All Time XIs – Days In The Sun

Today’s exploration of ‘all time XI’ territory celebrates some outstanding individual performances.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest exploration of the ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. Today the focus is on outstanding individual performances, in the main clearly defined match winners, although I allowed myself one exception whose outstanding individual performance came in a drawn match, but was frequently enough the key contributor to victories to qualify. (at least IMO). Our two teams, who will be competing for the ‘Stokes-Botham’ trophy to honour two famous match winners who I neglected to pick, are simply named in honour of their captains.

CLEM HILL’S XI

  1. Sanath Jayasuriya – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was the player of the 1996 World Cup, and his test highlights include a 340 against India. However, the performance that gets him an opening berth here came at The Oval in 1998. Arjuna Ranatunga, one of the outstanding captains of my lifetime, won the toss and put England in on a flat pitch, and England batted decently to record a tally of 445 in the first dig. To give Ranatunga’s decision, taken in order to guarantee his bowling trump card, Muralitharan, got a decent break between what were going to be two long bowling stints Sri Lanka needed a big lead on first innings. Jayasuriya responded to this pressure situation with a rapid 213, the key contribution to a Sri Lankan tally of almost 600, which gave them both enough of a lead to be firm favourites and time to press home the advantage. A refreshed Muralitharan proceeded to slam home this advantage by twirling his way to 9-65 in the England second innings. Sri Lanka won very comfortably, with Muralitharan Player of the Match and Jayasuriya having to settle for an honourable mention (a joint award may have been appropriate on this occasion).
  2. Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium (and impersonations of more regular bowlers). His record breaking double act at Lord’s in 1990 (333 and 123 in a comfortable victory) might seem the obvious qualifier, but India on that occasion had a bowling ‘attack’ that barely merited the conventional descriptor, and the pitch was flatter than the proverbial pancake. In the Headingley test of 1991 by contrast the pitch was tricky to put it kindly, and the West Indies had a very hostile bowling attack (Marshall, Patterson, Ambrose and Walsh if memory serves). On a pitch which had seen first innings tallies of 198 and 173, and with Ambrose hitting his straps right from the start, Gooch produced an undefeated 154, as England scraped up 252 (Ramprakash and Pringle joint second top scorers with 27 each). The West Indies collapsed in the final innings and were well beaten. This innings by Gooch almost certainly did make the difference between victory and defeat.
  3. *Clem Hill – left handed batter, brilliant fielder. It was a must-win game in the 1897-8 Ashes, the pitch was ordinary, and with one exception the Australian top order failed badly. The exception was Clem Hill, and with Hugh Trumble playing a stubborn supporting role for 46 in the only really substantial partnership of the innings. Australia reached 323, which put them in control of the match, and Hill’s share was 188.
  4. ‘Tip’ Foster – right handed batter. Foster played his first test innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground, at the start of the 1903-4 Ashes series. He responded to this initiation by producing an innings of 287 in an England total of 577. The ninth England wicket fell at 447, but Wilfred Rhodes, giving the first major indication of the batting skill that would see him play for his country as a specialist opener only a few years later, scored an unbeaten 40 from no11, helping the last wicket to add 130.
  5. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, brilliant fielder. When Garry Sobers walked out to bat against Pakistan after the loss of an early wicket at Sabina Park in 1957 he had a few decent knocks to his credit but had yet to go on to the three figure score that would confirm his claims to front line batting status. By the time the next wicket fell two days had gone by, and Comrad Hunte, the batter who was dislodged had scored 260, with the second wicket stand worth 446, just five short of the then test record held by Bradman and Ponsford at The Oval in 1934. Sobers, the century well behind him, continued on remorselessly, taking full advantage of a depleted Pakistan attack. Eventually he went past Len Hutton’s test record inidvidual score of 364 made at The Oval in 1938, and at that point the Windies declared at 790-3. Pakistan, thoroughly demoralized by Sobers’ ten hour display of dominance folded twice to lose to by a huge margin, and Sobers, having turned his first three figure test innings into a then record 365 not out was well and truly launched on the batting career that would ultimately bring 8,032 runs at 57.78 per innings with 26 centuries.
  6. Amelia Kerr – right handed batter, leg spinner. At the tender age of 17 she belted 232 not out in an ODI, the highest ever by a woman in that form of the game. Thus far this effort remains her only major batting effort, but thanks to it her batting average is ahead of her bowling average (across international formats she averages 24 with the bat and 22 with the ball), and as she is still only 19 almost her entire career should still be ahead of her. Given the dearth of quality spinners in New Zealand if I was put money on a current female player becoming the first to play test cricket alongside the men my £1 would be on her to be the one to do it. I have argued elsewhere the batting does not depend on pure power, but on timing as well, and cited examples of successful batters of diminutive starure, and as a spinner she purveys a type of bowling that is all about craft and guile. In terms of the current Kiwi men;s team, the natural way to accommodate her would be to stick with Watling as keeper and no six batter, play her at no 7, and then bowlers at 8-11.
  7. +Steve Marsh – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Wicket keepers scoring centuries has only become commonplace very recently, and wicket keepers making as many as eight dismissals in an innings remains a considerable rarity. To achieve both in the same match, as Steve Marsh of Kent did in the 1990s is therefore a truly remarkable double feat. In total during his career Marsh accounted for 737 dismissals and had a batting average of 28, which was very respectable for a wicket keeper in those days.
  8. Stuart Broad – right arm fast medium bowler. Trent Bridge 2015 saw a combination of a little bit of late movement for Broad, some poor batting techniques from our ‘frenemies’ the Aussies and a couple of superb pieces of fielding which between them amounted to SCJ Broad 8-15, Australia 60 all out and match and Ashes settled on the first morning. The pinchhitter included video footage of this in their post this morning and I recommend you read the post and watch the video.
  9. Jim Laker – off spinner. He qualifies several times over. At his native Bradford in 1950, for England against the Rest he took 8-2 on the first morning of the match as the Rest were skittled for 27 – and one of those singles was a gift to Eric Bedser, twin brother Alec having purposely moved back a few yards to make it easy for him to get off the mark! Fred Trueman scored the other single and was (no surprise here) unimpressed by the batting of some of his team mates. Then came 1956, with the prologue of 10-88 in the first innings of the Surrey v Australia tour match (2-42 at the second attempt, as Tony Lock came to the party with7-49) and the crushing final act at Old Trafford when his 9-37 and 10-53 (a first class record 19-90 in the match) won the match and the Ashes. England had run up 459 in the first innings, with Peter Richardson and David Sheppard, neither of them absolutely top ranking batters, scoring centuries. After Australia had slipped from 62-2 to 84 all out in the first innings, Colin McDonald batted five and a half hours for 89 in their second, with Jim Burke, Ian Craig and Richie Benaud all also showing fight, while there was a contest between Harvey and Mackay for the most embarrassing pair of spectacles in test history – Harvey bagged his by smashing a full toss straight to a fielder, while Mackay looked a complete novice, and although he survived a few deliveries he did not make contact with any. Four front line spinners operated in the course of this match and three of them had combined match figures of 7-380 for an average of 54.43 per wicket, while the other took 19-90, an average of 4.74 per wicket.
  10. Gideon Elliott – right arm fast bowler. He was born in Merstham, Surrey in 1828, but played his first class cricket for Victoria, between 1856-7 and 1861-2. In that short span he played a mere nine matches, which brought him 48 wickets at 4.87 each! His most remarkable analysis in this brief but spectacular period was 9-2.
  11. Edmund Peate – left arm orthodox spinner. The founder of a great lineage – he was thr first of a series of left arm spinners from Yorkshire  that continued with Bobby Peel, Wilfred Rhodes, Alonzo Drake, Roy Kilner, Hedley Verity, Johnny Wardle and the last such to play for England, Don Wilson. He began as part of a troupe of ‘clown cricketers’ run by Arthur Treloar but recorded some very serious bowling figures before he had finished, including the innings of haul of 8-5 that earns him his place here. In total he bagged 1,076 first class wickets at 13.43 – he was definitely not just the guy whose wild swing against Harry Boyle condemned England to the defeat that created The Ashes.

This team features an excellent top five, a hugely promising young all rounder, a keeper who can bat and a well varied foursome of bowlers. There are three top line pace/ seam/ swing options with Elliott, Broad and Sobers, while Peate, Laker, Kerr and Sobers represent an abundance of spin options. Now it is time to meet the opposition.

ALONZO DRAKE’S XI

  1. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. His massively impressive CV includes two clear cut Ashes winning innings. In 1926 at The Oval, with the England second innings starting with a small deficit and on a decidedly unpleasant pitch he and Jack Hobbs each made centuries, Hobbs going for precisely 100, Sutcliffe scoring 161 in seven hours. Thanks to this effort England made 436 in that second innings, and another Yorkshireman, 49 year old Wilfred Rhodes, took 4-44 in the final innings as Australia slumped to 125 all out and defeat by 289 runs. Fast forward two and a half years to Melbourne 1928 and the third match of that Ashes series, with England two up. At the start of the fourth innings England needed 332, and the pitch was so spiteful that with their innings starting on the resumption post lunch there was speculation that England would not even last until the tea break. Actually, the opening partnership was still intact come tea, and as it endured Hobbs decided to send a message that Jardine rather than Hammond should come in at three if a wicket fell that evening (ironically it was Jardine who was despatched to find out what Hobbs wanted). When Hobbs fell for 49 to make England 105-1 Jardine emerged, with the wicket still difficult, and held out until the close of play. The following morning Jardine went on to 33, and by the time he was out the pitch had eased considerably. Herbert Sutcliffe held out until he had reached 135 and England were almost over the line. They stumbled a little in those closing stages, but George Geary finally cracked a drive through mid on to settle the match by three wickets.
  2. Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter. By the time England and Australia convened at Sydney for the final match of the 2010-11 Ashes Cook had already amassed two big hundreds in the series (a match saving 235 not out at Brisbane and 148 to help set up the win at Adelaide) and had helped, in company with Strauss to ensure that Australia’s first innings collapse at the MCG would be terminal to their hopes, although Trott with a big undefeated century was the batting star of that match. At The SCG Australia had won the toss, batted first and amassed a just about respectable 281, helped by some lusty blows from Mitchell Johnson. Unfortunately, when it came to his main job, with the ball, Johnson was barely able to raise a gallop or indeed hit the cut stuff. Weather interruptions meant that the England response got underway just before tea on day 2. There was less than an hour of day three to go when Cook finally surrendered his wicket for 189, bringing to an end 36 hours of batting for the series, with Australia’s goose well and truly cooked. A first Ashes ton for Matt Prior and some lively hitting from the tail boosted England’s total to 644, ending just before lunch on day 4. By the end of that day Australia were 169-6, and it was all over bar the shouting (of which the Barmy Army provided plenty on that final day). Before Australia’s third innings defeat of the series was confirmed Peter Siddle at no9 managed to be part of Australia’s largest partnership of the match for the second time in successive games, a stinging commentary on the efforts of their ‘front line’ batters.
  3. Dilip Vengsarkar – right handed batter. The tall Indian averaged 42.13 in test cricket, and especially impressive for a batter of the 1980s, his record was better against the West Indies than it was in general. His ability to handle tough situations was never better illustrated than at Headingley in 1986, on a pitch on which 21 players did not manage a single fifty plus score between them, and Roger Binny, not normally regarded as a frightening prospect with a ball in his hand, claimed seven cheap wickets. In among this low scoring carnage Vengsarkar scored 61 and 102 in a convincing win for his side, which meant that they had won a series in England, for the first time ever.
  4. Steve Smith – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. Yes, I know that has batting style, to put it very kindly lacks visual appeal, and there are some who would say that being captain for ‘sandpapergate’ should have finished his career rather than merely interrupting it. However, ill disposed to him though I am, I have to acknowledge the sheer strength of character he displayed in making two 140+ scores on his return to the firing line at Edgbaston in 2019. Moreover that great batting double undoubtedly won the match for his side, and gave them a position of control in the series that, the ‘Headingley Heist’ notwithstanding, they never truly lost.
  5. Ellyse Perry – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. I am picking her in this team as more batter than bowler, so the performance that officially qualifies her is one that came in a drawn game. However she contributed, often decisively, to a fistful of victories in other formats. The innings in question of course is her remarkable test double century, which overshadowed everything else in that match. Her recent seven-for in an ODI is just one example of an unquestionably match winning effort by her. I suggested Amelia Kerr as a possibility for playing test cricket alongside the men, and although I do not now see that happening for Perry, I refer readers to this post from 2015, in which I suggested an unorthodox solution to Australia’s then middle order woes.
  6. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. The most explosive keeper batter there has ever been. His first major test innings, with everyone thinking Australia were beaten was a thunderous 149 not out to win the match for his side, and it is that innings which gets him the nod today – his 57 ball ton at Perth in 2006-7 was scored at the expense of a thoroughly demoralized England who never looked remotely capable of doing anything other than losing that match.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. Until the final innings of the 1902 test match at The Oval he had had a fairly quiet game, managing only 13 in England’s first innings, and his highlight in the field had been a lightning pick up and throw that ran out Victor Trumper at the start of the Aussie second innings. Jack Saunders and Hugh Trumble tore through the top England batting (four wickets to Saunders, one to Trumble to follow his eight in the first dig), and when Jessop emerged at 48-5, with England still needing 215 all most were hoping was that he would provide some fireworks before the inevitable end. 77 minutes later Jessop holed out with 104 to his name, having smashed the all-conquering Saunders out of the attack, although Trumble was still wheeling away at one end. The score was 187-7, meaning England still needed 76, but George Hirst was still there, and Lockwood stayed while 27 were added, then keeper Lilley helped the ninth wicket add a further 34, and the second ‘Kirkheaton twin’, Wilfred Rhodes, emerged from the pavilion with 15 needed for a famous victory. Gradually, amidst huge tension, they inched their way to the target, and it was eventually Rhodes who obtained the winning single. Jessop’s innings would not be approached either for speed or match turning quality in an Ashes match for a further 79 years, until Ian Botham twice took innings that Australia’s bowlers looked like destroying by the scruff of the neck.
  8. *Alonzo Drake – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Before World War I abruptly terminated his career Drake achieved some astonishing feats. At Chesterfield in that final 1914 season he and Wilfred Rhodes turned a Derbyshire score of 64-2 into 68 all out, Drake capturing four wickets with successive balls along the way. Against Somerset that year he became the first Yorkshire bowler ever to take all ten in an innings, 10-35, that innings being the fourth successive first class innings in which he and Major Booth (given name, not rank) had bowled through unchanged.
  9. Sarfraz Nawaz – right arm fast medium bowler. Australia, set 388 for victory, were apparently cruising at 305-3 when Sarfraz prepared to begin another spell of bowling. In his next 33 deliveries Sarfraz took the last seven wickets while conceding a single, and 305-3 had become 310 all out. Sarfraz’s total innings figures were 9-86.
  10. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler. The WACA in Perth is not a venue that many visiting sides have fond memories of, though a side equipped with fast bowlers who manage to pitch the ball up rather than being lured into banging it in short by the bouncy nature of the surface are less likely than most to suffer there. In the 1992-3 series when the West Indies visited Australia reached the hundred with only one wicket down, and the script looked like being adhered to. Then Curtly Ambrose produced a spell of 7-1 in 33 deliveries, and Australia ended with a total of about 120, and the West Indies did not let this amazing spell go to waste – they won comfortably.
  11. Arthur Mailey – leg spinner. During the 1920-1 Ashes, won 5-0 by Australia, he captured 36 wickets, becoming the first Australian to record a nine wicket haul in a test innings (9-121). Australia then travelled to England for the 1921 season. Their tour match against Gloucestershire seemed to be going fairly uneventfully, with Mailey having a couple of tail end wickets in the first innings, when in the second innings skipper and fellow leg spinner Armstrong tossed the ball to Mailey, saying “see what you can do against the top order this time.” Mailey responded by bowling right through the Gloucestershire innings, recording figures of 10-66, which gave him the perfect title for his autobiography “10 For 66 And All That”.

This team has a solid looking top four (that opening pair could certainly be expected to take a lot of shifting!), a couple of quality all rounders, a great keeper batter and a fine foursome of bowlers. It lacks an off spinner, but apart from that the bowling, with Sarfraz Nawaz, Curtly Ambrose, Gilbert Jessop and Ellyse Perry to bowl pace and Alonzo Drake and Arthur Mailey as spin options looks deep and varied.

AN EXCLUSION EXPLAINED

Many will have their own ideas as to who I should have included, and you are welcome to post comments to that effect. However, rather than doing a long list of honourable mentions I am going to explain one exclusion which will undoubtedly have upset some. Brian Charles Lara twice set world record test scores, 375 and 400 not out, ten years apart at Antigua, and scored a world first class record 501 not out v Durham. The problem is that all three of those games were drawn, and the Warwickshire performance and the second test performance were noteworthy for Lara’s obsessive pursuit of the record over and above all other considerations, to the extent that he actually asked Warwickshire skipper Dermot Reeve not to declare because he wanted the record.

THE CONTEST

The contest for the Botham-Stokes trophy looks like being a cracker. I would expect it to go to the wire, and I cannot predict who would emerge victorious.

AN APPEAL AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced my two teams for ‘Days In The Sun’, contending for the Botham-Stokes trophy, explained one high profile omission, and this post is already on the long side, so I am holding back a few things I intended to include until tomorrow. However, as some readers will be aware, my mother has recently started a blog. She has as yet no home page, and wants to rectify the omission. I have given her some advice on how to create one, and knowing how collaborative wordpress can be at its best I now ask people to visit my mothers blog, starting with today’s post, and comment there with suggestions for her home page. Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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Days In The Sun
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – New Zealand

It being Monday, today’s exploration on the ‘all time’ cricket XI theme looks at an international unit, in this case New Zealand.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest in my series of ‘all time XI’ themed posts. Today being a Monday we are looking at an international outfit, and under the spotlight today is the land of the long white cloud (actually more often the land of the the thick black cloud) New Zealand.

NEW ZEALAND IN MY LIFETIME

  1. John Wright – right handed opening batter. He was the first Kiwi to reach the landmark of 5,000 test runs. He was at one time successful for Derbyshire as well.
  2. Bryan  Young – right handed opening batter. He came late to this role but performed it conscientiously and successfully when the time came.
  3. *Stephen Fleming – left handed top order batter, excellent captain. A successful captain and a big run scorer, though a stickler would point the relative dearth of centuries in his record.
  4. Martin Crowe – right handed middle order batter. He scored almost 20,000 first class runs. His elder brother Jeff also played for NZ, though not so successfully. The other family link is that world famous actor Russell Crowe is a cousin. Martin Crowe’s maiden test century, against England in the 1983-4 series was the key innings that inspired his team to save a game that England has been bossing – Coney then made 174 not out and Lance Cairns played a useful supporting knock at the end. Against Sri Lanka, facing a huge first innings deficit he shared a New Zealand record partnership for any wicket with Andrew Jones, making 299 himself as the Kiwis reached safety on 671-4. He was unfortunate to find himself in the midst of a vicious controversy when Somerset named as overseas player in preference to either of the two West Indians Viv Richards and Joel Garner, which prompted the acrimonious departure from the club of Ian Botham.
  5. Ken Rutherford – right handed batter – his test batting career got off to a start that might have made a tail ender blush, but he ended up with a fine record, and was also a good captain for a period.
  6. +BJ Watling – wicket keeper and gritty middle order batter. He is the pivot of this side, and I have good cause to know just how dangerous he is – it was a long innings by him that out New Zealand in control of England’s last series there, a position they never relinquished.
  7. Amelia Kerr – leg spinner and right handed middle order bat. My pick is the genuine all rounder. As is all too common with the best female players she has not had the opportunity to show what she can do in long form cricket, but a 232 not out in a 50 overs a side international match plus her leg spin bowling is recommendation enough for me.
  8. Richard Hadlee – right arm fast bowler, left handed attacking lower middle order bat. Quite simply his country’s GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). What makes his performances at the highest level all the more impressive is that his support cast was generally speaking pretty ordinary. Graham Gooch, scorer of 183 not out against the 1986 Kiwis, the first to win a test series in England, described facing New Zealand as being like “facing a world XI at one end and Ilford 2nds at the other.” He became the first person knighted specifically in connection with cricket to play a test after acquiring the ‘Sir’ in front of his name (Bradman played his final first class match as Sir DG Bradman, while the Hon Sir FS Jackson was not knighted for reasons to do with cricket).
  9. Daniel Vettori – left arm orthodox spinner, useful lower middle order batter. At the age of 20 he helped consign England to the bottom of the world test rankings not long after they had been shown the door of the World Cup they were hosting, and from then until his retirement he was an essential part of New Zealand’s plans. In later years the captaincy and the fact that he also had to do a lot of batting somewhat reduced his effectiveness as a bowler, but the 1999 version bowled left arm orthodox spin as well as I have seen it bowled.
  10. Trent Boult – left arm fast medium bowler. The ‘conductor’ has been an effective leader of New Zealand’s pace attack for some years now, and just a few months ago he caused England considerable problems. He also gives my chosen pace attack an extra element of variety, bowling with his left hand.
  11. Danny Morrison – right arm fast medium. Danny ‘the duck’ (hence his position at no11) was New Zealand’s outstanding pace bowler of the 1990s, and could be relied on to provide excellent back up in that department for Messrs. Hadlee and Boult.

This team has a solid opening pair, an excellent no 3,4 and 5, a fine keeper at six, Amelia Kerr the x-factor all rounder at seven and a fine bowling line up. The bowling attack, with a varied pace trio of Hadlee, Boult and Morrison backed by the contrasting spin styles of Vettori and Kerr also looks pretty impressive.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Had it not been for Stephen Fleming’s claims, and my desire that he should be captain, Andrew Jones would have been a strong contender for the no3 slot, and some would say that I should have picked him as an opener anyway. Nathan Astle, an explosive batter and sometimes useful purveyor of slow-medium would definitely have his advocates, as would big hitting all rounder Chris Cairns. ‘Two Metre Peter’ Fulton would have his advocates for an opening slot. Among the seam/swing/pace options I have overlooked were Shane Bond, the quickest his country has ever produced but sadly blighted by injuries, Tim Southee the ever reliable and Neil ‘the composer’ Wagner whose bouncers sometimes confound opposition batters. Colin De Grandhomme, a magnificent limited overs player, might have had the number seven slot I gave to Kerr, but his bowling offers less. I also considered another big hitting female all-rounder, Sophie Devine, but decided I wanted the extra spin option offered by Kerr. Brendon McCullum would have his advocates for the wicket keeping slot, as would Adam Parore, while I also thought about Ian Smith, but he will have to make do with being part of the commentary team, for which role he is a ‘shoo-in’. Finally, combative off spinner John Bracewell would have been the obvious choice had I wanted a third spin option.

THE NEW NAMES IN THE ALL TIME XI

  • Bert Sutcliffe, a left handed attack minded opener, who averaged just over 40 in a test career that began at Christchurch in 1947 and ended at Edgbaston in 1965 comes in at the top of the order. For Otago against Canterbury he once scored 385. Otago’s all out tally in that innings was precisely 500, and in their two efforts Canterbury scored 382 runs off the bat – three fewer than Sutcliffe managed on his own! One over, bowled a chap named Poore, had Sutcliffe in two minds in the way bowlers don’t want – he hit three deliveries for four and three for six.
  • Glenn Turner, a right handed opening batter, the only Kiwi to score a hundred first class hundreds. During the Kiwis 1973 tour of England he reached his thousand first class runs before the end of May, one of only two to do that in an English season since World War II, the other being Graeme Hick in 1988.
  • Martin Donnelly, left handed middle order bat, scorer of Lord’s centuries in The Varsity Match, for The Gentlemen against The Players and in a test match for New Zealand. Also, in a 1945 match for The Dominions against England he made a century, considered by observers the outstanding innings in a game that also featured a ton by Keith Miller and one in each innings by Wally Hammond.
  •  +Stewie Demspter – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Charles Stewart Dempster played a mere 10 test matches for New Zealand, before devoting himself to county cricket with Leicestershire. In this 10 test matches he scored 723 runs at 65.72, assisted it is true by four not outs, but even not taking the not outs into account that average would still be 48.20. Selecting him as keeper, a role he did on occasion perform, was the only way I could fit him in.
  • Jack ‘Bull’ Cowie – right arm fast bowler. He took his test wickets at 21 each, and one contemporary writer was moved to comment “had he been English or Australian he would no doubt have been termed a wonder of the age.” His last test series was in 1949 at the age of 37, and even then on flat pitches (all four test matches were drawn) he caused plenty of problems.

With these players coming in our All Time New Zealand XI reads: B Sutcliffe, GM Turner, *S Fleming, MD Crowe, MP Donnelly, +CS Dempster, AC Kerr, RJ Hadlee, DL Vettori, T Boult, J Cowie. This combo, with a great opening pair, Dempster in for Watling and Cowie looking a distinct cut above Morrison looks like a superb unit.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Merv Wallace, who came close to 1,000 first class runs before the end of May on that 1949 tour was considered for a batting place. John Richard Reid, a man whose range of cricketing skills was huge, was also a big miss. Middle order batters Geoff Howarth and Bevan Congdon both had good records at a time when New Zealand collectively had little to shout about. Two keepers, Eric Petrie and Ken Wadsworth, were both outstanding practitioners, but neither could offer much with bat, Petrie in particular being a genuine ‘bunny’ in that regard. Brian Taylor, who scored a century and bagged a five wicket haul on his test debut earned consideration as an all rounder, but there is no shortage of pace options. Of the cricketing Hadlees, other than Richard the only one who many would seriously consider was Dayle, a fast bowler who at one time was rated higher than his brother, but ended up many leagues behind. New Zealand have had few class spinners play for them, which leads neatly on to…

THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY

One name dominates this category, that of leg spinner Clarrie Grimmett, who crossed the Tasman to better himself. He failed to claim a place in either the NSW or Victorian state sides, but eventually managed to establish himself for South Australia, and at 33 made his test debut for his adopted country, bagging 11 England wickets for 82 runs. In 37 test matches he took 216 wickets, a wickets to matches ratio outstanding for anyone not named Sydney Barnes. He was dropped for the 1938 Ashes tour, a decision that Bill O’Reilly for one considered to be crazy – Frank Ward who travelled in his place did little, while Chuck Fleetwood-Smith had his moments but was as erratic, unpredictable and expensive as anyone familiar with his approach would have expected.

Two others who would have merited consideration had they not abandoned the possibility of playing for their country were leg spinner Bill Merritt whose first class victims (mainly for Northamptonshire) cost 24 each and fast bowler Tom Pritchard who had an impressive record for Warwickshire (818 wickets at 23.30 in all first class cricket, and he lived – just – long enough to celebrate the most impressive of all centuries, dying 165 days after reaching that landmark birthday).

PHOTOGRAPHS

We have concluded our virtual tour of the home of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movie series, and it remains only to apply my usual sign off…

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NZ
The teams in tabulated form, with abbreviated comments.

 

 

Brisbane Heat Retain WBBL

A brief account of the WBBL final which took place early this morning UK time.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks at the final of the Women’s Big Bash League, which took place in the early hours of this morning UK time.

A SPLENDID FINAL

Sophie Devine had had a dream season for the Adelaide Strikers but had a personal nightmare in the final. The Kiwi fell for just five, before her compatriot Suzie Bates and Tahlia McGrath righted things with a good second wicket stand. Both were out close together and Bridget Patterson and Kayleigh Mack both went cheaply, but AmandaJade Wellington whose previous competition best score was 23 made a splendid 55 off 33 balls to give the strikers a final total of 161-7 from their 20 overs. Maddy Green managed only 11 for Heat in the reply, but then SammyJo Johnson blasted 27 off just 11 balls (including four sixes off Sophie Devine) to put Heat well ahead of the rate. Jess Jonassen made 33 off 28, and Laura Harris was unbeaten on 19, in partnership with player of the final Beth Mooney who anchored the innings with an unbeaten 56, Heat having 11 balls to spare (and six wickets, including Kiwi all-rounder Amelia Kerr, due to come in next) when they completed the chase. To win a big tournament is a fine achievement, but to do so twice running is particularly impressive because on the second occasion everyone else knows that you are the team to beat. Sophie Devine was player of the tournament, but in the final she could only produce five and figures of 1-46 from three overs. It was a highly enjoyable final, but ultimately Brisbane Heat were simply too good for Adelaide Strikers.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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100 Cricketers: The Second XI – The Allrounders

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with a post tailored to International Women’s Day.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers series“. I decided to change the order in which I presented what is left of my second XI (see the introductory post for how I have subdivided my selected 100) because today is International Women’s Day and following a change to my second XI focussing on the allrounders mean that two of the three cricketers to feature today are female. My most recent post in the series introduced the opening pair from this XI, and I will talk about the remaining specialist batters from it in my next post and then the bowlers, also introducing my third XI in that post. I will start with the one male cricketer to be featured today before handing over the women for the remainder of the post…

IAN BOTHAM

He started his test career with five-fors in each of his first two matches against Australia in 1977. Against New Zealand that winter he hit his maiden test hundred, also claiming eight wickets in that match. Against Pakistan in the 1978 home series came two more hundreds, the second backed by a Lord’s ground record bowling analysis for an innings of 8-34. In the Jubilee Match against India he scored 114 not out and had match figures of 13-106 (The only others to have scored a century and had a ten-wicket haul in the same test match are Enid Bakewell for England Women, Betty Wilson for Australia Women and Imran Khan for Pakistan, although Alan Davidsons contribution in the 1960 tied test at Brisbane – 5-135, 44, 6-87 and 80 also deserves an honourable mention in this context). A disastrous spell as captain, not helped by the fact that his opposition for nine of his twelve matches in charge were the West Indies at their absolute zenith, was immediately followed a remarkable trio of matches back under the leadership of Mike Brearley. First at Headingley his 149 not out, backed up by Graham Dilley (56), Chris Old (29) and Bob Willis (who lasted over half an hour while Botham was blazing away) gave England 130 to bowl at, when they had been 92 behind with only three second wickets standing. A combination of the Bob Willis bowling for his international future and panic setting into the Australian team gave England victory by 18 runs to square the series. Then at Edgbaston, when Botham was called up as a last throw of the dice in another game that Australia looked to be winning his presence caused the self-destruct button to be pressed once again (of the five wickets he gained in that final spell at a cost of just one run only one, Ray Bright, got a really difficult delivery, while Kent, Marsh and Lillee all surrendered their wickets to ordinary deliveries, and Alderman at that stage of his career needed nothing more than a straight one to finish him). The third successive Botham special came at Old Trafford, when England were 104-5 in their second innings, 205 to the good. This innings came in three parts – the first 30 balls saw Botham accrue just three singles, then he changed gear to reach 28 of 53 balls (25 off the previous 23) before the arrival of the new ball sent him into overdrive and he plundered 90 off his last 49 balls to finish with 118 from 102 balls – the century off 86. Alan Knott and John Emburey followed up with half centuries, and Australia made a gallant effort facing a victory target of 506 but England won by 103 runs to retain the ashes.

Thereafter big performances from Botham became fewer and further between, but he remained a great wicket taker through sheer force of character, and scored the last of his 14 test hundreds at Brisbane in 1986 – setting England on their way to what would be their last Ashes win down under until the 2010-11 series. At Melbourne, when England completed their series victory a half-fit Botham took five first innings wicktes, sharing the spoils with Gladstone Small who went on to be Man of the Match. 

He finally retired in 1993, when it became clear that the England selectors would not pick him again. Sadly for us followers of the game they had not got over him, and a succession of promising young cricketers would have their careers ruined by being dubbed “the next Botham”. 

In the late 1990s he wrote The Botham Report, a hard hitting book which spelt out what was wrong with English cricket at the time, and what he thought needed doing to put it right. Many of his ideas have been put into practice with considerable success, as albeit with a few black spots along the way English cricket has fared rather better since the year 2000 than it did in the 1980s and 1990s.

SARAH TAYLOR

I have said before when commenting about her in this blog that I regard her as the best wicketkeeper of either sex currently playing the game. She is also a very fine batter. Mental health issues have interfered with her career of late, but at least the way in which these are being handled by the authorities show that they are learning (far too late and after far too many tragedies) how to handle such things – everything possible is being done to help her. 

Although she seems to have been around for a very long time she is still only 29, and so could yet have plenty of time ahead of her at the top. 

Whatever happens she has already done enough to ensure that she will never be forgotten by those who have witnessed her in action.

AMELIA KERR

I was astonished in the middle of the last English cricket season to see that a 17 year old, then known (if she was known at all) as a leg-spin bowler had scored a double-century in an ODI. I checked out the scorecard, managed to see highlights of the innings, and was amazed that someone that young could play that amazingly well. Her 232 not out is a record for a women’s ODI.

She currently averages 39.91 in ODIs (strike rate 108 runs per 100 balls) and takes her  wickets in that form of the game at 22.17 a piece. Because the women play so little test cricket she has yet to sample that form of the game. 

Maybe, as I have suggested about Tammy Beaumont and the current problems with the England men’s team’s top order, she could be given a call-up to the New Zealand men’s team to see what she can do in that environment.

I expect Kerr’s career, whether she stays in the women’s game or gets called up to play alongside the men to be a long and illustrious one – there will be people with questions to answer if it is not so.

PHOTOGRAPHS

If possible I always like to include some of my photographs in my blog posts, so here we are:

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When thinking about photographs to accompany this blog post I realised that although I have had this map for many years I have never previously photographed it.

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Super Sunday At The Womens World Cup

An account of Super Sunday at the womens World Cup.

INTRODUCTION

Today featured no fewer than four matches in the womens cricket World Cup. I have been listening to radio commentaries and following the action on cricinfo

SOUTH AFRICA V WEST INDIES

This was about as conclusive a victory as I have ever witnessed. First of all South Africa blew the West Indies away for 48. Marizanne Kapp took four wickets, but the most remarkable performance came from Dane Van Niekerk who matched Kapp’s four wickets, but took hers without conceding a run. South Africa then took a mere 6.2 of their possible 50 overs to knock the runs off. Cricinfo have recently started providing video clips, and below is a two minute video showing the West Indies collapse.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/video_audio/1108001.html

INDIA V PAKISTAN

This was the damp squib of the four matches – India limped to 169-9 from their 50 overs and then Pakistan were bowled out for 74 in response, only getting that many courtesy of a 23 run last wicket stand.

ENGLAND V SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka batted first, and managed 204-8. Fran Wilson took an amazing catch along the way (see link below). Laura Marsh returning to the England side took 4-45 from her ten overs, while Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole both bowled well without picking up wickets.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-womens-world-cup-2017/engine/match/1085953.html

Both openers were out fairly cheaply, Tammy Beaumont for 12 and Lauren Winfield, returning from injury, for 26. A big stand between Sarah Taylor and Heather Knight then took England to the brink of victory, before Knight was out for 82. A crunching boundary straight down the ground from Taylor completed the job, leaving her with 74 not out off 67 balls, and England winners by seven wickets with almost 20 overs to spare. At the other end, not having faced a ball, was Natalie Sciver, fresh from scoring 137 off 92 balls against Pakistan.

AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND

Half centuries from Bates and Perkins got New Zealand to a total of 219-9. For Australia Mooney and Bolton were out fairly cheaply, before Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry shared a good partnership. 16 year old legspinner Amelia Kerr created a bit of excitement when she accounted for Lanning and Elyse Villani in successive deliveries to make it 143-4, but Alex Blackwell was her usual unflappable self, and New Zealand gained only one more wicket, when with the scores level Ellyse Perry holed out for 71. Perry, having started out as a fast bowler who gave it a whack down the order has developed into the most complete all-rounder of either sex currently playing the game – she bats at number four, averaging over 50, and takes the new ball and (in limited overs matches) bowls at the death. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

None pof the four matches were especially close, but three of them featured quality cricket from various players, and I was pleased to see matches being played concurrently, because one reason why mens world cups always seem so interminable is that in deference to the TV people this does not happen.