All Time XIs – Through the Alphabet VI

Our sixth ‘alphabetic progression’ post in this ‘all time XI’ cricket series, a solution to yesterday’s teaser and plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

In today’s all time XIs cricket post we continue with our alphabetic progression. Yesterday we ended on an F, so today we start from G.

BILL O’REILLY XI

  1. Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. He was a crucial part of the West Indies success in the 1980s. In the 1984 series in England the West Indies were twice in deep trouble, and both times were hauled out of it by Greenidge. At Old Trafford he saved the day with an innings of 223 in 10 hours at the crease, and the Windies emerged victorious. At Lord’s the Windies were set 342 to win in just under a full day (and Gower, the England captain, was criticized for not declaring earlier, and for allowing his batters to accept on offer of the light when they should, four fast bowlers notwithstanding, have stayed out there. The West Indies won by nine wickets, with Greenidge blazing his way to 214 not out, while Larry Gomes (92 not out) played the supporting role to perfection. In the MCC Bicentennary match he made a century, notable for the setting of a fielder specifically to cut down the number of runs the reverse sweep was bringing him. A long county career with Hampshire helped him to score more first class hundreds (90) than any other West Indian bar Viv Richards.
  2. Desmond Haynes – right handed opening batter. He was Greenidge;s regular opening partner for Barbados and the West Indies. Barbados, a coral island similar in size to the Isle of Wight has produced over 70 test match cricketers – an all time batting order with these two opening, the three Ws at 3,4 and 5, Sobers at six, a keeper and four bowlers, two of them Marshall and Garner is shaping up mightily impressively. The Isle of Wight for comparison has produced a few cricketers who reached the dizzy heights of the Hampshire 2nd XI. Haynes and Greenidge put on over 6,000 runs together in first wicket stands at test level, although their average opening stand is not quite as eye-popping as the 87 of Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe.
  3. Shreyas Iyer – right handed batter. The young Indian, noted for his aggressive approach, has yet to play test cricket, but hes an averages 52 in first class cricket and has made a remarkable start to his ODI career. I can envisage him being devastating after Greenidge and Haynes have given the innings their usual strong start (and similarly when the time comes coming in after the Sharma/ Agarwal opening partnership has been broken).
  4. Mahela Jayawardene – right handed batter. He holds the record for the highest test score by a right handed batter, 374 vs South Africa, when he and gthe left handed Kumar Sangakkara put on 624 together for the third wicket, starting from 14-2. Three higher individual test scores have been recorded, Lara’s 400 not out and 375, which both came in high scoring draws, whereas Jayawardene’s set his side up for an innings victory, and Matthew Hayden’s 380, scored against a hapless Zimbabwe team at Perth. Following the list on down, Sobers’ 365 not out was made against a Pakistan side who fielded only two front line bowlers, Hutton’s 364 at The Oval set his side up for a crushing victory, Jayasuriya’s 340 came in a monstrosity of a game at Colombo (over 100 runs per wicket through the five days), Hanif Mohammad’s 337 secured a draw for his side, Hammond’s 336 not out and Bradman’s 334 both came in drawn games- not that many of the super-huge scores have actually helped their team to win.
  5. Rohan Kanhai – right handed batter. His record at first class and test level is highly impressive, and I have the word of CLR James, that he was an absolute genius with a bat in his hand.
  6. Geoffrey Legge – right handed batter. He played for Kent and England. He managed only one century for his country, but it was a big one – 196.
  7. +Billy Murdoch – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Fred ‘the demon’ Spofforth missed the first ever test match because he believed that only Billy Murdoch could keep to his bowling (he came in to the side when the second match was arranged, apparently convinced that the chosen keeper, Blackham, was good enough after all), so although it was not where he usually played in test cricket he did have pedigree as a wicket keeper. His batting deeds included 153 not out in the first test on English soil at The Oval, the first ever test double century at the same ground four years later, 286 for Australia in a tour match and a first class triple century, at a time when only WG Grace (twice) and Walter Read of Surrey had previously achieved the feat.He played county cricket for Sussex and was part of WG Grace’s ultimately ill-fated London County venture.
  8. Dion Nash – right arm fast medium bowler. An effective swing bowler for New Zealand in the 1990s, and by no means valueless as a lower order batter.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner. Nicknamed ‘tiger’ for his on field ferocity (he was later to be fairly ferocious with a pen in his hand as well), he bowled faster than most of his type (one action shot of him was erroneously labelled ‘Bill O’Reilly, Australia fast bowler, and seeing it one can understand how the mistake happened).Donald Bradman rated him the best bowler he ever saw or faced, although as O’Reilly himself acknowledged Bradman was the one opposition batter who generally had his measure. World War II basically ended his career at the top level, although he played a one-off test against New Zealand, taking a hatful of cheap wickets but also learning the hard way that his knees were finally knackered.
  10. Jamie Porter – right arm fast bowler. Has done good things for his county Essex, but has not yet been given the opportunity to perform at a higher level. I hope he does get the chance to prove himself at the highest level. He has 329 first class wickets at 24.31.
  11. Hamidullah Qadri – off spinner. He currently pays 35 per wicket in his fledgling first class career, and needs to reduce that figure, but he is still very young, and he did enjoy some success in the last U19 world cup. Given that I already had a legspinner (more on this later), the alternative was Imran Qayyum, a left arm orthodox spinner, but he pays 43 per wicket, which is simply too expensive to hold out serious hopes of him making the grade.

This side has a stellar batting line up but is a trifle light on bowling options. Nonetheless I would expect it to give a good account of itself.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Strong cases could be made for the selection of Gavaskar or Gooch as my opening batter whose name begins with G, and a respectable one for Chris Gayle, while Jack Hobbs and Matthew Hayden could both have been picked as the opener whose name begins with H, with Tom Hayward also a possibility. However, Greenidge and Haynes functioned superbly well as a pair, and I have opted for them because of that detail. Abdul Qadir deserves credit for keeping the embers of the torch of leg spin bowling aglow in the 1980s, to be fanned in full blazing flame by Shane Warne in the 1990s, but with Bill O’Reilly in the side I did not especially want a second leg spinner, so I went with the unknown quantity of Hamidullah Qadri.

ANDREW STRAUSS’ XI

  1. Jack Robertson – right handed opening batter. A test average of 46 is testament to his class. In the great 1947 season when Denis Compton and Bill Edrich rewrote the record books Robertson hit 12 first class centuries, very often teeing the innings up for the other two.
  2. *Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter, captain. The man who captained England to no one in the world at test cricket, and who averaged over 40 with the bat, both as captain and in the ranks gets the nod here.
  3. Johnny Tyldesley – right handed batter. In the first decade of the twentieth century only two professionals were selected in England teams purely for their batting, this man and David Denton of Yorkshire.
  4. Inzamam Ul-Haq – right handed batter. He announced his arrival at the top level with an innings of 60 off 37 balls in the 1992 World Cup (back then, performances like that were not commonplace).
  5. James Vince – right handed batter. Has a good record for Hampshire, and has done fairly well in limited overs matches for England. His test career has featured far too many well compiled 20s and 30s and no really major innings (83 at Brisbane is his highest).
  6. +Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Selecting him as wicket keeper, enables me to pick a strong bowling line up.
  7. Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, right handed batter. This is about the right position for him, and X is a difficult letter.
  8. Bruce Yardley – off spinner. He was effective for Australia in the late 1970s and early 1980s, once being te match winner against the West Indies at a time when defeats for them were a great rarity.
  9. Dawlat Zadran – right arm fast medium bowler. Has done some good things for Afghanistan and may yet get better still. Certainly worth his place.
  10. James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler. Zadran could only benefit from sharing the new ball with an experienced partner, and they don’t come much more experienced in that regard than the man who has taken more test wickets than any other pace bowler, and the most by any Eng;land bowler (and officially he is still counting).
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. The list of visiting quick bowlers to really rattle the Aussies in their own backyard is not a long one, although the West Indies in the great years under Lloyd and Richards had a few. The list of Indian bowlers of serious pace is also not a long one – Amar Singh in the 1930s, and Javagal Srinath in the 1990s are the only two before the present era who I can think of. If one were to use the two lists to create a Venn diagram, there would be one name in the overlap between the two circles: Jasprit Bumrah, whose sheer speed in the 2018-9 series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy was more responsible than anything else for India’s triumph.

This team has an excellent top six, Xenophon Balaskas at seven can be considered an all-rounder, Yardley may provide some assistance to the top order, and then there are three pace bowlers. With Anderson to guide and encourage them the two younger bowlers, Bumrah and Zadran should fare well. If there is real turn Xenophon Balaskas and Yardley should be capable of exploiting it. This looks a fine side.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Bobby Simpson would have his advocates for the opening slot I gave to Strauss. I thought about picking Radha Yadav, the left arm spinner, for the no eight slot but decided that gave me too long a tail (Anderson at 10 is definitely in the ‘rabbit’ category with the bat, while Bumrah is a ‘ferret’ – someone who comes after the raqbbits).

THE CONTEST

Bill O’Reilly XI have a very deep batting line up packed with class, but they are short of bowling guns. Andrew Strauss’ XI have less in the way of batting riches, although their top order is strong on any reckoning, but they do have what looks a strong and balanced bowling unit. My reckoning, based on the evidence from cricket’s history is that it is the bowlers who settle matches, and so my reckoning is that Andrew Strauss’ XI start as firm favourites.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Yesterday I set this teaser, from brilliant.org:

Octagons

Here is Chew-Seong Cheong’s excellent published solution:

Oct Sol

As an habitue of brilliant.org I recognized a trick when I saw it and realized that the trick answer given the wording of the question was that the areas were equal and therefore went for that as my answer.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced today’s teams, assessed the contest and presented the solution to yesterday’s teaser. The only thing left to for this post to be complete is my usual sign off…

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TTA VI
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Arthurians vs Bills

Another twist on the ‘all time XI’ theme as the Arthurians (11 players with given name Arthur) take on the Bills (11 players with given name Bill) for a trophy I have playfully dubbed “The Grail Trophy”.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest take on the ‘All Time XI‘ theme that I am exploring while ‘Pandemic Stops Play’ remains the case. Today we look at two teams of players whose common factor is their given name.

THE BRIEF

The Arthurians, a team moniker plucked from the realms of mythology (knights of the round table etc), all have the given name Arthur. The Bills, a team moniker borrowed from an outfit based in Buffalo, NY each have the given name Bill. I stuck resolutely to the given name theme, ignoring players surnamed Arthur and Australian batter Wendell Bill. I also ignored nicknames, so no ‘Bill Fender’ or (Graeme Swann has the “credit” for this one) Tammy ‘BIll’ Beaumont. Also I stuck rigidly to Bills, no mere Billies allowed, sadly for  Barnes and Gunn of Nottinghamshire, Bates of Yorkshire, Murdoch of Australia and Sussex or Messrs. Godleman (Middlesex, Derbyshire) and Taylor (Hampshire) of more recent vintage. Similarly, for readers of my most recent post, ‘Silver Billy’ Beldham had to be disqualified. I also stuck resolutely to the ‘team’ principle – no crowbarring players in out of position here. Ground rules laid out it is time to meet the teams, starting with…

THE ARTHURIANS

  1. Arthur Morris – left handed opening bat, flourished immediately post World War II. He is one of relatively few players to have had a seriously big score overshadowed by someone else scoring a blob in the same innings. It occurred at The Oval in 1948, when Don Bradman was bowled second ball by Eric Hollies ot be left with a test average of 99.94. Morris batted through the Aussie innings on that occasion, leading to the following oft repeated snatch of conversation:
    questioner: did you see Bradman’s last test innings? Morris: “Yes, I was batting at the other end” questioner: “how many did you get” Morris, deadpan: “196”
  2. Arthur Shrewsbury – right handed opening bat, famously rated by WG Grace as second only tp himself.
  3. Arthur Jones – regular number three for Notts and England in his day. He lalso bowled leg spin.
  4. Arthur Mitchell – vital part of Yorkshire’s top or middle order in the 1930s, specialist gully fielder who turned himself into one of the best around in that position. When his playing days were done he became a hugely successful coach. Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird and Michael Parkinson (later famous as writer and broadcaster), then  opening partners for Barnsley in league cricket were summoned to the Yorkshire nets when he was coach, Parkinson got Maurice Leyland’s net, enjoyed himself but did not get invited back, while Bird got Mitchell’s net, was reduced by the stern “Ticker” to a quivering wreck, but did enough right to be asked back (the story appears in “Parkinson on Cricket”, by the aforementioned Michael Parkinson).
  5. Arthur Carr – Nottinghamshire middle order bat, inclined to attack (he hit 48 sixes in the 1925 season) and a shrewd tactician. He helped Jardine with his tactics for the 1932-3 Ashes Tour (he was county captain to two of the key bowlers). It was also Carr who confirmed to Jardine that Larwood and Voce were accurate enough to bowl to a 7-2 field. Incidentally, the two injuries sustained by Aussie batters in taht series both happened while Larwood was bowling to an offside field, and one of them, Oldfield’s, was admitted by the victim to be his own fault – he took on the hook shot and edged the ball into his own head.
  6. Arthur Chipperfield – right hand bat and leg spinner. He still has a place in the record books as the only amle to score 99 on test debut (it was a lunch interval that did for him – he was out second ball on the resumption, while Jess Jonassen an Aussie of more recent vintage hit 99 in her first test innings). Chipperfield did eventually manage a test century, a feat that Ms Jonassen has yet to accomplish, though she has time to do so.
  7. +Arthur Wood – wicket keeper and right handed lower middle order bat. In 1935 he became the first Yorkshire keeper to score over 1,000 runs in a season. In 1938 he made his test debut at the Oval, and walked out following Hutton’s dismissal for 364, with the score reading 770-6 and is alleged to have announced his presence in the middle by saying “Always wor a good man for a crisis, me”. No Aussie responses to this have been recorded. He rattled up 53 in that debut innings, being out with the score on 879. Another Yorkshireman, Verity, followed him to the crease and was with Joe Hardstaff, when the 900 came up, and Hammond having had confirmation that Bradman would not be batting finally declared, to the relief of all save Oval groundsman ‘Bosser’ Martin who had wanted to see a score of 1,000 achieved on his pitch.
  8. Arthur Wellard – right arm fast medium bowler, very attacking right handed lower order batter. In all he smote 500 first class sixes, 66 of them in 1935 alone, which stood as a season’s record for 50 years, before Ian Botham wellied 80 maximums in just 27 innings. Like Botham, Wellard played for Somerset, and he appears to have been every bit as inclined to deposit balls in the river Tone. In a match against Nottinhamshire he featured in a ‘gotcha’ sequence – when Notts batted a certain H Larwood was out B Wellard 0, while the corresponding line in the Somerset scoresheet read AW Wellard B Larwood 0.
  9. Arthur Fielder – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order bat.
  10. Arthur Jepson – right arm fast medium, right handed lower order bat.After his playing days were done he became an umpire, and in that capacity was responsible for one of the great refusals of an appeal against the light. It was a limited overs match, and the time was closer to 9PM than 8, and when the issue of light was raised Jepson pointed to the sky and said “You can see the moon, how far do you need to be able to see?”
  11. *Arthur Mailey – leg spinner, no 11 batter. Until Rodney Hogg surpassed it in 1978-9 he held the record for wickets by an Aussie in an Ashes series, with 36 of them in 1920-1. In a tour match against Gloucestershire he dismissed the county by himself, recording innings figures of 10-66, which gave him the title for his autobiography “10 For 66 And All That” – and it is a splendid read. When Victoria put up their all time record first class team total of 1,107 (Ponsford 352, Ryder 295, Woodfull 133, Hendry 100, FL Morton run out for 0  amidst the carnage) Mailey took 4-362, still the most runs conceded by a bowler in a first class innings, although for me the 1-298 recorded by ‘Chuck’ Fleetwood-Smith in the Oval test match of 1938 is a worse shocker, because at least Mailey was getting wickets. Mailey himself claimed to have regretted that Jack Ellis, the last Victorian dismissed, had run himself out “just as I was striking a length” and also pointed out that “a chap in the shilling stand dropped an easy chance from Jack Ryder early in his innings”. In 1930 the manager of the Australian tour party upbraided him for passing on bowling tips to Scottish born leg spinner Ian Peebles and Mailey produced the classic response: “Spin bowling is an art and art is international.” Well spoken, Mr Mailey.

That is the Arthurian cast in all its glory, so now it is time to meet…

THE BILLS

  1. *Bill Woodfull – prolific opener for Victoria and Australia, twice regained the Ashes as Captain on his birthday (1930 and 1934). He was known in his day as ‘the unbowlable’, and did once go two entire seasons without being dismissed by that method.
  2. Bill Ponsford – regular opening partner of Woodfull for Victoria and Australia, scorer of two first class quadruple centuries.
  3. Bill Brown – right handed top order batter, usually an opener but could also go in at three, where I have put him in this team.
  4. Bill Bruce – attacking top order bat for Australia in the 1890s.
  5. Bill Alley – left handed bat, right arm medium fast. Became an umpire once his playing days were down.
  6. Bill Lockwood – right arm fast, right handed bat. Played for Nottinghamshire, Surrey and England. He was among the first fast bowlers to become noted for bowling a ‘slower ball’, and it would seem that not until Franklyn Stephenson, approximately 90 years later did anyone else wreak quite such havoc with that type of delivery. He achieved the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a seaosn twice
  7. +Bill Storer – wicketkeeper and combative right handed bat. The Derbyshire man toured Australia in 1897-8. In 1904 it was he who partnered Charles Ollivierre in the match winning second wicket stand at Chesterfield, when Derbyshire set 149 in 125 minutes knocked them off easily. Ollivierre and Storer were each also eyeing up personal landmarks – Ollivierre a century to go with his double in the first innings and Storer a fifty, and neither got there – Ollivierre 92 not out, Storer 48 not out. Storer was one of the players involved in the ‘netting boundary’ scheme trialled briefly in the late 1890s: netting 2-3 feet high was erected around the boundary, and batters got three for shots clearing the netting and two plus any they had managed to run if the ball rolled into the netting. This scheme, intended to discourage slogging and encourage gentle ground strokes made snicks through the slips very remunerative indeed. Storer did produce a score of 175 under this scheme, while in that same innings Wood was credited with 10 off a delivery from Cuthbert Burnup. The scheme was abandoned pretty swiftly however. Andrew Ward covers it in “Cricket’s Strangest Matches”.
  8. Bill Voce – left arm fast medium bowler, right handed batter. Toured Australia three times, successfully in 1932-3, as part of a narrowly beaten side in 1936-7 and in the ‘goodwill tour’ of 1946-7 where Bradman did not get the memo and an ill-equipped England were utterly routed. Cliff Cary, an Australian who commentated during that series, also wrote a book length account of it, “Cricket Controversy”.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner, greatest bowler of the inter-war years and excellent writer (e.g “Cricket Taskforce”, his book about the 1950-1 Ashes).
  10. Bill Johnston – left arm fast medium, left arm orthodox spin, tail end batter. He was Australia’s leading wicket taker in the 1946-7, 1948 and 1950-1 Ashes series, and although hampered by an injury on the 1953 tour he became only the second after Bradman to average 100 for an English season (102 runs at 102.00, courtesy of 16 red inkers in 17 innings, some of them gained with the active connivance of team mates who saw the amusement value in him claiming a batting record). In the 1954-5 series, his last outing, he helped Neil Harvey to add 39 for the last wicket on the second test match, but too much damage had already been done, and England eventually got that last wicket to level the series at 1-1 (Harvey 92 not out), a position from which Hutton’s team never looked back.
  11. Bill Bowes – right arm fast medium, genuine no11 batter. His county, Yorkshire, were champions seven times in the 1930s, and in that decade he was only once outside the top 10 of the national bowling averages. His test opportunities were limited, but 68 wickets at 22 from 15 appearances does not exactly betoken failure at that level. In retirement he became an entertaining writer – he contributed the chapter on Jardine to “Cricket: The Great Captains”.

That is the Bills introduced, and we move on to:

AN EVALUATION

The Arthurians have a nicely contrasted opening pair, a useful look 3-5, an all rounder, a wicket keeper who can bat, three pace bowlers of varying types and a quality leg spinner. They are short in the finger spin department, but apart from that the look a pretty good unit.

The Bills have a solid opening partnership, nos 3,4 and 5 look pretty useful, they have a genuine all rounder at six, a good wicket keeper and combative bat at seven, and four widely varied bowlers to round out the XI. They are also a little short finger spin wise, but Johnston could bowl that, and Voce occasionally deployed it to.

I would expect a close and entertaining contest for the trophy (provisional name, given the presence of the Arthurians, The Grail!). One final section:

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Arthur Morton of Derbyshire only just missed out for the Arthurians, while there were also two other possible wicket keepers for them, another Yorkshireman, Arthur Dolphin and Gloucestershire keeper and WG Grace’s best man, Arthur Bush. The Bills, even with my tight restrictions had a surplus of top order riches – Bill Lawry missed out on an opening slot, while Bill Hitch was unlucky among the bowlers, and Bill Edrich would also have his advocates. Bill Andrews of Somerset was another who merited consideration for his bowling. Bill Athey could not be accommodated in a side that had two renowned stickers opening the batting.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My chosen combatants for the ‘Grail Trophy’ have been introduced, along with a few potential replacements, and all that now remains to apply my usual sign off…

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A small beetle making use of one og my clothes pegs, which is holding a t-shirt on the line (three pics).

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A bug scuttling across the page of “Summer of Success”, the book about Essex’s first County Championship triumph in 1979, that I was reading.

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Arthurians v Bills
The teams in tabulated form, with abridged comments.