Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.
Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Ms are in the spotlight and they start with 54.5 of a possible 65 points banked. A quick announcement: with Elon the Execrable seemingly set to kill twitter I have set up an account on mastodon – https://mas.to/@autisticphotographer.
THE Ms V THE Os
The Os are massively outclassed all across the board. The only crumbs of comfort for them are the presence of O’Riordan’s left arm and of leg spinner Bill O’Reilly. The Ms are simply too strong and there can be only one score: Ms 5, Os 0.
THE Ms V THE Ps
The Ms have the better opening pair, but Ponting and G Pollock win the number three and four slots batting wise, although Macartney offers a bowling option. Miandad beats Pietersen in the number five slot. Pant wins the batting element of his match up, but Marsh was the finer keeper. Procter may well have had a Milleresque record had he got the opportunity to enjoy a long test career, and these two legendary fast bowling all rounders are well nigh impossible to separate both as players and as captains. S Pollock outbats Marshall but is outbowled by the latter, P Pollock is outranked by McGrath. Murali comfortably wins the battle of the off spinners over Prasanna, but Charlie Parker, shockingly treated by the England selectors of his day, has to rated above Mahmood. These two sides are both very strong in batting, the Ms have the better keeper and the better pace bowling unit, while Parker, a left arm spinner, gives the Ps attack a better overall balance. I think the Ms advantage in pace bowling is just enough for them to win this one by the barest of margins: Ms 3, Ps 2.
THE Ms V THE Qs
The Ms utterly dominate in batting and pace bowling, have the better keeper and the better skipper. Only in spin bowling do the Qs have anything to offer, but I think the gulf between the sides in other areas is so massive that even on a raging Bunsen they will be powerless: Ms 5, Qs 0.
THE Ms V THE Rs
The opening pairs are fairly evenly matched – each features a high quality left handed opener and a brilliant right handed opener whose test opportunities were limited. Richards clearly ranks ahead of Macartney with the bat, but the Aussie offers his side an extra bowling option. The Rs win the number four slot on sample size and the relative lack of support Root has had for much of his career. As against that Miandad outranks Ranjitsinhji, and Miller wins the batting match up at six. We have a keeping clash of titans, in which for me Russell narrowly outpoints Marsh. Roberts, Rabada and Richardson are just outmatched by Marshall, McGrath and Miller, Murali outranks Rhodes, Mahmood outranks Robins, and the Ms have a sixth bowling option in Macartney. The Ms have a definite advantage: Ms 3.5, Rs 1.5.
THE Ms V THE Ss
Morris rates ahead of Strauss, but Sutcliffe, provenly a big occasion player has to be rated ahead of Merchant, and therefore say that the Ss have the better opening pair. G Smith at three wins the batting match up against Macartney, with the usual caveat not applying, since the Ss have Sobers in their ranks. S Smith at four comfortably outranks Mead, Sangakkara at five wins the batting match up against Miandad, though Marsh wins the keeping match up comfortably. Sobers is well clear of Miller with the bat, but the Aussie’s fast bowling is ahead of any of the opposition save Steyn. The Ms have the best single spinner in this contest in the person of Murali. The Ms pace attack is superb, but all are right arm bowlers, whereas with Starc and the quicker version of Sobers the Ss have two left arm pacers. The quick version of Sobers is arguably the Ss fifth pace/seam option behind Stokes, so they have more depth in this department than the Ms. This is a mighty contest, but I think the Ss just have the edge: Ms 2, Ss 3
THE Ms PROGRESS REPORT
The Ms have scored 18.5 of a possible 25 points today, moving them up to 73 out 90 points, 81.11% so far.
Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.
Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Js are in the spotlight, starting with 38 of a possible 75 points.
THE Js V THE Qs
The Js are massively stronger in batting and in pace bowling, and the only way the Qs are doing anything at all against them is if Qais Ahmad lives up to his potential and the Qs spinners have a field day. Even acknowledging this long shot as a possibility, I still score this one Js 5, Qs 0.
THE Js V THE Rs
The Rs have the stronger batting line up, both sides are ably captained, and the keeping match up is a clash of titans. Johnson and Johnston being left armers gives the Js pace attack more variation than the Rs, but the Rs are definitely ahead on spin bowling. Rs are well clear but not quite in whitewash territory: Js 1, Rs 4.
THE Js V THE Ss
The Ss have a super powerful batting line up, the better pace attack, and courtesy of Sobers cover virtually all angles known to spin bowlers (Sobers bowled wrist spin as well as orthodox, and left arm wrist spin is similar to orthodox off spin in angle of attack). Even with that ultimate x-factor guy, Gilbert Jessop, I cannot see the Js making a dent in this one: Js 0, Ss 5.
THE LETTER T
The Ts have the stronger batting line up, though Jupp and Johnson at eight and nine somewhat redress the imbalance there. Trumble outranks Jupp as an off spinner, and Tarrant outranks Jayasuriya and the slower version of Johnston as a bowler. The pace bowling is a tricky one: the Ts theoretically outrank the Js, but 1)the Js have extra variation through possessing left arm pace, 2)Johnson for all his middling overall record had a higher ceiling than any of the other pacers and 3)S Jones was also better than his average suggests. I think the Js actually therefore shade the fast bowling contest, but I don’t think that is enough to make up for losing in batting and spin bowling. Js 2, Ts 3.
THE Js V THE Us
The Js are ahead on batting, keeping, captaincy and pace bowling. The Us have an advantage in the slow bowling department. I see this is a clear win for the Js but will allow Underwood and Ur Rahman one field day: Js 4, Us 1.
THE Js PROGRESS
The Js have scored 12 out of 25 points today putting them on 50 out of 100, exactly 50%.
My exploration of the all time XIs theme continues with a team of players whose surnames begin with R, including a hugely detailed honourable mentions section, and a bumper photo gallery.
After yesterday’s struggles to produce an XI of players who could all be filed under the letter Q, today’s task of selecting an XI of players with surnames beginning with the letter R presents an altogether different challenge.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
Chris Rogers (Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Middlesex, Australia). The immense strength of Australia’s batting when he was in his prime meant that he got the test call up very late in his career. Nevertheless, 25 matches at that level yielded him over 2,000 runs at 42.87, respectable by any standards. In FC cricket he scored over 25,000 runs at almost 50.
Barry Richards (Hampshire, South Africa). His test career was nipped in the bud by the expulsion of apartheid South Africa. Four matches at the highest level yielded him 508 runs at 72.57. He was also the leading run scorer in the first year of Packer’s World Series Cricket, when the bowling was seriously good. Don Bradman, certainly qualified to assess the merits of batters, rated him the best right handed opener he ever saw in action.
Viv Richards (Somerset, Glamorgan, West Indies). The ‘Master Blaster’ was the only cricketer from the Caribbean to achieve the career milestone of 100 first class hundreds. In England in 1976 he was untouchable, tallying 829 for the series even though he missed a match due to injury. He was also the first authentically great ODI batter. West Indies in his playing days were frequently accused of intimidatory bowling, but it was also noted that he was capable of intimidatory batting.
Joe Root (Yorkshire, England). Certainly the greatest batter England have produced in my lifetime, and a strong case could be made that he is England’s greatest ever (Grace, Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Hammond, Hutton and at a pinch May and Barrington would merit consideration in this discussion).
KS Ranjitsinhji (Sussex, England). He averaged 56.48 in first class cricket, though his appearances at test level were limited, he scored 989 runs at 45 at that level, including twice topping 150 against Australia. He was the first known to deliberately score behind the wicket on the leg side, pioneering the leg glance. He was born in a princedom in northern India, and India;s oremier domestic FC competition is still named in his honour.
*Walter Robins (Middlesex, England). A leg spinning all rounder, and a great captain who conjured a county championship in 1947 for a Middlesex side that was strong in batting but did not have a great bowling attack. Denis Compton, one of Middlesex’s all time greats, and a star of the team in Robins’ day rated him the best captain he ever played under.
+Jack Russell (Gloucestershire, England). One of the greatest keepers ever to play the game and a hugely underrated left handed batter. He scored a test century against the 1989 Australians when they were running rampant against a frankly shambolic England. He scored a defiant half century when Ambrose was ripping his way through England in Barbados in 1990. Another example of his unyielding determination came against South Africa at Centurion. He joined Atherton with England pretty much buried, and the pair proceeded to bat through two complete sessions to salvage a draw for their side.
Andy Roberts (Hampshire, Leicestershire, West Indies). The spearhead of the original West Indies pace quartet in 1976, he took 202 test wickets at 25 a piece, morphing as he matured from a fire and brimstone type bowler into an unhittably accurate one. He was also a useful lower order batter.
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa). At the age of 27 he is just about in the age range usually regarded as a cricketer’s prime years, and he already has 243 test wickets at 22 a piece, sufficient whatever happens in the rest of his career to underwrite his claim to the status of a great fast bowler.
Wilfred Rhodes (Yorkshire, England). One of the most extraordinary of all cricketers, he had a five-phase career: specialist left arm spin bowler, all rounder, specialist batter (in the 1911-12 Ashes he was England’s number two batter both in terms of his position in the order and in terms of his position in that series’ averages and didn’t bowl), all rounder (having hardly bowled in the years leading up to WWI, he picked up his bowling in 1919, and as though he had never abandoned it, he proceeded to top the national averages for that season), and finally, as his eyesight began to go, a few final years as a specialist bowler, before retiring to make way for the emerging Hedley Verity, who he summed up in typically laconic fashion “he’ll do”, which from Rhodes was a positively euphoric assessment. Given the cricketers available for the letter R I choose to use him in this XI as the specialist bowler he was both at the start and the end of his amazing career, one of the greatest ever. He was the only bowler ever to take over 4,000 first class wickets, and only three others even tallied 3,000, and none of those were ever of any great value with the bat. Of the top ten all time FC wicket takers only the mighty WG Grace outranks Rhodes as a batter. A final comment to end this section, from the legendary Victor Trumper, when Australia were piling up a massive total on a flat one, 185 of them from Trumper himself, and amidst the carnage Rhodes took 5-94 from 48 overs, at one point leading to Trumper saying “for goodness sake Wilfred, won’t you give me a moment’s peace?”.
Tom Richardson (Surrey, Somerset, England). Only 14 tests for the lion hearted fast bowler, but he took 88 wickets at 25 a piece in those matches. He took more FC wickets for Surrey than any other bowler, and reached the career landmarks of 1,000 FC wickets (134 matches) and 2,000 (327 matches) quicker than any other bowler.
This XI has one great (B Richards) and one very good opener, a power packed engine room of Viv Richards, Root and Ranjitsinhji, an all rounder who happens also to be great skipper, one of the greatest of all keepers, who was also a useful batter, and four great specialist bowlers. A fast attack of Roberts, Rabada and Richardson, backed by the spin of Rhodes and Robins, plus possible part time off spin support from Root and the Richardses is an any reckoning a stellar bowling unit. This is one of the strongest XIs to feature in this mini-series.
This is a multi-part section. The first subsection deals with probably the finest of the eligible cricketers not to make the XI…
26,000 FC runs at 41, 900 FC wickets at 21, and no place for him? The problem is that this letter has immense strength available, and he never played test cricket due to circumstances. There is no way to know how he would have fared at test level – some (e.g Herbert Sutcliffe) do better against tougher opposition, some like Graeme Hick and someone we will be meeting later in this piece do very much worse. Also, fitting him in to the XI would be a major challenge – I would either have to drop one of my top five, all of whom have ironclad claims to their places, or change the balance of the side by dropping Robins and naming someone else as captain, or drop one of my three unarguably great fast bowlers to accommodate a batting all rounder, again changing the balance of the side.
CAG ‘Jack’ Russell averaged 59 in his brief test career, including becoming the first English batter to record twin tons in a test match, but the brevity of his career at the top tells against him. Jack Robertson, who contributed 12 tons to Middlesex’s 1947 championship winning season, played 11 test matches, averaging 46, and had he been left handed would have been a challenger to Rogers, but given that he played less than half as many tests as the Aussie and his average was not that much greater I felt that he had to be left out. Tim Robinson had an impressive start against India away in 1984-5 and Australia at home in 1985 but was unceremoniously found out by the West Indies mean machine in the Caribbean in 1986. Pankaj Roy shared an opening stand of 413 with Mulvantrai ‘Vinoo’ Mankad, but that was a rare major success at the top level for him – he averaged 32.56 at test level overall.
THE MIDDLE ORDER
Mark Ramprakash has the best FC batting record of anyone I omitted for this letter, but he failed miserably to transfer that form to the test arena, managing just two centuries in 52 test matches. Richie Richardson had a similar test average to Ranjitsinhji and played more matches at that level, but I felt that I could not overlook Ranji. Vic Richardson was one of the greatest all round athletes ever produced by the state of South Australia, but his record in the test arena was modest – he was comfortably outdone at that level by two of his three famous grandsons. Two J Ryders, Jack who played for Australia in the mid 1920s, and Jesse who played for New Zealand much more recently had good test records, but not quite good enough. Ajinkya Rahane has done some good things at test level for India, but for me he is just a fraction short of being genuinely top class and therefore misses out. Clive Radley did all that could be asked of him when called up for England in his mid-thirties. Also, a name check for one of the greatest batters the women’s game has seen, Mithali Raj.
Other than Rice who I have already mentioned, and Robins who I selected there are two other all rounders who merit a mention: Wasim Raja, a batter and leg spin bowler for Pakistan, and Ravi Ratnayeke of Sri Lanka.
Mushfiqur Rahim of Bangladesh was closest to challenging Russell for this slot. Jack Richards of Surrey and England had one great Ashes series in 1986-7, but left the game early after a dispute over terms with Surrey. Oliver George Robinson (Kent) is a fine keeper, and has recently scored 206* in a 50 overs a side game. Some Worcestershire fans would doubtless make a case on behalf of Steve ‘Bumpy’ Rhodes, but he was in truth not Russell’s equal in either department. Denesh Ramdin of the West Indies probably believes he should be in this XI but I don’t reckon anyone else does.
Oliver Edward Robinson has done very well for England when he has been fit to bowl – and it is that caveat that prevents him from meriting serious consideration as yet. Wahab Riaz of Pakistan was a fine pacer in his day, but I cannot place him ahead of any of Roberts, Rabada or Richardson. Rumesh Ratnayake was often the only member of the Sri Lankan sides he was part of who could bowl at anything above medium pace, and I acknowledge his efforts with an honourable mention. One solitary spinner might have displaced Rhodes: Sonny Ramadhin. As good as the first half of ‘those two little pals of mine, Ramadhin and Valentine’ was he does not get in ahead of Rhodes.
I always select with long form cricket in mind unless I have specifically stated otherwise. The following names who could not be accommodated in a long form side would merit consideration in white ball: Rilee Rossouw (South Africa), KL Rahul (India), Luke Ronchi (Australia/ New Zealand), Jason Roy (England) and Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh, a left arm pacer with a great record in limited overs matches and a very moderate one in long form cricket).
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN?
Rayford Robinson was an Australian batter and near contemporary of Don Bradman. The Don himself reckoned that in pure talent Robinson outranked him, but he managed one test appearance, in which he scored 2 and 3. He appears to have had an attitude problem.
Harold Rhodes was a fast bowler whose career was ruined by suspicions about his bowling action (he was actually perfectly legitimate, doing what is today described as ‘hyperextending’ his bowling arm).
ONES FOR THE FUTURE
Two last names to conjure with. Mohammad Rizwan of Pakistan has not yet done enough to claim a place for himself, and would probably have to force his way in as a specialist batter, given the keeping standards set by Russell. James Rew of Somerset is going places in a big way – at the age of 18 he already has centuries in both first class and list A cricket. I would be very surprised if a version of this XI in ten years from now did not feature him.
Our cricketing journey through the letter R is complete, and it remains only to apply the usual sign off…
Picking up where I left off yesterday, with my first team starting with a ‘w’.
For today’s all time XI cricket post I am picking up where I left offyesterday, continuing the alphabetic progression, so our first XI begins with a player whose surname begins with W.
FRANK WORRELL’S XI
*Frank Worrell– right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain.
Xenophon Balaskas– leg spinner, drafted in here as ersatz opener as well. X is a very difficult letter, but I will attempt to find alternatives for the leg spinning all rounder in future posts of this type. He did average 28.68 with the bat in first class cricket.
Graham Yallop – left handed batter. He batted at no 3 in the 1978-9 Ashes and was the only player on either side to score two centuries in the series – it was only as captain that he was not up to the task.
Zaheer Abbas – right handed batter. Known on the county circuit as ‘Zed’, Z is another difficult letter.
James Iremonger – right handed opening batter. Played for Notts at the start of the 20th century, opened the innings in his first full season, and finished his long career with a batting average of 36. When his playing days were done he became a coach, still with Notts, and among the youngsters he ushered into first team cricket were Harold Larwood and Bill Voce.
Archie Jackson – right handed batter. A regular opener, batting at no 3 here.
*Heather Knight – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, captain. She has batted at no3, but no4 is nowadays her regular slot. World cup winning captain, given that role in this side.
Clive Lloyd– left handed batter. My second world cup winning captain, in this team he will be vice captain to Heather Knight.
Mushtaq Mohammad – right handed batter, leg spinner. The first of two all rounders in this side.
Mohammad Nabi – right handed batter, off spinner. Part of the first ever Afghanistan team, and still in the ranks when they attained test status. His role in the astonishing rise of his country as a cricketing force means that he has played against a wider range of sides than any other player in the game’s history.
Iqbal Qasim – left arm orthodox spinner. Q is a difficult letter, but he is worth is his place, and no9 is the right place in the order for him.
Andy Roberts – right arm fast bowler. No11 is very low in the order for him, but the pace bowling department needs strengthening. He was the leader of original fearsome foursome of fast bowlers deployed by Clive Lloyd.
This side has a good batting line up, and an excellent variety of bowlers. Admittedly the only seam back up to the two big guns, Roberts and Pollock is Jack Hobbs, but it is still a good side.
Both of these teams look pretty good, and both have excellent captains. I think the presence of Roberts and Pollock just about gives Heather Knight’s XI the edge, but it has all the makings of a fine contest.