All Time XIs – The Letter B

The deciding ODI between England and India is intriguingly poised as I start this post picking the greatest XI of cricketers with surnames beginning with B (see the As). Elsewhere, Rory McIlroy is within sight of The Open Championship and five of the most unpleasant human beings anyone could conjure up are engaged in a battle to make Sauron look like one of the good guys as a way of securing the Conservative party leadership and with it the post of Prime Minister.


  1. Charles Bannerman – Australia. The Kent born opener scored 165 in the first ever test match innings, and even with him scoring that many his team could only tally 245 all out. He also impressed in his native land during the heavily rain affected summer of 1878, though that tour did not feature a test match.
  2. Sidney George Barnes – Australia. A combination of WWII and continual skirmishes with the authorities limited his test career to 13 matches, but a batting average of 63 speaks for itself.
  3. *Donald Bradman – Australia. The most prolific batter the game has ever seen, his test average of 99.94 leaves a respectable career average (around 40) between him and the best of the rest at that level.
  4. Ken Barrington – Surrey and England. The Berkshire born right hander averaged 58 at test level, with a best of 256 at Old Trafford in 1964.
  5. Allan Border – Essex and Australia. The nuggety left hander pretty much was Australia’s resistance batting wise for about the first 10 years of his illustrious career. In the last few years of that great career, with Australia a good side, he played some excellent attacking innings. He would be the vice-captain of this side, as an acknowledgement of his status as the best skipper Australia have had in my lifetime.
  6. Ian Botham – Somerset, Worcesstershire, Durham and England. For a few years he was a genuinely great all rounder, for a few more after that he was a producer of occasionally devastating performances. England selectors of the period during and after his final decline spoiled many a promising career by trying to get decent young cricketers to fit into the Botham shaped hole opening in England’s ranks.
  7. +Wasim Bari – Pakistan. Pakistan’s best ever wicket keeper, and unlike some of his successors in that post there were never any questions asked about where his real loyalties were.
  8. Billy Bates – Yorkshire and England. His brief test career was ended by a freak eye injury sustained during net practice, but 656 runs at 27 and 50 wickets at 16 at that level are some testament to the off spinning all rounders capabilities. He took England’s first ever test hat trick, part of a match performance that yielded 55 in the only innings he had to play and seven wickets in each Australian innings.
  9. Richie Benaud – Australia. Before becoming ‘the Bradman of TV commentators’ (yes I believe he was that far clear of the best of the rest in that role) the Aussie leg spinning all rounder became the first to achieve the test career double of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets.
  10. Sydney Francis Barnes – England. Probably the most skilled bowler of any type ever to have played the game. Like his near namesake who is opening the batting for this XI he had a less than harmonious relationship with the authorities. He played little county cricket because he was paid better for being a professional for various clubs in the northern leagues. This meant that he played less than half of the test matches that England played between the start and end of his test career. Nonetheless, 189 wickets in 27 matches at 16.43 a piece is sufficient evidence of the trouble he caused even the best opponents.
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – India. He burst on the scene at the end of 2018, taking a cheap six-for in that year’s Boxing Day test in Melbourne. He is now established as one the finest contemporary pace bowlers, and is still young enough that he should still be improving. He would form a seriously potent new ball combination with Barnes (sorry Beefy, in this line up you don’t get the new ball).

This team has a heavy scoring top five, a colossus of an all rounder at six, a top drawer keeper, two bowlers who can bat and two of the greatest specialist bowlers. The bowling, with Barnes and Bumrah sharing the new ball, Botham as back up pacer and two contrasting spinners in Benaud and Bates is both strong and well balanced.


The team has no left arm orthodox spinner, and two who came very close were the Indians Bishan Singh Bedi and Palwankar Baloo. However, the only people I could have dropped to make way for one of them were Bates or Benaud, and that would have weakened the batting. Bill Brown (Australia) and Jack Brown (Yorkshire, England) were two fine opening batters, either of whom might have been selected instead of Bannerman. Jonny Bairstow missed out due to the extreme strength of batting available here and the fact that he has blown hot and cold (currently blazing hot) through his career. Two South Africans, Eddie Barlow and Colin Bland were very close to selection – the former missing out to Ian Botham and the latter to the general batting strength available, though he is of course designated fielding sub in the event of anyone having to leave the field. Bill Bowes was the best pace bowler to miss out and would certainly be in the tour party for this letter. West Indian speedsters Winston and Kenny Benjamin were also fine players, but no one is persuading me that they get in ahead of Barnes and Bumrah (or indeed Bowes). I also regretted not being able to accommodate Somerset and England’s Len Braund, resourceful batter, good leg spinner and brilliant slip fielder. West Indies batter Carlisle Best was ruled out for the same reason I had to rule out Keith Arthurton in the previous post – not enough substance to go with the style.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Charles v Alec

Today’s all time XIs cricket post look towards the rebirth of test cricket by paying tribute to a pair of brothers who were involved in the birth of test cricket – Charles and Alec Bannerman.


Today is the start of new month, and also the start of an England intra-squad warm up match at the Ageas bowl in preparation for the resumption of test cricket next week. This match is 14 vs 13, not 11 vs 11, so does not have first class status, but is significant because of what it portends and because there is a batting vacancy at no4, since Joe Root is attending the birth of his child and will then be quarantining for 14 days. Team Buttler have been put into bat by Team Stokes, and as I start this post are 119-1, with James Bracey making an early bid for the vacant batting slot having passed 50. I aim to keep my all time XIs cricket series going until the test match gets underway, when I will give that my full attention. Today’s post harks back to the early days of international cricket, inspired by my rereading John Lazanby’s “The Strangers Who Came Home”, a brilliantly crafted reconstruction of the 1878 tour of England. As a tribute to the contrasting Bannerman brothers I have pitted a team of 11 Alecs/ Alexes against 11 Charleses/Charlies/Charls.


  1. Alec Bannerman – right handed opening batter. Australia’s first stonewaller. He never managed a test century, his best being 94, while his most famous was a 91 in seven and a half hours, which included a whole uninterrupted day in which he advanced his score by 67.
  2. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. A blocker is best accompanied by someone of more attacking inclination to avoid the innings becoming entirely bogged down, and Alec Stewart fits the bill perfectly. He scored more test runs in the 1990s than anyone else, in spite of being messed around by the selectors of the time, who often used him as a wicket keeper in an effort to strengthen the batting.
  3. Alex Lees – right handed batter. A third recognized opener, and one who as a teenager played an innings of 275 for his native Yorkshire. He did not quite go on to scale the heights that this innings suggested he was capable of, and subsequently moved from Yorkshire to Durham.
  4. Alex Blackwell – right handed batter. A former captain of the Aussie Women’s team, with a fine batting record. When the commentators picked a composite team at the end of the 2010-1 Ashes Jonathan Agnew named as the token Aussie in an otherwise all English line up.
  5. Alex Gidman – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. Over 11,000 first class runs at an average of 36 and never got the opportunity to play for England.
  6. +Alex Davies – right handed batter, wicket keeper. 171 dismissals effected in 75 first class matches and a batting average of 34.55 at that level. He is better known for his efforts in limited overs cricket, where his rapidity of scoring is especially useful, but he should not be typecast as a limited overs specialist.
  7. Alec O’Riordan – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. He played a starring role in Ireland’s dramatic victory of the West Indies at Sion Mills in 1969 and was for a long time the best all rounder that country had produced.
  8. Alec Kennedy – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. He played for Hampshire for the thick end of 30 years, pretty much carrying their bowling in that period, with support from Jack Newman and Stuart Boyes.
  9. Alec Bedser – right arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest bowlers of his type ever to play the game. He was taught by the all rounder Alan Peach how to grip the ball if he wanted it to go straight through rather than swinging. When Bedser tried this himself he actually found that the ball spun from leg to off, and one of the deliveries he bowled in that fashion was described by Bradman as “the best ball ever to take my wicket.”
  10. Alex Tudor – right arm fast bowler. With Kennedy, Bedser and O’Riordan all steady types we definitely have space for an out and out speedster, and Tudor is that man. He is actually best known for a batting effort, on his test debut against New Zealand, when he was sent in as nightwatchman and was 99 not out when England completed their victory (Graham Thorpe, who came in with victory already pretty much certain, blitzed a succession of boundaries to finish it, the second time he may have been responsible for a batter finishing unbeaten in the 90s, after the incident where Atherton declared with Hick 98 not out, and it appeared that Thorpe had failed to pass on a message from the skipper). His career was subsequently blighted by injuries and he never did get to complete a century.
  11. *Alex Hartley – left arm orthodox spinner. We have been short of spin options so far, but fortunately we have a world cup winning spinner to round out the XI. She has subsequently lost her England place, and given how many talented young spinners there are now in England women’s cricket it is unlikely that she will regain it, but the world cup winner’s medal cannot be taken away from her.

This side has an excellent top six including a decent quality keeper, a genuine all rounder at seven and four varied bowlers. The side is short of spinners, with Hartley the only real option in that department, but O’Riordan’s left arm and Bedser’s one that spun from leg to off means that this is far from being a monotonous bowling attack. The fact that there are five front line bowlers allows for Tudor being used in short bursts at top pace.


Hampshire stalwart Alec Bowell just missed out. Alex Loudon with a batting average of 31 and a bowling average of 40 was the reverse of an all rounder, and although an off spinner would have been useful he had to be ignored. Alex Barnett, a left arm spinner, did not have a record to warrant displacing a world cup winner. Alex Hales is mainly a white ball player, and is also under a cloud because of his personal conduct.


  1. Charles Bannerman – right handed opening batter. Scored 165 in the first innings of the first test, in an all out tally of 245, still the biggest proportion of a test innings ever scored by one person. In 1878 he became the first Australian to score a century in England, having already done so in New Zealand, and he would later make it a quadruple by racking up a ton in Canada en route back to Australia.
  2. Charles Hallows – left handed opening batter. An excellent counterpoint to the all attacking right hander Bannerman, since he was more defensively inclined. He opened the batting for Lancashire in their greatest period in the 1920s, and in 1928 he became the third and last player to score 1,000 first class runs actually in the month of May (Bradman, twice, Edrich, Hayward, Hick and Glenn Turner each reached 1,000 first class runs in an English season before the start of June, but all benefitted from games played in April) exactly one year after Walter Hammond had equalled the 1895 achievement of WG Grace. At the start of May 30th 1928 Hallows was on 768 runs for the season, Lancashire won the toss and batted, and by the close Hallows had reached 190 not out. He got those 42 runs on the morning of May 31, and then a combination of exhaustion and relief caused him to snick one behind and he was out for 232, with his aggregate precisely 1,000 for the season. In all he scored 55 first class hundreds and averaged 40 with the bat in his first class career.
  3. Charles Burgess Fry – right handed batter. A third recognized opener. In amongst all the other extraordinary things he did in his life he amassed 94 first class centuries, and recorded a first class average of 50. When his career started no one had ever scored more than three successive first class hundreds, and in 1901 he broke that record and went on to make it six in succession before the sequence finally ended, a record which has been equalled by Bradman and Procter but never surpassed.
  4. Charles Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. In 1926, at the age of 40, he scored centuries in each of three successive tests (to no avail for his side, as those games all finished in draws and England won the final match at The Oval to take the Ashes). Five years earlier he had hit Nottinghamshire for 345 in 232 minutes, the highest score by an Australian on tour of England.
  5. Charlie Townsend – right handed batter, leg spinner. In 1894 he became only the second player to score 2,000 first class runs and take 100 first class wickets in a season.
  6. *Charles Palmer – right handed batter, medium pace bowler/ off spinner, captain. One of his bowling stints gave him a shot at the record books – he had figures of 8-0, and he he stopped bowling at that point he would have been indelibly there. He kept going, and the spell was broken, and he ended up having to settle for a mere 8-7 (behind Laker 8-2, Shackleton 8-4, Peate 8-5 and level with George Lohmann who achieved his 8-7 in a test match)! He scored just over 17,000 first class runs at 31, and his 365 wickets cost 25 each.
  7. +Charles Wright – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He played in the late Victorian era, scoring almost 7,000 first class runs and making 235 dismissals of which 40 were stumpings.
  8. Charlie Turner – right arm medium fast bowler. Joint quickest ever to the career landmark of 100 test wickets, achieved in his 17th match. Only bowler ever to take 100 first class wickets in an Australian season.
  9. Charlie Parker – left arm orthodox spinner. The third leading first class wicket taker ever, with 3,278 scalps, and yet only one England appearance. At Leeds in 1926 he was in the 12 but left out on the morning of the match.
  10. Charl Willoughby – left arm fast medium bowler. An excellent record for Somerset in county cricket, and his left handedness is a useful variation.
  11. Charlie Shreck – right arm fast bowler. The 6’7″ Cornish born quick bowler took 577 first class wickets at 31.80, a respectable rather than outstanding record. His pace and height will be useful in this attack.

This team has a strong top six, a keeper and four varied bowlers. Willoughby, Shreck and Turner are a fine pace attack, while Parker, Townsend and the more occasional stuff of Palmer offer plenty of spin.


Charlie Barnett had a fair claim on opening slot, but I felt that with the attacking Bannerman claiming one slot someone steadier was required. Similarly, given the overload of available openers of quality I could not find a place for Charlotte Edwards. Charlie McGahey who played for Essex in the early 20th century had a good record as a middle order batter, but he did not the bowling of Townsend or the combined bowling and captaincy of Palmer. Australian keeper Charles Walker might have had the gloves instead of Wright. Charl Langeveldt had a decent record as a right arm medium fast bowler, but Willoughby’s left handedness worked in his favour. Charles Dagnall, now well known as a commentator, did not have a particularly special record as a medium fast bowler for Leicestershire and Warwickshire, and so although his name is well known I could not pick him.


We have two well balanced sides here, although the Charles XI has the better balanced bowling unit, and a more powerful engine room to its batting (Hallows, Fry, Macartney), though the Alec XI bats deeper with Bedser at nine and Tudor at 10.


Buttler’s XI are currently going very well, with Bracey now in the 80s and Dan Lawrence having made a rapid start being on 32 off 38 balls (he would be my pick for the no4 slot vacated by Root, so I am especially pleased to see that he is going well. The plan for this series, as mentioned earlier, is to keep it going until the test match gets underway. I am also going to float a speculative kite: there is enough material in this series of blog posts to fill a book if people would be interested in reading it. Bracey has just gone, c Foakes b J Overton 85,  to make it 196-3.


My usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – The Foreign Born Ashes

With an Anglo-Australian contest as today’s ‘retrolive’ commentary I have made today’s All Time XI cricket post Anglo-Australian.


Welcome to today’s ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed post. With a ‘retrolive’ commentary on a game between England and Australia in the background it seemed appropriate to focus on cricket’s most enduring international rivalry.


Foreign born for the purposes of this exercise means born outside the country that you represented. The governing body under whose aegis the England team plays is called tne England and Wales Cricket Board, so Welsh born players are not eligible for England in this context. As always, class is not entirely overlooked – some of these players would be considered even without the extra restriction on selection.


  1. Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter. Few have come across as more quintessentially English than the Middlesex and England opener, but he was born in South Africa.
  2. *Douglas Jardine – right handed batter, captain. He was born in India to Scottish parents. Although he only scored one test century, 127 vs the West Indies at Old Trafford in 1933, he averaged 48 at that level, and as captain has one the four best results ever achieved for England in Australia – Johnny Douglas was in charge for 4-1 win in 1911-12, Percy Chapman for another 4-1 in 1928-9 and Mike Brearley for the 5-1 win in the six match series of 1978-9. None of the others qualify by birth for this team, and only Douglas could be seriously considered as worth his place as a player. In that 1932-3 series he opened the batting on more than one occasion.
  3. Ted Dexter – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. He was born in Milan, Italy. In the 1962-3 Ashes, when he was captain he contributed 481 runs at 48.10 to a drawn series which saw the Ashes stay in Aussie hands. His unwillingness to risk outright defeat in the series saw him delay his second innings declaration until lunch on the final day of the final match at Sydney, leaving Australia 241 to get in two sessions, a target that they made no serious attempt to chase since the draw was enough for them to keep the Ashes.
  4. Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji – right handed batter. The first of three Indian princes to turn out for England before their country gained test status, and like the other two he made a century of debut. He also scored a century at the first time of asking down under, on the 1897-8 tour. He averaged 44.95 in his brief test career, a truly remarkable figure for his era (the legendary Victor Trumper, a slightly later contemporary, averaged 39 in his test career).
  5. Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji – right handed batter. Nephew of Ranji, and the second Indian prince to play for England. South African attitudes in 1929 disgracefully caused his test debut to be held back by a year, but he started with 173 on debut at Lord’s in 1930. He had health issues which shortened his career, and prevented him from going on the 1932-3 Ashes tour. His 995 test runs came at an average of 58.53.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand. Hero of the 2019 World Cup, and later that year the ‘Headingley Heist‘, when he and Jack Leach (a courageous and defiant 1 not out) put on 76 for the final wicket to pinch a game that Australia had under lock and key. He subsequently had a fine series in South Africa.
  7. +Matthew Prior – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Born in South Africa. Better with both bat and gloves than Geraint Jones who has a more exotic birthplace. As with many of his era his finest international moments came on the Ashes tour of 2010-11, when outperformed his opposite number Brad Haddin with the gloves and his regular rapid scores also contributed significantly to England’s triumph.
  8. Gubby Allen – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. He was born in Sydney, Australia. He toured Australia in 1932-3, skippered the 1936-7 side there which went 2-0 up but then lost the last three matches of the series, and his last international venture was to captain the 1947-8 tour to the West Indies, when he was 45 years old, and unsurprisingly failed to recapture past glories, and he may also have played a role in messing up Maurice Tremlett, selected for that tour after one first class season, and persuaded by his captain to seek extra pace, which cost him both his ability to swing the ball and his bowling rhythm.
  9. Ian Peebles – leg spinner. The first of two successive spinners to hail from the Aberdeen area. He suffered from the traditional English distrust of leg spinners, but in the 1930 Ashes he produced a googly that gave him the wicket of Don Bradman.
  10. Kirstie Gordon – left arm orthodox spinner. Born in Huntly, Aberdeenshire. Yes, having sneaked in yesterday by virtue of her surname, the Aberdonian youngster gets in today as Peebles’ envisaged spin twin.
  11. Devon Malcolm – right arm fast bowler, Born Kingston, Jamaica. His highlight was the 9-57 he took against South Africa in 1994. He was among the casualties of the disastrous period in which Ray Illingworth, firmly resident in the past and seemingly positively proud to be out of touch, was supremo of English cricket. Malcilm was chief victim of a disgusting article by Robert Henderson which targetted various non-English born England cricketers, though notably not Allan Lamb or Robin Smith. I have said elsewhere, and now repeat that if someone is good enough they could hail originally from a lunar colony for all that I would care.

This side has a strong top five, an x-factor all rounder at six, an excellent keeper batter and four well varied bowlers. Malcolm and Allen, with Stokes as third seamer and Dexter if needed in that department backed by the contrasting Aberdonian spin pair of Peebles (right arm wrist spin) and Gordon (left arm finger spin) looks a fornidable unit.


  1. Charles Bannerman – right handed opening batter. Born in Woolwich, Kent. In the first test match of all he became the very first cricketer to score a century against the land of his birth – 165 in an all out total of 245. He suffered a hand injury in the process, but even without him for the remaining three innings of the match the Aussies won by 45 runs.
  2. Archie Jackson – right handed opening batter. Born in Rutherglen, Scotland. He made his debut at the age of 19, in the second match of the 1928-9 Ashes, and scored 164 first up. Sadly tuberculosis hit, and four years later at the age of 23 he died.
  3. Kepler Wessels – left handed batter. Born in South Africa. The only person to have scored 1,000 or more test runs for each of two countries, after playing for Australia he returned to his native South Africa and played for them after their readmission to the test arena.
  4. Bransby Cooper – right handed batter. He was born in what was then Dacca, India and is now Dhaka, Bangladesh. He subsequently spent time in England, sharing an opening stand of 283 with WG Grace along the way, before heading for Australia for whom he played in the inaugural test match.
  5. Tom Horan – right handed batter. Born in Cork, Ireland – which means that as a participant in the first test of all back in 1877 he was the first Irish born test cricketer. He subsequently became a highly respected writer about the game, using the pen name Felix (he may not have been familiar with Nicholas Wanostrocht, who had earlier used the name Felix – the world was in many ways a much bigger place then than it is now).
  6. Melanie Jones – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. Born in Barnstaple, Devon. I have selected her in preference to the Gloucestershir born Billy Midwinter, as I felt that the first test match of all was already over represented.
  7. +Hanson Carter – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Born in Haliffax, Yorkshire – yes, had he been prepared to abandon his test career, as the rules of the time dictated he would have been eligible by birth to play for Yorkshire, thereby beating the likes of Bevan and Lehamnn by some eighty years. He succeeded the long serving Jim Kelly as Australia’s keeper, and barring missing the 1912 tour due to a dispute with the board he kept the gloves until the emergence of Bertie Oldfield in the 1920s.
  8. Brendon Julian – left arm fast medium bowler, useful right handed lower order bat. Born in Hamilton, New Zealand.
  9. William Cooper – leg spinner. Born at Maidstone, Kent. He played two test matches in the early 1880s, and di not fare badly. The reason his career was so short was that he had an encounter with WG Grace that virtually finished him as a bowler.
  10. Tony Dell – left arm fast medium bowler. Born at Lymington, Hampshire. He appeared in one test in the 1970-1 Ashes, the last English born male to don the baggy green (he did so before Melanie Jones was even born). He did not fare especially well, and one suspects that his involvement in home Ashes loss counted against him when it came to subsequent selection meetings.
  11. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. Born in Dunedin, New Zealand. He crossed the Tasman to better his cricketing fortunes, and then crossed two state boundaries in his new country before establishing himself as a first class cricketer with South Australia. He was the first bowler to reach 200 test wickets, capturing 216 in 37 appearances at that level.

This team features a respectable top six, an excellent keeper in Carter, and four bowlers one of whom is a bona fide great. Two left arm pacers and two leg spinners is not great in terms of balance, but they should be able to take the wickets.


I regretted not being able to find a place for the Tokyo born Natalie Sciver, but while I am not shy of arguing the vase for females not even I would attempt to make the case that she could seriously be considered for selection in place of Ben Stokes. South African born Robin Smith and Kevin Pietersen had strong cases for inclusion, but I could not put them ahead of the two Indian princes, and Dexter’s bowling gave him an edge. Irish born skipper of the 1907-8 Ashes party Freddie Fane did not have the record to merit inclusion, nor did the only clan chieftain ever to play test cricket, Francis Alexander MacKinnon, the MacKinnon of MacKinnon, 35th Chief of Clan MacKinnon. Paul Terry, born in Germany, had a rfespectable record for Hampshire but his only test experience was not a happy one. Some would have advocated a wicket keeping slot for Kiwi born Luke Ronchi, but he never played test cricket for Australia, and I reckon Carter was definitely his superior with the gloves. The first player of West Indian descent to play test cricket did so for Australia in the 1880s, but hsi record was very modest. Finally, although they had exotic (in cricketing terms) ancestry all of Albert Hartkopf, Hans Ebeling and Shelley Nitschke were born in Australia.


The contest for what I shall call the ‘Midwinter Trophy’, honouring the only person to play on both sides in Anglo-Australian tests would be worth watching, as any Ashes contest would, but I think this is one variant where the Poms definitely start as firm favourites!


The scene has been set and the teams introduced to do battle for the ‘Midwinter Trophy. It is now time for my usual sign off…

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The first four pictures were taken with what is now my reserve camera.

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From here on the pics were taken with my new camera.

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Some of these shots appear twice, once cropped, and then cropped and edited.

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This is the first of five pics from the same original..

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…an edit of the foregoing

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One of the birds

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The other bird…

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The head of the third bird in the original (all of it that was visible – this one was perhaps an overambitious piece of editing.

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Two flying gulls…

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…and the edited version.

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The teams in  tabulated form.

All Time XIs – The Cricketing United Nations

A whimsical look at cricket as a world game, as two multinational sides are pitted against each other in an imagined battle for The Midwinter Trophy.


Welcome to another variation on the ‘all time XI‘ cricketing theme. Today we look at two teams of cricketers with multinational connections. For our first side we focus on people who play for or in a different country to that which their surname points to, while our second side features players whose stories take in multiple countries. After I have introduced the teams there will be some honourable mentions.


  1. Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter. The opener and former England captain was a perfect fit for the three lions except for his surname, which is of Austrian origin. Famous Strausses include the two Waltz Kings Johann Strauss I and II, light opera composer Richard Strauss and a few other musical figures of varying significance. Strauss made 112 and 83 on his debut, falling victim to a dreadful call by Nasser Hussain in the second innings, and never really looked back. As a skipper, although he is one the select band to have guided England to a series victory down under he was sometimes overly defensive in approach which is why I have not awarded him that role in this team.
  2. Thomas Klose – right handed opening batter (for South Australia). The least impressive record of any cricketer I have included thus far in this series of posts, partly because of World War II. He did once share a century opening stand with Ken Ridings, who was killed in that war, which set the stage for his captain and no3, Don Bradman, to utterly dominate the rest of proceedings with 267 not out. That Kl start to a surname is of Polish origin – German footballer Miroslav Klose, the best known possessor of this particular surname being of Polish ancestry.
  3. Mike Veletta – right handed batter. He did on occasion don the wicket keeping gauntlets as well but I have thought it best to draw a veil over his efforts in that department. Though his test record was unimpressive, the Westralian had a fine first class record. That surname is of Italian origin.
  4. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. One of England’s finest in their greatest period of the 21st century. The surname is of Danish or possibly northern German origin (more on this -sen name ending to come later).
  5. Scott Styris – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer. The Kiwi, who also played county cricket for Middlesex, has a surname of Greek origin.
  6. Marcus Stoinis – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. Best known for his deeds in limited overs cricket where his figures are outstanding. Stoinis is another surname of Greek origin.
  7. +Ricardo Vasconcelos – left handed batter, wicket keeper. The Northamptonshire man was born in South Africa but is of Portuguese descent and his possession of a passport from that country enables him to play as a non-overseas player. He has a double century to his credit, albeit in a match in which 19 wickets fell for over 1,300 runs. England may have a decision coming up as to whether or not they wish to make space for him at international level. Personally with a relative abundance of batter/keepers already available I would not do so, but England selectors have rarely seen eye to eye with me on such matters!
  8. Ray Lindwall – right arm fast,right handed attacking lower order batter. That surname is anglicized from a Swedish original – Lindvall – with the v changed to a w. Briefly, before being overhauled by Benaud, Lindwall was Australia’s leading test wicket taker. Don Bradman picked him in his all-time World XI.
  9. *Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. I wrote about him in detail yesterday. Both surname and given name are of Greek origin, though he was actually born in South Africa.
  10. Buster Nupen – right arm fast medium bowler. Rated as one of the best ever on matting wickets (various countries over the years have used matting pitches, the South African version involved a base of hard packed rubble over which coir matting was stretched tight, a surface that gave a uniform bounce somewhat higher than standard on a turf pitch, but could also allow large amounts of sideways movement – the three most destructive operators ever on these pitches in South Africa, Briggs, Lohmann and Barnes all relied on generating such movement in one way or another, as did Fazal Mahmood who did brilliantly on jute matting when such surfaces were in vogue in Pakistan). Eiulf Peter Nupen to give him his full name does not merely have a name of Norwegian origin, he was actually born in Norway, near a place called Alesund (I have visited Norway, a very beautiful country, but I do not recollect seeing Alesund – a search of google maps reveals that it is southwest of Trondheim).
  11. Jack Iverson – right arm wrist spinner whose stock delivery was the off break! A genuine no11 and hopeless in the field, but 21 wickets at 15 each in the one test series he played. Gideon Haigh has written a biography of him titled “Mystery Spinner”. Iverson;s grandfather, a northern German musician named Ludwig Iversen emigrated to Australia hoping to improve his fortunes, and in the years running up to World War I he anglicized his name to Louis Iverson, making the change just before a law banning such practices was passed! Anti-German sentiment was so strong for a time that to give just one example Matilda Rockstroh, a postmistress with 33 years of unblemished service to her credit was dismissed from her job purely on account of that surname. John Monash was targetted at this time by enemies who were wont to render his name as ‘Monasch’, inventing a German connection that was not there. A quarter of a century later our Iverson fought in another World War, suffered serious illness while serving, and found himself accused of cowardice once when recuperating – he was wont to visit the beach near his home, and one occasion found a white flag planted at his usual spot.

Selection criteria notwithstanding, we have an opening pair, one of whom can definitely by described as top class, a respectable 3,4 and 5, one of whom is authentically a great player, a good keeper/batter and four excellent front line bowlers. Lindwall and Nuoen, backed by the spin twins Balaskas and Iverson and with Stoinis as fifth bowler looks a decent attack. It is now time to meet the opposition…


  1. Charles Bannerman – right handed opening batter. Born in Woolwich, then in Kent, now in Greater London, scored 165 for Australia in the inaugural test match.
  2. Bransby Cooper -right handed opening batter. Born in what is now Dhaka, Bangladesh, was then Dacca, India, raised in England and opened the batting in that inaugural test match alongside Bannerman for Australia.
  3. *Douglas Jardine – right handed batter, captain. Jardine was born in India to Scottish parents, and played for and captained England. His grandfather and father had both lived and worked in India, and only a Raj tradition that no more than two successive generations of any given family could do so prevented Jardine from following in their footsteps. This tradition was based on explicit fears that continual presence of a family in India might cause them to develop native customs and habits, and an unstated but definitely felt fear that it might cause them to develop darker skin. Jardine did visit India a year after the 1932-3 Ashes tour, with another England team. This trip marked the end of Jardine;s involvement with international cricket.
  4. Kepler Wesselsleft handed batter. In general I have avoided products of South Africa’s period of international isolation for this squad, but I make an exception for the only person to have scored over 1,000 test runs for two different countries. Wessels made a career for himself in Australia during the period of isolation, and subsequently returned to his native land in time to play for them when they gained readmission.
  5. Billy Murdoch – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Australia’s second ever test skipper after Ned Gregory, he later played county cricket for Sussex and was also involved with the brief and unsuccessful London County experiment, captained by WG Grace with whom he became friends. In 1891-2 when Grace captained Lord Sheffiekd’s team to Australia, Murdoch travelled to South Africa in another England tour party, his last involvement in international cricket. In the inaugural test on English soil in 1880 he topped Grace’s 152 with 153 not out in the Aussie second innings, not quite enough to save his side, but enough to win him a sovereign from Grace, a trophy he had put on chain which he wore round his neck for the rest of his life. Betting on cricket is as old as organized cricket itself by the way – there are stories from the 18th century that make Cronje look a model of probity!
  6. Sammy Woods – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Born in Sydney, settled in Somerset. He played a couple of times for Australia against England and later turned for England against South Africa.
  7. Albert Trott – right handed bat, right arm spin bowler. I covered him in my ‘what might have been XI’ and in the ‘under-appreciated ashes’. He played two tests for Australia against England and later turned our for England against South Africa.
  8. +Sammy Guillen – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Born in Trinidad, went on tour of New Zealand with the West Indies, stayed there and ultimately turned out for his new home country as wicket keeper, the only person to play for this particular combination of countries.
  9. Jack Ferris – left arm medium fast bowler. Part of the second great Australian bowling partnership, with ‘Terror’ Turner, he also went on the 1891-2 tour of South Africa for England.
  10. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. He was born in New Zealand, crossed the Tasman in search of cricketing fulfilment, finally established himself in the third state he sought to make home, South Australia, after being baulked in both NSW and Victoria. 33 when called up his test debut, he played 37 times at that level, capturing 216 wickets, and it could have been more except for Bradman developing a mistrust of him. Grimmett, a keen experimenter, was believed by Bradman to have lost his leg break because he spent so much time on his latest creation, a new variation of the googly. Then, in a joint benefit game for himself and Vic Richardson, Grimmett produced a classic leg break that cleaned Bradman up just before the lunch interval. Grimmett was delighted to have proved his point, Richardson aware of the effect that Bradman’s dismissal would have on attendance was less so. Such was Grimmett’s obsession with his craft that when his mate Bill O’Reilly was part of a group on HMS Victory who were shown the musket ball that killed Nelson that worthy said “for goodness sake don’t show it to Clarrie – he’ll try to bowl it.” His cunning was reflected in some of his nicknames, notably ‘Fox’ and ‘Scarl’. the latter derived from “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, and giving rise to the chapter heading “Pimpernel of Spin” for the chapter about him in Roland Perry’s “Bradman’s Best Ashes Teams”
  11. Athanasios John Traicos – off spinner. This man is the champion of cricketing multinationalism. He was born in Egypt, to parents of Greek ancestry and played for South Africa immediately before their isolation, and then, after a test record hiatus of 22 years and 222 days he turned out for Zimbabwe in that country’s first four official test matches!

This team has a pair who opened together in test cricket, a solid 3,4 and 5, two genuine all rounders in Woods and Trott, a good keeper and three varied specialist bowlers. The attack of Woods and Ferris with the new ball and Grimmett, Traicos and Trott to follow also looks pretty impressive.


Billy Midwinter, the only player to have played for both England against Australia and Australia against England is the most obvious miss. Philippe-Henri Edmonds, half-Belgian, born in Zambia and an England regular at one time was another to merit consideration. Among others were two South Australians with the surname Nitschke, Jack and Shelley, separated by about 70 years. Shelley in particular might have been accommodated at the expense of Stoinis. Albert Hartkopf, a one-cap wonder for Australia in the 1920s (he made 80, but the leg spin for which he got the honour proved expensive at test level) was another, while more recently Ben Hilfenhaus (Dutch) and Nathan Hauritz (German) have surnames that reflect ancestry far removed from their own countries. Finally, just failing to qualify because the ancestry is on the wrong side to be reflected in his surname, Shane Keith Warne’s mother was born in Germany – Warne and Iverson as spin twins would be one for the connoisseurs.


Though I could not get him into either side I have honoured Midwinter’s unique status by provisionally naming the trophy for this contest in his honour. It is a fine looking contest, but my money would be on the ‘Multinational Links’ team to emerge victorious.


We have met the contenders and a few honourable mentions in the battle for The Midwinter Trophy, and now it is time for my usual sign off, but on this occasion it comes in two parts:


Yesterday I had a glorious sight of the moon through my front windows as evening moved towards night, and I thought the series of photographs I captured over the course of approximately an hour warramted a bit of extra showcasing, so here we are:

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A first glimpse in a still light sky.

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The tree featured in these pictures is the same tree all the way through – in this one the moon is off to one side…

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…as it his here

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While here the branches partially obscure it.

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Here it is just separated from the branches.

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By now it has moved to a position above the tree.

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Overlapping with the highest part of the tree.

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Fully separated from the tree,

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A final close-up as the sky was darkening.


Finally, we these:

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A bug running across the pages of my book (Hugh Aldersey-Williams’ “Periodic Tales”).

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A close up of the bug.

Cricket UN

All Time XIs – Day In The Sun vs Supporting Cast

My latest variation on the all-time XI theme in which a team of players who had a day in the sun take on a team of supporting acts.


Welcome to the latest in my series of ‘All Time XI’ posts. This one pits a team of players who produced one glorious performance that set them apart from the common run of cricketers but never succeeded in duplicating it against a team representing the best of cricket’s supporting cast (yes cricket needs its supporting cast too, and the folk I have picked were superb examples).


  1. Charles Bannerman – right handed opening bat. He completely dominated the first test ever played in March 1877, scoring 165 out of Australia’s first innings 245, in a match in which only one other person, England’s Harry Jupp topped fifty in a single innings. This not only accounted for three quarters of his entire test run tally, it was his only first class hundred. Minus this astonishing performance the Woolwich born Aussie amassed 1522 runs in first class cricket for 78 times out, giving an average of 19.64 (with his one big innings included that average was 21.62).
  2. David Lloyd – left handed opening bat, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. He played nine test matches for England and 14 of his 15 innings at that level brought him 338 runs at an average of 26.00, a very modest looking record. The one innings I have excised from that reckoning was sole 50 plus score at that level, a mere bagatelle of 214 not out that earned him his place in this XI and means that his actual test average was 42.46. For his native Lancashire Lloyd played a curious role in one of most extraordinary first class games ever. On day 1 Warwickshire declared at 523-4 in their first innings, Humpage 254, Kallicharran 230 not out, and has captured Lloyd’s wicket by the close of play. On the journey home that evening Lloyd told his passenger Graeme ‘Foxy’ Fowler “I reckon we’ll win this one”. The following day Fowler injured himself and Lloyd was sent in to act as his runner. Fowler scored 128, Lancashire declared at 414-6 just in case something curious was going to happen. On the third morning a sea fret (the match was being played at Southport) covered the ground and West Indian swing bowler Les MacFarlane found it to his liking, recording a career best 6-59 as Warwickshire slumped to 111 all out in their second dig. Lloyd decided he wanted a few runs of his own second time round rather than settle for running Fowler’s, so Ian Folley, a left arm spinner and tailend batter was deputed to act as runner for Fowler. Fowler was 126 not out, and Lloyd 88 not out when Lancashire completed an astonishing victory by ten wickets, the winning hit being a six off Asif Din, and Lloyd’s throwaway line on the journey home on day 1 was vindicated in some style. Lloyd went on after his playing days were done to become a fine commentator and a decent coach. After a draw, which Zimbabwe had secured with the assistance of some fairly blatant time wasting and some deliberately wide bowling, the then England coach Lloyd had a public meltdown declaring “We flippin’ murdered ’em”.
  3. *Heather Knight – right handed bat, occasional off spinner, fine captain. Heather Knight spared England’s blushes in one test match with a magnificent 157. Other than that marvellous knock her test record reads 229 runs at 20.82, and she has only two other fifties to her name at that level. The women do not get to play nearly enough test cricket, and having just turned 29 Knight is still young enough to render herself ineligible for this team, especially if the amount women’s test cricket increases. Her record in ODIs is impressive for a non-opener, with an average of 37.83. She is a shoo-in for the captaincy of this side, and if and when she plays the test innings that renders her ineligible for it no one will be more delighted than me.
  4. Tip Fosterright handed batter, 287 in his first innings as a test batter, at Sydney in 1903, increasing the record individual score at that level by 76. The Worcestershire ace, the only player to captain England men’s sides at both cricket and football, scored only 315 further test runs 13 more innings at that level, with one solitary fifty, a very fortuitous 51 against South Africa. His average with his virtuoso effort removed is therefore a very mortal looking 24.23 – as opposed to 46.30 with it included.
  5. Faoud Bacchus – right handed batter. Sheik Faoud Ahamul Fasiel Bacchus to give him his astonishing full name played 19 tests for the West Indies, making 30 visits to the crease. 29 of those of 30 knocks brought him 532 runs at 19.34, while the innings missing from that reckoning, his lone foray into three figures at the highest level, was worth a cool 250, increasing his average to 26.06.
  6. +Taslim Arif – right handed bat, wicket keeper. Picked for Pakistan in six test matches, in which he took six catches and executed three stumpings, the wicket keeper played 10 innings. In nine of them his tally was 291 runs with a single red inker to boost the average to a respectable 36.375, including two half centuries. The missing innings was a gargantuan 210 not out, giving him a full test record of 501 runs 62.625. In his case, given his perfectly respectable record outwith the double hundred that gets him into this team, the question seems to be why was an apparently competent keeper who could definitely bat only picked six times for his country?
  7. Ted Alletson – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler. When the players broke for lunch on day three of the Sussex v Nottinghamshire match at Hove in 1911 Sussex would have been anticipating a comfortable victory – Notts at 260-9 were less than 90 to the good, and although Alletson, 47 not out in his fifty minutes at the crease to date, had struck some meaty blows the end of the Notts resistance could not be long delayed. It was delayed for 40 minutes of that post lunch session, which was enough for Alletson to write himself into the record books. By the time he finally holed out off the bowling of George Cox, those 40 crazy minutes had seen Alletson increase his score by 142 to 189, with Bill Riley the no 11 batting sensibly for 10 not out. Tim Killick had been smashed for 34 in one over, having hindered himself by sending down two no balls, and had gone for 22 in another. There was a skating rink across the road from the Hove ground in those days and by the time Alletson had finished five cricket balls were on the roof of that building. Having been anticipating a comfortable victory a shell shocked Sussex lost some early wickets and ended up being grateful to escape with a draw. That 189 in 90 minutes remained Alletson’s only three figure score in first class cricket, and he finished with a first class average of 18.59, while his medium pacers netted him a mere 33 wickets in his 119 matches. Alletson benefitted from his innings to the tune of £100, then a significant amount of money, from his father’s employer and his mentor the Duke of Portland (Portland is on the southwestern tip of Dorset, but the main Portland estate is (or was) in Nottinghamshire). His Grace was not the only one to have expected big things from Alletson – Gilbert Jessop who knew a thing or two about big hitting batting had also reckoned that there were likely to be big scores as well as big hits from Alletson’s bat.
  8. Denis Atkinson – right handed bat, off spinner. A respectable but far from outstanding cricketer who contributed with both bat and ball but did not set the world alight save once. The West Indies were six wickets down against Australia when Clairmonte Depeiaza joined Atkinson, and the Aussies were probably already thinking about batting, but they were in for a rude shock. By the time the seventh wicket fell the West Indies score had advanced by 347 runs. Atkinson scored 219, Depeiaza 122, and neither of them had previously made a test ton. nor ever would again. Setting that 219 to one side Atkinson’s record in test cricket reads 703 runs at 25.11 and 47 wickets at 35.04. The 219 raises that batting average to 31.
  9. Bob Massie – right arm fast medium bowler. England had won the first match of the 1972 Ashes series, and Massie came into the Australian side for his debut at Lord’s. The ball swung crazily in that match, and the chief beneficiary was Massie who finished his debut with 16-137. Massie made five further test appearances, and they brought him a combined 15-510, 34.00 per wicket, meaning that he finished with 31 test wickets at 20.87. Immediately after the 1972 Ashes the Aussies headed for the West Indies, and with the ball not moving under Caribbean sunshine Massie attempted to alter his action so as to increase his pace and ended up losing his ability to swing the ball.
  10. Devon Malcolm – right arm fast bowler. The Derbyshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire speedster and genuine out and out tail ender played 40 test matches for England between 1989 and 1997, being like many of his contemporaries in and out of the side frequently. Against South Africa at The Oval in 1994 he was hit on the helmet by a bouncer from Fanie De Villiers, and when South Africa batted again he produced a quite awesome response of his own with the ball – he took 9-57, the best figures ever by an England fast bowler in a test match, and just five runs worse than the all-time fast bowler’s test record analysis, Richard Hadlee’s 9-52 v Australia. 18 months after this ultimate day in the sun Malcolm and then England supremo Ray Illingworth had a decisive falling out during a tour of South Africa, although Malcolm did come back into the England team briefly after Illingworth had departed the scene. Malcolm took 128 wickets in test matches at 37.09, but he was handled poorly at England level, and was never given a second genuine out and out speedster to support him.
  11. Narendra Hirwani – leg spinner. Against the West Indies at Chennai in 1988 he burst onto the test scene by destroying them in both innings to record match figures of 16-136. 16 further test matches brought him precisely 50 more wickets for 1851 runs, 37.02 per wicket.

This team has a strong top five, a keeper-batter at six, a big hitting no seven, an off-spinning all rounder at eight and three specialist bowlers. There is a good range of bowling options, and all 11 could produce the match winning performance if it is their day.


  1. Percy Holmes – right handed opening batter. No 2 to Herbert Sutcliffe at Yorkshire, and denied England opportunities by the presence of Jack Hobbs. He averaged over 40 at a time when few managed that, and at the time of his retirement had five of the ten highest individual scores ever made for Yorkshire under his belt. In a curious coincidence he and Sutcliffe were eight years apart in age to the day.
  2. Andrew Sandham – right handed opening batter. The southern equivalent of Holmes, opening the Surrey batting alongside Hobbs, and like Holmes not getting many opportunities at England level.
  3. Larry Gomes – left handed batter. The West Indies in the 1980s were noted for fast bowlers and stroke making batters. However, one key piece of the jigsaw at that time was a solid, dependable number three who without tearing up record books was frequently at the heart of a big West Indies score. Hilary Angelo Gomes made two centuries during the 1984 ‘blackwash’ series and was at the other end on 92 not out playing the quiet support role when Gordon Greenidge’s pyrotechnics won the Lord’s match after West Indies had been set 344 in less than a full day. There is a post about him here, which I urge you to read. If cricket had ever had an equivalent to the Oscar for ‘best supporting actor’ Gomes would have had a shelf full of them. 60 test matches brought him 3,171 test runs at 39.63 with nine centuries and a best of 143 – just compare with ‘Dependable Denly’ and his average of 30.00 in a similar role.
  4. *Herby Collins – right hand bat, occasional left arm orthodox spin. Australian captain after Warwick Armstrong, 19 test appearances brought him 1,352 runs at 45.06.
  5. Wilf Barber – right handed bat. An unobtrusive but vital cog in the Yorkshire machine that dominated the 1930s. He was picked twice for England, but it his first class record of 16,402 runs at 34.38 with 29 centuries that gets him in here.
  6. Bertie Buse – right handed bat, right arm medium fast. 10,623 first class runs, including seven centuries, 657 first class wickets including 20 five fors. For many years Somerset would never dream of taking the field without him.
  7. Ernie Robson – right arm medium fast, right handed bat. 1,147 wickets with his bowling (his out swinger was still an effective weapon after he had turned 50 – are you reading this Jimmy?) and 12,620 runs with his batting in  a career that ebgan in 1895 and ended in 1923.
  8. +Colin Metson – wicket keeper, right handed bat. Over the years England selectors have seemed to be afflicted by a curious visual handicap that restricts how far west they are capable of seeing, and one victim of this was the stalwart Glamorgan wicket keeper who took 561 catches and executed 51 stumpings in the course of 232 first class appearances. Yes, he was a limited batter, but he did tend to score his runs when they were most needed, and may well, as Ian Healy did for Australia, have proved better at international level than he was at first class level. For me, especially given some of the performers who did don the gloves for England in that period, it stands as a travesty that we never saw him do the job at that level.
  9. Ellis Robinson – off spinner. He played 301 first class matches, first for Yorkshire, then for Somerset, collecting 1,009 wickets at 22.58 with his off breaks. He never got the chance for his country.
  10. Horace Hazell – left arm orthodox spinner, one of the first names on the Somerset team sheet throughout his career. He frequently did useful work supporting senior partners as a lower order batter. Like Robinson he could never attract the attention of the England selectors, but 957 wickets at 23.97 is a more than respectable first class record.
  11. Tony Nicholson – right arm medium fast bowler. Nicholson was the best of the various individuals who opened the bowling with Fred Trueman for Yorkshire (although Melville Ryan also had a decent record doing that job), collecting 879 wickets in 283 first class appearances at 19.76 each, a record that is particularly impressive given that he always got the end Fred did not want to bowl from. However, it was not quite sufficient to gain him an England place, so he had to settle for being the best supporting act in county cricket.

This team has a solid top five, two unobtrusive but effective all rounders, a superb keeper, two high quality spinners and a splendid specialist new ball bowler in Nicholson. The bowling has three fine seam/swing bowlers and two quality spinners.


Obviously in any game any one of the ‘Day in the Sun’ XI could produce the match winning performance, but in the long haul I would expect the Solid Supporters XI to produce on a consistent basis, and would reckon that in a five match series the latter would definitely start favourites.


Yesterday I set you this teaser from


This is a test of visualisation. The dotted square surrounding the shaded shape has side length 5m. If you look closely you will see that the sides of the dotted square can be ‘pushed and pulled’, or deformed, into shape to make the shaded figure which therefore has the same perimeter as the dotted square. Thus the answer is the the shaded shape has a perimeter of 4 x 5 = 20m.


Our two contending teams have appeared on the pavilion balcony, we have seen the answer to the mathematical teaser set yesterday, which leaves but one more thing to do before applying the photographic flourish: Phoebe has invited people to share their blogs, and I recommend that you head over there and join me in doing so. Now for my usual sign off…

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Day In Sun v Supporting Cast
The teams in tabulated form with abridged comments.