Looking Ahead To Friday

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

INTRODUCTION

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

ENGLAND

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

WEST INDIES

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

THE PLUS SIZED XI

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

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

HXI

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

I offered up this from brilliant yesterday:

Here is Liam Robertson’s solution:

Sol

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – The Janus Contest

Today’s all time XI cricket post faces Janus-like in two directions simultaneously, towards the past and the future of this great game.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the final post in this All Time XIs cricket series – as I start typing it the test match at the Ageas bowl is about to get underway following weather delays. England have won the toss and chosen to bat, in view the correct decision grey skies notwithstanding. This post takes its name from the Roman god Janus because it faces two ways – a look at cricket’s past in the form of a team selected for a combination of entertainment value and class, and a look to the future with a team largely comprising up and coming players, with the topical exception of the captain.

TS ENTERTAINMENT XI

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career. ‘The Doctor’ just had to be the captain of this side, with his outstanding approach and his attack minded approach. One quote “I never like defensive strokes – you can only get three for them.” Against Kent in the match after becoming the first to 100 first class centuries he made 257 as Gloucestershire replied to Kent’s 470 with 443 of their own. Kent then slumped to 78 all out in their second innings, and Gloucs needed 106 in an hour and a quarter to win, and Grace was on 73 not out when they got there just in time, having been on the field fior the entire match, and with his 47th birthday less than two months away.
  2. Victor Trumper – right handed opening batter. At Old Trafford in 1902 he scored a century in the morning session of day 1. In a wet season he amassed 2,570 first class runs for the touring Australians, including 11 centuries.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder. The only non-keeper to take 1,000 first class catches. At Lord’s in 1921 in the face of Gregory and McDonald against whom his colleagues could offer no resistance he scored 95 and 93. His highest first class score, 305 not out in a tour match on the 1911-2 trip to Australia, came from number three.
  4. Charles Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He scored centuries in the second, third and fourth matches of the 1926 Ashes, the second of the three, at Leeds coming before lunch on day 1. In 1921 he scored 345 in 232 minutes against Nottinghamshire, reaching 300 in 198 minutes.
  5. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete player ever to play the game, and the most automatic of selections for a team of this nature.
  6. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Twice winner of the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season, three times he achieved the keeper’s season double of 1,000 runs and 100 dismissals (only John Murray of Middlesex, who did so once, achieved the feat in all the rest of cricket history). He executed 418 first class stumpings, an all time record.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. The ultimate in x-factor players. 53 first class centuries and only once did he bat for over three hours in a single innings.
  8. Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed batter. 16 test matches, 50 wickets at 16 each and a batting average of 27. He was the first England bowler to take a test hat trick, as part of a match performance in which he took 14 wickets and scored 55 in England’s only innings.
  9. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. The ‘Typhoon’, producer of possibly the fastest bowling ever seen, during the 1954-5 Ashes tour when he bowled England to victory after they had been stuffed in the opener at the Gabba (that series remains the last Ashes series down under won by a side who lost at the Gabba).
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. Probably the greatest bowler ever seen. His signature weapon, ‘the Barnes ball’ was a leg break at fast medium pace, the nearest subsequent approach to which was Alec Bedser’s speciality. Incidentally it was from this no10 slot that he played his most important innings, the 38 not out that saw England to victory at the MCG in 1907, when they lost their eight wicket still 73 adrift, and their ninth still needing 39. Arthur Fielder of Kent was the no11 who assisted Barnes in that final partnership. In Barnes’ last test series, when he took 49 South African wickets in four matches before missing the fifth after a dispute, he took 17-159 in the match at Port Elizabeth, not a venue generally regarded fondly by bowlers.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 138 first class matches, 863 wickets at 12.09, including a 17 wicket haul in a losing cause against Hampshire in 1876 (the crucial innings was played by one Reginald Hargreaves, who later married Alice Pleasance Liddell, aka the Alice of “Alice in Wonderland”). He may have inspired the name of Mycroft Holmes (Doyle was fine cricketer as well as being a fanatical follower of the game, and Mycroft and brother Thomas played for Derbyshire as fast bowler and keeper, while Frank Shacklock and Mordecai Sherwin, from whose surnames one can get Sherlock played the same roles for Nottinghamshire), and in this XI he has a team mate with the middle name Holmes (Frank Holmes Tyson).

This team has an excellent top six, the ultimate in x-factor no 7s and four very fine and varied bowlers. Tyson, Barnes, Mycroft, Bates, Woolley, Sobers, Grace, Jessop and Macartney provide a wealth of bowling options. Do you open with Mycroft and Barnes and have Tyson come on first change, do you open with Tyson and Barnes and bring Mycroft on first change, or do you attempt to persuade Barnes to accept coming on first change so that you can open up with Tyson and Mycroft?

HONOURABLE MENTIONS AND SEGUE

Of course I have a stack load of regrets about players I could not accommodate, and many of you will have ideas of your own, but my principal regrets are:

  • Could not find a place for Denis Compton’s batting and left arm wrist spin bowling.
  • No place for Keith Miller.
  • Tyson was one of three choices for that slot – Harold Larwood, who also terrorized the Aussies in their own backyard and Charles Kortright of Essex were both in my thoughts.
  • Bill O’Reilly, Doug Wright, Derek Underwood, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar and Jack Iverson were all highly individualistic bowlers I would have loved to be able to accommodate.

Having attended to the past it is now time for…

TS FUTURE STARS XI

  1. Prithvi Shaw – right handed opening batter. Has a remarkable record for someone so young, and will surely be a superstar before too many more years have passed. India would not want to break up the Sharma/ Agarwal opening pair an earlier than necessary, but perhaps they could accommodate Shaw by playing him at 3, with Kohli at four.
  2. Dominic Sibley – right handed opening batter. His South African tour pretty much established him in the England side, especially his first test century. The restart of test cricket has not been good for him – in the brief passages of play that the weather has allowed he has been dismissed for a duck, but he will be back scoring runs again before long.
  3. Shreyas Iyer – right handed batter. He has a magnificent record in all forms of cricket that he has played, and that will surely continue when he gets his chance at test level.
  4. Daniel Lawrence – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played at no 4 in last week’s warm up game at The Ageas Bowl and made 58 in the first innings, and was then not called on to bat in the second. He was then left out of the test squad, with Denly being chosen for the batting spot vacated by Joe Root being on paternity leave. His time will surely come soon.
  5. James Bracey – left handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He made 85 in that warm up game at the Ageas Bowl, and again was overlooked for the test match. He has done some work on his wicket keeping, but regards himself primarily as a batter, and that is the role I see him playing for England when he gets the call up.
  6. *Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. The one member of this side who is indisputably established at the very highest level, and in a nod to what is happening at the Ageas Bowl I have named as captain.
  7. +Ben Foakes – wicket keeper, right handed batter. England’s best (and worst treated) current wicket keeper. Among 21st century keepers his only rival with the gloves is the now retired Sarah Taylor, and he averages over 40 for those few tests he has been selected for. Bairstow is no longer able to perform in red ball cricket, and Buttler is barely even a competent keeper, and has never had a good red ball batting record, and yet it is this latter named individual who is currently taking the place behind the stumps that should be Foakes’. Stokes is an established test cricket, while Foakes should be but is not yet.
  8. Lewis Goldsworthy – left arm orthodox spinner, right handed batter. He had a good under-19 world cup, and I expect to see him notable first class performances from him before too much longer. He may yet develop into a genuine all rounder, but at the moment he is definitely more bowler than batter, hence his positioning at no eight in this order.
  9. Rashid Khan – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. Four test matches have yielded him 23 wickets at 21.08, a magnificent start at that level, and he has a phenomenal record in limited overs cricket. He has also already racked up a test 50 with his lower order batting. I look forward to seeing him establish himself as one of the greats of the game.
  10. Oliver Edward Robinson – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. I use his full name because there is a young wicket keeper from Kent, Oliver Graham Robinson, who is on the fringes of the England set up. He takes his wickets at 22 each in first class cricket, and bowled well in the warm up match at the Ageas Bowl. Whether he has sufficient pace to trouble top level batters remains to be seen, but he should get his opportunity before too long. Yes, one has to pick for the present, but the future should also be considered, and England are due to go to Australia for their 2021-2 season, by when James Anderson will be 39 years of age, probably too old to spearhead the attack out there (the last England new ball bowler to succeed out there at that sort of age was Syd Barnes on the 1911-2 tour).
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. He has played 14 test matches, the second most of anyone in this side, in which he has taken 68 wickets at 20, including shaking the Aussies up in their own backyard in the 2018-9 Border – Gavaskar Trophy. I hope to hear more of him in the not too distant future – talents of this type can only be good for the game.

This team has a fine top five, the x-factor player of the current era at six, the best current keeper and a beautifully balanced selection of bowlers. Bumrah, Robinson and Stokes look a fine pace trio, and Goldsworthy and Khan should combine well as spin twins.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Pakistan left arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi has made an impressive start to his career, and would be my first reserve quick should one or other of Bumrah or Robinson be unavailable. Hamidullah Qadri was the other English success story of the u-19 world cup, although at the moment he would have to be considered as at best third in the senior off spinning queue behind Bess and Virdi, though in red ball cricket he is certainly ahead of Ali in my pecking order. Finally, a suggestion of a type that might be regarded as akin to heresy in certain quarters, all rounder Amelia Kerr has had success with both bat and leg spin for the New Zealand Women, is still only 18, and the Kiwis do not have a long queue of spin bowling options – will they take a chance on giving a female the opportunity to play alongside the men?

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – Non-test Battle

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

INTRODUCTION

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

SYDNEY SMITH’S XI

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

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

CEC PEPPER’S XI

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

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

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…

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

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All Time XIs – Rest Of The World v Asia

An international clash of the titans today, as the Rest of the World take on Asia in our ‘all time XIs’ cricket post.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s all time XIs cricket post follows the usual Monday theme of going international. Today we pit the Rest of the World against Asia. I am, as usual in this series, thinking principally in terms of long form cricket, although of course this contest could not (or at least should not) officially be given test status.

REST OF THE WORLD

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, scorer of 12 centuries in Ashes cricket,a tally only beaten by Don Bradman with 19. He was one half of no less than four of the greatest opening partnerships in the history of cricket, at county level with Hayward and then Sandham, and at test level with Rhodes and then Sutcliffe.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opener. His case for selection for a contest of this nature is even more watertight than was his actual case for England selection. He got better the tougher the competition – averaging 52 in all first class cricket, 60.73 in test cricket and 66.85 in Ashes cricket. He and Hobbs had an average opening stand of 87, 15 times topping the hundred. At The Oval in 1926 they put on 172 in England’s second innings, beginning on a very spiteful pitch, with Hobbs falling for exactly 100 to end the partnership (the first time he had made a test century on his home ground), while Sutcliffe went on to 161 and to put England in an invincible position. At Melbourne in the third match of the 1928-9 series he and Hobbs started the final innings with England set to make 332, and many people reckoning that on the rain damaged pitch they had to contend with that the innings would not even last a full session. Actually, the pair were still in residence by the tea interval, and part way through the evening session Hobbs sent a message to the pavilion that if a wicket fell that night Jardine rather than Hammond should come in at no3. Hobbs finally fell for 49 to make to 105-1, and Jardine duly came in, and he and Sutcliffe were still together at close of play. The following day the surface was easier, and although England suffered a mini clatter of wickets, including Sutcliffe for 135, with victory in sight, George Geary ultimately settled the issue by hitting a ball through mid on for four with three wickets still standing.  Sutcliffe’s 100th first class hundred was scored when Yorkshire were after quick runs for a declaration, and he duly attacked from the get go, clobbering eight sixes on his way to the landmark.
  3. *Don Bradman – right handed batter, captain. To follow the greatest opening pair the game has ever seen we have the greatest batter of them all, the man who averaged 99.94 in test cricket. He scored 974 runs (a record for any test series) in the 1930 Ashes, at 139.14, but perhaps his most remarkable display of high scoring given the circumstances came in the last three matches of the 1936-7 series. England won both of the opening games, and the weather played havoc with the third, England declaring their first innings at 76-9 to get Australia back in while the pitch was still vicious. Bradman countered by sending in tailenders O’Reilly and Fleetwood-Smith, and then when O’Reilly was out before the close, another specialist bowler, Frank Ward. As a result of this the score when Bradman emerged to join regular opener Fingleton was 97-5, and the pitch had largely eased. Bradmand and Fingleton put on 346 together, and then McCabe joined Bradman. Bradman in that innings made 270, the most ever by someone coming in at no7 in a test innings, and England, set 689 to win, were duly beaten by a huge margin. Bradman then made another double ton in the fourth match, which Australia won to make it 2-2. In the final game Bradman was dropped early in his innings, scored 169, and Australia duly won again, becoming the first and to date only side to win a five match series after losing the first two matches thereof.
  4. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. He averaged 60.97, a figure exceeded among those to have finished careers that included 20 or more test matches only by Bradman and Adam Voges, the latter named benefitting from playing most of his test cricket against weak opposition, and coming a cropper in his only Ashes series.
  5. Wally Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, occasional off spinner, ace slip fielder. When he led England out at Trent Bridge at the start of the 1938 Ashes he made history – he was the first person to have been a professional and also to be appointed an official England captain. A directorship at the Marsham Tyre Company had enabled him to turn amateur, which also saw him become the first and only player to captain the Players against the Gentlemen and the Gentlemen against the Players. In that team that he led out at Trent Bridge was the man who would get to lead his team out without turning amateur, Leonard Hutton. By the time of the outbreak of World War II he had scored 6,883 test runs at 61.75, but a comeback post war which never really worked out for him, and ended with a disastrous 1946-7 Ashes (168 runs in the series at 21.00).
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. The most complete player ever to have played the game.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. The most destructive keeper/ batter there has ever been, he completely rewrote the requirements for keeper/ batters. The search for the keeper who is also a destructive batter has led to some bizarre decisions – the current England camp’s obsession with Buttler, barely even a competent keeper and someone who has failed to transfer his white ball form to the red ball game is an example of people being led up a blind alley by this thinking (though arguably it is only England’s second worst selection blooper for the upcoming resumption of test cricket behind the selection of Denly at four, which amounts to a v-sign being flashed at Lawrence and Bracey, compilers of the only two major scores of the warm up match). It is nowadays unthinkable that a Bert Strudwick, who habitually batted no11, would be selected as a test wicket keeper, and even Bob Taylor, another brilliant wicket keeper who was not a proper front line batter would have a hard time convincing national selectors to pick him – just look at the treatment Ben Foakes has had from the England selectors.
  8. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. For my money the greatest fast bowler of the West Indies’ golden age.
  9. Michael Holding – right arm fast bowler. His 14-149 in the match on flat Oval wicket in 1976 is probably enough on its own to justify his inclusion, but he produced many other stellar performances. At Bridgetown, Barbados in 1981 he made use of a super-fast pitch to bowl probably the most intimidating opening over any test match has ever seen – the England opener, by then a veteran of over 100 test appearances, was beaten all ends up by four deliveries, got bat on one and had his off stump uprooted by the final ball of the over.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. His wicket taking rate of seven per match is out on its own among bowlers who played 20 or more test matches. At Melbourne in 1911-2 Johnny Douglas won the toss for England and put Australia in, a decision that needed early wickets to justify it. Barnes soon had the Aussie top four back in the hutch, for a single between them, and with a couple more wickets also falling early in the game Australia were at one point 38-6 in their first innings. They recovered to reach the semi-respectability of 184, but England remained in total control and ran out winners by eight wickets. Wilfred Rhodes, who went on that tour as a specialist batter, having started his career as a specialist bowler, was asked many years later about Barnes and just how good he was and said simply “the best of them today are half as good as Barnie wor.”
  11. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. The Dunedin born leggie first crossed the Tasman in search of cricketing fulfilment, and then crossed two state boundaries in his new country, before eventually breaking into the South Australia side, and then, at the age of 33 into the test side. He took 11 wickets on test debut, and went on to finish with 216 wickets in 37 matches, a wicket taking rate of just short of six per match, putting him ahead of his mate Bill O’Reilly and significantly ahead of Shane Warne.

This team features a stellar batting line up, two out and out quicks, probably the greatest bowler of them all, the craft and guile of Grimmett, and of course the most complete player ever to play the game in Sobers. Barnes, Holding, Marshall, Grimmett and Sobers, with Hammond as sixth bowler represents a mighty fine range of bowling options.

SOME OF THOSE WHO MISSED OUT

Everyone will have their own ideas about possible selections, but here are some of my own additional thoughts:

  • Opening batters – I went for the greatest opening partnership of all time. Thinking in partnership terms their only serious rivals are Greenidge/ Haynes and Hayden/ Langer. WG Grace, especially given his all round skills, Victor Trumper, Len Hutton, Arthur Morris, Barry Richards and Chris Gayle might all have been considered on their individual methods.
  • No3 – this position was non-negotiable, ‘the Don’ standing high above all other contenders.
  • Nos 4 and 5 – Steve Smith was ruled out on grounds other than technical ones. Brian Lara and Allan Border had fine records as left handed batters, but I considered Pollock to have an even stronger case – all available evidence suggests that when the curtain came down on that incarnation of his country as a test playing nation he was still getting better. Among right handers Viv Richards, Kane Williamson and Steve Waugh all have serious cases for consideration, but Hammond has his slip fielding and his potential value as a support bowler on his side as well as his phenomenal batting record.
  • No6 – non-negotiable. Sobers’ range of cricketing talents make him not so much a star as a galaxy – or at the very least a constellation.
  • The keeper – Gilchrist gets it because of his batting, but many from Jack Blackham, the so-called ‘prince of wicket keepers’ who kept for Australia in the inaugural test match through to Ben Foakes of today would be worth a place as glovemen.
  • The fast bowlers – too many potential candidates to list. I regret that left arm fast bowler William Mycroft was in his pomp before test cricket was a thing, and similarly the brilliant USian Bart King was not quite brilliant enough to propel hbis country to test status. Two other 19th century legends, Charlie Turner and George Lohmann could have had the spot I gave to Barnes.
  • The spinners – I ruled out selecting a specialist left arm spinner, because I already had Sobers to attend to that department, I considered off spinners Billy Bates and Jim Laker, while O’Reilly and Warne were obvious rivals to Grimmett, but I think the obstacles Grimmett had to clear before even having a chance to prove himself get him the nod.

ASIA

  1. Sunil Gavaskar – right handed opening batter. The first ever to score 10,000 test runs, and the first to score as many as 30 test centuries. He made 13 of those centuries against the West Indies, a dominant cricketing force for much of his career.
  2. Hanif Mohammad – right handed opening batter. He played the longest ever test innings, 337 against the West Indies in 970 minutes at the crease. His side had folded for 106 in their first dig, and made to follow on, saved the game by posting 657-8 second time around. That 551 runs difference between 1st and second innings scores is an all time test record, and is equalled at first class level by Middlesex (83 and 634 in a match in the 1980s) and Barbados (175 and 726-7 declared). The other side of his game was seen for Karachi against Bahawalpur when he scored 499 in just over ten hours at the crease, then a world first class record (ended by a run out, depending on which you believe either going for the 500th, or, believing himself to be on 498, seeking to farm the bowling for the following morning.
  3. Rahul Dravid – right handed batter. More test runs than any other number three. When he really got settled in one got the impression that nothing short of an earthquake would dislodge him.
  4. Virat Kohli – right handed batter. A man who averages over 50 in all three international formats and has scored big runs against all opponents.
  5. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. The only player ever to have scored 100 centuries in international matches (Kohli is currently on 70, and may conceivably match Tendulkar’s achievement).
  6. +Kumar Sangakkara – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Until Alastair Cook went past him he had more test runs to his credit than any other left hander. I have chosen him as wicket keeper to be able to pick a full range of bowlers.
  7. *Imran Khan – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. Statistically, with credit balance of 14 between his batting and bowling averages he ended as the most successful of the four great test all rounders of the 1980s. He was also one of the very few captains able to unify a Pakistan dressing room.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. Has a fair claim to be regarded as the best left arm quick bowler ever to play test cricket, and a mighty useful player to have coming at no8.
  9. Anil Kumble – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. The third leading wicket taker in test history, although Jimmy Anderson is officially still in the hunt to get past him. One of only two bowlers to have taken all ten in a test innings.
  10. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner. 800 test wickets from 133 appearances at that level, an all time record tally.
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. He is in the early stages of what should be an illustrious career. He already has on his CV an achievement few fast bowlers can point to – shaking the Aussie up in their own backyard, which he did in the 2018-9 series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

This side has a stellar top five, a keeper who is also a world class batter at six, a genuine all rounder at seven and four excellent varied bowlers. A pace attack of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Jasprit Bumrah looks decidedly fruity, and spin twins Muralitharan and Kumble will be formidable on any surface.

SO.ME OF THOSE WHO MISSED OUT

  • Opening batters – the current Indian opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal might well have warranted selection as a partnership, while Saeed Anwar, Sanath Jayasuriya (who would also have offered an extra bowling option) and Vijay Merchant all had cases for individual inclusion.
  • No3 – I considered that Dravid had no serious rivals for this slot, but I acknowledge the successes of Zaheer Abbas in the role.
  • Nos 4-5 – Javed Miandad, Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mahela Jayawardene, Aravinda De Silva and Mushtaq Mohammad could all have a case made for them.
  • The keeper – among keepers who also count as front line batters, and therefore do not significantly alter the balance of the side Mushfiqur Rahim and Rishabh Pant had cases, while Syed Kirmani, Wriddhiman Saha and Wasim Bari all had cases for being picked as specialist glove men.
  • The All rounder – non-negotiable, especially given his claims on the captaincy (sorry, Kapil).
  • Spinners – If I revisit this post in a few years Rashid Khan, the Afghan leg spinner, may well have displaced Anil Kumble (like Kumble he is also a handy lower order batter), while Sandeep Lamichhane of Nepal may also be making a strong case, especially if he can get a contract to play county cricket and build up his long form record, and Zahir Khan, another Afghan who bowls left arm wrist spin (not to be confused, as Gulu Ezekiel did on twitter yesterday, with Zaheer Khan the left arm pace bowler for India) may also be making a case for himself. Had Palwankar Baloo had the opportunity at test level he may well have had an excellent record with his left arm orthodox spin, but just as I felt unable to pick William Mycroft for the ROW because he never played test cricket, so I cannot pick Baloo here. The great Indian spin quartet of the 1970s, Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna and Venkataraghavan, all have cases for selection, especially the highly individual Chandrasekhar. Ravindra Jadeja’s all round skills fell only just short of making a case for him, and R Ashwin would also have his advocates. Saqlain Mushtaq, off spin, Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmed (both leg spin) all warrant consideration.
  • The pace bowlers. I picked Bumrah on a hunch, although he is in the early stages of his career, and of course technically his place should have gone to Waqar Younis. Shoaib Akhtar would also have his advocates, but he was very inconsistent, and that ‘100mph delivery’ did not actually cause the batter a great deal of trouble. Two early Indians, Amar Singh and Mahomed Nissar both had fine records at a time when bowling quick on the subcontinent was a cause of heartbreak. Fazal Mahmood who bowled Pakistan to their first ever test victory at The Oval in 1954 might have been selected as an analogue for Barnes in the ROW side, and there may be those who would want to see Sarfraz Nawaz selected. Finally, about ten years ago I would have been betting that Mohammad Amir, then an 18 year old left arm fast bowler, would be among the game’s all time greats before long. Sadly he was drawn into a web of corruption, served a five year suspension from the game, and although still a fine bowler has now decided to concentrate purely on limited overs cricket, so has to be filed under ‘what might have been’. The other two players involved in that scandal, Mohammad Asif, a fast medium bowler, and Salman Butt, opening batter and captain, were both in the respectable rather than outstanding class and would never been eligible even had they not got themselves banned.

THE CONTEST

The contest, for what I shall call the ‘Hutton-Baloo’ trophy, acknowledging two of those who missed out on selection, would be a splendid one. The ROW probably just about start as favourites, but Asia do have an amazing bowling attack, and with Akram at eight and Kumble at nine their batting is deeper than that of the ROW, though lacks the eye-watering strength of the ROW’s top batting.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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The Bankhouse, venue for my first meal out in four months.

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An excellent use of a Beck style diagram.

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A red admiral.

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Socially responsible signage.

IMG_1454 (2)ROW v Asia

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet XIII

Today’s all time XIs cricket post is our 13th alphabetic progression, also features mathematics and photographs.

INTRODUCTION

My apologies for the fact that you will be seeing today’s all time XIs cricket post a little late – I have been to a restaurant for a family Sunday lunch, the first time I have been out to do something in four months. This is the 13th and final alphabetic progression post in this series (I have three more days to fill before I will have some actual test cricket to write about), starting from the letter E.

CHARLOTTE EDWARDS’ XI

  1. *Charlotte Edwards – right handed opening batter, occasional spin bowler, captain. An epoch or two ago I was watching a game between the England and Australia women’s teams, and England by and large were surrendering with precious little fight. The glorious exception was a girl in her mid teens who fought her way to a magnificent 74. Her name was Charlotte Marie Edwards, and she went on from that impressive beginning to become one of the all time greats of women’s cricket. She was also a fine captain, leading her side to world cup glory and an Ashes triumph in 2009.
  2. Graeme Fowler – left handed opening batter, occasional wicket keeper. He could never quite convince the England selectors of his merits, although his last two test match appearances featured scores of 201 and 69. He scored twin centuries, aided by a runner in each innings (David Lloyd in the first and Ian Folley in the second) in one of the most extraordinary of all cricket matches, when Warwickshire posted 523-4 declared on the opening day and ended up losing by ten wickets!
  3. Harold Gimblett – right handed batter. He scored 123 in 79 minutes on his first class debut, winning the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season in the process, and went on to score more runs for Somerset than any other batter (Marcus Trescothick falling just short of matching him in the end). His 310 not out remains the highest first class score by a Somerset native, although Viv Richards and Justin Langer both produced bigger innings for the county. Like Marcus Tresocthick he suffered from mental health issues, and unlike Trescothick he was unable to come through them, and ended up becoming one of the depressingly long list of cricket suicides.
  4. Joe Hardstaff Jr – right handed batter. A man who averaged 44 in first class cricket, scored 169 not v Australia at The Oval in 1938 and 205 v India in 1946 at test level. His father played for Nottinghamshire and England as well, and like many other cricketers in that area and that era had worked down a mine before turning professional (Harold Larwood was another who worked in the mines before getting a professional cricket contract).
  5. Frank Iredale – right handed batter. He played 14 test matches for Australia, averaging 36, and that in the 1890s and early 1900s. He played a key role in the 1894 match at the SCG which England won after following on – on the first morning Tom Richardson reduced Australia to 21-3, before Iredale joined Giffen in the first of two big partnerships that dug Australia out of the hole.
  6. Roly Jenkins – right handed batter, leg spinner. A fine all rounder for Worcestershire, scoring over 10,000 first class runs and taking over 1,000 first class wickets in his career.
  7. +Kycia Knight – wicket keeper, left handed batter. One of a pair of twin sisters who are both regulars for the West Indies women (the other, Kyshona, bowls medium pace and bats in the lower order). She has never had the opportunity to play long form cricket, but she has a respectable record in limited overs cricket, and her batting would certainly be better suited to long form than it is to  limited overs.
  8. Brett Lee – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. One of the quickest bowlers ever to play the game, though inconsistent and prone to injury. The 2005 Ashes saw him at his best, but his efforts were not enough to prevent England regaining the Ashes after Australia had won eight successive series (1989, 1990-1, 1993, 1994-5, 1997, 1998-9, 2001 and 2002-3) in cricket’s greatest rivalry.
  9. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner. 800 wickets in 133 test appearances. His 16 wickets at The Oval in 1998 were all the more remarkable because they were taken on a very flat pitch, and in a match that England had been less than enthusiastic about arranging, believing in spite of the 1996 World Cup that Sri Lanka were not good enough to oppose them.
  10. Sarfraz Nawaz – right arm fast medium bowler. He had his finest hour in Australia, when the home side had reached 305-3 in pursuit of a target of 388, and thanks to him were all out for 310. He took 7-1 in the space of 33 deliveries in that spell, finishing with 9-86 for the whole innings.
  11. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner. Almost universally rated as the best bowler of the interwar years, and unhesitatingly named by Bradman (with whom he did not get on) as the best bowler he ever saw or faced. He took at least 25 wickets in each of four successive test series, a record for consistency that still stands.

This side has a strong top five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper and four quality bowlers. They will take a lot of beating.

LIONEL TENNYSON’S XI

  1. Alviro Petersen – right handed opening batter. Averages 40 in first class cricket, though he has never been good enough to be an absolute regular for South Africa.
  2. Willie Quaife – right handed opening batter, occasional leg spinner. One of the most stubborn end enduring of all cricketers, playing on for Warwickshire until he was 56 years old.
  3. Richie Richardson – right handed batter. The second greatest batter ever to come from the island of Antigua behind Viv Richards. He was the last international batter to face up to opposition quick bowlers in a hat rather than a helmet (he favoured a maroon sun hat, rather than a cap). Perhaps his greatest test performance came at Perth, when 6’7″ Jo Angel decided that banging the ball in short was the way to go, and the stands in the region of midwicket took an absolute pounding, Richardson being far from averse to taking on the short stuff and also having faced quicker bowlers than Angel over the years.
  4. Ben Stokes – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler.
  5. *Lionel Tennyson – right handed batter, occasional fast bowler. He scored 63 and 36 batting virtually one handed in a test match (he had a broken left arm) in 1921. A year later he helped to engineer one of the greatest turnarounds in cricket history, when Hampshire came back from being rolled for 15 in their first innings to beat Warwickshire by 155 runs.
  6. George Ulyett – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. It was his bowling that first got him noticed, but he would also open the batting for his country.
  7. +Ricardo Vasconcelos – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Born in South Africa, of Portuguese ancestry, and now essential to Northamptonshire, for whom at the age of 22 he has already been keeper, opening batter and captain. He averages 36 with the bat, and has made 48 dismissals in 33 first class matches.
  8. Arnold Warren – right arm fast bowler. He took five cheap wickets on his only test match appearance. For those wondering about him being as high as no 8, he did once share a partnership of 283 with a certain J Chapman, so he clearly could bat.
  9. Xara Jetly – off spinner.
  10. Waqar Younis – right arm fast bowler. One of the all time great fast bowlers, both for Pakistan and for first Surrey and then Glamorgan, who he bowled to a county championship, in county cricket.
  11. Zahir Khan – left arm wrist spinner. Z is a difficult letter to fill, and in view of the pace bowling resources I already had Dawlat Zadran was not going to add much. Therefore I slightly cheated by selecting another Afghan who has one name beginning with Z, Zahir Khan. He is only just starting his career at present but I expect big things from him before too long.

This team has some decent batting and lots of depth and variety in bowling. Younis, Warren, Ulyett, Stokes and the occasional stuff of Tennyson is a superb range of pace options, and Xara Jetly and Zahir Khan should be able to enough in the spin department.

THE CONTEST

This should be a good contest. Lionel Tennyson’s XI have a greater range of bowling options, but as against that Charlotte Edwards’ XI are probably a stronger batting side. I just about make Lionel Tennyson’s XI favourites.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

I presented this problem from brilliant yesterday:

Triangles

This problem was set on brilliant as a multi-choice question, and it was a matter of seconds work to look at the available answers and conclude that 125 was right (the other three answers for the missing length all gave triangles with a shortest side of non-integer length, the sort of thing I notice pretty much without thinking). This was unfortunate because without the multi-choice answers it would have been a genuinely tough problem. Here is a published solution from someone who unlike me did not take advantage of the availability of a hack:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – Eras Clash

A post that looks at cricket history, a view on England’s first test selections, a mathematical teaser and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s All Time XIs cricket post, in which we look at the history of English cricket. A team of cricketers who were all born before 1850 are pitted against an XI who were all born after 1850. Before getting into the main body of the post I start with:

THOUGHTS ON THE SELECTIONS FOR THE FIRST TEST MATCH

22 players have been retained by England at the ground, with 13 officially in the test squad and nine as back ups. Here courtesy of the pinchhitter is the full list:

Eng Squad

My thoughts on the above are: arguably neither Broad nor Anderson should be in the 13, and certainly Broad should not be there. Ollie Robinson should be in the 13 and if he is definitely fit so should Curran. Bracey and Lawrence should both be in the 13, as should Foakes, with Buttler not even meriting a place in the 22. I am relieved the Bess is confirmed as first choice spinner and that Moeen Ali has not even made the 22. I would have liked to see Parkinson in the 22 at least. I am personally not entirely convinced about Woakes. Buttler’s continuing presence in the test squad is a disgrace – he can barely even be described as a competent keeper and his red ball batting record is ordinary. Denly’s selection is a very poor call as well – he averages dead on 30 in test cricket, and Bracey and Lawrence provided the only two major innings of the warm up game and should both be ahead of him.

WG GRACE’S XI

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying styles through his career, captain. He was born in 1848, the latest birth year of any member of this XI. He scored 54,896 first class runs and took 2,876 first class wickets. Over the course of his best decade, the 1870s, he averaged 49 with the bat, while the next best among regular players was 25, achieved by Richard Daft and his younger brother Fred.
  2. James Aylward – left handed opening batter. His 167 against All England in 1777, a mere eight years after the first record hundred of any type was scored is enough on its own to warrant his selection. He batted through two full days of play on that occasion, and his left handedness also helps make him a good complement for Grace.
  3. Billy Beldham – right handed batter. At a time when 20 was considered a decent score, and seriously big scores were a huge rarity he amassed three centuries in matches still recognized today as being first class.
  4. John Small – right handed batter. One of the greats of his day. He is credited with pioneering the policy of playing with a straight bat – before he showed what could be done with this method cross batted swiping was the order of the day.
  5. Vyell Walker – right handed batter, right arm underarm bowler. One of only two players (the other, WG Grace, is also in this XI) to have scored a century and taken all ten wickets in an innings of the same first class match. He was one of seven brothers who hailed from Southgate, and the ground there, which still occasioanlly hosts Middlesex games, is called the Walker Ground in their honour.
  6. Alfred Mynn – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The greatest all rounder the game saw prior to the emergence of WG Grace.
  7. +Ted Pooley – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A great keeper for Surrey, and would have kept for England in the inaugural test match but for an incident that saw him briefly confined in a New Zealand prison cell.
  8. William Clarke – right arm underarm bowler. He was rated as the best bowler of this type ever to play the game, averaging 300 wickets a season in all forms of cricket at his peak, including 476 in his most productive season. He was captain of the All England XI, a touring outfit that played matches against odds (opposition having more than 11 in their team) all round the country. His most significant contribution to cricket history came as a result of his marriage to the landlady of the Trent Bridge Inn. He enclosed some land behind the inn, turning it into a proper cricket ground, and 180 years on Trent Bridge is officially still a test venue, although it will not be hosting any games this season – internationals will be happening at the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford only.
  9. William Lillywhite – right arm bowler. The greatest bowler of his era, and one of the pioneers of ’round arm’ bowling, the development between under arm and over arm in the game’s history. He was one half of the game’s first great bowling partnership, along with…
  10. James Broadbridge – right arm bowler. Like Lillywhite, who he regularly bowled in tandem with he was among the pioneers of ’round arm’, and with these two spearheading their bowling Sussex were able to take on the Rest of England on equal terms.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 863 wickets in 138 first class games at 12.09 each. His best match performance came in 1876 by when he was 35 years of age, when he took 17-103 v Hampshire, only to see them sneak home by one wicket.

This side has a powerful top six, three of whom can be described as all rounders (Grace, Walker, Mynn), a great keeper and a magnificent and varied foursome of bowlers.

FRANK WOOLLEY’S XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed batter, occasional medium paced bowler. 61,237 first class runs, including 197 centuries, both all time records. Scored his last test century at the age of 46, still the oldest ever to do so.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed batter. Hobbs’ opening partner for England, an alliance that had the best average of any opening pair in test history, 87.
  3. *Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The only player ever to achieve the career treble of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches in first class cricket, and indeed the only non-keeper to take 1,000 first class catches.
  4. Wally Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. He lost eight seasons of his career, one to bureaucratic malice on the part of Lord Harris, one to a mystery illness picked up in the Caribbean and six to World War II and still scored over 50,000 first class runs with 167 centuries, including 7,249 runs and 22 centuries for England. Only two players have ever scored as many as 900 runs in a test series, Hammond with 905 at 113.125 being the first in the 1928-9 Ashes, a record that was overhauled 18 months later by Don Bradman. He is joint record holder for reaching 1,000 first class runs in a season in the shortest time period, doing it in 1927 between May 7 when he started and May 28, where WG Grace in 1895 had done it between May 9 and May 30.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. He averaged 50 in test cricket, set a record first class season’s aggregate in 1947. In 1956 he was recalled for England at The Oval, having had a knee operation earlier in the season, and scored 94. He still holds the record score for England against Pakistan, with 278. He also holds the record for the quickest ever first class triple century, racking it up in 181 minutes v Benoni during the 1948-9 tour of South Africa. At Adelaide in the 1946-7 Ashes he and Arthur Morris entered the record books when each of them scored twin tons in a drawn match.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The man who will captain England when test cricket resumes in a few days time. Instrumental in England’s 2019 World Cup win, and also largely responsible for the win at Headingley later that season, plus having an outstanding series in South Africa. When the recent intra-squad warm up match at the Ageas Bowl was accepted as a draw he had been smashing the ball all over the place, but the dismissal of Moeen Ali, LBW to Bess, ended his team’s hopes of triumph, and Team Buttler apparently decided not to press for the wickets they needed to win.
  7. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Over 100 first class hundreds with the bat, and over 1,000 first class dismissals with the gloves. Eight of his centuries came at test level, including 120 v Australia at Lord’s in 1934, which helped put England in position to win that match, their only victory over the old enemy at that venue in the entire 20th century.
  8. Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed batter. In his 15 match test career, ended prematurely by an eye injury, he averaged 27 with the bat and took 50 wickets at 16 each. His best match came at the MCG in the 1882-3 series, when he took seven wickets in each innings and contributed 55 to the only innings England had to play.
  9. Fred Trueman – right arm fast bowler. His record speaks for itself.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. 189 wickets in 27 test matches at 16.43 each.
  11. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler. 297 test wickets for the crafty Kent bowler.

This team has a strong batting line up, six front line bowling options (the four specialists plus Stokes and Woolley) and Hammond and Compton as back up bowlers. There is no right arm leg spin option, but Underwood, Woolley and Compton could all move the ball away from the right hander.

THE CONTEST

This has all the makings of a classic, and I will not even attempt to predict the outcome.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

This problem appeared on brilliant.org today, and should have been even better than it actually was (it was a fine one anyway):

Triangles

This was presented as multi-choice, with four possible answers, and as I will explain tomorrow that opened up an unorthodox route to a solution, so I am not making it multi-choice.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Old v New
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet XII

Another alphabetic progression for today’s all time XI cricket post, some thoughts on events at the Ageas bowl and England’s 1st test line up and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the 12th of our alphabetic progression posts, starting today at I. Tomorrow’s post will have a historical theme, the last of these alphabetic progression posts will appear on Sunday morning, and I have an international post lined up for Monday, which leaves me subject matter to find for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s posts, and then on Thursday I will have an actual live test match to write about, and my gap-filling mission will have been accomplished. Before getting into the main body of today’s post it is time for an…

UPDATE FROM THE AGEAS BOWL

Yesterday Buttler’s team bowled out Stokes’ team for 233, taking a first innings lead of 54. Bess bowled well, taking two wickets. Oliver Edward Robinson also had two wickets, and was very economical, and there was a cameo appearance from Amar Virdi in which he looked impressive and picked up the wicket of Saqib Mahmood (admittedly one of the more genuine no11s playing today). The Buttler team are now 142-4 in their second innings, with Pope going well. Dan Lawrence has not batted this time round, so I presume that he has already been told he is in the test team (otherwise this is inexcusable since if he gets to the wicket it will be to have a slog before the declaration). Moeen Ali has had a turn at the bowling crease, and Rory Burns got out to him as Team Buttler started trying to force the pace, which they have done moderately effectively, but the evidence from his spell overall was clear – he is the third best off spinner on show at the Ageas bowl behind Bess and Virdi, and the fifth best spinner, with Leach and Parkinson also better practitioners. Curran has gone down ill, and will presumably miss the test match, and with Anderson failing to impress this morning, unless Broad turns on a spectacular new ball spell when the time comes I see Robinson as the one to get the nod, meaning that allowing for the loss of Curran my XI for the test match would be: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Lawrence, *Stokes, Pope, +Foakes, Robinson, Bess, Wood, Archer.

ABDUL QADIR’S XI

  1. James Iremonger – right handed opening batter. He played for Nottinghamshire, mostly in the years running up to World War 1, and had a first class batting average of 35. Subsequently he became a coach, and numbered Larwood and Voce among his charges.
  2. Steve James – right handed opening batter. He played for Glamorgan, and was the first batter ever to score a triple century for the county (albeit on a very flat pitch and at a very small ground – Glamorgan topped 700 for the loss of just three wickets). He played very briefly for England, discovering as others before him had that England selectors aren’t good at picking up what happens to their west. After his retirement he became a writer, his books including the excellent “The Plan” and the interesting “The Art of Centuries”.
  3. Jacques Kallis – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Only one other test cricketer to have been a regular bowler (Alastair Cook took one test wicket at a cost of 7 runs in his long test career)  has had as big a credit balance between their batting and bowling averages as Kallis: Garfield St Aubrun Sobers.
  4. VVS Laxman – right handed batter. In partnership with Rahul Dravid he turned the Kolkata 2001 test match on its head, so that India, following on 273 runs behind ended up winning by 171 runs, as Harbhajan Singh completed the turn around by spinning through a dispirited Australia in the 4th innings.
  5. John Morris – right handed batter. A heavy scoring stroke maker for Derbyshire, he never managed to establish himself for England, and his involvement in the ‘Tiger Moth’ incident with David Gower may well have ended his chances of so doing – certainly, even though he had scored 132 in the match in question, he was never heard from again at England level.
  6. Marcus North – left handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played for a number of counties, and made a good start to his international career before falling away at that level. The axe descended on his international career during the 2010-11 series when an ill-equpped and poorly led Australia were well beaten.
  7. +Bertie Oldfield – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of the finest keepers ever to play the game, his 52 test stumpings remains an all-time record.
  8. Keemo Paul – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. He is best known for his performances in limited overs cricket, but he also has a respectable record in long form cricket.
  9. *Abdul Qadir – leg spinner. In the 1980s the art of leg spin nearly died out, with all due respect to Australians Bob Holland, Trevor Hohns and Peter Sleep, the latter two of whom would never have been picked but for their skills with the bat. The man who kept the embers aglow, to fanned into glorious flame by Shane Warne in the 1990s was Abdul Qadir.
  10. Raymond Robertson-Glasgow – right arm fast medium bowler. A Scot who was able to short circuit the residential qualification rules of the day because he was related to someone who owned property in Bath, and also because Somerset were past masters at dodging those rules anyway. He regularly opened the Somerset bowling with James Bridges. Both believed they should bat higher than they did, and Bridges could be said to have had the better of that little dispute since it was usually him who got to bat at the lofty heights of no10. He went on to become one of the finest writers on the game.
  11. Billy Stanlake – right arm fast bowler. He plays mainly short form cricket, especially T20, but a first class bowling average of 31 is a respectable effort for someone who is not a regular at long form cricket (he has played eight first class matches in total as compared to 28 list A games and 64 T20 games). He is often referred to by commentators as ‘big Billy’ because of his great height (2.04 metres, approximatedly 6’8″ in imperial measurements).

This team has a good top six, a top of the range keeper and four varied bowlers. The spin department is a little understocked, with only North’s part time off spin as a back up for Qadir, but Stanlake, Robertson-Glasgow, Paul and 4th seamer Kallis is certainly a respectable pace attack.

XENOPHON BALASKAS’ XI

  1. Mark Taylor – left handed opening batter. He was one of the stars of the 1989 Ashes, with 839 runs in the series – more than any other Aussie save Bradman has ever tallied in a series. That series saw the end of Australia as whipping boys and the beginning of a rise that would see them reach the top of the cricket world by 1995, and then occupy that position for another decade. The combined impact of mismanagement, Kerry Packer and Ali Bacher had seen Australia flat lining since the mid 1970s, with England winning the Ashes at home in 1977, retaining in 1978-9, retaining again in 1981, surrendering them in 1982-3 when they were themselves weakened by the attentions of Mr Bacher, regaining them in 1985 and retaining them in 1987. Then, when Australia turned the tables in 1989 a combination of English mismanagement and refusal to face the obvious saw Australia retain the urn in 1990-1, 1993, 1994-5, 1997, 1998-9, 2001 and 2002-3, and all of those eight Ashes series from 1989 through to 2002-3 England only once one a game with the series still alive, at Edgbaston in 1997. Taylor, as well as his contributions at the top of the order took on the captaincy after Border retired, eventually handing over to Steve Waugh in turn.
  2. Taufeeq Umar – left handed opening batter. Played for Pakistan at the start of the 2000s, and averaged just below 39 as an opener in test matches.
  3. Ken Viljoen – right handed batter. He batted in this position in the infamous timeless test at Durban in 1939.
  4. Everton Weekes – right handed batter. Averaged 58.62 in test cricket, being the only player ever to score five centuries in successive test innings. He died recently at the age of 95, the last of the ‘three Ws’ (Walcott, Weekes and Worrell, born within a few miles of each other in the space of 18 months) to die.
  5. *Xenophon Balaskas – right handed batter, leg spinner. He is perhaps a little higher in the order than his batting record warrants, but he was a fine all rounder in his day.
  6. Norman Yardley – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. When he went on the 1946-7 tour of Australia, which was supposed to be a ‘goodwill tour’, except that Bradman did not get the memo it was as young batter whose bowling was rarely even used by his county, but a combination of injuries and a lack of resources in that department saw him pressed into service as a bowler for his country, and he responded well, bowling economically and picking up the odd useful wicket. He captained England in the 1948 Ashes, but was one of two candidates to refuse the captaincy of the 1950-1 tour (FG Mann of Middlesex being the other).
  7. +Zulqarnain Haider – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A brief but spectacular appearance in the limelight, during one of Pakistan’s many troubled periods.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. He got his break when, at the age of 16, he bowled a spell in the nets that caught the eye of his country’s captain, Imran Khan. That was the launch of a career that saw him become one of the game’s all time greats, a fearsome fast bowler, a dangerous attacking bat in the lower middle order, and at one time captain. In 1992 he and Waqar Younis teamed up to render England’s batting feather legged. That winter in the world cup final he made the key intervention, ripping out two wickets at a crucial stage of the match and enabling his side to lift the trophy. England would spend most of the next 20 years or so after that loss producing one day cricket performances that were uninspired at best and downright incompetent at worst before a humiliating experience in the 2015 world cup would finally act as the kick up the backside they needed.
  9. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. That official description tells you about on tenth of the story of Barnes the bowler, discovered in the Lancashire nets by Archie MacLaren (England’s own nearest equivalent to the Wasim story), taken on a tour of Australia largely on the strength of that net session. A combination of him being constitutionally incapable of tugging his forelock, disapproval in official circles of his preference for Lancashire League cricket over the county ground and the fact that Lord Hawke, the Lincolnshire born author of the ‘Yorkshire born players only’ policy at that county did not see eye to eye with MacLaren and tended to disapprove of his hunches as a matter of principle led to Barnes playing less than half the number of tests he could, therefore should, have done. In 13 tests in Australia he captured 77 wickets, also taking 29 Aussie wickets in seven home tests against them, while against South Africa he captured 83 wickets in just seven test matches, and had he not quarrelled over terms and conditions with management and pulled out of what turned out to be the last test match before World War 1, he would almost certainly have had 60+ wickets for that series (he was on 49 from four matches) and been the first to 200 test wickets in what would have been his 28th game at that level.
  10. Rahkeem Cornwall – off spinner. 13 test wickets at 22 after two matches, 303 first class wickets at 25 each. We are likely to see something of the 27 year old off spinner in the upcoming ‘biosecure’ test series. This is a possible head to head contest between someone named Cornwall, and someone who was born in the neighboring county of Devon (there four Devonians in the current England camp, Bess the offspinner, Gregory the seam bowling all rounder and the Overton twins – one a genuinely fast bowler, one a fast medium, while England women’s captain Heather Knight was also born in Devon). I do not particularly expect to Gregory or either Overton in test action, but Bess must surely play.
  11. George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. 2,151 first class wickets at 19.82 each and never a single England cap. In the 1907 season, a very wet one in which in those days of “ooncoovered pitches” spinners flourished, he took over 200 first class wickets. The trouble was that Wilfred Rhodes and Colin Blythe were even greater masters of the art of left arm spin bowling than he was, and Frank Woolley always commanded a place as a batter.

This side has a decent top four, and the presence of Wasim Akram at no 8 means that all the next four are also capable of major innings. The bowling, with Akram and Barnes to take the new ball, Dennett, Cornwall and the skipper as spin options and Yardley’s medium paced nibblers as sixth option is very strong.

THE CONTEST

Abdul Qadir’s XI have the stronger batting line up, but Xenophon Balaskas’ XI have a quartet of front line bowlers that looks seriously formidable, plus the skipper. In keeping with my reckoning that it is the bowlers who win matches I make Xenophon Balaskas’ XI definite favourites. If the pitch turns than Qadir will struggle to match the combined efforts of Cornwall, Dennett and the opposition skipper. Over at the Ageas bowl Team Stokes have been set 255 for victory, and are 46-0 in the 13th, with Sibley and Bairstow opening.

PHOTOGRAPHS

While I have been typing this up Team Stokes have moved to 126-2, needing a further 129 with 19 and a half overs to be bowled. Zak Crawley, no 3 in the test for a certainty (Denly’s score of one for Team Buttler earlier today removed any tiny lingering doubt there) is going well. Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet XI

The eleventh alphabetic progression post in this series.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the eleventh alphabetic progression post i this series. When we get to the main body of this post today’s first XI will start at M as our last such ended at L, but there are a couple of things to attend to first…

CORRECTION

In yesterday’s ‘Alec v Charles‘ post I described Alex Lees as a right handed batter. As a twitter correspondent swiftly pointed out he actually bats left handed. I apologize for the error. I would also like to thank the ‘Womens County Cricket Day‘ twitter account for sharing my post and commenting approvingly on the selection of Alex Hartley, the left arm spinner, in the Alec XI.

UPDATE FROM THE AGEAS BOWL

Team Buttler reached 287-5 by the close of yesterday, with Bracey making 85 and Lawrence 58. They declared on that overnight score, as was virtually mandatory in a game of this nature. Today’s play has been slow so far, initially because Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes bowled very few balls in the appropriate area, both being habitually wide, and both operating at a decidedly sluggish pace. Between them in 11 overs they managed one genuinely threatening delivery, a ball on which Broad appealed vociferously and at length for LBW, but to no avail. Archer and Wood livened things up, being both quicker and more accurate than their predecessors at the bowling crease, and Archer accounted for Sibley courtesy of a close catch. Oliver Edward Robinson (full name, because there is a young wicket keeper named Oliver Graham Robinson who is on the fringes of the England set up) bowled accurately but unthreateningly, and unless he can find at least an extra yard of pace from somewhere it is hard to see him worrying international class batters. Dom Bess ended Jennings’ purely defensive innings of 23 with a good delivery just before lunch. Zak Crawley, almost sure to bat at three in the test match, is just starting to play nicely, and at present he has Jonny Bairstow, who needs to play a major innings to press his case, for company. For the record, my team based on previous thoughts and the day and bit of action at the Ageas bowl would be: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Lawrence (remember Root is absent), *Stokes, Pope, +Foakes, Curran, Bess, Wood, Archer – Anderson was less unimpressive yesterday than Broad has been today, but at the moment neither appear to be at full throttle, so I am going for both the ultra quick bowlers, who have been impressive, with Curran’s left arm medium fast as third seam option, Stokes to operate in short bursts as and when needed and Bess’ off spin.

VINOO MANKAD’S XI

  1. *Vinoo Mankad – right handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner, captain. He regularly opened for India, sharing an opening stand of 413 with Pankaj Roy on one occasion. In one match at Lord’s he scored 72 and 184, taking a five-for in the intervening England innings. It took him just 23 matches to reach the test career double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, a figure beaten only by Ian Botham – 21 matches. My views on slow bowling all rounders as captaincy candidates should be known to all by now.
  2. Mudassar Nazar – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. An adhesive opener who holds the record for the longest time spent batting in the course of a series (it was a six match series against India, and his job was to soak up lots of time, softening the bowling up for the stroke makers in Pakistan’s middle order). He also holds the record for the slowest ever test century, taking over eight hours to reach three figures on one occasion.
  3. Edgar Oldroyd – right handed batter. Over 15,000 first class runs at 35, and never called up for England. As Yorkshire’s regular no3 in the 1920s he spent a lot of time padded up ready to bat – Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe put on a total of 69 century opening stands for Yorkshire. His granddaughter Eleanor is a well known sports commentator, broadcaster and presenter.
  4. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter. After the top batters have softened the bowling up we need some stroke makers to cash in, and few fit that bill better than Kevin Pietersen. A number of his best test innings were played after Strauss, Cook and Trott had given the England innings a solid start.
  5. Quinton De Kock – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Another attacking middle order batter to back up Pietersen. I have selected him as a Q based on his first name because Q is a difficult letter to fill, and at least by allowing myself this latitude I also solve the wicket keeping problem.
  6. Ernie Robson – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. An all rounder who scored over 10,000 first class runs and took over 1,000 first class wickets. At the age of 53 he won a match for Somerset by hitting a six in the final possible over. As a bowler his speciality was outswing, and Jack Hobbs rated him as difficult as any bowler he ever faced. Jimmy Anderson might like to note that he was still doing damage with his outswinger right to the end of his career, as mentioned at the age of 53.
  7. Franklyn Stephenson – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. In 1988 he was the last cricketer to achieve the season double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets. Anyone managing that in today’s 14 game first class season would achieve a feat comparable with George Hirst’s 1906 ‘double double’ of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets.
  8. Fred Titmus – off spinner, useful lower order batter. Among Middlesex bowlers only JT Hearne took more career first class wickets than Titmus, who made his debut in 1949, and became one of the few cricketers to play first class matches in five different decades when he answered an SOS in 1982.
  9. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler. 297 test wickets is proof of his efficacy as a bowler.
  10. Tayla Vlaeminck – right arm fast bowler. The 21 year old Aussie describes herself as a fast bowler, a detail that has not yet reached those who maintain player records at cricinfo. She and Issy Wong of England both have their sights set on bowling at over 80mph (two earlier Aussies, Sharon Tredrea and Cathryn Fitzpatrick may already have done so, but the recording equipment that would prove it was not around in their day, while South African Shabnim Ismail is also not far away). She was born in Bendigo, the very same town as one of Australia’s first bowling greats, Harry Boyle, Spofforth’s partner in destruction and capturer of the final wicket at The Oval in 1882 in the match that led to the creation of The Ashes.
  11. Courtney Walsh – right arm fast bowler. Whatever you may say about the positioning of some of the other members of this XI he is certainly in his correct slot in the batting order. He was the first bowler ever to take 500 test wickets, though his longevity was actually of doubtful benefit to the West Indies because it masked the extent of their decline from the heights they once occupied, which in combination with ostrich logic/ wishful thinking by the West Indian powers that be meant that when reality hit it did so with sledgehammer power.

This side has a good top five, two genuine all rounders and four quality bowlers. Walsh, Vlaeminck, Stephenson and Robson represent a fine pace/swing/seam quartet, with Underwood’s slow-medium craft and guile plus the spin of Titmus and Mankad providing further good options.

CLARE CONNOR’S XI

  1. Xavier Marshall – right handed opening batter. Double international, having played for his native West Indies and the USA. X is the most difficult letter of all to fill.
  2. Martin Young – right handed opening batter. Long serving Gloucestershire opener.
  3. Zaheer Abbas – right handed batter. The only Pakistani to score 100 first class 100 hundreds. He played for Gloucestershire for many years, and was known on the county circuit as ‘Zed’, which, in addition to the difficulties posed by that letter, is why I have used him as a Z for this purpose. He was one of the early masters of ODI batting, being the first ever to score centuries in three successive ODIs, and the first Pakistani to score as many as seven ODI centuries.
  4. Tommy Andrews – right handed batter. Averaged almost 40 in overall first class cricket, but was not a success in his test career. His record also looks a little better when you bear in mind that he made his first class debut in the 1912-3 Aussie season, and thus had his career disrupted just as he was looking to establish himself. He was also acknowledged as an outstanding fielder in the covers.
  5. Ian Bell – right handed batter. An excellent timer of a cricket ball. He looked out of his depth against the 2005 Australians (some thought England should have kept faith with the gritty left hander Graham Thorpe for that series, before bringing Bell through against less testing opposition), but thereafter his improvement was rapid. His career is not quite over – he has just signed a contract with Warwickshire to play until the end of the 2021 season.
  6. *Clare Connor – right handed batter, captain. She played for the first XI of Brighton College, the first female to do so (much to the disapproval of some of the more antediluvian types associated with cricket), blazing a trail followed subsequently by spinner Holly Colvin and keeper/ batter Sarah Taylor. She went on to be a hugely successful captain of England women. In spite of all this it is arguable that her most recent triumph is her greatest of all – for the first time in its 233 year history the MCC has a woman president, and yes, the woman in question is Clare Connor. She is also well known to those who listen to cricket on the radio as a commentator.
  7. +Haydn Davies wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was Glamorgan’s keeper when they won their first county championship in 1948.
  8. Tom Emmett – left arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. He took his first class wickets at 13.55 each, a similar average to his near contemporary Fred Morley and just a bit more than the 12.09 recorded by the slightly older William Mycroft (they were both also left arm quick bowlers). He played in the first three test matches, being part of James Lillywhite’s 1876-7 tour party and one of two professionals brought along by Lord Harris in 1878-9 to do the bowling (George Ulyett was the other), meaning that he toiled hard in those months but also that he avoided one of Britain’s most unpleasant winters – the last to be cold enough for the river Thames to freeze over.
  9. Kenneth Farnes – right arm fast bowler. The Essex amateur was one of the fastest bowlers of the second half of the 1930s. He died in a flying accident in World War II, so his career was very brief.
  10. Tom Goddard – off spinner. He started as a fast bowler, even taking a first class hat trick in that style, before Charlie Parker (left arm spinner, 3,278 first class wickets) noted his huge hands and suggested that he might go further as a spinner. Goddard spent three years reinventing himself as an off spinner, before returning to the fray. Since he would play on for another quarter of a century and finish with a tally of 2,979 first class wickets, including doing the hat trick a further five times, and it was only an attack of pleurisy that finally induced him to hang up his boots it can safely be said that Parker made the right call, and that Goddard did well to heed it.
  11. Jack Hill – leg spinner. He toured England with 1953 Australians, and though he never established himself at test level (a certain R Benaud providing a rather large obstacle in that direction) he had a respectable first class record.

This side has a respectable top six, a fine keeper and four varied bowlers. There is not much back up to the front four bowlers – Ian Bell would probably be next in line for a bowl with his medium pacers, but Emmett, Farnes, Goddard and Hill look a pretty useful foursome.

THE CONTEST

Clare Connor’s XI are probably stronger in batting, though Vinoo Mankad’s XI have good depth in that department. Vinoo Mankad’s XI have a greater range of bowling options, while Clare Connor’s XI would be heavily reliant on their front four bowlers. Clare Connor’s XI would also of course be boosted by her captaincy. I expect a good contest, but I think that Vinoo Mankad’s XI have a definite edge here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

The warm up game at the Ageas bowl has moved on while I have been typing this. Team Stokes are now 167-5, with Zak Crawley and the eponym, Stokes, having each scored forties. Bairstow made just 11, not nearly enough to earn selection at this stage. Archer, Wood, Woakes, Bess and leg spinner Parkinson each have a wicket. Bess has had plenty of bowling, which augurs well for him – just so long as the selectors don’t fudge things by picking Ali for the spinners slot on the grounds that ‘he can bat’. On that note, here is my usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – Charles v Alec

Today’s all time XIs cricket post look towards the rebirth of test cricket by paying tribute to a pair of brothers who were involved in the birth of test cricket – Charles and Alec Bannerman.

INTRODUCTION

Today is the start of new month, and also the start of an England intra-squad warm up match at the Ageas bowl in preparation for the resumption of test cricket next week. This match is 14 vs 13, not 11 vs 11, so does not have first class status, but is significant because of what it portends and because there is a batting vacancy at no4, since Joe Root is attending the birth of his child and will then be quarantining for 14 days. Team Buttler have been put into bat by Team Stokes, and as I start this post are 119-1, with James Bracey making an early bid for the vacant batting slot having passed 50. I aim to keep my all time XIs cricket series going until the test match gets underway, when I will give that my full attention. Today’s post harks back to the early days of international cricket, inspired by my rereading John Lazanby’s “The Strangers Who Came Home”, a brilliantly crafted reconstruction of the 1878 tour of England. As a tribute to the contrasting Bannerman brothers I have pitted a team of 11 Alecs/ Alexes against 11 Charleses/Charlies/Charls.

ALEC XI

  1. Alec Bannerman – right handed opening batter. Australia’s first stonewaller. He never managed a test century, his best being 94, while his most famous was a 91 in seven and a half hours, which included a whole uninterrupted day in which he advanced his score by 67.
  2. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. A blocker is best accompanied by someone of more attacking inclination to avoid the innings becoming entirely bogged down, and Alec Stewart fits the bill perfectly. He scored more test runs in the 1990s than anyone else, in spite of being messed around by the selectors of the time, who often used him as a wicket keeper in an effort to strengthen the batting.
  3. Alex Lees – right handed batter. A third recognized opener, and one who as a teenager played an innings of 275 for his native Yorkshire. He did not quite go on to scale the heights that this innings suggested he was capable of, and subsequently moved from Yorkshire to Durham.
  4. Alex Blackwell – right handed batter. A former captain of the Aussie Women’s team, with a fine batting record. When the commentators picked a composite team at the end of the 2010-1 Ashes Jonathan Agnew named as the token Aussie in an otherwise all English line up.
  5. Alex Gidman – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. Over 11,000 first class runs at an average of 36 and never got the opportunity to play for England.
  6. +Alex Davies – right handed batter, wicket keeper. 171 dismissals effected in 75 first class matches and a batting average of 34.55 at that level. He is better known for his efforts in limited overs cricket, where his rapidity of scoring is especially useful, but he should not be typecast as a limited overs specialist.
  7. Alec O’Riordan – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. He played a starring role in Ireland’s dramatic victory of the West Indies at Sion Mills in 1969 and was for a long time the best all rounder that country had produced.
  8. Alec Kennedy – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. He played for Hampshire for the thick end of 30 years, pretty much carrying their bowling in that period, with support from Jack Newman and Stuart Boyes.
  9. Alec Bedser – right arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest bowlers of his type ever to play the game. He was taught by the all rounder Alan Peach how to grip the ball if he wanted it to go straight through rather than swinging. When Bedser tried this himself he actually found that the ball spun from leg to off, and one of the deliveries he bowled in that fashion was described by Bradman as “the best ball ever to take my wicket.”
  10. Alex Tudor – right arm fast bowler. With Kennedy, Bedser and O’Riordan all steady types we definitely have space for an out and out speedster, and Tudor is that man. He is actually best known for a batting effort, on his test debut against New Zealand, when he was sent in as nightwatchman and was 99 not out when England completed their victory (Graham Thorpe, who came in with victory already pretty much certain, blitzed a succession of boundaries to finish it, the second time he may have been responsible for a batter finishing unbeaten in the 90s, after the incident where Atherton declared with Hick 98 not out, and it appeared that Thorpe had failed to pass on a message from the skipper). His career was subsequently blighted by injuries and he never did get to complete a century.
  11. *Alex Hartley – left arm orthodox spinner. We have been short of spin options so far, but fortunately we have a world cup winning spinner to round out the XI. She has subsequently lost her England place, and given how many talented young spinners there are now in England women’s cricket it is unlikely that she will regain it, but the world cup winner’s medal cannot be taken away from her.

This side has an excellent top six including a decent quality keeper, a genuine all rounder at seven and four varied bowlers. The side is short of spinners, with Hartley the only real option in that department, but O’Riordan’s left arm and Bedser’s one that spun from leg to off means that this is far from being a monotonous bowling attack. The fact that there are five front line bowlers allows for Tudor being used in short bursts at top pace.

NOT PICKED

Hampshire stalwart Alec Bowell just missed out. Alex Loudon with a batting average of 31 and a bowling average of 40 was the reverse of an all rounder, and although an off spinner would have been useful he had to be ignored. Alex Barnett, a left arm spinner, did not have a record to warrant displacing a world cup winner. Alex Hales is mainly a white ball player, and is also under a cloud because of his personal conduct.

CHARLES XI

  1. Charles Bannerman – right handed opening batter. Scored 165 in the first innings of the first test, in an all out tally of 245, still the biggest proportion of a test innings ever scored by one person. In 1878 he became the first Australian to score a century in England, having already done so in New Zealand, and he would later make it a quadruple by racking up a ton in Canada en route back to Australia.
  2. Charles Hallows – left handed opening batter. An excellent counterpoint to the all attacking right hander Bannerman, since he was more defensively inclined. He opened the batting for Lancashire in their greatest period in the 1920s, and in 1928 he became the third and last player to score 1,000 first class runs actually in the month of May (Bradman, twice, Edrich, Hayward, Hick and Glenn Turner each reached 1,000 first class runs in an English season before the start of June, but all benefitted from games played in April) exactly one year after Walter Hammond had equalled the 1895 achievement of WG Grace. At the start of May 30th 1928 Hallows was on 768 runs for the season, Lancashire won the toss and batted, and by the close Hallows had reached 190 not out. He got those 42 runs on the morning of May 31, and then a combination of exhaustion and relief caused him to snick one behind and he was out for 232, with his aggregate precisely 1,000 for the season. In all he scored 55 first class hundreds and averaged 40 with the bat in his first class career.
  3. Charles Burgess Fry – right handed batter. A third recognized opener. In amongst all the other extraordinary things he did in his life he amassed 94 first class centuries, and recorded a first class average of 50. When his career started no one had ever scored more than three successive first class hundreds, and in 1901 he broke that record and went on to make it six in succession before the sequence finally ended, a record which has been equalled by Bradman and Procter but never surpassed.
  4. Charles Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. In 1926, at the age of 40, he scored centuries in each of three successive tests (to no avail for his side, as those games all finished in draws and England won the final match at The Oval to take the Ashes). Five years earlier he had hit Nottinghamshire for 345 in 232 minutes, the highest score by an Australian on tour of England.
  5. Charlie Townsend – right handed batter, leg spinner. In 1894 he became only the second player to score 2,000 first class runs and take 100 first class wickets in a season.
  6. *Charles Palmer – right handed batter, medium pace bowler/ off spinner, captain. One of his bowling stints gave him a shot at the record books – he had figures of 8-0, and he he stopped bowling at that point he would have been indelibly there. He kept going, and the spell was broken, and he ended up having to settle for a mere 8-7 (behind Laker 8-2, Shackleton 8-4, Peate 8-5 and level with George Lohmann who achieved his 8-7 in a test match)! He scored just over 17,000 first class runs at 31, and his 365 wickets cost 25 each.
  7. +Charles Wright – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He played in the late Victorian era, scoring almost 7,000 first class runs and making 235 dismissals of which 40 were stumpings.
  8. Charlie Turner – right arm medium fast bowler. Joint quickest ever to the career landmark of 100 test wickets, achieved in his 17th match. Only bowler ever to take 100 first class wickets in an Australian season.
  9. Charlie Parker – left arm orthodox spinner. The third leading first class wicket taker ever, with 3,278 scalps, and yet only one England appearance. At Leeds in 1926 he was in the 12 but left out on the morning of the match.
  10. Charl Willoughby – left arm fast medium bowler. An excellent record for Somerset in county cricket, and his left handedness is a useful variation.
  11. Charlie Shreck – right arm fast bowler. The 6’7″ Cornish born quick bowler took 577 first class wickets at 31.80, a respectable rather than outstanding record. His pace and height will be useful in this attack.

This team has a strong top six, a keeper and four varied bowlers. Willoughby, Shreck and Turner are a fine pace attack, while Parker, Townsend and the more occasional stuff of Palmer offer plenty of spin.

MISSING

Charlie Barnett had a fair claim on opening slot, but I felt that with the attacking Bannerman claiming one slot someone steadier was required. Similarly, given the overload of available openers of quality I could not find a place for Charlotte Edwards. Charlie McGahey who played for Essex in the early 20th century had a good record as a middle order batter, but he did not the bowling of Townsend or the combined bowling and captaincy of Palmer. Australian keeper Charles Walker might have had the gloves instead of Wright. Charl Langeveldt had a decent record as a right arm medium fast bowler, but Willoughby’s left handedness worked in his favour. Charles Dagnall, now well known as a commentator, did not have a particularly special record as a medium fast bowler for Leicestershire and Warwickshire, and so although his name is well known I could not pick him.

THE CONTEST

We have two well balanced sides here, although the Charles XI has the better balanced bowling unit, and a more powerful engine room to its batting (Hallows, Fry, Macartney), though the Alec XI bats deeper with Bedser at nine and Tudor at 10.

LOOKING AHEAD

Buttler’s XI are currently going very well, with Bracey now in the 80s and Dan Lawrence having made a rapid start being on 32 off 38 balls (he would be my pick for the no4 slot vacated by Root, so I am especially pleased to see that he is going well. The plan for this series, as mentioned earlier, is to keep it going until the test match gets underway. I am also going to float a speculative kite: there is enough material in this series of blog posts to fill a book if people would be interested in reading it. Bracey has just gone, c Foakes b J Overton 85,  to make it 196-3.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet X

Continuing the all time XI #cricket series with a tenth ‘through the alphabet’ post. Also includes some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the tenth in our alphabetic progression mini series. Unlike yesterday I also have some photos to share. Today we start with a Q…

IMAD WASIM’S XI

  1. Willie Quaife – right handed opening batter, occasional leg spinner. When it comes to opening batters whose surnames begin with Q there is really only one contender, the man who played for Warwickshire for almost 35 years, signing off with a century at the age of 56 years and four months. In the later years of his career he did on occasion open the batting with his son Bernard, but the latter only ever got picked because of whose son he was – he was not close to being top player (my source for this is long serving Warwickshire keeper EJ “Tiger” Smith by way of the ‘autobiography’ he gave to Pat Murphy by means of a series of recorded interviews).
  2. Chris Rogers – left handed opening batter. His test record for Australia was not stellar, partly because he was long past his prime before becoming a regular member of the side, but he was a seriously big scorer for Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and Middlesex in the county championship.
  3. Robin Smith – right handed batter. One of those rare batters who positively relished doing battle with the opposition fast bowlers (George Gunn, the Nottinghamshire legend was another, as was an earlier Hampshire man, George Brown) and even rarer in being an England player who actually enhanced his reputation during the 1989 Ashes series (keeper Jack Russell was the only other of whom that could be said). Another rare club to which Smith belongs is the ‘winners of a sledging contest with Merv Hughes’ club, again from that 1989 Ashes series. After a Smith play and miss Hughes, the bowler, said to him “you can’t ****ing bat”, Smith smacked the next ball for four and said “we make a fine pair: I can’t ****ing bat and you can’t ****ing bowl”.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. Don Bradman, then a very old man, was watching a match an the TV at home and thought he had spotted something about the young man who was batting. He called his wife through to verify his observation, and Lady Jessie Bradman confirmed that yes, there was more than a passing resemblance between the methods of the batter in that match and Don’s own. The batter was, of course, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, who would go on to become the first and to date only batter to score 100 hundreds in international matches.
  5. Polly Umrigar – right handed batter, off spinner. He was at one time India’s leading test run scorer. There was a question mark about him against genuine pace, which he never got to face in Indian domestic cricket. Fred Trueman once claimed that on one occasion when he was bowling at Umrigar the square leg umpire was nearer the wicket than Umrigar. At No5, behind this side’s top four he is unlikely to be facing fast bowlers who have not already done a fair amount of bowling.
  6. +Roy Virgin – right handed batter, wicket keeper. He was only an occasional wicket keeper, but V is a difficult letter to fill. He was once named in the 12 for England but left out on the morning of the match, and that was as close to international cricket as he came.
  7. *Imad Wasim – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, captain. He has played ODIs and T20Is with some success, but not yet test cricket. His first class record is 3,702 runs at 40.68 and 141 wickets at 31.14. I have named him as captain based on my thinking about slow bowling all rounders in this role. A cynic might say that since he is a Pakistani who is already an established part of their international set up I have a better than average chance of finding out how he handles the captaincy, given the way they go through captains.
  8. Xara Jetly – off spinner. This side has a longish looking tail, with the young kiwi off spinner at no8. X is a difficult letter to fill, and there is enough in her recent performances to at least suggest promise, and at the age of 18 she is certainly young enough to improve.
  9. Poonam Yadav – leg spinner. One of the attributes that is said to have made the Kent leg spinner Tich Freeman so difficult for opposition batters was his lack of height, which enabled him to release the ball upwards, making it difficult for the batters to follow its flight. Poonam Yadav is even shorter than Freeman’s 5’2″ and takes a similar approach to her own leg spin, releasing the ball upwards, and in her case, at as slow a pace as can ever have been seen in top level cricket.
  10. Dawlat Zadran – right arm fast medium bowler. The best pace bowler to have come from Afghanistan thus far, and he has an experienced new ball partner here in the form of…
  11. James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. 584 test wickets, and officially still counting. When the ‘bio-secure’ series starts next week we will see if he is in the England team. For me the choice is between him and Broad, with Curran (left arm, and a useful lower order batter), Wood (searing pace) and Bess the others chosen primarily for bowling and Stokes the all rounder providing a fourth pace option, with Parkinson possibly replacing Curran if a second specialist spinner is warranted (unlikely on a 21st century English pitch). However, whether or not he is selected for that match, his record speaks for itself, and in this team his experience will be invaluable.

This side has a fine top six, an admitted gamble with Roy Virgin, an occasional in the role in his playing days, trusted with the keeping gloves, an effective all rounder, two quality specialist spinners and an excellent new ball pairing.

JACK IDDON’S XI

  1. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter.
  2. Bransby Beauchamp Cooper – right handed opening batter. He once shared an opening stand of 283 with WG Grace, and as a participant in the inaugural test match at Melbourne in 1877 has the distinction of being the first test cricketer to have been born in what is now Bangladesh (he was born in what was then Dacca, India and is now Dhaka, Bangladesh).
  3. Rahul Dravid – right handed batter. For many years the sheet anchor of the Indian test team. Probably his greatest innings was at Kolkata in 2001, when he played the support role to VVS Laxman’s pyrotechnics, as India came back from being made to follow on to win by 171 runs, scoring 657-7 declared in that second innings.
  4. George Emmett – right handed batter. A Gloucestershire stalwart of the immediate post world war two era who played a few matches for England.
  5. Francis Ford – left handed batter. He was in his prime in the last decade of the 19th century, when he acquired a reputation for ‘gentle violence’ at the crease. He played a part in the first test victory by a side made to follow on, at Sydney in 1894. He contributed an aggressive 48 to England’s second innings revival, which saw them reach 437, setting Australia 177 to win. Australia were then spun to defeat when overnight rain gave Peel and Briggs a vicious sticky to exploit.
  6. John Gunn – left handed batter, left arm slow medium bowler. The youngest of three brothers who all played for Nottinghamshire. At one time he held the county record individual score with 294, and he took over 1,000 first class wickets at 25 each.
  7. +Ian Healy – wicket keeper, right handed batter. After Rod Marsh’s retirement in 1984 Australia struggled to find a keeper, as they did in other respects in that period. Then in 1989 along came Ian Healy, a champion keeper, a useful batter who reserved his best performances for the test arena (usually against England) and even in that Aussie unit a stand out sledger.
  8. Jack Iddon – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Slightly out of position, as he was in reality more of a batter than a bowler, but his bowling record was very respectable, and given England’s fairly recent usage of Moeen Ali in the test team I am not going to be overly apologetic about this one.
  9. Les Jackson – right arm fast bowler. A phenomenal bowler for Derbyshire, but picked only twice for England.
  10. Anil Kumble – leg spinner. The third leading wicket taker in test history, and one of only two to have taken all ten wickets in a test innings.
  11. David Lawrence – right arm fast bowler. A combination of the unwillingness of the then England selectors to pick him and Devon Malcolm in the same team and a horrific knee injury curtailed his test chances, but he was consistently successful for Gloucestershire.

This team has a solid top five, a couple of all rounders, a keeper who can bat and three excellent bowlers. Jackson, Lawrence, Kumble, Gunn and Iddon should be able to take 20 wickets between them on any surface.

THE CONTEST

This should be close. Jack Iddon’s XI are stronger in batting, but Imad Wasim’s XI have a somewhat better bowling attack. I cannot call this one.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Masks, handmade for the use of members of NAS West Norfolk.

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Me wearing one of the masks today.
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Close up of the mask in position.
TTAX
The teams in tabulated form.