A look at today#s BBL game, and how Brisbane Heat got absolutely blown apart by the team who came into today bottom of the table.
Today in the Big Bash League Brisbane Heat took on Sydney Thunder, with both sides desperate for a win.
THE HEAT INNINGS
Jimmy Peirson won the toss for Brisbane Heat and decided that they would bat first. This was the first and only thing that went right for them all match.
After six overs they were limping at 26-3. Peirson joined Munro for a rebuilding act at that point, and the pair were still together at the end of the 14th over, and the scoring rate was still below six an over. Time for the Power Surge you would think, but Peirson bottled taking it. A few balls into the 15th over Peirson was out and the chance of taking the Surge with two well set batters together had gone. In the end Peirson’s cowardice resulted in Heat’s Power Surge being the last two overs of their innings, with six wickets down. Unsurprisingly in those circumstances they did little with it, and ended with a final total of 121-6. In a T20, even on a pitch that is not particularly batter friendly that kind of score should never be enough…
THE THUNDER INNINGS
…Sydney Thunder’s openers, Gilkes and Hales, immediately put Heat’s pathetic effort in to proper context. By the halfway stage of the innings they were 87-0, needing just 35 more to win. A brutal onslaught against Swepson in the 11th over reduced that target to 10 off nine overs, and three fours in four balls by Hales off Steketee in the next over completed a ten wicket win for Thunder with 50 balls to spare. Gilkes, Sydney Thunder’s keeper as well as one of their opening batters, was named Player of the Match, having scored 56* (34) to Hales’ 59* (36). Sydney Thunder won so comprehensively that Peirson bungling the timing of Brisbane Heat’s Power Surge probably did no more than increase the severity of the beating that Heat took, but nevertheless it was terrible captaincy by him. I personally thought he should have called it at the end of the 12th by when he and Munro had been together six overs, and not calling it at the end of the 13th or the end of the 14th, when the pair were still together was beyond stupid. It is hard to see how Heat pick themselves up from this blasting at the hands of the team who came into today bottom of the table, and it is hard to see how Peirson can be allowed to remain captain. Scorecard here.
A look at developments in the Big Bash League, including yet another example of a Power Surge blunder.
Today Hobart Hurricanes beat Melbourne Renegades by eight runs, a result that means every team in the Big Bash League has won at least one match and suffered at least one defeat. However as I was only able to follow that game by way of cricinfo and therefore have only a fragmentary picture of it I shall say nothing further about it. Yesterday’s match, between Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat, in which the former lost their own unbeaten record is a different matter, as there was radio commentary on that one.
THE BRISBANE HEAT INNINGS
Having won the toss and decided to bat Heat did not start well, but Sam Billings played a superb knock. They also took their two over Power Surge (see here for my thoughts on this) at a sensible time. They reached 166-7 in the end, with Billings scoring 79.
ANOTHER POWER SURGE MESS UP
Strikers were behind the rate right through the chase, but would probably have won had they taken any of three opportunities to claim the Power Surge with Colin de Grandhomme and Thomas Kelly at the crease. These opportunities would have been claiming the Surge for overs 13-14, 14-15 or 15-16. Failure to take it for the first was semi-defensible, the second failure was crazy and the third downright criminal. Strikers’ exceedingly experienced skipper Peter Siddle should have got a message out to the two batters instructing them to take the Power Surge once they had twice failed to do so. In the event Kelly fell in the 15th over, De Grandhomme in the 16th, with the Surge still unused, which left only lower order batters for the Strikers. Strikers never did get on terms with the required run rate, and it was only Siddle hitting the last ball of the match for six, with the result already settled, that kept the margin to six runs. Michael Neser bowled an excellent 19th over for the Heat, basically closing out the match for them, and finishing with 2-23 from his four overs. Mark Steketee took four wickets but was also expensive. However, batters usually get favoured when there is competition for the Player of the Match award, and so unsurprisingly it went to Billings for his knock. This was the third time in as many days that a team being over cautious about going for the Power Surge were punished by losing the match. In the situation the Strikers were in it was essential to take the Surge when De Grandhomme and Kelly were together. I would have preferred an out and out throw down of the gauntlet, taking it for overs 11 and 12 to the actual over-caution shown by the players. Only Peter Siddle, as experienced as he is, will know why when they weren’t claiming it for themselves he did not attempt to get a message out to the two batters telling them that they needed to do so.
A look at the Big Bash League’s great innovation, the Power Surge and how best to use it, with a couple of classic examples of it being misused on successive days.
With the Big Bash League now in full swing this post is dedicated to that competition’s great innovation, the Power Surge (they had two others but have binned both the ‘supersub’ and the ‘Bash Boost Point’). I am writing it because yesterday and today I saw two classic examples of mistiming the Power Surge, whereas in the WBBL earlier this year the sides were nearly all excellent at judging when to go for it.
WHAT IS A POWER SURGE?
Most T20 innings around the world begin with six overs of ‘Power Play’, when only two fielders are allowed to be posted more than 30 yards from the bat and then have 14 overs of regular play when up to five fielders can be outside that 30 yard radius. The Power Surge variation, which I am a huge supporter of, has the innings start with four overs of Power Play, with the remaining two to be taken at the batting side’s discretion at any point after the end of the 10th over.
WHEN SHOULD THE POWER SURGE BE TAKEN?
There are a range of good answers depending on exact circumstances but the key thing to remember is that a successful Power Surge is not just about how many runs you score from those overs, it is about how many more runs you score from those overs than you would have done in regular play. Therefore using it in the ‘death overs’, when you would be scoring very fast anyway is not making full use of it. Ideally you would want both batters to have faced at least a few balls by calling for the Power Surge but if by the end of the 15th over you have not found a really suitable time to take it then take it for overs 16-17 irrespective of anything else, as a launchpad into the death overs.
POWER SURGE FAIL 1: JIMMY PEIRSON (BRISBANE HEAT)
Brisbane Heat made an awful start to yesterday’s match against Melbourne Renegades, losing three early wickets. However at the end of the 10th over, the fourth wicket partnership was still going, and this represented the golden opportunity to take the Power Surge with two set batters there to make use of it. Both batters fell in the 11th over, meaning a spot of retrenchment was needed. At the end of the 14th over the sixth wicket stand was still going, both batters had faced a reasonable number of balls, and this represented what will call the silver opportunity to take the Power Surge – both batters in to an extent, and enough overs left for the Surge to act as a good launch pad. Peirson neglected to call for it, and the partnership was broken in the 15th over. Peirson dithered and delayed over the Power Surge, and only took it when obliged to for the last two overs of the innings. Those two overs did yield a respectable number of runs, but not in my opinion any more than overs 19 and 20 would with regular field placements. Heat finished with 137-8. This looked a good total when Renegades were 9-4 in response, but Andre Russell and Akeal Hosein played excellent innings, while Finch anchored the innings at the other end. Renegades timed their Power Surge better than Heat, and Finch after playing second fiddle to Russell and Hosein stepped up at the death to see his side to a deserved victory.
POWER SURGE FAIL 2: MATT WADE (HURRICANES)
Today’s match (Sydney Sixers v Hobart Hurricanes) was complicated by a long rain delay, which reduced it to a 14 overs per side contest, and reduced the Power Play and Power Surge allocations to three and one overs respectively. Sixers won the toss, batted first, and although they missed a golden opportunity, when both openers were still there at the end of the seventh over, they did take a silver opportunity, taking it for the 11th over of their innings. They finished with 137-6 from their 14 overs. Hurricanes dropped behind the rate from the start of their innings, but were incredibly reluctant to use their Surge over. Eventually, they claimed it for the 13th over, but by then they needed 45 off two overs, and although Asif Ali made good use of that Surge Over, 21 were still needed off the final over. When an excellent boundary catch by Jordan Silk put a stop to Ali’s antics early in the final over the writing was on the wall, and only a six off the last ball of the match with it already lost restricted the final margin to six runs. Again the criticism of the Hurricanes approach is that Ali could easily have gone crazy in the penultimate over of the match against regular field placings, and had they taken the Power Surge earlier they may have been in a position when a big penultimate over would actually have put them in charge.
AN ALL TIME FRANCHISE XI
Since I am writing about franchise cricket, which I don’t do all that often I end with a challenge and an example answer: Using your own country as the home country and IPL overseas player rules (i.e. up to four in an XI) name your franchise XI made up exclusively of players from before the franchise era.
Thomas’ sample answer:
Home Country: England
XI in batting order:
G St A Sobers (West Indies, left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, gun fielder)
G L Jessop (Right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, gun fielder)
F E Woolley (Left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder).
D C S Compton (Right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner)
*K R Miller (Australia, right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, gun fielder, captain)
+L E G Ames (right handed batter, keeper)
G H Hirst (right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler, gun fielder)
J B King (United States, right arm fast bowler, right handed batter)
J C Laker (off spinner, right handed batter)
A Shaw (right arm slow/medium bowler, right handed batter)
C V Grimmett (Australia, leg spinner, right handed batter)
Looking at the Big Bash League in the light of today’s game and providing some thoughts about the Power Surge.
The group stage of this tenth edition of the Big Bash League is entering its closing stages, with Sixers clear at the top, Renegades adrift at the bottom (certain not to qualify for the knockouts – 10 points adrift of the last qualifying spot with only eight left to play for) and six teams battling for four spots. From Scorchers in second down to Strikers in seventh the teams are separated by just four points,although third placed Stars have played a game more than the others in this sextet.
The Thunder, who had looked comfortable were dragged into the maelstrom when the Hurricanes beat them in a rain affected game, successfully chasing a DLS adjusted target. Yesterday Scorchers absolutely thrashed Heat to claim second spot in the group. This sets the stage for…
THE MELBOURNE DERBY
Stars had a chance of going second as they took on rock bottom Renegades today. The Stars batted first, and bizarrely the first over of the match was a maiden. Andre Fletcher failed to get going properly, taking eight balls to get off the mark, and getting out after hitting two fours, which gave him 11 off 14 balls. Nick Larkin came in at three, and he too struggled for a large part of his innings. The Power Play overs ended with Stars 27-1. In the ninth over Stoinis, who had been doing most of the scoring, fell for 37 to make it 58-2, Coulter-Nile, a fast bowler who has had some success with his big hitting batting was promoted with a view to increasing the Bash Boost target. Unfortunately the gamble back fired as he was out first ball to make it 58-3. That brought Maxwell in, and at the end of the tenth it was 63-3, a modest halfway score. Maxwell fell early in the second half of the innings, and by the end of the 15th, with a Power Surge to come, Stars had put up the 100, Larkin still there, but as yet having done little to impress.
Finally, with the score 111-4 after 16, Stars took the Power Surge. They fared reasonably well, scoring 21 runs and losing two wickets in those two overs, which left them on 132-6 after 18. They then did produce a big finish, 26 off the last two overs to total 158-6 from their 20. Larkin after taking 28 balls to reach 20 finished 61 not out off 47, 41 off his last 19 balls, but his dilatoriness in those first 28 would come back to haunt his team.
Renegades began dreadully in reply, limping to 17-2 in their Power Play overs. They improved in overs 5-10 but were still 10 runs adrift at the half way point, 53-3 as opposed to 63-3. They too were slow in claiming their Power Surge, waiting to the end of the 15th, at which point they were 96-4. They made decent use of the two over Surge, but still required 41 off three overs to win. Over number 18 was a big one for them, reducing the ask to 25 off 12 balls, and then the 19th settled it, 19 runs in total coming from it, leaving Renegades six to get in the final over. A boundary for Webster, taking him to 22 off nine balls, finished things, but the real key was Harvey, 47 not out off 22 balls, an innings that deservedly earned him the Player of the Match award. It was perhaps fitting that an attack minded left hander named Harvey should play the key role in settling a match between two Melbourne based sides.
POWER SURGE THOUGHTS
Of the three innovations in this years Big Bash League the Power Surge is the one that intrigues me the most. The ‘x-factor sub’ belongs in the circular file, the Bash Boost point is proving to be a huge success, and I also like the concept of the Power Surge, but feel that its application has been lacking, with sides too inclined to leave it late and therefore ending up not really benefitting from it (nb Brian Charles Lara who knows a bit about batting is on my side on this one).
The infographic I created for this post, which you will have seen at the head of it, and which reappears to end this section, outlines my thoughts on this issue, and I will add to it just this: sides going into the second half of their innings should be inclined to go early rather than late with the Power Surge and should delay it only if there are strong reasons, such as a wicket falling in the tenth over, for doing so. I can see no merit at all in using it any later than overs 15 and 16, as you should be getting big runs off the closing overs anyway even without the extra fielding restrictions.
I have two galleries to share with you today, the first featuring my newest acquisitions, and the second my regular fare:
A look back at the recent Australia v India test match, and at today’s amazing BBL game between Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat, plus some thoughts on the BBL’s innovations for this year.
No, on this occasion my title does not refer to Mohammad Irfan and Poonam Yadav, though in another context it could! Instead I refer to the longest and shortest formats of top level cricket – 5-day test cricket and T20.
INDIA MAKE IT 1-1 WITH VICTORY AT MELBOURNE
India had lost the first match of the series at Adelaide after being bowled out for 36 in their second innings (see this post for more on that game), and Kohli had departed from the squad to be present at the birth of his child. Australia batted first, and with Bumrah and Ashwin featuring prominently, were dismissed for 195, no one managing to reach 50. India responded with a determined batting effort led by stand-in skipper Rahane who redeemed himself for running out Kohli in Adelaide by reaching a gritty century, while Ravindra Jadeja, one of the finest of contemporary all-rounders and a brilliant fielder to boot, contributed 62 to the cause, and India built a first innings lead of 131. At one point it looked like they might not have to bat again, but young Cameron Green and Pat Cummins resisted stoutly to take Australia into credit and the game into a fourth day. Green and Cummins continued their partnership on the fourth morning, but once they were separated resistance was limited. For the second time in the match no Aussie managed a fifty, but they did just reach 200 before Hazlewood shouldered arms to a straight one and was bowled to end the innings. Low totals have sometimes been defended, but very rarely as low as 70, and India lost only two wickets in reaching their goal.
Steve Smith failed twice, Labuschagne managed some resistance in the first innings but not a substantial score, and Cameron Green’s promise aside there do not appear to many sources of runs for Australia at the moment, and bowlers, even such fine ones as Australia possess, cannot win matches if they don’t have anything to defend. David Warner returns for the next match at the SCG, with presumably the shockingly out of form and lacking in confidence Joe Burns dropping out. Also waiting in the wings, though currently not fully fit for action, is Will Pucovski who has produced some Ponsfordesque scores for Victoria. Travis Head in the Aussie middle order has what appears to be a respectable batting average, but what his average does not show is the fact that he has a severe case of ‘Watsonitis’ – he scores runs, but never seems able to turn a good start into a really major innings.
India meanwhile are strengthened by the return from injury of Rohit Sharma, who will presumably resume his opening berth alongside Agarwal.
This section is provoked by today’s astonishing game between Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat (the Hurricanes were nominally the home team, even though the match was taking place at the Gabba!)
Hurricanes batted first, and after 10 overs were 65-3 with Malan going well and Ingram newly arrived at the other end. Malan fell not long after, bringing Colin Ingram and Tim David together. They shared a good partnership, but Hurricanes failed to take advantage of the opportunity to claim the Power Surge with two destructive hitters together at the crease. After 18 overs they were 140-6, and had to take the Power Surge. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, on of three Afghan spinners (Rashid Khan, leg spin, and Zahir Khan, left arm wrist spin, being the others) to have BBL contracts bowled the 19th, and it was a quite superb over, not only going for only one run, but also yielding three wickets, giving Mujeeb 5-15 from his four overs. The 20th over was better for the Hurricanes, although they only lasted four balls of it, that was enough to boost their total by nine. That gave them precisely 150 to defend, a fairly modest total by BBL standards.
However, the Hurricanes were as brilliant at the start of their bowling innings as they had been poor in the second half of their batting innings, and the Heat were 8-3 early on and looking in some trouble. Then Max Bryant and Lewis Gregory shared an excellent partnership and seemed to have at least secured their side the Bash Boost bonus point for being ahead after 10 overs. Bryant was out to the penultimate ball of the ninth, making it 60-4, six need for the Bash Boost point. However, a combination of good bowling and tentative batting saw them just miss out. Gregory’s dismissal in the 11th over made it 66-5, and brought Bazley into join Peirson. They were still together at the end of the 14th, at which point Heat took the Power Surge. Overall these two overs were good for the Heat, the loss of Peirson not withstanding, and Heat needed 31 from 24 balls for the win. With Bazley going well and Steketee connecting with a couple of decent blows that came down to 15 off 12 balls. The 19th started with two dots, but then Bazley hit a six to reduce the task to nine off nine balls. The over ended with Heat needing seven to win. That came down to four off two balls with Steketee on strike. Steketee got two off the penultimate ball, and that meant two needed off one ball, or one to take it to a Super Over. Steketee went for the tying run off that final ball, but it was judged that although his bat was over the line before the bails were dislodged it was also in the air, and he was given run out, to make it 149-8 and victory for the Hurricanes by one run.
It was a magnificent game, but I would have preferred the Heat to win so that the Hurricanes got properly punished for mishandling the second half of their batting innings.
ON #BBL10’S INNOVATIONS
There have been three innovations to this year’s BBL, two which had their own impact on today’s game. They are: the Bash Boost point for the team who are ahead at the ten over mark, the Power Surge (instead of six overs of power play restrictions at the start of the innings there are four, with two more to be claimed at any time after the tenth over by the batting side) and the ‘x-factor sub’, whereby after 10 overs of the first innings a player who has a) not batted and b) bowled no more than one over can be replaced by a designated ‘x-factor’ sub.
I am a huge fan of the Bash Boost point, it has created points of interest in games which would otherwise have been dead, and today it was very closely fought.
I like the concept of the Power Surge, but it requires flexibility of thought, and not many sides have thus far shown that. I would say that all things being equal the ideal time to take it would be at the end of the 15th, using it as a launch pad for the final quarter of the innings. One might go earlier in two situations: the openers are still together after 10 overs and you want to use the Power Surge to launch you towards a really huge total, and also if you have lost a few wickets, your innings needs a shot in the arm and/or you want to ensure that you have two decent batters to use the Power Surge. I can see no case for delaying it right to the end, and I think the Hurricanes stuffed up big time, for all that it did not end up costing them, in their own innings – they should have taken the Power Surge while Ingram, who could really have cashed in on it was still there.
As for the ‘x-factor sub’, that belongs in the circular file. I fully understand the need for ‘concussion protocol subs’, but basically I remain convinced that teams should finish the match containing the same players who started it.
A final recommendation for the BBL: for goodness sake use the DRS – unlike football with the disastrous VAR we actually have a method of using technology to help with decisions that usually works, and it should be automatic to use it.
An XI with East Anglian connections in honour of John Edrich.
As I write this the Melbourne Stars are closing in on victory over the Sydney Sixers, while India enjoyed a good opening day at the MCG, dismissing Australia for 195 and reaching 36-1 in response, Shubman Gill impressing on debut with 28 not out overnight. Most of the players in the XI I present are Norfolk born, as John Edrich was, although there is one Cambridge born player and two brothers (out of three who had first class experience) who were born in Suffolk, while the captain was born in Yorkshire but played for Cambridgeshire after falling out with his native county.
EAST ANGLIAN XI
John Edrich – left handed opening batter. Almost 40,000 first class runs at an average of 45, 103 first class hundreds, a test triple century (a knock that included 52 fours and five sixes) and the highest individual score in the first ever ODI back in 1971.
Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer, brilliant cover fielder. The Master – 61,237 first class runs including 197 centuries. 3,636 runs including 12 centuries in Ashes matches. Born in Cambridge.
Bill Edrich – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Older cousin of John Edrich and one of four brothers who all turned out at first class level. He lost six of his prime cricketing years to World War Two, in which he distinguished himself as a flying ace but still amassed 85 first class centuries.
Fuller Pilch – right handed batter, rated by contemporary observers as the best of his era (the 1830s and 40s). Also sufferer of a bizarre dismissal for the Players against the Gentlemen in 1837 – the line in the scorebook reads “hat knocked on wicket”. The Players won a very low scoring match by an innings.
Peter Parfitt – right handed batter, brilliant fielder, occasional off spinner. He once took four catches in a test innings, against Australia in 1972.
Michael Falcon – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. His averages are just the right way round.
+Eric Edrich – right handed batter, wicket keeper. 53 dismissals in 38 first class appearances.
*Johnny Wardle – left arm orthodox spinner, left arm wrist spinner, useful lower order batter. Born in Ardsley, just outside Barnsley in South Yorkshire. After a distinguished career for his native county and for England (102 test wickets at 20.39) he fell out with the Yorkshire authorities and ultimately played minor counties cricket for Cambridgeshire (Yorkshire in their vindictiveness ensured that no other first class county would touch him). His claim on a place is somewhat tenuous but I needed a quality spin bowler somewhere in the side, so I decided to stretch a point and include him.
Desmond Rought-Rought – right arm fast medium bowler, took his first class wickets at 28 a piece. Born at Brandon in Suffolk.
Rodney Rought-Rought – fast medium bowler, cannot ascertain which arm he used – am hoping it is left for the sake of variety. Brother of Desmond and also born at Brandon.
Olly Stone – right arm fast bowler. In this side, with the two Rought-Roughts, Falcon and Edrich able to bowl seam there would no excuse for using him in other than short spells at top pace.
ANALYSING THE XI
This team has a solid batting line up, one bowler of genuine pace, various fast-medium bowlers and one of the finest spinners of them all. It would give a good account of itself in most conditions. The Sydney Sixers somehow turned their game against the Melbourne Stars around and won by one wicket with one ball to spare, taking all four points.
A look at the innovations featured in the tenth edition of the Big Bash League and a visit to all-time XI territory, with place names the link on this occasion.
A two-parter today, first looking at the innovations featured in this year’s Big Bash League and then, inspired by something I noticed during commentary on today’s weather hit game a revisit to all-time XI territory.
The current version of the Big Bash League, the tenth running of said tournament, features three innovations, and I shall touch on each in turn:
Power Surge: instead of a straight six overs of power play and then 14 of standard fielding restrictions there are now four overs of power play, and then a Power Surge of two overs, to be claimed at any time after 10 overs at the behest of the batting side. This has been a really successful innovation, with a lot of thought going into to when to take it. Ideally you would want two set batters at the crease to maximize the potential gain, and also to be quite close to the end of the innings to use it as a kind of springboard into a big finish. I can see the possibility of claiming it for overs 11 and 12 if the openers are still together, on the understanding that a big hitter will be promoted to cash in on it if one of the openers falls. If that is not an option then if two batters are going well at the end of the 15th over, claiming it for overs 16 and 17 with a view to really making the final quarter of the innings pay would appeal. I do not share TMS Commentator Simon Mann’s view about taking it for the last two overs of the innings being a good notion.
Bash Bonus Point – a bonus point is awarded to the team who score more from their first 10 overs, while three are awarded for the outright win. This has led to some interesting situations where teams knowing that overall victory is effectively out of the question go all out for being ahead after 10 overs in an effort to salvage something, as opposed to concentrating on surviving the full 20 overs so that their net run rate does not take a hammering. I consider this to be a success, although I could see a situation where a team gets knocked out due to this innovation, and fans would not be happy with that.
The ‘x-factor’ sub: players designated for this role before the game may be brought in (no more than one per side) after a maximum of ten overs of the first innings of the match. The substituted player must not have batted and may not have bowled more than one over (sensible caveats which prevent a specialist batter being used and then replaced by a specialist bowler, and vice versa). I have witnessed only two matches (via TMS commentaries) in which these players have been used, one of them today’s no-result. I have waited until I had actually seen the usage of such players before commenting on the innovation, but I have seen nothing to alter my initial thinking that if you actually pick your best XI at the start you should not need to make use of this option, and the fact that uptake of it has been very limited is itself a comment on the innovation. Thus I score these innovations at two out of three.
A PLACE NAMES XI
One of the players who featured in today’s match was Joel Paris, a left arm pace bowler, which started me thinking about players who have places in their names. I set myself rules that the place name must be the whole of on the player’s names, not part thereof, and that it must be spelt the same way (as you will see later this latter was germane). After I have been through the batting order I will explain some of those who missed out for one reason or another.
Sir Leonard Hutton – right handed opening batter, occasional leg spinner. Hutton is a place in Essex, on the edge of Shenfield.
Sidney George Barnes – right handed opening batter, occasional leg spinner. A combination of World War Two and the fact that he and the authorities did not always get on limited his test career to 13 matches, in which he recorded an average of 63. Barnes is near Putney, either southwest London or Surrey depending on who you consult.
Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder. Woolley is a small village, almost precisely equidistant between Barnsley and Wakefield in Yorkshire.
Ken Barrington – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. Upper and Lower Barrington are a matched pair of villages in Gloucestershire (Marcus Berkmann mentions them in one of his books about life in cricket’s lower reaches).
Victor York Richardson – right handed batter, fine fielder, occasional wicket keeper. A fine test batter in the 1920s and 30s, and grandfather of two others, Ian and Greg Chappell, his middle name gets him into this team.
*Warwick Armstrong – right handed batter, leg spinner, captain. I rated him the finer of the two regular test captains in this line up, and anyway I wanted Hutton free to concentrate on his batting. In the 1905 tour of England he scored over 2,000 runs and took over 100 wickets in first class matches.
+Jack Blackham – right handed batter, wicket keeper. He played in each of the first 17 test matches ever contested and is regarded as one of the greatest of all keepers. Blackham is a small village almost exactly equidistant between East Grinstead in Sussex and Tunbridge Wells in Kent.
Washington Sundar – off spinner, left handed lower order batter. The 21 year old Indian has been making a name for himself in T20, but he also has a more than adequate FC record, averaging 31.29 with the bat and 26.93 with the ball in that format.
Joel Paris – left arm fast medium bowler, left handed lower order batter. His first class averages are just the right way around – 23.38 with the bat and 23.25 with the ball.
Sydney Francis Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. In the case of Sidney Barnes the batter I had to use his surname as the place name, but this greatest of all bowlers qualifies twice over, since his first name Sydney is spelt the same way as Australia’s largest city.
Ian Peebles – leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. Peebles is due south of Edinburgh.
This team has a deep batting order, a very varied and strong bowling attack, and would definitely give a good account of itself. Now for some honourable mentions:
William Maldon Woodfull, a fine opening bat and captain for Victoria and Australia would qualify by virtue of his middle name, which is a place in Essex and also the place in Victoria where he was born. Anthony William Greig, an attacking middle order bat good enough to average 40 in test cricket and a decent bowler of both medium pace and off spin missed out by a single letter – the Cornish seaside village of Antony not having an H in its name. Rahkeem Cornwall might have replaced Washington Sundar without unduly weakening the team (he is also an off spinner and more than useful lower order batter). Had I allowed myself to reach back a few hundred years to a long antiquated spelling of a place near York, which is now always spelt Bootham, as it is pronounced, I could have accommodated Ian Terrence Botham – the single o spelling was once a thing. Arran Brindle, a batter for England women who has at least one century in men’s club cricket to her name, could have got in via her first name. Ian Peebles’ place in the XI could have gone to either of two other leg spinners, Richie Benaud, whose name derives from a village in France, but who I would have heading the commentary team, and Amanda-Jade Wellington. Finally, I was tempted to find a place for Mike Gatting who shares a surname with a legendary former UK constituency. The old Gatting constituency, disenfranchised in 1831, contained one grand house, and it happened on one occasion that the butler had a quarrel with the master of the house and stood against the master’s son (the master by this time considering himself to old to be a candidate). The master voted for his son over the butler and that was that.