England All Time T20 XIs

Three all-time England T20XIs selected with differing criteria in response to a twitter challenge from The Cricket Men, some photographs and a video.

This post is a response to a challenge thrown out on twitter yesterday by The Cricket Men. I have extended their brief, and rather than one XI will be naming three: one made up exclusively of T20 players, one which features two past greats who methods I believe would have been especially suited to T20, and one which is made up entirely of past greats.

CONVENTIONAL T20 XI

  1. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. An explosive batter, just right for opening a T20 innings.
  2. +Jos Buttler – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Possibly the finest limited overs batter England have ever had, and a shoo-in for this XI.
  3. Dawid Malan – left handed batter, occasional left arm spinner. Officially the highest rated T20I batter ever, with 915 points following his amazing series against South Africa.
  4. Jonny Bairstow – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. One of the most devastating of short form batters around. His 86 not out in the first match of the series against South Africa first kept England in the contest and then led them to victory.
  5. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Explosive with the bat, and a golden arm with the ball, though probably seventh bowler in this combination.
  6. Andrew Flintoff – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. A must for this XI.
  7. Sam Curran – left handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler. His stocks went through the roof in this year’s IPL, and his performances against South Africa confirmed his advancement.
  8. Chris Woakes – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. A big hitting batter and a crafty operator with the ball.
  9. Adil Rashid – right handed batter, leg spinner. He is superb in this form of the game, economical with the ball even when he is not picking up wickets.
  10. *Graeme Swann – right handed batter, off spinner. I preferred him to Moeen Ali for the second spinner’s role because he was a much better bowler, although not as good in his secondary role.
  11. Jofra Archer – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. With all due respect to Messrs Flintoff and Stokes, likely sixth and seventh bowlers in this combination, we need some genuine pace at our disposal, and for me Archer is the man to provide it

PAST GREATS INTO THE MIX

My second XI involves the addition of two blasts from the past who I consider would have been particularly effective in this format:

  1. *Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Jessop was the fastest scoring top line batter the game has ever seen, and bear in mind that for most of his career a ball had to go right out of the ground as opposed to just over the ropes to count six. He was also a highly skilled quick bowler who once bowled unchanged through a first class innings conceding just three runs (v Northants in 1907, in a total of 12 all out – George Dennett 8-9, Jessop 2-3). Finally, he was what is now termed a ‘gun’ fielder to the extent that most reckonings of his contribution in this department have him effectively coming to the crease already 30 not out. I have also named him as captain, a job he did for Gloucestershire for some years.
  2. Jos Buttler
  3. Dawid Malan
  4. Kevin Pietersen
  5. Jonny Bairstow
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. Sam Curran
  8. Adil Rashid
  9. Graeme Swann
  10. Jofra Archer
  11. Derek Underwood – right handed batter, left arm slow medium bowler. He was famously miserly at the bowling crease, and his style of bowling, with taking the pace of the ball so often being desirable at T20, would seem well suited to this format.

BLASTS FROM THE PAST

My final selection comprises entirely players from the past:

  1. Gilbert Jessop
  2. *WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of varying types, excellent close catcher, captain. With his range of skills and forceful personality he just has to feature.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, brilliant fielder. His attacking brilliance with the bat makes him well suited to the no3 slot in this team and he would also be full value in the field.
  4. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. Capable of scoring all round the wicket.
  5. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. In the 1930s the Walter Lawrence trophy, awarded to the scorer of the fastest first class hundred of the English season, was launched. In two of it’s first three seasons it went to Les Ames, the only recognized keeper ever to score 100 first class hundreds. He holds the record for career first class stumpings – 418 of them in total.
  6. Percy Fender – right handed batter, leg spinner. The scorer of the fastest competitive first class century (35 minutes vs Northants, there have been a few instances of players getting to the mark quicker against bowlers deliberately feeding them runs to bring about a declaration), a brilliant fielder, and a regular wicket taker. Also, although no one could usurp the mighty WG for the captaincy, I acknowledge his skills in this area by naming him vice captain of the XI.
  7. George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest all rounders ever to play the game, and his attacking approach would be well suited to short form cricket. Like Jessop he was what we now call a ‘gun’ fielder, in his case usually patrolling mid off.
  8. Billy Bates – right handed batter, off spinner. He had a remarkable record, including a 55 and two seven-fors in the same test match, at Melbourne in 1883. Playing for the Players against the Gentlemen in 1881 he had a spell of 17 overs for eight runs (so much for those carefree, all-attacking amateurs!), so he could certainly keep it tight.
  9. Bill Lockwood – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Variation of pace was mentioned in the context of certain earlier bowlers, notably Alfred Shaw and the Australia FR Spofforth, but the first bowler about whom the phrase ‘slower ball’ was regularly used was this man, and his version appears to have been the deadliest to see the light of day until Franklyn Stephenson came on the scene almost a century later. Given the role the slower balls play in the armoury of T20 bowlers I suggest that one of the great early masters of the craft has to be included.
  10. Derek Underwood
  11. William Mycroft – right handed batter, left arm fast bowler. His extraordinary record (863 wickets in 138 first matches at 12.09 apiece), the fact that he could move the ball as well as propel it at great pace and his the fact that he bowled left handed all militate in his favour.

BRIEF ANALYSES OF THE XIS

My pure T20 squad has good batting depth, with everyone in it having some degree of skill with the bat, and seven genuine bowling options. It is well equipped to handle every challenge and would give a good account of itself.

The second squad has even greater bowling depth, and although it features one genuine tailender in Underwood the bowling depth is awesome.

My final offering, the blasts from the past combination, is simply awesome, with recognized batting talent all the way down to Lockwood at no9, and so much depth and variety in the bowling that Compton, by no means poor in that department, would probably be 10th choice bowler on most surfaces.

A FEW OF THE MISSING

These names all relate to the blasts from the past. Alfred Shaw, the man who bowled more first class overs than he conceded runs, was one I would have loved to include, while two fast medium bowlers who hit the ball miles when they batted, Jim Smith of Middlesex and Arthur Wellard of Somerset also commanded attention but could not quite get in. Cecil Parkin of Lancashire, with his penchant for bowling six different types of delivery per over, would have been good in T20, and I nearly selected him ahead of Bates. The great SF Barnes would have been formidable at any form of the game but I think he would have found being limited to four overs per innings insupportable, so he missed out. Some of you will doubtless have your own ideas, and I hope you will post them in the comments.

PHOTOGRAPHS

A very contrasting set of photographs, featuring yesterday’s snow and today’s far more benign weather.

To finish, here is a video of the snow falling yesterday (a rare happening in King’s Lynn):

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet

Today’s all time XI cricket post follows a strict alphabetical progression.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another variation on the all-time XI cricket theme. Today each featured player has a surname beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, and each letter is used strictly in sequence, meaning that the second XI ends with a player whose surname begins with V.

RAY ILLINGWORTH’S XI

  1. Bobby Abel – right handed opening batter. 744 test runs at 37.20, an excellent record for his period, over 30,000 first class runs.
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter. Has fared magnificently as an opener since being given the role for England in 2015.
  3. Belinda Clark – right handed batter. In the 1990s she had the same kind of reputation as a batter that her compatriot Meg Lanning does today. She averaged 45 in test cricket and 47 in ODIs, the latter figure including the first ODI double ton by anyone.
  4. Emrys Davies – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was usually to be found in this sort of place in the batting order, and played some fine innings from no4.
  5. Ross Edwards – right handed batter. One of the better Aussie batters of the first half of the 1970s (he retired somewhat prematurely at the end of the 1975 series played after the inaugural men’s world cup). In the first match of that series at Edgbaston he was horrifically out of form but ground out a half century in four hours and ten minutes, while others scored quicker (notably Rod Marsh with the top score of 61) at the other end. Rick McCosker and Ian Chappell had also scored 50s, and Thommo down near the extras scored a test best 49 to boost the score to 359. England were then bowled out twice, with skipper Denness, who had won the toss an put Australia in, managing three and eight in his last two test innings. In the second test of that series Australia slumped to 81-7 in response to England’s first innings 315 (Greig 96, Knott 69, Steele 50) and it was that man Edwards, helped by DK Lillee, who dug Australia out of this king sized hole. Edwards made 99, Lillee a test best 73 not out, and in the end England led by just 47, and were unable to force victory.
  6. Andrew Flintoff – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. He took a while to establish himself at the top level before enjoying a couple of magnificent years, and occasionally reviving old memories thereafter.
  7. Jack Gregory – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Injuries took their toll late in his career, but his record confirms his status as a genuine all rounder.
  8. George Hirstright handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. His England record does not look that great, but his play for Yorkshire, over the course of three decades, places him firmly among the greatest of all time.
  9. *Raymond Illingworth – off spinner, right handed batter. In 1970-1, with Australia holding the Ashes, and having done so since winning them in 1958-9, Illingworth captained England to a 2-0 series victory to regain the urn, the first to do so in Australia since Jardine 38 years previously, and only the sixth in all after Bligh in 1882-3, Stoddart in 1894-5, Warner in 1903-4 and Douglas in 1911-2 as well as Jardine. Subsequent to that tour England’s only successes down under have been when Brearley defended the urn in 1978-9, Gatting in 1986-7 defending the urn won back by Gower in 1985 and Strauss in 2010-11, defending the 2009 spoils. He was a quality player in his day as well.
  10. +Eifion Jones – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He made more dismissals than any other Glamorgan keeper, 933 of them (840 caught, 93 stumped) in 405 matches.
  11. Rashid Khan – leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. Although it is his bowling that has got him in (after four tests he has 23 wickets at 21.08 at that level – a more than promising start – while eight first class matches in total have yielded him 58 wickets at 17.44, and he is not quite 22 years old.

This team has a solid top five, three fine all rounders, a keeper, and two spinners who can both bat. It has no tail to speak of (even Rashid Khan averages 23 in FC cricket), and Gregory and Hirst will make a fine new ball pairing, with Flintoff as back up, while Khan, Illingworth and Davies provide fine spinning options (especially the first two). This team will take a lot of beating.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

First of all, bear in mind my decision to pick players in positions they actually occupied. That means that Abel is virtually indisputable, although Mayank Agarwal will change that if he continues as he has started. Jack Brown of England, Bill Brown of Australia and Sidney George Barnes of Australia were all good options for the letter B, and I could accept any of them. Ian Chappell might have had the no 3 slot. I felt no 4 was a position too high for Basil D’Oliveira, and felt that Davies’ bowling gave him an edge of Joe Darling. No 5 was too low in the order for Bill Edrich (he either opened or batted no 3) or his cousin John (a specialist opener), while none of the other cricketing Edriches had a good enough record. George Emmett of Gloucestershire might have his advocates, although five was lower than he usually batted. Freddie Flintoff had no rivals. Jack Gregory’s slot might have gone to Tony Greig, but I felt that that the Aussie gave me three genuine pace bowlers. Hirst’s place might have gone to Schofield Haigh but I felt that his left arm bowling and superior batting clinched it in his favour. Illingworth’s two main rivals were Jack Iverson and Bert Ironmonger, but both were genuine no11s, so would have been two places too high, and in Ironmonger’s case I already had a left arm spinner in Davies. Some might think that Geraint Jones should have had the keeper’s slot, but his allegedly superior batting (I am not wholly convinced it actually was) does not make up for the fact that he was definitely a tad clumsy behind the stumps. Rashid Khan’s place could have gone to his compatriot the left arm wrist spinner Zahir Khan, while if I had wanted an extra pace bowling option Indian left armer Zaheer Khan could have been selected.

WALTER ROBINS’ XI

  1. Justin Langer – left handed opening batter, averaged 45 in test cricket, with a best of 250 against England at the MCG.
  2. Colin McDonald – right handed opening batter. The 1950s was a slow and low scoring decade, which makes McDonald’s test average of 39, batting at the top of the order particularly impressive. His best series was the 1958-9 Ashes when the he was the most successful batter on either side.
  3. Scott Newman – left handed batter. When he first started it seemed that an England career beckoned, but he never quite kicked on, finishing with a first class average of 38.
  4. Norman O’Neill – right handed batter. A fine stroke making batter for Australia. He averaged 45.55 in test cricket, making his debut in  the 1958-9 Ashes series.
  5. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner.
  6. +Quinton De Kock – left handed batter, wicket keeper. I could not come up with a cricketer whose surname began with Q who could play as high as no six, so I allowed myself to pick someone whose first name began with Q.
  7. *Walter Robins – leg spinner, right handed batter, captain. A highly successful captain of Middlesex, well regarded by most of those who played under him. He averaged 26.39 with the bat and 23.30 with the ball, scoring 13,884 first class runs and capturing 969 wickets in his 379 games at that level.
  8. George Simpson-Hayward – off spinner (under arm). 23 wickets at 18 in his five test matches, 503 first class wickets at 21.
  9. Charles Turner – right arm medium fast bowler. One of the great bowlers of the early period of test history – took his 100th wicket in his 17th test match. Link two in an Australian chain through test history – Jack Blackham who kept wicket in the first 17 test matches ever played was a team mate of his, he gave Bill O’Reilly (3) some useful advice, who in turn gave Richie Benaud (4) some useful advice, and in his turn he passed on some advice to Shane Warne (5) – it only remains to provide a verifiable link from Warne to a current Aussie player to complete the chain.
  10. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler. 297 test wickets for the Kent maestro. Economical on pitches that did not help him and a destroyer on any surface that did help him.
  11. Vince Van Der Bijl – right arm fast medium bowler. The big South African took 767 wickets at 16.54 in first class cricket (his country were isolated due to apartheid, and he chose not to go down the route of qualifying to play for another country, so he played no official international cricket). Philippe-Henri Ednonds who played alongside Van Der Bijl for Middlesex said in “100 Greatest Bowlers” that Van Der Bijl would likely have had a test record in similar lines to Brian Statham’s had he played at that level.

This side has a powerful top five, an explosive batter/ keeper at six and a well balanced bowling attack. Turner and Van Der Bijl look every inch a quality new ball pair, while Underwood, Simpson-Hayward and Robins offer a fine variety of slower options.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

No other L challenges Langer for the no1 slot. N was also a fairly barren letter, as was O. I did consider selecting Ellyse Perry in place of Kevin Pietersen, while no5 is too low for Graeme Pollock, who batted either at no3 or no4. I covered Q in that entry. I think Robins’ all round skills and captaincy make him a must pick – no 7 is definitely at least a position too high for Andy Roberts the . great fast bowler. Similarly, I felt no 8 was too high in the order for Fred Spofforth, so went for the highly individual skills of Simpson-Hayward. Jeff Thomson’s hell fire pace was an alternative to Turner. Underwood had no rival for the letter U. I could have gone for Chaminda Vaas in place of Van Der Bijl, but considered that the South African’s amazing first class record had to be acknowledged. Including Hedley Verity would have left me with only Turner as a recognized new ball bowler.

THE CONTEST

Robins’ XI has the stronger top batting, but more of a tail. Illingworth’s XI are better equipped in bowling, and they bat deeper, although their top batting is the weaker of the two sides. It is a tough call, but I think that Illingworth’s XI just about has the edge.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Marathon

We are told that the runners in first and fourth told the truth and those in second and third lied. C’s statement has to be true, because it being a lie would put C in fourth and that is disallowed by the conditions. Since it is a true statement and C did not finish fourth there is only one place for C to finish, which is first, the other place who told the truth. A’s statement is thus proven true, so A came fourth. B thus lied and therefore finished second, making D the other liar and the third place finisher. Thus C was first and A was fourth, making them three places apart. The cause of the aggro when this problem appeared on brilliant is that two runners finished in between A and C and some therefore believed the answer to be two, but the number of places separating A and C is 4-1 = 3. Brilliant caved to the moaners, giving those who had selected two but explained their reasoning for doing so in the comments credit, and they added an explanatory note to the problem itself. However, having reasoned the problem out as I have explained above and then selected two is actually equivalent to arguing that 4-1 = 2, so I think they should have held firm on that one.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Holly Gillibrand, a young Scottish environmental activist has an article titled “Cry for the Wild” in the Oban Times. Below is a screenshot of the first few paragraphs:

HG

Time for my usual sign off:

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Through the Alphabet
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Mixed Chirality

Today’s ‘all time’ XI circket themed posts focusses on players who batted and bowled with different hands. Also contains a couple of links and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s variation on an all-time XI cricket theme. As hinted at yesterday, today we look at players who bat and bowl with different hands.

THAT WORD CHIRALITY

I have borrowed this from the realm of chemistry. Here is an official definition – screenshot below:

Chirality

BATTED LEFT AND BOWLED RIGHT XI

  1. Matthew Hayden – left handed opening batter, very occasional right arm medium pace bowler. He averaged 50 with the bat in test cricket with the bat. He did bowl at that level as well, but never picked up a wicket.
  2. Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter, very occasional off spinner. Bizarrely has one of the most economical wicket taking averages of all in test cricket – his one visit to the bowling crease in his long career yielded him figures of 1-7, an average of 7.00. He scored nearly 12,500 runs at 45 as a batter, including a 50 and a century on debut against India, and the same double in his last match against the same opponents 12 years later.
  3. Brian Lara – left handed batter, very occasional leg spinner. Holds world record individual scores at both test and first class level.
  4. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter, very occasional leg spinner. Averaged 60.97 in his test career, before his country’s isolation brought the curtain down on it.
  5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – left handed batter, occasional leg spinner. Possessor of one of the most unusual of all batting stances – and opponents have been given plentiful opportunities to study it at length. 
  6. *Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The ultimate big occasion player. I have named as captain of this team, a role he is due to assume later this year on a temporary basis, while Joe Root is with his wife for the birth of their child.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper, very occasional off spinner. He bowled two overs in all senior first team cricket across the formats, and they were classed as off spin.
  8. Richard Hadlee – right arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. Quite simply his country’s G.O.A.T.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner, left handed lower order batter. One of the greatest of all bowlers, rated by Bradman as the best he ever saw or faced. His batting highlight was an unbeaten 30 in the third test of the 1930 Ashes, which prevented Australia from having to follow on, after his narrow failure to do the same at Lord’s had led to them suffering an innings defeat. Avoiding the follow on meant that Australia saved that match, and after a draw in the 4th match they won at The Oval to regain the Ashes.
  10. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler, left handed tail end batter. One of the greatest of all fast bowlers, taking his wickets at under 21 a piece in test cricket, the most economical rate of anyone to have taken 400 or more.
  11. James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler, left handed tail end batter. England’s all time leading test wicket taker, currently on 584 and officially still counting.

This team has an excellent top five, the ultimate x factor all rounder, a keeper batter, and four excellent bowlers. There is only one genuine spin option, O’Reilly, but overall the bowling is pretty impressive.

THREE NEAR MISSES

Stuart Broad, right arm fast medium bowler and left handed lower order batter, came close, but I do not think one could seriously pick him ahead of Ambrose. Stan Nichols and Jack Gregory were both attacking left handed batters who regularly bowled right arm fast with the new ball, but they hardly challenge Stokes and Hadlee.

BATTED RIGHT AND BOWLED LEFT XI

  1. Wilfred Rhodes – right handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. 39,807 first class runs, 4,187 first class wickets. In one of the many phases of his extraordinary career he was effectively a specialist batter, opening for England with Jack Hobbs, and being number two in the batting averages as well.
  2. Vinoo Mankad – right handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He once scored 184 and 72 either side of a five wicket haul. He amassed four double centuries in his test career, including what was then the Indian record of 231, when he and Pankaj Roy put on 413 for the first wicket.
  3. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. Averaged 49.48 in test cricket, was the first black captain of the West Indies.
  4. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. Averaged 50 in his test career, and fared respectably with his wrist spin, which he developed after a tour to Australia in which he noticed how many Aussies were good at more than one department. He chose left arm wrist spin because he was impressed by Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, a specialist bowler in that style.
  5. Charlie Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Averaged 41.78 with the bat, including three successive centuries in the 1926 Ashes. Also had a ten wicket match haul with his left arm spin.
  6. +Sarah Taylor – wicket keeper, right handed batter. I could not find a high class keeper who batted right handed and was an occasional left arm bowler, so I went for one who batted right handed and never bowled a ball in senior first team cricket (and who happens to be one of the two best English keepers I have ever seen in action).
  7. George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest of all all rounders. When he and Rhodes, known as the ‘Kirkheaton twins’ because they both hailed from that village, were in the prime there was a famous joke quiz question “who is the world’s best all rounder?” The only definitive answer to which was “he comes from Kirkheaton, bats right handed and bowls left, and beyond that we cannot go.” Hirst was always inclined to award Rhodes the palm, while Rhodes, cagier (he was after all the original author of the definitive Yorkshire phrase “we doan’t play it for foon, tha knows”), always refused to be drawn.
  8. Frank Foster – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. He and Sydney Barnes (32 and 34 wickets respectively) were the bowling force behind arguably England’s greatest ever series performance in Australia, the 4-1 win in 1911-2 against a definitively full strength Aussie side, which held the Ashes going into that series. Foster was also a very fine batter, the first Warwickshire player to score a treble century, and captain of their first ever championship winning side.
  9. Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, right handed lower order batter. 1,956 first class wickets at 14.90, 144 of them at 24 in test cricket. Although definitely not a genuine all rounder he did have some useful batting performances to his credit, including stepping in as emergency opener for England and seeing through a dangerous period. He never managed the season double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, tallying just over 800 in his best batting season.
  10. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler, right handed tail end batter. A very economical bowler, rarely collared even on the flattest of pitches and a destroyer on a rain affected pitch (and also the match winner on the only documented fusarium affected pitch in test history, at Headingley in 1972). He did eventually register a first class ton, near the end of his long career, but there was never any serious chance of him being considered an all rounder.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler, right handed tail end batter. He flourished just before test cricket was a thing, but 138 first class matches brought him 863 wickets at 12.09 each. 791 runs at 5.34 over the same period makes him not so much a rabbit in that department as a ferret (the one who comes after the rabbits).

This team has a respectable opening pair, an excellent 3,4 and 5, a superb keeper batter, two of the greatest of all all rounders, and three excellent specialist bowler. It commands the full range of left arm bowling from outright pace (Mycroft) through fast medium (Hirst and Foster), medium fast (Worrell), slow medium (Underwood) and spin (Verity, Rhodes, Mankad and Macartney bowling the orthodox variety, Compton wrist spin).

A NEAR MISS

Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, a left arm wrist spinner, came very close to selection, but I felt that with Compton in the side, Underwood’s slow-medium craft and guile offered me an extra variation.

THE CONTEST

The contest would be a good one. I think that the bowling options possessed by the batted right, bowled left brigade just give them the edge, but it is a very close call.

SPORTING AMBIDEXTERITY

The first Dr Grace, WG’s father, was a moderate cricketer, but noted for one peculiarity – although he insisted on batting right handed, he bowled and threw with his left. There are stories of Hanif Mohammad bowling with both hands at club level, and even snagging a wicket left handed. Neil Harvey, a great left handed batter, was right handed for everything other than cricket. I have yet to locate a cricketer who actually had bowling styles with each arm at first class level, but ambidexterity is positively encouraged these days, so it is probably just a matter of time. In other sports golfer Phil Mickelson plays left handed while being right handed everywhere other than the golf course. Snooker legend ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan regularly plays left handed shots in championship matches, and has apparently made entirely left handed century breaks in less exalted settings. Moving back to cricket, the sideways on stance used by almost all batters means that a right handed batter sees the ball mainly with their left eye, while a left handed batter sees it mainly with their right eye (this is why the Nawab of Pataudi junior, aka Mansur Ali Khan, could return to top level cricket after losing his right eye in an accident but Colin Milburn, another attacking right handed batter, could not do so after losing his left.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The statue of slave trader Robert Milligan has recently been removed from its plinth in West India dock in response to public pressure. Now there is a petition for its place to be taken by a memorial honouring writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, which you can sign and share here.
Equiano

APF News Agency have produced this splendid infographic about Britain and the slave trade:

BST

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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Radioactive clocks, from Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

Mixed Chirality
The teams in tabulated form.

 

 

All Time XIs – The Left Handed Ashes

Today’s twist on the ‘all time XI’ theme hands the stage over to the ‘southpaws’, while there is a solution to yesterday’s mathematical teaser and a first audition for some of the potential stars of the aspi.blog 2021 wall calendar.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest twist on the all-time XI cricket theme. Today we set up an all left handed Ashes contest.

THE BRIEF

I followed two rules in my selection of these teams: obviously I was only pick players of quality, and I required that their main speciality be performed left handed. After I have introduced the teams I will explain a number of cases where this latter requirement made itself felt. Some of my selected bowlers did bat right handed, but in none of the cases concerned would the player have been selected purely as a batter. The Times, then the UK’s official ‘paper of record’ rather than the Murdoch rag we know it as today, carried an article calling for the elimination of left handers from top level cricket in the 1920s, and it is only very recently that left handed batters stopped being regarded as exotic and an exception to the rule.

ENGLAND LEFT HANDED XI

  1. Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter. Centuries at the first time of asking against three different countries, and only a dreadful call by Nasser Hussain prevented him from scoring twin tons on test debut. He won the Compton-Miller trophy in the 2009 Ashes, his 161 in the Lord’s match of that series setting England up for their first triumph over Australia there since 1934.
  2. Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter. England’s all time leading scorer of test runs and test hundreds. See ‘The Away Ashes‘, ‘Essex‘ and ‘Functional Left Handers v Elegant Right Handers‘ earlier in this series for more on him.
  3. *Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder. He has featured regularly through this series, making his first appearance when Kent were under the microscope. I have named in as captain, a role he never actually held, in spite of the presence of three actual captains in the ranks – I have reservations about the captaincy of Strauss, Cook and Gower and believe that Woolley would have been good at the job.
  4. Eddie Paynter – left handed batter. The little chap from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire had the highest average of any England left hander to have played enough matches to qualify – 59.23 per innings. He scored test double centuries against Australia and South Africa.
  5. David Gower – left handed batter. He averaged 44.25 from 117 test appearances. He scored two test double centuries, both at Edgbaston. His maiden Ashes century came at Perth in 1978, while Boycott was at the other end en route to a 77 that included an all run four but no boundaries. In his last visit to Australia he played an innings of 123 that Don Bradman rated as one of five best innings he ever saw played in that country. His first appearance in this series of posts came when I looked at Leicestershire.
  6. Maurice Leyland – left handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. England’s Ashes record partnership for any wicket is the 382 he and Len Hutton put on together at The Oval in 1938. Cricinfo describes his bowling as slow left arm orthodox, but Bill Bowes who was a Yorkshire and England team mate of his stated in the chapter on Jardine that he contributed to “Cricket: The Great Captains” that Leyland bowled ‘chinamen’ and I will go with the primary source, in this case Bowes.
  7. +Jack Russell – left handed batter, wicket keeper. He appeared in the second post in this series, when Gloucestershire were the subject.
  8. Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, right handed lower order batter. 1956 first class wickets at 14.90. His test average was 24 per wicket, due to the presence in opposition ranks of Don Bradman. Bradman himself held Verity in considerable esteem.
  9. Bill Voce – left arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. Larwood’s sidekick on the 1932-3 Ashes tour, he also made the 1936-7 trip, and a third visit down under in 1946-7 by when he was past his best.
  10. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. No bowler of below medium pace has more test wickets for England than his 297. His main weapon was cut rather than conventional spin, and his chief variation was a ball fired through at genuine speed (he started as a fast bowler before slowing down). On batting friendly pitches he was accurate enough to avoid being collared, and on a surface that he could exploit he earned his nickname ‘Deadly’ with some astonishing sets of figures, including a 7-11 at Folkestone as late as 1986, at the age of 42.
  11. Nobby Clark – left arm fast, left handed genuine no11. There were two other options for my left arm out and out speedster, Fred Morley of Nottinghamshire and William Mycroft of Derbyshire, but the last named never got to play test cricket, and Morley only when he was past his absolute best. Thus the Northamptonshire man gets the nod.

This team has an excellent top six, a great keeper and four varied specialist bowlers. The bowling, with Clark and Voce to share the new ball and various types of craft and guile from Underwood, Verity, Woolley and Leyland also looks impressive.

RULED OUT

Ben Stokes bats left handed, but his right arm fast bowling cannot be dismissed as a secondary part of his game, since he would not be selected without it. The ‘Kirkheaton twins’, George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes both batted right handed, and as with Stokes’ bowling their contributions in this department cannot be dismissed. Similarly Frank Foster, a fine left arm quick for Warwickshire and England, batted right handed, and since his career highlights include a triple century he too had to be ruled out. Stan Nichols of Essex, like Stokes, batted left handed, but his right arm fast bowling was a huge factor in his selection for both county and country. While sharp eyed observers will have noted that Verity, Voce and Underwood all scored first class centuries none were ever selected specifically for their batting.

AUSTRALIA LEFT HANDED XI

  1. Matthew Hayden – left handed opening batter.
  2. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter. See the ‘Arthurians vs the Bills‘ ost for more detail about him.
  3. Joe Darling – left handed batter. His first major innings came at school. When he was selected to play for Prince Alfred College in their annual grudge match against St Peter’s College he lashed 252 not out, which remains the highest individual score in the history of the fixture. During the 1897-8 Ashes he became the first batter ever to hit three centuries in the same series. He was also the first the reach a test century by hitting a six, which in his day meant sending the ball clean out of the ground.
  4. Neil Harvey – left handed batter, brilliant fielder. 6,149 test runs at 48 an innings, including 19 centuries.
  5. *Allan Border – left handed batter, captain. Border took of the captaincy of an Australian side that had forgotten how to win,and by the time he passed the job on to Mark Taylor the side he was leaving were established at the top of the game. He scored over 11,000 test runs at 50.56. Losing the 1986-7 Ashes to an England who had played 11 test matches without victory since The Oval in 1985 was a bitter pill for Border, but in 1989 he finally captained his team to an Ashes victory, a feat he then repeated twice before retiring.
  6. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. He preferred no 7, but I have put him at six for reasons that will soon become clear. See my T20 post for more on him.
  7. Alan Davidson – left handed batter, left arm fast medium. The all rounder of the side (see yesterday’s post).
  8. Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast, left handed lower middle order bat. See my Australia post for more on him.
  9. Jack Ferris – left arm medium fast. Regular partner of Charles ‘Terror’ Turner. He also featured in my ‘Cricketing United Nations‘ post.
  10. Chuck Fleetwood-Smith – left arm wrist spinner. A brilliant but erratic bowler, sadly best known for his 1-298 on Bosser Martin’s 1938 Oval featherbed. Australia went into that match with an ill equipped and poorly balanced bowling attack – the only genuine pace bowler in the party, Ernie McCormick, was having terrible trouble with no balls and did not play in the game, neither did Frank Ward, bizarrely selected for the tour in preference to Clarrie Grimmett. Mervyn Waite, allegedly played for his bowling skills, did take his only test wicket in that match, but his new ball partner for the game was Stan McCabe, a brilliant batter but nobody’s idea of a test match opening bowler. The truth about a bowler of the Fleetwood-Smith type is that to play them you need five frontline bowlers available to you so that you have an out if things don’t go to plan.
  11. Bert Ironmonger – left arm orthodox spinner. The second oldest ever to play test cricket, being 51 years old when he took his final bow at that level. He featured in my ‘Workers’ post.

This team has a superb front five, the best batter-keeper Australia have ever had and a well varied line up of bowlers, with likely new ball pair Johnson and Davidson having medium paced back up from Ferris, finger spin from Ironmonger and wrist spine from Fleetwood-Smith. Border might also take a turn at the bowling crease with his variety of left arm spin.

RULED OUT

The biggest rule out was Jack Gregory, a splendid all rounder in the early 1920s, who batted left handed, but bowled right arm fast (and he would never have been picked as a specialist batter). Charles Macartney, ‘the governor general’, did win a test match with his left arm tweakers, but it was his batting that got him selected and he did that with his right hand.

THE CONTEST

Unlike in rather too many real life Ashes series both sides look strong and well balanced. However, I think that England just have the edge – especially if they win the toss and bat first (which is the decision that Woolley would be likely to make – read his thoughts on this in the relevant section of “King of Games”), since Underwood, Verity and Woolley on a wearing pitch would be a well nigh unplayable combination.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

I included this from brilliant.org in yesterday’s post:

The question was which is the smallest fish. The answer is Thursday’s fish is the smallest. Clue 1 tells us that Saturday’s fish is the average size of the two previous day’s fishes, clue two that Thursday’s fish was smaller than Wednesday’s. Clue three tells that Saturday is the smallest fish to be larger than Wednesday’s. Clue four tells us that Sunday’s fish is between Friday’s and Saturday’s in size. All of this when fully reasoned out tells that the actual ranking order of fish from biggest downward is Friday, Sunday, Saturday, Wednesday, Thursday, so the smallest fish is Thursday’s.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced today’s XI, answered yesterday’s teasers, so now it is time for my usual sign off, with a twist. I have only a very few new photos ready to use, so before I display them I am going to share the photos that I am currently considering for inclusion in the aspi.blog 2021 wall calendar (a tradition that will be entering its fifth year).

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This water vole poking its head of its hole is a definite – taken in October 2019

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One of these three hedgehog pics, again from later 2019 will be there as well.

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One of these five brimstone bitterfly pics will probably feature.

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This is one of the starling possibilities.

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One of these three shieldbug pics is a possibility

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I like this one.

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One of these two goldfinch pics will be there.

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these four starlings mar get in…

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…as may one of these last two pics but not both.

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I await your views on these and other possible calendar pictures with interest, and finish with these…

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The fuchsia is really flourishing.

Left Handed Ashes
The teams in tabulated form.

Ashes Composite XI

My composite Ashes XI with reasoning and justification. Also some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

A common feature of final days of series is the selection of a composite XI based on performances in said series. This is my effort for the current Ashes series. I am going to name my team in batting order first and then explain/amplify/justify these selections.

THE TEAM

My team in batting order (England player names in dark blue, Aus in green):

  1. Alastair Cook
  2. David Warner
  3. Dawid Malan
  4. Steven Smith (Captain)
  5. Shaun Marsh
  6. Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)
  7. Mitchell Marsh
  8. Mitchell Starc
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Jimmy Anderson

MY REASONING

The openers need no justification – the only major contribution from an opener not named Warner in the series was Cook’s monumental innings at the MCG. Number three is a thorny one. James Vince has demonstrated clearly that he does not belong there, and his huge score here at the SCG notwithstanding I remain skeptical about Usman Khawaja, hence my decision to promote England’s leading run scorer in the series to a position he occupies for his county. Number four, and with it the captaincy was the easiest selection of the whole lot. Shaun Marsh has not put a foot wrong since being called up to replace the inadequate Handscomb at number 5, and I regarded him as a must pick. Jonny Bairstow and Tim Paine have both had good series with the gloves, but I have opted for Bairstow as definitely the superior batsman. Mitchell Marsh has had a magnificent series, and was an absolute shoe-in at number 7, especially as Moeen Ali has had a terrible series – he has batted poorly in every match and his bowling average reads like a Bradman batting average. Of the specialist bowlers I have picked those at number 8,9 and 10 in the batting order are absolute stand outs. Number 11 was tricky, since Anderson with virtually no support has had a good series, and the better supported Hazlewood as also had a fine series. Accepting that even were it possible vivisection is not permissible (though ‘Anderwood’ is only one letter removed from a former test great!) I have opted for Anderson as I rate his the greater achievement. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Looking at the makeup of the team (and accepting that Hazlewood for Anderson and Khawaja for Malan would both be valid changes), Australian picks predominate in both batting and bowling, though it is especially the bowling, which in my team comes out at 4-1 (including all-rounder Mitchell Marsh) to Australia and is reality more like 4.3-0.7 (rating my selection of Anderson over Hazlewood as a 70:30 pick) which has split the sides. England have collected barely more than half of the 100 wickets that were available to them at the start of the series, whereas Australia assuming that they take the six England wickets that remain in this match will have managed 90, failing to take 20 opposition wickets only on the MCG pitch. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

I always like to include a few photographs in my blog posts, so I end with these recently taken pictures:

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The first five pictures were taken while walking to the Scout Hut on Beulah Street for Musical Keys yesterday.

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These last four pictures were taken in Fakenham on Thursday.

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