All Time XIs – The Letter B

The deciding ODI between England and India is intriguingly poised as I start this post picking the greatest XI of cricketers with surnames beginning with B (see the As). Elsewhere, Rory McIlroy is within sight of The Open Championship and five of the most unpleasant human beings anyone could conjure up are engaged in a battle to make Sauron look like one of the good guys as a way of securing the Conservative party leadership and with it the post of Prime Minister.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. Charles Bannerman – Australia. The Kent born opener scored 165 in the first ever test match innings, and even with him scoring that many his team could only tally 245 all out. He also impressed in his native land during the heavily rain affected summer of 1878, though that tour did not feature a test match.
  2. Sidney George Barnes – Australia. A combination of WWII and continual skirmishes with the authorities limited his test career to 13 matches, but a batting average of 63 speaks for itself.
  3. *Donald Bradman – Australia. The most prolific batter the game has ever seen, his test average of 99.94 leaves a respectable career average (around 40) between him and the best of the rest at that level.
  4. Ken Barrington – Surrey and England. The Berkshire born right hander averaged 58 at test level, with a best of 256 at Old Trafford in 1964.
  5. Allan Border – Essex and Australia. The nuggety left hander pretty much was Australia’s resistance batting wise for about the first 10 years of his illustrious career. In the last few years of that great career, with Australia a good side, he played some excellent attacking innings. He would be the vice-captain of this side, as an acknowledgement of his status as the best skipper Australia have had in my lifetime.
  6. Ian Botham – Somerset, Worcesstershire, Durham and England. For a few years he was a genuinely great all rounder, for a few more after that he was a producer of occasionally devastating performances. England selectors of the period during and after his final decline spoiled many a promising career by trying to get decent young cricketers to fit into the Botham shaped hole opening in England’s ranks.
  7. +Wasim Bari – Pakistan. Pakistan’s best ever wicket keeper, and unlike some of his successors in that post there were never any questions asked about where his real loyalties were.
  8. Billy Bates – Yorkshire and England. His brief test career was ended by a freak eye injury sustained during net practice, but 656 runs at 27 and 50 wickets at 16 at that level are some testament to the off spinning all rounders capabilities. He took England’s first ever test hat trick, part of a match performance that yielded 55 in the only innings he had to play and seven wickets in each Australian innings.
  9. Richie Benaud – Australia. Before becoming ‘the Bradman of TV commentators’ (yes I believe he was that far clear of the best of the rest in that role) the Aussie leg spinning all rounder became the first to achieve the test career double of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets.
  10. Sydney Francis Barnes – England. Probably the most skilled bowler of any type ever to have played the game. Like his near namesake who is opening the batting for this XI he had a less than harmonious relationship with the authorities. He played little county cricket because he was paid better for being a professional for various clubs in the northern leagues. This meant that he played less than half of the test matches that England played between the start and end of his test career. Nonetheless, 189 wickets in 27 matches at 16.43 a piece is sufficient evidence of the trouble he caused even the best opponents.
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – India. He burst on the scene at the end of 2018, taking a cheap six-for in that year’s Boxing Day test in Melbourne. He is now established as one the finest contemporary pace bowlers, and is still young enough that he should still be improving. He would form a seriously potent new ball combination with Barnes (sorry Beefy, in this line up you don’t get the new ball).

This team has a heavy scoring top five, a colossus of an all rounder at six, a top drawer keeper, two bowlers who can bat and two of the greatest specialist bowlers. The bowling, with Barnes and Bumrah sharing the new ball, Botham as back up pacer and two contrasting spinners in Benaud and Bates is both strong and well balanced.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

The team has no left arm orthodox spinner, and two who came very close were the Indians Bishan Singh Bedi and Palwankar Baloo. However, the only people I could have dropped to make way for one of them were Bates or Benaud, and that would have weakened the batting. Bill Brown (Australia) and Jack Brown (Yorkshire, England) were two fine opening batters, either of whom might have been selected instead of Bannerman. Jonny Bairstow missed out due to the extreme strength of batting available here and the fact that he has blown hot and cold (currently blazing hot) through his career. Two South Africans, Eddie Barlow and Colin Bland were very close to selection – the former missing out to Ian Botham and the latter to the general batting strength available, though he is of course designated fielding sub in the event of anyone having to leave the field. Bill Bowes was the best pace bowler to miss out and would certainly be in the tour party for this letter. West Indian speedsters Winston and Kenny Benjamin were also fine players, but no one is persuading me that they get in ahead of Barnes and Bumrah (or indeed Bowes). I also regretted not being able to accommodate Somerset and England’s Len Braund, resourceful batter, good leg spinner and brilliant slip fielder. West Indies batter Carlisle Best was ruled out for the same reason I had to rule out Keith Arthurton in the previous post – not enough substance to go with the style.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – The Left Handed Ashes

Today’s twist on the ‘all time XI’ theme hands the stage over to the ‘southpaws’, while there is a solution to yesterday’s mathematical teaser and a first audition for some of the potential stars of the aspi.blog 2021 wall calendar.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest twist on the all-time XI cricket theme. Today we set up an all left handed Ashes contest.

THE BRIEF

I followed two rules in my selection of these teams: obviously I was only pick players of quality, and I required that their main speciality be performed left handed. After I have introduced the teams I will explain a number of cases where this latter requirement made itself felt. Some of my selected bowlers did bat right handed, but in none of the cases concerned would the player have been selected purely as a batter. The Times, then the UK’s official ‘paper of record’ rather than the Murdoch rag we know it as today, carried an article calling for the elimination of left handers from top level cricket in the 1920s, and it is only very recently that left handed batters stopped being regarded as exotic and an exception to the rule.

ENGLAND LEFT HANDED XI

  1. Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter. Centuries at the first time of asking against three different countries, and only a dreadful call by Nasser Hussain prevented him from scoring twin tons on test debut. He won the Compton-Miller trophy in the 2009 Ashes, his 161 in the Lord’s match of that series setting England up for their first triumph over Australia there since 1934.
  2. Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter. England’s all time leading scorer of test runs and test hundreds. See ‘The Away Ashes‘, ‘Essex‘ and ‘Functional Left Handers v Elegant Right Handers‘ earlier in this series for more on him.
  3. *Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder. He has featured regularly through this series, making his first appearance when Kent were under the microscope. I have named in as captain, a role he never actually held, in spite of the presence of three actual captains in the ranks – I have reservations about the captaincy of Strauss, Cook and Gower and believe that Woolley would have been good at the job.
  4. Eddie Paynter – left handed batter. The little chap from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire had the highest average of any England left hander to have played enough matches to qualify – 59.23 per innings. He scored test double centuries against Australia and South Africa.
  5. David Gower – left handed batter. He averaged 44.25 from 117 test appearances. He scored two test double centuries, both at Edgbaston. His maiden Ashes century came at Perth in 1978, while Boycott was at the other end en route to a 77 that included an all run four but no boundaries. In his last visit to Australia he played an innings of 123 that Don Bradman rated as one of five best innings he ever saw played in that country. His first appearance in this series of posts came when I looked at Leicestershire.
  6. Maurice Leyland – left handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. England’s Ashes record partnership for any wicket is the 382 he and Len Hutton put on together at The Oval in 1938. Cricinfo describes his bowling as slow left arm orthodox, but Bill Bowes who was a Yorkshire and England team mate of his stated in the chapter on Jardine that he contributed to “Cricket: The Great Captains” that Leyland bowled ‘chinamen’ and I will go with the primary source, in this case Bowes.
  7. +Jack Russell – left handed batter, wicket keeper. He appeared in the second post in this series, when Gloucestershire were the subject.
  8. Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, right handed lower order batter. 1956 first class wickets at 14.90. His test average was 24 per wicket, due to the presence in opposition ranks of Don Bradman. Bradman himself held Verity in considerable esteem.
  9. Bill Voce – left arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. Larwood’s sidekick on the 1932-3 Ashes tour, he also made the 1936-7 trip, and a third visit down under in 1946-7 by when he was past his best.
  10. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. No bowler of below medium pace has more test wickets for England than his 297. His main weapon was cut rather than conventional spin, and his chief variation was a ball fired through at genuine speed (he started as a fast bowler before slowing down). On batting friendly pitches he was accurate enough to avoid being collared, and on a surface that he could exploit he earned his nickname ‘Deadly’ with some astonishing sets of figures, including a 7-11 at Folkestone as late as 1986, at the age of 42.
  11. Nobby Clark – left arm fast, left handed genuine no11. There were two other options for my left arm out and out speedster, Fred Morley of Nottinghamshire and William Mycroft of Derbyshire, but the last named never got to play test cricket, and Morley only when he was past his absolute best. Thus the Northamptonshire man gets the nod.

This team has an excellent top six, a great keeper and four varied specialist bowlers. The bowling, with Clark and Voce to share the new ball and various types of craft and guile from Underwood, Verity, Woolley and Leyland also looks impressive.

RULED OUT

Ben Stokes bats left handed, but his right arm fast bowling cannot be dismissed as a secondary part of his game, since he would not be selected without it. The ‘Kirkheaton twins’, George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes both batted right handed, and as with Stokes’ bowling their contributions in this department cannot be dismissed. Similarly Frank Foster, a fine left arm quick for Warwickshire and England, batted right handed, and since his career highlights include a triple century he too had to be ruled out. Stan Nichols of Essex, like Stokes, batted left handed, but his right arm fast bowling was a huge factor in his selection for both county and country. While sharp eyed observers will have noted that Verity, Voce and Underwood all scored first class centuries none were ever selected specifically for their batting.

AUSTRALIA LEFT HANDED XI

  1. Matthew Hayden – left handed opening batter.
  2. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter. See the ‘Arthurians vs the Bills‘ ost for more detail about him.
  3. Joe Darling – left handed batter. His first major innings came at school. When he was selected to play for Prince Alfred College in their annual grudge match against St Peter’s College he lashed 252 not out, which remains the highest individual score in the history of the fixture. During the 1897-8 Ashes he became the first batter ever to hit three centuries in the same series. He was also the first the reach a test century by hitting a six, which in his day meant sending the ball clean out of the ground.
  4. Neil Harvey – left handed batter, brilliant fielder. 6,149 test runs at 48 an innings, including 19 centuries.
  5. *Allan Border – left handed batter, captain. Border took of the captaincy of an Australian side that had forgotten how to win,and by the time he passed the job on to Mark Taylor the side he was leaving were established at the top of the game. He scored over 11,000 test runs at 50.56. Losing the 1986-7 Ashes to an England who had played 11 test matches without victory since The Oval in 1985 was a bitter pill for Border, but in 1989 he finally captained his team to an Ashes victory, a feat he then repeated twice before retiring.
  6. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. He preferred no 7, but I have put him at six for reasons that will soon become clear. See my T20 post for more on him.
  7. Alan Davidson – left handed batter, left arm fast medium. The all rounder of the side (see yesterday’s post).
  8. Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast, left handed lower middle order bat. See my Australia post for more on him.
  9. Jack Ferris – left arm medium fast. Regular partner of Charles ‘Terror’ Turner. He also featured in my ‘Cricketing United Nations‘ post.
  10. Chuck Fleetwood-Smith – left arm wrist spinner. A brilliant but erratic bowler, sadly best known for his 1-298 on Bosser Martin’s 1938 Oval featherbed. Australia went into that match with an ill equipped and poorly balanced bowling attack – the only genuine pace bowler in the party, Ernie McCormick, was having terrible trouble with no balls and did not play in the game, neither did Frank Ward, bizarrely selected for the tour in preference to Clarrie Grimmett. Mervyn Waite, allegedly played for his bowling skills, did take his only test wicket in that match, but his new ball partner for the game was Stan McCabe, a brilliant batter but nobody’s idea of a test match opening bowler. The truth about a bowler of the Fleetwood-Smith type is that to play them you need five frontline bowlers available to you so that you have an out if things don’t go to plan.
  11. Bert Ironmonger – left arm orthodox spinner. The second oldest ever to play test cricket, being 51 years old when he took his final bow at that level. He featured in my ‘Workers’ post.

This team has a superb front five, the best batter-keeper Australia have ever had and a well varied line up of bowlers, with likely new ball pair Johnson and Davidson having medium paced back up from Ferris, finger spin from Ironmonger and wrist spine from Fleetwood-Smith. Border might also take a turn at the bowling crease with his variety of left arm spin.

RULED OUT

The biggest rule out was Jack Gregory, a splendid all rounder in the early 1920s, who batted left handed, but bowled right arm fast (and he would never have been picked as a specialist batter). Charles Macartney, ‘the governor general’, did win a test match with his left arm tweakers, but it was his batting that got him selected and he did that with his right hand.

THE CONTEST

Unlike in rather too many real life Ashes series both sides look strong and well balanced. However, I think that England just have the edge – especially if they win the toss and bat first (which is the decision that Woolley would be likely to make – read his thoughts on this in the relevant section of “King of Games”), since Underwood, Verity and Woolley on a wearing pitch would be a well nigh unplayable combination.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

I included this from brilliant.org in yesterday’s post:

The question was which is the smallest fish. The answer is Thursday’s fish is the smallest. Clue 1 tells us that Saturday’s fish is the average size of the two previous day’s fishes, clue two that Thursday’s fish was smaller than Wednesday’s. Clue three tells that Saturday is the smallest fish to be larger than Wednesday’s. Clue four tells us that Sunday’s fish is between Friday’s and Saturday’s in size. All of this when fully reasoned out tells that the actual ranking order of fish from biggest downward is Friday, Sunday, Saturday, Wednesday, Thursday, so the smallest fish is Thursday’s.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced today’s XI, answered yesterday’s teasers, so now it is time for my usual sign off, with a twist. I have only a very few new photos ready to use, so before I display them I am going to share the photos that I am currently considering for inclusion in the aspi.blog 2021 wall calendar (a tradition that will be entering its fifth year).

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This water vole poking its head of its hole is a definite – taken in October 2019

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One of these three hedgehog pics, again from later 2019 will be there as well.

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One of these five brimstone bitterfly pics will probably feature.

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This is one of the starling possibilities.

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One of these three shieldbug pics is a possibility

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I like this one.

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One of these two goldfinch pics will be there.

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these four starlings mar get in…

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…as may one of these last two pics but not both.

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I await your views on these and other possible calendar pictures with interest, and finish with these…

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The fuchsia is really flourishing.

Left Handed Ashes
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs: Functional Left Handers v Elegant Right Handers

My latest variation on the ‘All Time XI’ theme, the answer to yesterday’s maths teaser, an important petition, a soupcon of science and nature and some photographs – enjoy!

INTRODUCTION

Another day brings another variation on the ‘All Time XIs‘ theme. Today’s is based on a well known piece of cricket folklore – the belief that left handers are naturally more elegant than their right handed colleagues. Like all good folklore it has a basis in fact, but it is definitely an overstatement of the case. Thus today I challenge it by providing an XI of strictly functional left handers and to oppose it an XI of notably elegant right handers. Note that some the bowlers in the left handers XI  batted with their right hands – it is their bowling for which they are picked, and mutatis mutandis for the right handed batter who bowled with his left. First to parade their skills are…

THE FUNCTIONAL LEFT HANDERS XI

  1. Gary Kirsten – the South African, half brother of Derbyshire’s Peter Kirsten, had seemingly limitless patience and concentration but a decidedly limited range of strokes.
  2. Sir Alastair Cook – the Essex and England man, his country’s all time leading scorer of test runs, was another who cultivated a limited range of strokes but used those he did possess to great effect.
  3. Graeme Smith – the former South African was mighty effective, but an aesthetic disaster (among top order batters named Smith it is an interesting question as to whether he or current Aussie right hander Steve represents the greatest aesthetic outrage).
  4. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – the Guyanese stayer had the oddes batting stance I have ever seen, so open that he was almost at 45 degrees to the bowler as opposed to the recommended side-on position (Austin Matthews who played for Glamorgan many decades ago as a bowler of medium pace and lower middle order batter wrote a coaching manual after his retirement in which he stated “cricket is a sideways game”), and while the method worked for him it was very much ‘one not to watch’.
  5. *Allan Borderthe nuggety NSW, Queensland and Australia middle order man had in the words of Frances Edmonds “not so much a style as a modus operandi”. This quote appears in “Cricket XXXX cricket” her humorous book about the 1986-7 Ashes (she also wrote “Another Bloody Tour”, which somehow managed to be amusing about England’s unqualified disastrous Caribbean excursion of 1985-6. For about the first decade of his long career he pretty much was, in batting terms, Australia’s resistance.
  6. Jimmy Adams – his obdurate approach saw him dubbed ‘Jimmy Padams’.
  7. +Jack Russell – wicket keeper and as a batter just about the ultimate in lower middle order irritants, sometimes very usefully for his country.
  8. Richard IllingworthWorcestershire and England slow left armer (emphatically NOT a spinner – if he ever turned one I never saw it). His economical, reliable but unthreatening methods were often preferred by England selectors of the time to the higher risk Phil Tufnell.
  9. Ryan Sidebottom – the Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and England fast medium bowler had long run up which his pace never quite seemed to justify.
  10. Doug Bollinger – the NSW and Australia fast medium bowler was another whose run up appeared to promise more pace than he actually proved capable of delivering. I saw him bowl live at Adelaide v the West Indies in 2009, and, the first innings scalp of Gayle not withstanding he looked unimpressive, while his ‘efforts’ at the same ground in the 2010 Ashes match there were of a very low order.
  11. Paul Adams – the left arm wrist spinner’s action was once memorably likened to a frog in a blender. South Africa have not in recent times been overly understanding or supportive of spinners, and Adams probably should have played more test cricket than he actually did.

This line up has a solid top six, though no genuine all rounder, a splendid keeper who could do useful work with the bat and four bowlers of differing left handed types. They would take some digging out and might put up some decent totals because of that, but they would struggle to capture 20 wickets unless Paul Adams found some assistance in the surface. Now we meet their opponents…

THE ELEGANT RIGHT HANDERS

  1. Jack Robertson – the Middlesex man was a highly regarded stylist, and although he only got picked for 11 test matches an average of 46 at that level suggests that he had steel to go with that style.
  2. Reggie Spooner – opener for Lancashire and occasionally England. Noted for grace and poise at the crease. Neville Cardus used to watch Lancashire whenever he could in his schooldays, and later, established through his decades of work for the Manchester Guardian as one of cricket’s finest writers he waxed lyrical about Spooner and his part of what Cardus claimed as a uniquely distinctive top three – MacLaren, Spooner, JT Tyldesley. (the latter an ancestor of Michael Vaughan – can elegant batting be inherited?!). Spooner was the first ever to score 200 in a ‘Roses’ match, and did so in under four hours at the crease – they were not always dour affairs.
  3. *Sir Frank Worrell – the first black captain of the West Indies (yes, as with England and so-called ‘amateur’ skippers the Windies had their own captaincy fetish, in their case a belief that blacks had to be led by someone white skinned), and generally reckoned the most stylish of the ‘Three W’s” who dominated Caribbean batting in the 1950s and early 1960s.
  4. Tom Graveney – another whose grace and elegance at the crease had folk waxing lyrical – and he backed it up with over 47,000 first class runs.
  5. Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings – noted as one of the most attractive batters in a very successful Kent unit (four championships in seven years) that was also noted for playing particularly dazzling cricket. Such was the nature of his driving that for him and him alone George Hirst would retreat a few yards from his usual mid off position.
  6. Keith Miller – whether batting, bowling fast (or his occasional off spin with which he once took a test match seven-for on a rain affected Gabba pitch) or fielding he never failed to cut a dash. Once when playing in a ‘picnic match’ at East Molesey (the opposite bank of the Thames to Hampton Court Palace) he took on a challenge to land a ball on Tagg’s Island, a carry of 140 yards (just over 125 metres), and was only just short of making it.
  7. +Jeff Dujon – wicket keeper who kept with panther like grace to the quick bowlers (given the nature of Caribbean bowling units is his day it is impossible to comment on his keeping to class spinners) and batted attractively in the middle order, scoring four test centuries and averaging 30 at that level.
  8. Ray Lindwall – fast bowler, attacking lower order bat. His run up and bowling action are routinely described as being ‘poetry in motion’, and in addition to the pace he possessed he could swing the ball both ways seemingly at will.
  9. Michael Holding – fast bowler, referred to as ‘Whispering Death’ on account of the silence of his approach to the bowling crease. His opening over to Boycott at Bridgetown in 1981 has become a classic cricketing scare story – the Yorkshireman was beaten by four of the six deliveries, got bat on one and was comprehensively bowled by the sixth. Five years earlier, on a pitch at The Oval from which no one else could even raise a squeak he had recorded match figures of 14-149, the best ever test match figures by a West Indian.
  10. Sydney Barnes – the greatest bowler of them all. Even at Warwickshire in 1894 where he achieved little his bowling action was noted for its beauty, and CLR James, watching a 59 year old Barnes in action in the Lancashire League, noted that his arm remained classically high and straight. Mr James, by the way is the author of that sine qua non of cricket books “Beyond a Boundary’, which takes as its theme the question “what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?”, and my collection also features a book of his writings titled “Cricket”, and he contributed a chapter about Worrell to “Cricket: The Great Captains”, as well as being the author of “Black Jacobins”, a history of the Toussaint l’Ouverture rebellion in what is now Haiti.
  11. David Harris – cricket’s first great bowler (see Phil Edmonds “100 Greatest Bowlers” and John Nyren’s “Cricketers of My Time”) and even if you refuse to permit under arm (he played in the late 18th century when all bowling was under arm) I counter by saying that I reckon he could have mastered over arm had it been legal in his day. See also my Eccentric XI post for my opinion on real under arm, as opposed to Trevor Chappell style grubbers (although Harris was in part responsible for a change in cricket’s approach from relying on balls either rolling or at least shooting through to looking to cause problems by generating extra bounce, which he was an expert at – the very early bats looked more like hockey sticks than today’s cricket bats precisely because they were intended to counter balls at ground level, and it was Harris who was more responsible than any other for the shape of bats changing towards what we now recognize). Late in his career Harris suffered dreadfully from gout, but such was the value of his bowling that his team would bring an armchair on to the field, and when not actually engaged in bowling he would have a sit down. The Hambledon ace, who I felt I could not mention in connection with Hampshire, for all that he lived there, gets his moment in the sun this time round.

This team as a high quality to five, a great all rounder at six, an excellent wicket keeper at seven and four varied bowlers (Barnes, for all his official fast medium designation, can be classed as a spinner, while Harris if his actual bowling style is permitted offers a variation of a different sort, Miller as mentioned had off spin as a variation, and Worrell was a recognized bowler of left arm fast medium who also occasionally turned his hand to left arm spin.

THE CONTEST

I suspect that what I shall provisionally call the Strauss/ Trumper trophy, honouring a functional left hander and a stylish right hander, would go to the Elegant Right Handers, because while the functional left handers would take a lot of dislodging I have no doubts that the right handers could take 20 wickets, whereas the left handers are lacking in that department. The big question for Worrell as captain of the right handers, given that Barnes would not tolerate not being given the new ball is which of Holding or Lindwall does not get it – my reckoning is probably that Lindwall shares the new ball with Barnes and Holding comes on first change when Lindwall needs a rest.

A QUESTION ANSWERED

Yesterday I included a teaser from brilliant.org:

Brilliant Challenge

The four possible answers were 94, 96, 98 or 100.

My own method of solving this, a mixture of cheat and punt, was to start by ruling out 100, as that is a square number, and it would therefore be out of keeping with brilliant for it to be the right answer. I then looked at the the areas given and noted that they added up to 56 – could I see a connection between 56 and one of the other answers? Yes, a very appealing one came instantly to mind – both have seven as a factor. A quick mental calculation confirmed that the ratio of 98 to 56 was 1.75, and that was enough for me to take a punt (I had already ensured that my problem solving streak had gone into another day – and it is now equal in days to Bobby Abel’s indvidual Surrey record innings in runs), and I was right.

Here is a more authentic solution courtesy of David Vreken:

DV Sol

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

As we move towards the conclusion of today’s post I have a few links to share.

  • The pinchhitter have given me an extended mention in today’s offering, and apparently a copy of one of the ‘Chapelli’ books I mentioned in yesterday’s post is en route to pinchhitter HQ. If you have found this blog by way of pinchhitter please comment, and likewise, if anyone has found pinchhittter by way of me why not let them know.
  • A very important petition on change.org, calling for the surcharge that penalises NHS and Care workers from abroad to be scrapped – as someone who owes a huge debt of gratitude to workers in both categories I urge you to sign and share.
  • A science piece from Culture’s Ways about Sagittarius A*, believed to be the location of a supermassive black hole – the picture below is formatted as a link:
    Sagittarius A*, thought to be the location of a supermassive black hole Culture's Ways

And now it is time to sign off with my usual photographic flourish…

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This butterfly, which strayed into my bungalow yesterday, set me a poser – it was not in a my Butterfly book. My sister responded to my twitter inquiry with a reference to butterflyconservation.org and a suggestion of either Brimstone or Clouded Yellow. My own feeling having visited the site and looked at their pictures is that is a Brimstone.

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The combination of the colour and the delicate veining in the wings lends them the appearance of small green leaves – a fine example of mimicry in the natural world.

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The teams
The teams in tabulated form with abridged comments.

 

 

100 Cricketers – Second XI – The Remaining Specialist Batters

A continuation of my “100 cricketers series”, with links to three important petitions – if you are able please sign and share them.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series, in which I deal with the remaining specialist batters from my second XI. My most recent post in the series dealt with the all-rounders so as to tie in with International Women’s Day. After the cricket part of the post there will be some photographs, and then some links to petitions that I am suffiiciently concerned about to share on this blog. The next post in this series will feature the bowlers from second XI and introduce the third XI in batting order.

SACHIN TENDULKAR

I first saw Sachin Tendulkar as a teenager in the 1990 series in England, in the course of which he racked up a century. He also took an amazing catch in that series, making a lot of ground before holding on to the chance. 

His amazing subsequent career is well documented. The greatest batter in the history of cricket, Sir Donald Bradman, publicly rated Tendulkar as being, along with Brian Lara, the best of the moderns, and also noted similarities between himself and Tendulkar, his attention having been drawn to them by Lady Bradman, while they were watching him on television.

At the moment Tendulkar is the only person to have scored 100 international hundreds. As a a testament to his longevity he also stands alone in having played 200 test matches. 463 ODI appearances and a T20 in addition mean that approximately four years of his life have been spent in international cricket action.

Although cross-era comparisons are generally invidious (Bradman’s colossal – 40 runs per innings – margin of superiority over the rest making him an exception) I feel sure that Tendulkar would have had had an outstanding record whatever era he had been born into and whichever kind of bowling he had had encountered.

ALLAN BORDER

An outstanding captain of Australia over many years, and a great left-handed batter whose career had two distinct portions.

For the first decade of his long international career Australia were a struggling outfit. He started in the 1978-9 Ashes series, won 5-1 by Mike Brearley’s England, and it was not until their unexpected triumph in the 1987-8 World Cup that things really started going right for Australia. In these circumstances Border was very often battling to save his side from defeat, and many of his innings were through sheer force of circumstance defensive in nature, batting as long as possible.

In the latter years of his career when he was finally in charge of a strong, confident side he showed that given the opportunity he had plenty of strokes and was willing to play them – in all of his last three Ashes series (1989, won 4-0 by Australia and would have been 6-0 but for major rain interruptions in the other two matches, 1990-1 and 1993 he batted in attacking fashion at every opportunity).

Of the four long-serving Australian captains of my lifetime I rate Border a very clear first – looking at their records in this specific role we have:

  • Allan Border – took over a weak, struggling side that had little idea of how to win, and left for his successor a side who were by then acknowledged as the best in the world.
  • Mark Taylor – took over from Border and maintained Australia’s position at the top of the cricket world.
  • Steve Waugh – taking over the captaincy of a team who were already acknowledged as champions he made them even better, a highlight of his term of office being a record run of 16 consecutive test match victories.
  • Ricky Ponting – in his first few years in charge he won a lot of matches with the remnants of the great Australian side of the previous era, but he lost three Ashes series out of four, including one on home soil in which his team were three times defeated by innings margins. 

In this XI, where the batting is overall exceedingly attacking in nature, Border is the person who in the event of bad start could dig the team out of a hole, while at the same time if the innings is going well he would be perfectly capable of stepping on the accelerator. His presence also means that there is a left-hander in the middle order, valuable from the point of view of giving the bowling side a different challenge. Finally, although not by any means a major part of his game his occasional slow left-arm did once win his country a test match against the West Indies (11 wickets in the match, including 7-46 in the first innings), and his safe hands (156 catches pouched in the course of his 156 test matches) would also be useful.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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A pair of mallards whose Sunday morning walk took them past my front window – you can just see the tail feathers of the female as she heads into the lavender.

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The male, keeping an eye on his companion.

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A couple of close-ups of the female as she emerges.

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PETITIONS

First up, a petition on 38 Degrees produced by the Grenfell survivors, calling on the government to make our housing system work for tenants. As someone who has recently moved into social housing through force of circumstance this is particularly important to me. To sign and share please click on the screenshot below.

Grenfell petition

My final two petitions are both on the official UK Government petition site, meaning that only UK citizens are allowed to sign. The first is a call for increased funding for Children’s Mental Health. If you are able and willing to sign and share please click the screenshot below:

Childrens Mental Health

Last and by no means least is a petition calling for police officers to be given mandatory autism training, something that I as an autistic person consider to be very important. Again, please click the screenshot below to sign and share.

police autism training