All Time XIs – The Workers XI


Welcome to the latest in my series of ‘All Time XIs’ posts. This one is yet another new take on my running theme, and warrants some preliminary explanation.


Everyone must have a name associated with an occupation of some description, and no occupation may be used more than once in the XI. Finally, the XI must be a reasonably balanced side, capable of giving a decent account of itself anywhere. Having set out the limits I imposed for this exercise it is is now time to introduce you to…


  1. Vijay Merchant A right handed Indian opener of the immediate post WWII era, and helped by the batter’s paradises that predominated in his homeland he recorded a first class average of 71.22, second only among those who played 20 or more games to Donald Bradman. He got few test opportunities, playing 10 times at that level and racking up 859 runs in 18 innings for an average of 47.72, some way short of his stellar FC figures but still eminently respectable, especially for someone batting at the sharp end of things. His highest first class score was 359, which came in a run of three innings that yielded 750 for once out, the second most productive such trio in history behind WG Grace’s August 1876 runfest when he scored 344 for MCC v Kent, 177 for Gloucestershire v Nottinghamshire and then 318 not out for Gloucestershire v Yorkshire, 839 runs in three innings.
  2. *Mark Taylor – left handed opening bat for Australia. Poms of my generation and older will never forget him, since he scored 839 runs against the motley crew who turned out for England in the 1989 Ashes, the highest aggregate for a series in England by anyone not named Bradman. He went on to captain his country with great distinction, maintaining the position at the top of the game’s rankings that they had gained under the stewardship of Allan Border. I have named him as captain of this side, rating him only marginally behind Border, level with his successor Steve Waugh and ahead of both Ponting and ‘Sandpaper’ Smith, and his time as captain was not marred by any of the controversies that affected some of the later holders of that office.
  3. Mark Butcher – left handed batter for Surrey and England. The highlight of his England career was a match winning 173 not out at Headingley in 2001. He could also bowl presentable medium pace, and on one occasion helped to win a test match with his bowling, albeit against a Zimbabwe side who should probably not still have been playing test cricket.
  4. Robin Smith – a hard hitting right handed batter (Hampshire and England) who averaged 43 in test cricket and was discarded too soon by the selectors of his day. He probably holds the record for the shortest period of time to elapse between bat making contact with the ball and ball crashing against the boundary fence square on the off side. He shares with Jack Russell the distinction of being an England cricketer whose standing was improved by their performances in the 1989 Ashes (29 Poms took the field against 12 Aussies in the course of that series, and if 29 against 12 sounds like an unfair fight, it was: the 29 never had cat’s chance in hell).
  5. Nari Contractor – an Indian left handed batter who scored twin centuries on first class debut (an achievement he shares with Arthur Morris, NSW and Australia, and Aamer Malik, a Pakistani right hander) and went on to average a respectable 39 in first class cricket and a slightly less impressive 31 in test cricket. He also famously suffered one of the nastiest injuries ever seen on a cricket field, subsequently requiring multiple blood transfusions (although unlike George Summers at Lord’s in 1870 and Philip Hughes at Sydney in 2014 he did live to tell the tale).
  6. Ted Wainwright – Yorkshire all rounder, who batted right handed and bowled right arm off spin. He played during the 1890s and 1900s, and produced plenty of fine performances down the years – 12,533 at 21 and 1871 wickets at 18 in first class cricket. He failed at test level, being part of the ill-fated 1897-8 Ashes tour party, and finding himself unable to turn the ball on Australian pitches. Such bowling as he got in the five tests of that series yielded him a combined 0-77, while his 132 runs at 14.66 were not sufficient for someone who was not contributing with the ball. It is said that when he got back from that tour (a highly readable account of which has been produced by John Lazenby, titled “Test of Time”) he went straight to the nets and started bowling without even taking his coat off, and that when he saw the ball turn on an English surface he wept with relief. He made a famous remark about the great ‘Ranji’, which reflected one view of his batting: “he never played a christian stroke in his life.” As a Yorkshireman, Wainwright would of course have been reared on strict orthodoxy, and would probably not have been impressed at seeing impeccable off breaks glanced to the fine leg boundary as would have happened when he bowled to ‘Ranji’. Some etymology, just in case: a wain is a type of cart, and a wright is someone who makes stuff, hence one of his ancestors must have made carts.
  7. +Farokh Engineer – a wicket keeper who was also a highly effective attacking bat. As well as representing his country with distinction he played county cricket for Lancashire, spent some time as a Lancashire League pro, and ultimately settled in Altrincham, which gave rise to a story that has it place in cricket’s folklore. At one time when there was fighting going on in his native India, Engineer was asked if he would take up arms, and baiting his trap said, “yes if the fighting reaches my village.” The interviewer, blissfully unaware of the truth asked Engineer which was his village, and Engineer closed the trap by saying dead pan “Altrincham”. Engineer took 704 catches and made 129 stumpings in his career. He averaged 31 with the bat in test cricket and 29 in first class cricket.
  8. Ash Gardner – Australian off spinner and right handed bat. She is the only female I have selected. However, she is undoubtedly worth her place – to be an established Aussie international is no mean feat, especially in this era, and Gardner has made herself that at the tender age of 22 For more about my thoughts on women playing alongside men please go to this post, which launched my earlier “100 cricketers” series.
  9. Harold Butler – Notts right arm fast medium bowler, two England appearances, in which he took 12 wickets at less than 18 each.
  10. Charles ‘The Terror’ Turner – Australian right arm medium fast bowler, which description is about as full as is the standard designation right arm fast medium for SF Barnes. Turner played 17 test matches in the 1880s, taking 101 wickets at 16.53 each. He spun the ball fiercely – it is said that he could put an orange between his thumb and forefinger and reduce it to pulp, a trick that would have any watching batter squirming. On the 1884 tour of England he took 283 wickets in first class games, easily a record for anyone on any tour, while in 1887-8 he became the first and only bowler to take 100 first class wickets in an Australian season. He also plays a role in a great ‘Aussie cricket chain’ – Bill ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly was at one time being put under pressure to change his bowling methods, and Turner, then an old man but very definitely still living in the present and in possession of his faculties, strongly advised O’Reilly not to do so, O’Reilly subsequently gave a young man named Richie Benaud some sensible advice, and Benaud in his turn passed on some similar advice to Shane Warne, but there is, as far as I know, no next link in the chain. An etymological note: according to one definition of a turner is: “a person who fashions or shapes objects on a lathe.
  11. Bert Ironmonger – left arm spinner, clumsy fielder and hopeless batter (no room for that type in more modern times eh, Tuffers?!). He was Australia’s oldest ever debutant at almost 46, in the first match of 1928-9 Ashes (Eng won the series 4-1), and played his last test at 51, second oldest ever participant in a game at that level (Wilfred Rhodes at 52 years, 165 days old was the oldest of all, while the great Indian all rounder of yesteryear, Cottari K Nayudu, made his last first class appearance at the age of 68, 46 years after his debut).  His Victorian team mate Don Blackie, an off spinner (and no11 when Victoria piled up 1,107 against NSW) was already past 40 when he made his state debut. Ironmonger is the subject of one of the classic ‘incompetent no11 stories’, which I have already told in my post about Nottinghamshire, in connection with Fred Morley, also the subject of a well known ‘incompetent no11’ story.

So, my Workers XI, consists of a solid top five, a genuine all rounder, a wicket keeper who can bat and four varied bowlers, with Butler and Turner to take the new ball, and Ironmonger, Gardner and Wainwright all capable of big wicket hauls. This side looke to me like a strong one, with sufficient depth in batting, depth and variety in bowling and a fine keeper. Therefore I claim without reservation to have met my brief, and i, while nvite those who think they know better the weigh in with comments. Also, with a Gardner (sic) they should be able to provide some of their own food, while the presence of a Wainwright, an Engineer and a Smith (to attend to the metalwork), plus an Ironmonger to provide the tools and a Turner should any woodworking be required means that there is no excuse for failing to come up with a method of transportation. A Butcher should be able to source meat, while a Taylor (sic) should be able to attend to clothing needs. A Butler, provided he is not involved in the on-field action at the time should be able to handle the drinks trolley, while a Contractor should be able to deal with the small print.

I invite the cricket fans among you to follow my brief laid out before I introduced my XI and create XIs of a similar nature to go up against this one (therefore none of my XI can be reused).


Well, another XI has taken its bow on this blog, and it remains only for me to provide my usual sign off…

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My “easter egg”, arranged by my parents and delivered by my nephew – both better and longer lasting than any chcocolate.
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The action photograph of female player of the year and one this year’s ‘Five cricketers of the year’, Ellyse Perry (both awards thoroughly deserved, though I would, even as a Pom, have preferred her to be given player of the year and Ben Stokes male player of the year).

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Workers XI
The team in tabulated form with abridged descriptions.



100 Cricketers – Ninth XI Women

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


Welcome to the latest in my “100 cricketers series“, finshing the ninth XI by looking at three woman cricketers who feature in it. The introductory post to the series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the ninth XI is here and the most recent post in the series is here. Now before we get into the main meat of the post it is time for a…


We are into day 2 of the second round of county championship matches, and the current situations are as follows:

  • Yorkshire v Hampshire Yorkshire 446-6
    Yorkshire are piling on the runs in this one. The big innings came from Gary Ballance (148), and there have been solid contributions all the way down the order. Fidel Edwards, Gareth Berg and bits and pieces player Liam Dawson each have two wickets.
  • Nottinghamshire v Somerset Nottinghamshire 263, Somerset 221-3
    Following Lewis Gregory’s six wickets yesterday (he is one of my Five to Follow) the Somerset innings began with a sense of deja vu as the top three in their order were despatched for 10 runs reach, but George Bartlett (another of my Five to Follow, 91 not out) and Tom Abell (82 not out) have put together a fine partnership which has their team well on top. Still, Somerset will need runs from their top order somewhere along the line.
  • Surrey v EssexSurrey 395, Essex 65-2
    A patient effort from Ryan Patel (100 not out while the score rose from 75-1 to the eventual 395 all out was the sheet anchor of the Surrey effort. Ben Foakes (69) and Will Jacks (88) made significant contributions in more aggressive fashion. Both Essex openers are back in the hutch already, with the wickets going to Morne Morkel and Tom Curran.
  • Warwickshire v KentKent 504-9declared, Kent 1-0
    Kent are clearly having the better of the battle of the newly promoted sides, with Zak Crawley making a ton yesterday, and wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson going on to 143 today. We wait to see how the Kent bowlers fare.
  • Durham v SussexDurham 224, Sussex 84-7
    Durham owed much to the shot in the dark among my Five to Follow, Liam Trevaskis, who battled his way to 54 for their modest looking total. Chris Rushworth and potential England man James Weighell (48 first class wickets prior to this magtch at 28 a piece) each have three wickets to their credit in the Sussex innings, as they are collapsing in a heap, sadly including a cheap dismissal for Philip Salt, another of my Five to Follow. Of course the trouble with Sussex faring so poorly with the bat is that Trevaskis has not yet been givena chance to deploy his left-arm spin.
  • Gloucestershire v DerbyshireDerbyshire 291, Gloucestershire 81-1
    Intriguingly poised. The Derbyshire wickets were shared around, and nobody made a huge score for them. Bracey at no 3 for Gloucestershire is 41 not out, and Dent has 25 not out. Sadly for those with a sense of history Miles Hammond at the top of the Gloucestershire order does not appear to be living up to his great namesake and fellow Gloucestershire batter of yesteryear, Wally – he was out cheaply.
  • Glamorgan v NorthamptonshireGlamorgan 570-8 declared, Northamptonshire 50-0
    This one looks like being capsized by an overload of runs. Labuschagne, Will Root and 2o year-old Kiran Carlson all made centuries for Glamorgan, Carlson’s 111 coming off 126 balls. The Northamptonshire reply has been untroubled thus far, and some of the scoring thus far suggests that the playing condition allowing the visiting side to avoid the toss if they want to bowl first is flawed – it is leading to counties producing ultra-flat pitches so that visitors cannot gain an advantage from bowling first. 
  • Worcestershire v LeicestershireWorcestershire 553-6 declared, Leicestershire 16-0
    Another one where the bowlers have been reduced to mere serfs, existing merely for the batters convenience. Daryl Mitchell and Hamish Rutherford had centuries yesterday, and wicketkeeper Ben Cox completed the third ton of the Worcestershire innings today. In the circumstances, although he like all the others took some tap, Ben Mike’s 2-119 from 23.5 overs was a creditable effort. 
  • Middlesex v LancashireMiddlesex 265, Lancashire 126-1
    Two men at opposite ends of the experience spectrum, Tom Bailey (youngster, 5-67- is it possible that over 50 years on from the retirement of the original there will again be a fast-medium bowler called T E Bailey playing for England?) and Jimmy Anderson (3-41, veteran) took most of the Middlesex wickets. Eskinazi (75) and Gubbins (55) made the only significant batting contributions for Middlesex. Jennings made 52 for Lancashire (shoiuld not be sufficient to keep his England place) while Haseeb Hameed has followed his double hundred against a load of students last week by getting to 70 not out far in this match. James Harris has the one wicket to fall.

Further update from the Nottinghamshire v Somerset game – Abell and Bartlett both completed centuries, Abell has fallen for 101, but Bartlett (one of my Five to Follow, remember) is still there on 117 not out, and Somerset with six first innings wickets standing are already 16 in credit at 279-4. Now it is time for the main business of the post, starting with…


From news of one batter who bowls offspin on the side to another, 27 year-old Stoke on Trent native Danielle Wyatt. Her princiapl successes have come in T20Is, in which format she has twic reached three figures, with a best of 124, but of late she has begun translating that form to ODIs to as well, with a few useful efforts in India and Sri Lanka. Her 46 wickets at 15.34 in T20Is, with a best of 4-11 show that her offspin is not entirely to be disregarded (she would be sixth bowler in this XI). I expect to see more big performances from her in the next year or so.


The 21 year-old off-spinning all-rounder has recently been batting up the order for the Sydney Sixers in the Women’s Big Bash League, while her bowling has been consistently effective. Being so young she is still definitely improving, and it is on future promise that she has really been selected in this XI. 


The 27 year-old leggie is the smallest player in my 100, and makes use of her lack of inches to release the ball upwards, sending it in an arc that takes it out of the batter;s eyeline for much of its flight. She also bowls with extreme lack of pace (only about 60kph – 37mph) meaning that batters have to supply all the impetus themselves. As so often with the women she has not had sufficient opportunity to show her skill in test cricket, but she has 63 ODI wickets at 21.09 and 74 T20I wickets at 14.77, which are testament to the effectiveness of her methods. She has yet to achieve a five-for but has a best of 4-13 and a T20I best of 4-9. For a historic comparison involving dimunitive leggies I give you Alfred Percy “Tich” Freeman, the 5’2″ Catford born leggie, whose 592 first class appearances brought him 3,776 wickets at 18.42 (second to Wilfred Rhodes in the all-time list, and the Yorkshireman played over 1,000 first class games), including all ten in an innings three times (a record), and in 1928 a barely believeable 304 wickets in the season (again an all time record). 


I have one more post to do to complete this series, and will then create a page from which all posts in the series can be accessed. That post will feature the 100th cricketer in my list, and with the clue that it is somebody who was no stranger to completing hundreds I invite readers to attempt to guess who it is.


Before my usual sign-off I have some links to share…

A great twitter picture based on Branson daring to complain about the fact that Virgin/Stagecoach have been barred from bidding for rail franchises, courtesy of Michael (@PrinceJasper):

Continue reading “100 Cricketers – Ninth XI Women”

A Thriller To Start The Women’s Ashes

An account of the opening salvos in the Women’s Ashes and some photographs.


Unlike the original Ashes, which have been fought for since 1882, the Women’s Ashes is contested across multiple formats. The current scoring system awards two points for a win in a limited overs match, 1 for a no-result and 0 for a defeat, while the sole test match is worth four points. 

A Classic Match

The first of three ODIs that the women will be contesting took place at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane. Australia won the toss and put England in to bat. Several England players got starts but none managed to build a really substantial score, Lauren Winfield leading the way with 48. A total of 228 off 50 overs did not look like it was good enough, and in the end it wasn’t.

Eng;land bowled better than they had batted, and at 87-4 Australia were looking distinctly shaky. Alex Hartley failed to hold a return catch offered by veteran Alex Blackwell when the latter had 35 to her name, and Australia were behind the rate, Talia McGrath having occupied 26 balls for a score of 7. This missed chance and some aggression from Ash Gardner (27 off 18) made the difference, Australia getting home in the final over with Blackwell unbeaten on 67. 

A highlight of this match was the preponderance of quality spin bowling on show – in Gardner, Amanda-Jade Wellington and Jess Jonassen Australia had three high-class practitioners, while Hartley and the experienced Laura Marsh both bowled well for England.

More details and official reports here.


This applies across the board, and not just to cricket between England and Australia, but this seems a suitable place to mention this. I see the distinction between these categories as that between a restricted (“Women’s”) and an open category – if a woman is able to play alongside the men she should have the right to do so – the existence of Women only teams is an acknowledgement that few women could because the men are generally larger and stronger. Similarly if a disabled athlete happens to be performing comparably to their able-bodied counterparts they should be able to compete alongside them. 

In terms of cricket I would expect that a woman who earned selection for ‘The Ashes’ as opposed ‘The Women’s Ashes’ would not be a specialist fast-bowler, but I could see spinners, wicket-keepers or batters earning selection.


Here are some recent photographs…

FWContrasting ducksFarming implementMaids HeadMoorhens, Bawsey DrainMoorhen, Bawsey DrainGulls, Bawsey DrainMoorhen, The WalksSouth GateSouth Gate 2Swan, the NarSwans, The NarSwans, The Nar IIFlying birdsFlying birds IIShip and craneHH an RSCustom House

New flats
A new building among the old.

Thoresby CollegeMinsterTHTH2