All Time XIs – The Letter L

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

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

HERITAGE OPEN DAY

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

PRESS COVERAGE OF WNAG

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

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

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

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

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

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

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

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

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

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

PHOTOGRAPHS

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

New Materials For Cricket Bats

My take on a story that has come out today about bamboo being considered as a possible alternative material for the making of cricket bats (willow is the traditional choice).

This post is prompted by a story that bamboo, more sustainable than the traditional willow, is being considered as a possible material for making cricket bats.

A CONTROVERSY AND A PIECE OF LEGAL PEDANTRY

The laws of cricket currently state in the section codifying what is acceptable in a bat that “the bat shall be made of wood”. Officially bamboo is a grass and not wood, so strictly technically a change to the laws of cricket would be required to permit the construction of bamboo bats.

The reason for this requirement being codified into law dates back to the post-Packer concord series of 1979-80 when Australia, with the World Series Cricket players restored to the fold, played three test matches against each of England and the West Indies. In one of the Australia v England matches Dennis Lillee, one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the game and a competent lower order batter came to wicket bearing an aluminium bat, having come to a financial arrangement with the manufacturer. Mike Brearley, the England skipper, was less than impressed, quickly noting two things: firstly that every time the bat made contact with the ball it made an ugly clanging sound and secondly and more importantly that the impacts of this new type of bat on the ball were damaging to said item. There was an on-field spat, and Lillee, instructed to revert to a wooden bat, hurled the aluminium implement away in disgust.

To prevent the aluminium bat from making further appearances an addition was made to the laws of cricket, and the overly restrictive formula that ‘the bat shall be made of wood’ came into being.

ON ALTERNATIVE
BAT MATERIALS

Although it is technically grass and not wood (this distinction is to my mind a piece of legal pedantry in the David Allen Green class) I do not see a lot of difference between a wooden bat and a bamboo one in terms of either the effect its impact has on the ball or the distances the ball can be hit with it (I would object to a cork bat on the latter grounds – the natural springiness of cork would surely cause a bat made of that material to send a ball much greater distances) and this to me is the key. I would say that new materials for bats would need rigorous testing to ensure that they do not damage the ball, that the noise of the impact of bat on ball is not positively unpleasant, and that they do not radically alter the game by having a massive effect on the distances that balls can be struck. Rather than worry overmuch about the type of material from which the bat is constructed its effect on the game should be the key criteria. If it can be demonstrated that a bamboo bat will work not too differently to the traditional willow I would have no objection to such being used.

Possibly the keenest statisticians (are you reading this James McCaghrey?) will come to produce tables comparing scoring by batters with wooden implements and with bamboo to analyse whether the different material is having any great effect.

PHOTOGRAPHY

My usual sign off…