Welcome to the latest stage of my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Fs are in the spotlight, and they start with 51 of a possible 75 points.
THE Fs V THE Qs
The Fs dominate in all departments, with only Quinton de Kock theoretically winning his match up against CB Fry, and that comes with the caveat that Fry played on uncovered pitches and was known for his skill on bad surfaces. This is an obvious Fs 5, Qs 0.
THE Fs v THE Rs
The Rs are better in the top five slots, though a larger sample size and the small difference between averages certainly squares the Fredericks/ Rogers match up. Additionally Faulkner offers a bowling option, which none of the Rs top five do to the same extent. Fender outranks Robins as a player while both were superb captains, Foakes is clear of Russell with the bat and of similarly stratospheric standards with the gloves. Freeman, Ferris and Foster have to be rated ahead of Roberts, Rabada and Richardson as a pace combo, though Rhodes far outranks Flowers as a finger spinner. As against that on a turning surface the Rs could only deploy front line spin from one end, their best back up spin options being Richards and Root, both part timers, whereas the Fs have the wrist spinning talents of Fender and Faulkner at their disposal. I give the Fs a comfortable margin of superiority here: Fs 4, Rs 1.
THE Fs V THE Ss
The Ss have a massive batting superiority, though the Fs are ahead in bowling, especially in the spin department, where Stevens and the slow bowling incarnation of Sobers are well behind the Flowers/ Fender/ Faulkner trio. Foakes is far the better keeper, and Fender outranks G Smith as a skipper. The Ss will give a good account of themselves, but the Fs have the better bowling guns and will win: Fs 3, Ss 2.
THE Fs V THE Ts
The Ts have the better opening pair, and also win the numbers 4,5 and 6 slots with the bat. Tarrant is ahead of Faulkner with the ball, and any advantage Bob Taylor has behind the stumps is accounted for by Foakes’ better batting. Also I rate Fender ahead of ‘Tubs’ as a skipper, though the Aussie was a worthy successor to Border in that role. Trumble comfortably outranks Flowers as an off spinner, but his position at number eight is telling as to which side had greater batting depth. The Ts pace trio are much quicker than the Fs, but the Fs are more varied, and overall a better combination. The Ts would win on turning surfaces but not elsewhere: Fs 3, Ts 2.
THE Fs V THE Us
The Fs are stronger in the top three batting slots, lose batting wise in positions 4 and 5, though Faulkner’s bowling mitigates that. Umrigar gives the Us extra batting strength, but he was a bit part bowler, ranking comfortably below either Faulkner or Fender. Fender outranks Misbah ul Haq as skipper. Umar Akmal outbats Foakes, but is simply not in his league as a keeper. The ordinary Umar Gul and unproven Umran Malik, plus Ulyett the bowler are way adrift of Ferris, Freeman and Foster as a pace trio. Underwood and Ur Rahman are probably better than any pairing from Flowers, Fender and Faulkner, but there are only two of them, with the expensive Umrigar third spin option. I think the Fs have a clear but not whitewash advantage here: Fs 4, Us 1.
THE Fs PROGRESS REPORT
The Fs have accrued 19 of a possible 25 points today and are now on 70 out of 100, 70% exactly.
My usual sign off…