All Time XIs – Non-test Battle

Today’s all time XIscricket post, probably the penultimate in the series, gives the limelight to some of the best players not to have graced the test arena.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s installment in my ‘all time XIs’ cricket series is envisaged to be the penultimate one – I have already selected my teams for tomorrow, and on Thursday I shall be writing about the resumption of test cricket, with one full day and part of the second to provide me with material if all goes well (overlapping the finish of this series with the restart of test cricket is part waiting for developments in the test match and part insurance policy in case of rain. Today we have a team of players who flourished too early and/or in the wrong country to play test cricket and a team of players whose selectors overlooked them in spite of consistent success at first class level.

SYDNEY SMITH’S XI

  1. John Thewlis – right handed opening batter. He finished just before test cricket started. He scored the first first class century ever for Yorkshire, thereby inking himself indelibly into cricket’s history.
  2. Ephraim Lockwood – right handed opening batter. He was called up by Yorkshire in emergency as a teenager. When he walked out to open the innings with his uncle, the aforementioned Thewlis, he was jeered by spectators because he did not have the correct kit. They had plenty of time to amuse themselves at the expense of his sartorial inadequacy since he contributed 91 to an opening stand of 176. In August 1876 he was captaining Yorkshire against Gloucestershire at Clifton, with WG Grace coming off the back of 344 for MCC against Kent and 177 against Notts in his last two innings leading the home county. Grace won the toss, batted, and allegedly said in appreciation of the pitch “I shan;t get myself out today, you will have to get me”. He proceeded to make a chanceless triple century, his second in less than a week, driving the Yorkshire fielders and bowlers to the brink of mutiny. At one point Allen Hill flatly refused to bowl when asked to do by his captain.
  3. Mahadevan Sathasivam – right handed batter. He only got to play in 11 first class matches, spread over five years, and he averaged 41.83, several decades before his country, Sri Lanka, attained test status.
  4. Steve Tikolo – right handed batter. Kenya’s finest ever batter, he played in the 1996 world cup, being part of the historic win against the West Indies and also making 96 against Sri Lanka in a defeat. His first class average of 48 was much better than his limited overs record and suggests that he would have been well suited to test cricket.
  5. Ryan ten Doeschate – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. The finest cricketer The Netherlands have ever had, he was a stalwart for Essex through most of the first two decades of the 21st century. His first class figures are excellent, his ODI record makes breathtaking reading, even allowing for the weakness of some of the opponents he faced in that format.
  6. *Sydney Smith – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. A West Indian, he qualified by residence for Northamptonshire in 1909, did the double in his first season and went on to a distinguished first class career, averaging 31 with the bat and 18 with ball (approx equivalents on today’s flatter pitches, 46 and 27). Inspired by his presence Northamptonshire, promoted to first class status in 1905 and previously known only for taking hammerings, finished second in 1912, a position that 108 years on they have not improved on.
  7. +Fred Wyld – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A good enough batter to have a first class hundred to his name. His career ended just before test cricket in England started – he was part of the MCC side that played Australia in the game at Lord’s in 1878 that produced the lowest aggregate ever for a completed first class match – 105 runs for 31 wickets. In the second innings he and Flowers, also of Notts, shared a stand that accounted for 15 of MCC’s 19 all out.
  8. Bart King – right arm fast bowler. The greatest of all USian cricketers, but not quite great enough to propel them to test match status (it was talked about at one point). He had a credit balance between his batting and bowling averages, averaging 20 with the bat and 15 with the ball in first class cricket.
  9. Palwankar Baloo – left arm orthodox spinner. He took his first class wickets at 15 a piece, playing a decade or so before his country gained test status. As a low caste commoner he could not, unlike ‘Ranji’, ‘Duleep’ and the elder Nawab of Pataudi light out for England and establish himself there. Indeed caste prejudice delayed his selection for The Hindus in what was then the Bombay Quadrangular, and which later became the Bombay Pentangular and later still was abolished.
  10. Sandeep Lamichhane – leg spinner. The Nepali has made a big name for himself playing franchise and limited overs cricket, and I hope that he will eventually get to play regular first class cricket. There is little chance of him ever being a test player, because Nepal are not currently close to being strong enough as a whole to compete at that level, and such elevations need to managed carefully – Bangladesh and Zimbabwe both suffered from ill-timed promotions to the top table, as in a different way have Ireland, while Afghanistan’s promotion was properly managed.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. He was just too old to catch the start of test cricket, being born in 1841. He took 863 wickets in 138 first class appearances at 12.09.

This side has a strong top five, a genuine all rounder at six, a keeper who can bat and four excellent and well varied bowlers. Mycroft and King look an excellent new ball pairing, with ten Doeschate as support seamer if needed, and Lamichhane, Baloo and Smith to bowl spin.

CEC PEPPER’S XI

  1. John Langridge – right handed opening batter. He amassed 76 centuries in his long first class career, but was never once selected for England. He also pouched 788 catches in the field.
  2. Alan Jones – right handed opening batter. He was selected for England against the Rest of the World in the hastily arranged series of 1970 which took the place of the planned visit by South Africa, but that series was not accorded test status (although illogically certain later matches between Australia and non-national XIs have been given test status and contribute to, to give just one example, Shane Warne’s wicket tally. He scored more first class runs, 36,049 of them including 56 centuries, than anyone else who never to got to play test cricket.
  3. Percy Perrin – right handed batter. He amassed 66 first centuries, including a best of 343 not out, which at the time he compiled it was the fifth highest score ever in first class cricket. His driving off the front foot was so fierce that opposition teams would regularly have four fielders posted in the deep to reduce his scoring rate from such shots. Yet the England selectors ignored him completely. Ironically once his own career was done he became a selector himself, and was at one stage chairman of selectors.
  4. Jamie Siddons – right handed batter. His career began in the mid 1980s and ended at the start of the 21st century. In that period he scored just over 11,000 first class runs at an average of 45, a very impressive record, but not quite enough to secure him a baggy green.
  5. Tony Cottey – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. The 5’4″ Swansea native scored almost 15,000 first class runs at an average of 36. He also tended to produce when his side really needed it – he would be far more likely to make a hundred if he came in at 30-3 than from 300-3. However, England selectors have always seemed to have great difficulty comprehending what is going on to their west, and Cottey was a victim of this, somehow being entirely overlooked at a time when the England middle order was not generally noted for its solidity.
  6. Basil D’Oliveira – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. He did get to play test cricket eventually, but his international career started for England when he was in his mid-thirties, instead of for his native land a decade earlier. His performances in the cricket he was allowed to play in his native land, and for the SACBOC XI, the only remotely representative South African side to be selected prior to the 1990s (there were no whites involved, but not because they were excluded – they chose not to participate) give a hint of what the world missed because of this. While I acknowledge, as I did yesterday, the misfortunes of those such as Graeme Pollock, whose careers were ended prematurely by their country’s isolation I am far more concerned for the likes of Krom Hendricks and others who were deprived of the opportunity to forge an international career purely because of the colour of their skin, and my selection of Basil D’Oliveira, a man who in spite of being well past his cricketing prime by the time he got to play test cricket averaged 40 at that level and took some important wickets (notably that of Barry Jarman at The Oval in 1968 in the game in which he scored 158 in the first innings, which opened up the tail for Derek Underwood) is an acknowledgement of their plight.
  7. *Cec Pepper – leg spinner, right handed batter. He averaged 29.64 with the bat and 29.35 with the ball in a 44 match first class career. He was also a highly regarded Lancashire League pro, having decided that he was not going to be selected for his native Australia. Once his playing days were finished he became an umpire.
  8. +Colin Metson – wicket keeper, right handed batter. An excellent keeper for many years, but England were always looking for a better batter to do the job. It was true that Metson was no great shakes with the willow, but he did score useful runs on occasion (and nearly all of his runs were useful – like Cottey he responded well to his side being in need).
  9. Don Shepherd – off spinner. He took more first class wickets than any other bowler who never played test cricket (2,218 at 21.32). It must be acknowledged that England had a wealth of good off spinners at the time, with Appleyard and Laker overlapping the early part of his career, Illingworth, Titmus, David Allen and John Mortimore being around during the latter part of his career, but nevertheless it does look odd that he never got picked at all.
  10. Eddie Gilbert – right arm fast bowler. Playing for Queensland against NSW he once produced a spell that included inflicting on Bradman what the great man himself described as “the luckiest duck I ever made.” NSW were dug out of trouble on that occasion by Stan McCabe who scored a double century. Bowling against Jardine in one of the minor matches of the 1932-3 Ashes tour he scored a hit on the England skipper’s hip which according to eyewitness Bill Bowes left a discoloured area the size of a soup plate. Had Australia decided to fight fire with fire, he along with ‘Bull’ Alexander, Laurie Nash and Jack Scott was one of the fast bowlers they might have turned to. As it happened Australia went for the moral high ground, and for firing of whingy cables to the MCC headquarters in London (nb the first complaining cable was sent when Australia were headed for heavy defeat in the third match of the series at Adelaide – no complaints after the opener in Sydney when McCabe made runs in an Aussie defeat, nor after the second at Melbourne when Bradman made a ton in an Aussie win, but only once it was obvious that England were taking a firm grip on the series did the complaining start). Eddie Gilbert may well have been a victim of prejudice – he was aboriginal, and the first player of acknowledged aboriginal descent to don the baggy green was Jason Gillespie in the 1990s.
  11. George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. 2,151 first class wickets at 19.82 for the Gloucestershire man, and never an England cap. When he was in his absolute prime in the years running up to world war 1, first Wilfred Rhodes and then Colin Blythe (2,503 first class wickets at 16) were the left arm spinners of choice for England, and with Woolley a regular pick for his batting and also a fine left arm spinner there was simply no vacancy for a second specialist in that role.

This side has a strong top six, a genuine all rounder at seven, a splendid keeper and three excellent specialist bowlers. The pace department is weak, but George Dennett regularly took the new ball for Gloucestershire, and Pepper as a Lancashire League pro must have done so on occasions as well. I might have strengthened the pace bowling department by including Tony Nicholson (879 wickets at 19.76 each for Yorkshire), but I wanted Pepper as captain, and felt that Dennett and Shepherd had irrefutable cases for selection and that I could not afford to drop a batter to accommodate Nicholson.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…

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A damselfly of some description on a leaf
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you can just see the folded wings, pressed right against the long body in these two close ups.

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All Time XIs – Through the Alphabet VIII

Today’s all time XI continues the alphabetic progression, starting with a Y.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s ‘all time XI‘ cricket post. After yesterday’s England v West Indies special we resume our alphabetic progression sequence of squads, starting with a Y.

PERCY FENDER’S XI

  1. Martin Young – right handed opening batter. A consisten run scorer for Gloucestershire for many years.
  2. Hazratullah Zazai – left handed opening batter. The attacking Afghan opener shuuld complement the more restrained Young very nicely.
  3. Chris Adams – right handed batter. He played for Derbyshire for many years before moving south to Sussex, who he captained to their first ever county championship title. Although prolific at county level he never quite delivered for England (though it must be acknowledged that he was given few opportunities to do so). He has gone on to a coaching career in which he has also enjoyed some success, being involved with the Surrey set up for one of their championship wins.
  4. Allan Border – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, vice captain. The first person to reach the career milestone of 11,000 test runs, and until another resolute left handed, Alastair Cook, went past it he held the record for consecutive test appearances, having played the last 153 of his 156 tests in succession. His career had two distinct components – part 1, when he was desperately attempting to hold together a struggling outfit, and was very often the only serious stumbling block faced by opposition bowlers, and part 2, when Australian efforts to rebuild began to bear fruit, and they went from chumps to champs in the space of a few years, a position they would occupy undisputed for another decade after Border’s retirement. I don’t often name vice captains in this series, but his status as the captain who turned Australia’s fortunes round in the late 1980s has to be acknowledged, and I had another player in the team I wanted to name captain.
  5. Michael Clarke – right handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. To put it mildly he was not universally popular with Australian fans during his playing career, but the excellence of his record at the highest level cannot be denied. He had, in common with many of his team mates, a very poor series in the 2010-11 Ashes, and some of his efforts to avoid being seen to covet his skipper’s job were overdone to say the very least – such as suggesting that he at 29 might be retiring before the 36 year old Ponting. It may also have not have helped when in the final match of that series, with Ponting injured, the debutant Khawaja was given the job of filling the no3 slot while the veteran Clarke stayed down the order.
  6. +AB De Villiers – right handed batter, wicket keeper. An explosive middle order batter and a fine keeper. Although he was best known for his performances in limited overs cricket his test record was also splendid.
  7. Tom Emmett – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. Although it was his bowling for which he was chiefly noted he could definitely bat as well – at one time Yorkshire pressed him into service as an opening batter when they were short. 
  8. *Percy Fender – leg spinner, right handed batter. An all rounder who once scored a first class century in 35 minutes against proper bowling (various quicker efforts appear in footnotes in the record books as they were scored against bowlers who were trying to concede quick runs to bring about a declaration, a ‘tactic’ that was once common in county cricket. He never got to captain England, but was universally acknowledged to be superb at the job, which is why I have named as captain of this side.
  9. Charlie Griffith – right arm fast bowler. One half of a great fast bowling pair. There is an amusing story from their schooldays featuring Griffith bowling off spin interspersed with the odd quicker one while the other member of the duo was keeping wicket.
  10. Wes Hall – right arm fast bowler. He bowled the final over of the first ever tied test, at Brisbane in 1960, spilling a catch that he would have been well advised to leave to Rohan Kanhai along the way. At Lord’s in 1963, when the match ended in a draw with England six runs and the West Indies one wicket short of the line, he bowled an epic unchanged spell on the final day.
  11. Bert Ironmonger – left arm orthodox spinner. Australia’s oldest ever test cricketer – he was 46 when he made his debut and 51 when he played his last test match. He and Bill O’Reilly were the bowling stars of Australia’s only victory in the 1932-3 Ashes series, at Melbourne, and the same duo shot South Africa out for 36 and 45 in a test match in which Bradman crocked himself and was unable to bat and Australia still won by an innings and 72 runs.

This team has a fine top six, including a keeper batter, and a bowling attack that is beautifully balanced, with left arm pace, right arm pace, leg spin and left arm orthodox spin. There is no off spin and no purveyor of ‘chinamen’, It is a side that I would expect to give a good account of itself.

MONTY NOBLE’S XI

  1. Sanath Jayasuriya – left handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The MVP of the 1996 cricket world cup, and he had a fine test record as well.
  2. Michael Klinger – right handed opening batter. One of the better batters never to play test cricket, he enjoyed a long and distinguished career for South Australia, and was often mentioned as a possible for the test side. He did get to play a few T20Is.
  3. Roy Levy – left handed batter. He played 25 matches for Queensland in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and his record does not look stellar. He qualifies by virtue of an innings played at the age of 22 against South Australia with 37 year old leg spinner Clarrie Grimmett in their ranks. The match was desperately close in the final stages, as Levy shepherded the Queensland tail towards the target. Eventually Levy chanced his arm against the bowler at the other end to Grimmett, sent the ball into the air towards Grimmett who missed the catch, and then compounded the felony by shying wildly at the stumps and missing, which enabled Levy to complete the winning run. Levy in that innings finished with 85 not out, and Queensland won by one wicket. There is a detailed account of the match in Patrick Murphy’s “Fifty Incredible Cricket Matches”.
  4. Stan McCabe – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler.
  5. *Monty Noble – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler/ off spinner. A genuine all rounder and a fine captain as well. He and Warwick Armstrong once put on 428 together for Australia against Sussex for the sixth wicket.
  6. Niall O’Brien – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The Kent, Northamptonshire and Ireland keeper established a fine record over a long period of time.
  7. Anuja Patil – off spinner, right handed batter. Her international experience has been limited to T20s thus far, but her record makes impressive reading.
  8. Abdul Qadir – leg spinner. 67 test matches, 236 wickets at 32.80 at a time when spinners were in eclipse due to the success of Clive Lloyd’s battery of four fast bowlers for the West Indies, and a tendency developed therefrom by other countries to treat spinners as ‘fill-in’ bowlers. Leg spin in particular was all but extinct – the only specialist leg spinner who played international cricket at the same time as Qadir that I can think of was the older Australian Bob Holland, and save for once against the West Indies dear old ‘Dutchy’ was never a match winner. In 1986 at Faisalabad Qadir took 6-16 in the second West Indies innings as they slumped to a then all-time low for them of 53 all out, and defeat by 186 runs.
  9. Tom Richardson – right arm fast bowler. His thousandth first class wicket came in 134th match and his 2,000th in his 327th match at that level, both of which figures remain all time record. From the start of 1894 to the end of 1897 – four seasons and one tour of Australia – he captured over 1,000 wickets, a period of sustained destructiveness matched only by Kent leg spinner Tich Freeman. Neville Cardus selected Richardson as one of his “Six Giants of the Wisden Century” in 1963 because he was a real life version of a storybook fast bowler. He learned his craft on Mitcham Common, and as Surrey’s star fast bowler thought nothing of walking from his home in Mitcham to The Oval (a substantial walk, I can tell you, as someone who grew up in southwest London myself) with his kit bag, doing a day’s bowling and walking home again at the end.
  10. Alfred Shaw – right arm slow bowler. His dictum was “length and successful variations of pace are the key to successful bowling.” He bowled more overs in his career than he conceded runs (admittedly for most of his career an over consisted of four balls). He took over 2,000 wickets at 12 runs a piece, with his best season seeing him claim 186 at 8.54 each in first class matches. He also dismissed WG Grace more often than any other bowler – 49 times in all (they met in many types of fixture, including Gentlemen vs Players, North v South, Under 30 v Over 30, etc.). He bowled the first delivery ever in a test match. In the 1881 Gentlemen vs Players match (he was a professional, so played for the Players) he made what turned out to be a crucial 8 not out in the Players second innings, and then took 6-19 in the Gentlemen’s second innings, ending the match by taking a blinder off his own bowling to give the Players victory by two runs. After retiring from Nottinghamshire who he served for many years he became coach at Sussex, and in a crisis came out of retirement for them and proceeded to show a new generation what all the fuss had been about 20 years earlier.
  11. Jeff Thomson – right arm fast bowler. When there was all the hoop-la about Shoaib Akhtar’s first record 100mph delivery (which the batter played calmly to square leg with no apparent difficulty) one person who was resolutely unimpressed was Jeffrey Robert Thomson, who believed, not entirely unjustifiably that he had regularly propelled the ball at that speed 25 years earlier. He in tandem with Dennis Lillee and backed up the fast medium of Max Walker destroyed England in 1974 and 1975, and it was a 5-1 series defeat in that part of the world, again mainly caused by Lillee and Thomson that planted the germ of the four fast bowler idea in Clive Lloyd’s mind, and idea that crystallized when India scored 406-4 to win at Trinidad a few months later with the West Indies fielding three spinners because the pitch was expected to turn.

This side has some decent batting, a quality wicket keeper, and lots of bowling. Thomson, Richardson and Shaw, with Noble as fourth option in that department provide  ‘seam’ options, while Qadir and Patil offer two contrasting spin options, with Noble as back up in that department as well.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

I offered the following problem from brilliant to readers yesterday:

Exponent

Here is Pall Marton’s published solution, a genuinely brilliant effort:

Pall Marton

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Alison, who some of readers will know as ‘the unabashed autist‘ now has a new site, alisonrising, which I recommend to all of you – please visit and subscribe. Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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TTA VIII
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – England v West Indies Special

A Saturday Spectacular in the all-time XI cricket series, inspired by a combination of today’s retrolive commentary and the upcoming ‘bio-secure’ test series.

INTRODUCTION

Todau a ‘retrolive’ commentary on the Headingley Test of 2017 between England and the West Indies began, and a week on Thursday the first ‘bio-secure’ test of the post Covid-19 era gets underway between the same two sides. Today’s all time XIs post therefore interrupts our sequence of ‘through the alphabet‘ posts to pit an England XI all of whom had great moments against the West Indies against a West Indies XI all of whom had great moments against England.

ENGLAND

  1. Dennis Amiss – right handed opening batter. In the Kingston test of 1973 England were staring down both barrels as they went into their second innings. They escaped with a draw, and when stumps were drawn at the end of the match Amiss was on career best 262 not out. In 1974 and 1975 a ferocious working over by Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson adversely affected Amiss but he bravely remodelled his stance to better enable him to stand up to the very fast bowlers, and at The Oval in 1976 England were facing a total of 687-8 declared. Amiss produced another double century, but this time the West Indies won the match.
  2. Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pace bowler. In the first test of the 1991 series between England and the West Indies, at Headingley, England took a small first innings lead. Curtly Ambrose then served up a storm at the start of the England second innings, taking the first six wickets to fall, with only Ramprakash who exactly matched his first innings 27 having provided Gooch any support. Derek Pringle bravely held out for two hours making 27 of his own, and Gooch shepherded the nine, ten, jack as best he could. England were all out for 252, and Gooch had an unbeaten 154 to his name. The West Indies collapsed in their own second innings and England were victorious. This was by no means Gooch’s highest test score – he made 333 against India in 1990, 210 against New Zealand in 1994, 196 against Australia in 1985 and 183 against New Zealand in 1986 to give a few examples. However, these scores came on flat wickets and against largely modest bowling attacks – of the bowlers involved in those innings only Hadlee (for New Zealand in 1986) and Kapil Dev (for India in 1990) were performers of unquestionably top rank. The Headingley 1991 pitch was a difficult one, and the West Indies bowlers were Marshall, Patterson, Ambrose and Walsh, three of whom were unquestionably great bowlers and the fourth, Patterson, was seriously, blisteringly quick, although a trifle inconsistent.
  3. Alec Stewart – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. In the third test of the 1994 series England needed 194 to win and had an hour to survive in murky light on the penultimate day. By the end of that hour they were 40-8, courtesy of the old firm of Ambrose and Walsh, and the game ended early the following morning with England out for 46, only one run more than their lowest ever total. The next match was at Bridgetown, Barbados (see yesterday’s post for more about that island’s cricketing pedigree) where no visiting side had triumphed since 1935. Stewart, opening with Atherton in that series, proceeded to notch up twin centuries and England rebounded from their humiliation in the third test with victory in the fourth. Given the make up of the West Indies bowling attack picking three recognized openers is a tactic with plenty going for it anyway.
  4. David Gower – left handed batter. When England began their second innings in the final test of the 1981 tour of the West Indies defeat seemed certain. By the end of day four the odds were still in favour of a West Indies victory, but Gower was on 70, and had some good support from Peter Willey. On the final morning Willey fell, and Ian Botham, captaining the side and struggling for form also fell cheaply. Paul Downton joined Gower in the last chance saloon. The resistance held out, and the match was safe by the time Gower took one last single deep into the last hour to move to 154 not out, the highest individual score for England in the series. This innings, occupying eight hours and scored in the teeth of the most lethal fast bowling unit ever assembled (Andy Roberts had just been dropped after going wicketless in the previous match, leaving a foursome of Holding, Garner, Croft and Marshall, the new kid on the block) confirmed Gower’s place among the world’s top batters – his first century had been made against an ordinary New Zealand, his first Ashes century against an under-strength and badly captained Australian side and his 200 not out against India at Edgbaston was scored against a less than stellar attack on a very flat pitch. The next two series between England and the West Indies were both 5-0 to the West Indies, and it was at Headingley in 1988 that England next drew a match against them.
  5. *Peter May – right handed batter, captain. In the Edgbaston test of 1957 England collapsed badly in their first innings against ‘those two little pals of mine, Ram and Val’ – Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine and were made to follow on. Both openers fell cheaply, and May walked out to play an innings in which England needed him to go big. The third England wicket fell with England still adrift, bringing Colin Cowdrey to the crease. May and Cowdrey who came together near the end of day 3 were still in occupation when then fifth and final day got underway. Cowdrey fell for 154 to end a stand of 411, still an England record for any wicket. By the time May declared to give the West Indies an awkward little session of batting he had been at the crease for ten hours and scored 285 not out, at the time a record for an England captain, beating the 240 scored by Hammond at Lord’s in 1938. Ramadhin had wheeled down 98 overs that second England innings and had just two wickets to show for it – and was never to same force again. The West Indies, having for a long time looked like winning were in the end relieved to come away with a draw, having lost seven wickets in the closing stages of the game. England went on to win the series.
  6. +Leslie Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. In the last series before World War II, in 1939, Ames and Hammond shared a fifth wicket stand of 242, then an England record against all comers, to set up a victory.
  7. Andrew Flintoff – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. He had a couple of magnificent years from 2004 through the summer of 2006, and one of the seemingly endless succession of highlights for him in that period was his highest test score, 167 against the West Indies at Edgbaston in 2006, in an England win.
  8. Angus Fraser – right arm fast medium bowler. He twice took eight wickets in an innings in the Caribbean, including the best ever by an England bowler in that part of the world, 8-53. In 1990 England set off for the Caribbean in what seemed to be a very poor state. The last three series between the two had been 5-0, 5-0 and 4-0 to the Windies, and England had just been thrashed by Australia in the 1989 Ashes. In 1988, which included that 4-0 drubbing by the Windies, 28 players had been called up for England test teams. Then in 1989 against Australia 31 players were named in England test squads and 29 actually took the field for England. The only player to have played every game in both years was David Gower, and he was not picked for the tour of the Caribbean. Greenidge and Haynes started smoothly for the West Indies at Sabina Park, Jamaica, before their partnership was ended by misadventure – a ball was played to Devon Malcolm who fumbled it, which encouraged Greenidge to turn for a second, Malcolm unleashed a bullet throw and there was a run out. Then in a spectacular role reversal the West Indies middle order folded, and having reached 60 before losing a wicket they were all out for 164 and Fraser had 5-28. A big partnership between Allan Lamb and Robin Smith rammed home England’s advantage, and they won the match. Fraser subsequently had injury problems and also suffered like many others from the attitude of Ray ‘In My Day’ Illingworth when he was England supremo.
  9. Steve Harmison – right arm fast bowler. When England under the captaincy of Michael Vaughan headed to the Caribbean in 2004 Harmison was just beginning to establish himself as a genuinely top class, genuinely fast bowler. That series underlined his improvement, with his personal highlight being a spell of 7-12 as the West Indies were hustled out for a record low of 47. Nb – when talking about bowling figures number of wickets take precedence, and it is only identical wicket hauls that are split by economy, a reflection of the fact that in non-limited overs cricket you need to take 20 wickets to win the match and that in limited overs cricket getting someone out is still the most definitive way to prevent them from scoring, so although on the basis of runs per wicket (1.71 against 6.63) 7-12 is better than 8-53 the fact that Fraser’s haul was eight wickets rather than seven trumps the difference in economy.
  10. Phil Tufnell – left arm orthodox spinner. England came to The Oval in 1991 2-1 down in the series, needing to win the square it which after the disasters of the 1980s would be a very fine result. A century for Robin Smith and few other useful innings got England to 400 in their first innings. Phil Tufnell then got to work with the ball, beginning his spell of destruction with the psychologically crucial wicket of Viv Richards. That huge breakthrough achieved Tufnell took a further five wickets in his spell, at a cost of a mere four runs. His overall innings figures were 6-25, the West Indies were made to follow on, and England won and squared the series. Before this series, series scores between the two teams since 1980, with England first, had been 0-1, 0-2, 0-5, 0-5, 0-4 and 1-2 – a net 1-18 against England.
  11. Charles ‘Father’ Marriott – leg spinner. The Lancashire and Kent leg spinner, who had been playing county cricket since 1920 was called up for the last test of the 1933 series. England batted first and scored 312. The West Indies were all out for 100 in their first innings, Marriott 5-37 (and Nobby Clark the left arm fast bowler 3-16). England enforced the follow on, the West Indies batted better second time round, but not well enough, being all out for 195, Clifford Roach making 56 opening the batting, Marriott taking 6-59, while the fast bowlers Clark, and Stan Nichols of Essex took two each, left arm spinner Langridge bowling seven wicketless overs. Marriott had 11-96 in the match, and was known to be a pure bowler (711 first class wickets at 20.11, 574 first class runs at 4.41), England had won by an innings and 17 runs, but that was the sum total of Marriott’s test career.

This side has a strong top six, a player who at his best was an x-factor all rounder, and four well varied bowlers. Harmison, Fraser, Flintoff, Marriott and Tufnell is an attack should be useful in all conditions.

THE WEST INDIES

  1. Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. On the most difficult pitch of the 1976 ‘grovel’ series he made twin centuries, the first of them being 61% of his team’s innings total. His two double centuries in 1984 are also worthy of mention.
  2. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. In 1957 he carried his bat through an innings, finishing with 191 not out. In 1963 he was captain, and the series was regarded as one of the greatest ever played.
  3. George Headley – right handed batter. A man who averaged 60.83 in test cricket clearly had highlights against every opponent. However, the particular performance that gets him in here came in the 1939 series, when he became the first batter ever to score twin centuries in a Lord’s test.
  4. Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Was his 232 in the opening match of the 1976 series better than his 291 at The Oval in the final match thereof, were they both trumped by the first test century to be recorded at St John’s Antigua in 1981 or were all other efforts trumped by his 56-ball century at Antigua five years later? That is even before we consider ODIs (138 not out in the 1979 World Cup Final, 189 not – then an ODI record individual score – in an innings total of 272-9 at Old Trafford in 1984). These details provide some indication of why even in 1991 when he was well past his prime his wicket which started Phil Tufnell on his merry way was so psychologically important.
  5. Shai Hope – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. When England and the West Indies convened at Headingley in 2017 533 first class matches had been played at the ground and nobody had ever scored twin tons there, even though some mighty fine batters called the place home, e.g. Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton. The person who finally entered the record books by achieving that feat, and did it in a test match to boot, was Shai Hope. Three years on those remain his only two test centuries at test level, a remarkable quirk.
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. He had a stack of extraordinary performances against all opposition, as befits the most complete player the game has yet seen. The particular match I have picked on to include him here featured the West Indies deep in trouble when their fifth second innings wicket went down and Sobers being joined at the crease by David Holford, primarily a leg spinner. The pair put on an undefeated 274 together for the sixth wickets, Sobers 163 not out, Holford 105 not out, and England ended up being glad to escape with a draw after losing a few second innings wickets.
  7. +Jeff Dujon – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Although the West Indies largely dominated the 1988 series (4-0, and the drawn first match owed more to the weather than to the stoutness of England’s resistance), but there was one occasion therein when they hit trouble – 53-5 in their first innings, and Dujon, with support from Logie rescued them – the sixth wicket stand was worth 130, and got the West Indies back into the match.
  8. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler. At Headingley in 1984 he sustained a broken arm, a rare case in that era of a West Indian being on the receiving end of an injury. When the ninth West Indian wicket fell Gomes was on 96, and so Marshall went in to bat one-handed to see his team mate to a century. Then, to English consternation, he proceeded to take the new ball. He proceeded to rip through the second England innings with career best figures of 7-53, displacing the 63 and 36 scored by Tennyson batting one-handed against Australia with Gregory and McDonald as the greatest test performance by a cricketer playing with one usable hand.
  9. Michael Holding – right arm fast bowler. In August 1976 England was baking in a heatwave, the pitch at The Oval was absolutely flat and lifeless and the outfield was almost grassless due to the drought. The West Indies piled up 687-8 declared, but even their bowlers could get little out of the pitch, with one exception. Michael Anthony Holding took 8-92 in England’s first innings, the best innings figures at that time by a West Indian fast bowler (a spinner, Jack Noriega, had taken nine wickets in a test innings for them). The West Indies declined enforce the follow-on, giving their bowlers a breather. A declaration  at 182-0 left England needing to match their first innings 435 to win. This time round Holding took 6-57 to give him 14-149 in the match and his side victory and a 3-0 series scoreline.
  10. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler. I have already mentioned his bowling at Headingley in 1991 and at Trinidad in 1994 (the 46 all out game), but before that he had settled the 1990 series in the West Indies by destroying England in the last two test matches thereof. England had won the opener (see under Fraser), the second, scheduled for Guyana, had been washed out without a ball being bowled, and a combination of more bad weather and some scandalous (and unchecked, never mind punished) time wasting by Desmond Haynes as stand-in captain had condemned the third match at Trinidad to another draw, in spite of Malcolm picking up ten wickets in a test match (6-77 in one innings) for the first time in his career. However, in the final two tests, Ambrose was simply unstoppable, his figures including an 8-45 in one innings. England’s best resistance in those  matches came from pugnacious wicket keeper Jack Russell who produced a day-long rearguard in one of them.
  11. Alf Valentine – left arm orthodox spinner. He made his test debut in the 1950 series and proceeded to capture the first eight England wickets to fall, only to be denied absolute immortality to Berry and Hollies, two of the game’s greatest ‘ferrets’. The feat still remains a record, and helped the West Indies to their first win on English soil, as he and as spin twin Sonny Ramadhin weaved their webs around England’s batters. England did not properly counter this duo until the 1957 series and the May-Cowdrey partnerhsip at Edgbaston.

This team has a stellar top four, a record breaker at five, the most complete player in the game’s history at six, an excellent keeper who can bat and fine quartet of bowlers. The choice of Valentine as specialist spinner means there is a little overlap in skills with Sobers, who numbered left arm orthodox spin among his bowling styles. Marshall, Holding and Ambrose, with Sobers left arm as fourth pace option and Worrell also available looks a superb pace attack, while Valentine’s finger spin and Sobers’ wrist spin should be sufficient in that department.

OTHER CONTENDERS

There are of course many, but I will mention just some of the more obvious. Andy Sandham scored the first ever test match triple century at Sabina Park in 1930, but that match, supposedly ‘timeless’ ended in a draw because England had to go home, taking some of the gloss off the innings. Fred Trueman had a fabulous series against the West Indies in 1963, including a career best test match haul of 12-119 at Edgbaston. Among the all rounders I felt that Greig’s presence would fire the West Indies up too much, so his 13 wicket match haul at Trinidad did not get him in, Ian Botham’s record against the West Indies was very ordinary (one innings haul of 8-103 at Lord’s in 1984, but even that came in a losing cause, and a highest score against them of 81) and Stokes has not had one of his greatest performances against them as yet (the ‘bio-secure’ series may well change that). Brian Lara twice made world test record scores against England (375 in 1994, 400 not out in 2004, both at St Johns, Antigua), but both were accumulated on flat wickets in high scoring, stale, draws, and the latter, as was that case with his 501 not out for Warwickshire v Durham, was definitely an example of the individual counting for more than the team. Courtney Walsh had a magnificent series in England in 2000, at the age of 38, but lack of support from the rest of his team caused it to be in a losing cause, so, with regret, I was not able to pick him. Sonny Ramadhin, Valentine’s spin twin, missed out because of the history making nature of Valentine’s debut. Finally, Ellis ‘Puss’ Achong caused cricket’s terminology to expand when he dismissed Walter Robins, and the chagrined all rounder said as he headed back to the pavilion “fancy being bowled by a chinaman”, which is why that type of delivery is now called a chinaman.

THE CONTEST

This has all the makings of an absolute cracker. The odds definitely favour the West Indies, especially as Worrell has to be considered a better captain than May, but it should be a good contest.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND TEASER

As a lead in to my regular sign off, here is a teaser from brilliant.org:

Exponent

Solution in tomorrow’s post.

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Eng v WI special
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet VII

Today’s all time XI cricket post continues the alphabetic progression theme. Lots of Photographs as well.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s all time XIs cricket post is our seventh alphabetic progression. We finished yesterday with a B, so today we start with a C.

JW HEARNE’S XI

  1. Chetan Chauhan – right handed opening batter. He was overshadowed by his regular opening partner for India, Sunil Gavaskar, but his record was not a bad one.
  2. +Tillekaratne Dilshan – right handed opening batter, wicket keeper. One of the most innovative of all iternational batters. I admit that he was not a regular wicket keeper, and that the combination of keeping and opening the batting is a tough one, but he did keep on occasion, and I think he could do both jobs.
  3. Bill Edrich – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. A regular number three and occasional opener. In the last ever ‘timeless’ test match (the 99th such ever played, and it was the events of that game that pretty much killed the notion of timeless tests stone dead – after ten days play it ended in a draw because England had to get back to Cape Town to catch their boat home) Edrich who had endured a nightmare start to his test career produced 219 in the second England innings, as they got to 654-5 chasing 696 to win.
  4. Neil Fairbrother – left handed batter. He holds the record for the highest first class score at a London ground – 366 for Lancashire v Surrey at The Oval, in a monstrosity of a match in which Surrey made 707 and Lancashire 863. He failed to establish himself at test level, partly because the powers that be typecast him as a one-day specialist, where he did have an excellent record.
  5. David Gower – left handed batter. 8,231 runs at 44.25 in test cricket, and it would have been more but for the narrow-minded, intolerant attitude of then captain Graham Gooch, which brought the curtain down on his career when he still had plenty to offer. Gower, unlike Gooch, resisted the bait dangled by apartheid South Africa, and did not sign up for either of the two England rebel tours of the 1980s. He scored 58 in his first test innings, making his maiden century against New Zealand later that summer, and scoring a crucial maiden Ashes hundred at Perth on the 1978-9 tour. His 123 at Adelaide on the 1990-1 tour, one of two centuries he made in that series (the only England player to do so), was rated by Don Bradman as among the top five innings he ever saw played in Australia. That tour also saw an epic sense of humour failure by Gooch and manager Mickie Stewart over an incident in which Gower and John Morris of Derbyshire buzzed the upcountry ground at which England were playing in tiger moth planes.
  6. *Jack Hearne – right handed batter, leg spinner. In first class cricket over the course of a long career he averaged 40 with the bat and 24 with the ball, although he did most of his bowling before World War 1, playing largely as a batter thereafter. He was not actually related to the original Jack Hearne, a medium pacer who claimed 3,061 first class wickets (the fourth most ever), but they did both play for Middlesex, and their careers overlapped. I have named as captain, following my belief that all other factors being equal a slow bowling all rounder should be best equipped for the job (exhibit A among actual captains in favour of this theory the late legendary Richie Benaud, exhibit B Ray Illingworth – and as an effective captain who because of the mores of his time never officially had the job I give you exhibit C, Wilfred Rhodes – as witness his comment about Percy Chapman’s England captaincy “Aye ‘ee wor a good ‘un – he allus did what me and Jack telt him”).
  7. Doug Insole – right handed batter. He normally batted a little higher than this, but his attacking approach, often further highlighted by the fact that he was batting in partnership with one TE Bailey, makes him well suited to batting in this position, and I is not the easiest of letters to deal with. After his playing days were done he became a selector, and as chairman of selectors once dropped a well known Yorkshire opener on disciplinary grounds immediately after said worthy had scored 246 not out – an incident with which TMS listeners no longer have to fear being regaled while listening to commentaries.
  8. Ravindra Jadeja – left arm orthodox spinner, left handed lower middle order batter. Test averages of 35 with the bat and 24 with the ball make for a mighty useful no8, and he is also one of the best fielders currently playing the game. For those who produce ‘ah, but he is not so good away from home’ I suggest you check out the away records of James Anderson and Stuart Broad and then come back to me.
  9. Bart King – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. In 65 first class matches he took 415 wickets at 15.66 each while also averaging 20 with the bat. In the last of his four visits to England with the Philadelphians he claimed 87 wickets in 11 first class appearances to top that season’s bowling averages. He was the pioneer of swing bowling – it was a commonplace in that era before World War 1 for bowlers to rub the new ball in the dirt to remove the shine, and many sides reckoned that to give the opponents a varied challenge it was best to open the bowling with a fast and a slow bowler. Kent, champions four times in the last eight pre world war one seasons, regularly gace the new ball to left arm spinner Blythe alongside right arm fast bowler Arthur Fielder, while Lancashire a decade earlier had used a similar pairing of Briggs and Mold. It was King who taught the cricket world how to use the shine of a new ball as an extra weapon in the bowler’s armoury, and it is now very rare for a slow bowler of any type to get the new ball, although Muralitharan sometimes took it for Sri Lanka.
  10. Jim Laker – off spinner. Probably the best of all classical off spinners, most famous for his destruction of the 1956 Australians (58 of the first 100 wickets he took that season in first class matches wore baggy greens, 46 of them being claimed in the five test matches). On the 1958-9 tour of Australia, although the hosts regained the urn, they were, much to their chagrin, obliged to treat Laker with a degree of respect, and in the four test matches for which he was fit and available he claimed 15 wickets at an economical average. Among English off spinners only Fred Titmus four years later, John Emburey and Geoff Miller against an ill-equipped and badly captained rabble in 1978-9 and John Emburey again in 1986-7 also against a less than full strength side have fared better down under.
  11. Ted McDonald – right arm fast bowler. One half of the first great fast bowling duo seen at test level, along with Jack Gregory (Tom Richardson and Bill Lockwood, pioneer of the slower ball, had opened together for Surrey). After the Ashes series of 1920-1 and 1921, in which Australia won eight straight tests before England drew the last two of the home series he accepted a Lancashire league contract, and went on to playfor the county for some years, combining with Cecil Parkin and Richard Tyldesley to form a bowling unit that saw Lancashire dominate the second half of the 1920s.

This team has a solid batting line up, a competent keeper and a fine array of bowlers. McDonald and King look a splendid new ball pair, Edrich is available if a third pace option is needed, and in Laker, Jadeja and Hearne there is a wonderfully varied trio of spinners.

SYDNEY SMITH’S XI

  1. Mike Norman – right handed opening batter. A consistent county pro rather than a real star.
  2. Alan Ormrod – right handed opening batter. Played for Worcestershire for many years, before finishing his career at Lancashire. He was part of the Worcestershire side involved in the ‘ten minute game’, when Somerset skipper Brian Rose declared after one over, deliberately losing the limited overs match in order to protect his side’s wicket taking rate. The powers that be took a dim view of this, and Somerset were booted out of the competition anyway. Declarations were late banned from limited overs cricket, a move I consider unduly hamfisted, especially now that net run rate is used to split ties. Why shouldn’t a side who are 300-2 after 40 overs and facing possible weather interruptions say to their opponents “OK, we reckon we can defend in this over the full fifty if we have to do, over to you to have a bat”?
  3. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. He averaged 60.97 in test cricket before his country were forced into international isolation by the fallout from the D’Oliveira case (in fact South Africa were lucky to have lasted as longs as they did in that first incarnation as a test playing nation – various moments could have seen them given the boot well before they were.
  4. +Stanley Quin – right handed batter/ wicket keeper. He played for Victoria in the 1930s, averaging 33 in first class cricket, including a double century, and given how difficult a letter Q is I think this is a pretty good solution. His 24 first class appearances brought him 35 catches and 24 stumpings.
  5. Vernon Ransford – left handed batter. He averaged 37.84 in test cricket – at a time when Victor Trumper, universally regarded as an all-time great, averaged 39.04 at that level, sufficient indication of his class as a performer.
  6. *Sydney Smith – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was Northamptonshire’s first ever overseas signing, coming over from the West Indies in 1909, twenty years before they took their test bow, and doing the double in his first season of county cricket. He finished his career averaging 31 with the bat and 18 with the ball. Making a standard ‘covered pitches inflation’ adjustment of 50% up for each average that equates to averaging 46 with the bat and 27 with the ball today.
  7. George Thompson – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. The man, along with Bill East, who was most responsible for Northants’ elevation to first class rank in 1905, and the first Northamptonshire cricketer to play for his country – and he did not fare badly at that level either, more especially given that by the time the chance arrived he was already past 30.
  8. Rana Naved Ul-Hasan – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. He first appeared on scoresheets as Naved Ul-Hasan, before indicating a preference for Rana Naved, and U is not an easy letter to fill. He played for Sussex for some years, and had a lot in common with an earlier Sussex stalwart, Maurice Tate, both being fast medium bowlers who loved to give the ball a good clout with the bat.
  9. Vince Van der Bijl right arm fast medium. Took his first class wickets at 16.54 each. A combination of the political situation in South Africa and his unwillingness to completely cast adrift from his native land cost him a test career. He was a popular overseas star for Middlesex. On one occasion when the county lost a Sunday League (an aeon or so ago counties played 40 overs per side matches on Sundays, accumulating points towards a league title) match by eight runs and when they got back to the dressing room Van der Bijl opened the post -mortem by saying “sorry folks, those two half volleys I bowled early in my spell cost us”, thereby preventing any recriminations from developing.
  10. Jack Walsh – left arm wrist spinner. Australian born, but moved to England and enjoyed a long career with Leicestershire – one of a number of Aussie spinners of that era to decide that the grass was greener elsewhere.
  11. Xara Jetly – off spinner. The trickiest letter of the lot, but the teenage Kiwi may yet go on to establish herself as a top player – it is certainly a name I will have half an eye one for the future. The women play almost exclusively limited overs cricket, which reduces the potential for really big wicket hauls, but there is a 3-35 among her recent sets of figures.

This team may be a little short of really top drawer batters (only Pollock and Ransford qualify for that description), but it does have great depth – everyone down to no8 has the capacity to play a match winning innings. The bowling, with a pace trio of Rana Naved Ul-Hasan, Vince Van der Bijl and George Thompson backed by tweakers Xara Jetly, Jack Walsh and Sydney Smith looks really good.

THE CONTEST

This should be a cracker. JW Hearne’s XI are stronger in batting, but not quite as strong in bowling. I suspect that Sydney Smith’s XI would need Graeme Pollock to ‘come to the party’ to win, but he usually managed that, so I cannot predict a winner.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Finally, it is time for my usual sign off…

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TTA VII
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – Through the Alphabet VI

Our sixth ‘alphabetic progression’ post in this ‘all time XI’ cricket series, a solution to yesterday’s teaser and plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

In today’s all time XIs cricket post we continue with our alphabetic progression. Yesterday we ended on an F, so today we start from G.

BILL O’REILLY XI

  1. Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. He was a crucial part of the West Indies success in the 1980s. In the 1984 series in England the West Indies were twice in deep trouble, and both times were hauled out of it by Greenidge. At Old Trafford he saved the day with an innings of 223 in 10 hours at the crease, and the Windies emerged victorious. At Lord’s the Windies were set 342 to win in just under a full day (and Gower, the England captain, was criticized for not declaring earlier, and for allowing his batters to accept on offer of the light when they should, four fast bowlers notwithstanding, have stayed out there. The West Indies won by nine wickets, with Greenidge blazing his way to 214 not out, while Larry Gomes (92 not out) played the supporting role to perfection. In the MCC Bicentennary match he made a century, notable for the setting of a fielder specifically to cut down the number of runs the reverse sweep was bringing him. A long county career with Hampshire helped him to score more first class hundreds (90) than any other West Indian bar Viv Richards.
  2. Desmond Haynes – right handed opening batter. He was Greenidge;s regular opening partner for Barbados and the West Indies. Barbados, a coral island similar in size to the Isle of Wight has produced over 70 test match cricketers – an all time batting order with these two opening, the three Ws at 3,4 and 5, Sobers at six, a keeper and four bowlers, two of them Marshall and Garner is shaping up mightily impressively. The Isle of Wight for comparison has produced a few cricketers who reached the dizzy heights of the Hampshire 2nd XI. Haynes and Greenidge put on over 6,000 runs together in first wicket stands at test level, although their average opening stand is not quite as eye-popping as the 87 of Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe.
  3. Shreyas Iyer – right handed batter. The young Indian, noted for his aggressive approach, has yet to play test cricket, but hes an averages 52 in first class cricket and has made a remarkable start to his ODI career. I can envisage him being devastating after Greenidge and Haynes have given the innings their usual strong start (and similarly when the time comes coming in after the Sharma/ Agarwal opening partnership has been broken).
  4. Mahela Jayawardene – right handed batter. He holds the record for the highest test score by a right handed batter, 374 vs South Africa, when he and gthe left handed Kumar Sangakkara put on 624 together for the third wicket, starting from 14-2. Three higher individual test scores have been recorded, Lara’s 400 not out and 375, which both came in high scoring draws, whereas Jayawardene’s set his side up for an innings victory, and Matthew Hayden’s 380, scored against a hapless Zimbabwe team at Perth. Following the list on down, Sobers’ 365 not out was made against a Pakistan side who fielded only two front line bowlers, Hutton’s 364 at The Oval set his side up for a crushing victory, Jayasuriya’s 340 came in a monstrosity of a game at Colombo (over 100 runs per wicket through the five days), Hanif Mohammad’s 337 secured a draw for his side, Hammond’s 336 not out and Bradman’s 334 both came in drawn games- not that many of the super-huge scores have actually helped their team to win.
  5. Rohan Kanhai – right handed batter. His record at first class and test level is highly impressive, and I have the word of CLR James, that he was an absolute genius with a bat in his hand.
  6. Geoffrey Legge – right handed batter. He played for Kent and England. He managed only one century for his country, but it was a big one – 196.
  7. +Billy Murdoch – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Fred ‘the demon’ Spofforth missed the first ever test match because he believed that only Billy Murdoch could keep to his bowling (he came in to the side when the second match was arranged, apparently convinced that the chosen keeper, Blackham, was good enough after all), so although it was not where he usually played in test cricket he did have pedigree as a wicket keeper. His batting deeds included 153 not out in the first test on English soil at The Oval, the first ever test double century at the same ground four years later, 286 for Australia in a tour match and a first class triple century, at a time when only WG Grace (twice) and Walter Read of Surrey had previously achieved the feat.He played county cricket for Sussex and was part of WG Grace’s ultimately ill-fated London County venture.
  8. Dion Nash – right arm fast medium bowler. An effective swing bowler for New Zealand in the 1990s, and by no means valueless as a lower order batter.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner. Nicknamed ‘tiger’ for his on field ferocity (he was later to be fairly ferocious with a pen in his hand as well), he bowled faster than most of his type (one action shot of him was erroneously labelled ‘Bill O’Reilly, Australia fast bowler, and seeing it one can understand how the mistake happened).Donald Bradman rated him the best bowler he ever saw or faced, although as O’Reilly himself acknowledged Bradman was the one opposition batter who generally had his measure. World War II basically ended his career at the top level, although he played a one-off test against New Zealand, taking a hatful of cheap wickets but also learning the hard way that his knees were finally knackered.
  10. Jamie Porter – right arm fast bowler. Has done good things for his county Essex, but has not yet been given the opportunity to perform at a higher level. I hope he does get the chance to prove himself at the highest level. He has 329 first class wickets at 24.31.
  11. Hamidullah Qadri – off spinner. He currently pays 35 per wicket in his fledgling first class career, and needs to reduce that figure, but he is still very young, and he did enjoy some success in the last U19 world cup. Given that I already had a legspinner (more on this later), the alternative was Imran Qayyum, a left arm orthodox spinner, but he pays 43 per wicket, which is simply too expensive to hold out serious hopes of him making the grade.

This side has a stellar batting line up but is a trifle light on bowling options. Nonetheless I would expect it to give a good account of itself.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Strong cases could be made for the selection of Gavaskar or Gooch as my opening batter whose name begins with G, and a respectable one for Chris Gayle, while Jack Hobbs and Matthew Hayden could both have been picked as the opener whose name begins with H, with Tom Hayward also a possibility. However, Greenidge and Haynes functioned superbly well as a pair, and I have opted for them because of that detail. Abdul Qadir deserves credit for keeping the embers of the torch of leg spin bowling aglow in the 1980s, to be fanned in full blazing flame by Shane Warne in the 1990s, but with Bill O’Reilly in the side I did not especially want a second leg spinner, so I went with the unknown quantity of Hamidullah Qadri.

ANDREW STRAUSS’ XI

  1. Jack Robertson – right handed opening batter. A test average of 46 is testament to his class. In the great 1947 season when Denis Compton and Bill Edrich rewrote the record books Robertson hit 12 first class centuries, very often teeing the innings up for the other two.
  2. *Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter, captain. The man who captained England to no one in the world at test cricket, and who averaged over 40 with the bat, both as captain and in the ranks gets the nod here.
  3. Johnny Tyldesley – right handed batter. In the first decade of the twentieth century only two professionals were selected in England teams purely for their batting, this man and David Denton of Yorkshire.
  4. Inzamam Ul-Haq – right handed batter. He announced his arrival at the top level with an innings of 60 off 37 balls in the 1992 World Cup (back then, performances like that were not commonplace).
  5. James Vince – right handed batter. Has a good record for Hampshire, and has done fairly well in limited overs matches for England. His test career has featured far too many well compiled 20s and 30s and no really major innings (83 at Brisbane is his highest).
  6. +Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Selecting him as wicket keeper, enables me to pick a strong bowling line up.
  7. Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, right handed batter. This is about the right position for him, and X is a difficult letter.
  8. Bruce Yardley – off spinner. He was effective for Australia in the late 1970s and early 1980s, once being te match winner against the West Indies at a time when defeats for them were a great rarity.
  9. Dawlat Zadran – right arm fast medium bowler. Has done some good things for Afghanistan and may yet get better still. Certainly worth his place.
  10. James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. Zadran could only benefit from sharing the new ball with an experienced partner, and they don’t come much more experienced in that regard than the man who has taken more test wickets than any other pace bowler, and the most by any Eng;land bowler (and officially he is still counting).
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. The list of visiting quick bowlers to really rattle the Aussies in their own backyard is not a long one, although the West Indies in the great years under Lloyd and Richards had a few. The list of Indian bowlers of serious pace is also not a long one – Amar Singh in the 1930s, and Javagal Srinath in the 1990s are the only two before the present era who I can think of. If one were to use the two lists to create a Venn diagram, there would be one name in the overlap between the two circles: Jasprit Bumrah, whose sheer speed in the 2018-9 series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy was more responsible than anything else for India’s triumph.

This team has an excellent top six, Xenophon Balaskas at seven can be considered an all-rounder, Yardley may provide some assistance to the top order, and then there are three pace bowlers. With Anderson to guide and encourage them the two younger bowlers, Bumrah and Zadran should fare well. If there is real turn Xenophon Balaskas and Yardley should be capable of exploiting it. This looks a fine side.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Bobby Simpson would have his advocates for the opening slot I gave to Strauss. I thought about picking Radha Yadav, the left arm spinner, for the no eight slot but decided that gave me too long a tail (Anderson at 10 is definitely in the ‘rabbit’ category with the bat, while Bumrah is a ‘ferret’ – someone who comes after the raqbbits).

THE CONTEST

Bill O’Reilly XI have a very deep batting line up packed with class, but they are short of bowling guns. Andrew Strauss’ XI have less in the way of batting riches, although their top order is strong on any reckoning, but they do have what looks a strong and balanced bowling unit. My reckoning, based on the evidence from cricket’s history is that it is the bowlers who settle matches, and so my reckoning is that Andrew Strauss’ XI start as firm favourites.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Yesterday I set this teaser, from brilliant.org:

Octagons

Here is Chew-Seong Cheong’s excellent published solution:

Oct Sol

As an habitue of brilliant.org I recognized a trick when I saw it and realized that the trick answer given the wording of the question was that the areas were equal and therefore went for that as my answer.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced today’s teams, assessed the contest and presented the solution to yesterday’s teaser. The only thing left to for this post to be complete is my usual sign off…

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TTA VI
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet IV

Our all time XIs resume the alphabetic progression seen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

For today’s all time XI cricket post we revert to the alphabetic progression that I started on Friday and continued on Saturday and Sunday. No 11 in Sunday’s second XI began with an N, so today’s first XI starts with an opener who begins with O.

HEDLEY VERITY’S XI

  1. Javed Omar – right handed opening batter. His test record looks modest, but he had very little support at the top of the Bangladesh order (his most frequent opening partner, Hannan Sarkar, was once out to the first delivery of each of three successive test matches).
  2. Alviro Petersen – right handed opening batter. A so-so record in test cricket for South Africas, but a regular big scorer in the county championship. His overall FC average is just above 40 runs an innings, good enough to suggest a player of quality.
  3. Willie Quaife – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. A fine and consistent upper order batter for Warwickshire for a very long period, signing off with a hundred in his last match, at the age of 56 years and 4 months, the oldest scorer of first class hundred there has ever been (WG Grace notched his 126th and last on his 56th birthday, going on to 166 in that innings). There were question marks about the legality of his bowling action, and the most famous occasion on which his bowling featured prominently did not end well for Warwickshire – when Hampshire made their astonishing recovery at Edgbaston in 1922 after being rolled for 15 in the first innings he bowled 49 overs, being then 50 years of age, as Hampshire reached 521 at the second attempt. Warwickshire, exhausted from their efforts in the field and dispirited by Hampshire’s Houdini act then collapsed to 158 all out in their own second innings, the match ending in a Hampshire victory by 155 runs at 4:20PM on third and final scheduled day.
  4. Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Had he been able to play all five tests of the 1976 ‘grovel’ series against England Don Bradman’s 974 runs in the 1930 Ashes series would almost certainly have been overtaken. Richards missed the third match of that series through injury, scoring 829 in the other four games. In the final match of the 1985-6 home series v England, with quick runs the order of the day as the Windies pushed for a second successive blackwash of their opponents, Richards smashed a century off 56 balls, at the time the fewest ever to reach that mark in a test match (still third on that list).
  5. Kumar Sangakkara – left handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. Only one left handed batter has scored more test career runs than him, Alastair Cook. The biggest partnership for any wicket in first class cricket is the 624 that he and Mahela Jayawardene put on against South Africa.
  6. +Sarah Taylor – right handed batter, wicket keeper. One of the most accomplished keepers the game has ever seen and a fine stroke making batter as well. Mental health issues cut short her career, but she did plenty enough in the time she did play to justify her selection.
  7. George Ulyett – right arm fast bowler, right handed batter. An attacking all rounder for Yorkshire and England in the late 19th century. He had a test best score of 149, and test best innings bowling figures of 7-36. In the test match at The Oval in 1882, the second ever on English soil after 1880, he top scored with 26 in the England first innings, and was third out in the second, with the score at 51, and only another 34 needed to win. Grace fell two runs later, having become only the second player in the game to record a 30+ innings, and the middle and lower order froze in the face of Fred ‘the demon’ Spofforth’s unbridled hostility. In the end Peate’s wild heave against Harry Boyle might contact only with fresh air, and the stumps were rattled, leaving England beaten by seven runs. He also had a famous fielding moment in the course of his England career, when he took a catch of a shot that Bonnor, the legendary Aussie hitter had absolutely middled.
  8. *Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, useful lower order batter. 1,956 first class wickets in less than a full decade at that level, at 14.90 each. 144 test wickets at 24 – when contending with a combination of doped pitches and Bradman’s batting. I have awarded him the captaincy that the mores of his time withheld from him, because I believe he would have been excellent at the job.
  9. Bill Whitty – left arm fast medium bowler. He had an excellent record in the years just prior to World War 1 breaking out. In terms of bowling averages only two Aussie left armers of pace have subsequently had records to compare with his (65 wickets at 21.12 from 14 test appearances), Alan Davidson (186 wickets at 20.53) and Bill Johnston who will be meeting later.
  10. Xara Jetly – off spinner. The young Kiwi is very much a prospect rather than an established player, but her last set of bowling figures recorded on cricinfo were 3-35, and I expect the hear more of her in due course (she is only 18, and has appeared a handful of time for Wellington Women).
  11. Waqar Younis – right arm fast bowler. Has all the ingredients – extra pace, rikght handed as opposed to left, etc, to make an excellent new ball partner for Bill Whitty. His first big moments were in the 1992 test series in England, when the home batters simply could not handle him. He subsequently played county cricket for first Surrey, and then Glamorgan, spearheading the bowling for the latter when they won the championship in 1997. Once in an ODI against England he took the first seven wickets to fall, the first time that had ever been done.

This team has a fine top five, albeit there is a question mark over Javed Omar, a great wicket keeping all rounder at six, the perfect type of all rounder to be coming at seven, and four well varied bowlers. Waqar Younis and Bill Whitty as mentioned should combine well with the new ball, Ulyett wuld be an excellent third seamer, and Verity’s class as a left arm spinner as unchallengable. His ‘spin twin’, Xara Jetly is admittedly an unknown quantity, but bowling in tandem with Verity could only help her. Quaife’s leg spin is more than adequate for a sixth bowler.

DON BRADMAN’S XI

  1. Hazratullah Zazai – left handed opening batter. Whatever he does he will do at a rapid rate.
  2. Azhar Ali – right handed opening batter. Averages 42 in test cricket, and had some very fine innings for Somerset as their overseas player. He and Zazai don’t need to score bucket loads opening for this team, just enough to set the stage for…
  3. Don Bradman – right handed batter. The greatest batter there has ever been, and number three was his preferred slot.
  4. Denis Compton – right handed batter, occasional left arm wrist spinner. A man who averaged 50 in test cricket, including scores of 145 and 184 against the 1948 invincibles. His record would have been even more amazing but for a long term knee injury.
  5. Basil D’Oliveira – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. Had he been able to make his debut for his native land when in his mid 20s, instead of for his adopted land ten years later he would probably have had a record to put him among the all time greats. As it was, he averaged 40 in test cricket, starting at age 35 and ending at age 41. He also played probably the most important innings ever, the 158 at The Oval in 1968 that underlined his claim to a place in the tour party to South Africa that winter, and that triggered the events that led to the sporting isolation of apartheid South Africa.
  6. Grant Elliott – right handed batter, right arm medium paced bowler. Another cricketer born in South Africa  who sought pastures new, albeit for different reasons. He has played for New Zealand, mainly in limited overs cricket.
  7. +Bruce French – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was in his prime when the England selection approach was at its most inconsistent – the second half of the 1980s, which saw the England gauntlets spread around Paul Downton, him, Jack Richards and Jack Russell (and probably others I have forgotten).
  8. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler. His ODI economy rate was just 3.09 runs per over, he also had a magnificent test record, and as a youngster possessed one of the most powerful throwing arms ever seen on a cricket field. He was broad and solid in proportion to his 6’8″ height, which helped to spare him from the kind of stress related injuries that plagued beanpoles such as Bruce Reid. The immense height from which he brought the ball down (approx 10 feet given the length of his arms and the fact that he had a high action) made things extremely tricky for opposing batters, especially at his native Barbados where his arm was coming from above the height of the sight screen.
  9. Bill Hitch – right arm fast below. Over 1,000 first class wickets at 21 a piece, but he was never an England regular such was the bowling strength available in his day. Playing for Surrey meant that a lot of his bowling was done at The Oval, not a ground that tops many bowler’s lists of favourites.
  10. Jack Iverson – right arm wrist spinner. A one place promotion from his usual spot for ‘wrong grip Jake’. I have used the designation right arm wrist spinner because although he bowled with a leg spinner’s action (augmented by flicking the ball with his middle finger) his principal delivery was the off break, which confused opposition batters no end. He was only once collared in first class cricket, when Keith Miller and Arthur Morris realized that getting well down the pitch was the way to play him. He played one test series, and was instrumental in Asutralia winning it, capturing 21 cheap wickets.
  11. Bill Johnston – left arm medium fast bowler, left arm orthodox spinner. Three times in the post World War Two era he was Australia’s leading wicket taker in a series. It was not unknown when conditions warranted it for Johnston to switch straight from spinning the old ball to swinging the new. His 40 test match appearances yielded 160 wickets at 23.91.

This team has an adequate looking opening pair, the incomparable Bradman at three, Compton at four, two fine players at five and six who can fill in as support bowlers, an excellent keeper and a marvellous line up of bowlers. Garner, Hitch and Johnston look an excellent pace trio, while Iverson’s spin would pose a stern test, and if a second spinner is needed Johnston can bowl in his slower style.

AN HONOURABLE MENTION

Some would argue that I should have picked Sobers ahead of Sangakkara, but with virtually all of Sobers’ bowling skills covered by specialists in the persons of Verity and Whitty I felt that Sangakkara’s batting style was more suited to the team’s needs than that of Sobers. It is a very close call.

THE CONTEST

This is a close call – the advantage the Bradman gives his own XI is to an extent negated by the presence of Verity, the one bowler he acknowledged facing as an equal in the opposition. Also, bearing in mind 1932-3, if Younis were to strike early with the new ball I would be tempted to set a 7-2 legside field for him and see how Bradman stands up to a barrage – possibly deploying Ulyett from the other end, also with a packed legside field as well. I would just about favour Verity’s XI to emerge victorious, and if the match was being played on an uncovered pitch I would make them distinct favourites, because they are better equipped to take advantage of a rain affected surface than Bradman’s XI, and Bradman himself rarely succeeded with the bat on such surfaces.

PHOTOGRAPHS

We end with my usual sign off:

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Caterpillar on anettle 1
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Caterpillar on a nettle 2
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Caterpillar no nettle 3
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The aerial view of the indivdual nettle plant selected by this caterpillar.

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TTA IV
The teams in tabuilated form.

All Time XIs – The Family Game

Today’s all time cricket post looks at cricketing families – an XI of siblings takes on an intergenerational XI. Please note the requirement that at least two members of each selected family feature in the team.

INTRODUCTION

For today’s all time XI cricket post we are looking at cricketing families. A team made up of groups of siblings do battle against an intergenerational XI. There are a number of famous cricketing families I could not include – I set myself a rule of including at least two members of each chosen family – not just select one and name their cricketing relations.

THE SIBLINGS XI

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career, captain. The way to get round 11 being an odd number when selecting a team of siblings is to pick one group of three siblings, and fortunately there is a darned good such grouping readily available. His test batting average was only 32.29, but he made his debut at the age 32 and played on at that level until he was almost 51 – had the first test in England been in 1870 rather than 1880 his record would have been considerably better. He won eight of his 13 tests as captain, and all 13 of those matches were against the oldest enemy.
  2. EM Grace – right handed opening batter, lob bowler, fearless close fielder. Seven years WG’s senior, that inaugural test in England was his only one, and he shared an opening stand of 91 with his brother in the first innings thereof. England would probably have fared better in the 1882 match that inaugurated the Ashes had he been present in place of AN Hornby. Before WG’s rise overshadowed everyone else EM had been regarded as a phenomenon.
  3. Andrew Flower – left handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He averaged over 50 in test cricket (see my ‘Minor Nations’ post from Monday), and makes a good selection for the critical number three slot, especially since other considerations prevented the use of the only other sibling to have been a really good test no 3, ‘Chappelli’.
  4. Mark Waugh – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, ace slip fielder. The first of two pairs of twins to make their appearances in this XI. He announced his presence at the highest level (selected in place of his brother!) with a scintillating 138 against England and went to establish a superb record.
  5. Steve Waugh – right handed batter, occasional medium pace bowler. He was first picked in 1985 at the age of 20 as a ‘bowling all rounder’, but it is his batting that gets him in – he averaged over 50 at the highest level, and that after taking 27 matches to reach his first century (177 not out at Headingley, as Australia, put in by England skipper Gower cashed in on an ‘attack’ comprising four medium pacers to the tune of 601-7 declared). He would be vice captain of this side.
  6. Grant Flower – right handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. Andrew’s younger brother, averaged just over 40 in test cricket.
  7. Eric Bedser – right handed batter, off spinner. His averages are just the wrong way round – 24.00 with the bat, 24.95 with the ball (833 first class wickets in total), and he is the first of three members of the XI not to have played test cricket.
  8. GF Grace – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler. In his case his sudden death from a freak illness prevented him from having a better record – he was 29 years old and just two weeks previously had played in the inaugural test in England, and had there been such a thing in 1880 his catch to dismiss George Bonnor would have been a shoo-in for the ‘Champagne Moment’. He averaged 25 with the bat and 20 with the ball, and the former figure puts him on a par with Richard Daft, rated no2 to WG Grace in the 1870s, GF’s decade.
  9. Alec Bedser – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. Eric’s identical twin brother – and they used to wear identical clothes as well apparently. Because they considered playing for separate counties unthinkable they tossed a coin for who would stick to medium pace, and who would work on batting and off spin, and Alec won. There is a story that once in a benefit match Eric finished an over that Alec had started, and no one noticed the substitution, which suggests that Eric remained quite useful as a medium pacer.
  10. +Thomas Mycroft – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The most obscure of my choices, but he did average almost three dismissals a game in his brief first class career, and his presence enables me to give some much needed punch to the bowling by selecting his brother…
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 138 first class matches, 863 wickets at 12.09 each, and hopefully a suitable new ball partner for Alec Bedser.

This team is strong in batting, and the three Graces plus Eric Bedser should between them be able to provide sufficient bowling back up to the new ball pairing of Mycroft and Eric Bedser.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES

I might have opted for a new ball pairing of half brothers, Fidel Edwards and Pedro Collins, with Alec Bedser coming on first change, but that could only have been done by giving Andrew Flower the gauntlets and dropping the Mycrofts, and I prefer my no3 not also have to keep wicket. Although both captained England neither Arthur nor Harold Gilligan had a record to merit inclusion, and I certainly could not accommodate both. The Pitheys of South Africa were good rather than great. John and Hugh Trumble and Richie and John Benaud were two pairings that each had one weak link and so could not be accommodated. Johnny and Ernest Tyldesley were also in the mix, but would you drop either the Flowers or the Waughs for them? Richard and Dayle Hadlee could also have been picked to share the new ball, using the same method as for Edwards and Collins.

INTERGENERATIONAL XI

  1. Ron Headley – left handed opening batter. The Headleys provide three members of this side. He opened for Worcestershire for many years, although his two matches for the West Indies were not a great success.
  2. Vic Richardson – right handed batter. He was not an absolutely regular opener, but he did do the job at test level. We shall meet one of his grandsons at no4 in this order.
  3. George Headley – right handed batter. Averaged 60.83 in test cricket, and no3 was his regular position. The first of the family to play top level cricket.
  4. *Greg Chappell – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace (started as a leg spinner), excellent slip fielder, captain. Averaged over 50 in test cricket, one of three grandsons of Vic Richardson who all played test cricket.
  5. James H Parks – right handed batter, right arm bowler. The only player ever to have scored 3,000 runs and taken 100 wickets in the same first class season.
  6. +James M Parks – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Son of James H Parks, a fine batter/ keeper for Sussex, and had today;s attitudes to selecting keepers existed in the 1960s he would have played many more times for England in that role than he did.
  7. Maurice Tate – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. One of the greatest of all bowlers of cutters, and the first bowler to be able to use the sea fret at Hove to facilitate movement in the air.
  8. James Lillywhite jnr – left hand batter, left arm orthodox spinner. England’s first test captain; 1,210 wickets at 15.12 in first class cricket. Nephew of…
  9. William Lillywhite – right arm fast roundarm bowler. Known as the ‘nonpareil’ such was his superiority to other bowlers of his era.
  10. Dean Headley – right arm fast medium bowler. The third of the Headley family trio, he played for England and would have had more success had he not been plagued by injuries.
  11. Fred Tate – off spinner, good close fielder. His one test appearance, coming late in his long career, was undistinguished, but 1,331 first class wickets at 21.55 confirms that he is not just here to get his son into the side.

This side has a solid batting line up, and the bowling looks adequate, albeit that Fred Tate is the only front line spin option.

OTHER CRICKETING FAMILIES

Sussex have a grand tradition of cricketing families, as the above team shows – and I did not include the two members of the ruling family of Nawanagar, ‘Ranji’ and ‘Duleep’. The Tremletts produced three generations of first class cricketers, but accommodating all three would have been a challenge. Chris Broad would have been preferable to Ron Headley as opening batter, and Stuart preferable to Dean as a bowler, but if I had made that call I would have had to drop George Headley, and likewise dropping Vic Richardson would have necessitated dropping Greg Chappell. The Cowdreys are the only cricketing family to have produced four successive generations of first class cricketers, but of them all only Colin was truly top class. I would have liked to include the D’Oliveiras but to do so I would have to have found room for either Damian or Brett, so Basil missed out. Charles Townsend, the Gloucestershire leg spinning all rounder would have been useful, but I would have to had to find a place for either his father Frank or his son David, neither of whom were genuinely top class. I could have selected Jonny Bairstow as a batter and David as a keeper in place of the Parkses, but considered JH’s bowling to be a valuable asset. Perhaps the biggest miss caused by my criteria of demanding at least two members of each family feature was Denis Compton, but that would have necessitated finding space for his grandson Nick. The Gunns of Nottinghamshire also missed out. Billy Quaife would have been a solid opener, but I would have had to accommodate his son Bernard, less good, as well. The Quaife’s once faced up as opening batters to Billy and Robert Bestwick, likewise related, but again Robert Bestwick would not have been worth his place. Len Hutton would have strengthened the batting, but accommodating his son Richard would have been a challenge, while the same applies even more strongly to Herbert and Billy Sutcliffe. The great-grandfather/ great-grandson pairing of William Cooper and Paul Sheahan obviously appealed, but neither were really of the highest class. Richard Hadlee missed out because there was no way to accommodate his father Walter. Vinoo Mankad was another in this mix, but again his son Ashok was not good enough to warrant a place. Had I been willing to forego Greg Chappell I could have had an adhesive opening pair of Hanif and Shoaib Mohammad.

THE CONTEST

The contest for the ‘Cowdrey-Tremlett trophy’ (honouring two of the great cricket dynasties) would be a good one, with a splendid contest within a contest between Alec Bedser and Maurice Tate at the heart of it. I think the better balance of the intergenerational side just gives them the edge.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off:

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Butterflies will soon be in evidence…
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…a caterpillar dozing on a leaf

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Two caterpillars visible in this shot…
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…this one and…
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….this one.

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A flower that lures…
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…bugs like this one…
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…to their dome – besides the one I was focussing on, which crawled in but was not going to be getting out any time soon you can two other bug bodies in there.
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This bee has a large load of pollen.

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A flick of a dark coloured tail caught my attention, but it was merely an adventurous young cat…
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…returning the the path shortly afterwards.

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Family Game
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Overseas Stars

Today is overseas players day as an XI of the best county overseas players to on an XI of the best overseas players not to play for counties. Also features a very important petition, a measure of mathematics and some very interesting links, as well as my usual photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest variation on the All Time XI cricket theme. Today overseas players have the floor, as I pit a team of the best county overseas players against a team of overseas stars who were not county players.

THE COUNTY OVERSEAS PLAYERS

  1. Barry Richards – right handed opening batter. Played for Hampshire for many years, producing a number of extraordinary performances. See my recent South Africa post for more about him.
  2. Roy Marshall – right handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. The Barbadian scored a huge number of runs for Hampshire, and the speed with which he scored them was a crucial factor in Hampshire’s first ever County Championship, when he several times led successful run chases.
  3. Brian Lara – left handed batter. The holder of the highest individual scores in both test and first class cricket, the latter made for Warwickshire against Durham in his and their record breaking 1994 season.
  4. Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. An all-time great who featured in my West Indies team but had to make do with an honourable mention in the Somerset post due to my selection policies regarding overseas players.
  5. *Allan Border – left handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. The Aussie was as respected for Essex as he was in native land.
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every kind known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete all rounder ever to play the game, he played for Nottinghamshire for a number of years.
  7. +Stewart Dempster – right handed batter, wicket keeper. One of the most talented cricketers ever to come from New Zealand, he averaged 65.72 in his brief test career before signing up to play for Leicestershire, whom he served well for a number of years.
  8. Richard Hadlee – right arm fast bowler, left handed attacking middle order bat. The Kiwi legend was also outstanding for Nottinghamshire over a number of years. In 1984 he achieved the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in the first class season, the first time it had been done since the reduction of first class fixtures to make space for the John Player League in 1969. Could such a ‘double’ be achieved in a 14 game first class season such as has been the case in England in recent years? Yes – WG Grace once had a run of 11 matches in 1874 in which he achieved the feat, but anyone who does manage it will achieve a feat comparable to the great George Hirst’s 1906 season when he scored 2,385 first class runs and took 208 wickets, the only ever season’s ‘double double’.
  9. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. The biggest haul of wickets in a first class season since the reduction of fixtures referred to above is 134, taken by Marshall for Hampshire, for whom he played over the course of a number of years.
  10. Shane Warne – leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. Our fourth player with a Hampshire connection and the greatest leg spinner of the modern era.
  11. Ted McDonald – right arm fast bowler. One half of the first great pair of fast bowlers in test history along with Jack Gregory, and the first truly great player to come from Tasmania (with due respect to Charles Eady who once took a seven-for and then scored 566 in a club final, and to Kenny Burn, selected for an England tour as reserve keeper after a misunderstanding – he was a specialist batter, and his brother was a keeper), he then signed up to play as a Lancashire League pro and ultimately signed for the county, and was fast bowling spearhead for them during their greatest ever period, the second half of the 1920s. In 1930 when Bradman was taking all the headlines McDonald greeted the boy wonder by rolling back the years, posting five slips, making the ball fly and dismissing him for nine.

This XI features a stellar top five, the greatest of all all rounders, a keeper-batter and four fabulous and varied bowlers. The batting is very deep with Shane Warne due to come in at no 10, and the three fast bowlers, Hadlee, Marshall and McDonald backed by Warne and Sobers with Roy Marshall, Richards and Border in reserve looks like a superb bowling attack as well.

THE NON-COUNTY XI

  1. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter, named by Bradman as the best he ever saw.
  2. George Headley – right handed batter. He was known as ‘the black Bradman’, and his average at test level was 60.83. He usually batted three, but the West Indies so often lost an early wicket that he was effectively opening anyway,  so I have promoted him to do that job, making way for…
  3. *Donald Bradman – right handed batter, the best ever.
  4. Everton Weekes – right handed batter. He averaged 58 in test cricket, including five successive centuries. He also played Bridge for his native Barbados.
  5. George Giffen – right handed batter, right arm medium/ off spin. An all-rounder whose deeds saw him dubbed ‘the WG Grace of Australia’, his most astounding match performance came at the expense of Victoria when he hit 271 and then took 7-70 and 9-96. In the 1894-5 Ashes he scored 475 runs and took 34 wickets, still finishing on the losing side. I decided that my top four here were so strong that I could afford to start the all rounders at no 5, naming two as compensation for the presence of Sobers in the ranks of the opposition.
  6. Keith Miller – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Australia’s greatest ever all rounder. 2,958 test runs at 36.97 and 170 wickets at 22.97 at that level.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Statistically the best keeper batter in test history.
  8. Fazal Mahmood – right arm fast medium bowler. His size and build combined with his mastery of the leg cutter led to him being labelled ‘the Bedser of Pakistan’. He took 12 wickets in the match when Pakistan achieved their first test victory. His test average per wicket was 24 for 139 wickets, while his fast class wickets came at 18.96 each.
  9. Dennis Lillee – right arm fast bowler. He did play a few games for Northamptonshire, but he was not a regular county cricketer. He took a then record 355 test wickets from 71 appearances at that level, 167 of them against England.
  10. Palwankar Baloo – left arm orthodox spinner. I wrote about him in my piece on India. I consider his 179 wickets in 33 first class games at a mere 15.21 each doubly outstanding because he contended against caste prejudice all his life (he was one of three ‘untouchables’ who negotiated the pact that ended Gandhi’s fast against separate electorates for depressed castes) and because Indian cricket was chiefly known for tall scoring rather than for any sort of bowling success.
  11. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. He crossed the Tasman from his native New Zealand, and then twice moved states in his new adopted home before establishing himself as a first class cricketer. In consequence of this circuitous route to the top he was 33 years old when he finally got to don the baggy green. He took 11-82 on test debut v England and never looked back. In all he played 37 test matches and took 216 wickets, his career at that level ending when he was passed over for the 1938 tour of England, but he was still taking big first class wicket hauls two seasons later than that. In all first class cricket he captured 1,424 wickets, a record for anyone who never played county cricket (we met no2 on this list yesterday), from 248 appearances, averaging over 5.7 wickets per match.

This team has a top four with a combined average of approximately 267 at test level, two quality all rounders at five and six, a great keeper batter at seven and four excellent and varied bowlers. The bowling, with Lillee and Miller as outright fast bowlers, Fazal Mahmood’s cutters, Baloo and Grimmett as specialist spinners plus Giffen also looks highly impressive.

THE CONTEST

These are two awesomely strong and well balanced sides, and the only thing I can say for sure about the contest is that it would be an absolute humdinger.

A SOLUTION AND A NEW PROBLEM

Yesterday I offered you a little teaser from brilliant.org

This is how I resolved this:

  • The bottom shape is a right angled triangle and we are told that all angles of the same colour are identical. This means that 180-90 = 3x yellow angle, so yellow angle = 90/3 = 30 degrees.
  • The four top left triangles together form an angle of 180 degrees, and three of the four contain the blue angle, while the other contains the yellow angle, established at 30 degrees, so (180-30)/3 = blue angle, this simplifies to 150/3 = blue angle = 50 degrees.
  • The big central triangle is a right angled triangle with a blue angle and the green angle. Since the internal angles of a triangle sum up to 180, 90 + 50 + green =180, which means that the green angle that we are looking for is 180 – (90 + 50) which equals 40 degrees.

From the same source comes another teaser, this time on the theme of pattern recognition:

Square spiral

As with the previous one this was originally multiple choice but I am just leaving you to work out the answer.

AN IMPORTANT PETITION

A petition seeking justice for Belly Mujinga, a transport worker who died after being spat at by someone who knew they had covid-19, is running on change.org. There was a second victim of this despicable assault who did not die, so when the perpetrator is found they should face a charge of attempted murder as well as one of murder. Please sign and share the petition by clicking on the screenshot below.

Mujinga

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few links before it is time for my usual sign off:

  • Marina Hyde hits top form on the subject of Johnson apparently needing a baying mob behind him to be able to handle Prime Ministers Questions, with this splendid piece in The Guardian.
  • Elizabeth Dale who runs a blog called Cornish Bird which is devoted to revealing some of the less well known parts of her home county has a splendid post up at the moment about St Loy Cove, Penwith.
  • National Geographic have a post up at the moment introducing the guina, a tiny South American wild cat weighing just six pounds and in danger of extinction.
  • Finishing these links where we started, with The Guardian, Lucy Jones has a piece titled “Noticing nature is the greatest gift you can get from lockdown“, which is both an excellent read, and an appropriate place from which to provide my usual sign off..

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Overseas
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs: Functional Left Handers v Elegant Right Handers

My latest variation on the ‘All Time XI’ theme, the answer to yesterday’s maths teaser, an important petition, a soupcon of science and nature and some photographs – enjoy!

INTRODUCTION

Another day brings another variation on the ‘All Time XIs‘ theme. Today’s is based on a well known piece of cricket folklore – the belief that left handers are naturally more elegant than their right handed colleagues. Like all good folklore it has a basis in fact, but it is definitely an overstatement of the case. Thus today I challenge it by providing an XI of strictly functional left handers and to oppose it an XI of notably elegant right handers. Note that some the bowlers in the left handers XI  batted with their right hands – it is their bowling for which they are picked, and mutatis mutandis for the right handed batter who bowled with his left. First to parade their skills are…

THE FUNCTIONAL LEFT HANDERS XI

  1. Gary Kirsten – the South African, half brother of Derbyshire’s Peter Kirsten, had seemingly limitless patience and concentration but a decidedly limited range of strokes.
  2. Sir Alastair Cook – the Essex and England man, his country’s all time leading scorer of test runs, was another who cultivated a limited range of strokes but used those he did possess to great effect.
  3. Graeme Smith – the former South African was mighty effective, but an aesthetic disaster (among top order batters named Smith it is an interesting question as to whether he or current Aussie right hander Steve represents the greatest aesthetic outrage).
  4. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – the Guyanese stayer had the oddes batting stance I have ever seen, so open that he was almost at 45 degrees to the bowler as opposed to the recommended side-on position (Austin Matthews who played for Glamorgan many decades ago as a bowler of medium pace and lower middle order batter wrote a coaching manual after his retirement in which he stated “cricket is a sideways game”), and while the method worked for him it was very much ‘one not to watch’.
  5. *Allan Borderthe nuggety NSW, Queensland and Australia middle order man had in the words of Frances Edmonds “not so much a style as a modus operandi”. This quote appears in “Cricket XXXX cricket” her humorous book about the 1986-7 Ashes (she also wrote “Another Bloody Tour”, which somehow managed to be amusing about England’s unqualified disastrous Caribbean excursion of 1985-6. For about the first decade of his long career he pretty much was, in batting terms, Australia’s resistance.
  6. Jimmy Adams – his obdurate approach saw him dubbed ‘Jimmy Padams’.
  7. +Jack Russell – wicket keeper and as a batter just about the ultimate in lower middle order irritants, sometimes very usefully for his country.
  8. Richard IllingworthWorcestershire and England slow left armer (emphatically NOT a spinner – if he ever turned one I never saw it). His economical, reliable but unthreatening methods were often preferred by England selectors of the time to the higher risk Phil Tufnell.
  9. Ryan Sidebottom – the Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and England fast medium bowler had long run up which his pace never quite seemed to justify.
  10. Doug Bollinger – the NSW and Australia fast medium bowler was another whose run up appeared to promise more pace than he actually proved capable of delivering. I saw him bowl live at Adelaide v the West Indies in 2009, and, the first innings scalp of Gayle not withstanding he looked unimpressive, while his ‘efforts’ at the same ground in the 2010 Ashes match there were of a very low order.
  11. Paul Adams – the left arm wrist spinner’s action was once memorably likened to a frog in a blender. South Africa have not in recent times been overly understanding or supportive of spinners, and Adams probably should have played more test cricket than he actually did.

This line up has a solid top six, though no genuine all rounder, a splendid keeper who could do useful work with the bat and four bowlers of differing left handed types. They would take some digging out and might put up some decent totals because of that, but they would struggle to capture 20 wickets unless Paul Adams found some assistance in the surface. Now we meet their opponents…

THE ELEGANT RIGHT HANDERS

  1. Jack Robertson – the Middlesex man was a highly regarded stylist, and although he only got picked for 11 test matches an average of 46 at that level suggests that he had steel to go with that style.
  2. Reggie Spooner – opener for Lancashire and occasionally England. Noted for grace and poise at the crease. Neville Cardus used to watch Lancashire whenever he could in his schooldays, and later, established through his decades of work for the Manchester Guardian as one of cricket’s finest writers he waxed lyrical about Spooner and his part of what Cardus claimed as a uniquely distinctive top three – MacLaren, Spooner, JT Tyldesley. (the latter an ancestor of Michael Vaughan – can elegant batting be inherited?!). Spooner was the first ever to score 200 in a ‘Roses’ match, and did so in under four hours at the crease – they were not always dour affairs.
  3. *Sir Frank Worrell – the first black captain of the West Indies (yes, as with England and so-called ‘amateur’ skippers the Windies had their own captaincy fetish, in their case a belief that blacks had to be led by someone white skinned), and generally reckoned the most stylish of the ‘Three W’s” who dominated Caribbean batting in the 1950s and early 1960s.
  4. Tom Graveney – another whose grace and elegance at the crease had folk waxing lyrical – and he backed it up with over 47,000 first class runs.
  5. Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings – noted as one of the most attractive batters in a very successful Kent unit (four championships in seven years) that was also noted for playing particularly dazzling cricket. Such was the nature of his driving that for him and him alone George Hirst would retreat a few yards from his usual mid off position.
  6. Keith Miller – whether batting, bowling fast (or his occasional off spin with which he once took a test match seven-for on a rain affected Gabba pitch) or fielding he never failed to cut a dash. Once when playing in a ‘picnic match’ at East Molesey (the opposite bank of the Thames to Hampton Court Palace) he took on a challenge to land a ball on Tagg’s Island, a carry of 140 yards (just over 125 metres), and was only just short of making it.
  7. +Jeff Dujon – wicket keeper who kept with panther like grace to the quick bowlers (given the nature of Caribbean bowling units is his day it is impossible to comment on his keeping to class spinners) and batted attractively in the middle order, scoring four test centuries and averaging 30 at that level.
  8. Ray Lindwall – fast bowler, attacking lower order bat. His run up and bowling action are routinely described as being ‘poetry in motion’, and in addition to the pace he possessed he could swing the ball both ways seemingly at will.
  9. Michael Holding – fast bowler, referred to as ‘Whispering Death’ on account of the silence of his approach to the bowling crease. His opening over to Boycott at Bridgetown in 1981 has become a classic cricketing scare story – the Yorkshireman was beaten by four of the six deliveries, got bat on one and was comprehensively bowled by the sixth. Five years earlier, on a pitch at The Oval from which no one else could even raise a squeak he had recorded match figures of 14-149, the best ever test match figures by a West Indian.
  10. Sydney Barnes – the greatest bowler of them all. Even at Warwickshire in 1894 where he achieved little his bowling action was noted for its beauty, and CLR James, watching a 59 year old Barnes in action in the Lancashire League, noted that his arm remained classically high and straight. Mr James, by the way is the author of that sine qua non of cricket books “Beyond a Boundary’, which takes as its theme the question “what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?”, and my collection also features a book of his writings titled “Cricket”, and he contributed a chapter about Worrell to “Cricket: The Great Captains”, as well as being the author of “Black Jacobins”, a history of the Toussaint l’Ouverture rebellion in what is now Haiti.
  11. David Harris – cricket’s first great bowler (see Phil Edmonds “100 Greatest Bowlers” and John Nyren’s “Cricketers of My Time”) and even if you refuse to permit under arm (he played in the late 18th century when all bowling was under arm) I counter by saying that I reckon he could have mastered over arm had it been legal in his day. See also my Eccentric XI post for my opinion on real under arm, as opposed to Trevor Chappell style grubbers (although Harris was in part responsible for a change in cricket’s approach from relying on balls either rolling or at least shooting through to looking to cause problems by generating extra bounce, which he was an expert at – the very early bats looked more like hockey sticks than today’s cricket bats precisely because they were intended to counter balls at ground level, and it was Harris who was more responsible than any other for the shape of bats changing towards what we now recognize). Late in his career Harris suffered dreadfully from gout, but such was the value of his bowling that his team would bring an armchair on to the field, and when not actually engaged in bowling he would have a sit down. The Hambledon ace, who I felt I could not mention in connection with Hampshire, for all that he lived there, gets his moment in the sun this time round.

This team as a high quality to five, a great all rounder at six, an excellent wicket keeper at seven and four varied bowlers (Barnes, for all his official fast medium designation, can be classed as a spinner, while Harris if his actual bowling style is permitted offers a variation of a different sort, Miller as mentioned had off spin as a variation, and Worrell was a recognized bowler of left arm fast medium who also occasionally turned his hand to left arm spin.

THE CONTEST

I suspect that what I shall provisionally call the Strauss/ Trumper trophy, honouring a functional left hander and a stylish right hander, would go to the Elegant Right Handers, because while the functional left handers would take a lot of dislodging I have no doubts that the right handers could take 20 wickets, whereas the left handers are lacking in that department. The big question for Worrell as captain of the right handers, given that Barnes would not tolerate not being given the new ball is which of Holding or Lindwall does not get it – my reckoning is probably that Lindwall shares the new ball with Barnes and Holding comes on first change when Lindwall needs a rest.

A QUESTION ANSWERED

Yesterday I included a teaser from brilliant.org:

Brilliant Challenge

The four possible answers were 94, 96, 98 or 100.

My own method of solving this, a mixture of cheat and punt, was to start by ruling out 100, as that is a square number, and it would therefore be out of keeping with brilliant for it to be the right answer. I then looked at the the areas given and noted that they added up to 56 – could I see a connection between 56 and one of the other answers? Yes, a very appealing one came instantly to mind – both have seven as a factor. A quick mental calculation confirmed that the ratio of 98 to 56 was 1.75, and that was enough for me to take a punt (I had already ensured that my problem solving streak had gone into another day – and it is now equal in days to Bobby Abel’s indvidual Surrey record innings in runs), and I was right.

Here is a more authentic solution courtesy of David Vreken:

DV Sol

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

As we move towards the conclusion of today’s post I have a few links to share.

  • The pinchhitter have given me an extended mention in today’s offering, and apparently a copy of one of the ‘Chapelli’ books I mentioned in yesterday’s post is en route to pinchhitter HQ. If you have found this blog by way of pinchhitter please comment, and likewise, if anyone has found pinchhittter by way of me why not let them know.
  • A very important petition on change.org, calling for the surcharge that penalises NHS and Care workers from abroad to be scrapped – as someone who owes a huge debt of gratitude to workers in both categories I urge you to sign and share.
  • A science piece from Culture’s Ways about Sagittarius A*, believed to be the location of a supermassive black hole – the picture below is formatted as a link:
    Sagittarius A*, thought to be the location of a supermassive black hole Culture's Ways

And now it is time to sign off with my usual photographic flourish…

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This butterfly, which strayed into my bungalow yesterday, set me a poser – it was not in a my Butterfly book. My sister responded to my twitter inquiry with a reference to butterflyconservation.org and a suggestion of either Brimstone or Clouded Yellow. My own feeling having visited the site and looked at their pictures is that is a Brimstone.

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The combination of the colour and the delicate veining in the wings lends them the appearance of small green leaves – a fine example of mimicry in the natural world.

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The teams
The teams in tabulated form with abridged comments.

 

 

Autism, Elections, Cricket

Some thoughts on Autism, Elections and Cricket, a couple of interesting links and plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTIONS

I have some excellent stuff on Autism to share, and it is no great secret that a General Election is looming here in Britain, and nor would it be a surprise to anyone that I have something about cricket to fit in.

AUTISM THREADS FROM TWITTER

I have two and a bit threads relating to autism to share with you. In all cases this is #ActuallyAutistic people talking about autism – I always prefer primary sources. First of all, “20 things you need to know about autism if you are not autistic“, by Pete Wharmby:

PW1

Next up, Sara Gibbs lists some things not to say to someone who has just told you they are autistic:

 

SG

Finally for this section the first 17 posts in another thread from Pete Wharmby on the subject of diagnosis:

PW2

That concludes this section of the post.

ELECTION THOUGHTS

Some time in the not too distant future there is going to be a general election. Boris Johnson, the lame duck Prime Minister, sees a general election as the only way out of the hole he is currently in, while the main opposition party, Labour, are also ready for one, as soon they have guaranteed the election period cannot be used as a means of forcing a no deal Brexit through. In my constituency the decision for anyone opposed to the Tories is a very straightforward one – only two parties in this constituency have a share of the vote even worth thinking about, the Tories who hold the seat, and Labour who polled 15,000 votes last time round. Support for the Greens is increasing in this area, as it should, and as shown by Michael De Whalley being elected a local councillor, but constituency wide they are building from too small a base, and would be well advised to sit this one out, leaving the field clear for Labour.

In Scotland the SNP will clean up everywhere – the callous disregard shown for that country by the UK’s current misgovernment has all but ensured that Scotland will be an independent country before too long (and good luck to them – were it not for the necessity of travelling to and from Cambridge for some years to come I might well be looking at flats in Fort William or Inverness with a view to moving north post indepndence, and were I a Scot I would undoubtedly be voting SNP). Northern Ireland for different reasons is also an exception, but in England and Wales I would recommend that Labour and the Green Party operate as follows:

  1. Labour do not stand in Caroline Lucas’ seat, nor in any seat where the Greens came second last time round.
  2. The Greens do not stand in Labour held seats or in seats where Labour were second last time round.

Post election, in the event that the combination of Labour, Greens and SNP have enough seats to form a government (at least until Indyref 2 has been organised – which will be the SNPs condition for assisting) Labour should also offer cabinet places to people from these parties (e.g Caroline Lucas being put in charge of environmental policy, someone from the SNP getting the position of Secretary of State for Scotland etc.). Additionally, abolishing the outdated and flawed FPTP voting system should be high on the agenda.

My advice to people in England and Wales who want rid of the Tories is look at who in your area has more support out of Labour and Green (and possibly Plaid in Wales) and vote for that party. It is important to maximize the chances of turfing the Tories out by not giving them any opportunity to capture seats against a split opposition.

A COUPLE OF EXCELLENT VITALITY BLAST SIGNINGS FOR SURREY

One of the claims advanced on behalf of The Hundred, aka “Harrison’s Harebrained Have a Hit” (acknowledgements to The Full Toss blog for that excellent alternative name) is that it has attracted top overseas players, a claim that The Full Toss put to the sword here. There are two parts to exploding this claim: firstly no Indian players at all are involved in the new competition, and secondly that counties are in any case capable of attracting overseas players of real quality, which leads to Surrey’s recent overseas signings for next years Vitality Blast (T20) competition. Darcy Short has been the leading run scorer in the last two seasons of the Mens BBL (Australia’s T20 competition), and is a fine signing for Surrey. Pakistan’s young legspinning all-rounder Shadab Khan is if anything an even more impressive signing than Short. At 21 he already has 117 international wickets to his name, and being a legspinner he nicely complements Surrey’s existing slow bowling talent (Freddie Van Den Bergh, SLA, and Amar Virdi, OS), and his batting talent means that Surrey if so minded could certainly select all three, thereby giving themselves three spinners of differing types.

TWO LINKS AND SOME PICTURES

Greta Thunberg, the autistic teenager who has become the face of the international movement against climate change, has been honoured by having a new species named after her. Click on the picture below to read the full article about this on the Natural History Museum’s website:

New species of beetle named after Greta Thunberg

In a Darwin Award worthy piece of karma, a US hunter got himself killed by a deer he thought he had shot dead. Click on the picture below to visit the BBC website’s article about this:

Stock image of a whitetailed deer buck in the US

Now for my usual sign off…

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