Five To Follow In The 2021 English Cricket Season

A look at five players to follow for the upcoming season, with mentions for a few others as well, and of course some photographs.

With various pre-season friendlies in full swing around the country I look at some of the youngsters who I hope will feature prominently in the season to come. The five I focus on are as it happens an opening batter, two spin bowling all rounders and two specialist spinners. I then mention a few others who were near misses for various reasons. I also have some photographs to share, a regular feature of this blog, and I take this opportunity of welcoming new followers – my thanks to you all for deciding to follow me on this blog.

FIVE TO FOLLOW FOR THE SEASON

  1. Tom Lammonby – Somerset, left handed opening batter, occasional left arm medium-fast bowler. Six first class matches, 459 runs at 51.00 including three centuries, total career bowling figures 2-38. The young opener has made a superb start to his first class career, and England’s current top order looks a trifle shaky at present, with Rory Burns probably the most vulnerable of the top three. In view of his paucity of appearances to date and the fact that England have an away series in Australia this winter, which would be a tough assignment to give a young opener as an introduction to international cricket it is more likely that a good full season in 2021 to prove that his fine start is not a freak would lead to elevation for the 2022 home season than that he will break into international cricket this season, but I will very surprised if he does not grace the test arena in the not too distant future.
  2. Luke Hollman – Middlesex, left handed batter, leg spin bowler. So far all seven of his first team appearances have been in T20s, and he has scored 139 runs at 34.75, and with a strike rate of 139.00 and taking nine wickets at 18.11 with an economy rate of 6.79. I hope that he will feature in some longer form cricket this season as well as continuing his development in limited overs cricket. England are short of good spin bowling options, and a spinner who can bat would be especially useful. Even if he ends up specializing in limited overs cricket Adil Rashid cannot go on for ever, and there are few obvious replacements.
  3. Lewis Goldsworthy – Somerset, left arm orthodox spin bowler, right handed batter. A bowling all rounder who enjoyed some success in the last under 19 cricket world cup, the youngster’s senior cricket has thus far been limited to three T20s, in which he has scored 38 not out off 29 balls in the only innings he played and taken five wickets at 17.20 each with an economy rate of 7.81. I hope that with Leach likely to be with England for most of the season he will get the chance to play a whole season of first team cricket in all formats.
  4. Liam Patterson-White – Nottinghamshire, left arm orthodox spinner, left handed batter. The youngster has played five first class matches, capturing 20 wickets at 21.00, including a best of 5-73 and scoring 91 runs at 15.16, including a best score of 58 not out. A full season of first team cricket would go some way to showing whether those good early figures are a true representation of his abilities or not. The fact the he can handle a bat may well count in his favour if he keeps taking wickets.
  5. Daniel Moriarty – Surrey, left arm orthodox spin, left handed batter. Just two matches for the Reigate born youngster. His two first class appearances to date have yielded 17 wickets at 20.11, while his 13 T20s hav yielded him 17 wickets at 18.91 with an economy rate of 6.91. Again, this is a case of waiting to see what he can do over the course of a whole season.

OTHER PROSPECTS

I concentrated for my five to follow on newcomers and on players who either bowl spin or open the batting. In this section I mention briefly an opener who has played for England before and seems to be coming back to his best after a couple of years in the wilderness, two young seamers whose upward progress is limited by England’s riches in that department and another young spinner who would only enter the reckoning if the England selectors were prepared to seriously radical.

  1. Haseeb Hameed – Nottinghamshire, right handed opening batter. A brilliant start to his test career (averaging 43 after three matches) before an injury forced him out of the side. There followed two lean seasons for Lancashire, and then a move to Nottinghamshire. Last year at his new county things picked up for him, though his career FC average remains a modest 31. Nevertheless, the fact that he has a proven test match temperament and some success at that level means that another good season this year could well get him back in the reckoning.
  2. Ben Coad – Yorkshire, right arm fast medium bowler. 38 first class matches, 157 wickets at 19.93. The trouble is that with the veterans Broad and Anderson, three genuine speedsters in Archer, Stone and Wood, the all round talents of Chris Woakes and the x-factor brilliance of Ben Stokes there are not many vacancies for seam bowlers even if they have great records.
  3. Oliver Edward Robinson – Sussex, right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order right handed batter. 58 first class matches, 250 wickets at 21.78, batting average 20.84 with one century and five fifties. Again, a victim of England’s strength in the seam bowling department, but he is possibly good enough with the bat to be at eight with either two speedsters and Leach or one speedster, Leach and one of Anderson or Broad rounding out the order. He would probably do a fine job for England, as he has for Sussex.
  4. Sophie Ecclestone – left arm orthodox spin bowler. In all formats of women’s international cricket she has 106 wickets for 2057 runs, an average of 19.41 per wicket, and she is still only 21 years old. Given this extraordinary record and England men’s dearth of spin options at present there are those of us would like to see her given the opportunity to show what she can do in the men’s game.

Please feel free to use the comments to mention other players who are on your personal radar or to take issue with my own suggestions.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off, starting with the lighting up of the Corn Exchange yesterday evening (they also lit up the town hall in the same pink and purple)…

April 2

An autistic perspective on April the Second, with some important links.

This post is mainly geared to sharing, since I have made some good connections today, but I am also going to say a bit about today and what it should really be about.

APRIL THE SECOND

Today is offically dubbed ‘World Autism Awareness Day’, a designation that for reasons I explained two days ago I find difficult to accept. I will be in town for the turning on of special lights tonight, but they will be in the colours of the National Autistic Society, and as branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk I can fully accept that – had the lights going on been blue I would have refused to have anything to do with the event as a matter of principle.

Autistic people should be accepted for who they are. Regrets about who/what they are not have no place in acceptable discourse about autism, neither should attempts to change important parts of who we are. If an autistic person stims, let them do so. If an autistic person has special interests allow them to pursue those interests, do not try to wean them away from those interests.

The narrative has to move forward – at barest minimum Autism Acceptance is mandatory, and as I have said before Autistic Pride is not inappropriate either. Take note of the ‘spectrum infinity’ device that heads this blog, and of the different version I use for my equivalent of business cards.

SOME SHARES FROM TODAY

I start this section with a thank you to Phoebe MD, who has once again opened up her blog for others to promote their own blogs – do take the opportunity thus offered by clicking here.

My own interaction with the above blog has already brought to my attention a lovely post which is part of my reason for creating this post:

Yuvi MK, who runs the artwarlock blog, has produced a post in which she displays World Autism Awareness Day Doodle Cards, which you can read by clicking here – and I urge you to do so.

My other autism related share for today comes from the wonderful neurodivergent rebel, who should need no introduction to readers of this blog. She takes the subject of Autism Awareness Month head on and explains just why autistic people are so averse to ‘lighting up blue’. Please read the piece by clicking here.

Finally for this section, I am focussing on one of my own special interests: cricket. This time last year, with the first coronavirus lock down in full force and no knowing when there would next be live cricket is creating a series of ‘all time XIs‘ posts, which started with one for each of the 18 first class counties. On April 2 last year my subject was Kent – click here to read in full. In retrospect I would make one change to my chosen XI – Underwood in for Blythe, because Underwood’s bowling method would lend extra variety to the attack – Blythe, like Woolley was a very orthodox left arm spinner.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Autistic Pride Month

Preparing for April, a.k.a Autism Awareness Month with a post that highlights the problems with the ‘awareness narrative’, suggests some improvements and provides links to a couple of other good autism themed posts.

April is upon us, and to the non-autistic world April is Autism Awareness Month. In this post I look at some problems with the ‘autism awareness’ narrative and put forward an alternative viewpoint. After my own bit I will share a couple of important related links.

THE PROBLEMS WITH AUTISM AWARENESS

At its most innocuous the ‘awareness’ narrative is simply laughably inadequate for the purpose. People being aware of autism, its challenges and its benefits (yes, the latter do exist) is at most a start. At its worst, as exemplified by a USian organization that is still allowed to call itself an ‘autism charity’ but is in truth an anti-autistic hate group (I will not sully these pages with the name of said organization, suffice it to say that if you see anything with featuring a blue puzzle piece avoid it like the plague) it is deeply destructive, contributing to the ‘othering’ of autistic people.

AUTISM ACCEPTANCE –
THE ABSOLUTE MINIMUM

Autism acceptance means accepting autistic people as people, allowing us to be ourselves and express our talents and individuality in our own ways, not seeking to make us fit. Not only is forcing square pegs into round holes counter productive, you are highly likely to break the pegs in the process. If I write any further autism specific posts in the course of this next month I will not again mention ‘autism awareness’ – I have done so here only to highlight its inadequacies, I will be starting from a baseline of Autism Acceptance.

AUTISM APPRECIATION/ AUTISTIC PRIDE

Many of my greatest strengths come directly from being autistic, and actually what we need to see a lot more of is the talents and strengths of autistic people being appreciated. Part of that appreciation is acknowledging that we do have the talents and skills we possess in spite of being autistic, in many cases we have those skills and talents precisely because we are autistic. Look out when reading about autism for stuff written by autistic people, – there are plenty of us writing about autism and wanting to be found. Enjoy your April as much as you are able to.

TWO IMPORTANT LINKS

Kerry Anne Mendoza of The Canary has recently been diagnosed as autistic, and has produced her own piece tackling this subject, which you can read by clicking here.

Christa Holmans, aka Neurodivergent Rebel has produced an excellent piece titled “Rethinking the Way We Describe Autistic People From Problems to Possibilities“, which I highly recommend to you.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Suggestions For Tomorrow’s Deciding ODI

A look ahead to tomorrow’s final ODI between India and England, some photographs and the resumption of one of NAS West Norfolk’s activities.

The main body of this post is devoted to looking at what England should do in terms of selection for tomorrow’s final match of the tour of India.

THE BATTING

Morgan remains unavailable, though Billings could be picked. Personally although most of the work was done by Bairstow and Stokes I think that both Malan and Livingstone did enough to warrant continued selection, so I would not recall Billings. I believe an element of flexibility is needed after the 1,2,3 – if the second wicket goes before over 30 then either Malan (if Stokes is second out) or Livingstone (if both openers are out, meaning that the left handed Stokes is still in) come in at no4. If the second wicket goes after over 30 then skipper Buttler should promote himself and treat it like a T20.

THE BOWLING

Tom Curran has to go – he is not quick, he does not take many wickets and he is not exceptionally economical. I hope Wood will be fit, in which case he plays. Also, Adil Rashid has not been impressive, and Matt Parkinson has been in bio-secure bubbles since January for no cricket, so for my money he has to play. Reece Topley did quite enough to retain his place, so he rounds out the bowling options.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

Bear in mind the caveats in the section about the batting, and that therefore this is a ‘likely’, not a ‘set’ batting order:

  1. Jason Roy
  2. Jonny Bairstow
  3. Ben Stokes
  4. Liam Livingstone
  5. Dawid Malan
  6. *+Jos Buttler
  7. Moeen Ali
  8. Sam Curran
  9. Mark Wood
  10. Reece Topley
  11. Matt Parkinson

PHOTOGRAPHS

This usual sign off has a variation to it: today for the first time in over a year an NAS West Norfolk activity happened: music therapy at the scout hut on Beulah Street. This was organized in two 45 minute sessions, and at no time were there more than four people in the room, which is a very large room, and the back door was open to keep it properly ventilated (and with a classic Norfolk ‘lazy wind’ – can’t be bothered going round you, so it goes straight through you – blowing outside I can tell you that the place was most definitely properly ventilated!). Explanation complete, it is finally time for the photographs…

Hopeless Heat Hammered

A mention of Afghanistan v Ireland to highlight the emergence at international level of Rahmanullah Gurbaz, and account of Strikers v Heat, some links and some photographs.

Although the main focus of this post is today’s game in the Big Bash League, a passing mention of Afghanistan’s victory over Ireland in Abu Dhabi is in order. Rahmanullah Gurbaz, a 19 year old keeper/batter made his ODI debut for them, and produced the goods in some style, scoring 127 off 127 balls in their innings. Off spinner Andy McBrine took five cheap wickets for Ireland, but a late flourish from Rashid Khan, 55 off 30 balls, got Afghanistan up to 287 from their 50 overs. Although Curtis Campher and Lorcan Tucker both batted well for Ireland, Tucker’s dismissal for 83 finally ended their hopes, and in the end Afghanistan won by 16 runs. Rashid Khan in his main role had a respectable 2-56 from his 10 overs. Gurbaz added two stumpings to his century and gave away only two byes in the entire 50 overs of Ireland’s innings. A keeper who can score big runs is a huge asset to any side (as opposed to a batter who has been given the gloves but is not actually a proper keeper).

STRIKERS DOUSE THE HEAT

This match involved two teams who both needed a win to keep their qualification hopes alive. Strikers won the toss and decided to bat first. By the end of their Power Play overs they had reached 43-0, bringing up the 50 in the fifth over. Marnus Labuschagne, fresh from test duty, bowled the sixth over, and the first five balls went for 15, before the sixth got him a wicket, Weatherald for 36 off 18 balls. Strikers reached the halfway point on 104-1, with Alex Carey and Travis Head going well. This was the time to boldly claim the Power Surge at the first opportunity as a possible launching pad to a total in excess of 200, but Strikers declined to do so, and their innings entered a quiet period, the next four overs advancing the score by 27 before they finally, belatedly, claimed their Power Surge. They did not make the greatest use of those two overs, only adding 17 to their score, to be 148-2 after 16, but a huge finish saw them almost reach 200, and Carey complete a fine century. In the end they had 197-5, and it seemed that they had left a few runs out there by mistiming the taking of the Power Surge.

Heat began the chase decently, but Chris Lynn fell for 17 in the third over to make it 23-1, and then Heat unthinkingly favoured seniority, sending the two Joes, Denly and Burns, and Labuschagne, all solid test type players in at 3,4 and 5. At the half way stage Heat were 68-3, needing 130 off 10 overs to win. They had little choice but to take the Power Surge hoping it would revitalize their innings. Unfortunately, wickets fell to the first two balls thereof, putting Siddle on a hat trick, and pretty much killing Heat’s hopes. Heat then proceeded to do the one thing I find unforgivable, quit on the job. They settled down to attempt to survive their 20 overs, with no attention paid to the victory target. They failed even to achieve this miserable, losers target, being all out for 115 after 17.5 overs, beaten by a monster 82 runs.

Strikers moved into fourth, level with Stars and Scorchers on 24 points, but behind on net run rate, and having played a game more than those two. Heat dropped into seventh, on 21 points, and having played a game more than the sides immediately above them, Hurricanes and Thunder. On today’s showing the Heat have zero chance of turning things around to achieve a qualifying place, and quite frankly it will be better for the tournament if they do not qualify. Strikers were far from perfect, messing up the timing of the Power Surge in their innings, surrendering two wickets to poor balls from Labuschagne, and in consequence of their reluctance to go early with the surge, having a quiet third quarter to their innings, but they thrashed Heat out of sight, winning every phase of the game, some of them by huge margins.

Strikers progress was as follows: 43-0 off four (Power Play), 61-1 off overs 5-10 inclusive, 37-1 off overs 11-15 inclusive, 56-3 off overs 16-20, while their Power Surge overs yielded a not terribly impressive 17-0. Heat’s progress was as follows: 33-1 off four (Power Play), 35-2 off overs 5-10, 31-4 off overs 11-15 and 16-3 in the final quarter of their innings, which of course they failed to bat through. This included 12-2 off their Power Surge overs. The comparative stats for each phase of the innings were thus: 1st four, Strikers win by 10 runs and one wicket, 5-10 Strikers win by 26 runs and one wicket, 11-15 Strikers win by six runs and three wickets, final quarter Strikers win by 40 runs, same no of wickets lost, Power Surge Strikers win by five runs and two wickets. However, even more damning than these figures is the fact that after the two wickets went down at the start of their Power Surge Heat quite blatantly gave up on the game, which may be understandable, but is absolutely never acceptable.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Before getting to my usual sign off I have a petition and two autism related pieces to share with you. The petition, by way of change.org, is calling for a pedestrian crossing to put in on the south side of Battersea Bridge. There is a screenshot below, and I urge you to sign and share by clicking here.

My second link is to one of Pete Wharmby’s epic twitter threads about autism, the first three points of which you can read below:

Finally, Cambria Jenkins his produced a post on the question of ‘Autistic Person’ vs ‘Person with Autism’. Like the vast majority of autistic people I describe myself as an autistic person, and I take a very dim view of neurotypicals seeking to tell me why I am wrong to do so. Read Cambria’s post here.

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet X

Continuing the all time XI #cricket series with a tenth ‘through the alphabet’ post. Also includes some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the tenth in our alphabetic progression mini series. Unlike yesterday I also have some photos to share. Today we start with a Q…

IMAD WASIM’S XI

  1. Willie Quaife – right handed opening batter, occasional leg spinner. When it comes to opening batters whose surnames begin with Q there is really only one contender, the man who played for Warwickshire for almost 35 years, signing off with a century at the age of 56 years and four months. In the later years of his career he did on occasion open the batting with his son Bernard, but the latter only ever got picked because of whose son he was – he was not close to being top player (my source for this is long serving Warwickshire keeper EJ “Tiger” Smith by way of the ‘autobiography’ he gave to Pat Murphy by means of a series of recorded interviews).
  2. Chris Rogers – left handed opening batter. His test record for Australia was not stellar, partly because he was long past his prime before becoming a regular member of the side, but he was a seriously big scorer for Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and Middlesex in the county championship.
  3. Robin Smith – right handed batter. One of those rare batters who positively relished doing battle with the opposition fast bowlers (George Gunn, the Nottinghamshire legend was another, as was an earlier Hampshire man, George Brown) and even rarer in being an England player who actually enhanced his reputation during the 1989 Ashes series (keeper Jack Russell was the only other of whom that could be said). Another rare club to which Smith belongs is the ‘winners of a sledging contest with Merv Hughes’ club, again from that 1989 Ashes series. After a Smith play and miss Hughes, the bowler, said to him “you can’t ****ing bat”, Smith smacked the next ball for four and said “we make a fine pair: I can’t ****ing bat and you can’t ****ing bowl”.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. Don Bradman, then a very old man, was watching a match an the TV at home and thought he had spotted something about the young man who was batting. He called his wife through to verify his observation, and Lady Jessie Bradman confirmed that yes, there was more than a passing resemblance between the methods of the batter in that match and Don’s own. The batter was, of course, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, who would go on to become the first and to date only batter to score 100 hundreds in international matches.
  5. Polly Umrigar – right handed batter, off spinner. He was at one time India’s leading test run scorer. There was a question mark about him against genuine pace, which he never got to face in Indian domestic cricket. Fred Trueman once claimed that on one occasion when he was bowling at Umrigar the square leg umpire was nearer the wicket than Umrigar. At No5, behind this side’s top four he is unlikely to be facing fast bowlers who have not already done a fair amount of bowling.
  6. +Roy Virgin – right handed batter, wicket keeper. He was only an occasional wicket keeper, but V is a difficult letter to fill. He was once named in the 12 for England but left out on the morning of the match, and that was as close to international cricket as he came.
  7. *Imad Wasim – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, captain. He has played ODIs and T20Is with some success, but not yet test cricket. His first class record is 3,702 runs at 40.68 and 141 wickets at 31.14. I have named him as captain based on my thinking about slow bowling all rounders in this role. A cynic might say that since he is a Pakistani who is already an established part of their international set up I have a better than average chance of finding out how he handles the captaincy, given the way they go through captains.
  8. Xara Jetly – off spinner. This side has a longish looking tail, with the young kiwi off spinner at no8. X is a difficult letter to fill, and there is enough in her recent performances to at least suggest promise, and at the age of 18 she is certainly young enough to improve.
  9. Poonam Yadav – leg spinner. One of the attributes that is said to have made the Kent leg spinner Tich Freeman so difficult for opposition batters was his lack of height, which enabled him to release the ball upwards, making it difficult for the batters to follow its flight. Poonam Yadav is even shorter than Freeman’s 5’2″ and takes a similar approach to her own leg spin, releasing the ball upwards, and in her case, at as slow a pace as can ever have been seen in top level cricket.
  10. Dawlat Zadran – right arm fast medium bowler. The best pace bowler to have come from Afghanistan thus far, and he has an experienced new ball partner here in the form of…
  11. James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. 584 test wickets, and officially still counting. When the ‘bio-secure’ series starts next week we will see if he is in the England team. For me the choice is between him and Broad, with Curran (left arm, and a useful lower order batter), Wood (searing pace) and Bess the others chosen primarily for bowling and Stokes the all rounder providing a fourth pace option, with Parkinson possibly replacing Curran if a second specialist spinner is warranted (unlikely on a 21st century English pitch). However, whether or not he is selected for that match, his record speaks for itself, and in this team his experience will be invaluable.

This side has a fine top six, an admitted gamble with Roy Virgin, an occasional in the role in his playing days, trusted with the keeping gloves, an effective all rounder, two quality specialist spinners and an excellent new ball pairing.

JACK IDDON’S XI

  1. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter.
  2. Bransby Beauchamp Cooper – right handed opening batter. He once shared an opening stand of 283 with WG Grace, and as a participant in the inaugural test match at Melbourne in 1877 has the distinction of being the first test cricketer to have been born in what is now Bangladesh (he was born in what was then Dacca, India and is now Dhaka, Bangladesh).
  3. Rahul Dravid – right handed batter. For many years the sheet anchor of the Indian test team. Probably his greatest innings was at Kolkata in 2001, when he played the support role to VVS Laxman’s pyrotechnics, as India came back from being made to follow on to win by 171 runs, scoring 657-7 declared in that second innings.
  4. George Emmett – right handed batter. A Gloucestershire stalwart of the immediate post world war two era who played a few matches for England.
  5. Francis Ford – left handed batter. He was in his prime in the last decade of the 19th century, when he acquired a reputation for ‘gentle violence’ at the crease. He played a part in the first test victory by a side made to follow on, at Sydney in 1894. He contributed an aggressive 48 to England’s second innings revival, which saw them reach 437, setting Australia 177 to win. Australia were then spun to defeat when overnight rain gave Peel and Briggs a vicious sticky to exploit.
  6. John Gunn – left handed batter, left arm slow medium bowler. The youngest of three brothers who all played for Nottinghamshire. At one time he held the county record individual score with 294, and he took over 1,000 first class wickets at 25 each.
  7. +Ian Healy – wicket keeper, right handed batter. After Rod Marsh’s retirement in 1984 Australia struggled to find a keeper, as they did in other respects in that period. Then in 1989 along came Ian Healy, a champion keeper, a useful batter who reserved his best performances for the test arena (usually against England) and even in that Aussie unit a stand out sledger.
  8. Jack Iddon – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Slightly out of position, as he was in reality more of a batter than a bowler, but his bowling record was very respectable, and given England’s fairly recent usage of Moeen Ali in the test team I am not going to be overly apologetic about this one.
  9. Les Jackson – right arm fast bowler. A phenomenal bowler for Derbyshire, but picked only twice for England.
  10. Anil Kumble – leg spinner. The third leading wicket taker in test history, and one of only two to have taken all ten wickets in a test innings.
  11. David Lawrence – right arm fast bowler. A combination of the unwillingness of the then England selectors to pick him and Devon Malcolm in the same team and a horrific knee injury curtailed his test chances, but he was consistently successful for Gloucestershire.

This team has a solid top five, a couple of all rounders, a keeper who can bat and three excellent bowlers. Jackson, Lawrence, Kumble, Gunn and Iddon should be able to take 20 wickets between them on any surface.

THE CONTEST

This should be close. Jack Iddon’s XI are stronger in batting, but Imad Wasim’s XI have a somewhat better bowling attack. I cannot call this one.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Masks, handmade for the use of members of NAS West Norfolk.

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Me wearing one of the masks today.

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Close up of the mask in position.

TTAX
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – DRS and Umpiring Controversies

Today we have a fruity ‘all time XI’ #cricket themed post and an excellent autism related thread by Pete Wharmby.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed series of blog posts. Today’s will require a bit of explaining, but before that there are a couple of matters in connection with yesterday’s post…

A HAT TIP AND A CORRECTION

In yesterday’s image showing the teams in tabulated form I has failed to change their names, so instead of the columns being headed “Playing Cards” and “Alliterative” they read “London” and “The North”, the names of the previous day’s teams. I noticed that this morning when creating today’s tabulated list. Within moments of my teams coming out yesterday Oliver Martens on twitter had come up with the name of Devon born Warwickshire and New Zealand left handed batter Roger Twose (pronounced twos) for the Playing Card XI, an ingenious suggestion. With a career FC average of almost 39 Twose rates above Collis King, and he could be accommodated by splitting the all right opening pair of Hobbs and Robertson, making the Playing Card XI read: Jack Hobbs, Roger Twose, Jack Robertson, Ryan ten Doeschate, Jack Mason, Jack Gregory, John King, Jack Board, Bart King, Jack Walsh and Jack Saunders. Well played, Oliver.

TODAY’S BRIEF

The two teams in action today are called DRS Burners, containing players who would be well advised not to use DRS, strengthened in the middle order by a couple of characters from earlier in the game’s history whose conduct suggests that they may not have been the best users of DRS (middle order batters often don’t get to burn up reviews because the openers have already done so) and the Rule Stretchers, players who have stretched the rules as far as they will go, to say nothing of beyond, and/or have been involved in ructions with officialdom.

THE DRS BURNERS XI

  1. Chris Gayle – left handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. The worst of his many failed reviews was at Brisbane in 2009 when he sent an LBW upstairs and the replay showed to the surprise of nobody other than possibly Gayle himself that the ball would have hit plumb in the middle of middle stump – as out as it is possible to be.
  2. Shane Watson – right handed opening batter. In some circles he is referred to as LBWatson because of both the frequency with which he suffered that mode of dismissal and the frequency with which he sent it upstairs only to discover it was stone cold out – usually hitting middle and leg.
  3. Ricky Ponting – right handed batter. He earned his place in this side at the MCG in 2010 when he had an onfield bust up with Aleem Dar over a decision that most of his team mates were not bothered by, for the very simple reason that Mr Dar had quite clearly got it right. Ponting saw a white mark, nowhere near either bat or ball, on the hot spot replay on the big screen, and his subsequent display of temper, which rivalled that over his run out by Gary Pratt in 2005, cost him 75% of his match fee.
  4. Greg Chappell – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer (leg spinner earlier in his career), fine slip fielder. He gets in for the first of two incidents involving him in an ODI against New Zealand. He was on 52 when he declined to accept Martin Snedden’s word that he had taken a catch in the deep. It happened that neither umpire had seen the incident, and in the words of one reporter on that match “they gave Chappell the benefit of their ignorance”. The replays showed that Snedden’s word had been pretty good. Chappell went on to reach 90. However this misdemeanour was overshadowed by his subsequent action when Brian McKechnie needed to hit a six of the final ball to force a tie and he instructed his brother Trevor to roll the ball along the ground to prevent that from happening. This provoked a typically hamfisted response from the powers that be, outlawing all underarm bowling. I have explained elsewhere how underarm bowling both of the Simpson-Hayward type and the more vigorous David Harris type could be legalized while running no danger of a repeat of this incident.
  5. *Faf Du Plessis – right handed batter, captain. He gets in for his repeated handling of the ball during his last test innings. England complained about his behaviour, but as far as I am concerned they should simply have appealed against him and left him to nurse any grievance he felt over being thus dismissed while sat in the pavilion.
  6. Tiger Lance – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. This time we have an incident where a member of the Chappell family was the victim. Ian, the eldest brother, hit one which went to Lance, asked that worthy if he had caught it and on receiving an answer in the affirmative headed for the pavilion. A team mate of Lance asked him if was sure about it and Lance replied “he didn’t ask if it had bounced”, earning his place in this side.
  7. +Tim Paine – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Among the many misjudgements he as fielding captain perpetrated over when to use DRS there was one that assisted England to bring off the ‘Headingley Heist’ of 2019 – he sent an LBW appeal that had been turned down against Stokes upstairs, the ball was quite clearly wide and going on to miss, and a few minutes later he was unable to send another LBW decision upstairs which would have been resolved in his favour had not burned the review.
  8. Stuart Broad – right arm fast medium bowler. One who does not die wondering. Fortunately his captains have been as well aware of his over optimism in the matter of appeals as the rest of us so he has not actually burned up all that many reviews, but the intent has been there.
  9. Mitchell Starc – left arm fast bowler. Reviewed an LBW against him at the end of an ODI innings, but realized that it was so absolutely plumb that he did not bother to wait for confirmation.
  10. Kagiso Rabada – right arm fast bowler. Has recently served a test match suspension for accumulated demerit points.
  11. Monty Panesar – left arm orthodox spinner. Another who would have burned a stack of reviews given the opportunity but whose captains realized that he was seriously over-optimistic when it came to appealing.

This side has a strong top five, an all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four fine bowlers. Spin options are thin on the ground, but it is a decent side, though it would likely keep the match referee busy!

THE RULE STRETCHERS XI

  1. Chris Broad – left handed opening batter. Some of his responses to being dismissed were decidedly unsavoury, including a stump demolishing act in Lahore, and various very slow and reluctant departures. He subsequently turned game keeper, becoming a match referee in later years.
  2. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various styles through his career. The only possible candidate for the captaincy of this particular XI. Stories of him stretching the rules to the absolute limit are legion, one such playing its part in the creation of The Ashes. In Australia’s second innings Sammy Jones left his crease to pat down a divot in the pitch, and Grace whipped the bails off and appealed, and since the ball had not been called dead umpire Bob Thoms raised the finger. This revved ‘the Demon’, FR Spofforth up to a pitch of near homicidal fury, and England needing 85 to win were bowled out for 77 to lose by seven runs. There were many other such incidents in the course of his long career.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, close fielder. On one occasion he took so long to leave the crease after being given out that the umpire reprimanded him, prompting Woolley to explain “I was not disputing your decision, I just could not believe that such an awful bowler could get me out twice.”
  4. Colin Cowdrey – right handed batter, slip fielder. He was a self proclaimed ‘walker’, i.e someone who would give himself out without waiting to be told. However, there is a fair amount of evidence that he exploited this reputation to his own benefit, on occasions declining to walk because he knew that his reputation would make umpires reluctant to give him out. There is a big question mark over ‘walking’ anyway, because it was generally ‘amateurs’ who did it, implying that they knew what was going on better than the umpires, who were usually former professionals. If you are going to walk, then you cannot pick and choose your moments, you must do it every time. Personally I would say wait for the umpire’s decison, but once that finger is raised against you do not hang around.
  5. Bill Alley – left handed batter, right arm medium pacer. After a very long and quite distinguished playing career he became an umpire. There are a couple of stories, or possibly two versions of the same story, from the career of Alley the umpire that suggest he got up to his share of mischief as a player: version 1 features newly minted umpire Alley spotting a youngster tampering with the ball and telling him “no, this is how you do it” and providing a demonstration. Version 2 has Alley seeing the ball near the end of an over and saying to the young bowler “you’ve don a good job on this one, if you don’t get seven-for with it I am reporting you.”
  6. Vinoo Mankad – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was the first bowler in test history to run out a non-striker for backing up too far, a mode of dismissal that now bears his name. My own view is that a non-striker trying to gain an advantage by leaving their ground early and being spotted by the bowler deserves to be run out, and I refuse to sympathise with the batter who is thus dismissed, although I accept that a bowler who deliberate pauses before going into their delivery stride in an effort to lure the non-striker out of their ground is going too far. If anyone on the opposition side is to be ‘Mankaded’ I would want it to be Ponting – his reaction would be something to behold.
  7. +Saleem Yousuf – wicket keeper, right handed batter. During Pakistan’s 1987 visit to England he claimed a catch when the ball had very obviously bounced well in front of him. The batter who waits for the finger to be raised is merely declining to plead guilty, whereas the fielder (or in this case keeper) who claims that catch in full knowledge that the ball has bounced is more in the position of someone faking evidence for the prosecution.
  8. Cec Pepper – leg spinner, right handed lower middle order batter. One of the best cricketers to not be picked for his country, the reason he suffered that fate is that he lost his cool with an umpire after that worthy turned down three successive confident LBW shouts by him against Don Bradman. He subsequently moved to England, became a Lancashire League pro and after that a highly respected umpire.
  9. Jack Newman – right arm fast medium, useful lower middle order bat. He once had an on field blow up which led to his captain, Lionel Tennyson, sitting him down and dictating a letter of apology to be sent to the umpires and the opposing captain. However, having seen to it that Newman produced an appropriate written apology Tennyson then proceeded to give him £5, not a negligible gesture in the 1920s, and one that suggests he recognized that Newman was not entirely at fault.
  10. John Snow – right arm fast bowler. He famously failed to see eye to eye with umpire Lou Rowan on the 1970-1 tour of Australia. The worst incident, at Sydney, reflects extremely poorly on Rowan. Terry Jenner, no 8 for Australia, but by no means a bunny with the bat, ducked into a short of a length ball and was hit in the face. Rowan after a short pause gave Snow a warning for intimidatory bowling, and the crowd subsequently bombarded the field with bottles and cans. As well as Rowan’s mishandling of the Jenner incident, England were frustrated by the fact that not a single Aussie was given LBW in that series. Also, after a test match at Melbourne was washed out without a ball being bowled, leading to the staging of the first ever ODI, England manager David Clark agreed without consulting skipper Illingworth or the players to the addition of another test match to the schedule, which made that the first and only test series to feature a seventh match (six had been scheduled right from the get go).
  11. Colin Croft – right arm fast bowler. Right at the start of the 1980s the West Indies suffered what would be their only series loss of the whole decade, in New Zealand, when the hosts sneaked home by one wicket in the only decided match. Colin Croft got so frustrated with the umpiring of Fred Goodall, which does indeed seem to fallen badly short in either competence, impartiality or both that at one stage he barged into him and sent him flying. In that same series Michael Holding kicked the stumps over in response to a poor decision.

This team features a strong top five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four excellent bowlers. The bowling also looks impressive, with Croft, Snow and Newman excellent pace options, Pepper and Mankad to bowl spin, and WG and Bill Alley both quite capable of taking a turn at the bowling crease.

THE CONTEST

This would be a very hard contest for umpires and match referees, but I think that the extra bowling strength of the Rule Stretchers XI would see them victorious. In acknowledgement of a famous incident not commemorated in my selections, and the fact that the two players I thus name definitely did not see eye to eye I will call the trophy for this one the Bradman-Hammond trophy. The incident in question happened in the first test of the 1946-7 Ashes, supposedly a goodwill tour except Bradman did not get the memo. Bradman had reached 28 without showing any great authority when he sent a ball shoulder high to Jack Ikin at second slip. Ikin did not appeal at first purely because he did not think it necessary – it was a high and clear catch. Bradman stood his ground, and when England finally did appeal it was turned down. Cliff Cary, himself an Australian, in “Cricket Controversy”, his account of that tour, makes it abundantly clear that Bradman should have been given out. Hammond’s immediate response was to comment “A fine ****ing way to start a series”. Bradman went on to make 187, Australia to tally 645 and England were then caught on a sticky following a tropical storm. Had Bradman been given out England would have batted before the storm hit, Bradman’s second innings would probably have happened on the sticky, and he might well have called it a day.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Pete Wharmby has produced an excellent twitter thread about autistic students and returning to school after lockdown. Please click on the screenshot below to visit the full thread:

Wharmby

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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NDRS v RS
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Steam Trains and London Underground

Today’s ‘all time XI’ cricket themed post meshes two special interests – cricket and trains.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another variation on the ‘all time XI’ cricket theme. Today we look at two forms of rail based transport. One team consists of players who share a name with one of the locomotives in the stories by the Reverend W Awdry, while against them is a team of players who can be linked to London Underground. Hwoever, before getting to the main body of the bost I have one other piece of business to attend to.

AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Within a few moments of yesterday’s post going live up popped a twitter correspondent with the name of Johnny Wardle. Wardle should certainly have had a mention and a strong case could be made for his selection in place of Jack Walsh, though the case my correspondent made was less strong as he suggested Emburey the off spinner to be the one who dropped out. My name not being Dominic I tend not to edit blog posts I have already published, and I am not prepared to actually change my selection, but I freely acknowledge that Wardle coming in for Walsh specifically would be a valid decision.

THE STEAM LOCOMOTIVES XI

  1. Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. His ‘Awdry Alter Ego’ is of course Gordon the big engine. His 90 first class hundreds, amassed for Barbados, Hampshire and The West Indies  provide solid back up for his inclusion.
  2. Edward Mills Grace – right handed opener, close fielder, ‘lob’ bowler. I have given him his full name, rather than the EM Grace that appears on scoresheets from the time, because the engine who has the number 2 in the Awdry stories is Edward. He was a phenomenon when he first appeared, an d he tends to miss out on his due recognition because he had a brother who was even better.
  3. Percy Perrin – right handed batter. Almost 30,000 first class runs including 66 centuries. Percy is the number six locomotive in the Awdry stories.
  4. James Horace Parks – right handed batter, right arm bowler. The only cricketer ever to score 3,000 first class runs and take 100 first class wickets in the same season. James is the splendid red engine with the number 5 in the Awdry stories.
  5. Percy McDonnell – right handed batter. He played for Australia in the 1880s, and his highlight came when he shared a partnership of 199 with Billy Murdoch, then an all time record test partnership for any wicket.
  6. Gordon White – right handed batter, leg spinner. One of the South African googly quartet of the period immediately before World War 1 (the other members of the quartet being Vogler, Schwarz and Faulkner).
  7. +Percy Sherwell – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He made one of the fastest rises up the batting order of anyone, starting his test career at no11, and three years later making a century as an opening batter.
  8. Thomas Emmett – left arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. He was almost always known by the diminutive Tom, but his full first name is of course that of the most famous of all the Awdry locomotives, Thomas The Tank Engine, no1. He was one of the more quotable of all cricketers. On one occasiona when Yorkshire’s fielders were having a particularly unimpressive time he remarked after one drop “there’s an epidemic round here but it’s not catching.”
  9. Kirstie Gordon – left arm orthodox spinner. The only member of this XI to have been selected on the basis of her surname. The Aberdonian is at the start of would should be a long and distinguished career, but has already done some impressive things.
  10. James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. England’s all time leading test wicket taker, and currently the leading test wicket taker among pace bowlers.
  11. Thomas Richardson – right arm fast bowler. The man who took over 1,000 wickets in the space of four seasons (1894-7). Another known by the diminutive Tom.

This team has a good top five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four varied bowlers. The bowling attack, with Emmett, Richardson and Anderson to bowl pace and White and Gordon to bowl spinners also looks good.

THE LONDON UNDERGROUND XI

Just before I introduce my players I am going to give a bit more detail about the selection process for this XI. In most cases it is the name that provodes the London Underground connection, and with two thoroughly explained exceptions I have not used birthplace or geographical location in my selections. Also, I did not allow myself to select former Leicestershire wicket keeper Tom Sidwell who has the distinction of the only person ever given out in first class cricket for reasons to do with London Underground. He was not out overnight at The Oval, and on the following morning got lost on London Underground, arriving late and being given out by the umpires for not being ready to resume his innings. As you will see when we get to him I had a decent keeper available anyway.

  1. Charlie Barnett – right handed opening batter. He came closer than any other England batter to reaching a hundred before lunch on the opening day of a test match, being on 98 when that interval arrived at Trent Bridge in 1938. I got him in because if you take the final t off his surname you get Barnet, and the northern terminus of one of the two outer branches of the Northern line is High Barnet.
  2. Cecil John Burditt Wood – right handed opening batter. Carried his bat through 17 first class innings, including twice in the match v Yorkshire. Wood Green is a station near the northern end of the Piccadilly line, while Wood Lane is nowadays an interchange between the Central line and the Hammersmith & City line.
  3. Tom Shepherd – right handed batter for Surrey in the early part of the 20th century. He averaged 39.81 in first class cricket, very respectable for his era. In a crucial match versus Middlesex which helped settle that year’s County Championship he was outsmarted by Middlesex skipper Pelham Warner. Warner had declared setting Surrey 244 to win three hours, and Warner spotted his opposite number Percy Fender signal the ‘general chase’ to the batters Shepherd and Sandham. Warner dropped Patsy Hendren back from short leg to long on, and a few minutes later Shepherd holed out to Hendren. He qualifies by way of Shepherd’s Bush, a Central line station and Shepherd’s Bush Market, a Hammersmtih and City line station.
  4. Alex Blackwell – right handed batter. The Aussie qualifies by way of her full first name, Alexandra. Although the current Alexandra Palace is a railway station with no official underground interchange (although Wood Green is walkable from there) there was at one stage a plan to incorporate various suburban lines in north London into London Underground, and one of the stations that would have been on a branch of the Northern line had that come to fruition would have been another station called Alexandra Palace which was the terminus of one the branch lines that featured in the plan. Also, as the District line approaches Wimbledon it runs parallel for the last stage of the journey with Alexandra Road.
  5. Jack Parsons – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler. It is his skill with the bat that gets him in, but he did also take his wickets at under 30 each, did once take seven in a first class innings. Parsons Green is a station on the Wimbledon branch of the District line. At one time there was a plan to create a new line running SW – NE which would have taken over the southern end of this branch, with District line trains terminating at Parsons Green, and then after cutting through London slightly to the east of the Victoria line would have taken over the southern portion of the Hainault loop.
  6. Vyell Walker – right handed batter, right arm underarm bowler. Vyell Walker is one of only two cricketers ever to score a century and take all ten wickets in an innings of the same first class match, the other being WG Grace. He is also one of a famous set of cricketing brothers who were referred to as ‘The Walkers of Southgate’, and Southgate is the third to last stop at the northern end of the Piccadilly line (followed by Oakwood and Cockfosters). Southgate station is in a hill, which gives it a unique feature of having platforms that are in a tube tunnel but from which daylight can clearly be seen – both ways no less. The Walker Ground at Southgate is sometimes used by Middlesex, when their landlords at St John’s Wood cannot spare Lord’s.
  7. +Jack Russell – wicket keeper, left handed batter. Russell Square is a station on the Piccadilly line, in between Holborn and King’s Cross St Pancras. The platforms are accessible either by lift or by stairs (175 in total, and these days of you use them you trigger a recorded messgae that tells you that this is equivalent to a 13 storey building). Among other places it serves the British Museum, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Coram’s Fields, a park which because of its purpose only allows adults in if they are accompanying children.
  8. Charles Kortright – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. One of the fastest and nastiest of all fast bowlers. He was known as ‘The Demon of Leyton’, and Leyton is a station that nowadays is near the eastern end of the Central line (it started life as part of what was then the Eastern Counties Railway). On one occasion he took exception to a youngster cocking his toe in his stance, and when warnings that WG Grace was the only person he allowed to do that fell on deaf ears the offending toe was smashed by a yorker.
  9. Gordon Parsons – right arm medium pacer. The Leicestershire bowler paid just over 30 each for his first class wickets.
  10. Alex Hartley – left arm orthodox spinner. She gets in on the same grounds as Blackwell at no 4. Although she has been overtaken in the England pecking order by the likes of Sophie Ecclestone and Kirstie Gordon she has a fine record at the ighest level, and at 26 years old it is not impossible that she will add to it.
  11. *Tich Richmond – leg spinner. He paid just 21 each for some 900 first class wickets, one of the better records for someone consistently ignored by the England selectors of his day (he got in one test appearance, at Trent Bridge, his home ground,  in 1921). Richmond is the terminus of one of the branches of the District line, and between Kew Gardens and Richmond the railway crosses the Thames on a bridge, one of only two occasions on which a London Underground line crosses the Thames above ground level (the other being the Wimbledon branch of the same line). Between 1877 and 1910 there was a branch of what is now the Hammersmith and City line which connected to the Richmond branch by means of a station at Hammersmith Grove Road and a descent the remains of which can still be seen at the approach to Ravenscourt Park, while a London Overground line joins the branch at Gunnersbury (the other terminus these days is Stratford – it used by North Woolwich, but that latter section became part of a Docklands Light Railway branch which terminates at Woolwich Arsenal.

This team has a fine top five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four varied bowlers. Kortright and Gordon Parsons, backed if necessary by the other Parsons, should combine well with the new ball, while Richmond, Hartley and Walker command a fine range of trickery between them.

THE CONTEST

This one should be a fine contest. I think the ‘Steam Locomotives’ team has the edge on account of their bowling resources. However, I would fully expect this contest to go the distance.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Having set the scene, made a necessary acknowledgement and introduced the teams it remains only to provide my usual sign off…

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Two days before the actual day my 45h birthday present from my parents (thank you) arrived – note the swivel screen for ease of seeing what one is photographing. The battery is charging at the moment, but I should be able to start using it properly by tomorrow morning…

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…after which this, which has served me well for several years, will become my back up camera.

Steam v Underground
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Four Fast Bowlers v Balanced

A team with an attack of four fast bowlers is pitted against a fully balanced team. Also a solution to yesterday’s teaser and a link to an autism related thread, and of course some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest variation on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. Today’s post owes its genesis to three twitter correspondents who raised valid points in response to yesterday’s piece. Rather than change yesterday’s XIs I have decided to acknowledge the validity of the comments by selecting two teams that enable to me to devote coverage to the issues raised.

THE FOUR FAST BOWLERS XI

When I covered the West Indies I named an attack of four fast bowlers in the West Indies team from my lifetime, as a tribute to the great West Indies teams of my childhood, which were based precisely on that type of attack. I now name an all-time team with the same type of bowling attack.

  1. Barry Richards – right handed opening batter, named by Don Bradman in his all-time XI (see “Bradman’s Best” by Roland Perry). The four tests that he played before South Africa’s enforced isolation (four more than any of his non-white compatriots in the period concerned save for Basil D’Oliveira, who managed to get to England) yielded him 508 runs at 72.57, with two centuries. He was subsequently one of the stars of Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. Statistically the most successful opener among those to have played 20 or more tests, with 4,555 runs at 60.73 at that level, including 2,741 at 66.85 in Ashes cricket. This upward progression of averages as the cricket he played got tougher bore out his famous response to being congratulated by Pelham Warner on a good rearguard action: “Ah, Mr Warner, I love a dogfight.”
  3. George Headley – right handed batter. Averaged 60.83 in test cricket, converting 10 of his 15 fifty-plus scores at that level into hundreds. I decided that to give either side Don Bradman would give them too big an edge, so he is not present today – instead we have ;the black Bradman’.
  4. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. Averaged 60.97 at test level, a figure exceeded among thos to have played 20+ games only by Don Bradman and Adam Voges, the latter of whom was lucky in his opponents – his sole Ashes series was a poor one. A twitter correspondent yesterday suggested that he should have been in my non-county XI, and very constructively suggested I drop George Giffen to make way for him. I acknowledge the validity of the comments by naming him here.
  5. *Clive Lloyd – left handed batter and captain. 7,515 test runs, a century in the first men’s world cup final in 1975. He was the man behind the West Indies ‘four fast bowlers’ strategy that propelled them to the top of the cricket world and kept them there for a long time. As such there could be no better captain for an ‘all time’ squad whose chief feature is an attack of four fast bowlers. A twitter correspondent suggested that I could have found a place for him in yesterday’s best overseas county player team, again a perfectly valid suggestion, and I hope his presence here in the role he played so successfully IRL will be taken as a suitable acknowledgement.
  6. Steve Waugh – right handed batter. Probably the finest ever to be a regular no 6. He played 168 test matches, and in spite of not reaching three figures until the 27th of those he ended up with a batting average of over 50. His twin tons at Old Trafford in conditions with which none of the 21 other batters in that match came to terms were a particularly outstanding example of his toughness and determination.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Statistically the greatest keeper batter ever to play test cricket.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. His record speaks for itself.
  9. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. Probably the greatest fast bowler of the golden age of West Indies fast bowling.
  10. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler. The lowest bowling average of any bowler to have taken over 400 test wickets. A twitter correspondent yesterday queried the absence of Joel Garner from my overseas county stars team, and suggested that perhaps I was placing too much stress on balance: “with Macko and Bird bowling together do you need balance?” While not wholly agreeing I acknowledge that the objection had weight (after all, I did include Garner in my Somerset team), and the selection of this side is an acknowledgement that one can rely exclusively on fast bowling. Rather than ‘big bird’ I opted for another extra tall fast bowler whose record was even better.
  11. Waqar Younis – right arm fast bowler. His ability to produce greased lightning yorkers seemingly on demand led cricket journalist Martin Johnson to write “when a pitch does not favour him, Waqar Younis does not bother to use it.” At one time he was probably the fastest in the world, and his great record stands as testament to his overall effectiveness.

This side has an awesome top six, a fabulous keeper batter and four awesome specialist fast bowlers. In Clive Lloyd they have the perfect captain to handle an attack thus constituted, and their opponents will need to be on their mettle to have a chance.

THE BALANCED XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter. Known universally as ‘The Master’, he tallied 61,237 first class runs with 197 centuries, both all time records. He still holds the England records for Ashes runs and centuries, with 3,636 and 12 respectively, the last made at the age of 46 making him test cricket’s oldest ever centurion.
  2. Bert Sutcliffe – left handed opening batter. The Kiwi’s most astounding performance came for Otago versus Canterbury, when he scored 385 in an all out tally of 500, and Canterbury in their two innings combined managed 382 off the bat all told! On the 1949 tour of England he aggregated more first class runs than any other tourist save only for Bradman. Given his left handedness and the challenge posed by pairs comprise one left and one right handed batters, and his outstanding skill there is every reason to believe that this Hobbs/Sutcliffe opening pair would be every bit as effective as the original.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, brilliant close fielder. The only cricketer to have achieved the career first class treble of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches, and indeed the only outfielder ever to have taken 1,000 catches.
  4. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, occasional left arm medium fast. The first black captain of the West Indies, and he led them to the top of the cricket world. Before his time success had been something of a rarity for the West Indies. CLR James contributed a chapter on him to “Cricket: The Great Captains”, and also gives him extensive coverage in “Beyond a Boundary”, and the name Worrell occurs again and again in the pages of the collection of CLR James writings titled simply “Cricket”.
  5. Walter Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast, ace slipper. The first ever to reach 7,000 test runs (7,249 at 58.45), the first fielder to pouch 100 test catches and sometimes useful with his bowling as well. He scored seven test match double centuries, four of them against the oldest enemy – 251 and 200 not out in successive matches in 1928-9, 231 not out in 1936-7 and 240 at Lord’s in 1938, which stood for 52 years as the highest score by an England captain.
  6. Garry Sobersleft handed batter, every kind of left arm bowler known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete all rounder there has ever been. He is the fulcrum of this side, enabling it to have a vast range of options.
  7. +Leslie Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The only recognized keeper to have scored 100 first class hundreds, holds the record for most career stumpings (over 400 of them, to go with 700 catches). In two of the first three years in which the Lawrence trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season Ames won it (the intervening time it went to another Kent legend Frank Woolley).
  8. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. I covered him in my Northamptonshire piece. Suffice to say that he was probably the quickest there has ever been.
  9. Sydney Francis Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. Probably the greatest of all bowlers. 27 test matches yielded him 189 wickets at 16.43 each. His special weapon was a leg break delivered at fast medium pace, beautifully described by Ian Peebles, himself a former test bowler, in a piece titled “Barnes The Pioneer” which appears in “The Faber Book of Cricket”.
  10. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner. The all time leading taker of test wickets, with 800 of them at a rate of just about six per game (Barnes had he played the same number of tests and maintained his wicket taking rate would have had approximately 930 test wickets). His 16 wickets on a plumb Oval pitch in 1998 (England batted first, Sri Lnaka scored nearly 600 in between the two England efforts) remains the greatest match performance I have ever seen by bowler. Two years before that he had been one of the heroes of the Sri Lankam world cup winning side, which relied as much on its phalanx of spinners not getting collared as it did on its dazzling batting line up. 
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. He never got to play test cricket, his prime years coming just too early for that (and I mean just – in 1876 he took 17 wickets in a match against Hampshire, which Hampshire sneaked by one wicket). I note that he played for a county who have always been unfashionable (Derbyshire), and that 138 first class games yielded him 863 first class wickets at 12.09 each. I believe he would be even more devastating as part of the attack I have created here than he actually was. His brother Thomas was a wicket keeper, and this combination and the Nottinghamshire pair of fast bowler Frank Shacklock and keeper Mordecai Sherwin may well have been the inspiration for the names of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle was a cricket fanatic, and a very useful cricketer, some times turning out for MCC, and at least once accounting for WG Grace, albeit his bowling was not required until that worthy had 110 to his name). His presence alongside Tyson means that this side have some heavy weaponry of their own to counter the pace onslaught, as India did not in 1975-6, nor England in 1976, 1980 or 1984.

This side has a strong and varied top five, the greatest of all all rounders at six, a legendary keeper batter at seven and four superbly varied bowlers. The bowling, with Mycroft, Tyson, Barnes and Muralitharan backed up by Sobers, Woolley, Hammond and Worrell has pretty much every base covered.

THE CONTEST

This would be an epic contest. The toss would hardly be needed, since Lloyd would probably want to bowl first and Worrell would definitely want to bat first. Although I acknowledge that as exemplified by the West Indies under Lloyd a team with four fast bowlers can be well nigh unbeatable I am going to predict that it is Frank Worrell’s side who would emerge victorious.

SOLUTION TO TEASER

Yesterday I offered up the following from brilliant:

I got the the correct answer by first identifying the size of the large square from which the ‘L’ section comes – it is 16 by 16. I then counted backwards round the spiral to arrive at the size of the next largest square in the relevant segment – 12 X 12. So the answer we are looking for, for the area of the ‘L’ section is (16 x 16) – (12 x 12), which is equal to 256 – 144 = 112 units. NB – it took me less long to do the actual working out, which I did in my head, than it has to type this explanation.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Our two contending XIs have been introduced, I have provided a solution to the teaser I posed yesterday, which leaves on one thing to do before applying my usual sign off. Pete Wharmby has produced a superb thread about ‘functioning labels’ in relation to autism. His advice is the autism equivalent of Darwin’s famous note to himself about evolutionary biology: “avoid the words higher and lower.” I urge you to read his piece in full, which you can do here. Now for my usual sign off…

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A Black Headed gull.

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The beak is a slightly darker maroon than a well looked after West Indies cap.

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Pace v Balanced
The team in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs -The Cognominal Clash

For my latest variation on the ‘All time XI’ cricket theme I offer you the Cognominal Contest for the ‘Nugget-Davo’ Trophy! Also features a video clip of the little gem that is Tammy Beaumont, an important autism related link and a few photos.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest variation upon an ‘all time XI‘ theme. This one requires a little bit of preliminary explanation, so without further ado…

THE COGNOMINAL BRIEF

I have devised the word cognominal myself from the Latin cognomen, meaning nickname. Some Roman cognomina were merely functional: Scaevola indicated that the cognominee or an ancestor (cognomina were often inherited) was left handed, Magnus or Maximus indicated achievement, arrogance or some combination of the foregoing, since the meant great and greatest respectively, and there were many other such. Others pointed up features, so that if an ancestor had a wart on their nose one might inherit the cognomen Cicero, meaning chickpea because that was what the wart looked like. Others were ironic – the first Claudius to be cognominated Pulcher meaning beautiful was so dubbed because he had a decidedly unbeautiful character, and some could be cruel – the already multiply cognominated Gaius Julius Caesar Strabo Vopiscus (Caesar implying possession of a luxuriant head of hair, Strabo meaning ‘cross-eyed’ and Vopiscus meaning that he was the survivor of what had been a pair of twins) subsequently acquired Sesquiculus, not just an arsehole but an arsehole and a half! Cricketer nicknames can be excellent or they can show an utter lack of imagination. The Cognominal Clash features an XI who had impressive nicknames and an XI whose nicknames were all in the ‘must do better’ category. Some of the players I have placed in the latter XI also had less unimpressive nicknames, but I have played fair in terms of creating a contest by picking two decent looking teams. It is now time to meet the teams starting with the…

LAME NICKNAMES XI

  1. Graham Gooch – Goochie – right handed batter, right arm bowler of a pace that was described at various stages of his career as anything from fast medium to slow medium, scorer of 8,900 test runs, one of the openers for my all-time Essex XI. As well as his ‘must do better’ nickname his moustache caused him to be dubbed ‘Zap’ in honour of the Mexican revolutionary Zapata. I personally rate the 154 not out in a team total of 252 all out on a pig of a pitch and in the face Ambrose at his most host hostile at Headingley in 1991 to have been the finest innings he ever played, although he scored more on quite a few occasions.
  2. Matthew Hayden – Haydos – left handed batter, very occasional medium pacer. He was also referred to as Hulk on account of his size and his approach to batting. He was the first to cash in on the brain fade that led Nasser Hussain to put Australia in at the Gabba in 2002, walloping 197 in the first innings and then belting another ton in the second innings. He finished with a test average of over 50, in spite of a dreadful run spanning the first four matches of the 2005 Ashes.
  3. *Michael Vaughan – Vaughany – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, uncertain catcher. The elegant right hander, who also had the nickname Virgil, crunched three centuries in ultimately losing cause in the 2002-3 Ashes series (not a record, Herbert Sutcliffe hit four centuries for England in the 1924-5 Ashes which Australia won 4-1) but got his revenge when he captained England to victory in the 2005 series. In the home summer of 2002 the Indians found weaknesses, but not generally until a double century (approached closely on two occasions but never actually reached) was on the horizon!
  4. Neil Harvey – Harv – left handed batter. At the age 19 Neil Harvey ran up a ton in his first Ashes innings, at Headingley in 1948, and by the time he called it a day he had amassed over 6,000 test runs at an average of 48.41.
  5. Mike Gatting – Gatt – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. He benefitted from being far more chances to establish himself in test cricket than most, and after taking over 50 innings to notch his first three figure score at that level he ended up producing sufficiently much more to finish with an average of 35.
  6. Ian Botham – Both – right handed bat, right arm fast medium bowler. The all rounder, who also had some more colourful monikers such as Beefy (for his build), Guy and Gorilla, both in honour of a popular resident of London Zoo, took just 21 matches to complete the test double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets.
  7. +Ian Healy – Heals – wicket keeper, right handed lower middle order bat. The most accomplished male Australian wicket keeper I have actually seen in action, and without doubt, even in a team captained Steve Waugh, the undisputed world sledging champion for pretty much his entire career. Adam ‘Church’ Gilchrist was of course a far better wielder of the willow, though Healy could be a major irritant in that department as well. Why did I specify male Australian wicket keeper? Well, Alyssa Healy, Ian’s niece, is a very fine practitioner with the gloves as well and undoubtedly a finer striker of the ball than her uncle was.
  8. Shane Warne – Warney – leg spinner, attacking lower order bat. He took over 700 wickets in test cricket, and was only once in 14 years on the losing end of an Ashes series, in 2005. He was also a shrewd tactician, and although I have honoured Vaughan with the captaincy, I name him as vice-captain, and was severely tempted to name him as captain.
  9. John Emburey – Embers – off spinner and unorthodox right handed lower order bat. He also had the marginally less unimaginative moniker Ernie, derived from his middle name of Ernest. He was four times an Ashes winner, at home in 1981 and 1985 and away in 1978-9 and 1986-7.
  10. Jeff Thomson – Thommo – right arm fast bowler and occasionally useful right arm lower order batter. One of those mentioned when discussion arises about who was the fastest bowler ever. He was at his best in the second half of the 1970s, and although he toured England in 1985 he was by then approaching 35, and unlike Lillee, his most famous bowling partner, he did not have the technical virtuosity to turn himself into a quality operator once the pace had gone, which meant he posed little threat by then.
  11. Matthew Hoggard – Hoggy or The Hogster – right arm fast medium, sometimes adhesive as a lower order batter. He took over 300 test wickets, and unlike many who make their names gaining movement on green pitches and under grey English skies he did not lose much of his effectiveness abroad. His career batting highlight was undoubtedly at Trent Bridge in 2005 when his cool head pulled England through what had every appearance of a crisis – chasing 129 to win and go one up with one to play England were 116-7 with only Harmison and a crocked Simon Jones to follow when Hoggard walked into bat. Hoggard and Giles scored those 13 runs, with Hoggard latching on to a full toss from Brett Lee for a crucial boundary to ease the tension. The full value of that little innings was illustrated a couple of weeks later, when a combination of the weather, some odd Australian decision making (accepting an offer of the light when they were pummelling England’s bowlers, and they needed there to be as much play as possible, since only a win could do them any good) and an extraordinary knock by Kevin Pietersen, well supported by that man Giles, saw England draw the match and claim the Ashes which had been in Australian hands since 1989.

The ‘Lame Nicknames’ have a solid opening pair, a contrasting 3,4 and 5, an x-factor all rounder, a keeper who can bat, two spinners who would complement each other nicely and Thommo to take the new ball with the wind behind him, while Hoggy gets his regular job of opening into the wind. Now it is time to meet…

THE COOL NICKNAMES XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – The Master – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. The scorer of 61,237 first class runs, including a 197 centuries at that level, both all-time records. His tallies of 3,636 runs and 12 centuries are England Ashes records, beaten only by Bradman (5,028 runs and 19 centuries). You may have seen other figures given for his first class records, but Hobbs himself vehemently opposed any changes to traditionally accepted figures. I am 100% certain that Hobbs would not have retired had he believed himself to be only one short of 200 centuries rather than three. He opens for my Surrey All Time XI.
  2. *WG Grace – The Champion – right handed opening bat, right arm bowler of various types, close fielder. He had a wide variety of other nicknames over the course of his long, illustrious and richly storied career. He tallied 54,896 first class runs, including 126 centuries and took 2,876 first class wickets, both records at the time of his retirement, and both still in the top half dozen all-time figures. The revisionists who increase Hobbs’ tallies decrease Grace’s, reducing his century county by two, an action which retrospectively nullifies the scenes at Taunton in 1925 when Hobbs scored his 126th and 127th first class centuries there to equal and then break the Grace record. Of course it is unthinkable for anyone else to captain this side, just as he captains my all time Gloucestershire XI.
  3. George Headley – Atlas – right handed batter, nicknamed after the titan of Greek mythology who carried the world on his shoulders, because he carried the West Indies on his shoulders. Twice he scored twin tons in test matches.
  4. Mike Hussey – Mr Cricket – left handed batter. He averaged over 50 in test cricket, and in the 2010-11 Ashes series down under it was only when England got him cheaply at Melbourne and Sydney that Australia’s resistance definitively crumbled.
  5. Clem Hill – Kruger – left handed batter, brilliant fielder. Hill amassed eight test centuries, which was a record until Hobbs overhauled it. At Old Trafford in 1902, when Australia secured the Ashes with a victory by three runs he had a ‘champagne moment’, when he sprinted thirty yards and then dived to take a catch that accounted for Dick Lilley – and it is claimed that his momentum carried him on a further twenty yards beyond where he actually held the catch! This catch made the difference between England needing eight with one wicket left and needing four with two wickets left, so it can genuinely be claimed as a catch that won a match. He was one of the ‘big six’ who refused to travel to England in 1912 because of a quarrel with the then newly established Australian Board of Control for International Cricket, later the Australian Cricket Board and now Cricket Australia. During the 1911-2 Ashes, won 4-1 by England, Hill was involved in a selectorial row that turned physical – he and Peter McAlister who were at loggerheads regarding the board anyway disputed over the right make up of the team, insults were exchanged, and an outraged Hill snapped and slapped McAlister’s face, which was the start of a brawl between the two that allegedly lasted twenty minutes. The ‘Kruger’ nickname arose because of a supposed physical similarity between him and the great South African leader.
  6. Alfred Mynn – The Lion of Kent – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The best all rounder of the 1830s and 40s.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – The Croucher – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. His nickname was derived from his batting stance, and is perhaps not all that cool, but I was prepared to compromise to set up a contest in which Jessop and Botham were on opposite teams.
  8. FR Spofforth – The Demon – right arm fast bowler (added many variations later in his career), right handed bat. Frederick Robert Spofforth announced himself to English audiences at Lord’s in 1878, when he was brought on to replace Frank Allan (dubbed ‘bowler of the century’ in the pretour publicity – Aussie mind games are nothing new) with the MCC score reading 27-2. MCC were all out for 33, Spofforth 6-4 in 23 deliveries! The Australians fared little better, inching their way to a very slow 41, after which the Australian captain did not call on Allan but went straight to Spofforth and Harry Boyle. This time MCC were all out for 19, with Boyle the chief destroyer capturing 6-3, while Spofforth had 4-16. Needing 12 to win, Australia lost one wicket getting them, the game ended on the same day it had started, and that aggregate of 105 runs for 31 wickets remains the lowest ever for a completed first class match. Spofforth was injured for the inaugural test on English soil in 1880, which the hosts won, but in 1882 he produced the bowling performance that created The Ashes, 14-90 in the match, seven of them in the second England innings, when needing only 85 to win the hosts crashed for 77 and were beaten by seven runs. England reached 50 with only two batters, Hornby and Barlow, gone, but then Ulyett was out 51 and crucially, Grace at 53, for only the second 30 plus score of the match, 32. Lyttelton and Lucas froze like rabbits in headlights, and Hornby, a poor choice as skipper, started tinkering with the batting order, and that was where the match was lost. Spofforth ultimately settled in England, marrying a woman from Derbyshire, and turning out a few times for that county.
  9. Charles Turner – The Terror -right arm medium-fast. Just as England were thinking that the terrors of Spofforth and Boyle were safely behind them, another amazing Aussie bowling pair arrived on the scene, Turner and the left armer Jack Ferris. Medium-fast described Turner’s pace, but leaves his method entirely out of account. He had formidably strong fingers (he could crush an orange to pulp between his thumb and forefinger), and gave the ball a ferocious rip, generating vicious .movement in any and all conditions. Only one bowler has ever taken 100 first class wickets in an Australian season – Turner in 1887-8.
  10. William Lillywhite – The Nonpareil – right arm fast, right handed lower order bat. He was one of the pioneers of ’round arm’ bowling, the form that came between under arm and over arm, and with his regular partner James Broadbridge he turned Sussex into a force that could take on the Rest of England, a situation that has never been the case since then and had not previously been the case. Some bowlers today still bowl with their arms at similar height to the position used by Lillywhite – I refer you to Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lankan slinger. In any case, I suspect Lillywhite would have been delighted to be allowed to bowl proper over arm and would have done so magnificiently – a champion in one era would be a champion in any era. About that nickname, courtesy of merriam-webster.com:
    Nonpareil MW

    Note the first entry under the ‘noun’ section.
  11. +EJ Smith – Tiger – wicketkeeper, was wont to say that he was willing to bat at no 1 or no 11 but nowhere in between, so I have given him his second choice, no 1 having a prior claimant! The nickname owed to his ferocious disposition. He kept at a time when wicket keepers habitually stood up no matter who was bowling, and I would guarantee that ‘St Smith B Spofforth’ would appear at least once, and probably more in scorecards featuring these teams.

This team has a top of the range opening pair, a wonderful array at nos 3-5, two ferocious all rounders at six and seven, a fine and varied trio of bowlers who would live up to their fearsome cognomina and a brilliant keeper who would let nothing through.

THE CONTEST

The battle for what I shall call the “Nugget – Davo” Trophy, honouring Keith Miller and Alan Davidson, who I could not find a place for in the two teams would be intense and hard fought, but I think the ‘Cool Nicknames’ would have the edge on as well as off the field and I would expect them to emerge victorious.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The scene has been set for the Cognominal Clash for the ‘Nugget-Davo’ Trophy, but I have a few links to share before applying my usual sign off.

One final cricket related link – as drawn to my attention by the pinchhitter blog, England cricket are honouring their female batting stars this week. Our ‘cool nicknames’ XI features a fast scorer of diminutive stature, 5’7″ Gilbert Jessop, and this video courtesy of England cricket shows and even smaller player, Tammy Beaumont climbing into South Africa to the tune of a 47-ball hundred (and it’s not slogging – these are high class cricket shots struck with perfect timing):

Charlie Hancock, an autistic writer who I follow on twitter has contributed two magnificent pieces to spyglass magazine this month, which between them make a superb ten points:

Please read both, and on that note, due to the weather being uncooperative I there is less to my standard sign off than usual…

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Nicknames battle
The teams in tabulated form with abbreviated comments.