All Time XIs – The Letter D

A brief mention of last night’s heroics by the England women, and a continuation of the all-time XIs theme with a look at the letter D.

I continue my All Time XIs theme with a look at the letter D. Before getting to the main meat of my post I have a piece of cricket news to pass on that is not entirely inappropriate to my overall theme.

ENGLAND WOMEN SECURE SERIES WIN AGAINST SA

Yesterday evening saw a T20I between England Women and South Africa Women. England dominated the game from the word go, and one of the two heroes may in future years merit consideration for the squad I am selecting here – after South Africa had limped to 111 from their 20 overs with Katherine Brunt taking a T20I best 4-15, England knocked the runs off very easily, Sophia Dunkley leading the way with an imperious 59 opening the batting. One of the three sixes she hit voided any discussion of boundary placements since it went right out of the ground. England’s win made them uncatchable in the multi-format series putting them 10-2 up with only four more points to play for.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. Chris Dent (Gloucestershire). Finding openers for this side was a challenge, but the left hander from Gloucestershire has scored over 10,000 FC runs at an average of 38 and can be trusted to do a solid job in this position.
  2. Stewie Dempster (Leicestershire and New Zealand). His brief international career, before he moved to Leicestershire yielded a batting average of 65.72.
  3. Rahul Dravid (India). No argument about this slot, since we have at our disposal one of the greatest number threes in cricket history, averaging over 50 through a very long test career. He was technically excellent and possessed limitless patience.
  4. Martin Donnelly (New Zealand). Another like his compatriot Dempster whose career at the highest level was short, and for similar reasons, but he did enough in that brief time to justify his place. One of only two cricketers along with Percy Chapman, also left handed, to achieve the triple feat of Lord’s centuries in The Varsity Match, Gentlemen versus Players match and a test match (206 in 1949 in this latter).
  5. Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji (Sussex, England). His career was shortened by ill health, but he averaged 58 in his brief test career, including 173 against Australia at Lord’s in 1930.
  6. Basil D’Oliveira (Worcestershire, England). Usually I reserve this position for a genuine all rounder, and based on his first class and test records D’Oliveira was a batter who bowled rather than a true all rounder. However, by the time he got the show what he could do on a stage worthy of his talents he was past his cricketing prime, being well into his 30s when he made his FC debut, and officially 35 but actually probably older by the time the test call came, and in the cricket he played in his native land before moving to England he was a genuine all rounder, so here he is at number six in this line up.
  7. +Jeff Dujon (West Indies). An elegant, attack minded, middle order batter good enough to score four test centuries, and superb at keeping to fast bowling. There is, due to his prime coinciding with the era of West Indies speed quartets, a question mark over how we would have handled keeping to top class spin, but his athleticism was such that I am prepared to believe he would have coped without undue difficulty.
  8. Alan Davidson (Australia). A demon left arm bowler, generally operating at pace but capable of turning his hand to spin at need, a fielder of such brilliance that he earned the nickname ‘the claw’ and a useful lower order batter. 186 test wickets at 20.53 tells its own story about how good he was.
  9. Wayne Daniel (Middlesex, West Indies). He never quite established himself at test level, but he was sensational for Middlesex. West Indies were spoilt for fast bowling options when he was in his prime, and he was far from the only top notch pacer not play as much at the very highest level as he ought to have done.
  10. Allan Donald (Warwickshire, South Africa). South Africa’s first great fast bowler on their return to the fold from sporting isolation, and probably still part of most people’s modern era South Africa pace trio (I would have him, Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada in these three slots). Although his decision to wait for SA to be readmitted to test cricket, rather than qualify by residence for England, meant a latish start at test level he still took 330 wickets in 72 test matches.
  11. *George Dennett (Gloucestershire). He did not get to play test cricket, because when he was in his pomp as a left arm spinner so too were Wilfred Rhodes and Colin Blythe. 401 FC matches yielded him 2,151 wickets at 19.82 a piece. I have named him as captain, believing that he would do the job well, although in his playing days the obsession with “amateur” captains meant he never actually had the job.

This XI has a strong top six, one of the all time great keeper batters, one of the greatest of all ‘bowlers who can bat’ and three superb specialist bowlers. A bowling attack of Davidson, Donald, Daniel and Dennett backed up by D’Oliveira should not have any trouble capturing 20 opposition wickets either.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Abraham Benjamin ‘AB’ De Villiers is without doubt the greatest player I have left out, and had I been picking a limited overs side he would have definitely have been in there. As it is I had strong positive reasons for my selections of Donnelly, Duleepsinhji and D’Oliveira. Ted Dexter was also close to selection, but his natural slot is number three and I would laugh outright if anyone suggested that he was a better than Rahul Dravid. Many Indians would have named Mahendra Singh Dhoni as both keeper and captain, but I considered my batting to be deep enough to enable the selection of the best keeper, and I consider Dujon to be that. Once again, had I been picking with white ball in mind, Dhoni would have been in the XI. Quinton de Kock will feature later in this series – the letter Q is so tough that a certain amount of trickery is required. Johnny Douglas would be some people’s pick for the all rounders slot that I gave to D’Oliveira. There might have been a second West Indian speedster in the line up, but I preferred picking a spinner, Dennett, rather than going for an all out pace battery with Winston Davis in the line up. Joe Denly might have had the slot I awarded to Chris Dent, but unlike Dent he did appear at test level and an average of precisely 30, while it places him above his county colleague Crawley, also confirms him as not quite good enough. Mark Davies, formerly of Durham, is a ‘what might have been’ – his career was ruined by injuries, but he did enough while not injured to finish with an FC bowling average of 22. Similarly, Alonzo Drake, who was sensational for Yorkshire as a left arm spinner and middle order batter in the run up to WWI, but died before FC cricket resumed in 1919, didn’t quite have a weight enough record to claim a place. I mentioned Dunkley while covering England Women’s triumph of last night, and a second spinner who would contrast with Dennett would be off spinner Charlie Dean, beginning to make a name for herself in the England women’s side. A combination of injuries and the selectorial caprices of the 1980s meant that Graham Dilley was short of qualifying for a pace bowling slot.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

100 Cricketers – Third XI Bowlers and Introducing the Fourth XI

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with the bowlers from my third XI and an introduction to the 4th XI. Also features mentions of Afghanistan v Ireland and Sri Lanka Women v England Women plus some of my won photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next post in my “100 cricketers” series. The introductory post to the series can be found here, the post that introduces the third XI here , and the most recent post in the series here. Before getting into the main body of the post there are a couple of bits of business to attend to:

IRELAND V AFGHANISTAN

Afgghanistan look in control of this one, having taken a first innings lead of 142 (314 to 172) and taken an early wicket in the Ireland second innings (Ireland are 22-1 for at the close of day two of a possible five). However, plenty may happen yet – with two days of Headingley 1981 to go England were 220 behind with one second innings wicket down, and in the first half of the fourth day they continued to nosedive, plunging to 135-7, still 92 short of avoiding the innings defeat, before Botham, Dilley, Old and Willis staged a fightback leaving Australia 130 to win. At 56-1 in the chase Australia were still heavy favourites, but then Willis was switched to bowl downhill with the wind behind him, three quick wickets meant that by lunch the score was 58-4, and the first time in four and a bit days Australia were a bit nervy, while England’s confidence was surging. England won by 18 runs. Having acknowledged the possibilitiy of a turnaround it has to be said that Afghanistan remain heavy favourites to record their first test victory. An current scorecard can be viewed here.

SRI LANKA WOMEN V ENGLAND WOMEN

England women dominated this, and the rain intervention came too late to affect the result. Having scored 331 from their 50 overs, Natalie Sciver top scoring with 93, Amy Jones making 79, skipper Heather Knight 61 and Danielle Wyatt scoring 47 off just 26 balls at the end England then knocked the top off the Sri Lankan batting in brutal fashion, reducing them to 21-5 and then 46-7 (Chamari Atapattu, who has featured in this series of mine, contributing 30 of those. The 8th wicket pair saved some face, without ever threatening to get their side back into the contest by adding 88. The rain reduced Sri Lanka’s allocation of overs to 40, but because they were seven down after 35 when it came their required total was not much reduced as they had few resources (the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, DLS for short, is complicated but works better than any other rain rule that has been devised – reserve days tend to mean action taking place in empty or near empty grounds, while other attempts at adjusting for rain interventions have led to some very strange happenings (a South African target of 22 off 18 balls once became 22 off 1 ball due to the rain rule that was in place). Kathryn Brunt’s three wickets with the new ball took her tally in all forms of international cricket to within one of 250 (144 in ODIs, 66 in T20Is and 39 in tests. A full scorecard for this match can be seen hereNow for the main business of the post, starting with…

THE NEW BALL PAIR

The bowling will mainly be shared between two fast bowlers and two spinners in this XI, though one or other of A B De Villers or Steve Waugh might get called on to act os third seamer in extremis, while the fact that Virender Sehwag bowls offspin, as compared to the legspin of Ashwin and the left-arm spin of Jadeja may bring him in to the equation in certain conditions. I believe that if one had them together, both at their peak my chosen new ball pair are good enough not to need a third seamer to back them up. We start, taking in them chronological rather than batting order with…

ALLAN DONALD

By the time South Africa were welcomed back to the official test match fold after the dismantling of Apartheid, with a historic first encounter against the West Indies Allan Donald was not quite as greased lightning quick as he was in his early days, but was still a bowler of genuine pace and the highest class. He could still serve up something decidedly nasty when riled, as Mike Atherton once discovered when he stood his ground and was given not out having gloved a ball to the keeper (he later gave to the glove to Donald with an autograph neatly covering the offending red mark). Although his entry into test cricket was somewhat delayed he had time enough to play 72 matches in which he took 330 wickets (at the time of his retirement a record by a long way for a South African). While I am not completely unsympathetic to those whose careers were disrupted, or in some cases entirely thwarted by South Africa’s period of isolation I am a great deal more sympathetic by those, going back to Krom Hendricks as long ago is the 1890s, who were denied any possibility of a career in cricket due to the colour of their skin. Basil Lewis D’Oliveira got to show some of what he could do, for Worcestershire and England, finally appearing on the international scene in 1966 at the age of 35 (given how impressive his actual record is one can only wonder what he might have achieved had he been able to play at the highest level in his mid-twenties, the period when a cricketer is usually at their peak).

My choice of opening bowling partner for Donald is made on merit, but my also be seen as a recognition of those were denied any such thing in their own time…

KAGISO RABADA

37 test matches so far have netted him 176 wickets at 21.77 a piece (both the average, and the wickets per game ratio of 4.76 mark him as a bowler of the highest class). He played a leading role of the right kind in the controversial fairly recent series between South Africa and Australia (the one in which messrs Bancroft, Smith and Warner played leading roles of absolutely the wrong kind). He is still only 23 years old, so if his body holds up he could have another 15 years bowling for his country (James Anderson is still going strong with his 37th birthday on the horizon, and Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh remained the West Indies finest bowlers at that age) and set a record for South African bowler that would take a lot of beating. Certainly he is well worth his nomination is one half of an all South African new ball pairing.

THE SPINNERS

Bearing in mind that I have off-spin available in the person of Virender Sehwag I opted for a leg-spinner and a left arm spinner as my front line spinners. The pair I have gone for regularly play together and function well as a partnership (it was for this reason that in his all-time XI Sir Donald Bradman opted for Bill OReilly and Clarrie Grimmett as his spin twins, leaving out Shane Warne (see this post earlier in my own series) so as not to break up to the partnerhsip). 

RAVINDRA JADEJA

192 test wickets at 23.68, 1485 runs at 32.28 (from 41 matches so far) and he is one of the best fielders in the world as well. This is a truly outstanding player, worth his place for his bowling, possibly would even be worth picking as a specialist fielder if he did nothing else to the required standard, and is a more than competent batter. I suspect that following on the initial onslaught of Donald and Rabada and backed up by his mate Ashwin he would bowl even more effectively in this combination than he has for India, but for his selection to work that does not have to be so.

R ASHWIN

65 Tests have netted him 342 wickets at 25.43, and he is even more of a destroyer in limited overs cricket. Although his batting is not generally highly regarded he has been used as an opener in the Indian Premier League where his ability to get the innings away to a flyer is at a premium. On any pitch offering assistance to spinners he is deadly, and I have never yet found an example of him being collared even on the flattest of tracks (even when England beat India 4-1 in 2018 on pitches and in conditions that did not suit Ashwin or any other spinner he always commanded respect).

INTRODUCING THE 4TH XI

Ready for the continuation of this series here is my 4th XI in batting order:

  1. *Charlotte Edwards
  2. Herschelle Gibbs
  3. Suzie Bates
  4. Brian Lara
  5. V V S Laxman
  6. Sophie Devine
  7. +Adam Gilchrist
  8. Shaun Pollock
  9. Sophie Ecclestone
  10. Rashid Khan
  11. Jasprit Bumrah

PHOTOGRAPHS

For those of you have made it through to the end of this post here are some of my photographs:

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All of this pictures were taken this afternoon while I went out a very short walk.

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