All Time XIs – The Birthday Bash

A special ‘all time XI’ cricket themed post to mark my 45th birthday – the 45ERs, who all have a connection to that number, take on an Entertainers XI.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the 45th birthday special edition of my ‘all time XI‘ series. I have selected one team with a specific eye to the landmark itself, and the second with an eye to entertainment value.

THE BRIEF IN DETAIL

The teams who will do battle for the aspi.blog trophy consist of an XI all of whom have associations with the number 45. In each case I explain the connection with varying degrees detail. The other side is a side picked for entertainment value, although of course class is not overlooked. The Gentlemen v Players match at Lord’s in 1898 was scheduled so that the third day thereof was WG Grace’s 50th birthday (see David Kynaston’s book “WG’s Birthday Party”), while eight years later WG again marked his birthday by batting against the Players at Lord’s, and played a crucial innings of 74.

THE 45ERS

  1. Rachael Heyhoe-Flint – right handed batter. Her test average was 45.54, which tecnically rounds to 46, but I allowed myself this tiny degree of latitude. Her best test score was 179 against Australia. It is appropriate that as I listen to ‘retrolive’ commentary on the 2019 World Cup final there is a someone who won a world cup for England in action (she captained England to success in the 1973 Women’s World Cup, the first such tournament ever played).
  2. Justin Langer – left handed opening batter. He had a test average of 45.27. His test best was 250 against England.
  3. Tom Graveney – right handed batter. He averaged 44.91 in first class cricket, which to the nearest whole number is 45. His test average was a little less, a mere 44.38. His highest test score was 258 against the West Indies. He holds two niche first class records – he scored 200 in the lowest ever team score to feature such an innings, and he is also alone in scoring over half of his team’s score in each innings of a first class match.
  4. Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji – right handed batter. He averaged 44.95 in test cricket, which to the nearest whole number is 45. His two test centuries were both 150+ scores – 154 at Old Trafford on debut and 175 at Sydney in the opening match in the 1897-8 series.
  5. Ellyse Perry – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Her combined average across the three international formats is 44.66 (4,864 runs in total for 109 times out), which to the nearest whole number is 45. You may consider that using an all-format average is a slightly sneaky way of including someone, but I consider this to be entirely justified, especially given who it enables me to pick.
  6. Brian Close – left handed batter, right arm off spinner, right arm medium pace bowler. He gets in because he played his last test series (against the West Indies in 1976) at the age of 45, a mere 27 years after making his debut at the highest level.
  7. +Mark Boucher – wicket keeper, right handed batter. In total across tests and ODIs he made 45 stumpings, which qualifies him for this team (Bert Oldfield in many fewer matches, tests alone, made 52, while Eng;and’s Sarah Taylor made over 50 in each of ODIs and T20Is. Boucher did almost all of his keeping at the highest level to quick bowlers which is why his stumping tally is low for so accomplished and enduring a practitioner.
  8. *Ian Johnson – off spinner, useful lower order batter. He was literally the first name on tbis team sheet because he played precisely 45 test matches. In the 45th and last he took his tally of test runs to precisely 1,000, thereby completing the career double. He was captain of Australia in between Lindsay Hassett, who succeeded Bradman, and Richie Benaud, another spinner who could handle a bat as well.
  9. Gubby Allen – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. His last international appearances came when at the age of 45 he captained a tour party to the West Indies. He once scored a test century from no9 – 122 against New Zealand as he and Les Ames (137) put on 246 for the eight wicket, England rebounding from 190-7 to tally 454.
  10. Harold Larwood – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. Setting aside his 33 wickets in the 1932-3 Ashes series, in the rest of his test career he managed 45 scalps.
  11. John Traicos – off spinner. The ultimate multinational cricketer, born in Egypt to parents of Greek descent, he turned out for South Africa as a youngster. Then, when Zimbabwe were promoted to test status he played for them at that level as well, and  by the time the great moment arrived, 22 years after his last appearance for South Africa, he was 45 years old.

This team has a good top six, of whom two, Perry and Close, could also weigh in with the ball, a top of the range keeper, and four fine bowlers, of whom three are capable of contributing with the bat. The balance is not ideal, with both spinners being off spinners, but it is still a side that should give a good account of itself, and given the constraints around selection I am pleased with it. On the name 45ERS, USian readers will recognize ’49ers’ as the name of a famous sporting franchise, which reflects the 1849 California gold rush (they are, or at least were, based in San Francisco), and I adapted that name to suit my purposes.

THE ENTERTAINERS XI

  1. Sanath Jayasuriya – left handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The star of the 1996 World Cup, his finest test batting display was probably the 213 he made at The Oval in 1998, which gave Muralitharan the opportunity to spin England to defeat, duly accepted.
  2. Virender Sehwag – right handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. The only batter ever to score a 100+ runs in each session of a test day. He made a century on test debut, and he is definitely among his country’s all time top five openers (Agarwal and Sharma, the current incumbents would be there in most reckonings, Gavaskar’s record speaks for itself and Vijay Merchant, at a time when India by and large struggled had a test average of 47.
  3. Graeme Pollock – a magnificent and all-attacking batter, with an average of 60.97 in test cricket.
  4. Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. The man who gave cricket ‘intimidatory batting’.
  5. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. The most complete all rounder the game of cricket has ever known. In 1971-2 he scored  254 for The Rest of The World versus Australia, an innings that Don Bradman described as the greatest he evr saw played in Australia.
  6. George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm pace bowler. One of the two subjects of the famous question and answer: “Who is the world’s best all rounder?” “He comes from Kirkheaton, bats right handed and bowls left, and that is all that can be saud for sure.” Hirst was more aggressive in approach than Rhodes, and was also noted as one of the most brilliant fielders of the day.
  7. Leslie Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. The man who won the Walter Lawrence trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season twice in its first three seasons. Over 400 of his 1,100+ first class dismissals were stumpings, a tribute both to his skill standing up and to the spinners who played for Kent at that time.
  8. *Billy Bates – off spinner, useful lower order batter. Opposite number to Ian Johnson. He averaged 27 with the bat and 16 with the ball in his 15 match test career, which was terminated by an eye injury.
  9. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. My pick to ‘keep Larwood honest’ – how’s that for a tasty clash.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium. His speciality was a leg break delivered at fast medium pace, and 189 wickets in 27 tests at16.43 each, 77 of them in 13 matches down under, is testament to his effectiveness.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. He was the first ever to take 17 wickets in a county match (17-103 for Derbyshire v Hampshire in 1876 – Hampshire sneaked home by one wicket in spite of his efforts). He took his first class wickets at 12.09 each, but was in his prime just too early to play test cricket.

This team has a powerhouse top six, all attacking players by instinct, two fo them genuine all rounders, an aggressive keeper batter and wonderful depth and variety in the bowling department – right arm pace from Tyson, left arm pace from Mycroft, Hirst and Sobers, off spin from Bates, with Sehwag and Richards as back up, Barnes’ craft and guile which serves as a leg spin equivalent, and left arm spin from Sobers or Jayasuriya.

THE FIGHT FOR THE ASPI.BLOG TROPHY

Unsurprisingly given the selection constraints on the 45ERS, the Entertainers would start as strong favourites, but I would expect it to be a fine contest, well worth watching. I would hope for the curator to produce a pitch with pace and bounce that also offers turn for the spinners.

A QUIRK ABOUT THE NUMBER 45

45 X 45 = 2,025 and 20+25 = 45
45 x 45 x 45 = 91,125 and 9+11+25 = 45
45 x 45 x 45 x 45 = 4,100,625 and 4+10+06+25 = 45

The sequence ends at this point – there is a way of making the digits of 45 x 45 x 45 x 45 x 45 add up to 45 but involved a lot more in the way of ‘cooking’ than merely using a leading zero which would not normally be present. However, no other number has arrangemnets of this nature for its second, third and fourth powers.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My 45th birthday special post is at an end, so all that remains is to apply my usual sign off…

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The teams in tabulated form.

 

The Royal London Cup Last North Group Games

A look atr today’s Royal London Cup matches, with predictions as to their outcomes. A feature on offspinning allrounders and lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post resumes my following of the Royal London Cup, interrupted by a week in hospital. For that reason I am jot going to do an in depth examination of my last set of predictions. For the record I got three right and three wrong, putting me on 26/42 overall. 

TODAY’S MATCHES AND PREDICTIONS

There are four matches in progress today:

  • Northamptonshire v NottinghamshireNorthamptonshire 325-7 from 50 overs.
    Substantial contributions from Vasconcelos (74), Cobb (61), Keogh (71) and Wakely (53) seem to have put Northamptonshire in control of this one. Samit Patel with 2-51 from his 10 overs was the best of the Nottinghamshire bowlers. The fact that a spinner fared best of all Nottingshamhire’s bowlers suggests that offspinner Tom Sole will be important for Northamptonshire, who I confidently expect to defend this total.
  • Derbyshire v WorcestershireDerbyshire 351-9 from 50 overs
    Centuries from Luis Reece and Wayne Madsen, backed up by 43 of 31 balls from Alex Hughes would seem to have given Derbyshire an unassailable total. No Worcestershire bowler deserves to have their figures quoted.
  • Leicestershire v Warwickshire Leicestershire 340 all out from 49.3 overs.
    Useful scores from Harry Dearden (69) and Colin Ackerman (74) did not look like being enough for Leciestershire, but Tom Taylor, mainly a bowler, played an extraordinary innings, making 98 not out off 56 balls to change the complexion of the game. Warwcikshire had two teenagers who supposedly bowl offspin, Liam Banks and Robert Yates, but did not turn to either of them, even though Jeetan Patel, another offspinner, had 2-46 from his 10 overs, and Alex Thomson had 1-39 from his full 10 bowling…off spin. Instead of trying the youngsters Warwickshire allowed Hannon-Dalby (3-85, so at least he got wickets), Miles (1-74), Panayi (1-85 from 9.3) and Will Rhodes (one over for 13) to get hammered. I expect Leicestershire to defend these quite easily.
  • Yorkshire v DurhamDurham 179-2 after 33.1 overs, rain affected
    Yorkshire, already certain of qualification, quite sensibly used this match as a chance to blood some youngsters (this has caused some moaning from those based on the wrong side of The Pennines, as a Durham victory would be bad news for them), and it would appear that they will face a stiff target once the DLS adjustment has been made (when the rain came Durham had 80% of their wickets and 33% of their overs remaining, so I would expect Yorkshire’s target to be in excess of seven an over, maybe more if the match is greatly shortened. The four non-regulars getting a run out for Yorkshire today are Will Fraine, a 22 year old right hand batter, Jared Warner, a 22 year old right-arm fast medium (5 overs for 32 today), Jordan Thompson a 22 year old right arm medium pacer (5 overs for 43 today) and Ben Birkhead, a 20 year old wicketkeeper. Leg spinner Josh Poysden with six overs for 27 was the most economical of the bowlers. Sam Steel made 68 for Durham and Lees was on 50 not when the rain came. Unless the rain wins this one I expect Durham to do so.

In view of the fact that Warwickshire should have used one or both of Banks and Yates and that Leciestershire already have Ackerman bowling his offspin early in the Warwickshire innings I am going to give you an extra feature looking at some…

OFF SPINNING ALL ROUNDERS

In view of the difficulty of accommodating two non-batting spinners (it either means having a long tail to the team or only having two specialist pace bowlers) it is clearly advantageous to have spinners who can bat. Here are five from across cricket’s history who played that role, bowling off-spin and batting well in the middle of the order:

  1. Billy Bates, Yorkshire and England.
    For England he played 15 times, scoring 656 runs at 27.33 and taking 50 wickets at 16.42. In all first-class cricket he scored 10,249 runs at 21.57 and took 874 wickets at 17.13. Note that his averages were slightly better in test cricket than in first-class cricket. His wickets would have cost more these days, but his batting average would also have been higher. I reckon that by today’s lights he would be a good person to have batting at number eight and bowling his off-breaks. His best test match was at Melbourne in 1883-4 when he scored 55 and then took seven wickets in each innings, including the first test hat-trick by an England bowler, as England secured an iunnings victory. His son W E Bates played for Yorkshire and Glamorgan, and his grandson Ted was involved in various capacities with Southampton FC for over six decades.
  2. George Giffen, South Australia and Australia.
    He played 31 test matches, scoring 1,238 runs at 23.35 and taking 103 wickets at 27.09. In all first class cricket he scored 11,758 runs at 21.54 and took 1022 wickets at 21.31. In the 1894-5 series, the first ever five match series, he scored 475 runs and took 34 wickets, but still finished on the losing side, Andrew Stoddart’s England winning the first, second and fifth matches to take the series 3-2. For South Australia against Victoria in 1891-2 he scored 271 and took 7-70 and 9-96.
  3. Monty Noble, NSW and Australia.
    He played 42 test matches, scoring 1,997 runs at 30.25 and taking 1, she21 wickets at 25.00. In all first class cricket he managed 13,975 runs at 40.74 and took 624 wickets at 23.14.
  4. Vallance Jupp, Sussex, Northamptonshire and England.
    Only eight tests, which yielded 208 runs at 17.33 and 28 wickets at 22.00, but in all first class cricket he scored 23,296 runs at 29.41 and took 1,658 wickets at 23.58. This included doing the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets for the season 10 times, eight of them in successive seasons (a level of consistency beaten only by George Hirst, 10 of whose 14 doubles happened in successive seasons and rivalled only by Wilfred Rhodes who twice achieved seven successive doubles).
  5. Deepti Sharma, India Women.
    A current player (indeed she is only a little older than the two youngsters who inspired this section of the post), she has not hat the opportunity to play test cricket but her records in other forms of the game (48 ODIs, 1,380 runs at 41.81 and 56 wickets at 27.39, 30 T20Is, 197 runs at 15.15 and 28 wickets at 22.92) suggest that she would fare well in the longer form, especially looking at that highly impressive ODI batting average (and her HS of 188). 

I hope that Warwickshire will give Banks and Yates opportunities to bowl sooner rather than later (and ditto Somerset with George Bartlett, another young middle order batter who supposedly bowls offspin but has been given little chance to demonstrate it), because if they become genuine bowlers as well as good batters there will be much more scope for variety in the England attack. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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My new outside furniture.

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