All Time XIs – Through the Alphabet VI

Our sixth ‘alphabetic progression’ post in this ‘all time XI’ cricket series, a solution to yesterday’s teaser and plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

In today’s all time XIs cricket post we continue with our alphabetic progression. Yesterday we ended on an F, so today we start from G.

BILL O’REILLY XI

  1. Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. He was a crucial part of the West Indies success in the 1980s. In the 1984 series in England the West Indies were twice in deep trouble, and both times were hauled out of it by Greenidge. At Old Trafford he saved the day with an innings of 223 in 10 hours at the crease, and the Windies emerged victorious. At Lord’s the Windies were set 342 to win in just under a full day (and Gower, the England captain, was criticized for not declaring earlier, and for allowing his batters to accept on offer of the light when they should, four fast bowlers notwithstanding, have stayed out there. The West Indies won by nine wickets, with Greenidge blazing his way to 214 not out, while Larry Gomes (92 not out) played the supporting role to perfection. In the MCC Bicentennary match he made a century, notable for the setting of a fielder specifically to cut down the number of runs the reverse sweep was bringing him. A long county career with Hampshire helped him to score more first class hundreds (90) than any other West Indian bar Viv Richards.
  2. Desmond Haynes – right handed opening batter. He was Greenidge;s regular opening partner for Barbados and the West Indies. Barbados, a coral island similar in size to the Isle of Wight has produced over 70 test match cricketers – an all time batting order with these two opening, the three Ws at 3,4 and 5, Sobers at six, a keeper and four bowlers, two of them Marshall and Garner is shaping up mightily impressively. The Isle of Wight for comparison has produced a few cricketers who reached the dizzy heights of the Hampshire 2nd XI. Haynes and Greenidge put on over 6,000 runs together in first wicket stands at test level, although their average opening stand is not quite as eye-popping as the 87 of Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe.
  3. Shreyas Iyer – right handed batter. The young Indian, noted for his aggressive approach, has yet to play test cricket, but hes an averages 52 in first class cricket and has made a remarkable start to his ODI career. I can envisage him being devastating after Greenidge and Haynes have given the innings their usual strong start (and similarly when the time comes coming in after the Sharma/ Agarwal opening partnership has been broken).
  4. Mahela Jayawardene – right handed batter. He holds the record for the highest test score by a right handed batter, 374 vs South Africa, when he and gthe left handed Kumar Sangakkara put on 624 together for the third wicket, starting from 14-2. Three higher individual test scores have been recorded, Lara’s 400 not out and 375, which both came in high scoring draws, whereas Jayawardene’s set his side up for an innings victory, and Matthew Hayden’s 380, scored against a hapless Zimbabwe team at Perth. Following the list on down, Sobers’ 365 not out was made against a Pakistan side who fielded only two front line bowlers, Hutton’s 364 at The Oval set his side up for a crushing victory, Jayasuriya’s 340 came in a monstrosity of a game at Colombo (over 100 runs per wicket through the five days), Hanif Mohammad’s 337 secured a draw for his side, Hammond’s 336 not out and Bradman’s 334 both came in drawn games- not that many of the super-huge scores have actually helped their team to win.
  5. Rohan Kanhai – right handed batter. His record at first class and test level is highly impressive, and I have the word of CLR James, that he was an absolute genius with a bat in his hand.
  6. Geoffrey Legge – right handed batter. He played for Kent and England. He managed only one century for his country, but it was a big one – 196.
  7. +Billy Murdoch – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Fred ‘the demon’ Spofforth missed the first ever test match because he believed that only Billy Murdoch could keep to his bowling (he came in to the side when the second match was arranged, apparently convinced that the chosen keeper, Blackham, was good enough after all), so although it was not where he usually played in test cricket he did have pedigree as a wicket keeper. His batting deeds included 153 not out in the first test on English soil at The Oval, the first ever test double century at the same ground four years later, 286 for Australia in a tour match and a first class triple century, at a time when only WG Grace (twice) and Walter Read of Surrey had previously achieved the feat.He played county cricket for Sussex and was part of WG Grace’s ultimately ill-fated London County venture.
  8. Dion Nash – right arm fast medium bowler. An effective swing bowler for New Zealand in the 1990s, and by no means valueless as a lower order batter.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner. Nicknamed ‘tiger’ for his on field ferocity (he was later to be fairly ferocious with a pen in his hand as well), he bowled faster than most of his type (one action shot of him was erroneously labelled ‘Bill O’Reilly, Australia fast bowler, and seeing it one can understand how the mistake happened).Donald Bradman rated him the best bowler he ever saw or faced, although as O’Reilly himself acknowledged Bradman was the one opposition batter who generally had his measure. World War II basically ended his career at the top level, although he played a one-off test against New Zealand, taking a hatful of cheap wickets but also learning the hard way that his knees were finally knackered.
  10. Jamie Porter – right arm fast bowler. Has done good things for his county Essex, but has not yet been given the opportunity to perform at a higher level. I hope he does get the chance to prove himself at the highest level. He has 329 first class wickets at 24.31.
  11. Hamidullah Qadri – off spinner. He currently pays 35 per wicket in his fledgling first class career, and needs to reduce that figure, but he is still very young, and he did enjoy some success in the last U19 world cup. Given that I already had a legspinner (more on this later), the alternative was Imran Qayyum, a left arm orthodox spinner, but he pays 43 per wicket, which is simply too expensive to hold out serious hopes of him making the grade.

This side has a stellar batting line up but is a trifle light on bowling options. Nonetheless I would expect it to give a good account of itself.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Strong cases could be made for the selection of Gavaskar or Gooch as my opening batter whose name begins with G, and a respectable one for Chris Gayle, while Jack Hobbs and Matthew Hayden could both have been picked as the opener whose name begins with H, with Tom Hayward also a possibility. However, Greenidge and Haynes functioned superbly well as a pair, and I have opted for them because of that detail. Abdul Qadir deserves credit for keeping the embers of the torch of leg spin bowling aglow in the 1980s, to be fanned in full blazing flame by Shane Warne in the 1990s, but with Bill O’Reilly in the side I did not especially want a second leg spinner, so I went with the unknown quantity of Hamidullah Qadri.

ANDREW STRAUSS’ XI

  1. Jack Robertson – right handed opening batter. A test average of 46 is testament to his class. In the great 1947 season when Denis Compton and Bill Edrich rewrote the record books Robertson hit 12 first class centuries, very often teeing the innings up for the other two.
  2. *Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter, captain. The man who captained England to no one in the world at test cricket, and who averaged over 40 with the bat, both as captain and in the ranks gets the nod here.
  3. Johnny Tyldesley – right handed batter. In the first decade of the twentieth century only two professionals were selected in England teams purely for their batting, this man and David Denton of Yorkshire.
  4. Inzamam Ul-Haq – right handed batter. He announced his arrival at the top level with an innings of 60 off 37 balls in the 1992 World Cup (back then, performances like that were not commonplace).
  5. James Vince – right handed batter. Has a good record for Hampshire, and has done fairly well in limited overs matches for England. His test career has featured far too many well compiled 20s and 30s and no really major innings (83 at Brisbane is his highest).
  6. +Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Selecting him as wicket keeper, enables me to pick a strong bowling line up.
  7. Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, right handed batter. This is about the right position for him, and X is a difficult letter.
  8. Bruce Yardley – off spinner. He was effective for Australia in the late 1970s and early 1980s, once being te match winner against the West Indies at a time when defeats for them were a great rarity.
  9. Dawlat Zadran – right arm fast medium bowler. Has done some good things for Afghanistan and may yet get better still. Certainly worth his place.
  10. James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. Zadran could only benefit from sharing the new ball with an experienced partner, and they don’t come much more experienced in that regard than the man who has taken more test wickets than any other pace bowler, and the most by any Eng;land bowler (and officially he is still counting).
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. The list of visiting quick bowlers to really rattle the Aussies in their own backyard is not a long one, although the West Indies in the great years under Lloyd and Richards had a few. The list of Indian bowlers of serious pace is also not a long one – Amar Singh in the 1930s, and Javagal Srinath in the 1990s are the only two before the present era who I can think of. If one were to use the two lists to create a Venn diagram, there would be one name in the overlap between the two circles: Jasprit Bumrah, whose sheer speed in the 2018-9 series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy was more responsible than anything else for India’s triumph.

This team has an excellent top six, Xenophon Balaskas at seven can be considered an all-rounder, Yardley may provide some assistance to the top order, and then there are three pace bowlers. With Anderson to guide and encourage them the two younger bowlers, Bumrah and Zadran should fare well. If there is real turn Xenophon Balaskas and Yardley should be capable of exploiting it. This looks a fine side.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Bobby Simpson would have his advocates for the opening slot I gave to Strauss. I thought about picking Radha Yadav, the left arm spinner, for the no eight slot but decided that gave me too long a tail (Anderson at 10 is definitely in the ‘rabbit’ category with the bat, while Bumrah is a ‘ferret’ – someone who comes after the raqbbits).

THE CONTEST

Bill O’Reilly XI have a very deep batting line up packed with class, but they are short of bowling guns. Andrew Strauss’ XI have less in the way of batting riches, although their top order is strong on any reckoning, but they do have what looks a strong and balanced bowling unit. My reckoning, based on the evidence from cricket’s history is that it is the bowlers who settle matches, and so my reckoning is that Andrew Strauss’ XI start as firm favourites.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Yesterday I set this teaser, from brilliant.org:

Octagons

Here is Chew-Seong Cheong’s excellent published solution:

Oct Sol

As an habitue of brilliant.org I recognized a trick when I saw it and realized that the trick answer given the wording of the question was that the areas were equal and therefore went for that as my answer.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced today’s teams, assessed the contest and presented the solution to yesterday’s teaser. The only thing left to for this post to be complete is my usual sign off…

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TTA VI
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – The Foreign Born Ashes

With an Anglo-Australian contest as today’s ‘retrolive’ commentary I have made today’s All Time XI cricket post Anglo-Australian.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed post. With a ‘retrolive’ commentary on a game between England and Australia in the background it seemed appropriate to focus on cricket’s most enduring international rivalry.

THE BRIEF

Foreign born for the purposes of this exercise means born outside the country that you represented. The governing body under whose aegis the England team plays is called tne England and Wales Cricket Board, so Welsh born players are not eligible for England in this context. As always, class is not entirely overlooked – some of these players would be considered even without the extra restriction on selection.

FOREIGN BORN ENGLAND XI

  1. Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter. Few have come across as more quintessentially English than the Middlesex and England opener, but he was born in South Africa.
  2. *Douglas Jardine – right handed batter, captain. He was born in India to Scottish parents. Although he only scored one test century, 127 vs the West Indies at Old Trafford in 1933, he averaged 48 at that level, and as captain has one the four best results ever achieved for England in Australia – Johnny Douglas was in charge for 4-1 win in 1911-12, Percy Chapman for another 4-1 in 1928-9 and Mike Brearley for the 5-1 win in the six match series of 1978-9. None of the others qualify by birth for this team, and only Douglas could be seriously considered as worth his place as a player. In that 1932-3 series he opened the batting on more than one occasion.
  3. Ted Dexter – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. He was born in Milan, Italy. In the 1962-3 Ashes, when he was captain he contributed 481 runs at 48.10 to a drawn series which saw the Ashes stay in Aussie hands. His unwillingness to risk outright defeat in the series saw him delay his second innings declaration until lunch on the final day of the final match at Sydney, leaving Australia 241 to get in two sessions, a target that they made no serious attempt to chase since the draw was enough for them to keep the Ashes.
  4. Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji – right handed batter. The first of three Indian princes to turn out for England before their country gained test status, and like the other two he made a century of debut. He also scored a century at the first time of asking down under, on the 1897-8 tour. He averaged 44.95 in his brief test career, a truly remarkable figure for his era (the legendary Victor Trumper, a slightly later contemporary, averaged 39 in his test career).
  5. Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji – right handed batter. Nephew of Ranji, and the second Indian prince to play for England. South African attitudes in 1929 disgracefully caused his test debut to be held back by a year, but he started with 173 on debut at Lord’s in 1930. He had health issues which shortened his career, and prevented him from going on the 1932-3 Ashes tour. His 995 test runs came at an average of 58.53.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand. Hero of the 2019 World Cup, and later that year the ‘Headingley Heist‘, when he and Jack Leach (a courageous and defiant 1 not out) put on 76 for the final wicket to pinch a game that Australia had under lock and key. He subsequently had a fine series in South Africa.
  7. +Matthew Prior – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Born in South Africa. Better with both bat and gloves than Geraint Jones who has a more exotic birthplace. As with many of his era his finest international moments came on the Ashes tour of 2010-11, when outperformed his opposite number Brad Haddin with the gloves and his regular rapid scores also contributed significantly to England’s triumph.
  8. Gubby Allen – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. He was born in Sydney, Australia. He toured Australia in 1932-3, skippered the 1936-7 side there which went 2-0 up but then lost the last three matches of the series, and his last international venture was to captain the 1947-8 tour to the West Indies, when he was 45 years old, and unsurprisingly failed to recapture past glories, and he may also have played a role in messing up Maurice Tremlett, selected for that tour after one first class season, and persuaded by his captain to seek extra pace, which cost him both his ability to swing the ball and his bowling rhythm.
  9. Ian Peebles – leg spinner. The first of two successive spinners to hail from the Aberdeen area. He suffered from the traditional English distrust of leg spinners, but in the 1930 Ashes he produced a googly that gave him the wicket of Don Bradman.
  10. Kirstie Gordon – left arm orthodox spinner. Born in Huntly, Aberdeenshire. Yes, having sneaked in yesterday by virtue of her surname, the Aberdonian youngster gets in today as Peebles’ envisaged spin twin.
  11. Devon Malcolm – right arm fast bowler, Born Kingston, Jamaica. His highlight was the 9-57 he took against South Africa in 1994. He was among the casualties of the disastrous period in which Ray Illingworth, firmly resident in the past and seemingly positively proud to be out of touch, was supremo of English cricket. Malcilm was chief victim of a disgusting article by Robert Henderson which targetted various non-English born England cricketers, though notably not Allan Lamb or Robin Smith. I have said elsewhere, and now repeat that if someone is good enough they could hail originally from a lunar colony for all that I would care.

This side has a strong top five, an x-factor all rounder at six, an excellent keeper batter and four well varied bowlers. Malcolm and Allen, with Stokes as third seamer and Dexter if needed in that department backed by the contrasting Aberdonian spin pair of Peebles (right arm wrist spin) and Gordon (left arm finger spin) looks a fornidable unit.

AUSTRALIA FOREIGN BORN XI

  1. Charles Bannerman – right handed opening batter. Born in Woolwich, Kent. In the first test match of all he became the very first cricketer to score a century against the land of his birth – 165 in an all out total of 245. He suffered a hand injury in the process, but even without him for the remaining three innings of the match the Aussies won by 45 runs.
  2. Archie Jackson – right handed opening batter. Born in Rutherglen, Scotland. He made his debut at the age of 19, in the second match of the 1928-9 Ashes, and scored 164 first up. Sadly tuberculosis hit, and four years later at the age of 23 he died.
  3. Kepler Wessels – left handed batter. Born in South Africa. The only person to have scored 1,000 or more test runs for each of two countries, after playing for Australia he returned to his native South Africa and played for them after their readmission to the test arena.
  4. Bransby Cooper – right handed batter. He was born in what was then Dacca, India and is now Dhaka, Bangladesh. He subsequently spent time in England, sharing an opening stand of 283 with WG Grace along the way, before heading for Australia for whom he played in the inaugural test match.
  5. Tom Horan – right handed batter. Born in Cork, Ireland – which means that as a participant in the first test of all back in 1877 he was the first Irish born test cricketer. He subsequently became a highly respected writer about the game, using the pen name Felix (he may not have been familiar with Nicholas Wanostrocht, who had earlier used the name Felix – the world was in many ways a much bigger place then than it is now).
  6. Melanie Jones – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. Born in Barnstaple, Devon. I have selected her in preference to the Gloucestershir born Billy Midwinter, as I felt that the first test match of all was already over represented.
  7. +Hanson Carter – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Born in Haliffax, Yorkshire – yes, had he been prepared to abandon his test career, as the rules of the time dictated he would have been eligible by birth to play for Yorkshire, thereby beating the likes of Bevan and Lehamnn by some eighty years. He succeeded the long serving Jim Kelly as Australia’s keeper, and barring missing the 1912 tour due to a dispute with the board he kept the gloves until the emergence of Bertie Oldfield in the 1920s.
  8. Brendon Julian – left arm fast medium bowler, useful right handed lower order bat. Born in Hamilton, New Zealand.
  9. William Cooper – leg spinner. Born at Maidstone, Kent. He played two test matches in the early 1880s, and di not fare badly. The reason his career was so short was that he had an encounter with WG Grace that virtually finished him as a bowler.
  10. Tony Dell – left arm fast medium bowler. Born at Lymington, Hampshire. He appeared in one test in the 1970-1 Ashes, the last English born male to don the baggy green (he did so before Melanie Jones was even born). He did not fare especially well, and one suspects that his involvement in home Ashes loss counted against him when it came to subsequent selection meetings.
  11. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. Born in Dunedin, New Zealand. He crossed the Tasman to better his cricketing fortunes, and then crossed two state boundaries in his new country before establishing himself as a first class cricketer with South Australia. He was the first bowler to reach 200 test wickets, capturing 216 in 37 appearances at that level.

This team features a respectable top six, an excellent keeper in Carter, and four bowlers one of whom is a bona fide great. Two left arm pacers and two leg spinners is not great in terms of balance, but they should be able to take the wickets.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I regretted not being able to find a place for the Tokyo born Natalie Sciver, but while I am not shy of arguing the vase for females not even I would attempt to make the case that she could seriously be considered for selection in place of Ben Stokes. South African born Robin Smith and Kevin Pietersen had strong cases for inclusion, but I could not put them ahead of the two Indian princes, and Dexter’s bowling gave him an edge. Irish born skipper of the 1907-8 Ashes party Freddie Fane did not have the record to merit inclusion, nor did the only clan chieftain ever to play test cricket, Francis Alexander MacKinnon, the MacKinnon of MacKinnon, 35th Chief of Clan MacKinnon. Paul Terry, born in Germany, had a rfespectable record for Hampshire but his only test experience was not a happy one. Some would have advocated a wicket keeping slot for Kiwi born Luke Ronchi, but he never played test cricket for Australia, and I reckon Carter was definitely his superior with the gloves. The first player of West Indian descent to play test cricket did so for Australia in the 1880s, but hsi record was very modest. Finally, although they had exotic (in cricketing terms) ancestry all of Albert Hartkopf, Hans Ebeling and Shelley Nitschke were born in Australia.

THE CONTEST

The contest for what I shall call the ‘Midwinter Trophy’, honouring the only person to play on both sides in Anglo-Australian tests would be worth watching, as any Ashes contest would, but I think this is one variant where the Poms definitely start as firm favourites!

PHOTOGRAPHS

The scene has been set and the teams introduced to do battle for the ‘Midwinter Trophy. It is now time for my usual sign off…

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The first four pictures were taken with what is now my reserve camera.

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From here on the pics were taken with my new camera.
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Some of these shots appear twice, once cropped, and then cropped and edited.

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This is the first of five pics from the same original..
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…an edit of the foregoing
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One of the birds
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The other bird…
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The head of the third bird in the original (all of it that was visible – this one was perhaps an overambitious piece of editing.

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Two flying gulls…
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…and the edited version.
Foreign born Ashes
The teams in  tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Middlesex

Continuing my all-time XIs series with Middlesex.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next post in my All Time XIs series. We move on to our eighth county (a feat that even a modern day overseas mercenary might find difficult!), Middlesex. On the All Time XI theme, the fulltoss blog has just served up a very interesting XI of bizarre test debut stories – please do have a gander. After I have gone through my chosen XI I am going to include another section in this post explaining the particular challenges that this assignment has posed.

MIDDLESEX ALL TIME XI

  1. *Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter and captain. He was alone in scoring two inividual hundreds in the 2005 Ashes, won the Compton-Miller trophy for his batting and captaincy in the 2009 Ashes (highlighted by a first innings 161 at Lord’s to put England in command of that match) and then captained England to a first Ashes win in Australia since 1986-7 (and first overseas Ashes win under a captain not to answer to Mike since Ray Illingworth’s 1970-1 triumph!). In 2011 his captaincy career reached its apogee when he led England to a convincing series win over India that propelled them to the top of the world test rankings, a mere 12 years after defeat against New Zealand had consigned them to bottom of the pile.
  2. Jack Robertson – An underrated opener whose 331 not out vs Derbyshire remains the highest ever individual score for Middlesex. In the 1947 season when Bill Edrich and Denis Compton made all the headlines he scored 12 centuries of his own, and it was often a solid start from him that they were cashing in on.
  3. Bill Edrich – one of five members of his family (three of his brothers, plus cousin John – see my Surrey team) to play first class cricket, an excellent no 3 bat and a superb fielder and a very useful bowler of right arm fast medium (on one occasion during the 1948 Ashes he shared the new ball for England with Alec Bedser). His first really big score at the highest level came the match that killed the notion of timeless tests stone dead, at Durban at the end of 1938-9 tour of South Africa, when he contributed 219 to an England score that reached 654-5 in pursuit of a victory target of 696 before the rain came down and the match had to be abandoned as a draw for fear of England missing their boat home. His career was split into two portions by World War II, during which he served in the RAF.
  4. Denis Compton – for much of his career he combined cricket for Middlesex and England with football for Arsenal, though he was not quite a double international – he played for England in wartime matches which were not given full international status. He was forever forgetting things, including on one memorable occasion his bat – he borrowed a spare from a team mate and scored 158 with it. In 1947 he scored 3,816 first class runs, with 18 centuries. During the 1948-9 tour of South Africa he scored 300 not out in 181 minutes at Benoni, the fastest ever first class triple hundred (Charlie Macartney for Australia v Nottinghamshire in 1921 reached 300 in 198 minutes on his way to a score of 345 in 232 minutes). 5,800 test runs at 50 shows how good he was. He reached the career landmark of 100 first class hundreds in his 552nd innings, quicker than anyone else save Don Bradman who got there in just 295 innings. In addition to his batting he bowled left arm wrist spin and was an excellent fielder. Don Bradman paid Compton the tribute of selecting him at number three, the equivalent position to the Don’s own in the Australian XI in his all time England XI, which you can read about in Roland Perry’s “Bradman’s Best Ashes Teams”.
  5. Patsy Hendren – the third leading first class run scorer of all time with 57,611 (behind Hobbs – 61,237 if you are a traditionalist, 61,760 if you are a revisionist – and Woolley, 58,969) and the second leading centurion of all time with 170 (Hobbs 197 if you are traditionalist, 199 if you are a revisionist). He was also a brilliant fielder and a practical joker. During the 1928-9 Ashes he was involved in a famous exchange with Douglas Jardine. Jardine was getting the bird from Aussie spectators and Hendren said to him “they don’t seem to like you very much, Mr Jardine”, to which Jardine responded “it is ****ing mutual” – playwright Ben Travers was party to the exchange and mentioned it in his book “94 Declared”.
  6. Bernard Bosanquet – the creator of the googly and a hard hitting middle order batter. Under today’s laws the googly may well have been still born, its first victim Sam Coe being done by one which bounced four times before hitting the stumps and would therefore have been called no-ball today (worse still for Coe he was on 98 at the time). Bosanquet scored over 11,000 first class runs in his career.
  7. +John Murray – only one wicketkeeper has ever made more career dismissals than Murray, Bob Taylor of Derbyshire and England. Murray was also a very useful bat. In the Oval test match of 1966 England were 166-7 when he arrived at the crease to join Tom Graveney (see my Gloucestershire piece). Graveney made 165, Murray 112 an to add insult to already considerable injury nos 10 and 11, Ken Higgs and John Snow then weighed in with half centuries of their own to boost the final total to 527. Unsurprisingly deflated by this the West Indies subsequently went down to an innings defeat, some consolation for England at the end of the series in which they had been thoroughly outplayed.
  8. Fred Titmus – a long serving off spinner and useful lower order bat, he had an excellent tour of Australia in 1962-3. He made his first class debut in 1949, and his career only ended in 1982.
  9. Gubby Allen – a fast bowler who was also a capable bat – he scored a test century against New Zealand, helping to turn 190-7 into 436 all out. He holds the record innings figures for a Middlesex bowler – 10-40 against Lancashire. His career figures were limited by the fact that he was that rare thing, a genuine amateur who played at the top level and worked for a living in a non-cricket related job, hence the fact that he played less than 150 times for Middlesex in the course of a 29 year span.
  10. Jack Hearne – the fourth leading wicket taker in first class history, with 3,061 scalps. He bowled medium-fast, took nine wickets in a first class innings on no fewer than eight occasions. In 1899 at Headingley he took what may be regarded as the best of all test match hat tricks, Clem Hill, Syd Gregory and Monty Noble, two specialist batters and an all-rounder.
  11. Wayne Daniel – the West Indies had so many great fast bowlers when he was in his prime that he got little opportunity at test level, but his record as an overseas player for Middlesex was excellent. He was also very popular with his team mates – Mike Brearley in “The Art of Captaincy” writes about him in glowing terms.

This team is a solid opening pair, including a left handed bat in Strauss, a powerful engine room at nos 3-5, a hard hitting all rounder at six, an excellent keeper/ batter at seven and four varied bowlers to round out the order. The bowling has two purveyors of out and out speed in Allen and Daniel (with Edrich’s fast-medium also available at need), a crafty medium-fast operator in Hearne, an off spinner in Titmus, Bosanquet’s wrist spin and Compton’s left arm wrist spin, an attack that boasts both depth and variety.

DIFFICULTIES AND CONTROVERSIES

Middlesex have produced many great names down the years, and a vast number of Middlesex names are well known, because until quite recently playing a lot of your matches at Lord’s gave you a huge advantage in terms of being seen by suitably influential people. This side was difficult to select because doing so meant leaving out huge numbers of players all of whom will have their advocates. I would hope that my comments immediately below the selections would explain my thinking, especially as regards balancing the side to contain both depth and variety with both bat and ball.

I am now going to look down the order at some of those who missed out – please be aware that I had positive reasons for including those I did, not negative reasons for leaving people out.

OPENERS

Andrew Stoddart (a great captain as well), Pelham Warner and Mike Brearley would all have merited consideration for one of these berths, as would Desmond Haynes had I not already decided that the overseas player should be a bowler.

NOS 3-5

My three selections all had absolutely commanding cases for inclusion – it tells you how strong Middlesex have been in this department that there was no room for long time England stalwart Mike Gatting.

NO 6

The traditional all rounder’s berth, and there were a wealth of options to fill it. Vyell Walker, ‘Young’ Jack Hearne (to distinguish him from ‘Old’ Jack, picked as a specialist bowler), Greville Stevens, Aussie exiles Albert Trott and Frank Tarrant,  and Walter Robins were just six of the names who could have been considered. I awarded the palm to Bosanquet for his innovative qualities.

THE KEEPER

Again, Middlesex have been well served in this department, with Hylton Phillipson, Gregor MacGregor and Paul Downton having also represented their country down the years.

THE BOWLERS

Vintcent Van Der Bijl would have his advocates for the overseas player/ fast bowler role that I gave to Wayne Daniel, and he would be equally as deserving. Among the spinners who missed out were John Emburey, Phil Edmonds and Phil Tufnell. Among quicker home grown bowlers Steven Finn, Toby Roland-Jones, Angus Fraser, Norman Cowans and John Price would all have their advocates, and I would not argue against them, merely for my own choices. I end this section by saying: if you want to suggest people for inclusion, be they those I have highlighted or others, by all means do so, but consider the balance of the selected team, and tell me which of my choices should be dropped to make way for yours.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Yes folks, we’ve reached the end of today’s journey, and it is time for my usual sign off…

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100 Cricketers – The Ninth XI Three Main Batters

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, featuring updates from the County Championship and of course some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest piece in my “100 cricketers” series, in which we look at the three big name batters from the ninth XI. The introductory post to the series can be found here, and the most recent post in which the ninth XI is introduced is here. Before getting to the main body of the piece, it is time for a…

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP UPDATE

Two of the six county championship matches have been settled and a third is on the cusp of producing a result. 

  • Sussex v LeicestershireLeics 232 and 252-3 beat Sussex 212 and 308 by seven wickets
    Paul Horton, Hasan Azad and veteran Aussie Mark Cosgrove all made runs as Leicesterhsire ended up making light work of what had looked like being a fairly tough run chase. The feature of this match was the 80 made by Philip Salt in the Sussex second innings – if he can go on to a few centuries in the near future the England selectors may just take note.
  • Hampshire v Essex – Hamsphire 525-8 declared beat Essex 164 and 274 by an innings and 87 runs.
    A century by veteran Ravi Bopara kept this game going longer than some expected, but Hampshire had been in control most of the way, and once they got through Bopara the rest came quickly, with Adam Wheater absent hurt for the second time for the match. South African Kolpak signing Kyle Abbott took five wickets for Hampshire, to back Fidel Edwards who had done likewise in the first Essex innings.
  • Derbyshire v Durham – Derbyshire 197 and 334, Durham 171 and 207-8
    Many will be glad that Durham seem to be headed for defeat in their first match after they chose to award the captaincy of their side to a proven cheat in Cameron Bancroft. 
  • Somerset v Kent Somerset 171 and 243 beat Kent 209 and 131 by 74 runs
    This result is just in, and it did not look likely this morning, but a last wicket stand between 21 year-old George Bartlett (63) and Jack Brooks (35) gave Somerset something to bowl, Lewis Gregory ripped out three quick wickets before lunch (he went on to finish with 5-18) and Kent never looked like getting to the target. This match turned on the morning session of today, with Kent having had the better of the previous play by far. I commented on this post on Toby’s Sporting Views that if Somerset could eke out a further 50 this morning they would give themselves a chance, they actually managed 70, and ended up winning comfortably.
  • Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire Nottinghamshire 408 and 329-5D, Yorkshire 291 and 181-2
    This one looks set to end in a draw (although a dramatic Yorkshire collapse remains possible). Nottinghamshire’s overnight declaration with Joe Clarke 97 not out, following his first innings 112 provided an early talking point. My view, expressed on this site yesterday and on twitter this morning is that Notts were right to give themselves a full day in which to bowl the Yorkies out a second time – the needs of the team have to come first. Joe Root is currently 87 not out for Yorkshire and Gary Ballance is 52 not out.
  •  Northamptonshire v MiddlesexNorthants 445, Middlesex 271 and 294-4
    This one looks like petering out as well. Full credit to Middlesex captain Dawid Malan who is 151 not out in their second innings, and would appear to have saved his side. 

It is now time for the main part of this post, starting with…

ANDREW STRAUSS

112 and 83 on test debut, centuries on his debuts against two further countries (and he nearly made four), a Compton-Miller Medal winning performance in the 2009 Ashes and captaining England to Ashes success down under in 2010-11. Exactly 100 test match appearances brought him 7,037 test runs at 40.91. 

STEPHEN FLEMING

111 test matches yielded him 7,172 runs at 40.06, he also scored 8,037 ODI runs at 32.40. In addition to his attacking batting he was a fine captain of New Zealand. He is a worthy captain of this XI.

MARTIN CROWE

77 test matches yielded him 5,444 runs at 45.36, with a highest score of 299, made against Sri Lanka when New Zealand were initially in a lot of trouble. He was one of the finest batters ever to come out of New Zealand, although the likes of Stewart Dempster (average 65.72 in his very brief test career), Bert Sutcliffe (holder of the two highest first class scores by New Zealanders – 385 and 355, the 385 coming out of an innings total of 500, while his opponents, Canterbury,  managed 382 off the bat in their two innings combined) and Glenn Turner (the only Kiwi to have scored 100 first class hundreds) would all have their advocates. His first test century came against England in 1983-4 and helped to save his side after they had been over 200 adrift on first innings. 

HOT OFF THE PRESS – DERBYSHIRE SECURE VICTORY OVER DURHAM

I mentioned in my county championship update section that Derbyshire were closing on victory over Durham. They have now completed the job, the result being:

Derbyshire 197 and 334 beat Durham 171 and 235 by 125 runs
Openers Harte and Lees made half centuries, but apart from them only Burnham (32) and Trevaskis, the 19 year-old slow left-armer (27 not out) who I have marked as one to watch offered any significant resistance as the wickets were shared round. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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KP Brilliant, ECB Rubbish

INTRODUCTION

I am going to start with the part of the blog that has given this post its title, before sharing some links and other stuff.

KP BRILLIANT, ECB RUBBISH

I had hoped that the appointment of Andrew Strauss as director would lead to some better decisions being taken. Sadly, that hope has been almost instantly dashed. Kevin Peter Pietersen, playing county cricket for Surrey in a bid to win back his England place, produced the sixth highest score in county championship history, 355 not out, against Leciestershire at the Oval. The last 200 or thereabouts of these runs were scored in the company of numbers 10 and 11 in the Surrey batting order. Surely then, having demonstrated that he still has the appetite and commitment to play big innings in the long form of the game it was time for the ECB to bring him back into the fold.

Instead Mr Strauss effectively slammed the door in Pietersen’s face citing issues of trust. In 30 years of being an avid cricket fan (and therefore including the dark days of the late 1980s and most of the 1990s) I have rarely if ever seen a pettier, more short-sighted decision  Listening to the second day of this match (later today I will tune in for what is left) I was simply amazed by the quality of the batting. During the afternoon and evening sessions I was reminded of the line that Jemmy Shaw is alleged to have uttered when called up for another spell against an apparently immovable WG “Noa point boolin’ good uns now, it’s joost a case of ah puts where ah pleases an’ ‘ee puts it where ‘ee pleases”.

When after work yesterday I read the accounts of what had happened at the ECB I could barely believe it. If England, having turned their backs, apparently for good, on Kevin Pietersen do anything less this summer than beat both New Zealand and Australia then it is my belief that Strauss as the author of the final decision against Pietersen must go. It is after all, without a shadow of a doubt, the bowlers for those two countries who will be happiest about this announcement.

LINKS

While the Pietersen decision covered above rankles, it is as nothing compared to a decision that Charlton Athletic FC may be about to make. In the continuing absence of rules regarding the signing of convicted criminals, this football club may be about sign someone who was part of a gang that raped a 14 year-old girl. If, like me, you consider this an utter outrage,, here is a link to a petition for you to sign and share.

My second link is to another very important petition, this time against the repeal of the Human Rights Act.

My final link in the mini-section, before a pictorial interlude, is a to an interesting post from Faraday’s Candle

PICTORIAL INTERLUDE

The first two pictures you will see here are not mine, but come from other sources, however, I also have some of my own after that…

This, courtesy of the Mental Health Foundation is a very important infographic.
This, courtesy of the Mental Health Foundation is a very important infographic.
This diagram comes courtesy of Tax Research UK: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2015/05/10/venn-diagrams-for-our-times-the-new-political-landscape/
This diagram comes courtesy of Tax Research UK: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2015/05/10/venn-diagrams-for-our-times-the-new-political-landscape/

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AUTISM RELATED MATTERS

I am finishing this post with a few things that relate to autism, as I am on the autistic spectrum, and take a close interest in such matters. First of all, a call to keep the pressure on Katie Hopkins to apologise to the autistic community. Then I have two blog posts relating to autism to share with you:

1) A piece on parents of autistic children from Huffington Post.

2) A piece from a blog that I only discovered (via twitter) this morning, autisticglobetrotting.

I encourage everyone to share any or all of this blog post as widely as possible. I have one final message for those who have stayed with me to the end:

TY3