A Topsy-Turvy Melbourne Derby

A look at today’s Melbourne derby in the Big Bash League plus some photographs.

This morning’s live BBL radio commentary saw the two Melbourne sides, Renegades and Stars face one another. Stars following Heat’s win earlier were languishing at the bottom of the heap, Renegades one of a number of sides battling for qualification slots (Only Perth Scorchers and Sydney Sixers are genuinely comfortably placed to qualify).

THE RENEGADES INNINGS

Renegades batted first, and they started dreadfully, managing just 17-1 from their four overs of opening Power Play. They began to recover in overs 5-10, reaching 63-3 at the halfway stage of their innings. The second half of their innings was a massive improvement, a well timed Power Surge continuing the recovery, and then a magnificent late innings from Jonathan Wells helping to boost their final total to 161-7.

THE STARS RESPONSE

Stars began their reply sensationally, passing 80, with all their wickets standing in just the eighth over. Once the first wicket fell however, they were unable to maintain the momentum, and began to lose wickets at regular intervals. Not even the assistance of two balls hitting the closed roof of the stadium and being thus awarded six a piece did much for the second half of the Stars innings. A succession of overs in which runs weren’t scored and wickets fell ultimately saw the Stars needing 12 from the final over to win. Nick Larkin, the sole remaining batter of any substance, made a complete and utter mess of playing that final over. He declined singles off the first two balls, wishing to keept the strike for himself, but then took the single off the third, leaving a tailender on strike with 11 needed off three balls. A run out off the fourth ball did at least get Larkin back on strike, but 11 were now needed off two balls. Larkin hit the first for four. The final ball of the match was full, just wide of the stumps, but not enough so to be called a wide, and Larkin ridiculously failed even to get bat to it, the resultant dot giving Renegades victory by six runs, boosting their qualification hopes and pretty much exterminating such qualification hopes as Stars had still retained. Arguably Stars were favourites to win right until the start of the 19th over of their innings, at which point they needed 15. Good teams go all out to break the back of things with an over to spare in these circumstances, and it was really this over, with only three runs coming it from it that killed the Stars. This loss will be hard to recover from because Stars will know that they should have been comfortable winners.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Rawalpindi Runfest

A look at goings on in Rawalpindi where Pakistan are playing England in a test match that has already seen seven centuries and the first test wickets by a bowler with first two initials WG since 1890.

The Pakistan vs England test series, the first between these two teams to take place in Pakistan in 17 years (for most of that time Pakistan were restricted to playing “home” series at neutral venues such as the United Arab Emirates because of security concerns) got underway on Thursday morning (earlyish Pakistan time, very early – though “ridiculous o’clock” rather than “ludicrous o’clock” as would be the case for a series in Australia). This post looks at the first three days action.

ENGLAND MANAGE TO NAME A TEAM

There had been fears that the start of this match would be delayed due to illness in the England camp, but although they had to make some last minute changes England were able to come up with 11 fit players. In batting order the final XI was Crawley, Duckett, +Pope, Root, Brook, *Stokes, Livingstone, Jacks, Robinson, Leach, Anderson. Foakes being unavailable meant Pope keeping wicket, and the team looked colossally strong in batting but limited in bowling (while some of the bowlers concerned are excellent practitioners of their art an attack with three specialists – Anderson, Leach and Robinson, and back up options Stokes, Jacks and Livingston is no one’s definition of a stellar bowling unit, with Stokes the nearest thing to a properly fast bowler in the ranks). There was less drama around the Pakistan selections, though their bowling attack was a very inexperienced one. Fortunately for England Stokes won the toss and chose to bat first (IMO a decision to field first would have raised legitimate questions about whether Stokes had been doing deals with dodgy bookies so terrible would it have been).

DAY ONE: THE RUNS FLOW

A barely believable opening day saw England post a new record for the opening day of a test match of 506-4, and that with fading light in the evening restricting play to 79 overs. The previous record of 494 by Australia versus South Africa had stood since 1910. Crawley, Duckett, Pope and Brook all registered centuries on this amazing opening day, and all went at over a run a ball. In amongst the carnage Joe Root just for once failed with the bat. Pakistan bowled poorly, and England’s batters took no prisoners – every loose ball was remorselessly punished.

DAY TWO: PAKISTAN FIGHT BACK

It is not often that a team who score 657 batting first could be disappointed with their efforts, but England were in that position. On one of the flattest pitches ever seen and against an experienced attack they lost their last six wickets in less than a full session, though their blistering scoring rate made up for the lack of time that they batted for. The innings lasted exactly 101 overs, with Brook scoring England’s quickest ever test 150 (at 80 balls his 100 was third on the England list behind Gilbert Jessop and Jonathan Bairstow, while Crawley had taken 86 balls, the same number as Botham at Old in 1981). Zahid Mahmood had the remarkable figures of 33-1-235-4!

By the time fading light forced a second successive early closure of a day’s play Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s openers, were still together and the score was 181-0.

DAY THREE – LATE WICKETS SPARE ENGLAND’S BLUSHES

Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq each completed tons for Pakistan, making this the first test match in which all four openers had scored first innings centuries. Babar Azam also reached three figures, and at 413-3 Pakistan looked well capable of taking a first innings lead. The breaking of Pakistan’s open stand featured a bit of cricket history – debutant Will Jacks became the first person with first two initials WG to claim a test scalp since the original “WG” dismissed Aussie wicket keeper Jack Blackham at Lord’s in 1890. This also meant that it took approximately 19 and a half years less as a test cricketer to claim a scalp on Pakistan soil than Anderson, whose own first scalp in that country came later in the day.

Late in the day England got things to happen, and by the time the light forced a third straight early finish to a day’s play Pakistan were 499-7, still 158 in arrears. Jacks has three of the wickets (remarkable given that at the start of the 2022 English season he had a grand total of three first class wickets), Leach two and Anderson and Robinson one a piece. England will be looking to polish of Pakistan’s tail early tomorrow, and score quick enough in their second innings to have a bowl at Pakistan before the close of tomorrow. Pakistan will be looking to thwart England for as long as possible – for them a draw will now be the summit of their ambitions for this match, while England retain some hope of winning. Incidentally with seven centuries already racked up it is worth noting that the record for any test match is eight and the FC record is nine, in an absurd game between Bombay and Maharashtra in the late 1940s which the former won by 354 runs – Bombay 651-9d and 714-8d, Maharashtra 407 and 604.

Although this game is not utterly dead yet, that is more by accident than by design, and a pitch on which bowlers are as helpless as they have been these three days is a poor one for test cricket. My own feeling is that a draw remains the likeliest outcome, with the Pakistan win and the tie the two rank outsiders and an England win maybe 25%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Today’s photographs are all work photographs. The auctions in which these items feature can be viewed here and here.

Now on to the second sale (takes place on Dec 14th):

All Time XIs – Match Ups 56

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I have selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today sees the end of the Ps, who start the day on 64 out of 100 points.

THE Ps V THE Vs

The Ps have the better opening pair, and Ponting wins the batting match up at number three, while Vaughan and Procter were both excellent skippers. Pollock and Pietersen both definitively win their batting match ups as well. Pant and Verreynne are much of a muchness, while Procter outdoes Vaas in both departments, though Vaas is less far adrift with the ball than figures suggest – he is part of a stronger attack than he ever had to opportunity to be IRL. Voce and Van der Bijl probably represent a better new ball pairing than S and P Pollock – Van der Bijl was the best of the four, though he never got to play test cricket, and Voce’s left arm gives them the advantage of greater variation. The Vs have unarguably the better spin attack – Verity outranks Parker, as great a bowler as the Gloucestershire man was, Vogler outranks Prasanna, and they have a third genuine option in Vine. The question here is whether the Vs bowling resources outweigh the Ps as much as the Ps batting resources outweigh the Vs, and I don’t think they do. I score this one Ps 3, Vs 2.

THE Ps V THE Ws

The Ws are ahead in all departments save keeping, which is a draw. Anything the Ps can do, the Ws can do as well or better, leading to only one scoreline: Ps 0, Ws 5.

THE Ps v THE Xs

The Ps dominate in all departments, with the sole exception of keeping, where BoX was probably a finer practitioner than Pant. Ps 5, Xs 0.

THE Ps V THE Ys

The Ps are stronger in batting, way ahead in fast bowling, ahead in keeping, probably ahead in captaincy and maybe fractionally behind in spin bowling: Ps 5, Ys o.

THE Ps V THE Zs

Absolute domination from the Ps once again, and a third straight whitewash in their favour to end their match ups: Ps 5, Zs 0.

THE Ps FINAL SCORE

The Ps have scored 18 out of 25 points today, finishing with 82 out of 125, 65.6%

PHOTOGRAPHS

All Time XIs – Match Ups (9)

Continuing my extended analysis of how my all time XIs for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

I continue my series of posts analysing how my all time XIs for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Bs XI are still in the hot seat, and they come into this series of match ups on 55 points out of 80.

THE Bs V THE Rs

The Bs are massively ahead on batting. They also have the better new ball pairing, but whoever out of Roberts or Richardson ends up first change is a better third pacer than Botham. Benaud outdoes Robins, but Rhodes is a match for Bates. Though the Rs do have an advantage in bowling it is a small one and does not make up for the gulf in batting. Bs 3.5, Rs 1.5.

THE Bs V THE Ss

The Ss are only definitively behind the Bs in one batting slot – the number three position. Sangakkara as keeper and Sobers’ constellation of talents mean that other than number three the only position for which batting skill is noted that the Bs win is at number nine, where Benaud outdoes Starc. Though Barnes and Bumrah are the best new ball combination available to either side Starc far outdoes Botham as a bowler, and his left handedness gives his side an extra variation. Stokes and Sobers in his quicker guise are decidedly useful back up seamers as well, while Sobers in his slower guises and Stevens will be a good spinning combination, albeit not the equal of Benaud and Bates. The Ss XI have a clear but not utterly overwhelming advantage: Bs 1.5, Ss 3.5.

THE Bs V THE Ts

The Bs have an advantage in batting, but the Ts have the fastest pace combo of any letter, with Tyson and Trueman matching Barnes and Bumrah for potency with the new ball and Thomson a better third pacer than Botham. Frank Tarrant and Hugh Trumble are certainly at least as potent as Benaud and Bates – Bates may have an advantage over Trumble, but Tarrant has the edge on Benaud. I think the Ts just about have the bowling guns to negate the Bs advantage with the bat. Bs 2, Ts 3.

THE Bs V THE Us

The Bs boss the top batting, with only Inzamam Ul-Haq and Misbah Ul-Haq within ten runs an innings of their opposite numbers in the first five positions. Umrigar outbats Botham, but is much less of a bowler. Similar Umar Akmal outbats Bari, but is nowhere near him as a keeper. Umar Gul has an ordinary bowling record, Umran Malik has earthshaking potential but little actual experience, leaving Ulyett the pick of their fast bowlers. Underwood rates ahead of Benaud as a bowler, and Ur Rahman looks about even with Bates, though again, as with Umran Malik, he lacks experience. The presence of Ulyett and Umrigar does mean that the Us have six bowling options to the Bs five, but I don’t think that can save them, although they might just have a field day if Underwood and Ur Rahman with Umrigar as back up get to work on a raging bunsen. Bs 4 Us 1.

THE Bs V THE Vs

The Bs have their usual huge advantage with the bat, but the Vs are stronger in bowling. While Barnes and Bumrah have to be considered to outrank Voce and Van der Bijl as a new ball pair, Vaas is ahead of Botham as third seamer, and probably by more than the figures show – he would almost certainly fare better as third seamer in a strong attack than he did as opening bowler in a moderate one. Vogler beats Benaud as a leg spinner, while Verity and Bates look on a par, although Verity’s test figures were achieved in a decade of doped pitches and Bradman’s batting. Verity’s advantage over Bates is clear if you compare their FC figures. I do not think that the Vs can make up for their deficit in the batting department, but I would expect a good contest: Bs 3, Vs 2.

THE Bs PROGRESS

The Bs scored 14 out of 25 points in today’s match ups, moving them on to 69 of a possible 105 points, 65.72% overall. The As by comparison were on 54 points at this stage of their match ups.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

I have separated some of my photographs off from the rest because I know that some of my readers are arachnophobic. If you are among them skip the last few photos…

All Time XIs – The Letter T

A quick book review and a continuation of my exploration of the all-time XIs theme with a look at surnames beginning with the letter T.

This post contains some bonus content – before getting to the main meat of it, an all time XI of players whose surnames begin with the letter T, I feature a book review.

MURDER UNDERGROUND BY MAVIS DORIEL HAY

The murder that gives this story its title takes place on the spiral staircase of Belsize Park tube station (this station, the second deepest on the entire network behind it’s neighbour Hampstead has three passenger lifts and this spiral staircase). The victim, a wealthy and unpleasant single lady, had been living in a private hotel and the other residents start investigating. The story is a fine read, and the unravelling of the puzzle about who committed the crime and how they managed it is expertly handled by the author. I first read this book a few years back, and have just recently had it out of the library again, and I enjoyed it more this time round. Three unusual features are a map showing the most important locations in the story, a diagram illustrating the layout of Belsize Park and a family tree of the victim’s family.

THE Ts IN BATTING ORDER

Selecting this XI posed some interesting problems which I will elucidate more fully when I deal with the honourable mentions. The big problem was balancing the side properly when three specialist fast bowlers had ironclad claims to the number 9, 10 and 11 batting slots.

  1. *Mark Taylor (Australia). Left handed opening batter, excellent fielder and captain. I first came across him in the 1989 Ashes in England, scoreline Australia 4, the weather 2, England 0. He dominated the season batting wise, scoring 839 test runs at 83.90, an aggregate beaten in Ashes series only by Bradman (974 at 139.14 in 1930) and Hammond (905 at 113.125 in 1928-9). He also held some superb catches, something that would become a feature of his career. He succeeded another left handed batter, Border, as captain when that worthy retired in 1993. Border had taken the reins with Australia in the doldrums, and left Taylor a tough and cohesive unit well on the way to being world beaters. Taylor consolidated the progress, and the by time his own career ended Australia were established as the dominant force in world cricket, a status they would retain for a further decade before a decline set in during Ponting’s tenure as skipper.
  2. Victor Trumper (Australia). Right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. A great figure in the history of the game, who helped to transform the art of batting in the early 20th century. His apogee was in England in 1902, when he scored 2,570 FC runs in a wet season on uncovered pitches, including 11 centuries. One of those centuries came in the morning session of the opening day of the Old Trafford test match, when England had hoped to keep things tight in the expectation that by the afternoon the surface would be made to measure for Bill Lockwood, as indeed it was. The trouble was that by the time the afternoon session started Australia were 173-1. Thereafter only Joe Darling and Clem Hill figured prominently with the bat, and Australia were all out for 299. England ended up beaten by three runs, a result which secured The Ashes for Australia.
  3. Frank Tarrant (Middlesex, Australia). A left handed top order batter (Middlesex, for whom he played for many years, often used him as an opener) and left arm slow-medium bowler. In a first class career that extended for 38 years (debut in 1898-9, last appearance in 1936-7) he scored 17,952 runs at 36.41 and took 1,512 wickets at 17.49. He never got to play test cricket, but if you want to see whether a left arm slow-medium bowler can succeed at that level look up the career record of Derek Underwood.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar (Yorkshire, India). A right handed middle order batter, and an occasional right arm bowler of both leg and off spin (the former might be useful for this team), and the third of three cricketers to be dubbed ‘the little master’ by fans – Hanif Mohammad (Pakistan) was the first and Sunil Gavaskar (India) the second. One of the greatest of all cricketers and practically deified in his native land.
  5. Graham Thorpe (Surrey, England). A gritty and for my money underrated left handed middle order batter, and an occasional bowler of medium pace. A test average of 44.66 over a 100 match career at that level when he was very often trying to save the innings from ruin is some testament to his skill and determination.
  6. Ross Taylor (New Zealand). A right handed batter and occasional off spinner of Maori heritage (his full name is Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor), his test average is two decimal places identical to that of Thorpe – 44.66, though having played 12 test matches more than Thorpe he naturally has more runs to his name. He has the highest score ever made by a visiting batter in a test in Australia with 290 (beating RE Foster’s 287 at Sydney in 1903).
  7. +Bob Taylor (Derbyshire, England). A wicket keeper and right handed batter who was better in the latter department than he is often given credit for. His six hour 97 helped ensure that England would win the 1978-9 Ashes. He made more first class dismissals than any other keeper in history, though his test tally is reduced by the fact that Knott usually got the nod at his expense at that level.
  8. Hugh Trumble (Australia). An off spinner and stubborn right handed lower order batter (good enough in this latter capacity to have achieved the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in FC matches on the 1899 tour of England). He took 141 test wickets, all against England, twice performing the hat trick in tests at his home ground in Melbourne. At The Oval in 1902 he had a superb but ultimately unavailing all round match: He top scored with 64* in two and a half hours as Australia scored 324 batting first, then took 8-65 bowling unchanged, as only a vigorous 43 from George Hirst saved England from the indignity of the follow on. Australia were 122 all out in their second innings, Trumble 7*. When England, chasing 263, slumped to 48-5, four wickets to left armer Jack Saunders and the other to Trumble it looked all over. Gilbert Jessop smashed a century in 75 minutes, but when he was seventh out England still needed 76 to win. George Hirst, supported by Lockwood, Lilley and then Rhodes took England to a one wicket win, Trumble bowling unchanged through the innings and adding four wickets to his first innings eight-for.
  9. Frank Tyson (Northamptonshire, England). One of the fastest bowlers ever seen, he flashed across the cricketing skies like a meteor. The highlight of his brief career was the 1954-5 Ashes when he blew Australia away in their own backyard.
  10. Fred Trueman (Yorkshire, England). In his own words “T’finest bloody fast bowler that ever drew breath” – and it was close enough to the truth to be an excusable exaggeration. He claimed 307 wickets in 67 test matches, the first to top 300 wickets at the highest level.
  11. Jeff Thomson (Middlesex, Australia). A freakishly fast bowler until injuries ruined his career. In 1974-5 he was too quick for anyone to handle.

This side contains a splendid and contrasting opening pair, a fine all rounder at number three, a mighty engine room of Tendulkar, Thorpe and Ross Taylor, a top of the range keeper, one of the greatest off spinners ever to play the game and three seriously fast fast bowlers. Tarrant’s presence gives two genuine relief options to ensure that the quicks aren’t run into the ground.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

There is a lot of overlapping talent for this letter, so I shall work my way down the order starting with…

OPENING BATTERS

Glenn Turner, the only Kiwi to register 100 FC hundreds and possessed of a good test record as well and Marcus Trescothick, an attacking left hander, were the two most obvious candidates for opening slots other than the two I actually chose. Since I regard Trumper as an automatic selection for this letter, Trescothick, giving a left/ right opening combo comes closer than Turner to dislodging Taylor. Taylor however has one extra thing going for him – he was an excellent captain, something not otherwise readily available for this letter.

THE NUMBER THREE SLOT

There were two conventional number threes available – Johnny Tyldesley whose prime years were the first decade of the 20th century, and Jonathan Trott who did brilliantly for England in the early 2010s. Either would have been an excellent choice based on batting skills, with my own leaning being towards Tyldesley, but then other than Trumble the only bowling outside the pace trio would have been coming from part timers, and I felt that Tarrant, with a magnificent bowling record and an unusual bowling style gives the side a possibly crucial extra option, and that much more chance of keeping the quicks reasonably well rested.

THE MIDDLE ORDER

Ernest Tyldesley is the prominent missing name, being a member of the 100 FC hundreds club. The solid Sri Lankan Hashan Tillekaratne might have his advocates. Also, Steve Tikolo, the finest batter Kenya has ever produced, merits a mention. However, Tendulkar, Thorpe and Ross Taylor are three greats of the game.

ALL ROUNDERS

There were two all rounders for this letter to mention in this section. Bruce Taylor, a right arm fast medium bowler and hard hitting middle order batter scored a ton and took a five-for on test debut for New Zealand. Essex’s long serving Dutch all rounder Ryan Ten Doeschate had a fine domestic record, and would have been one of the first names on the team sheet had I been selecting with limited overs in mind. George Thompson whose deeds propelled Northamptonshire to first class status was another top performer. All three of these all rounders bowled fast medium, which with Tyson, Trueman and Thomson inked in didn’t seem to add much to the bowling attack.

WICKET KEEPERS

Four wicket keepers deserve a mention, without quite being able to displace the record breaker. Don Tallon, named by Bradman as keeper in his all time XI, was obviously a superb performer. Jonathan Tattersall at Yorkshire is rapidly establishing an excellent record. However, had I been going to give the gauntlets to anyone other than Bob Taylor I would have gone for one of two utterly outstanding female keepers: Sarah Taylor and Eleanor Threlkeld are both among the greatest their profession has ever seen.

SPINNERS

I am including in this category Charlie ‘terror’ Turner, known to be able place an orange between his thumb and forefinger and crush it to pulp, a party trick that would have made any batter watching it wince. He was chief rival to Trumble for the no8 slot, but given the often crude nature of 1880s pitches I felt that Trumble had to get the nod. Roy Tattersall, Fred Titmus and Phil Tufnell were all fine practitioners but not quite good enough to challenge Trumble. Dick Tyldesley, officially a leg spinner, had a fine record for Lancashire, but apparently never turned the ball at all.

SEAMERS

Among the quicker bowlers the best I have overlooked is without doubt Maurice Tate of Sussex and England, while the fastest is equally indubitably Shaun ‘Sloon’ Tait of Australia. Chris Tremlett had his moments for England but cannot truly be described as great, while Josh Tongue of Worcestershire has yet to be called up for England. Patterson Thomson of the West Indies should been the ultimate in terrifying speedsters with a name like that but unfortunately his record tells a different story.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEENS

No fewer than three cricketers belong under this subheading for this letter. James Taylor, a batter for Leicestershire was part of the England set up until a medical assessment revealed a heart condition, forcing him to retire as a player. He may well have claimed a place given a clean bill of health.

Maurice Tremlett (grandfather of Chris) had a storybook debut, claiming eight wickets and playing a crucial innings at the death. Unfortunately, well meaning attempts to turn him into a genuine fast bowler ended up destroying his confidence, and within a few years he was playing as a batter who occasionally came on to break up a partnership. Had England been better stocked with fast bowlers when he made that debut he may well have gone on to achieve greatness.

Albert Trott made a sensational start to test cricket in 1894-5, but although his brother Harry was named captain he was left out of the 1896 squad for England, travelled there anyway, signing for Middlesex and being for a couple of years the best all rounder in the world. In 1899 he hit on from Monty Noble clean over the Lord’s pavilion, but persistent attempts to emulate that great hit led to his batting falling away, and then he lost the quicker yorker which had been som important to his success as a bowler. Eventually, alone and impoverished, he shot himself. Had been named in the 1896 Australia squad he may have made an unassailable case for a place in the team.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Our cricketing journey through the letter T is at an end, and all that is left is my usual sign off..

The Smith XI

Inspired by Jamie Smith’s batting at Bristol in the last round of championship games I have selected a team comprised entirely of Smiths (he is twelfth person). Also includes some of my photographs.

This post was inspired by Jamie Smith’s double century for Surrey against Gloucestershire in the last round of county championship fixtures.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

For reasons that will become obvious I am including a twelfth person on this occasion.

  1. Graeme Smith (left handed opening batter) – the South African’s record confirms him as one of the finest openers of the modern era. He was also a candidate for the captaincy which I have awarded instead to his opening partner.
  2. *Mike Smith (MJK Smith, right handed opening batter, captain) – The Warwickshire stalwart averaged over 40 in FC cricket.
  3. Robin Smith (right handed batter) – An excellent player of fast bowling but had the gloss taken off his test record when he was found badly wanting against Shane Warne. Still even with the deleterious effect of Warne on his overall record he finished with a test average of 43.
  4. Steven Smith (right handed batter, occasional leg spinner) – The best test batter of the modern era, and possibly his country’s second best ever behind Donald Bradman.
  5. Collie Smith (right handed batter, occasional off spinner) – killed in a road accident at the age of 26 but he had already achieved plenty of note, including scoring 168 in a test innings and racking up a triple century in a Lancashire League game.
  6. Sydney Smith (left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner) – West Indian born but primarily associated with Northamptonshire. He averaged 31 with the bat and 18 with the ball, figures that would probably equate to 46 and 27 on today’s more batting friendly surfaces. Three years after his arrival at Northamptonshire the county finished second in the championship, a position that they are yet to improve on 110 years later.
  7. +Ian Smith (right handed batter, wicket keeper) – A fine keeper and a good enough bat to have test centuries, including a top score of 173.
  8. ‘Big Jim’ Smith (CIJ Smith – right arm fast medium bowler, very aggressive right handed lower order batter) – still holds the record for the quickest 50 scored of genuine bowling, reaching the landmark in 11 minutes (overall innings 66 in 18 minutes). A good enough quick bowler to be selected for England at his peak.
  9. Peter Smith (leg spinner, attacking lower order batter) – his most famous performance came with the bat, for Essex against Derbyshire, when he came in at number 11 and proceeded to smash 163 out of a last wicket stand of 218. That innings helped him to achieve the season’s double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class matches for the first time in his career.
  10. Haydon Smith (right arm fast bowler, right handed tailender) – the Leicestershire quick will form a useful new ball pairing with ‘Big Jim’ in this team.
  11. ‘Razor’ Smith (off spinner, right handed tail ender) – over 1,000 FC wickets at 17.55 a piece. The Surrey and London County player completes a highly dangerous spin trio who all do different things with the ball (of the three Peter Smith the leg spinner is probably the least threatening, but even he took his FC wickets at 26.55 a piece.
  12. Jamie Smith (right handed batter, wicket keeper). The inspiration for this post. His double century at Bristol took his FC average north of 40, but he is not his county’s first choice keeper and I could not leave out Collie Smith to get him into the 11, so for the moment he is twelfthy for this team.

A LOOK AT THE XI

The team has a very strong top five, a genuine all rounder at six, an excellent keeper/ batter at seven, two useful hitters at eight and nine and only two out and out tailenders. The bowling his excellent variety, although it is short in the pace department. I would expect this team to give a good account of itself on most surfaces (only on a green seamer might they be in trouble).

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Given the lack of pace bowling I will start with that department. Gloucestershire left armer Mike Smith did not have a good enough record to merit selection, though he was a good county bowler. Warwickshire all rounder Paul Smith, who bowled fast medium, could only have been accommodated had I left out one of Collie or Sydney Smith, and I did not feel that I could drop either to make way for him.

There were two wicket keeping candidates other than Ian Smith, both with Warwickshire connections – ‘Tiger’ Smith and Alan Smith.

Off spinner Neil Smith, for all that he was briefly an England cricketer, was not of the same calibre as the spinners I have selected. Had Sydney Smith not had an ironclad case for inclusion as an all rounder I might have included a female in the shape of left arm spinner Linsey Smith.

Chris Smith might have had the opening slot I awarded to MJK. David Smith (Surrey, Worcs, Sussex, picked for the 1986 tour of the Caribbean) was a good county player but not (in spite of the fact that he attended a previous incarnation of my own secondary school) good enough to qualify for selection.

Finally, I deliberately did not pick the guy known in his Cambridge days as ‘Smith’ – KS Duleepsinhji, because I would have considered it hypocritical to avail myself of this “cheat code” given my own condemnation of the conduct of a certain county at which a senior overseas pro was referred to as ‘Steve’ by folk who weren’t prepared to pronounce his real name.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Channel Islands 3: A Day on Guernsey

An account of a full day on Guernsey as part of my series on my recent holiday.

Welcome to the latest post in this series about my recent holiday (I am now back in Lynn, so these posts will be coming less sporadically). This post covers the one full day we spent on Guernsey en route to Alderney.

A FRENCH RESTAURANT

On the Saturday evening, having established ourselves at St Georges Guest House, roughly a kilometre from the centre of St Peter Port, we went out to find a restaurant to eat at. We settled on a French establishment, and the food and drink were both excellent.

Castle Cornet

The following morning we walked out to Castle Cornet, purchasing food at an M&S Food Hall on the way. We ate near a lighthouse, which I subsequently walked out to – it was very windy around the lighthouse but worth it for the views.

THE GUERNSEY MUSEUM

There was a wildlife photography exhibition at the Guernsey Museum as well as some stuff on the history of the island.

Championship Performances of Promise

A look at some of the more important success stories from this round of county championship games and a bumper crop of photographs.

As this round of county championship matches heads towards its conclusion (three are already settled – congratulations to Essex, Gloucestershire and Hampshire on their wins) I highlight several performances of potential interest to England.

While Ollie Pope dominated Surrey’s massive total against Leicestershire with his 245 there were also useful runs for Jamie Smith (119) and far more significantly for Ben Foakes (87), who should feature as England’s test wicket keeper.

For Leicestershire, Hassan Azad, mentioned as a candidate for an opening berth (Burns remains under some scrutiny after his winter, and Sibley is injured and may not be fit for the first test, while Lammonby is struggling horrendously after a fine start to his FC career) made a century in the first innings and is well on the way to doubling up. As things stand at the moment he is averaging 44.84 in FC cricket, while playing his 31st match at that level.

In the west country derby Ryan Higgins had a fine match, and with there being a possible vacancy for an all rounder with Stokes injured and Woakes playing in the IPL that could prove significant. Of more definite significance is the performance of James Bracey – a century and an 82 not out in the second innings. He has been part of the England set up but has yet to play a test match.

Finally, Matt Parkinson for Lancashire has produced a good bowling performance. He took 3-49 in the first innings, including a pretty good impression of the ‘Gatting ball’ and already has 2-23 in the second as Lancashire press for victory (Northamptonshire can do no better than a draw from here). His five wickets in this match have taken his bowling average in FC cricket below 25 (currently 67 wickets at 24.42). He remains #2 to Leach among current England spinners, although he is now paying less per wicket than Leach in FC cricket, because Leach has over 300 wickets to his credit at FC level and is faring respectably at test level, but he may well be earning himself a trip to Australia as an accredited member of the party rather than a ‘reserve’ as was over the winter just gone.

Oliver Edward Robinson of Sussex, definitely a candidate for elevation, has just recorded innings figures of 9-78, giving him 13-128 in the match. If England want five bowling options, Higgins at seven, Robinson at eight, one out and out speedster, Leach and one of Broad/ Anderson could work well, Higgins and Robinson have decent batting credentials.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have lots of photographs to share with you…

All Time XIs – Somerset

Originally posted on aspiblog:
INTRODUCTION Welcome to the latest installment in my “All Time XIs” series. Today we are looking at Somerset. In the course of our journey we will meet heroes of the past, stars of the present, a couple of hopes for the future and the man who when I get round to…

When I created this post OTD last year Bess was riding high and having felt it necessary to exclude Leach I hoped he would continue to go well and justify my faith in him. Not helped by some mismanagement over the winter he has gone backwards since then, and I would remove him from the XI and replace him with Brian Langford, who took 1410 wickets at 24.79 in 510 first class appearances. Thus the revised XI is Trescothick, Gimblett, Palairet, Hildreth, Braund, *Woods, Botham, Garner, Langford, White, +Luckes. I also have some new photos to show…

aspiblog

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “All Time XIs” series. Today we are looking at Somerset. In the course of our journey we will meet heroes of the past, stars of the present, a couple of hopes for the future and the man who when I get round to creating it will be captain of the “What Might Have Been XI”.

SOMERSET ALL TIME XI

  1. Marcus Trescothick – left handed opener who scored stacks of runs in his long and distinguished career. He was selected for England against the West Indies in 2000, showed masses of character in surviving an early onslaught from the veteran pacers Ambrose and Walsh, going on to score 66 on debut. That same winter facing the very different challenges posed by a dry pitch and some crafty spinners in Sri Lanka he made his maiden test hundred. Runs continued to…

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Brathwaite Ends Lean Spell

A look at developments in #WIvSL, some remarkable footage of a volcanic eruption (courtesy of Science girl on twitter), and my latest photographs.

In this post I look at developments in the game between West Indies and Sri Lanka that is just into its second day.

DAY 1: KRAIGG BRATHWAITE DEFIES SRI LANKA

With the West Indies batting first and looking to improve on the draw they recorded in the first game of the series Sri Lanka bowled very well. Veteran seamer Suranga Lakmal was particularly effective, bowling full and just a fraction wide (even in limited overs cricket the umpires would not have been calling wides – he was targetting the area that bowlers like to call ‘fourth stump’) to take three of the first four wickets. For much of the day it seemed that Brathwaite would simply not find anyone to bat well enough with him for the Windies to post a decent total, but then Rahkeem Cornwall, the off spinner who has a decent first class record as lower order batter, set about proving that his maiden test fifty, recorded in the previous match, was no fluke. By the close West Indies had got to 287-7, Brathwaite 99 not out, Cornwall 43 not out.

DAY TWO – LANDMARKS SECURED EARLY

It took one ball of the second day, which is just under way, for Brathwaite to complete his ton with a single, and Cornwall has subsequently got to 50. After three overs of the second day the West Indies are 299-7, Brathwaite 101 not out, Cornwall 53 not out. Lakmal is bowling at one end and left armer Vishwa Fernando at the other, and Cornwall has just brought up the 300 with a two off the latter, taking himself to 55.

LIVE FOOTAGE OF A VOLCANO

Someone who posts on twitter under the name Science Girl has posted some extraordinary footage from Iceland, where volcanic eruptions have been happening lately. You can visit the tweet by clicking here, and the video is embedded below:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off, with as evidence of changing seasons (the sun came out today and it has been genuinely warm here in Norfolk) my first butterfly sightings of 2021 – nothing very exotic, just some tortoiseshells.

As I publish the West Indies have still not lost any further wickets, the score being 302-7 after 92 overs.