All Time XIs – The Letter L

A couple of pieces of news and a continuation of my exploration of the All Time XIs theme with a team whose surnames all begin with L.

Before I get to the main meat of this blog post – another variation on the all time XIs theme I have a couple of pieces of news to share.

HERITAGE OPEN DAY

Yesterday I got the news of my stewarding commitment for Heritage Open Day (Sunday 11th September), and I regard it as a plum posting: the Red Mount Chapel, between 10AM and noon. I have visited this remarkable place a number of times, including during last year’s Heritage Open Day.

PRESS COVERAGE OF WNAG

Your Local Paper have produced an article about the Beer Festival at Stewart House raising funds for the West Norfolk Autism Group.

Now we move on to the main meat of the post, a look at the greatest cricketers to have surnames beginning with the letter L.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. Bill Lawry (Australia). A dour left handed opener, his test record speaks for itself.
  2. Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan, Australia). One of the best contemporary test match batters in the world. He generally bats at three, but I am moving up one place to open due to the number high quality batters I have to accommodate and the fact that there are not many regular openers of quality who had surnames beginning with L.
  3. Brian Lara (Warwickshire, West Indies). The only person to twice hold the world record individual score in test cricket and one of only two (Bradman being the other) to simultaneously hold the world FC and test record individual scores.
  4. VVS Laxman (India). A monumental 281 vs Australia in 2001 helped set up only the third instance of a team coming back from being made to follow on to win a test match. He was part of a massively strong middle order, playing alongside Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly in their prime.
  5. *Clive Lloyd (Lancashire, West Indies). A shoo-in for the captaincy of this side, as one of the two greatest West Indian skippers ever (Frank Worrell being the other). 110 test matches yielded him 7,515 runs, and he quite often only had to bat once because of the immense strength of his West Indies side.
  6. James Langridge (Sussex, England). A left arm spin bowling all rounder, his international opportunities were limited by him being a contemporary of Hedley Verity who had first dibs on the left arm spinner’s spot. Nonetheless his test averages were the right way round, while in the course of his long first class career he averaged 35 with the bat and 21 with the ball.
  7. +Gil Langley (Australia). One of the many great wicket keepers produced by Australia over the years. He was the first keeper to make as many as nine dismissals in a single test match, a feat later equalled by Rodney Marsh and bettered by Jack Russell.
  8. Ray Lindwall (Australia). One of the greatest of all fast bowlers and a handy enough lower order batter to have scored two test centuries.
  9. George Lohmann (Surrey, England). The cheapest wicket taking average of anyone to have claimed 100+ test wickets – 110 at 10.75 each, also by far the quickest strike rate of any taker of 100+ wickets at that level – one every 34 balls.
  10. Jim Laker (Surrey, Essex, England). For my money the greatest off spinner ever to play the game. 193 wickets in 46 test matches, at 21 a piece. His absolute peak was the 1956 Ashes when he took 46 wickets at 9.60 a piece in the series, including a test AND FC record match analysis of 19-90 at Old Trafford. In the tour match for Surrey v Australia he took 10-88 in the first innings of the match, bowling 46 overs on that occasion. His most shattering single piece of bowling came at Bradford in 1950 when playing for England against The Rest he took 8-2 (one of the singles being a gift to Eric Bedser) as The Rest collapsed to 27 all out.
  11. Dennis Lillee (Northamptonshire, Australia). A former holder of the record for most career test wickets – 355 in 71 test matches. He was at least two great bowlers – a fire and brimstone quick in his younger days, and a superbly accurate fast-medium bowler late in his career.

This team has a strong top five, albeit one of them batting out of position, a great all rounder, a great keeper and four great and well varied bowlers. Two genuine quicks in Lindwall and Lillee, a very crafty medium pacer in Lohmann, Laker’s off spin and Langridge’s left arm spin represents a strong and superbly balanced bowling attack.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I considered two specialist openers in addition to Lawry. John Langridge, brother of James, scored 76 first class hundreds and tallied over 34,000 FC runs but never gained an England cap. The other possibility, as a rebuke to Cricket South Africa for their treatment of her, was Lizelle Lee, hounded into international retirement by her board. However, although I recognize that there is an element of a gamble in playing a regular number three as an opener I would challenge any who insist on selecting one of these openers to say who out of Lara, Laxman and Lloyd you will drop to accommodate Labuschagne in his preferred number three slot.

Another fine middle order batter who had to miss out was the little West Indian battler Gus Logie.

The choice of James Langridge as all rounder meant that two high quality left arm spinners missed out: Tony Lock and Jack Leach. Left arm wrist spinner Jake Lintott may well merit consideration for this XI in a few years time, but he has played very little long form cricket as yet.

The best quick bowlers to miss out were Bill Lockwood and Harold Larwood. Lockwood was one of the pioneers of the slower ball, but as fine a cricketer as he was he could not dislodge Lindwall. Harold Larwood had one great test series (the 1932-3 Ashes when he claimed 33 wickets), but otherwise a fairly ordinary international career, and could hardly therefore be seen as a challenger to the consistent excellence of Lindwall and Lillee. Brett Lee was quick but somewhat erratic, reflected in his slightly high test bowling average. Geoff Lawson had a patchy career and was not worth serious consideration.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Our look at the letter L is at an end and it remains only to produce my usual sign off…

100 Cricketers: 4th XI Numbers 3,4 and 5

A continuation of my “100 cricketers” series, dealing with numbers 3,4 and 5 in my 4th XI and containing some photographs and a bonus feature.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series, dealing numbers 3,4 and 5 in my 4th XI. Having taken the bowlers out of position for reasons made clear in that post I will be finishing the 4th XI with the all-rounders, in which post I will also introduce the 5th XI. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, and the post in which I introduce the 4th XI here. We go straight to the business area of the post today with…

SUZIE BATES

I have commented before on the lack of test cricket played by the women, and the fact that Suzie Bates has played none of this form of the game (though over 100 times in each of ODIs and T20Is) demonstrates this point starkly. Her averages are the right way round however, and both are very respectable (42.64 in ODIs and 30.69 in T20Is). Her right-arm medium pace is very much secondary to her batting, but averages of 33.29 per wicket in ODIs and 24.67 per wicket in T20Is show that it is not entirely negligible. She has 10 ODI centuries to her credit with a best of 168. 

BRIAN LARA

The only man ever to hold world records for the highest test and first-class individual scores simultaneously, and the only one to set the world test record twice (375 at Antigua in 1994 and 400 not out at Antigua again in 2004, Matthew Hayden having battered 380 against Zimbabwe at Perth in the meantime, being his two test records – I heard commentary on both, England being the victims on each occasion, the latter of which still stands, as does the 501 not out he scored for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994). A caveat against these three huge scores is that all came in drawn matches – the team had no opportunity to push for the win. In the case of the Warwickshire innings he actually asked his captain not to declare as he fancied going for the record (this is one of the incidents recorded by said captain, Dermot Reeve, in his book Winning Ways). The pitch at St Johns where he played the other two innings (the second match was relocated there after the brand spanking new Sir Viv Richards stadium was discovered to be unfit for play) is notorious for its flatness, to the extent that it has been joked that the prisoners who help to prepare it (it adjoins the prison) should made to bowl on their creations since they are supposed to be being punished.

However, Lara has also played a number of high quality match-winning innings in all forms of the game. He remains the West Indies leading test run scorer with 11,953, just ahead of Shivnarine Chanderpaul who racked up 11,867 in his very different style.

V V S LAXMAN

After his amazing 281 which, helped by 180 from Rahul Dravid and some excellent off-spin bowling from Harbhajan Singh turned the Kolkata 2001 test match on its head, leading only the third (and at the time of writing last) occasion on which a team following on went on to win a match (Sydney 1894, England victorious by 10 runs and Headling 1981, England beating Australia by 18 runs were the other two) it was said that those initials stand Very Very Special – actually they stand for Vangipurappu Venkata Sai. Undoubtedly that V V S was the best recognised set of initials post “W G” (these stand alone and unchallengable as the most recognisable initials in sporting, never mind cricket history) until A B De Villiers and M S Dhoni came along. 

Only one of my top five in this XI is left handed – Lara, but as you will see when I deal with the two I selected as all-rounders there is still a frontline left handed batter to come.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND LINKS

When I saw a post on whyevolutionistrue titled “An Underground Map of Science” I was naturally intrigued at a juxtaposition of two favourites. I reproduce the map below, linking to the WEIT post, and the original map, from crispian.net can be viewed here (requires scrolling as it is bigger than the screen).

scimap.jpg

I conclude this post with some of my own photographs:

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100 Cricketers – Third XI Opening Batters

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series and using the photography section to mention an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers“. Today, having finished the second XI we start going through the third XI, with the opening pair. For those who are new to the series and would like to catch up here are the most important staging posts so far:

  1. The post in which I introduced the whole series.
  2. The post in which I completed my coverage of the firxt XI and introduced the second XI.
  3. My most recent post, in which I completed my coverage of the second XI and introduced the third XI

CHAMARI ATAPATTU

She owes her presence in my list to one innings , but what an amazing innings it was. In the 2017 Women’s World Cup, facing one of the pre-tournament favourites Australia she scored 178 not out. None of her team mates were able to handle the strong Aussie bowling attack – her dominance of this innings is reflected in the fact that Sri Lanka as a whole tallied only 255. 

As a one-person show it had few precedents (Viv Richards, 189 not out in a total of 272-9 v England at Old Trafford in 1984 and Kapil Dev, 175 not out coming in at 9-4 to get India to an ultimately winning 266-8 v Zimbabwe in the 1983 world cup are two that come to mind, while in test cricket there was Graham Gooch’s 154 not out at Headingley in 1991 which got England to 252 all out). Unfortunately for Atapattu her amazing innings was not quite enough – Australia won the match in spite of it. A full account of the match can be read here.

The England Women are starting a series in Sri Lanka this Saturday, and I for one hope for more fireworks from Atapattu during it. 

VIRENDER SEHWAG

One of the select few batters to have scored two test match triple hundreds (Don Bradman, Brian Lara and Chris Gayle are the others), and alone in having scored 100 runs in each session of a test match day (Bradman’s 309 on the opening day at Headingley in 1930 saw him score 220 not out in the first two session and then add a mere 89 in the third), Sehwag’s aggression has been well an truly backed by results. I remember a series opener between India and England when India needed 384 to win in the fourth innings of the match and a very rapid innings from Sehwag completely knocked the stuffing out of England, enabling India to win with considerable ease.

He also bowled occasional off-spin, with his batting and bowling averages being just the right way round, although it would be a risible over-statement of the case to describe someone who paid 47 runs per wicket as an all-rounder. 

Finally, as a right-handed bat he contrasts nicely at the top of the order with the left-handed Chamari Atapattu, meaning that opponents of this XI would face a varied challenge right from the start. 

In my next post in this series I will cover nos 3, 4 and 5, and given who two of those are, and who I have down at number 6, I think most would agree that the luxury of an all attacking opening pair is one that this XI can well afford.

PHOTOGRAPHS

This morning was an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning, using a new venue, a Caribbean Soul Food establishment which has recently opened on Tower Street. It is an excellent space, and they were sensible about the background music – they did play some, even though it was a morning, but the volume was not too loud. There was a good tunrout, including several very welcome new faces, and I had an enjoyable morning getting away from my bungalow for a bit (something that has not been easy of late). Here are some photographs I took while I was there:

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In the summer months this seating area may suit us well, but today was definitely not the day for it!

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The establihsment includes an art gallery.

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Just across the street from the front entrance is this bakery which was also doing good business.

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This staircase is an impressive sight.

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