer to back them up. We start, taking in them chronological rather than batting order with…

ALLAN DONALD

By the time South Africa were welcomed back to the official test match fold after the dismantling of Apartheid, with a historic first encounter against the West Indies Allan Donald was not quite as greased lightning quick as he was in his early days, but was still a bowler of genuine pace and the highest class. He could still serve up something decidedly nasty when riled, as Mike Atherton once discovered when he stood his ground and was given not out having gloved a ball to the keeper (he later gave to the glove to Donald with an autograph neatly covering the offending red mark). Although his entry into test cricket was somewhat delayed he had time enough to play 72 matches in which he took 330 wickets (at the time of his retirement a record by a long way for a South African). While I am not completely unsympathetic to those whose careers were disrupted, or in some cases entirely thwarted by South Africa’s period of isolation I am a great deal more sympathetic by those, going back to Krom Hendricks as long ago is the 1890s, who were denied any possibility of a career in cricket due to the colour of their skin. Basil Lewis D’Oliveira got to show some of what he could do, for Worcestershire and England, finally appearing on the international scene in 1966 at the age of 35 (given how impressive his actual record is one can only wonder what he might have achieved had he been able to play at the highest level in his mid-twenties, the period when a cricketer is usually at their peak).

My choice of opening bowling partner for Donald is made on merit, but my also be seen as a recognition of those were denied any such thing in their own time…

KAGISO RABADA

37 test matches so far have netted him 176 wickets at 21.77 a piece (both the average, and the wickets per game ratio of 4.76 mark him as a bowler of the highest class). He played a leading role of the right kind in the controversial fairly recent series between South Africa and Australia (the one in which messrs Bancroft, Smith and Warner played leading roles of absolutely the wrong kind). He is still only 23 years old, so if his body holds up he could have another 15 years bowling for his country (James Anderson is still going strong with his 37th birthday on the horizon, and Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh remained the West Indies finest bowlers at that age) and set a record for South African bowler that would take a lot of beating. Certainly he is well worth his nomination is one half of an all South African new ball pairing.

THE SPINNERS

Bearing in mind that I have off-spin available in the person of Virender Sehwag I opted for a leg-spinner and a left arm spinner as my front line spinners. The pair I have gone for regularly play together and function well as a partnership (it was for this reason that in his all-time XI Sir Donald Bradman opted for Bill OReilly and Clarrie Grimmett as his spin twins, leaving out Shane Warne (see this post earlier in my own series) so as not to break up to the partnerhsip). 

RAVINDRA JADEJA

192 test wickets at 23.68, 1485 runs at 32.28 (from 41 matches so far) and he is one of the best fielders in the world as well. This is a truly outstanding player, worth his place for his bowling, possibly would even be worth picking as a specialist fielder if he did nothing else to the required standard, and is a more than competent batter. I suspect that following on the initial onslaught of Donald and Rabada and backed up by his mate Ashwin he would bowl even more effectively in this combination than he has for India, but for his selection to work that does not have to be so.

R ASHWIN

65 Tests have netted him 342 wickets at 25.43, and he is even more of a destroyer in limited overs cricket. Although his batting is not generally highly regarded he has been used as an opener in the Indian Premier League where his ability to get the innings away to a flyer is at a premium. On any pitch offering assistance to spinners he is deadly, and I have never yet found an example of him being collared even on the flattest of tracks (even when England beat India 4-1 in 2018 on pitches and in conditions that did not suit Ashwin or any other spinner he always commanded respect).

INTRODUCING THE 4TH XI

Ready for the continuation of this series here is my 4th XI in batting order:

  1. *Charlotte Edwards
  2. Herschelle Gibbs
  3. Suzie Bates
  4. Brian Lara
  5. V V S Laxman
  6. Sophie Devine
  7. +Adam Gilchrist
  8. Shaun Pollock
  9. Sophie Ecclestone
  10. Rashid Khan
  11. Jasprit Bumrah

PHOTOGRAPHS

For those of you have made it through to the end of this post here are some of my photographs:

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All of this pictures were taken this afternoon while I went out a very short walk.

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100 Cricketers – Third XI Numbers 6 and 7

Continuing my “100 cricketers series, with a look at nos 6 and 7 from my third XI. Also features some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my “100 Cricketers” series. The introduction to the series can be found here, and the most recent post can be found here. Before I get into the main meat of this post, as it is cricket themed I will briefly mention…

AFGHANISTAN V IRELAND

The inaugural test match between these two newly elevated nations is taking place in Delhi at the moment. After one day’s play Afghanistan are 90-2 in reply to Ireland’s 172 all out. At one stage it looked like being a lot worse for Ireland – they were 69-8 at one point and then 85-9 before George Dockrell and Tim Murtagh performed a rescue act, the latter top scoring with 54 not out from number 11. Whatever happens over the next four days one of these sides will make the best start to their test match involvement since 1877 when the first two test sides, England and Australia each one won match – each have only played once before, so the winner will record a success in their second outing. Now onto business, with the man at no 6 in my third XI…

STEVE WAUGH

Normally I would have an all-rounder at no 6, but Steve Waugh can hardly be so described, even though when he first got the call-up in the mid 1980s he was seen as a bowling all-rounder. He seemed to positively relish difficult situations, such as the occasion at Manchester when 21 players failed to achieve anything of significance with the bat due to a difficult pitch and perpetually overcast conditions, while he chiselled out a century in each innings to win the game for his side.

He really arrived as a test match player in the 1989 series in England when he made big hundreds in the first match at Headingley and the second at Lord’s, both times being supported by lower order batters who were inspired to play above their usual station (Merv Hughes with 71 at Headingley, Geoff Lawson with 74 at Lord’s), and scored over 350 runs before being dismissed for the first time in the series.

Time again through the 1990s and in to the early 2000s Australia would look be struggling and then Steve Waugh would come to the crease, and right when it was most needed would make sure he was still there at close of play, with Australia firmly back in control. Teams often tested him with bouncers because he rarely played the hook and often looked less than comfortable against short stuff, but I cannot recall him ever losing his wicket to it.

He was the third in the sequence of long-serving Aussie captains that started with Allan Border and ended with Ricky Ponting. Earlier in this series when I covered Border I rated him the best captain of the four, based on the fact that he turned the fortunes of Australian cricket around when they had been in the doldrums. Steve Waugh, who made a team of champions even stronger, so that they became as near as any team in history to be absolutely unstoppable is for me number two in that ranking, with Mark Taylor a respectful distance back in third and Ponting a poor fourth.

JEFFREY DUJON

Teams were just starting to take seriously the need for wicketkeepers to have potential as runmakers when Dujon came on the scene. Alan Knott’s England career was just coming to a finish, and many matches therein had been influences by his ability to contribute runs from the lower middle order, and England were frantically looking for a replacement (it would take the emergence of Matt Prior some quarter of a century later before they found someone who was good enough in both departments, since when there have also been Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes). Other countries also started requiring regular runs from their wicketkeepers.

Dujon scored four test centuries, averaged over 30 when that was unusual for a wicketkeeper (and generally made his runs when they were badly needed) and was an excellent keeper standing back to the fast bowlers. There is no way of knowing how we would have handled keeping to top class spinners, as the only person picked as a front-line spinner by the West Indies during his time as keeper was Roger Harper (who was also a fine middle-order batter and one of the greatest fielders the game had ever seen), but the fact that I have named in this XI rather than holding him back for the XI featuring a quartet of West Indies quicks tells you what I think – he would have been as good keeping to spinners as he was keeping to quicks.

NEXT IN THIS SERIES

We cover the bowlers from this Third XI and introduce the Fourth XI in batting order.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some photographs to finish…

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A mallard drake and a herring gull standing side by side in the sun yesterday.
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Mallards come calling this morning…
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…close up of the female.
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A picture at Tapping House that took my fancy.
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the fish tank in the reception area at Tapping House
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A close up of one the fish in the tank.
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Spring flowers near Tapping House
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This building, probably once a village school, took my fancy on the way out, and I managed to phoyograph it on the way back.

 

 

 

 

Physio Assessment at Tapping House

An account of my first visit to Tapping House Hospice and the physio assessment that took place there.

INTRODUCTION

At 11AM today, exactly as planned, a vehicle arrived to collect me and take me to Tapping House Hospice for a an introduction to their physio arrangements. The physio came in person along with the driver. In the rest of this post I will describe what happened.

THE JOURNEY THERE

Major housing developments have opened up a lot of North Lynn in recent years, and we were able to head for the main road to Hillington, the village in which the hospice is situated, by way of Lynn Sport and the industrial area of North Lynn. The journey pased without incident, and the physio then conducted me to the room wherein the sessions will take place when I can start them (next week’s sessions are already full, but it is just possible that I will be able to attend sessions from the week after next). 

THE ASSESSMENT

The assessment consisted of a number of parts:

  • Get up from a chair and sit back down five times in a row.
  • Stand in front of the chair with my eyes closed and my feet together for 90 seconds – I felt that I was shaking like a leaf when I did this but apparently the reality was less dramatic than what I felt.
  • Walk to the door leading into the ‘snug’ 
  • Walk a short distance, turn around and walk back (the physio neasured the appropriate distance).
  • Put one foot on a step and bring it back down again five times
  • Then it was time to sample the equipment – two minutes on the treadmill at its lowest speed, three minutes on a bicycle simulation (it offers much more physical support than a real bike, but you pedal it as if on a bike – my average speed over the three minutes was 14.1kph – just a tick over 8.5mph – a baseline figure against which future attempts can be measured) and a brief introduction the all-over workout machine, which I did not enjoy since my balance has never been the best, and I did not feel secure at any stage.

I think I have missed something as there were supposed to be seven stages, but this is what I remember of the assessment.

OTHER SUGGESTIONS

Louise made some sensible suggestions about outside walking, involving making use of the area immediately outside my bungalow, which I shall put into practice from tomorrow (weather permitting) – I did actually manage a visit to the very local shop yesterday, but it was tiring. She also helped me with some advice on regulating the breathing, which I shall endeavour to make full use of.

HOMEWARD BOUND

The journey home passed uneventfully, and although we had taken the precaution of bringing the wheelchair along for the ride it proved to be unnecessary, and we probably won’t bother with it next time I go to Tapping House. I enjoyed my first visit to the hospice, and look forward with more enthusiasm than apprehension to getting involved in group physio sessions once there is a space for me.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some photographs taken today:

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Pot outside the main entrance (2 pics)

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A nice map of Norfolk displayed above the reception desk.

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The gym equipment.

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100 Cricketers – Third XI Nos 3,4 and 5

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with nos 3,4 and 5 in my third XI. Also features some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. Today we look at numbers 3, 4 and 5 in the third XI. For those who are new to the series, the introductory post can be seen here, the post introducing the third XI is here and the most recent post in the series is here.

JONATHAN TROTT

With an all attacking opening pair, a player of a different nature was indicated for the number The slot. Jonathan Trott’s adhesive qualities at number three were seen at their finest in the 2010-11 Ashes series, when he helped Alastair Cook to save the opening game in Brisbane, shared a partnership with Cook at Adelaide that set the stage for Kevin Pietersen to deliver a mighty slaughtering and was the rock around which England’s innings in Melbourne was built after Australia had slumped to 98 all out in their first innings. A double century in the series against India in 2011 that saw England claim the world number one test ranking was also noteworthy. Trott’s international career ended up being terminated by mental health issues, but before that happened he had done comfortably enough to prove himself a top test match batsman.

KOLPAK CONTROVERSY

The Kolpak ruling, named in ‘honour’ of the Slovenian handball player responsible for its creation enables players born in foreign parts but having home qualifications through one or both parents. Jonathan Trott benefitted from this ruling to come to England in the first place, but he was clear from the outset that he intended to qualify by residence to represent England, did so and did very well. My real objections are to players who do not intend to make their skills available to the national side but do intend to come and play anyway. I refer both to players who are signed as easy space fillers but who have no real international pretensions and to players such as Jacques Rudolph, Kyle Abbott and Duanne Olivier who had already played for their native land at full international level. Please note that I am not remotely bothered by birthplace or ancestry – I am concerned with who the players intend to make their skills available to.

A B DE VILLIERS

A middle-order stroke player who averaged over 50 in test cricket, kept wicket regularly and occasionally had moments with his medium pace bowling, this man forms a neat counterpoint to those who immediately proceed and follow him. Shrewd observers will note that my numbers three and four are both right handed batters, which means that we need a second front-line left hander to go with Chamari Atapattu who is one half of an explosive opening pair, which brings us to…

GRAHAM THORPE

With three of the top four  very attacking in nature, someone who was a bit more of a sticker is called for at number 5. Hailing from one of cricket’s historic cradles, the area round Farnham where Hampshire and Surrey meet, the nuggety left hander averaged in the middle 40s for England at a time when dependable players of any description were at a huge premium for England. He started his international career with a debut century against Australia (had Graham Gooch been more aggressive with his declaration England may well have won that match) and made runs all around the world thereafter. Eventually he made way for Pietersen, a middle-order batter of very different but just as successful type.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I finish with some of my recent photographs: