All Time XIs – DRS and Umpiring Controversies

Today we have a fruity ‘all time XI’ #cricket themed post and an excellent autism related thread by Pete Wharmby.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed series of blog posts. Today’s will require a bit of explaining, but before that there are a couple of matters in connection with yesterday’s post…

A HAT TIP AND A CORRECTION

In yesterday’s image showing the teams in tabulated form I has failed to change their names, so instead of the columns being headed “Playing Cards” and “Alliterative” they read “London” and “The North”, the names of the previous day’s teams. I noticed that this morning when creating today’s tabulated list. Within moments of my teams coming out yesterday Oliver Martens on twitter had come up with the name of Devon born Warwickshire and New Zealand left handed batter Roger Twose (pronounced twos) for the Playing Card XI, an ingenious suggestion. With a career FC average of almost 39 Twose rates above Collis King, and he could be accommodated by splitting the all right opening pair of Hobbs and Robertson, making the Playing Card XI read: Jack Hobbs, Roger Twose, Jack Robertson, Ryan ten Doeschate, Jack Mason, Jack Gregory, John King, Jack Board, Bart King, Jack Walsh and Jack Saunders. Well played, Oliver.

TODAY’S BRIEF

The two teams in action today are called DRS Burners, containing players who would be well advised not to use DRS, strengthened in the middle order by a couple of characters from earlier in the game’s history whose conduct suggests that they may not have been the best users of DRS (middle order batters often don’t get to burn up reviews because the openers have already done so) and the Rule Stretchers, players who have stretched the rules as far as they will go, to say nothing of beyond, and/or have been involved in ructions with officialdom.

THE DRS BURNERS XI

  1. Chris Gayle – left handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. The worst of his many failed reviews was at Brisbane in 2009 when he sent an LBW upstairs and the replay showed to the surprise of nobody other than possibly Gayle himself that the ball would have hit plumb in the middle of middle stump – as out as it is possible to be.
  2. Shane Watson – right handed opening batter. In some circles he is referred to as LBWatson because of both the frequency with which he suffered that mode of dismissal and the frequency with which he sent it upstairs only to discover it was stone cold out – usually hitting middle and leg.
  3. Ricky Ponting – right handed batter. He earned his place in this side at the MCG in 2010 when he had an onfield bust up with Aleem Dar over a decision that most of his team mates were not bothered by, for the very simple reason that Mr Dar had quite clearly got it right. Ponting saw a white mark, nowhere near either bat or ball, on the hot spot replay on the big screen, and his subsequent display of temper, which rivalled that over his run out by Gary Pratt in 2005, cost him 75% of his match fee.
  4. Greg Chappell – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer (leg spinner earlier in his career), fine slip fielder. He gets in for the first of two incidents involving him in an ODI against New Zealand. He was on 52 when he declined to accept Martin Snedden’s word that he had taken a catch in the deep. It happened that neither umpire had seen the incident, and in the words of one reporter on that match “they gave Chappell the benefit of their ignorance”. The replays showed that Snedden’s word had been pretty good. Chappell went on to reach 90. However this misdemeanour was overshadowed by his subsequent action when Brian McKechnie needed to hit a six of the final ball to force a tie and he instructed his brother Trevor to roll the ball along the ground to prevent that from happening. This provoked a typically hamfisted response from the powers that be, outlawing all underarm bowling. I have explained elsewhere how underarm bowling both of the Simpson-Hayward type and the more vigorous David Harris type could be legalized while running no danger of a repeat of this incident.
  5. *Faf Du Plessis – right handed batter, captain. He gets in for his repeated handling of the ball during his last test innings. England complained about his behaviour, but as far as I am concerned they should simply have appealed against him and left him to nurse any grievance he felt over being thus dismissed while sat in the pavilion.
  6. Tiger Lance – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. This time we have an incident where a member of the Chappell family was the victim. Ian, the eldest brother, hit one which went to Lance, asked that worthy if he had caught it and on receiving an answer in the affirmative headed for the pavilion. A team mate of Lance asked him if was sure about it and Lance replied “he didn’t ask if it had bounced”, earning his place in this side.
  7. +Tim Paine – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Among the many misjudgements he as fielding captain perpetrated over when to use DRS there was one that assisted England to bring off the ‘Headingley Heist’ of 2019 – he sent an LBW appeal that had been turned down against Stokes upstairs, the ball was quite clearly wide and going on to miss, and a few minutes later he was unable to send another LBW decision upstairs which would have been resolved in his favour had not burned the review.
  8. Stuart Broad – right arm fast medium bowler. One who does not die wondering. Fortunately his captains have been as well aware of his over optimism in the matter of appeals as the rest of us so he has not actually burned up all that many reviews, but the intent has been there.
  9. Mitchell Starc – left arm fast bowler. Reviewed an LBW against him at the end of an ODI innings, but realized that it was so absolutely plumb that he did not bother to wait for confirmation.
  10. Kagiso Rabada – right arm fast bowler. Has recently served a test match suspension for accumulated demerit points.
  11. Monty Panesar – left arm orthodox spinner. Another who would have burned a stack of reviews given the opportunity but whose captains realized that he was seriously over-optimistic when it came to appealing.

This side has a strong top five, an all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four fine bowlers. Spin options are thin on the ground, but it is a decent side, though it would likely keep the match referee busy!

THE RULE STRETCHERS XI

  1. Chris Broad – left handed opening batter. Some of his responses to being dismissed were decidedly unsavoury, including a stump demolishing act in Lahore, and various very slow and reluctant departures. He subsequently turned game keeper, becoming a match referee in later years.
  2. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various styles through his career. The only possible candidate for the captaincy of this particular XI. Stories of him stretching the rules to the absolute limit are legion, one such playing its part in the creation of The Ashes. In Australia’s second innings Sammy Jones left his crease to pat down a divot in the pitch, and Grace whipped the bails off and appealed, and since the ball had not been called dead umpire Bob Thoms raised the finger. This revved ‘the Demon’, FR Spofforth up to a pitch of near homicidal fury, and England needing 85 to win were bowled out for 77 to lose by seven runs. There were many other such incidents in the course of his long career.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, close fielder. On one occasion he took so long to leave the crease after being given out that the umpire reprimanded him, prompting Woolley to explain “I was not disputing your decision, I just could not believe that such an awful bowler could get me out twice.”
  4. Colin Cowdrey – right handed batter, slip fielder. He was a self proclaimed ‘walker’, i.e someone who would give himself out without waiting to be told. However, there is a fair amount of evidence that he exploited this reputation to his own benefit, on occasions declining to walk because he knew that his reputation would make umpires reluctant to give him out. There is a big question mark over ‘walking’ anyway, because it was generally ‘amateurs’ who did it, implying that they knew what was going on better than the umpires, who were usually former professionals. If you are going to walk, then you cannot pick and choose your moments, you must do it every time. Personally I would say wait for the umpire’s decison, but once that finger is raised against you do not hang around.
  5. Bill Alley – left handed batter, right arm medium pacer. After a very long and quite distinguished playing career he became an umpire. There are a couple of stories, or possibly two versions of the same story, from the career of Alley the umpire that suggest he got up to his share of mischief as a player: version 1 features newly minted umpire Alley spotting a youngster tampering with the ball and telling him “no, this is how you do it” and providing a demonstration. Version 2 has Alley seeing the ball near the end of an over and saying to the young bowler “you’ve don a good job on this one, if you don’t get seven-for with it I am reporting you.”
  6. Vinoo Mankad – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was the first bowler in test history to run out a non-striker for backing up too far, a mode of dismissal that now bears his name. My own view is that a non-striker trying to gain an advantage by leaving their ground early and being spotted by the bowler deserves to be run out, and I refuse to sympathise with the batter who is thus dismissed, although I accept that a bowler who deliberate pauses before going into their delivery stride in an effort to lure the non-striker out of their ground is going too far. If anyone on the opposition side is to be ‘Mankaded’ I would want it to be Ponting – his reaction would be something to behold.
  7. +Saleem Yousuf – wicket keeper, right handed batter. During Pakistan’s 1987 visit to England he claimed a catch when the ball had very obviously bounced well in front of him. The batter who waits for the finger to be raised is merely declining to plead guilty, whereas the fielder (or in this case keeper) who claims that catch in full knowledge that the ball has bounced is more in the position of someone faking evidence for the prosecution.
  8. Cec Pepper – leg spinner, right handed lower middle order batter. One of the best cricketers to not be picked for his country, the reason he suffered that fate is that he lost his cool with an umpire after that worthy turned down three successive confident LBW shouts by him against Don Bradman. He subsequently moved to England, became a Lancashire League pro and after that a highly respected umpire.
  9. Jack Newman – right arm fast medium, useful lower middle order bat. He once had an on field blow up which led to his captain, Lionel Tennyson, sitting him down and dictating a letter of apology to be sent to the umpires and the opposing captain. However, having seen to it that Newman produced an appropriate written apology Tennyson then proceeded to give him £5, not a negligible gesture in the 1920s, and one that suggests he recognized that Newman was not entirely at fault.
  10. John Snow – right arm fast bowler. He famously failed to see eye to eye with umpire Lou Rowan on the 1970-1 tour of Australia. The worst incident, at Sydney, reflects extremely poorly on Rowan. Terry Jenner, no 8 for Australia, but by no means a bunny with the bat, ducked into a short of a length ball and was hit in the face. Rowan after a short pause gave Snow a warning for intimidatory bowling, and the crowd subsequently bombarded the field with bottles and cans. As well as Rowan’s mishandling of the Jenner incident, England were frustrated by the fact that not a single Aussie was given LBW in that series. Also, after a test match at Melbourne was washed out without a ball being bowled, leading to the staging of the first ever ODI, England manager David Clark agreed without consulting skipper Illingworth or the players to the addition of another test match to the schedule, which made that the first and only test series to feature a seventh match (six had been scheduled right from the get go).
  11. Colin Croft – right arm fast bowler. Right at the start of the 1980s the West Indies suffered what would be their only series loss of the whole decade, in New Zealand, when the hosts sneaked home by one wicket in the only decided match. Colin Croft got so frustrated with the umpiring of Fred Goodall, which does indeed seem to fallen badly short in either competence, impartiality or both that at one stage he barged into him and sent him flying. In that same series Michael Holding kicked the stumps over in response to a poor decision.

This team features a strong top five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four excellent bowlers. The bowling also looks impressive, with Croft, Snow and Newman excellent pace options, Pepper and Mankad to bowl spin, and WG and Bill Alley both quite capable of taking a turn at the bowling crease.

THE CONTEST

This would be a very hard contest for umpires and match referees, but I think that the extra bowling strength of the Rule Stretchers XI would see them victorious. In acknowledgement of a famous incident not commemorated in my selections, and the fact that the two players I thus name definitely did not see eye to eye I will call the trophy for this one the Bradman-Hammond trophy. The incident in question happened in the first test of the 1946-7 Ashes, supposedly a goodwill tour except Bradman did not get the memo. Bradman had reached 28 without showing any great authority when he sent a ball shoulder high to Jack Ikin at second slip. Ikin did not appeal at first purely because he did not think it necessary – it was a high and clear catch. Bradman stood his ground, and when England finally did appeal it was turned down. Cliff Cary, himself an Australian, in “Cricket Controversy”, his account of that tour, makes it abundantly clear that Bradman should have been given out. Hammond’s immediate response was to comment “A fine ****ing way to start a series”. Bradman went on to make 187, Australia to tally 645 and England were then caught on a sticky following a tropical storm. Had Bradman been given out England would have batted before the storm hit, Bradman’s second innings would probably have happened on the sticky, and he might well have called it a day.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Pete Wharmby has produced an excellent twitter thread about autistic students and returning to school after lockdown. Please click on the screenshot below to visit the full thread:

Wharmby

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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NDRS v RS
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Davids v Goliaths

My latest variation on the ‘all time XI’ theme pits Davids against Goliaths. I also present the answer to yesterday’s teaser, an important post about disease prevention and of course some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

It is time for another variation on the ‘All Time XI‘ theme, this time pitting a team made of players of small stature against a team of some of the tallest of all cricketers. I will also answer yesterday’s mathematical teaser.

THE GOLIATHS XI

  1. Chris Gayle – left handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. He stands 6’5″ tall. His career highlights include two test triple centuries. However, he would be banned from using the DRS because of his record in that department.
  2. Will Jefferson – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm fast medium. At 6’11” the Essex and later Leicestershire opener is one of the tallest of all professional cricketers. He never quite managed to attract the attention of the England selectors, but achieved a very respectable output in first class cricket.
  3. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. At 6’4″ one of the shorter members of this team. He averaged almost 50 in test cricket, with his highest score 227 at Adelaide. Late in his career he came within two of the highest score ever made for Surrey, with 355. He was not always popular with team mates – his departures from his first two counties, Nottinghamshire and Hampshire were both decidedly acrimonious, but his record speaks for itself.
  4. Tom Moody – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer. The 6’7″ Aussie scored stacks of runs for Warwickshire and Worcestershire over the years and was also a fine fielder. One of the few to have admitted to being embarrassed by making a century due to the circumstances of its making. The innings in question, which saw the normally prized landmark arrive in just 26 minutes, was played against bowlers who were deliberately giving away runs to expedite a declaration was at the time greeted as a new first class record, but wiser counsels have since prevailed and it is now entirely correctly relegated to a footnote. Moody made ample numbers of runs that he had to earn, and his genuine embarrassment at effectively being handed a century speaks volumes for him.
  5. *Clive Lloyd – left handed batter, cover specialist fielder, captain. The 6’5″ bespectacled Guyanese ace featured in my piece about the West Indies. Against Glamorgan he once reached 200 in precisely two hours against genuine bowling. In the inaugural men’s world cup in 1975 (the women played one two years earlier, won by Rachael Heyhoe-Flint’s England) he scored a ton in the final to put West Indies in charge of the contest, a position they never relinquished.
  6. +Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Wicket keepers are rarely particularly tall, and Walcott was over six feet tall. I wrote about him in the West Indies piece.
  7. George Bonnor – right handed batter, medium pacer, excellent catcher. Bonnor was one of the first renowned big hitters, with his best test innings being a score of 128 that included sending the ball clean out of the ground four times. He was inclined to attempt to ‘bat properly’, a policy that did not work for him – his best moments came when he realized that he was a big hitter and did not try to play a real innings.
  8. Sulieman Benn – left arm orthodox spinner. At 6’7″ the West Indian is probably the tallest specialist spinner there has ever been, and he did have his moments. When I watched the West Indies play Australia at Adelaide in 2009 he was one of only two of their bowlers, greased lightening quickie Kemar Roach being the other, to cause the Aussie batters genuine apprehension. That match should have been an all-time classic, the West Indies being all out early on the final morning to leave Australia needing 330 off 81 overs on a pitch that was still pretty good for batting. Unfortunately, influenced by being already one up in a three match series, the Aussie skipper ‘Punter’ Ponting declined to live up to his nickname and Australia made no serious attempt to mount a chase that they should have had a fair chance of pulling off.
  9. Mohammad Irfan – left arm fast bowler. The Pakistani paceman at 7’1″ is officially the tallest international cricketer there has ever been.
  10. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler, excellent boundary fielder. The 6’8″ Barbadian who has one end of his home ground, the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, named in his honour was a very difficult bowler to score off, and took ana average of just over four wickets per test match. His ODI economy rate of 3.09 is unapproached in that format. He was my chosen overseas player for Somerset.
  11. Bruce Reid – left arm fast bowler. The 6’8″ Aussie had a fine test record for those matches when he was able to play, though he spent a lot of time on treatment tables (his only rival that I can think of in that regard was another Aussie, Damien Fleming).

This team has a good top six, including a serviceable wicket keeper, a big hitter at no 7 and four fine bowlers. It is weak in the spin bowling department, with only the part time tweakers of Gayle and Pietersen to supplement Benn’s left arm spin. That is the suitably Brobdingnagian “Goliaths XI”, and now, slings at the ready, here are their opponents:

THE DAVIDS XI

  1. Bobby Abel – right handed opening bat. The diminutive Surrey opener (officially 5’4″ but perhaps less) was the first to carry his bat through an England innings, finishing on that occasion with 132 not out. He also holds the record for carrying his bat through the highest first class team total to feature such an innings, and in that same innings the highest score ever made for Surrey. In 1899 at Taunton, Surrey scored 811 all out, with Abel batting through for an undefeated 357. Abel and Tom Hayward shared the Surrey record partnership for any wicket, 448 for the 4th. Playing for the Players against the Gentlemen at The Oval Abel scored 247, a score only beaten in that series by his fellow Surreyite Jack Hobbs (266). Abel also formed a contrasting friendship with WG Grace, and was among the pallbearers at the latter’s funeral. There is a biography of him by David Kynaston that I recommend.
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening bat. She has established a magnificent record at the top of the order in recent years (visit my post of two days ago to see a clip of highlights from one of her innings), and while the women play scandalously little test cricket, her record in ODIs is significantly better than her record in T20s, leading me to take the view that if she got a proper chance in long form cricket she would be highly successful.
  3. *Don Bradman – right handed batter, brilliant outfielder, captain. He was just a little over 5’6″ in height, the second tallest of my chosen XI. A test average of 99.94 renders further comment superfluous. This is his third appearance in this series of posts, after Australia and the Scribes.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. The Indian maestro, scorer of 100 international hundreds is an automatic selection at four as Bradman was at three.
  5. Gus Logie – right handed batter. The West Indian, one of the smallest players of his era, was not anything like as heavy a scorer as his immediate predecessors in this order, but he tended to score his runs when his side really needed them.
  6. +Mushfiqur Rahim – right handed batter, wicket keeper. The Bangladeshi, one of the smallest players ever seen in the test arena, has two test double centuries to his credit, and averages 36.77 overall with the bat, and he has not all that often had the luxury of being able to build on a strong start by his team. He has also taken 104 catches and executed 15 stumpings in test cricket. Bangladesh has probably during his career only had five players who can genuinely be regarded as top class, opener Tamim Iqbal, all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan (currently suspended), off spinner Mehedi Hasan, fast bowler Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (now a member of the Bangladeshi parliament, and a spent force as a player) and Mushfiqur Rahim himself. In this team he is part of a strong unit, which would be a new experience for him.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. At 5’7″ the tallest member of my chosen XI, he is the x-factor all rounder in the side. He featured in yesterday’s post.
  8. Katherine Brunt – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed bat. The Barnsley born Brunt is approximately 5’5″ tall – among her regular England team mates only Beaumont and Danielle Wyatt are noticeably shorter. It is her skiddy bowling that has earned her a place in this XI, but she has also developed her batting to a very considerable degree, and shares with Logie the knack of producing the goods when they are most required – her career best 72 not out got England to a total in excess of 200 when at one stage a prediction of 150 would have been viewed as seriously optimistic.
  9. John Wisden – right arm fast, useful lower order batter. The Sussex pacer, also founder of the United All England XI, a touring XI which played matches against local teams who had a numerical advantage – 18 and 22 were the two most frequent sizes of team for such matches, and sometimes secured the services of professionals, described as ‘given men’, once took all ten in a first class innings, all clean bowled. He stood only 5’4″, probably the shortest specialist fast bowler there has ever been.
  10. Tich Freeman – leg spinner. The 5’2″ Freeman (his actual given names were Alfred Percy) was the second most prolific wicket taker in first class cricket history, with 3,776 (and he played only about half the number of matches that Yorkshire’s Wilfred Rhodes, the no1 in this category, did). He holds all manner of records for large wicket hauls. Even more remarkable by today’s standards is the age at which he achieved these feats – a combination of his being a late developer and World War 1 meant that by the age of 30 the Kent leggie had precisely 29 first class wickets to his credit.
  11. Poonam Yadav – leg spinner. The tiny Indian leg spinner was one the stars of the recent Women’s World T20, again and again confounding opponents with her flight and spin. She is also one of the slowest bowlers of any description to have been seen in top level cricket.

This team has an opening pair who should combine well, a powerhouse combination at three and four, a battler at no six, a wicket keeper batter at six, the most explosive batter the game has ever seen at seven, and four varied bowlers to round out the XI. I regret that both spinners are leg spinners, but I think there is enough difference in their methods that this is not a very serious weakness.

THE CONTEST

This contest for the ‘Sling Trophy’ as I shall call it should be a fine one. However, especially if Wisden, Brunt and Jessop, the pace bowlers for the Davids, concentrate on yorkers, which the Goliaths would find it difficult to get down to, I would still expect this to go the same way as the original David vs Goliath – in favour of the Davids.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Yesterday I offered up this, from brilliant.org

Measurement

The key lies in that word ‘similar’. All the four rectangles (the big overarching rectangle, with long side 16, the intermediate rectangle that is half the area of that one and the two smaller rectangles all have the same proportions. This means that the key shape, the triangle is an isosceles right angled triangle and its longest side can be calculated from the similarity of the rectangles to equal to 4 x the square root of 2. This squares up to 32, and Pythagoras tells us that the sum of the squares of the other two sides is equal to the square of the longest side (aka hypoteneuse). Since the triangle is isosceles as well as right angled, the square of each remaining side is half of 32, i.e. 16. 16 has two square roots, 4 and -4, and the length of the side of a triangle is a positive number, so the answer is four.

Here is David Vreken’s elegant published solution:

VrekenSol

Just to complete this mini-section, it took me much less long to actually solve this than to type my explanation, and I am a fairly rapid typist.

A FINAL LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The Davids and Goliaths of cricket have been paraded in all their glory, and I have a single link left to share before finishing with my usual sign off. Phoebe MD has hosted a post by Barbara Leonhard titled “Avoiding the Tragedy: A Look into Disease Preventionwhich I consider to be a must-read. My thanks to both Phoebe and Barbara for that piece.

Finally, my usual sign off…

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David v Goliath
The teams in tabulated form with abbreviated comments.

All Time XIs – T20 Clash

In today’s variation on the all-time XI theme we look at T20 cricket, with a team of former greats all of whom would have been well suited to that format pitted against a team of the best actual T20 players.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s variation on the ‘all time XI‘ theme looks at the game’s shortest regular format, T20 (one innings each of 20 overs per side), and I pit a team who were in their prime before top level limited overs cricket was played against a team of T20 experts.

T20 PLAYING CONDITIONS

At least five bowlers must be used, and no bowler may bowl more than four overs in a T20 innings. For the first six overs no more than two fielders may be stationed more than 30 metres from the bat, and thereafter no more than five. This format has been very successful since its top level introduction in 2003, with T20 tournaments flourishing all round the world. Having briefly set the scene it is time to meet our teams starting with…

THE PRET20 FRANCHISE XI

  1. Garry Sobers – left handed bat, every kind of left arm bowling known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete cricketer ever to play the game, he was an absolute must for this side.
  2. Gilbert Jessop – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler and brilliant fielder. Even if his batting was his only recommendation the most consistently fast scorer the game has ever known would have been a ‘shoo-in’. Add his intelligent bowling and fielding that was estimated as being worth 30 an innings to his team and, from a century before the format was used at top level you have the blueprint for the perfect T20 exponent.
  3. *WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of various styles, fine close catcher. My chosen captain.
  4. Frank Woolley – left handed bat, left arm orthodox spin bowler, brilliant close catcher.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed bat, left arm wrist spinner, fine fielder.
  6. +Leslie Ames – right handed bat, wicket keeper. He won the Lawrence trophy for the fastest hundred of the season twice in the first three years of its existence. He was one of the Kent batters who combined to chase down 219 in two hours, with no fielding restrictions in place.
  7. Bill Lockwood – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler. He was one of the pioneers of the ‘slower ball’, a type of delivery that is especially useful in T20, and it is for that reason that I have included him here.
  8. Jim Laker – off spinner and right handed lower order bat.
  9. Alfred Shaw – right arm medium/ slow bowler, lower order bat. The Nottinghamshire man bowled more overs in first class cricket than he conceded runs. He paid just 12 a piece for his first class wickets. He once said that “length and variation of pace are the secrets of successful bowling”, and though he would probably get hit occasionally I think his method would work beautifully in T20.
  10. Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, useful lower order batter. His match against Nottinghamshire in 1932 provides a vignette of his bowling skills – in the first Notts innings on a pitch not assisting him he operated as a stock bowler taking 2-64 in 41 overs. In their second innings, after an overnight thunderstorm had gingered up the pitch he took 10-10 in 19.4 overs, with 16 maidens, still the cheapest ‘all ten’ in first class history. He was noted for being especially skilled at varying his pace to suit the conditions, and even in T20 it is hard to imagine anyone ‘collaring’ him.
  11. David Harris – right arm fast bowler. Hambledon’s finest, who once sent a spell of 170 deliveries from which one solitary single was garnered by the opposition. I have argued elsewhere (see the Eccentrics post in this series) that proper styles of underarm bowling such as his, and the lobs of Simpson-Hayward mentioned in that post, as opposed to Trevor Chappell style grubbers should be legal. The grubber can be covered under today’s legislation with the single addition that a ball rolled along the deck is considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and will therefore be called no-ball.

This XI is strong in batting, everyone other than Ames would be capable of contributing with the ball, and the bowling is staggeringly rich in variety as well. Their designated fielding substitute can be Sydney Copley, who while on the Notts groundstaff took an astonishing catch as sub in the 1930 test match there to dismiss Stan McCabe (who unlike another Aussie top order batter dismissed by a sub in more recent times did not give vent to a string of obscenities on his way back to the pavilion), breaking a threatening partnership. Now we we turn to…

T20 ERA FRANCHISE XI

  1. Chris Gayle – left handed opening bat, occasional off spinner. The ‘Universe Boss’ has to open the innings for this team, his record in this format being simply astonishing. As a very tall left handed bat he forms a perfect contrast to the person I have chosen to open with him…
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening bat of diminutive stature but possessed of a full range of strokes, good footwork and incredible timing. Her many highlights include a 47 ball hundred against South Africa. Additionally, I consider that the completeness of the contrast between her and Gayle would pose a huge challenge to opposition bowlers. Yesterday’s post featured a video clip showing her in action – please go back and watch it.
  3. *Virat Kohli – right handed batter. The best all format batter currently in world cricket – Steve Smith is better at test cricket, and Chris Gayle is better at T20.
  4. Glenn Maxwell – right handed batter, off spinner. A man with an incredible record in limited overs cricket, and had I failed to select him I probably wouldn’t have needed radio equipment to hear the howls of protest from Australia.
  5. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The x-factor all rounder.
  6. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. His career started before the establishment of top level T20, but he did play the format before he finished.
  7. Rashid Khan – right arm leg spinner, lower order batter. The Afghan has a phenomenal record in limited overs cricket, and has had some successes in his few forays into long form cricket as well. Save for being brutalized by Eoin Morgan in the 2019 world cup he has had few bad days.
  8. R Ashwin – off spinner, lower order bat. An excellent limited overs record. Also, the possibility for what would be the cricket incident to end all cricket incidents were he to (as he has done to others) ‘Mankad’ WG Grace!
  9. Jofra Archer – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. He went in a few months from people questioning whether England should pick him to being an essential part of a world cup winning outfit.
  10. Chris Jordan – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order bat, brilliant fielder. One of the most effective bowlers at mixing the pace up and sowing confusion that way, his fielding is so good as to practically be worth picking him even if you don’t plan to use his bowling.
  11. Lasith Malinga – right arm fast bowler. The Sri Lankan slinger would be especially dangerous in the ‘death overs’.

This team has depth in batting, with only Malinga absolutely ruled out of making a significant contribution in that department, and a splendid range of bowling options to choose from. As a designated fielding sub I give them (who else?) the one and only Gary Pratt. I apologize for the player names not being formatted as links to their cricinfo profiles – that site is currently malfunctioning – hope normal service will soon be resumed.

THE CONTEST AND AN EXPLANATION

This would be a heck of a contest, with I think the PreT20 team just about favourites, but any of these 22 players could be the match winner.

Until this post my all-time XIs have all been picked with long form cricket in mind. The reason I changed that today was because of the following tweet from the folks at cricinfo:

They were asking specifically about T20 and their options were Gayle or Kohli, and I voted for Gayle, but as I explained, it is actually a very poor comparison, since Gayle’s bowling gives him a second string that wins it for him at T20 (and at that format, and only that format, he is of more value even purely as a batter than Kohli). I decided to use this blog post to address their question at greater length than can be managed in a tweet, meaning that post I was mentally planning for today will feature tomorrow instead (yes, when sufficiently provoked even an autistic person can make rapid changes to their plans). Note that while I have named Gayle as one half of the ultimate example of a contrasting opening pair I have also named Kohli as no 3 and skipper.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few of links before signing off. First, the pinchhitter has again mentioned me in today’s offering, which I urge you to read. Second, to bring to the cricket part of this post to a close, a quiz in The Guardian.

Finally, a mathematical teaser adapted from a problem I solved on brilliant.org this morning (I considered their version waaay too easy, since they had made it multiple choice):

Measurement

 

Finally, after a good sized chunk of cricket and a measure of mathematics it is time for my regular sign off:

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The first squirrel I have seen recently.

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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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100 Cricketers – The Second XI Opening Pair

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with the opening pair from my second XI.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. We are starting on the second XI (as explained in my introductory post to the series I have organised my 100 cricketers in nine XIs with a stand alone at the end to round out the 100), with the opening batters (the whole second XI can be seen here).

CHRIS GAYLE

So far the most successful batter that T20 cricket has ever seen, he also has a fine record in other forms of the game, including having two test match triple centuries to his credit. I saw him play a magnificent innings at the Adelaide Oval, watching from what became my regular spot at that ground, the bleachers in front of the Chappell Stand. On that occasion he scored 167 not out, which left Australia with a target of 330 of 81 overs (4.07 on over). The pitch still appeared to be totally benign, and only two of the West Indies bowlers, Kemar Roach who was regularly hitting the 150KPH mark on the speed gun and Sulieman Benn with his left arm spin had looked capable of posing a serious threat. With this is mind I was hoping for a really good finish, because I did not reckon that Australia being 1-0 to the good in a three match series gave them an excuse for putting up the shutters when they had an opportunity to go for the kill.

Unfortunately Ricky Ponting assessed the situation differently and decided that no attmept would be made on what should have been a very tempting target. Most frustratingly of all, once the match had been condemned to an inevitable draw by Australia’s refusal to go for the target a couple of their batters did play some strokes near the end, showing what might have been.

Although it is his batting that earns Chris Gayle his place in my 100 cricketers he has also had occasional moments of success with his offspin bowling. 

SMRITI MANDHANA

Mandhana burst on to the scene in the 2017 Women’s World Cup, helping India to reach the final, before Anya Shrubsole’s incredible bowling, which saw her become the first female to feature on the front cover of Wisden won that match for England. In the very first match of that tournament, again between England and India Mandhana had made a spectacular 86, well supported by her opening partner Punam Raut and India had run out deserved winners. Still only 22, she is now captain of India and scoring lots of runs (although not earlier today – see my previous post).

Like Chris Gayle she bats left handed and takes a very attacking approach to the game. However she is small, while he is very tall and solidly built, so there are plenty of contrasts as well as similarities  between this pair of opening batters.

COMING UP

My next post in this series will feature the all-rounders from this second XI and then I will cover the remaining specialist batters and finally the bowlers, introducing the third XI in that post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some of my pictures, all taken this morning:

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I was well positioned while listening to the cricket this morning to take some photographs of this facsimile 1907 railway map.

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England’s Impressive Start To ODI Series

An account of the 1st ODI between England and the West Indies.

INTRODUCTION

After a test match series most of which is best forgotten England last night started the ODI series against the West Indies in emphatic style. I followed the action on cricinfo, since there was no live commentary.

A RUN FEAST

Chris Gayle, playing his last international series at the age of 39, clubbed a spectacular century for the West Indies. The problem was that although he was smashing sixes like the Gayle of old he was no longer able to run at any sort of speed, and as a result his overall scoring rate was not actually that quick by modern standards as there were too many scoreless deliveries there.

The early lead in England’s response to the West Indies 360 was taken by Jason Roy who pretty much matched Gayle for freedom of stroke play and was also able to run properly, with the result that his strike rate was colossally impressive. Joe Root and Eoin Morgan then took over once he was out, and just before the end Root reached the third inidvidual hundred of the day, while Ben Stokes made an unbeaten 20 at the end to ensure that there would be no final wobble. Root was out at the death, caught of a dreadful full toss that was only just a legal delivery, but England’s margin was six wickets, with eight balls to spare, and at no point during the England innings did the West Indies look other than second favourites.

Although Gayle had a higher score the player of the match award went quite rightly to Jason Roy whose innings put England firmly in the driving seat, a position they never subsequently relinquished. In a match in which 724 runs were scored in 98.4 overs Ben Stokes’ bowling figures (3-37 from 8 overs) were noteworthy. Chris Gayle’s 135 came off 129 balls, so just above 100 runs per 100 balls, while Jason Roy’s 123 occupied just 85 balls – a strike rate of over 140 runs per 100 balls. A full scorecard can be viewed here.

In the early hours of tomorrow morning UK time, the England women take on India in an ODI, while the second match of the series in the West Indies gets underway later the same day.

PHOTOGRAPHS