All Time XIs – All Rounders v Specialists

Today’s ‘all time XI’ cricket post pits all rounders against specialists.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another variation on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. Today an XI noted for all round talents take on an XI largely made up of specialists (although I have allowed them one all rounder).

THE ALL ROUNDERS

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career. He tallied 54,896 runs at 39.55 in first class cricket and took 2,876 first class wickets at 17.92 each. I note two things in defence of his batting average: he played on poor wickets for much of his career, and that career was very long, and went on well past his cricketing prime. In the decade of the 1870s, when he was at his zenith he averaged 49 with the bat, while no one else who played consistently over the course of that decade averaged over 25. If we accept that he would have paid for his wickets and averaged more with the bat playing on good pitches and allow 50% inflation for the effects of the change in pitches then his career figures become a batting average of 59.42 and a bowling average of 26.88.
  2. Wilfred Rhodes – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. His career figures were 39.807 runs and 4,187 wickets, at averages of 30 and 16 respectively, but his career had several distinct periods: he started as pure bowler, batting no 10 or 11, then he moved up into the middle order for a few seasons, batting habitually at 6 or 7, and doing the double regularly (seven successive seasons), then he moved up to the top of the batting order, and on the 1911-2 Ashes tour he was England’s number two in every way – number two in the order, and second to Hobbs in the batting averages. Then, after World War 1, with Yorkshire needing more bowling he picked up his bowling arts, dropped into the middle order (no 5 initially, and moved down as years passed), and he again did the double in the first seven post war seasons. In 1926, now batting at no 8, he returned to the England team at the age of 49 for the Ashes decider at The Oval, and took 4-44 in the second innings. Then came the final stage of his career, when eyesight problems, which eventually became complete blindness late in his life, caused his batting to decline and he played as an out and out rabbit with the bat who was still worth his place as a batter. He went on the 1929-30 tour of the West Indies, playing for his country for the last time at the age of 52 years 165 days, the oldest ever to play test cricket for any country. In 1930 Hedley Verity began his Yorkshire career, and at the end of that season, at the age of 53, Rhodes retired from first class cricket to leave the stage clear for the younger man. A A Thomson wrote a two part book about the ‘Kirkheaton twins’, titled simply “Hirst and Rhodes”.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, close fielder. 58,969 first class runs at 40.75, 2,068 wickets at 19.85 and 1,018 catches (the only player ever to achieve this treble, and indeed the only outfielder ever to take 1,000 first class catches. The 1906 Wisden said of Woolley after his debut season that “it is doubtful whether he is robust enough to enjoy a really long career.” He only lasted 32 years, up to the end of the 1937 season!
  4. Wally Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, ace slip fielder. 50,551 first class runs at 56.10, 732 wickets at 30.58, 820 catches. He lost two seasons of his early career, one to bureaucratic malice (Lord Harris, a stickler on matters of qualification, and dedicated to Kent, noted Hammond’s Dover birthplace, and that school – Cirencester Grammar – did not technically count as residence, and caused this hiatus), and one to a mysterious illness picked up in the Caribbean, and six seasons of his later career to World War II, so his figures might have been ever more remarkable.
  5. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, fine fielder. 28,314 first class runs at 54.87, 1,043 wickets at 27.74, 407 catches. The most complete all rounder the game has ever seen. Like Rhodes he started his career as a left arm spinner who did not really bat. Unlike Rhodes having climbed up the order he never went right back down, although he was moved down from three to six when his captain Frank Worrell noted that he and Rohan Kanhai were not combining very well and split them up.
  6. +Les Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. 37,248 runs in first class cricket at 43.51, 703 catches and 418 stumpings. The only wicket keeper ever to score 100 first class hundreds.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, ace fielder. 26,698 first class runs at 32.63, 873 wickets at 22.79, 407 catches. A contemporary assessment of his fielding had it worth 20-30 runs per innings. He scored 53 first class innings, five of them doubles, with a best of 286, and only once in his career did he spend over three hours at the crease. For most of his career a ball had to go right out of the ground to score six, otherwise his record would have been even more extraordinary. He was once involved in a partnership of 66 to which he contributed…66 – the highest such partnership in first class cricket history. 
  8. George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. 36,356 first class runs at 34.13, 2,742 wickets at 18.73. In each of 1904 and 1905 he achieved the 2,000 runs, 100 wickets double, only previously achieved by WG Grace, Charles Townsend and Gilbert Jessop, though matched in 1905 by the Aussie Warwick Armstrong, and then in 1906 he became the only player ever to the ‘double double’, scoring 2,385 runs and taking 208 wickets in first class matches. Every season from 1903-13 inclusive he scored at least 1,000 runs and took at least 100 wickets in first class matches. He went on to be a successful coach, first at Harrow, then for Yorkshire. He was at the Yorkshire nets when Trueman had his first bowl there, and when others were fretting over the youngster’s wildness Hirst said coolly “just imagine what he will do when he teach him to bowl straight”, correctly realizing that pace cannot be taught but accuracy can.
  9. Maurice Tate – right arm fast medium, right handed batter. 2,784 first class wickets at 18.16, 21,616 first class runs at 25.04. Other than Hirst’s 1906 ‘double double’ only two cricketers have ever combined a season tally of 1,000 first class runs with 200 wickets, and he is one of them. He relied on swing and cut, being the first bowler to make really devastating use of the sea fret at Hove – usually the flatness of the pitches there emasculated bowlers.
  10. Albert Trott – right arm slow bowler, right handed batter. 1,674 first class wickets at 21.09, 10,696 runs at 19.48. The first of only two members of this team to have averages the wrong way round. In 1899 and 1901 he combined over 200 wickets with over 1,000 runs in first class matches. However, his decline was rapid thereafter as an obsession with repeating his 1899 feat of hitting a ball over the Lord’s pavilion negatively affected his batting and his bowling lost its fizz, and somewhere along the line he completely lost the fast yorker that was such a devastating weapon in his armoury. His first misfortune occurred when after making a sensational start to his test career he was not picked for the 1896 tour of England, and made his own way to that country, ultimately signing for Middlesex. He seemed to have put the disappointment behind him by the time another Aussie side visited in 1899, but then came that shot of Monty Noble, and its subsequent effect on his batting.
  11. Peter Smith – leg spinner, right handed batter. 1,697 wickets at 26.55 , 10,142 runs at 17.95 in first class cricket. He achieved the season’s double for the first time in 1947, and it was in that season that he had his greatest batting moment. In the game before his big day out he had batted at no 10 and bagged a pair, so he had seemingly little cause for complaint at being made no 11 for the game against Derbyshire. The ninth Essex wicket fell at 199 and he walked out to join Frank Vigar. By the time he was out the score had risen to 417, and his share of that stand of 218 was 163, with five sixes and 23 fours, the highest first class score ever made by a no 11.

This team has an excellent top five, statistically the best batter keeper there has ever been, the ultimate x-factor player in Jessop and a fine foursome who are there principally as bowlers. Counting Sobers as three options because of his multiplicity of styles there are 12 front line bowling options in this team.

THE SPECIALISTS

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter. 61,237 first class runs at 50.65. Both this tally of first class runs and his 197 centuries are first class records, and he lost four years of his cricketing prime to World War 1. His entry into first class cricket was also slightly delayed because he was a native of Cambridge and had to qualify by residence for Surrey (after someone at Chelmsford apparently binned his letter asking for a trial without having read it).
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. 50,670 first class runs at 52.02. The only player to score at least 2,000 first class runs in every inter-war season. He and Jack Hobbs were statistically the most productive of all test opening partnerships, the average opening stand between them being 87.81 per wicket, including 15 century opening stands.
  3. *Don Bradman – right handed batter. 28,067 runs at 95.14 in first class cricket. In his 338 innings he reached 50 186 times and went on to the century on 117 of those occasions, an average of a century per 2.78 innings, a figure not remotely approached by anyone else who played enough innings to qualify for assessment. 37 times he topped 200, an all time first class record, and on six of those occasions he scored over 300, the only player have more than four such first class scores (Hammond and Ponsford joint 2nd).
  4. Phil Mead – left handed batter. 55,061 runs at 47.67. His Hampshire tallies of 48,809 runs and 138 centuries are both records for any single first class team. He was originally associated with Surrey, and considered to be mainly a bowler, but moved to Hampshire and ended up as one of the heaviest scoring batters of all time.
  5. Patsy Hendren – right handed batter. 57,611 runs at 50.80. The third leading first class run scorer of all time, and second leading centurion with 170. He did all of this while having a reputation for being a great joker and prankster, just to show that one can be a highly successful player while remembering that it should be fun.
  6. Keith Miller – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. 14,183 first class runs at 48.90, 497 wickets at 22.30. Another who always realized that it should be fun. He served as an RAAF pilot in World War Two which led to his famous response to a question about pressure “There is no pressure in cricket – pressure is being in a Mosquito with two Messerschmidts up your arse.”
  7. +Bob Taylor – wicket keeper. He took 1,473 first class catches and executed 176 stumpings, totalling the most dismissals ever achieved by any keeper in first class cricket (two London based cricketers, John Murray and Herbert Strudwick are 2 and 3 on the list). Until he finally scored his maiden first class hundred near the end of his career he was in a club of two with Tony Lock – players who had over 10,000 first class runs, but no first class hundred (Lock’s highest score was 89 not out).
  8. Alec Kennedy – right arm medium fast bowler. 2,874 first class wickets at 21.23. He was seventh in the all-time list of first class wicket takers, and the only one of those seven not to be in Philippe-Henri Edmonds’ “100 Greatest Bowlers”. For many years he and Jack Newman (see yesterday’s post) carried the Hampshire bowling, until left arm spinner Stuart Boyes came along to lighten their workload a bit.
  9. Jack Hearne – right arm medium fast bowler. 3,061 first class wickets at 17.75 each. Number four in the list of all time wicket takers, a haul that included nine in an innings no fewer than eight separate times.
  10. Tich Freeman – leg spinner. 3,776 first class wickets at 18.42, taken in 550 first class games. Second on the all-time list of wicket takers behind Rhodes. Remarkably a combination of World War 1 and the strength of Kent’s bowling in his youth meant that by the time he turned 30 he had captured precisely 29 first class wickets. He took 200 or more wickets in each of eight successive seasons, including the only ever instance of 300 (304 in 1928).
  11. Charlie Parker – left arm orthodox spinner. 3,278 first class wickets at 19.46. The third leading wicket taker in first class cricket. Six times in first class cricket he achieved the hat trick, most remarkably in his benefit match when he hit the stumps five times in succession but the second was called no-ball.

This team has a stellar top five, a great all rounder, a great wicket keeper and four excellent and varied bowlers. The bowling with Kennedy, Hearne, Freeman and Parker with Miller as fifth option also looks highly impressive.

HONOURABLE MENTION

Every single batter to have scored over 50,000 first class runs is present in one or other of my teams, and numbers 1,2,3,4,6 and 7 of the all time leading wicket takers are also represented. No 5 in that list is Tom Goddard, the Gloucestershire off spinner who took 2,979 first class wickets at 19.84. For reasons of balance I had to select Kennedy, otherwise my only recognized pace options would have been Hearne and Miller, which is a bit too rich even for my blood.

THE CONTEST

This would be an absolute cracker of a contest. From no 3-11 inclusive the all-rounders team has a combined batting average of 280.95, while for different reasons it is hard to quantify Grace and Rhodes as openers. It would seem likely given their records when they were at their best as openers that these two would contribute sufficiently to make a team total of 400 more likely than not. The top six of the specialists team have a combined average of 344 in first class cricket, so nos 6-11 would have to come up with 50-60 between them to equalize things on this assessment. Without Bradman the specialists would have no chance whatsoever, with him it looks very even. I will call the trophy for this contest the ‘Martin – Stokes Trophy’, honouring two New Zealand born cricketers, one of the great specialists, that purest of pure bowlers Chris Martin, and a great all rounder in Ben Stokes.

AFTERWORD

For all that I would expect my side of all rounders to give a good account of themselves I most emphatically do not recommend selecting a fistful of all rounders in general. Especially I would warn of the curse of the ‘bits and pieces’ cricketer – the player who can bat a bit and bowl a bit but is not good enough at either to warrant selection. In general someone should only be picked if they merit selection as a specialist – and if they have a second string to their bow so much the better. The other problem that I did not highlight in connection with the all rounders side is that teams that bat literally all the way down often end up struggling because folk in such teams tend to develop the feeling that it is not likely to matter much if they do get out. I have memories seared in to me of England teams in the 1980s and 1990s picking bowlers who could bat a bit, and ending up neither able to score commanding totals nor to bowl the opposition out.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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All Rounders v Specialists
The teams in tabulated form.

 

100 Cricketers – The Sixth XI All-rounders and Introducing the Seventh XI

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, rounding out the discussion of the sixth XI ancd introducing the seventh XI. As usual it also contains some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. This post concludes the look at my sixth XI with a look at the all-rounders and introduces the seventh XI in batting order. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the sixth XI here and the most recent post in the series here.

+AMY JONES

Her overall batting record looks modest (ODI average 27.33, T20I average 18.20, no tests played yet), but her last seven innings have been 56, 79, 54, 76, 18, 36 and 57, all of them in winning causes. At the age of 25 she should still be improving, and I firmly expect that international centuries will appear against her name sooner rather than later. Sarah Taylor’s absence has given her an opportunity for an extended run at international level and she has taken it splendidly. 

DEEPTI SHARMA

Given that I do not set huge store by records in T20 and that she is yet another top woman cricketer who has had no opportunity to show what she can do in test cricket it is her ODI record that earns her a place in this squad, and her figures in that form of the game are: 48 matches, 1,330 runs at 41.81 with a highest score of 155 and 56 wickets at 27.39 (economy rate 3.87) with a best of 6-20. This means that she is worth a place purely with the bat, and is a genuine front-line spinner to support my West Indian pace quartet (better than anyone who actually provided spin back-up to a WI pace quartet, most often the part-time stuff of Viv Richards, and even Roger Harper, though officially a front-line bowler did not have that great a bowling record), which really strengthens the overall squad. To complete the record on the bowling front, Sanath Jayasuria’s slow left-arm would be the sixth bowling option and Chloe Tryon’s left-arm medium fast would be seventh in the pecking order. Deepti Sharma is a youngster, just 21 years old, which means that her finest years are still ahead of her – look for an already impressive record to get even better. This completes the look at the sixth XI, meaning that it is time to introduce…

THE SEVENTH XI

Here is my seventh XI in batting order:

  1. Gordon Greenidge
  2. Desmond Haynes
  3. Ricky Ponting
  4. Hashim Amla
  5. Heather Knight – vice-captain
  6. *Imran Khan
  7. +Mahendra Singh Dhoni
  8. Daniel Vettori
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Anya Shrubsole
  11. Amanda Wellington

Note that in this XI I have gone to to the extent of naming a vice-captain – I will explain this in more detail in later posts. For the moment, all I will say is that there are those who would advocate that the no3 in this XI get the captaincy and I wanted to emphasise just how far away he is from that in my thoughts.

PHOTOGRAPHS

The usual finish…

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Plum Warner’s account of the 1926 Ashes (he was chairman of selectors that year)…
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…featuring the famous urn embossed on the front cover
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The title page.

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Fred Root’s field – the four short-leg fielders were the key feature. In the famous bodyline series the much quicker Harold Larwood sometimes had six fielders close-in on the legside – with one deep for the hook and only two fielders in the whole of the offside.

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100 Cricketers: The 4th XI All-rounders and Introducing the 5th XI

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series – features the all-rounders from my 4th XI and introduces my fifth XI in batting order. Also includes some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. In this post we complete the examination of our fourth XI and present the fifth in batting order. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, the post in which I introduced the 4th XI is here, and finally the most recent post in the series is here.

SOPHIE DEVINE

Her averages in ODIs are the wrong way round (32 with the bat and 37 with the ball), but in T20Is she averages 27.92 with the bat and 16.75 with the ball. She has had no test match experience to date, an issue in women’s cricket that have animadverted on before. I saw her as teenager, bowling fast and batting down the order, in the same series in which I saw a similarly young Ellyse Perry in action. As with Perry I suspected at the time that she would be moving up the order, and although she has not progressed as remarkably as he Aussie counterpart she has indeed moved up the order, and five ODI centuries with a best of 145 show that she has the capacity for big scores. She also makes big hits – in total across the formats in international cricket she has hit 121 sixes. Why have I got her at six and not seven in this batting order? The answer follows…

ADAM GILCHRIST

Although the search for wicketkeepers who could provide serious runs predated Adam Gilchrist he completely transformed the notion of what was possible in a wicketkeeper batting wise. For much of his test career he averaged over 50, and he ended at averaging 47.60. He always refused to move up from number seven, saying that playing there gave him licence to bat the way he did, and since I would want him to bat the way he did I am keeping him at number seven.

England suffered as brutally at his hands as anyone, notably when he scored a century off just 57 balls in Perth in 2006, helping to ensure the Ashes would change hands as rapidly as possible. However, in the previous Ashes series in 2005 England, chiefly through Hoggard and Flintoff, had so restricted him that he did not even manage a half-century. 

INTRODUCING THE 5TH XI

Here in batting order is the fifth XI:

  1. Punam Raut
  2. Laura Wolvaardt
  3. Rahul Dravid
  4. Viv Richards
  5. Daryll Cullinan
  6. +Jonathan Bairstow
  7. *Kapil Dev
  8. Adil Rashid
  9. Harbhajan Singh
  10. Brett Lee
  11. Glenn McGrath

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some of my photographs to finish with:

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The first of four shots taken early yesterday evening which feature a remarkable full moon.
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Full moon and bird.
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First attempted close up of full moon
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ducks outside my window
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Second close-up of full moon
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The first butterfly of 2019 – captured through the window
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The remaining pics, including this one were taken during the two short walks I did this afternoon (each one being a circuit of the grassy area outside my bungalow).

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100 Cricketers – 1st X1: The All-rounders

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome the latest installment in this series. So far there has been the introduction, a post about Tammy Beaumont, and a post about the other specialist batters from my first XI. This post now deals with the all-rounders from that list, of whom there are no fewer than four (including the wicketkeeper)…

ANDREW “FREDDIE” FLINTOFF

He took a long time to really establish himself at international level, but then had a couple of years when he could seemingly do no wrong, which included the fantastic 2005 Ashes series. Later on injuries took their toll, but even at the very end of his career his last involvement in the action was a direct hit on the stumps to run out Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

His performance at Edgbaston in 2005, when he scored 73 and 68 and took four wickets in each innings was outstanding, and helped to turn a series that very nearly died a premature death into one that nobody will ever forget. His 18 overs off the reel at the Oval in that same series to give England an unexpected first innings lead was incredible. In the second match of the 2009 series at Lords he bowled England to their first victory over Australia at that venue since 1934 when Hedley Verity took advantage of a rain affected pitch (remember, they played on “ooncoovered pitches” in those days) to record match figures of 15-104). 

England were rather more sensible about Flintoff’s departure than they had been about Ian Botham’s in the early 1990s, when many young cricketers had promising careers effectively strangled by having the “next Botham” label draped round their necks. This time they realised that a straight replacement for Flintoff was, to put it mildly, unlikely, and set about building a different kind of team.

Flintoff had two and a half really superb years (2004, 2005 and 2006 before the tour to Australia at the end of that year which was an unqualified disaster for him and most of the rest of the squad) and produced flashes of brilliance both before and after that period. 

KATHRYN BRUNT

She started out as a specialist bowler, batting low in the order. At one point she dropped out of the game but then made a comeback. Subsequently she has remained the England Womens team’s first choice opening bowler and has improved her batting to the point that she can be regarded as an all-rounder (she now habitually bats at no 6 or 7 in tests and ODIs, and often comes in higher than that in T20s when quick runs are wanted). 

So long as her back holds out (she has been plagued by problems in that area down the years) she will be wanted by England (in the final ODI against India recently she took 5-28, her wickets being those of the top five in the Indian order, and was on 18 not out when England completed their victory). 

ELLYSE PERRY

I saw a very young Ellyse Perry live at the Adelaide Oval in 2009, playing in an ODI for the Australian Women versus the New Zealand Women. In those days she bowled fast with new ball, batted at no 8 (it was obvious that she would be moving up the order in the future) and had a superb throwing arm.

She still bowls fast with the new ball, remains a brilliant fielder, and is now just about the best batter in the women’s game (a test-match double century being her career highlight, along with her recent dominance of the Women’s Big Bash League – three individual centuries in the most recent tournament). 

If you were selecting an Earth Women XI to take on Mars Women she would undoubtedly by the first name on the team sheet and it would go down in ink, not pencil. 

She should still have a few years ahead of her at the top, and my advice would be: enjoy it while you can – talents of this magnitude do not come along very often.

BEN FOAKES

One of the best wicketkeepers in the game, he has played five test matches for England and averages 41.50 with the bat as well as having demonstrated his skills as a keeper. Yet ridiculously his international future is in doubt because of the difficulty (in the minds of the current England selectors at least) of fitting him and Jonny Bairstow into the same England team. If they do not want to use Bairstow as a specilaist batter, filling the no3 slot, then as far as I am concerned he, and not Ben Foakes, should be the one to miss out.

Providing the England selectors see sense Foakes should go on to have a stellar international career.

THE NEXT POST IN THIS SERIES

My next post in this series will feature the specialist bowlers from my first XI and introduce my second X1 preparatory to posting about them.

PHOTOGRAPHY

A few of my own photographs to end:

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Seen from the Tuesday Market Place, King’s Lynn
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Near the Gaywood River, North Lynn
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My new beanie – from the part of Cornwall where my parfents live.