Cricket Back With A Vengeance

Some thoughts on the Bob Willis Trophy, a sensational ODI and the start of a test match. Some mathematics, an important petition and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks back briefly at the first round of Bob Willis Trophy fixtures, for longer at yesterday’s incredible ODI and casts an eye over what is happening in Manchester.

BOB WILLIS TROPHY – EIGHT
DEFINITE RESULTS, ONE DRAW

In addition to the three teams who recorded wins before I reached the end of yesterday’s post, five other teams ultimately achieved victories in the first round of the Bob Willis Trophy. The odd game out was the game between Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, where Northamptonshire having escaped from a very difficult situation declined to make a game of it, and declared at 507-6 in their second innings after which the teams shook hands on a draw. Essex beat Kent by two wickets, Middlesex beat Surrey by 190 runs, bowling them out for 123 in the final innings. Worcestershire beat Gloucestershire by eight wickets. Leicestershire were set to score 150 off 17 overs by Lancashire and did it with eight balls to spare. Derbyshire were set 365 in the fourth innings by Nottinghamshire, and 299-7 it looked like they were either going to be bowled out or just hold out for a draw. However, the eighth wicket pair not only pulled off the great escape, they snatched the win off the last possible ball of the game. These outcomes bear all the hallmarks of a thoroughly absorbing set of county matches, but their conclusions were all overshadowed by…

AN ODI TO REMEMBER

It is often the case that limited overs games do not remain in the memory for any longer than they take to play, but often does not equal always, and most general rules have exceptions. Yesterday’s game between England and Ireland was precisely such a game. England batted first, Roy and Bairstow both failed, while Vince added to his considerable oeuvre of elegant miniatures, once more failing to produce a full scale masterwork. At 44-3 England looked to be in deep trouble, but Tom Banton produced his first ODI 50 at a vital time, skipper Morgan scored a majestic hundred and the lower order produced some useful runs. England eventually tallied 328, which looked enough for them to defend. An early wicket did not augur well for Ireland either, but then Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie produced the best batting of the day to get Ireland within range. Both fell before it was quite a done deal, leaving the veteran Kevin O’Brien and the 20 year old Harry Tector together for the closing stages. It ultimately came down to eight needed off the final over, which Saqib Mahmood accepted responsibility for bowling. Tector hit a four, Mahmood bowled a no-ball and suddenly it was three needed off four balls. The first of those balls was a dot, but Tector then scored two off the third to last delivery to level the scores and took a single of the penultimate ball of the game to take the victory and ten points in the ODI Super League for Ireland. Although it went right down to the wire Ireland looked in control for most of their batting innings and any result other than the actual one would have been a travesty of cricketing justice. Well played Ireland – or if you prefer: D’imir go maith, Éire!

Plenty more will be seen of this Irish side, especially Harry Tector and Curtis Campher, the latter named of whom had a fine debut series. Most of the England side too will feature again, but Moeen Ali and James Vince are both in serious jeopardy – Moeen cannot buy a run at present and his bowling is not sufficient to command a place in its own right while Vince is a player of fine shots who never seems to play a major innings, and although he bowled three overs yesterday he is not a serious bowler, while Banton’s runs yesterday came although he was batting out of position – he normally bats at or very close to the top of the order.

THE TEST MATCH AT MANCHESTER

Another England team is in action between today and Sunday in Manchester, playing the first match of a three match test series against Pakistan. England are unchanged from the third test against the West Indies as Stokes is still not fully fit to bowl, England do not believe that three seamers plus Bess can take 20 wickets between them and the England management retains its absurd faith in Buttler as a test cricketer. Pakistan won the toss and have chosen to bat. They are 121-2 of 41.1 with the players currently off the field for bad light. Archer and Woakes have a wicket a piece, Broad and Anderson have none and Bess has bowled five overs to date. Babar Azam had reached a 50 and left handed opener Shan Masood is not far away from that mark, with Abid Ali and Azhar Ali the two to go, the latter for a duck. Pakistan have taken a minor gamble with their own batting, putting the young leg spinner Shadab Khan at no6, which most would reckon is a place or even two higher than his batting skills currently merit. If Pakistan can get to 300 in this innings that could well be enough for England to struggle – their recent history when faced with anything approaching a substantial total is not exactly encouraging.

SOLUTION AND NEW PROBLEM

Yesterday I posed this problem adapted from brilliant:

My change is that where they gave a list of options for what was closest the the probability that someone testing positive actually has the disease I simply ask: To the nearest whole number what is the percentage chance that someone who has tested positive for the disease actually has it? Answer in my next post (my own explanation, plus a particularly impressive published solution).

The way I worked this one out was: if we imagine a sample of 1,000 people, 50 will have the disease and 950 won’t. Of the 50 who do have the disease 47 will have tested positive while three test negative (94% accuracy on positives). Of the 950 who do not have the disease 96% will have tested negative and 4% won’t. That 4% of 950 is 38, so the probability of a someone who has tested positive actually having the disease is 47/ (47+38) = 47/85. This comes to 55.29% to two decimal places, or to the nearest whole percentage 55% and that is the answer. Below is a jpg of a brilliantly economical published solution from Inesh Chattopadhyay:

Inesh

Today’s question is incredibly easy, and I also offer a bonus challenge:

Shading

No multi-choice here (this is much too easy for that), but a bonus challenge: part 1) if there was a third square of the same size but divided into 49 smaller squares shaded in similar fashion which would have the largest shaded area, and part 2)what is the general rule relating the number of squares into which the big square is divided and the proportion of it that ends up shaded?

A PETITION AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHS

Jo Corbyn, chair of NAS Norwich, has a petition on change.org calling on the government to stop cutting people’s life-saving social care. Below is a jpg of the petition, formatted as a link so that you can sign and share it – please do so:

Petition

My usual sign off…

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This was by far my best butterfly pic of the day…
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…so I devoted some attention…
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…to making the most…

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The Start Of The Bob Willis Trophy

A first post on the Bob Willis Trophy, a bit of mathematics and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks at the start of the competition that has been devised to replace the county championship in this pandemic hit season, play in which got underway at 11AM this morning. The second ODI between England and Ireland gets underway at the Ageas Bowl shortly.

HONOURING A LEGEND

Bob Willis, the former fast bowler who was only the second England bowler to take as many as 300 test wickets, following in the footsteps of Fred Trueman, died on December 4th 2019. When it became apparent a normal county championship would be impossible to stage it was only natural that his name should be attached to the replacement competition. Willis’ finest hour came at Headingley in 1981. He he taken no wickets in either innings, when with Australia 56-1 in their second innings needing only a further 74 for victory he was given one last chance to save his test career. Just under an hour later Australia were 75-8 and Willis had taken six wickets in as many overs (the other, the adhesive Border, had fallen to Chris Old). Dennis Lillee and Ray Bright launched a counter attack that yielded 35 runs in four overs before Lillee mistimed a drive and Gatting ran in, dived and held the catch. Alderman was dropped twice of Botham, but the first ball of Willis’ 16th over of the innings and tenth off the reel uprooted Bright’s middle stump to give England victory by 18 runs, with Willis having figures of 8-43. Willis would play on another three years, captaining the side for a period.

AN EXPERIMENT BORN OF NECESSITY

The 18 First Class counties have been split into three regions, South, Central and North. Each region will be play five rounds of matches, so that each side plays each other side in their region twice. At the end of this the two teams with the most points will play a final at Lord’s, which will be contested over five days instead of the regular four for a county fixture. Certain other changes have been made to the normal format of county games: the number of points for a draw has been increased from five to eight so that teams who suffer a lot of adverse weather will not too badly affected, a new ball will only be available at 90 overs rather than 80, the first innings for each county cannot last beyond 120 overs, and the minimum lead to be able to enforce the follow-on will be 200 rather than 150 runs. One beneficial side effect of these arrangements should be that spinners come into the game more than at present (Surrey and Middlesex, whose game I have listened to some of, are each playing two spinners, in Surrey’s case first class debutant Daniel Moriarty and England hopeful Amar Virdi, who would be the most obvious replacement for Dom Bess in the off spinner;s role). England is somewhat overburdened with bowlers who move the ball around a bit at medium pace or fractionally above and short of both genuine pace and spin. Surrey and Warwickshire were going to be experimenting with letting in spectators, but that has been prevented by the fact that Covid-19 cases are spiking upward making caution once more the order of the day.

A MEASURE OF MATHEMATICS

I have solutions to provide to the two problems I posed in my previous post, and I also have a new problem to set. My first was this one:

This was a bit of trick question. The answer is the both final shapes have the same number of faces (14 as it happens). Here is a published solution from Mahdi Raza:

FaceOff Sol

The second problem I posed was this one:

SNN

The fact that the result is not allowed to be negative at any stage means that only five square numbers need be considered as possible plays for Mei – 1, 4, 9, 16 and 25. 25 + 9 = 34, which means that if either of these numbers is chosen Yuri is left with a square number and reaches 0 at the first attempt, which leaves 1, 4 and 16 as options. 

Case 1: Mei plays 16. This reduces the number to 18. Yuri’s choices are now 1, 4, 9 or 16, of which 9 is instantly ruled out since it gives the game to Mei. However a choice of 16 by Yuri reduces the number to 2. Mei’s next move is forced 0 she subtracts 1, leaving 1 remaining and a win for Yuri as he also subtracts 1.

Case 2: Mei plays 4. This reduces the number to 30. All Yuri now has to do is play 25, reducing the number to 5, and whether Mei subtracts 1 or 4 she leaves a square number which Yuri thus reduces to 0 winning the game.

Case 3: Mei plays 1 which reduces the number to 33. If Yuri plays 25 that reduces the number to 8. Mei has a choice between 1 and 4, and 4 reduces the total to 4 an a win for Yuri, so she has to play 1. If Yuri now plays 4 then Mei plays 1 and Yuri has to do likewise, giving the game to Mei. Thus Yuri plays 1 reducing the number to 6, and Mei can then win the game by playing 4 and making the number 2 with Yuri to play. Thus Yuri cannot play 25 as his first response. If he plays 16 that reduces the number to 17, from which Mei cannot play 1 as that gives Yuri the game. If she plays four that reduces the number to 13, and Yuri’s forced moved of 1 reduces the number to 12, from which Mei cannot play one or nine as they immediately allow winning moves for Yuri. So she plays four, making the number now eight, and Yuri counters with a one which makes the number seven, and whether Mei plays one or four Yuri is in control because his own next move makes the number two. If she plays a nine instantly from 17 that reduces the number to eight and again Yuri is in control. Similarly 16 hands the game straight to Yuri. Thus whatever number Mei starts with Yuri has a winning response. THus, if both players play optimally Mei cannot win.

The new problem involves fractal geometry:

 

There are five answers for you to choose from:

a)

Solution in my next post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off:

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The Resumption Of ODI Cricket

A little look at the ODI between England and Ireland, and upcoming cricket development. Two mathematical challenges and some photographs, including some butterflies.

INTRODUCTION

England are playing Ireland today in the first One Day International anywhere for 139 days. It is England’s first home ODI since the 2019 World Cup final.

BIO-SECURE BUBBLES AND SELECTION

A combination of the rules surrounding bio-secure bubbles and the need to make up for time lost to the pandemic means that England are without their multi-format players (yet another reason why Buttler should have been dropped from the test squad – he is much more valuable as a limited overs player than as a long format player), which means that six of the World Cup Final eleven are missing. Ireland are in transition, and two youngsters, Curtis Campher and Harry Tector (the middle of three brothers, in between Jack and Tim, the last named of whom is according to some the best cricketer) are making their international debuts.

ENGLAND OFF TO A FLYER

Ireland are batting, though whether they still will be by the time I have finished this post is open to question, since they have already lost five wickets, including one of the debutants, Tector. Campher is still batting, and is in partnership with the veteran Kevin O’Brien. This is also the first ODI to contribute to the new ODI League which will decide who qualifies for the next world cup. David Willey, left arm medium fast, and Saqib Mahmood, right arm fast, have done the damage with the ball so far, while Adil Rashid (leg spin) and Tom Curran (right arm fast medium) are currently in action, with vice-captain Moeen Ali presumably fifth bowler should such be required. Tom Banton of Somerset may get an opportunity to demonstrate his batting skills later in the game.

UPCOMING FOR ENGLAND

The ODI squad have another two matches in this series against Ireland, while the first test match of the second series of the summer, against Pakistan, gets underway on Thursday. Pakistan look a stronger combination than the West Indies, making a strong start very important. Australia are due to visit for an ODI series in September. Some steps have already been taken towards spectators returning to the grounds, and more trials will be conducted during the Bob Willis Trophy, the county tournament that is taking the place of the County Championship for what remains of this season. It is not just about making sure that numbers in the ground are safe, but also of ensuring that travel to and from the grounds can be conducted safely. O’Brien has just holed out off the bowling of Rashid to make it 79-6. Simi Singh and Andrew McBrine both have some sort of batting skill, McCarthy is definitely a tail ender and Craig Young is a genuine no11. Simi Singh has just been run out for 0 to make it 79-7. McBrine is next man in. Save for a memorable occasion in New Zealand 42 years ago when Boycott was the victim, courtesy of Botham who had been instructed to up the run rate by any means necessary, there has never been a good time to suffer a run out, but this was a more than usually bad time from an Irish perspective for such a thing to happen.

TWO MATHEMATICAL TEASERS

I have two problems from brilliant to share with you. I start with one officially rated at three daggers (I am showing you two stills from what is actually an animation), but which I consider very much easier than that:

FacesC

My second offering is more difficult, but not nearly as difficult is the five dagger rating suggests:

SNN

This had multiple choice answers originally, but I am not offering them. It is considerably less difficult than the rating suggests, though I admit to spending a measurable length of time thinking about it before coming up with the answer (solving these problems is a ‘before breakfast’ activity for me,  and I never spend hugely long on any of them). Solutions tomorrow.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off:

Butterflies
Butterflies seen yesterday and today while out walking.

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There is a very large clump of Buddleia growing adjacent to the bridge that carries Littleport Street across the Gaywood river, which is often a good place to observe butterflies, and it was there that I spotted this peacock this morning (six shots in the attempt to do full justice to so splendid a specimen).

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PS Well done to Ireland – after that awful start they are still batting, now on 124-7, Campher now on 46, and McBrine 23.

Looking Ahead To Friday

Some speculations about possible inclusions for the third test, an all-time XI created around one of the possibles for the West Indies, the solution to yesterday’s teaser and a bumper collection of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks at the options for each time ahead of the deciding test match between England and the West Indies on Friday. There is a match taking place at The Oval tonight which may be interesting, and will be viewable courtesy of Surrey County Cricket Club’s livestream.

ENGLAND

I think the current top six can and should be retained, so I shall nothing further about them. Buttler has to go, and the question of his replacement is tied up with the question of how England should line up bowler wise. Here the problem is condensing the choices into at most five, and possibly only four. It would be rough on Jimmy Anderson not to play at his home ground, but equally Stuart Broad bowled two magnificent spells in the game just concluded and would not react well to being rested for the decider. Curran’s left arm and Archer’s extreme pace now that he can be selected again give them edges, as does the former’s batting. Woakes had a solid game with the ball in the match just concluded, and he also has batting skill on his side. Bess remains first choice spinner and the question is whether Jack Leach should also be selected. Going the two spinners route would require the selection of five players who are predominantly bowlers, and I feel that at least one of Curran or Woakes would have to be picked in this circumstance, as Bess at 7, Archer at 8, Leach at 9, Broad at 10 and Anderson at 11 leaves the lower order looking very fragile. A bowling foursome, if Leach is not to be picked should be Bess, Archer, Broad, Anderson, with Ben Foakes getting the gloves and batting at seven. For the two spinner route Pope gets the gloves, and the remainder of the order goes either Woakes, Curran, Bess, Archer, Leach or if you are prepared to gamble a bit more Curran, Bess, Archer, Leach, Broad I am going to plump for two spinners and a bit of a gamble on the batting and suggest as the final XI: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, +Pope, Curran, Bess, Archer, Leach, Broad.

WEST INDIES

The West Indies’ big question is whether to pick Rahkeem Cornwall, and if so how they will fit him in. This depends on whether they are want extra batting strength to maximize their chances of retaining the Wisden Trophy, which they do by avoiding defeat, or whether they are determined to go all out to attempt to become the first West Indies side to win a series in England since 1988. The cautious approach entails bring Cornwall in for Shannon Gabriel, have him bat at nine below Holder, so that West Indies have only two outright tailenders, Joseph and Roach. The more aggressive approach is to drop a batter, presumably Shai Hope who has done precious little since scoring those twin tons at Headingley in 2017, and have a 7,8,9,10,11 of Holder, Cornwall, Joseph, Roach, Gabriel. To me the latter approach has far more appeal, and a side of Campbell, Brathwaite, Brooks, Blackwood, Chase, +Dowrich, Holder, Cornwall, Joseph, Roach, Gabriel thus eventuates. Cornwall is best known for being the heaviest international cricketer since Warwick Armstrong in 1921, so, in the spirit of my lockdown series of All Time XIs, we move on to…

THE PLUS SIZED XI

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career, captain. As a youngster he was a champion sprinter and hurdler as well as a quality cricketer but in later years his weight mushroomed, reaching somewhere in the region of 20 stone near the end of his career. In 1895, less than two months short of his 47th birthday, he scored 1,000 first class runs in the first three weeks of his season (May 9th – 30th), including his 100th first class hundred (no 2 on the list of century makers at the time being Arthur Shrewsbury on 41).
  2. Colin Milburn – right handed opening batter. His career was ended prematurely by the car accident that cost him his left eye, but his record up to that point was very impressive.
  3. Mike Gatting – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler.
  4. Mark Cosgrove – left handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. Australia were never keen on selecting him because of his bulk, but he scored plenty of runs in first class cricket.
  5. Inzamam-ul-Haq – right handed batter. He was once dubbed ‘Aloo’, which translates as ‘Potato’ on account of his shape. He had a long test career in which he averaged 49 with the bat.
  6. Warwick Armstrong – right handed batter, leg spinner. At the end of his test career he weighed in at 22 stone, and yet in those last two years he did as much batting as Steve Waugh in a comparable period and bowled as many overs of leg spin as Shane Warne in a comparable period. He was nicknamed ‘Big Ship’, and there is a book about him by Gideon Haigh titled “Big Ship”.
  7. Alfred Mynn – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. ‘The Lion of Kent’ weighed in at 18 stone in his pomp, and later grew even heavier, allegedly weighing in at 24 stone by the end of his career.
  8. Rahkeem Cornwall – off spinner, useful right handed lower order batter. His averages are just the right way round at first class level – 23.75 with the bat and 23.57 with the ball. He is taller than Armstrong was by a couple of inches and weighs about the same.
  9. Jim Smith – right arm fast medium bowler, ultra-aggressive right handed lower order batter. 6’4″ tall and weighing in at 17 stone. He once clubbed a 50 in just 11 minutes off genuine bowling – not declaration stuff. He was born in Wiltshire, and under the rules of the day had to qualify by residence for a first class county, in his case Middlesex. He took 172 first class wickets in his first full season, finishing sixth in the national bowling averages, and helped by the fact that with Lord’s as his home ground he was enjoying success in front of the right people he was selected for that winter’s tour. Unfortunately for fans of big hitting he and Arthur Wellard of Somerset were only once selected in the same England team.
  10. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler. 6’8″ tall and broad and solid in proportion to that great height. He is perhaps here under slightly false pretenses since he did not noticeably carry extra weight, but he was certainly a big unit.
  11. +Mordecai Sherwin – wicket keeper. Given the nature of the job it is no great surprise that plus sized wicket keepers are something of a rarity. However, this guy weighed 17 stone and was still able to pull off 836 dismissals in 328 first class appearances (611 catches and 225 stumpings).

This side has a strong top five (Gatting, with a test average of 35.55, is probably the least impressive of the quintet as a batter), two genuine all rounders in Armstrong and Mynn, a trio of fine bowlers, two of whom can bat a bit and an excellent keeper. The bowling attack, with Garner, Smith and Mynn to bowl pace, Armstrong, Cornwall and Grace purveying slower stuff and Gatting and Cosgrove available as seventh and eighth bowlers is strong and varied, although there is no left armer. Thus, even given the selection criteria, this is a team that would take some beating.

HXI

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

I offered up this from brilliant yesterday:

Here is Liam Robertson’s solution:

Sol

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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England’s Triumph At Old Trafford

An account of the test match that finished yesterday evening with a victory for England, a look forward to the decider which starts on Friday, some links and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks back at the test match that concluded yesterday evening in Manchester and forward to the one that starts at the same ground on Friday morning.

THE TALE OF THE TAPE

Thursday morning at Old Trafford was grey and rainy, and so play got underway late. England were deprived of Archer due to that player’s misconduct in between the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford, had already decided to rest Wood and Anderson, while Crawley was correctly retained with Joe Denly losing his place, presumably permanently. Thus England’s line up read: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, Curran, Bess, Broad. This was a very strong batting line up, but there was no genuine pace in the bowling attack, with the possible exception of Stokes. The West Indies were unchanged.

Jason Holder won the toss for the West Indies and immediately made the first mistake of the match when he allowed himself to be influenced by the overhead conditions and chose to bowl first on a very flat looking pitch. At first things did not look too bad for the West Indies as Burns and Crawley fell cheaply, and even when Root was third out the score had only reached 81. At this point Ben Stokes got into the action, and was scarcely to be out of ti again for the rest of the match. Sibley was looking secure at one end, and now Stokes displayed considerable resolve and patience to stay with him. By the end of the first day the fourth wicket pair were still in occupation and the score was 207-3, and the decision to bowl first stood revealed as a ghastly howler on Holder’s part. On the second day Stokes and Sibley consolidated their position, with Sibley reaching his second test century just before lunch, and Stokes completing his tenth such score just afterwards. Finally, with the score at 341 Sibley fell for 120, having also completed a century of a much rarer kind – 100 balls left alone in the course of a single innings. GThe stand of 260 was the second highest ever for any wicket at Old Trafford, though some way short of England’s all time fourth wicket record stand, the 411 put on by Peter May and Colin Cowdrey versus the West Indies at Edgbaston in 1957. Pope fell cheaply, bringing Buttler to the crease at 352-5, and with an opportunity, undeserved in many opnions including mine, to cash in on tired bowlers. Ben Stokes was finally dislodged for 176, his second highest test score, with the score at 395, Woakes fell first ball which brought Curran to the crease. At 426 Buttler who had made a less than impressive (given the ultra favourable circumstances) 40 was caught off the bowling of Holder. One run later Curran was out. Dom Bess, in company with Stuart Broad, played a useful cameo reaching 31 not out before Root declared with the score at 469-9. John Campbell was out in the mini-session of batting the West Indies had before day 2 closed, Alzarri Joseph was sent in as nightwatchman and took them through to the close, at which point they were 32-1. Day three was washed out, a big dent to England’s hopes. In the middle of the fourth afternoon the West Indies were 235-4 and the draw was a strong favourite. Then that man Stokes intervened again, bowling a hostile spell in which he accounted for the obdurate Kraigg Brathwaite and destabilized the West Indies innings. Stuart Broad then bowled a magnificent spell with the second new ball before Woakes took a couple of late wickets, and the West Indies were all out for 287, giving England a lead of 182. With quick runs needed England sent in Buttler and Stokes. Buttler proceeded to be bowled for a third-ball duck, a dismissal which really should end his test career (he is a magnificent limited overs player but has never been anything special in long form cricket), which brought Zak Crawley to the wicket. Crawley made 11 before he too fell, and England closed the 4th day on 37-2, with Stokes and Root in occupation. England, as they had to in the circumstances, needing a win to keep both the Wisden trophy and their slender hopes of the World Test Championship alive, went on the all out attack on the final morning, blazing 91 off 11 overs before declaring at 129-3, with Stokes 78 not out and Pope 12 not out off seven balls. This left the West Indies needing 312 to win and with 85 overs to get them.

Broad bowled superbly with the new ball, and the West Indies rapidly plunged to 37-4. Blackwood and Brooks then put on exactly 100 together before that man Stokes broke the partnership, dismissing Blackwood for 55. Woakes then cleaned up Dowrich for a duck, bringing skipper Holder in to join Brooks. Holder and Brooks took the score to 161 before Curran pinned Brooks LBW, which went to review where it came up as umpires call, the third time a West Indian had suffered that fate in the innings. Holder and Roach offered some resistance before Bess made the crucial breakthrough, bowling Holder for 35, to make at 183-8, and leave three tailenders tasked with holding out for more than 20 overs to save the game. Alzarri Joseph scored nine, was then caught by Bess of the bowling of Stokes to make it 192-9. I had an evening engagement and was not able to catch the fall of the final wicket, that of Kemar Roach, caught by Pope off the bowling of Bess. England took that wicket just after umpire Richard Illingworth had signalled the start of the last 15 overs of the game and had won by 113 runs, meaning that the third match of this series will be a ‘winner takes all’ battle.

STOKES THE COLOSSUS

Stokes’ performance in this match saw him displace Jason Holder at the top of the test match all rounders rankings, and it also saw him rise to no3 in the world batting rankings behind Virat Kohli and ‘sandpaper’ Steve Smith. Stokes’ participation in this match was as follows: 176 off 356 balls spread over 487 minutes at the crease in the first innings, 1-29 off 13 overs in the second, with that wicket coming in the spell that destabilized the West Indies innings, 78 not out off 57 balls to set up the declaration in the third innings and 14.4 overs for figures of 2-30 (he was unable to complete his final over, the last two balls of it being bowled by Joe Root). At Lord’s in 1952 Mulvantrai Himmatlal ‘Vinoo’ Mankad scored 72 in the first innings, bowled a marathon stint of 73 overs in the England reply, scored 184 in the third innings and bowled a further 24 overs in the second England innings, this all round effort all coming to nought as his side were beaten anyway. In first class cricket there are George Hirst’s spectacular dominance over Somerset in 1906 – 111, 117 not out, six first innings wicket and five second innings wickets, George Giffen’s 271 not out, 7-70 and 9-98 for South Australia versus Victoria, while in 1874 WG Grace had a spell of sustained brilliance in which he combined centuries with ten wicket match hauls five times in the space of six matches. At club level there is the feat of Dr M E Pavri, an Indian all rounder who apparently bowled at a lively pace (he toured England in the 1880s, long before his country were promoted to test status, and there is a story of him sending a stump nine yards backwards in a match at Norwich), and who decided on one occasion that teammates were unnecessary, taking on an XI all on his own. In that game he batted first, scored 52 not out before deciding that he had enough runs to serve his purposes, and then without fielders to aid him dismissed the opposing XI for 38 to win the match.

ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS

  1. Dom Sibley – 9 – a magnificent display of concentration in his only innings, though he was reprieved when Jason Holder dropped a fairly regulation chance, so it was not an absolutely blemish free effort.
  2. Rory Burns – 3 – a failure with the bat, nothing notably good or bad in the field.
  3. Zak Crawley 4a first baller in the first innings, and also failed in the second innings thrash for runs, managing 11 off 15 balls, which does at least represent a half decent scoring rate.
  4. *Joe Root – 6 – two scores in the twenties, though in the second innings he was good foil to Stokes while the latter was lashing out. He was possibly a little conservative in the matter of the second innings declaration, but overall he captained well.
  5. Ben Stokes – 10 – he batted England into a commanding position with his first innings effort, his bowling intervention in the first West Indies innings was crucial in reopening the possibility of an England win, his second innings batting effort in altogether different circumstances was precisely what the team needed, and he again made the crucial breakthrough in the final innings when he broke the Brooks/Blackwood partnership. I reckon even Craig Revel-Horwood would have rated this performance a 10.
  6. Ollie Pope – 5 – failed in the first innings, 12 not out off 7 balls in the second to help England to the declaration and he performed the last action of the game, taking the catch that dismissed Kemar Roach.
  7. +Jos Buttler3 – his first innings 40 was unimpressive given the circumstances, he responded to being given the opportunity to open the innings and bat in his best T20 fashion with a third ball duck, and although he held on to three catches in the match this must be the end of the road for Buttler the test cricketer.
  8. Chris Woakes6.5 – failed with the bat in his only innings, but bowled well in both innings, reminding everyone that he is always difficult to play in English conditions.
  9. Sam Curran – 6 – only 17 with the bat, but bowled quite well. It was with his dismissal of Brooks in the second innings to make it 161-7 that moved victory from possible to probable.
  10. Dom Bess – 6.5 – his 31 not out in the first innings was a useful knock, he was economical though not penetrative in the first West Indies innings, and it was his delivery to bowl Jason Holder that effectively sealed the destiny of this match, while he completed a trio of late interventions by then catching Alzarri Joseph and finally picking up the wicket of Roach to complete the victory.
  11. Stuart Broad – 8.5 – he bowled a magnificent spell with the second new ball in the West Indies first innings to ensure that England would have a substantial advantage and bowled another fine spell with the new ball in the West Indies second innings which left them in tatters at 37-4.

LOOKING FORWARD TO FRIDAY

It is possible that England will want to play two spinners in the decider, and they could also maintain their rotation policy with Broad and Anderson, although I suspect that even in King’s Lynn I will not need the assistance of a radio to hear Mr Broad’s response should be told that he is being rested for the decider, and there is also the question of whether to play Archer in the decider. Of the three specialist batters who failed in this match two, Burns and Pope already have test hundreds, and it seems likely that the third, Crawley, will be joining them sooner rather than later, so I am not unduly worried about them. Buttler, just to re-emphasize the point has to go. Thus I offer up three potential line ups, two of which have permutations:

Potential Line ups

The first line up brings in Archer for his extra pace but sticks to one spinner and a choice between Broad and Anderson. The second line up accommodates two spinners but runs the risk of having Stokes as third seamer. The third line up is gamblers line up, entails Pope as keeper, a job he has done in test cricket, and five regular bowlers, with Stokes as back up. If England do decide to go with two spinners that would be my preferred option, although the second line up does at least have variety going for it – right arm fast (Archer), left arm medium fast (Curran), off spin and left arm orthodox spin plus x-factor Stokes. England need a win to regain the Wisden trophy and retain an interest in the World Test Championship, while the West Indies have not won a series in England since 1988, and so although a draw would see them retain the Wisden trophy it would not be a great result for them. So far this has been a splendid series, with England bouncing back well after the loss in Southampton.

TYING THINGS TOGETHER

The full scorecard for this fine match can be viewed here, courtesy of cricinfo. My other posts about this match are:

For a different view, here is the fulltoss blog’s account.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have a varied trio of links to share today:

And now it is time for my usual sign off…

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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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