All Time XIs – England Before WWI

A look at England’s resources in the early years of test cricket and a large photo gallery.

Today is the third anniversary of my first ever All Time XIs post, about Surrey and I am varying the theme today with a look not at an all-time XI but an XI for a particular period of cricket’s history – England before WWI, so picked from players who appeared in the first 37 years of test cricket.


  1. *WG Grace (right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types and captain). WG’s test record looks fairly modest, but he was already 32 by the time he made his debut at that level and almost 51 by the time of his last appearance. He also did twice hold the England record individual score at that level, with 152 on his debut at The Oval in 1880, which lasted six years, and 170 at the same ground in 1886 to reclaim his record from Arthur Shrewsbury after one match. This latter stood until the 1894-5 Ashes series when Stoddart topped it with 173. Had test cricket been established a little earlier than it was Grace’s record would have been a lot better – in the 1870s he averaged 49 in FC cricket when no one else in England could do more than half as well.
  2. Jack Hobbs (right handed opening batter). Included in this XI as well as the one for the inter-war era out of deference to his own expressed wish to be remembered for how he batted before WWI – he was actually firmly established as the best in the world before the outbreak of WWI although his main record breaking years were after that conflict.
  3. Johnny Tyldesley (right handed batter). It was a choice between this man and David Denton of Yorkshire for the number three slot (both filled it with distinction) and I opted for the Lancastrian due to the fact that his brother misses out on a place in the inter-war XI because of England’s immense batting strength in that era.
  4. KS Ranjitsinhji (right handed batter). 989 test runs at 45 including two 150+ scores. One of the great geniuses of batting.
  5. FS Jackson (right handed batter,right arm medium fast bowler, vice captain). He never managed an overseas tour due to work commitments (he was a genuine amateur in terms of his cricket), but he still managed five test centuries against Australia in home matches. His peak came in the 1905 Ashes, when he won all five tosses, led England to victory in the only two matches to have definite results and topped both the batting and bowling averages for the series.
  6. Len Braund (right handed batter, leg spinner). The all rounder of the side, and an excellent slip fielder to boot.
  7. Frank Foster (left arm fast medium bowler, right handed batter). His career was cut short by a motorcycle accident, but in the few years he was around he did enough to claim his place, including playing a key role in a 4-1 win down under in 1911-2.
  8. +Augustus “Dick” Lilley (wicket keeper, useful lower order batter). The longest serving of England’s prewar keepers, and with an excellent record.
  9. George Simpson-Hayward (under arm off spin, right handed lower order batter). Selected for historical significance as the last specialist under arm bowler to feature at test level (and he did well in the five matches he got to play btw). He would need a law change (see here for a suggestion of how such a change could safely be made) to be able to play today.
  10. SF Barnes (right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter). That official ‘right arm fast medium’ is about as complete a description of Barnes the bowler as ‘artist’ is of Leonardo da Vinci – it tells a tiny fraction of the story of someone who could bowl every type of delivery known to right armers of his day and whose special weapon was effectively a leg break at fast medium.
  11. Wilfred Rhodes (left arm orthodox spinner, right handed lower order batter). Although Rhodes’ brief period as an England opening batter happened just before WWI I have selected him for his bowling – he started and ended his career as a specialist bowler with two spells as an all rounder and in the middle a spell as a specialist batter and I have put him in the slot from which he helped George Hirst to knock of the the 15 required when they came together at The Oval in 1902 and from where he helped RE Foster to add 130 for the last wicket at Sydney in 1903.

This XI has powerful top order, all rounders at six and seven, a fine keeper who could also bat at eight and three master bowlers to round out the order.


Other than my actual choices the main contenders for opening slots were Archie MacLaren and Arthur Shrewsbury. Reginald Foster has two places in the record books – his 287 at the SCG in 1903, at the time an all comers test record remains the record for someone playing their first test innings, and he is the only person to have captained England men at both cricket and football, but other than that amazing debut performance he only topped 50 once more in his career and that was an innings in which he benefitted from good fortune. Many would have expected CB Fry to be a shoo-in but his test record was not nearly as good as his FC record, and with WG inked in for the captaincy, and FS Jackson a more than able deputy his leadership skills were hardly required. Allan Steel might have had the all rounders slot I gave to Braund (like the latter he bowled leg spin). George Hirst may well have been as his Yorkshire skipper Lord Hawke was wont to claim the best ever county all rounder, but his performances for England were overall not that great, though he did have his moments.

George Lohmann was probably the biggest bowling omission but I felt he was too similar to Barnes to be able to pick both. The side also lacks a really fast bowler. The obvious candidate would be Tom Richardson, with 88 wickets in his 14 test matches, and if I were to be debarred from selecting Simpson-Hayward then Richardson would take his place, but I prefer the greater variety that Simpson-Hayward’s presence brings. Schofield Haigh’s England successes were limited for all that he was outstanding for Yorkshire. There were a stack of left arm spinners I could have picked: Johnny Briggs, Bobby Peel and Colin Blythe being the three most notable other than Rhodes in this period, while George Dennett never actually got an England cap, but 2,151 wickets at 19.82 in FC cricket provide proof of his greatness.


My usual sign off…

All Time XI – Minor Counties

Revisiting the all time XIs theme with an XI of the greatest cricketers to have been born in minor counties. Also a huge photo gallery.

Today I revisit a theme I started exploring in earnest when Covid-19 meant that there was no live cricket for a while – all time XIs.


This XI is based on birthplaces – players who play their whole careers for minor counties cannot really be considered great whatever their records. Every player in this XI was born in a county in mainland Britain but one which is not a home to first class cricket.


  1. Jack Hobbs (Cambridgeshire). The right handed half of an all East Anglian opening pair, both of whom played their FC cricket for Surrey and England, indisputably among the games all time greats, with more FC runs and more FC hundreds to his name than anyone else.
  2. John Edrich (Norfolk). One of five members of this Norfolk family to play FC cricket, he amassed over 100 FC hundreds in a long and distinguished career.
  3. Bill Edrich (Norfolk). Another of the Norfolk Edriches, an older cousin of John. In spite of losing six years of his cricketing prime to WWII he amassed 86 FC centuries in total and also had his moments bowling right arm fast medium.
  4. Ken Barrington (Berkshire). An average of almost 59 at test level, including 20 centuries. His career best FC score, 256 v Australia in 1964, came in a test match. That 256 was his first century in a test match in England, his previous nine having all come overseas.
  5. *Peter May (Berkshire). The captain of this side. Although he retired from top level cricket at the young age of 30 he had amassed 85 FC centuries by that point. In the low and slow scoring 1950s this attack minded batter managed to average 46 at test level, with a best of 285* against West Indies at Edgbaston in 1957.
  6. Tom Graveney (Northumberland). A member of the ‘100 first class hundreds’ club, and with a fine test record as well. His test best of 258 came against the West Indies, and he was also part of an extraordinary turn around against them at The Oval in 1966 when England slipped to 166-7 in reply to WI’s 268 before Graveney (165) and Murray (112) completely turned the match upside down. Their heroics inspired numbers 10 and 11, John Snow and Ken Higgs to such an extent that both scored 50s of their own boosting England to a final total of 527. West Indies, understandably demoralized by this, were never at the races in their own second innings and England won by an innings margin.
  7. Ian Botham (Cheshire). For five years (1977-82) he was unarguably among the greatest all rounders ever seen, for another five he had occasional great moments before finally tailing off altogether. Between the five years of undoubted greatness and the five years in which he had some great moments he set some astonishing records. When he came on the scene only two players had scored a century and taken five wickets in an innings of the same test match more than once, Mushtaq Mohammad and Garry Sobers who each achieved the feat twice. Botham did it five times, including the first time a male player scored a century and took 10 wickets across the two bowling innings of the same test match, against India in 1980 (Enid Bakewell had achieved this for England Women against West Indies Women a few months earlier). Since Botham’s retirement one other player has done it more than twice: R Ashwin of India has achieved the feat three times.
  8. +Bob Taylor (Staffordshire). More FC dismissals than any other keeper in history – 1,649 of them (1,473 caught, 176 stumped). His England career was limited by the fact that he overlapped with Alan Knott, whose better batting usually got him the nod. However Taylor was far less negligible in this latter department than this often leads people to think – his six hour 97 at Adelaide was undoubtedly crucial to England securing that series which was actually much harder fought than the final 5-1 scoreline suggests.
  9. Syd Barnes (Staffordshire). Rated by many as the greatest bowler in the history of cricket. He reached the landmark of 100 test wickets in his 17th match at that level, a figure beaten only by George Lohmann who got there in 16, and then so dominated the remainder of his test career that he finished with 189 wickets in just 27 test matches, an average of seven per match. He played in less than half of the test matches that England played between the start and end of his career due to a less than harmonious relationship with the powers that be. Although he never played for England after WW1 he was a formidable bowler even then in Lancashire League and Minor Counties cricket, taking a nine-for in a Lancashire League match at the age of 59. As late as 1930 there were those who thought a recall for Barnes might be the answer to Donald Bradman (Bradman confounded those who doubted his ability to score in England that summer by having a tour aggregate of 2,960 at 98.66 including 974 at 139.14 in the five test matches).
  10. ‘Old’ Jack Hearne (Buckinghamshire). The fourth leading wicket taker in FC history with 3,061 scalps. He didn’t play a vast number of games for England but even at that level his record was respectable.
  11. Peter Such (Dunbartonshire). When the Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Essex off spinner gained international recognition in 1993 he started in fine style, taking 6-67 in his first bowling innings at test level. Unfortunately that was as good as it got for him at the very highest level, and he emerged with 37 wickets at 33.56 from 11 test appearances (the emergence of Robert Croft, a bowler of similar type and quality and a much better lower order batter was a major factor against him) but his FC record was impressive.

This side is strong in batting. The bowling, with Barnes, Hearne, Botham and Such as full timers and Bill Edrich’s fast medium, Barrington’s leg spin and Hobbs’ medium pace as back up options is also impressive.


Tom Hayward (Cambridgeshire) scored over 100 FC centuries, but I felt that John Edrich’s left handedness gave him an edge. David and John Steele (both Staffordshire) were two gutsy left handed batters who both bowled a bit of spin on the side, but neither really make the grade, though if I wanted an extra back up spin option I might put David Steele at three in place of Bill Edrich. Alec Bedser is by far the biggest name to miss out, but I feel Jack Hearne is a better support act to Barnes than Bedser was. Alec’s twin brother Eric Bedser, a batter and off spinner was simply not a good enough batter to deny Graveney, the only way I could have got him in. Ian Peebles (Aberdeenshire) was a fine leg spinner, but with Barnes greatest weapon being effectively a leg break delivered at fast medium and with Barrington available as well I felt that Such as an off spinner was a better fit for the role of front line spinner. The side contains no bowler of express pace. There are two potential options, Olly Stone (Norfolk) and George “Tear ‘Em” Tarrant (Cambridgeshire), either of whom could replace ‘Old’ Jack at number 10, and possibly if the pitch was such that no front line spinner was deemed necessary both could be included by also dropping Such. Tom Dollery (Berkshire) was a fine middle order batter, even finer skipper and an occasional wicket keeper for Warwickshire, but he was not quite good enough to claim a front line batting slot in this XI and I would laugh outright at any suggestion that he might get the gauntlets ahead of Bob Taylor.


My usual sign off…

Events in the Womens U19 World Cup

A look at a couple of incidents from the inaugural Women’s Under 19 T20 World Cup and of course a photo gallery.

The inaugural Women’s Under 19 T20 World Cup is currently taking place in South Africa. 16 teams are involved, ranging from top tier cricketing nations like Australia, England and India to newcomers to the cricketing world stage such as Indonesia and Rwanda. In this post I look at two incidents from the tournament.


For more about the ROATeNSE as I call it, please visit this post. This one happened near the end of the Rwanda innings, and attracted the usual howls of protest from those opposed to this form of dismissal (I have yet to meet a logical argument against it – it rarely if ever gets beyond “I don’t like it, so it shouldn’t happen.”). I note three things about this particular dismissal:

  1. The bowler ran in smoothly and only changed tack when noting as she was about to bowl that the non-striker was out of her ground.
  2. There was nothing marginal about it – the batter had her bat trailing behind her, and the toe end of that implement, closest part of bat or body to the crease line, was at least a foot out, possibly 18 inches, while the batter herself was at least a full yard beyond the crease line.
  3. This was not a situation in which an accusation of desperation (a popular tactic among opponents of the ROATeNSE) could be made – Rwanda had lost a lot of wickets and were headed for a poor score (Pakistan won easily in the end, with just over two overs to spare).

In addition to the above important points I also noticed (I saw a video clip of the incident) that the non-striker could see the bowler at all times and was still careless enough to stray out of her ground.


Today Rwanda were in action again, this time against Zimbabwe. They managed 119 from their 20 overs, and when Zimbabwe were 80-6 in response a close finish looked on. At that point Rwandan seamer Henriette Ishimwe took the last four wickets with consecutive balls giving Rwanda victory by 39 runs. When I did my all time XI series for each letter of the alphabet in the second half of 2022 the Is had a very weak seam combination, and this proof of Ishimwe’s skill is sufficient to induce a change – she replaces Anthony Ireland in that XI (she is also a useful lower order bat, whereas the Zimbabwean was a genuine number 11). That leads on to a question that crops whenever this wicket taking sequence happens:


Some people notice that the sequence WWWW contains two sets of three Ws – nos 1,2 and 3, and nos 2,3 and 4 and ignoring the fact that using this to call the sequence a double hat tricks means counting the second and third wickets twice (once in each hat trick) insist on referring to it as a double hat trick.

For me this is absolute nonsense – only four distinct wickets are taken, so it is four wickets in four balls, while a double hat trick would be six in six – two independent sequences of three in three in succession.

Additionally, the phrase hat trick exists because of a match that took place at the Hyde Park ground in Sheffield in the early 1850s. In that match Heathfield Harman Stephenson, captain of the itinerant All England XI, took three wickets with successive balls and the crowd were so impressed by his feat that they passed a hat around to collect money for him. Both hat and coins were presented to Stephenson. I doubt very much that a fourth successive wicket would have got the hat passed around again, but had Stephenson taken another three in succession either then or later it might well have been, and had another bowler matched his achievement it probably would have been.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Great Test Matches I Did Not Get To Witness

11 of the greatest test matches that I know about only at second hand – I may have watched highlights of them, read about them or both of the foregoing, but I did not witness them live.

This is a follow up to my earlier post about great test matches I did get to witness. These are matches I have read about and/or witnessed highlights of but did not get to follow live at the time. The matches are listed ibn chronological rather than ranking order, and to set the tone there is match not of test status as an hors d’oeuvre.


The Australians had had a rough start to their tour of England in what was a very wet summer. When they arrived at Lord’s to take on the MCC few gave them much of a chance. MCC were fielding a very respectable side, with the mighty WG Grace to the fore. MCC batted first, and Frank Allan, a graceful left armer dubbed ‘bowler of the century’ in the run up to the tour shared the new ball with Harry Boyle, a medium pacer of exceptional accuracy. WG Grace hit the first ball of the match for four, but was out to the second. Another wicket fell one run later, but then Albert ‘Monkey’ Hornby and Arthur Ridley shared what turn out to be the largest partnership of the match. The moment that tilted this game towards being a historic one was when Frederick Robert Spofforth was called upon to bowl in place of Allan. Spofforth destroyed the MCC middle and lower order with sheer pace, a high water mark of 27-2 becoming 33 all out. Spofforth had taken 6-4 for the innings. The Nottinghamshire pair of Alfred Shaw (right arm slow/ medium) and Fred Morley (left arm fast) took the new ball for MCC. Australia fared little better than the home side, limping to 41 all out, with Shaw following the general pattern of his career by bowling considerably more overs than he conceded runs. For the second MCC innings Spofforth was given the new ball alongside Boyle, and MCC were rolled for a paltry 19, Boyle taking 6-3 and Spofforth 4-16. Charles Bannerman fell early in the fourth innings, but Billy Midwinter and Tom Horan saw Australia to a nine wicket win. The match was over on the same day it started, the thick end of a century before games with that intention would become a regular thing in top level cricket, and the aggregate of 105 runs remains the smallest ever for an FC match with a definite result. This tour did not feature any test matches, but the next visit by Australia in 1880 did, England winning a hastily organized match in September of that year by five wickets.


Unlike its predecessor in 1880 this match was planned when the tour itinerary was created. Albert ‘Monkey’ Hornby captained England, a mistake, espeically given that Spofforth, the leading Australian bowler, had a hex on him (if they weren’t yet prepared to appoint WG Grace who would have been the best choice then Lord Harris would have done). Rather than Hornby, EM Grace should have been the other opener for England (as he was in 1880, when he and WG put on 91 together in the first innings). However, all seemed rosy when Australia were dispatched for 63 in their first innings, and England responded with 101, Yorkshireman George Ulyett top scoring with 26. Hugh Massie now played a crucial innings for Australia, scoring 55 of the first 66 runs in their second innings and propelling them into credit with only one wicket down. Once he was out there was little more to the Australian innings, though Murdoch batted through such of it as there was to finish on 29* in a score of 122. The single most significant moment of the innings was the dismissal of Sammy Jones, who left his crease to pat down the pitch with the ball not officially dead. Grace, fielding at point, ran him out, a move which provoked Spofforth to absolute fury. While England were preparing to chase 85 to win Spofforth was telling his team mates “this thing can be done”. Grace and Hornby put on 15 for the first wicket, but then Hornby and Richard Barlow, also of Lancashire, were both out at that score. Grace and Ulyett shared a fine partnership, but Ulyett was dislodged with the score at 51, and two runs later, Grace, only the second player in the game to record a score of above 30, was dislodged for 32, making it 53-4. It was at this juncture that things turned against England. Lyttelton and Lucas, paralysed by nerves, could barely score, and skipper Hornby started panicking and messed with his batting order. When Lyttelton was dismissed to make it 66-5 the panic really set in, Hornby holding CT Studd, scorer of two centuries against the Aussies that season, back in the order until the eighth wicket fell. Billy Barnes was dismissed shortly after Studd’s arrival to make it 75-9, and Peate had three balls to survive from Harry Boyle before the end of the over. He scored two off the first of these, but a wild swing at the second met fresh air, while the ball clattered against his stumps. England 77 all out, and beaten by seven runs. Studd, with his two centuries against the Aussies earlier that season, was 0* (0), not the least ridiculous feature of this ridiculous match.


England were captained by Andrew Stoddart, Australia had entrusted veteran wicket keeper Blackham (who had played the first test match of all in 1877) with the captaincy. Blackham won the toss and batted. Tom Richardson the great Surrey fast bowler claimed three early wickets, but the then George Giffen and Frank Iredale joined forces. Their stand, apparently helped by some clumsy keeping on the part of Leslie Gay, yielded 171 runs, and then after Iredale’s dismissal Syd Gregory joined the fray, adding a further 139 with Giffen before the latter fell for 161 just before the end of day one. Australia closed on 346-5. On day two Syd Gregory completed a double century, only the second ever achieved in test cricket, and with Blackham scoring a test best 74 Australia reached 586.

England were all out for 325 in their first innings, Albert Ward top scoring with 75. They were made to follow on, and when the sixth wicket went down at 296, with the lead still only 35 Australia still looked well place. However, Francis Ford and Johnny Briggs put on 89 together for the seventh wicket, and even the tail made contributions. England mustered 437 in this second innings, setting Australia 177 to win. Jack Lyons began breezily, hitting 25 in 15 minutes at the crease, but after he and Harry Trott were both out, Giffen opted to play safe, making sure he was still there for the following morning (tests in Australia were played to a finish in those days). Australia close on 113-2, needing just 64 the following morning, Darling 44*, Giffen 30*. Overnight it rained (pitches were uncovered in those days, and overnight rain, followed by strong Australian sun the following morning created what was known as a ‘sticky dog’), though England’s trump card in such circumstances, left arm spinner Bobby Peel, did not hear the rain following, as he had given the match up for lost and drowned his sorrows in emphatic fashion. The Australians certainly did realize that it had rained. Peel and fellow left arm spinner Johnny Briggs gradually tightened the screw on Australia, and the ninth wicket went down with Australia still 15 short. Blackham was last man in, nursing a cracked thumb, and the other remaining batter, Charlie McLeod did his best to protect the injured keeper, ultimately Blackham prodded a catch back to Peel and England had won by 10 runs, with Peel having innings figures of 6-67.


A spat between chairman of selectors (Lord Hawke, Yorkshire) and captain (Archie MacLaren, Lancashire) led to an odd looking England side. MacLaren wanted Schofield Haigh, but Hawke would not release him. MacLaren in a fit of pique at this left another Yorkshireman, George Hirst, out on the morning of the match, handing a debut to 35 year old Fred Tate of Sussex.

Australia batted first, and by lunch they were 173-1 with Victor Trumper having reached three figures, the first ever to do so on the first morning of a test match. Post lunch England did better, but a rapid partnership between middle order left handers Clem Hill and Joe Darling (73 in 45 minutes) helped Australia to reach 299. England began poorly, but a big stand between FS Jackson and Len Braund, plus some further lower order support for Jackson (128) got England to 262. Australia in their second innings were 10-3 and should have been 16-4, but MacLaren had high-handedly refused to move Lionel Palairet, a fellow amateur, from square leg to the right hander to square leg to the left hander, sending Fred Tate (who fielded close to the bat for Sussex) out there instead. Tate dropped a chance offered by Darling, and the partnership added 46 further runs. Thereafter it was a procession and Australia mustered just 86 second time round, setting England 124 to win. At 92-3 England appeared to be cruising home, but then a collapse set in. When keeper Dick Lilley was brilliantly caught by Clem Hill, who ran 30 yards round the boundary and threw himself full length to make the catch, it was 116-9 and Fred Tate joined Wilfred Rhodes. Tate snicked a boundary off Jack Saunders to open his account, but then Saunders’ next ball kept fiendishly low and bowled the unfortunate Tate to give Australia victory by three runs.


George Hirst and Gilbert Jessop returned for England after missing the match described above. Australia batted first and tallied 324, Hugh Trumble top scoring with64* and Monty Noble making 52. Trumble then turned to his more publicized ability, bowling unchanged through the England first innings, taking 8-65. England avoided the follow on only thanks to Hirst who scored 43 out of the last 54 runs of the innings. Australia at the second time of asking were all out for 121, setting England 263, which looked a massive total in those circumstances. It was looking even further distant by the time Saunders (four wickets) and Trumble (one) had reduced England to 48-5. At this point Gilbert Jessop joined FS Jackson and the match began to turn. Jackson fell for 49 with the score at 157, and George Hirst joined Jessop. This pair added 30 together in just eight minutes, Jessop completing three figures in 75 minutes and off his 76th ball, both still England records, though the latter has seemed under constant threat lately. Jessop fell for 104, making it 187-7, and still 76 needed from the last three wickets. However, Bill Lockwood stayed with Hirst while 27 of those were scored, and keeper Dick Lilley helped add a further 34, meaning that when fellow Yorkshireman Rhodes joined Hirst in the middle 15 were needed with one wicket standing. England inched their way towards the target, and finally Rhodes hit the winning single off Trumble. Trumble had scored 71 undefeated runs with the bat and captured 12 wickets, Hirst had 101 runs for once out and a first innings five-for but this is always called “Jessop’s Match”. Lionel Palairet gained two England caps – the Old Trafford and Oval tests of 1902.


This was a match which swing back and forth but seemed settled in Australia’s favour when England were 209-8 in the final innings, needing 73 more to win. Joe Humphries was ninth out, with 39 still needed for the win, to an LBW which added fuel to the flames of a controversy – England had had several rough LBWs in that match, George Gunn being furious about the two given against him. Arthur Fielder, a fast bowler, but as he was to show both here and a little later for Kent when sharing a last wicket stand of 235 with Woolley no mug with the bat, joined Barnes in the middle. The last wicket pair chipped away at the target and eventually levelled the scores. Barnes then went for a winning run that Fielder was unsure about. Had the fielder, Gerry Hazlitt, kept his head and lobbed to the keeper test cricket would have seen its first ever tied match. As it was, Hazlitt panicked and shied wildly at the stumps, missing and allowing the completion of the winning run.


England had comfortably won the first two matches of the series, but although Hammond had already entered the record books by becoming the first to score two consecutive test double hundreds, with 200 in the first England innings, it looked long odds against a third win in a row when England set off in pursuit of a victory target of 332 on a pitch that had become so spiteful that opening batter Jack Hobbs reckoned it would be all over by the tea interval. As it turned out Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe, the other opener, were still both in residence by said interval, and midway through the evening, with the great pair still together Hobbs made a vital intervention, sending a message to the dressing room that if either opener fell that evening Jardine should be promoted to number three as his defence was more reliable than Hammond’s. Hobbs was the one to go, for 49 out of an opening stand of 105, and Jardine duly survived the remainder of the evening and England returned the following morning still only one down. Jardine contributed a crucial 33, Herbert Sutcliffe went on to 135, and although England had a bit of a stutter late on, George Geary, who had claimed the final wicket of the 1926 Ashes, smashed a four through mid-on to seal a three wicket win and with it retention of The Ashes.


Good pitch which one side handled badly or spinners paradise made to order? England batting first ran up 459 in rapid time. Although Australia’s two recognized spinners, leg spinner Benaud and off spinner Ian Johnson claimed six scalps between them, they also leaked 274 runs while doing so.

Jim Laker, England’s off spinner, took the first two Aussie wickets, before Lock claimed the third, which opened the floodgates for Laker, who polished off the Aussie first innings with a spell of 7-8, giving him 9-37 in total. Regular rain interruptions and a fine defensive effort by Aussie opener Colin McDonald took the game into the final day. Eventually, with the second ball of his 52nd over, Laker trapped Maddocks LBW and Australia were all out for 205, beaten by an innings and 170 runs. Laker had all ten Aussie second innings wickets for 53, still the cheapest all ten in test cricket, and 19-90 in the match. The three other front line spinners had combined match figures of 7-380, an average of 54.29 per wicket, and earlier in the season, in the first innings of the match on a good Oval pitch Laker had recorded figures 10-88 from 46 overs against the Australians for Surrey. In all 58 of Laker’s first 100 Fc wickets of 1956 were Aussies, 46 in the Ashes series and 12 for Surrey in that tour match.


52 years after Gerry Hazlitt had failed to make the most of an opportunity to secure test cricket’s first tie Joe Solomon showed how to keep his head under pressure, executing two direct hit run outs in less than 15 minutes, first to dismiss Davidson (80), thereby giving his side a chance to save themselves, and then to seal the tie. Alan Davidson bestrode this match like a colossus, taking 5-135 in West Indies first innings 453, then scoring 44 of Australia’s reply of 505, then taking 6-87 as West Indies managed 284 second time round and finally scoring that 80 which so nearly won the match for Australia.


This is proper script rejection stuff – not only did England record only the second ever victory by a side made to follow on, but one of the players who was key to achieving that result was not originally selected for the game and the other had been asked (albeit at most semi-seriously) if he wanted to play, having just stood down as captain (moments before he would have been sacked from that role). Australia scored 401-9 declared batting first, which was far more than they should have scored on that surface. John Dyson scored a very slow century, Kim Hughes made 89 and Graham Yallop 58, while Botham, recently resigned from the captaincy, claimed 6-95, his first five wicket haul since before taking up the reins of captaincy. England were 87-5 when Botham went in for his first innings, and a rapid 50 from him was the only highlight of their 174 all out. In the second innings they plummeted to 41-4 before Boycott and Willey added 64 for the fifth wicket. At 133 Boycott was pinned LBW, and two runs later keeper Bob Taylor departed. That brought Graham Dilley in to join Botham, and in 80 minutes the eighth wicket pair added 117, Dilley recording a maiden test 50, and Botham being well past his second 50 of the match. Chris Old helped the ninth wicket to raise a further 67, Botham racing past the 100 mark (87 balls to get there). Willis stayed long enough for a further 37 to accrue. England had totalled 356, a lead of 129, and Botham had scored 149*. The final morning was just underway. Approaching the lunch interval Australia were 56-1 and seemingly cruising towards their target of 130, when Bob Willis was put on to bowl at the Kirkstall Lane end. The first victim of one of the greatest spells of fast bowling in test history was Trevor Chappell, who in truth resembled a test match number three in name only, fending a bouncer through to Bob Taylor. Then came back to back wickets right on the stroke of lunch, Hughes well caught by Botham in the slips and Yallop superbly taken at short leg by Gatting. At lunch Australia were 58-4, and suddenly realizing that match wasn’t over just yet, while England went into lunch on a high. Old got one through Border’s defences early in the afternoon and it was 65-5. Dyson, who had one boundary off Willis post lunch took an a short ball from him and succeeded only in gloving it to the keeper to make it 68-6. Rod Marsh, the Aussie keeper, who had made a light-hearted bet on England when Ladbrokes were offering 500-1, took on another short ball from Willis, and Dilley at deep fine leg judged the catch superbly, being less than a foot inside the boundary when he completed it. That was 74-7, and one run later Lawson fell to mkae it 75-8. There was one final twist, as Lillee, who like Marsh had placed a bet on England at 500-1, helped Bright add 35 for the ninth wicket in four overs. Lillee then mistimed a drive at Willis and Gatting just managed to complete the catch, having to run in and dive forward to do so. Alderman came in at number 11, and was reprieved twice in one Botham over as Old at third slip put down catches. Willis summoned up enough energy for one final over, and with the first ball thereof he ripped a perfect yorker through Bright’s defences and Australia were all out for 111m giving England victory by 18 runs.


Australia in the early to mid 1980s were a struggling outfit, but in this particular match they did a lot right, though not quite enough to win it. Dean Jones, in part due a vicious taunt from skipper Border, batted himself into a hospital bed, scoring 210 in eight hours at the crease on the first two days of the match, after which he had to put on a saline drip. Towards the end of the fifth day it looked like India were odds to complete their chase of 348, but Greg Matthews refused to give up, and eventually, with the scores level he trapped Maninder Singh LBW to secure test cricket’s second ever tie.


Australia in the late 1990s and early 2000s were well nigh invincible, and the first two innings of this match did not suggest anything other than business as usual for Steve Waugh and his men, as they forced India to follow on. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid then produced a historic partnership, with Laxman going to a then Indian individual record test score of 281 and Dravid making 180. India declared their second innings at 657-7, setting Australia 384 to win. Australia, unsurprisingly dispirited, collapsed to 212 all out and defeat by 171 runs, the third (and to date) last test defeat suffered by a side enforcing the follow on. Australia have rarely chosen to enforce the follow on since then, preferring to build stupendous leads and then look to dismiss their opponents a second time. Myself I would still need a good reason to suggest not enforcing.


Time for my usual sign off (the gallery is smaller than usual – there is not as much to see in foul weather)…

All Time XIs – The Greatest Test Matches I Have Witnessed

An all time XI of the best test matches I have ever witnessed, with one that should have been a classic but ended up not being one.

Usually my all time XI posts are about selecting teams, but this one is a variation – I have selected what I consider to be the 11 greatest test matches I have personally witnessed. I start with the ‘twelfthy’ equivalent – a game that should have been a classic but was spoiled by cowardice on the part of one of the captains.


After four days this match was superbly poised, with the West Indies ahead by just over 320, Chris Gayle having made a superb second innings century to keep them in contention. When WI were all out Australia were left with 81 overs to score 330 on pitch that was still pretty flat and against a bowling attack that was pretty moderate – the only detectable threats were Kemar Roach, then lightning quick, and the possibility of turn for Sulieman Benn. However this match did not get the finish it merited as Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting made a cowardly decision not to make any attempt to score the runs as a result of which the game finished up as a draw.

11: BRISBANE 2021 – AUS V I

India had an injury hit squad, and had started the tour in disastrous fashion, being bowled for 36 in their second innings at Adelaide to lose from what had been a position of strength. They had fought back splendidly winning one and drawing one of the other two games, so the two sides assembled at Brisbane with the series poised at 1-1. India were faced with chase of just over 300 on the final day, and they went for it. Cheteshwar Pujara played a valuable early knock, meaning that the Aussies already had plenty of overs in their legs by the time the middle order got in. Pant and Sundar each played superb innings, and India got home by four wickets to win the series 2-1.

10: LORD’S 2000 – ENG V WI

Things did not look good when England were all out for 133 in reply to WI’s first innings score of 267. However, Gough and Caddick ripped through the WI second innings, skittling them for 54. England needed 188 to win, with the fourth innings of the match starting on the same day that the first innings had ended. England batted better second time round, but even so they only had two wickets in hand when they finally reached the target.

9: HEADINGLEY 2001 – E V A

England achieved what was at the time their largest successful chase on English soil, largely thanks to Mark Butcher who conjured a match winning 173 not out from nowhere.


England took a small first innings lead, but it nearly went to waste, as Ambrose commenced ripping through the England second innings. One of the front line batters survived the onslaught: Graham Gooch. England managed to rally to reach 252 all out, of which Gooch’s share was 154 not out. West Indies, needing the largest total of the match to win it never looked remotely like getting there.

7: THE OVAL 2005 – E V A

Australia had won eight consecutive Ashes series going into this one, and the series had already produced several classic matches. England were coming into this match off the back of a win at Trent Bridge that put them one up with one to play, meaning that a draw was enough for them, but Australia needed a win. England made 373 batting first, Strauss leading the way with a century. Hayden and Langer both made centuries for Australia, and when Australia somewhat illogically accepted an offer of the light which ended day three they were less than a hundred short of England’s total with nine wickets standing. England fought back on day four, actually claiming a small first innings lead, largely thanks to Flintoff. The weather terminated the day’s play early, and England knew that they would need to bat for most of day five to eliminate the Australian victory from the equation. England were five down at lunch time, and Kevin Pietersen had had a lucky escape when Warne at slip failed to hold a catch off him. Collingwood, selected in place of the injured Jones held out for a while, and then Ashley Giles offered Pietersen valuable support. By the time Pietersen was out for the second most important 158 ever scored by a South African born batter at The Oval England knew that they were safe. Giles completed a fine 50, and when England were all out Australia needed 342 off 18 overs, a chase that even they could not have taken on. As it happened the weather intervened very early in the Australian second innings, and terminated the match.

6: THE OVAL 2009, E V A

Another Ashes finale, this time with the series score level, and Australia having won 5-0 in 2006-7. England had won at Lord’s earlier in the series but came into this game having taken an absolute pounding at Headingley. Jonathan Trott had been called into the side to make his debut, and Andrew Flintoff was playing his final test match. England made a good but not great first innings score (332). Australia were 72-0 in reply at one point, before Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann got busy, bowling them out for 160. Jonathan Trott scored a century in the second innings of his debut test, helping England to an advantage of over 500. Australia fought hard, but were almost 200 short when the final wicket fell.

5: MCG 2010 – ENG v AUS

This was the fourth match of this Ashes series, and the series score was 1-1 going into, England having won comfortably at Adelaide and Australia having won easily at Perth to level the scores, with the series opener at Brisbane having been drawn. Many felt that England would be unable to pick themselves up from the Perth hammering, which made the events of the opening day all the more astounding. Australia slumped to 98 all out in the first innings, only just making it into the afternoon session of day one. By the close England were 157-0. England were eventually all out on third day for over 500, and Australia could not avoid the innings defeat, although they fared better with the bat second time round than they had in the first innings. That secured the Ashes for England, and another innings win at Sydney gave the series a scoreline which fairly reflected England’s dominance.

4: HEADINGLEY 2019 – E V A

I wrote in detail about this one at the time (see here). An epic last wicket stand between Ben Stokes and Jack Leach took England to victory after they had been rolled for 67 in their first innings. Australia messed up their use of DRS, burning their last review on one that was never going to be overturned when a few runs were still needed. This meant that a few minutes later when a decision that they would have been right to review occurred they could do nothing about it.


The series was 1-1 going into this match, Australia having escaped with a draw in the previous game at Old Trafford, and made the mistake of publicly celebrating their escape, something that England used as a boost. A big stand between Flintoff and Geraint Jones got England out of a bit of a hole in the first innings, and they ended up with a total of 477. Australia were all out 218, with Simon Jones taking 6-53, the best test figures ever achieved by a Welsh bowler. Australia followed on, and managed to set England 129 to win. At 116-7 things were looking dicey for England, but Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard saw them over the line.

2: RAWALPINDI 2022 – P V E

The match that inspired this post. I have written about it in some detail already (here, here and here). Suffice to say that conjuring a result out of that surface was borderline miraculous and took some very bold captaincy from Stokes and hyper aggressive batting from England.

1: EDGBASTON 2005 – E V A

England had been thrashed at Lord’s to start the series. On the morning of this match Glenn McGrath crocked himself by treading on a cricket ball, but Ponting arrogantly decided not to alter his plan to put England in if he won the toss, even having lost his chief enforcer and having an absolutely guaranteed source of fourth innings wickets. England scored 407 on the opening day, led by 99 on first innings and were then saved by Flintoff from total disaster in their second innings. However, Australia needed a gettable looking 282 to win. At the end of the penultimate day Australia were 175-8, Harmison having brought the day to a close by bowling Clarke with a slower ball. When Warne was ninth out over 60 were still needed, but Lee and Kasprowicz (McGrath’s replacement) gradually whittled down the deficit. Finally, with just three runs needed for victory a ball from Harmison took Kasprovicz’s glove and went through to Geraint Jones. umpire Bowden raised his finger, and the series was well and truly alive at 1-1. The nature of the rest of the series can be gauged from the fact that two of the three remaining matches featured earlier in this XI.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – The Grand Finale

Bringing the curtain down on an immense series that has taken us through the alphabet, 200+ years of cricket history and every inhabited continent in the world. The XIs are presented in reverse ranking order, with links back to the selectorial posts.

This post concludes our cricketing journey through the alphabet, a couple of centuries of history and every inhabited continent, with a listing of each XI in reverse ranking order from 26th up to first. I have appended extra comments along the way where my thinking may have changed, or where cricketing developments caught up with me during the course of this series, which has been running since late July. Each XI is also accompanied by a link to the relevant selectorial post.

26TH: THE Qs

The challenge for this letter was actually finding 11 players to constitute an XI, and not surprisingly the final result was decidedly ill assorted. They managed just 7 of a possible 125 points.

25TH: THE Zs

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24TH: THE Is

While this XI has no great strength anywhere its biggest weakness was in the seam/ pace bowling department.

23RD: THE Xs

This was an XI which required a lot of chicanery to pull together. Between the creation of this XI and latter stages of the match ups a women’s tournament took place in New Zealand, and one development there was the arrival in the big time of off spinner Xara Jetly, who were I selecting this XI now would replace MaX Waller, who adds very little to the XI.

22ND: THE Us

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21ST: THE Ns

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20TH: THE Ys

The strong middle order, good spin pairing and one high class fast bowler saved this side from complete disaster.

19TH – THE Cs

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18TH: THE Es

A good spin pairing, two pacers with remarkable records and a world class keeper, but not enough batting for comfort and Bill Edrich the best available back up bowler. More here.

17TH: THE Os

The same score as the Es, but the Os get the higher spot as they won the match up between the two sides.

16TH: THE Ds

Good batting, good pace/ seam bowling, good keeper but the Ds fall down on spin bowling and captaincy.

15TH: THE Js

The Js.

14TH: THE Vs

The Vs superb bowling unit did not quite propel them into the top half of the table, as they lost a split tie (both XIs scoring 69 out 125) to…

13TH: THE As

Solid batting, a top keeper and a superbly balanced bowling unit was just enough to get the As into the top half of the table, since they won their match up with the Vs.

12TH: THE Hs

Stellar batting, a great keeper and a sound captain, but not quite enough bowling to get them to the very top. Neil Harvey might replace Hussey in some people’s estimation, and I would probably have served this letter better had I steeled myself to pick an all rounder (probably George Hirst, with his bowling stock in trade being left arm pace) rather than Hendren, but dropping the scorer of the second most FC centuries ever would have been a huge call.

11TH: THE Ps

The Ps, just missing out on the top ten.

10TH – THE Rs

This exemplifies the advantage of having Rhodes available – you can pick him for any one of several roles depending on your needs. Here, Rhodes the specialist spinner was required and therefore I selected him in that capacity, the one in which he both started and finished his career. The Rs.

9TH – THE Bs

In retrospect, given that Barnes could be said to attend to the leg spinners angle of attack with his ‘Barnes ball’, as explicated by Ian Peebles, himself an England leggie, it might have made this team even better to have selected Palwankar Baloo, Bishan Singh Bedi or left arm spinning all rounder Enid Bakewell in place of Benaud (who could instead be put in charge of the commentary team) to increase the variety available in the bowling department. Nevertheless, the Bs are a fine combination, and it says more about the top eight than it does about them that they ended up ninth.


If the Gs can be said to have a defect it is that none of their bowlers are left armed.


The Ts amassed the same number of points (90 out of 125) as the Ks and the Fs, but my tie-splitting procedure ranked them third out of three. Their batting was weakened slightly by the necessity of ensuring that there were relief bowling options available for three specialist quicks who demanded inclusion, a problem resolvable only by turning to the all round talents of Frank Tarrant.


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For more information click here.


Strong and well balanced, but the Ls just missed out on a medal.


The Ss are a stellar combination, although Sangakkara would not be considered a top flight keeper and the spin options are limited.


A powerful batting line up and a superbly balanced bowling line up, with Mahmood’s leg cutter meaning that a specialist leg spinner is unlikely to be missed.


A strong batting line up, a wonderfully balanced bowling attack (Wardle’s ability to bowl left arm wrist spin covers the lack of an off spinner), a quality keeper and one of the greatest of all captains. The Ws are worthy champions.

This has been a fun exercise, though challenging in parts (both weak letters where actually completing an XI takes effort and strong letters where in some cases a second or third XI would beat most of the rest of the alphabet, which require extended acknowledgements of players one has overlooked).


Not one of my largest photo galleries, but I hope you enjoy it…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 65

The final post in the extended analysis phase of this long series. The series will conclude with a grand finale post presenting the XIs in reverse ranking order.

Welcome to the final post in the analysis stage of this series. There may be delays to me completing these posts – I have a minor injury to my right wrist, and although the brace the hospital have provided me with to support said wrist is doing wonders in terms of enabling me to do things with my right hand, I am still somewhat incommoded and probably therefore will not complete things with my usual speed. This post starts with the Ws in the spotlight, with 97 points out of 115 accumulated so far.


The Ws dominate this contest. The only match up the Ys win is in the fast bowling department where W Younis beats Willis – but Whitty beats U Yadav by a greater margin, and Woods blows Yardley out of the water. Thus the only conceivable scoreline is Ws 5, Ys 0.


Total dominance from the Ws here: Ws 5, Zs 0.


The Ws have amassed 107 of a possible 125 points, 85.6% overall.


Before going into this match up, a brief note about the Xs. Had I seen developments in NZ domestic cricket in 2022-23 before I selected the Xs MaX Waller would have missed out, and Xara Jetly, a young off spinner would be in, with MaX Walker relegated one place from number 10 to number 11. The Xs have 13.5 out of 115 points coming in to today.

The Ys have much stronger batting, better pace bowling, the better skipper, and the two best spinners on either side. The Xs have the better keeper. This is clear cut: Xs 0, Ys 5.


The Zs have the better opening pair, the Xs win the batting match ups 3-9 inclusive, and AXar Patel, Xenophon Balaskas, Ron OXenham, Ted DeXter and Sam LoXton are all genuine bowling options, while BoX was a much finer keeper than Zulqarnain Haider. MaX Walker ranks first among seam/ pace bowlers on either side, and the Xs, with OXenham, Dexter and Loxton as back up options in this department also have the greater depth. The spin bowling is hard to call, but even if the Zs win, it only reduces the margin of their defeat. I score this one Xs 4, Zs 1.


The Xs have scored 4 points today, finishing on 17.5 out of 125, 14% overall.


The Ys have 33 out of 120 so far and the Zs 10.5 out of 120. This suggests a one-sided contest, and that impressions is not awry. The Zs have the better opening pair, the Ys win at nos 3-6, though only Yardley offers a bowling option. S Yousuf outranks Zulqarnain Haider in both departments. The fast bowling is close, with Zaheer Khan’s left arm making up for his slightly high average, but the Ys definitely win the spin bowling department. The Ys also have the better captain. I score this one: Ys 5, Zs 0.


The Ys finish with 38 out of 125, 30.4% overall, the Zs with 10.5 out of 125, 8.4% overall.


On Saturday night I attended Luminate at Sandringham. For those so inclined (not me) there are fairground rides before the start/ after the finish of the main event, which is walk through wooded areas of the estate, with light features all the way around. I took a lots of pictures while on my way round…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 64

The penultimate post in the analysis stage of this long series.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today sees all the matches in which the Vs are alphabetically first, with them starting on 55 points out of 105. We then see the first match up in which the Ws are alphabetically first. The remaining match ups (W v Y, W v Z, X v Y, X v Z and Y v Z) will be covered in the final analysis post of this series, setting the stage for a grand finale post in which the teams are presented in reverse ranking order.


With the possible exception of Vandort vs Woolley in the number one slot the Ws win every batting match down to number seven (Woods’ batting average equates to about 35 in the modern era, though by the same token he is slightly behind Vaas as a bowler). Worrell outranks Vaughan as a skipper, the pace/ seam trios are hard to split – Vaas as stated outranks Woods, Whitty outranks Voce, but it is tricky to assess which of the two tall right arm quick bowlers, Van der Bijl or Willis was the greater. The spin honours definitely go to the Ws – Warne outranks Vogler by much more than Verity outranks Wardle and Wardle could turn the ball both ways, reducing Verity’s margin of superiority. Additionally, Woolley rates as a better third spinner than Vine (Woolley paid less than 20 a piece for his FC wickets. Thus the Ws have clear advantages in batting, captaincy and spin bowling, the wicket keepers are hard to separate and the Vs possibly have an advantage in pace/ seam bowling. I score this one Vs 1, Ws 4.


The only batting match up the Xs win is at number three, where Dexter definitely outranks Vaughan. The Vs have the better captain, the better pace/ seam attack and the better spin attack, though the Xs have the finer keeper. There can be only one scoreline: Vs 5, Xs 0.


The Vs have the better opening pair – Vandort’s test average exceeds Yardy’s FC average, while Vine batted in a more difficult era than M Young, more than making up for the latter’s slight advantage in the matter of averages. The Ys are comfortably clear at three and four, Vengsarkar outranks Yallop in the number five slot. Verreynne wins the batting match up against Yardley, and rates similarly to S Yousuf as keeper. S Yousuf wins the batting match up at seven, but Vaas is light years clear of Yardley as third seamer. Voce massively outranks U Yadav, while Van der Bijl v Younis is tough to call. Verity is way clear of J Young but I give P Yadav the verdict over Vogler. The Ys have the better batting, the Vs the better bowling. I reckon that the latter outweighs the former and score this one Vs 3, Ys 2.


The Vs boss the batting, have the better captain, a much stronger seam/ pace attack and better spinners. The Zs have no obvious area of superiority, leading to only one conceivable scoreline: Vs 5, Zs 0.


The Vs have scored 14 out of 20 points today to finish on 69 out of 125, 55.2% overall.


With the four points scored against the Vs, the Ws now have 92 points out of 110. The Ws are completely dominant in this one, with the sole exception of BoX outranking Watling as a keeper, leading to only one possible score: Ws 5, Xs 0.


The Ws now have 97 of a possible 115 points, 84.35% overall.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 63

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected 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 selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. This, the antepenultimate post in the analysis stage of this series features those match ups in which the Us are alphabetically first. The Us come into today with 22.5 out of 100 points.


The Us have the better opening pair, although there is not much in it. The Vs win the number three slot, with the Us ahead on batting at 4,5,6 and 7, although Verreynne wins the keeping match up against Umar Akmal and Vaas is a genuine top line bowler. The Vs also have genuinely useful lower order batters at eight and nine. The bowling goes meltingly in the Vs favour – Umran Malik being entirely unproven has to be ranked below any of the Vs seam/ pace options, Umar Gul is provably less good than any, and Ulyett’s bowling is less impressive than it looks given that he played in test cricket’s early days – the uprating of his batting due to the surfaces he played on has to be counterbalanced by a downrating of his bowling. Verity outranks Underwood in my view, Vogler has to be rated ahead of the unproven Ur Rahman, and Vine is a better third spin option than Umrigar. The Us do have a stronger batting line up, but the Vs are so massively superior on bowling and keeping as to absolutely discount that. I feel that there is just a tiny chance of the Us batting saving them: Us 0.5, Vs 4.5.


The Ws are utterly dominant in all departments – the nearest any of the Us comes to competing with their opposite number is Underwood v Wardle. Only one scoreline is conceivable here: Us 0, Ws 5.


Save for DeXter at number three winning over Imam Ul Haq, the Us have the better batting and the better captain, though the Xs have the better keeper. The Us win on pace/ seam bowling, and are probably just second best on spin bowling. I expect the Us to win this one quite comfortably: Us 4, Xs 1.


The Us have the better opening pair (Ulyett in the 21st century would probably average 36 with the bat and 30 with the ball or thereabouts). The Ys win at three four, with the Us winning batting match ups at 5,6 and 7. However, Yardley offers more the ball than Umrigar and S Yousuf ranks far higher as a keeper than Umar Akmal. The Ys have the better seam/ pace attack, while the spin bowling honours are split – I rate Underwood ahead of J Young, but P Yadav ahead of Ur Rahman. I think the Ys bowling and keeping advantages are sufficient for them to win this quite comfortably: Us 1, Ys 4.


The Zs have the better opening partnership, and also win at number three. The match ups at 4,5,6 and 7 all go the way of the Us, though Zulqarnain Haider wins the keeping match up over Umar Akmal. The Us have a numerical advantage in the seam/ pace department, though only Ulyett provably outranks one of the Zs – even adjusting to allow for the more favourable conditions in which he bowled, Ulyett comes out ahead of Zaheer Khan (though behind Zondeki on this metric). Umar Gul is the least impressive seam/ pace bowler in either XI, and Umran Malik is a bonus option for the Us. Also, on proven record Underwood comfortably outranks Zia Ur Rehman, while Ur Rahman outranks Zahir Khan. I think the Us have this one quite comfortably: Us 4, Zs 1.


The Us have scored 9.5 of a possible 25 points today, moving on to 32 out 125, 25.6% overall.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 62

Continuing my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another. Today sees the end of the Ts.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how my the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today we see the Ts last five match ups, with them having 72.5 out of 100 points so far.


The Ts win the batting match ups at 1,2,4,5,6 and 8, with Vaughan winning at no 3 for the Vs, though unlike Tarrant he does not offer a bowling option. Vaas at seven and Verity at nine also win batting match ups for the Vs, while Bob Taylor is clearly the superior keeper. I award the Vs the pace/ seam bowling honours on two grounds: 1) the Ts pacers are all right handers, reducing the variation in their attack, and 2) Vaas would fare better as third seamer in a powerful attack than he actually did as opening bowler in a moderate one. The spin pairings are closely matched – Verity beats Tarrant (in FC cricket, which is where a comparison is available Verity was 2.5 runs per wicket cheaper than Tarrant and bowled in less favourable conditions), while Trumble beats Vogler. The Ts are stronger in batting, the Vs are stronger in bowling. The Ts have the better keeper. I think the Ts good batting is enough to save them from defeat, but I am not prepared to award them victory: Ts 2.5, Vs 2.5.

Two of the Vs brightest stars, Verity and Voce.


The Ws dominate the batting – apart from Mark Taylor up top, the only other winners of batting match ups are Ross Taylor at six and Hugh Trumble at eight. The Ts have the better keeper. The fast bowling is close, Whitty’s left handedness possibly the decisive factor in giving that department to the Ws. The Ws steamroller the spin bowling department, Wardle outranking Tarrant and Warne outranking Trumble. The Ws also have the better captain – as good as Mark Taylor was in that role, Worrell’s achievement in unifying the West Indies and turning them for the first time in their history to into a combination that could and did win anywhere and against anyone puts him a cut above even Taylor as a skipper. As good as the Ts are there is no areas save wicket keeping in which they are even close to the Ws, so I have to score this Ts 0, Ws 5.

Johnny Wardle, left arm trickster for the Ws


Total dominance with the bat for the Ts – not until Xenophon Balaskas at seven, Ron Oxenham at eight and Tom Box at nine do the Xs win any batting match ups. Box is one of the few keepers in this series to be a match for Bob Taylor. The Ts also have the better captain and dominate the pace/ seam department. Also, while the Xs have a numerical superiority in the spin department, Trumble is definitely the best spinner on either side, and Tarrant would be at least Axar Patel’s equal. Therefore there can be only one scoreline: Ts 5, Xs 0.

Captain of the Xs, Alan KippaX.


The Ts are dominant in batting – only Younis Khan at three and Saleem Yousuf at seven win batting match ups for the Ys. Bob Taylor resumes his usual position of being obviously the best keeper on either side, the Ts are utterly dominant in seam/pace bowling, and also have the better spin pairing – Tarrant definitely outranks Jack Young in that department, whereas P Yadav is not definitively clear of Trumble (though I call that match up just her way). Thus this one is Ts 5, Ys 0.

Ys skipper Norman Yardley. This was from early in his career, and by the time of the 1946-7 Ashes he was bowling medium pace and used mainly as a partnership breaker.


The Ts utterly dominate the batting – only Zulqarnain Haider at seven wins a match up for the Zs in this department, and he loses the keeping match up against Bob Taylor. The Ts also have the better captain. They utterly dominate the pace/ seam bowling department, and they are least on level terms in the spin department: Ts 5, Zs 0.

Trueman, one of three out and out fast bowlers available to the Ts. None of my cigarette cards feature any of the Zs.


The Ts have scored 17.5 out of 25 today, to finish on 90 out of 125, exactly 72%.


My usual sign off…