Welcome to another installment of my ‘all time XI‘ cricket series. Today we have an XI of players with names that connect to music and an XI with names that connect to military matters.
THE MUSIC XI
- *Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter, captain. The man who captained England to the top of the test world, and who have a very respectable test average. There have been a phalanx of composers named Strauss – Johann I, Johann II, Joseph, Richard etc. Here is a youtube video of Johann Strauss II’s “Blue Danube Waltz”:
- Dean Elgar – left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. Has a fine record for South Africa, though just short of being genuinely top drawer. He gets in here thanks to Sir Edward Elgar. Since openers represent the overture to the innings, here is a youtube video of Elgar’s “Cockaigne Overture”:
- Bob Barber – left handed batter, occasional leg spinner. An attacking batter whose greatest innings was played when opening the batting for England in the 1965-6 Ashes – 185 to set up an innings victory. Samuel Barber was a USian composer, best known for his “Adagio for Strings”:
- Michael Clarke – right handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. Averaged 49 in his test career, in spite of a truly horrible series in the 2010-1 Ashes. Jeremiah Clarke was a composer, chiefly known for his “Trumpet Voluntary”:
- Walter Gilbert – right handed batter, right arm slow bowler. A cousin of WG Grace whose career ended in sad circumstances. He played a peripheral role in bringing about the first test match to be played on English soil – he and GF Grace strengthened many of the sides against whom the 1880 Aussies, who had arrived under a major cloud, played against, and were impressed by their strength, which they communicated to WG, who was eventually able to persuade the right people that a test match should be arranged. He gets is as name sake to WS Gilbert, the Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan.
- Felix Organ – right handed batter, off spinner. A very promising youngster, having already scored a century and taken a five for in the course of his fledgling career. He averages 26 with the bat and 15 the ball at the present moment, but his five-for does account for more than half of his tally of first class wickets.
- +Keith Piper – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Part of Dermot Reeve’s Warwickshire side that had a brilliant period in the mid 1990s. There are various musical instruments that include the name pipes, and one who plays the pipes is a piper, as in “who pays the piper, calls the tune.”
- Jason ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie – right arm fast bowler. The original Dizzy Gillespie was a famous jazz musician:
- Trent Boult – left arm fast medium bowler. Sir Adrian Boult was a famous conductor.
- Neil Wagner – left arm fast medium bowler. Very different to Boult in approach. He is here as analogue to Richard Wagner, a great composer. Here is a youtube video of “The Ride of The Valkyries”:
- Charlie Parker – left arm orthodox spinner. The third leading wicket taker in first class history, with 3,278 scalps at that level. The other Charlie Parker was a jazz musician. Here, again from youtube, is “Ornithology”:
This team has a solid top four, two all rounders, an excellent keeper and four very respectable bowler. Gillespie, Boult, Wagner and Parker backed by Gilbert and Organ, with Barber’s leg spin also available make for a decent and very balanced attack.
THE MILITARY XI
- *Pelham Warner – right handed opening batter, captain. He earned the nickname ‘the general’ because by the time he became captain of Middlesex he had led England on several successful campaigns, including the 1903-4 Ashes.
- Harry Lee – right handed opening batter. A regular opening partner of Warner at Middlesex. He was once the victim in a very quirky scorebook line, when Middlesex played Somerset – his brother Frank took the catch that dismissed him off the bowling of his other brother Jack. His analogue is General Lee.
- Stan McCabe – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. Nicknamed ‘Napper’, which derived from Napoleon.
- Julius Caesar – right handed batter, occasional fast bowler. Appropriately given his name he was inclined to the aggressive approach. His playing days were before the era of test cricket, but he did tour Australia in 1863-4. His military namesake can be read about here.
- Paul Collingwood – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler. His approach to batting earned him the nickname “Brigadier Block”.
- Stanley Jackson – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. Hero of the 1905 Ashes, when as England captain he won all five tosses, led England to victory in both the matches that reached a conclusion and topped both the batting and bowling averages. Although it is as a namesake of general ‘Stonewall’ Jackson that I have picked him he also won a DSO in the Boer War.
- +Phil Mustard – wicket keeper, left handed batter. Due to his surname and the game Cluedo he was nicknamed ‘Colonel’.
- Xenophon Constantine Balaskas – leg spinner, right handed batter. The original Xenophon served as a mercenary soldier, while the most famous Constantine became Roman Emperor after winning the battle of the Mulvian Bridge.
- Paul Franks – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. Referred to as ‘the general’ because of US general Tommy Franks.
- Amanda-Jade Wellington – leg spinner. Yes, on this occasion we have a Napoleon – ‘Napper’ McCabe – and a Wellington on the same side!
- Neil Hawke – right arm medium fast bowler. Played for Australia in the 1960s, and had a decent record. His analogue is Admiral Hawke who won the naval battle of Quiberon Bay. His direct descendant, Martin Bladen seventh Baron Hawke, captained Yorkshire for many years, but his playing record did not justify inclusion.
This side has a respectable top five, an all rounder in Jackson, a keeper who could bat and four varied bowlers. There is a lack of genuine pace, and also both front line spinners are leg spinners, but the bowling attack is perfectly respectable.
I have to say that, notwithstanding managing to accommodate references to Napoleon and Wellington in the same side for that purpose, the music themed side looks the stronger and I would expect them to win the contest for the ‘John Philip Sousa Trophy’ (he was a composer of military music).
LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Now we are ready for my usual sign off…