All Time XIs – Match Ups 52

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I picked 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. This post marks the fourth-fifths of the way point in the analysis part of this series, after which there will be a grand finale post presenting all 26 XIs in reverse ranking order. Today sees the end of the Ns, who so far have 22 of a possible 105 points and ushers the Os into the spotlight, with 12.5 of a possible 70 points to their credit.


The Ws dominate in departments and there can be only one scoreline: Ns 0, Ws 5.


The Ns have better batting, better pace bowling and a better captain. The Xs have the better keeper and the better spin bowling. I expect the Ns to win this but not in a whitewash: Ns 4, Xs 1.


The Ns have the better opening pair, the Ys win at number three and draw at number four, and win at number five. Noble wins the batting match up at number six, but P Yadav is comfortably the better bowler. Nixon undoubtedly outranks S Yousuf with both bat and gloves. The Ns are dominant in pace/ seam bowling, with their fourth option in that department, Nichols, outranking the Ys second, U Yadav. The Ys definitely have the better spin attack – Young outpoints Nadeem by even more than P Yadav outpoints Noble. This is close in batting, and the question is whether the Ns pacers or the Ys spinners have the bigger advantage over their opposite number. I just give this to the Ns: Ns 3, Ys 2.


The Ns are well ahead on batting, have the better captain, the better keeper and the better pace/ seam bowlers. The Zs have slightly the better spinners, and I will allow them one big day out: Ns 4, Zs 1.E


The Ns have scored 11 of a possible 20 points today, to finish on 33 out of 125, 26.4%.


The Ps absolutely boss the batting, winning every match up, a number of them by huge margins. Oldfield rates above Pant as a keeper. Procter wins the battle of the all rounders in both departments, though O’Riordan’s left arm does give the Os extra variation. S Pollock is clear of Old and P Pollock at least matches Olivier. Prasanna is about even with Ojha, but the Os also have Odumbe, and O’Reilly outranks Parker. I think that the Ps colossal advantage in batting and obvious advantage in pace/ seam bowling, plus the fact that they have the superior captain more than compensate for their disadvantages on the keeping and spin bowling fronts, though I will as usual in these cases allow the Os spinners one big day out: Os 1, Ps 4.


The Os have 13.5 points out of a possible 75, exactly 18% so far.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 50

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. There is a mention here of someone who has just announced themselves on the world stage and may claim a place in the Ns XI (at the likely expense of Sarfraz Nawaz) in due course.

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 is transition post – we reach the end of the Ms who come into today with 92 out of a possible 115 points and we usher the Ns into the spotlight for the first three match ups in which they are alphabetically first. The Ns come into today with 12.5 of a possible 65 points banked from their earlier match ups.


The Ms have the better opening pair by a distance, the Ys win the number three slot comfortably batting wise, although Macartney’s bowling needs to be acknowledged. The Ys also win the number four slot but by less. The Ms comfortably win the number five slot, Miller blows Yardley out of the water in both departments, and loses little if anything on the captaincy comparison. Marsh wins the battle of the keepers, the pace bowling is a walkover win for the Ms, whose third ranked out and out fast bowler rates above the Ys best. Young is outranked by Murali, though Poonam Yadav’s leg spin may just outrank Mahmood’s leg cutters. The Ms have Macartney in reserve, so even on a turning track they should have enough options to ensure that powerful batting prevails. I score this one Ms 5, Ys 0.


The Ms have the better batting, better captain, better keeper, better pace bowlers and better spinners, leading to only one possible outcome: Ms 5, Zs 0.


The Ms have scored 102 out of 125 points, 81.6% overall.


Before I get on to analysing this match up, the first to involve two teams who are both from the second half of the alphabet, I have a point to make regarding the Ns line up. The selection element of these Xs took place a good while before the T20 World Cup 2022 got underway. If he can prove that his performances at that tournament were not a fluke and that he really is that good, Zimbabwean left arm pacer Richard Ngarava will be on course to dislodge Sarfraz Nawaz, strengthening the bowling and improving its balance.

The Ns as things stand have the better opening pair, though Orr may very well be the best batter out of the four of them he has yet to be tested at the highest level, and Oldroyd is out of his proper position. Nurse and Dudley Nourse win the number three and four slots. Odumbe outranks Dave Nourse in both departments. Noble wins the batting element of the number six slot, though Ojha probably outranks him as a finger spinner, and the Os also have Odumbe. The Ns win the pace/ seam bowling element, though O’Riordan’s left arm, the only left arm seam/ pace option on either side narrows the gap considerably, and O’Reilly massively outranks Nadeem. Neither side is strong in batting but the Os advantage in spin bowling outweighs the Ns advantage in seam/ pace bowling. The Ns have the finer captain, although I reckon O’Reilly would have been a fine skipper given the opportunity. The Os have the finer keeper. Overall I think the Os just have this but it is close: Ns 2, Os 3.


The Ps have an overwhelming advantage in batting and in fast bowling, Prasanna would rate as at least the equal of Noble as an off spinner while Parker is streets ahead of Nadeem is a left armer. The Ns probably have the better keeper. They also have a sixth genuine bowling option, in Nichols. I will allow a small possibility of an upset somewhere along the line and score this Ns 0.5, Ps 4.5.


The Ns are stronger in batting, much stronger in pace/seam bowling, better captained and have the better keeper. As against that the Qs undeniably have a better spin attack. I will allow the Qs spinners one big day out and score this one: Ns 4, Qs 1.


The Ns have scored 6.5 of a possible 15 points today, putting them on 19 points out of a possible 80, 23.75% overall.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 45

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 each other. Today the Ls enter the spotlight, with 40.5 of a possible 55 points banked from the teams who are alphabetically ahead of them.


Considered purely an averages the Ls have the better opening pair, but 1) Labuschagne is batting out of position, 2)Morris and Merchant both played on uncovered pitches, Labuschagne didn’t, 3)Merchant’s test average is reduced by the fact that his career at that level was so very spread out – he played 10 test matches, spread over 18 years, with a world war in the middle, and in FC cricket where he played on a much more regular basis he averaged 71, second only to Bradman. In view of all of these considerations I give the Ms the better opening pair. The Ls have much the better number three, but Macartney compensates by offering a bowling option. Number four goes to the Ms, as does number five, though Lloyd rates above Miller as a captain. Miller wins the number six slot batting wise, and is of similar standard with the ball to Lindwall. Marsh comfortably wins the battle of the keepers. Both sides have superb new ball pairs, Laker and Murali are two titans of off spin bowling, while I think Langridge offers the Ls more variation than Mahmood does the Ms. I think the key here is Macartney, and for that reason I score this Ls 1.5, Ms 3.5


The Ls dominate everywhere except at number four batting wise. They also have the better keeper, a better pace attack and a better spin combination, while it is about even on captaincy. I see no way for the Ns to offer any sort of a challenge and score this one Ls 5, Ns 0.


The Ls dominate, though the Os do boast the better keeper, and they have a more varied bowling unit. Still, this cannot be seen as other than exceedingly one sided: Ls 5, Os 0.


The Ls, the caveat about Labuschagne’s position notwithstanding, have the better opening pair, number three is a clash of cricketing titans, the Ps win the number four slot hands down and are marginally ahead at number five. Pant wins the batting element of his match up, though Langley was the finer keeper. Procter wins his batting match up, and probably rates close to Lindwall as a bowler. Lillee and Lohmann outrank S and P Pollock, and while Parker was a finer spinner than Langridge, Laker outranks Prasanna. I make the Ps a little stronger in batting, and the Ls stronger in bowling, and thus give the Ls the verdict: Ls 3, Ps 2.


Here the Ls absolutely dominate. The have the better batting by far, the better captain by far, the better keeper, they are utterly dominant in the pace bowling department, and though they have only two spin options to the Qs three those are the two best spinners on either side, thus there can be only one result: Ls 5, Qs 0.


The Ls have scored 19.5 out of 25 today, which moves them on to 60 out of 80, 75% so far.


This photo gallery comprises pictures taken between Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where I attended this morning for glaucoma tests. I compromised on the journey, using the bus on the way in but walking all the way home, hence the fact that the first pic is in hospital grounds.

All Time XIs – Match Ups 29

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the teams I selected for each letter of the alphabet. The Gs are currently in the spotlight and start today with 37.5 of a possible 55 points. There are links (light blue text) back to the posts I created for today’s featured sides in the selection stage of this series.


The opening pairs are both stellar. I rate WG as the better number three – Macartney benefitted from some very flat pitches – 16 of the 25 all time leading run scorers in FC history played some part of their careers in the inter-war years (Macartney finished his test career in 1926) and there is a reason why that era was known for tall scoring, especially in Australia. Grace is the only super stacker to have played all his FC cricket before WWI (an appearance for The Gentlemen of England v Surrey early in the 1908 season was his last FC match). Second and third among all time pre-WWI scorers in FC cricket are Fry and Ranji, both over 20,000 runs behind Grace. I give the number four slot to Gower – his test average is a few runs per innings lower than Mead’s, but the sample size is much larger for him. Miandad definitely gets the verdict over Graveney. Gilchrist wins the batting element of the keepers match up by a greater margin than he loses the keeping element. Miller outpoints Gregory in both departments. The Ms have a significant advantage in pace bowling – only Garner among the Gs specialist pacers would find a place in the Ms XI did one change the opening letter of his name. As against that, while Murali clearly outpoints Gibbs, Grimmett outranks Mahmood and gives the Gs a better balanced attack than the Ms. Both Grace and Miller were fine skippers, though I think Grace has to be awarded the palm in this department. I cannot pick a winner of this epic contest: Gs 2.5, Ms 2.5.


The Gs have far the better opening pair, Grace is about even on batting with Nurse given the different eras in which they played, Dudley Nourse outpoints Gower, but Dave Nourse is outpointed by Graveney. Noble is outbatted by Gilchrist and outbowled by Gibbs, Nixon is outbatted by Gregory but outkeeps Gilchrist. The Gs win the pace bowling match up due to having Garner in their ranks, and they are miles clear in spin bowling, with Grimmett outbowling Nadeem by an even bigger margin than Gibbs outbowls Noble. Only in middle order batting, and that not by much, can the Ns claim an advantage: Gs 5, Ns 0.


The Gs absolutely boss the batting, with every match up in that department going their way bar Gower v O’Neill, which goes to the Aussie by a fraction. The seam bowling is also overwhelmingly in the Gs favour. Grace massively outranks O’Reilly (who never actually had the job IRL) as a skipper, and Oldfield wins the keeping side of his match up against Gilchrist. The Gs win the spin bowling – Gibbs outranking Ojha, while O’Reilly and Grimmett were both absolute titans of leg spin. There is simply no way the Os can offer any serious resistance: Gs 5, Os 0.


With all due respect to Ponsford, the Gs have the better opening pair. The Ps win the batting element of the number three slot, but by much less than raw figures suggest – Grace’s average, recorded between the ages of 32 and almost 51, equates to about 48 on 21st century pitches. G Pollock clearly wins the battle of the left handed stroke players at number four. Pietersen and Graveney is a closer battle – Graveney, a stroke maker by instinct, played in an era when scoring rates were generally slow and would probably have fared better in Pietersen’s era than he did in his own. I make this one level pegging. Gilchrist outpoints Pant, although Pant is young enough that he may yet change that. Circumstances restricted Procter to a handful of tests, in which he fared very well. Myself I think Gregory probably wins the batting element of their match up, while Procter very comfortably wins the bowling element. S Pollock outpoints Geary in both departments. P Pollock loses his match up to Garner. Grimmett outranks Parker for my money, though the scandalous way in which the England selectors of that era treated Parker makes it hard to be sure. Gibbs v Prasanna is more clear cut – their test careers had an overlap, Gibbs took more wickets at a better average, and Prasanna’s home pitches favoured spin more than Gibbs’ did, giving Gibbs a comfortable win. I make the Gs slightly the better batting side, and I just rank Grace ahead of Procter as a skipper, and I think they have a bigger advantage in spin bowling than the Ps do in pace bowling. This is a superb contest and I score it Gs 3, Ps 2.


This is a total non-contest. The Gs win every match up batting wise, have the better keeper, far the better captain, are the only side who can actually be said to have a pace attack, and barring something extraordinary from the largely untried Qais Ahmad they also boss the spin bowling department. Fs 5. Qs 0.


The Gs have scored 20.5 of a possible 25 points today, moving them up to 58 of a possible 80 points, 72.5% so far.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 25

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Fs are the in the spotlight, and they start the day with 35 out of a possible 50 points.


The Ls are stronger in batting, winning all of the top six slots in this department, though the Fs win in positions 7-9 inclusive. The Ls also win the spin bowling department, with Laker and Langridge clearly the two best spinners in the contest. The Fs have an advantage in pace bowling, especially given that all three of the Ls pacers bowled right handed. This is close but I think the Ls have enough of an advantage to win: Fs 2, Ls 3.


The Ms outdo the Fs on batting and on pace bowling, and also have the best spinner on show, although the Fs have more depth in this department. The Fs will not go down without a fight, but they are outgunned: Fs 1, Ms 4.


The Fs have better batting than the Ns, a better keeper, better fast bowlers and better spinners: Fs 5, Ns 0.


The Fs dominate in all departments: Fs 5, Os 0.


The Ps are stronger in batting than the Fs, but the Fs have the better bowling unit, and I expect this latter to be the telling factor. The Fs also have the better keeper. Fs 3, Ps 2.


The Fs have scored 16 out of 25 points today, moving them on to 51 points of out 75, 68% overall.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups (17)

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

Welcome to the continuation of my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Ds continue to occupy the hot seat, and come into today with 24 of a possible 55 points.


Morris beats Dent, Dempster beats Merchant, Dravid is massively ahead of Macartney on batting but Macartney offers an extra bowling option for the Ms, Mead and Donnelly is a close contest between two very different left handers, Duleepsinhji’s average is six an innings better than Miandad’s, but Miandad’s came over many more innings. D’Oliveira outbats Miller, but the Aussie was far the better bowler. Dujon outbats Marsh, while both were superb keepers. Marshall, McGrath and Mahmood are at least the equals of Davidson, Donald and Daniel, and Muralidaran beats Dennett. The Ds are somewhat ahead on batting but the Ms are miles ahead in bowling and it is this latter I expect to settle the issue, to the extent that I cannot see any circumstances in which the Ds get the better of the Ms: Ds 0, Ms 5.


The Ds are far clear in batting, with only Dudley Nourse of the Ns top eight winning their match up in this regard. The Ds also win the front line bowlingm with Ntini, Nawaz and Nortje clearly outgunned by Davidson, Donald and Daniel in the seam/pace department and Nadeem probably outpointed by Dennett. Dujon has Nixon covered in both departments. The Ns have one advantage – their back up bowling is much better, with Noble having no match among the Ds, and Nichols clearly superior to D’Oliveira as fourth seamer. However, the back up bowlers would only come in to play on a very flat wicket, so I give the Ds a conclusive advantage: Ds 4, Ns 1.


The Ds dominate this one, but the Os are saved from a wipe out by the fact that they are ahead in the spin bowling department and would win on a turner. Ds 4, Os 1.


The Ds have the better opening pair, the number three slot is a titanic clash. G Pollock wins the number four slot comfortably, while Pietersen’s disadvantage vs Duleepsinhji is somewhat offset by the much larger sample size on which his test record is based. While D’Oliveira outbats Procter, Procter outbowls his opposite number. Pant comfortably outbats Dujon, but the West Indian was probably the better keeper. S and P Pollock keep the pace clash close, Parker marginally beats Dennett, and Prasanna gives the Ps an extra spinner. I think the Ps are better balanced, and better skippered with Procter in charge and I expect that to make the difference: Ds 2, Ps 3.


The Ds dominate the batting and the pace/seam bowling, but the Qs would be able to bowl spin from both ends should the pitch offer turn, and this is just enough to save them from a whitewash: Ds 4, Qs 1.


The Ds have scored 14 of a possible 25 today, putting them on 38 out of 80 so far, 47.5%. They are behind the As and the Bs but ahead of the Cs.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – The Letter N

Continuing the exploration of the all-time XIs theme with a look at the letter N.

Welcome to this latest installment in my exploration of the ‘all time XIs’ theme. This time the team all have surnames beginning with the letter N.


  1. Stan Nichols (Essex, England). Left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. He didn’t play many games for England, but he was an Essex stalwart for many years, and he did on occasion open the batting for the county, a role I have given him in this.
  2. Mudassar Nazar (Pakistan). A stubborn right handed opening batter and occasional purveyor of medium pace. He forms an excellent counterpoint to the flamboyant Nichols.
  3. Seymour Nurse (West Indies). An excellent batter with test HS of 258. He is the first of a powerful trio of middle order batters for this team.
  4. Arthur Dudley Nourse (South Africa). A test average of 53, maintained through a long career.
  5. Arthur William ‘Dave’ Nourse (South Africa). A left handed batter and left arm medium pace bowler. He was Dudley’s father, but never coached his son. Once an argument about how to hold the bat broke out in a game of street cricket that Dudley was playing, and Dudley took the matter to his father. Papa Nourse, completely composed, told Dudley “Son I learned to bat with a fence paling – now you go and do the same”. From that moment on Dudley did things his way.
  6. *Monty Noble (Australia). A right handed batter and off spin bowler, he was one two notable all rounders to play for Australia in the early 20th century, Warwick Armstrong being the other. He was highly regarded as captain of the side, a role I have given him in this XI. He was the third victim of arguably the most notable test hat trick ever taken, when at Headingley in 1899 JT Hearne accounted for Clem Hill, Syd Gregory and him in successive balls – one great batter, one very good one and one all rounder. He was the bowler when Albert Trott hit his famous blow that carried the Lord’s pavilion. His accounts of the 1924-5 and 1928-9 Ashes series are both excellent reads. His full record can be viewed here.
  7. +Paul Nixon (Leicestershire, England). Years of sterling service for his county did not translate into many England caps, but he was a superb keeper, and good enough with the bat to have scored 1,000 FC runs in a season – the first Leicestershire keeper to reach that mark since 1935.
  8. Makhaya Ntini (South Africa). Over 300 test wickets confirm his status as a top notch fast bowler.
  9. Shahbaz Nadeem (India). A left arm orthodox spinner with a fine FC record whose international opportunities have been limited by the fact that he is a contemporary of Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, both of whom are quite rightly ahead of him in the pecking order.
  10. Sarfraz Nawaz (Pakistan). Not a genuinely fast bowler, but a highly effective operator at fast medium. His greatest moment came with Australia 305-3 chasing a target of 382 – they were 310 all out, Sarfraz Nawaz taking all seven of those wickets, to give him nine in the innings, at a cost of one run.
  11. Anrich Nortje (South Africa). One of the fastest bowlers of the current era, no opponents relish facing him.

This side contains a somewhat make shift opening pair, a powerful trio at three, four and five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper who could bat and four fine specialist bowlers. It is not one of the strongest XIs in this series, but it is certainly not the weakest either. If forced to choose I would always prefer a strong bowling side with slightly questionable batting over a powerful batting side that will struggle to take 20 wickets – the former combo is much more likely to win matches, while the latter will probably be made to settle for a draw when its batting fires and be defeated when it does not.


I will start with the question of openers: the main alternatives to using Nichols in that role were Scott Newman, who never played international cricket though he was fairly prolific at county level, and Imran Nazir of Pakistan, most of whose greatest successes came in limited overs matches.

Henry Nicholls of New Zealand is a gritty batter but not quite of the necessary class to displace Nurse or either of the Nourses from this XI.

Otto Nothling was a fine all round athlete, and a good cricketer at state level in Australia, but when the chance came at test level he did nothing. Had I not settled on Noble as skipper I would have considered Shelley Nitschke for the all rounders slot – her being a left arm spinner would have made selecting the specialist spinner somewhat easier.

The only alternative to Nixon for the keeper’s slot that I could think of was another player with Leicestershire connections, Tom New. He was perhaps a little better with the bat than Nixon but he was not as good a keeper, and that settled the issue.

Rana Naved of Pakistan at number eight would have strengthened the batting (none of my four chosen bowlers would be likely to make a major contribution in that department), but while his record at FC level and in limited overs internationals was good, he paid over 50 a piece for his test wickets. Australian brothers Lisle and Vernon Nagel both bowled medium fast, making use of their height (6’6″) to generate awkward bounce. Lisle once took 8-32 in an innings in a tour match vs MCC (during the 1932-3 tour), but he did not deliver for the test team. Buster Nupen, the only test cricketer born in Norway, came close, but he paid 32 a piece for his wickets at the highest level, just too much. Australian pacer Ashley Noffke was never a regular at international level, and similarly current Indian pacer T Natarajan has yet to establish himself at the highest level.

Mark Nicholas could only have made the XI as a specialist captain, a notion I do not especially approve of, and with Noble available to skipper one that was hardly necessary. He would however get to lead the comms team when this XI was in action.

Nasim-ul-Ghani who was the first nightwatcher to score a test ton did not do enough with his left arm spin to merit inclusion. Sunil Narine, formerly of the West Indies and now plying his trade in short format leagues around the world is an off spinner thus with the presence of Noble doubly disqualified. Similar arguments apply to Afghan legend Mohammad Nabi.

I fully expect that ten years or so from now the young Afghan left arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmad will have taken his place among the cricketing elite, but at the moment, not altogether surprisingly for a 17 tear old he does not have enough of a record to be worth a place. He may suffer somewhat because his country have such a glut of quality spinners: Rashid Khan, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Qais Ahmad and Zahir Khan are just four of those he is up against for international honours.


Our cricketing journey through the letter N is at an end and it remains only to apply the usual sign off…