All Time XIs – The Letter B

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


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

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


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


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Overseas Stars

Today is overseas players day as an XI of the best county overseas players to on an XI of the best overseas players not to play for counties. Also features a very important petition, a measure of mathematics and some very interesting links, as well as my usual photographs.


Welcome to my latest variation on the All Time XI cricket theme. Today overseas players have the floor, as I pit a team of the best county overseas players against a team of overseas stars who were not county players.


  1. Barry Richards – right handed opening batter. Played for Hampshire for many years, producing a number of extraordinary performances. See my recent South Africa post for more about him.
  2. Roy Marshall – right handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. The Barbadian scored a huge number of runs for Hampshire, and the speed with which he scored them was a crucial factor in Hampshire’s first ever County Championship, when he several times led successful run chases.
  3. Brian Lara – left handed batter. The holder of the highest individual scores in both test and first class cricket, the latter made for Warwickshire against Durham in his and their record breaking 1994 season.
  4. Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. An all-time great who featured in my West Indies team but had to make do with an honourable mention in the Somerset post due to my selection policies regarding overseas players.
  5. *Allan Border – left handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. The Aussie was as respected for Essex as he was in native land.
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every kind known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete all rounder ever to play the game, he played for Nottinghamshire for a number of years.
  7. +Stewart Dempster – right handed batter, wicket keeper. One of the most talented cricketers ever to come from New Zealand, he averaged 65.72 in his brief test career before signing up to play for Leicestershire, whom he served well for a number of years.
  8. Richard Hadlee – right arm fast bowler, left handed attacking middle order bat. The Kiwi legend was also outstanding for Nottinghamshire over a number of years. In 1984 he achieved the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in the first class season, the first time it had been done since the reduction of first class fixtures to make space for the John Player League in 1969. Could such a ‘double’ be achieved in a 14 game first class season such as has been the case in England in recent years? Yes – WG Grace once had a run of 11 matches in 1874 in which he achieved the feat, but anyone who does manage it will achieve a feat comparable to the great George Hirst’s 1906 season when he scored 2,385 first class runs and took 208 wickets, the only ever season’s ‘double double’.
  9. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. The biggest haul of wickets in a first class season since the reduction of fixtures referred to above is 134, taken by Marshall for Hampshire, for whom he played over the course of a number of years.
  10. Shane Warne – leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. Our fourth player with a Hampshire connection and the greatest leg spinner of the modern era.
  11. Ted McDonald – right arm fast bowler. One half of the first great pair of fast bowlers in test history along with Jack Gregory, and the first truly great player to come from Tasmania (with due respect to Charles Eady who once took a seven-for and then scored 566 in a club final, and to Kenny Burn, selected for an England tour as reserve keeper after a misunderstanding – he was a specialist batter, and his brother was a keeper), he then signed up to play as a Lancashire League pro and ultimately signed for the county, and was fast bowling spearhead for them during their greatest ever period, the second half of the 1920s. In 1930 when Bradman was taking all the headlines McDonald greeted the boy wonder by rolling back the years, posting five slips, making the ball fly and dismissing him for nine.

This XI features a stellar top five, the greatest of all all rounders, a keeper-batter and four fabulous and varied bowlers. The batting is very deep with Shane Warne due to come in at no 10, and the three fast bowlers, Hadlee, Marshall and McDonald backed by Warne and Sobers with Roy Marshall, Richards and Border in reserve looks like a superb bowling attack as well.


  1. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter, named by Bradman as the best he ever saw.
  2. George Headley – right handed batter. He was known as ‘the black Bradman’, and his average at test level was 60.83. He usually batted three, but the West Indies so often lost an early wicket that he was effectively opening anyway,  so I have promoted him to do that job, making way for…
  3. *Donald Bradman – right handed batter, the best ever.
  4. Everton Weekes – right handed batter. He averaged 58 in test cricket, including five successive centuries. He also played Bridge for his native Barbados.
  5. George Giffen – right handed batter, right arm medium/ off spin. An all-rounder whose deeds saw him dubbed ‘the WG Grace of Australia’, his most astounding match performance came at the expense of Victoria when he hit 271 and then took 7-70 and 9-96. In the 1894-5 Ashes he scored 475 runs and took 34 wickets, still finishing on the losing side. I decided that my top four here were so strong that I could afford to start the all rounders at no 5, naming two as compensation for the presence of Sobers in the ranks of the opposition.
  6. Keith Miller – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Australia’s greatest ever all rounder. 2,958 test runs at 36.97 and 170 wickets at 22.97 at that level.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Statistically the best keeper batter in test history.
  8. Fazal Mahmood – right arm fast medium bowler. His size and build combined with his mastery of the leg cutter led to him being labelled ‘the Bedser of Pakistan’. He took 12 wickets in the match when Pakistan achieved their first test victory. His test average per wicket was 24 for 139 wickets, while his fast class wickets came at 18.96 each.
  9. Dennis Lillee – right arm fast bowler. He did play a few games for Northamptonshire, but he was not a regular county cricketer. He took a then record 355 test wickets from 71 appearances at that level, 167 of them against England.
  10. Palwankar Baloo – left arm orthodox spinner. I wrote about him in my piece on India. I consider his 179 wickets in 33 first class games at a mere 15.21 each doubly outstanding because he contended against caste prejudice all his life (he was one of three ‘untouchables’ who negotiated the pact that ended Gandhi’s fast against separate electorates for depressed castes) and because Indian cricket was chiefly known for tall scoring rather than for any sort of bowling success.
  11. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. He crossed the Tasman from his native New Zealand, and then twice moved states in his new adopted home before establishing himself as a first class cricketer. In consequence of this circuitous route to the top he was 33 years old when he finally got to don the baggy green. He took 11-82 on test debut v England and never looked back. In all he played 37 test matches and took 216 wickets, his career at that level ending when he was passed over for the 1938 tour of England, but he was still taking big first class wicket hauls two seasons later than that. In all first class cricket he captured 1,424 wickets, a record for anyone who never played county cricket (we met no2 on this list yesterday), from 248 appearances, averaging over 5.7 wickets per match.

This team has a top four with a combined average of approximately 267 at test level, two quality all rounders at five and six, a great keeper batter at seven and four excellent and varied bowlers. The bowling, with Lillee and Miller as outright fast bowlers, Fazal Mahmood’s cutters, Baloo and Grimmett as specialist spinners plus Giffen also looks highly impressive.


These are two awesomely strong and well balanced sides, and the only thing I can say for sure about the contest is that it would be an absolute humdinger.


Yesterday I offered you a little teaser from

This is how I resolved this:

  • The bottom shape is a right angled triangle and we are told that all angles of the same colour are identical. This means that 180-90 = 3x yellow angle, so yellow angle = 90/3 = 30 degrees.
  • The four top left triangles together form an angle of 180 degrees, and three of the four contain the blue angle, while the other contains the yellow angle, established at 30 degrees, so (180-30)/3 = blue angle, this simplifies to 150/3 = blue angle = 50 degrees.
  • The big central triangle is a right angled triangle with a blue angle and the green angle. Since the internal angles of a triangle sum up to 180, 90 + 50 + green =180, which means that the green angle that we are looking for is 180 – (90 + 50) which equals 40 degrees.

From the same source comes another teaser, this time on the theme of pattern recognition:

Square spiral

As with the previous one this was originally multiple choice but I am just leaving you to work out the answer.


A petition seeking justice for Belly Mujinga, a transport worker who died after being spat at by someone who knew they had covid-19, is running on There was a second victim of this despicable assault who did not die, so when the perpetrator is found they should face a charge of attempted murder as well as one of murder. Please sign and share the petition by clicking on the screenshot below.



Just a few links before it is time for my usual sign off:

  • Marina Hyde hits top form on the subject of Johnson apparently needing a baying mob behind him to be able to handle Prime Ministers Questions, with this splendid piece in The Guardian.
  • Elizabeth Dale who runs a blog called Cornish Bird which is devoted to revealing some of the less well known parts of her home county has a splendid post up at the moment about St Loy Cove, Penwith.
  • National Geographic have a post up at the moment introducing the guina, a tiny South American wild cat weighing just six pounds and in danger of extinction.
  • Finishing these links where we started, with The Guardian, Lucy Jones has a piece titled “Noticing nature is the greatest gift you can get from lockdown“, which is both an excellent read, and an appropriate place from which to provide my usual sign off..

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The teams in tabulated form.


Australia 2-0 Up In ODI Series

A mention of yesterday;s ODI, leading to an account of a controversial dismissal and some stories about other controversial dismissals. Some good pictures. Finally, some interesting and important links.


As well as my title piece I have some links and some photographs to share.


Let me start by saying straight that the dismissal in question had no effect on the outcome of the match – Australia were already in control by then and thoroughly deserved their victory. England one the toss, put Australia in, and Australia ran up 309 from the 49 overs that the match was reduced to.


Ben Stokes was given out to one cricket’s most obscure modes of dismissal: Obstructing the Field. He deflected with his hand a ball that would have hit his stumps and run him out.  I quote from my copy of The Laws of Cricket the paragraph explaining the relevant law:

1. Out Obstructing the field

Either batsman is out Obstructing the field  if he wilfully obstructs the or distracts the opposing side by word or action. It shall be regarded as obstruction if either batsman wilfully, and without the consent of the fielding side, strikes the ball with his bat or person, other than a hand not holding the bat, after the ball has touched a fielder.

The emphases in the body text of the above quote are mine – in the space of time that it took for  the incident to occur it is hard to see how Stokes could have wilfully obstructed the field – and also the hand that struck the ball was not holding the bat and is therefore specifically exempted by the above. Steven Smith, the Australian captain earned few friends by allowing the appeal and dismissal to stand, and even fewer by the arrogant, unthinking post-match interview in which he refused to even countenance the possibility that he might have been wrong.

Of course controversies are nothing new when it comes to clashes between crickets oldest international foes – the first great controversy over a dismissal in an England – Australia match was the one in 1882 that led to the creation of the Ashes, when W.G.Grace ran out Sammy Jones after the latter had left his crease to pat down a divot. Fred Spofforth was particularly incensed, and proceeded to vent his anger by running through the England second innings to win the match. The first post World War II Ashes match featured very controversial moment when Bradman, then on 28 and having looked very unconvincing, sent a ball shoulder-high to Jack Ikin at second slip, and was given not out after England initially thought they had no need to appeal (normally for a high and clear catch you don’t). England’s captain Walter Hammond gave Bradman a pithy summary of his thoughts, saying “A fine bloody way to start a series”. Bradman went on to 187 and Australia to an innings victory. Other more recent cases of controversy include the Dyson run out that was not given at Sydney in the 1982-83 series (when the batsman was so far out of his ground that he was not even in the frame when the wicket was broken), the Wayne Phillips dismissal at Edgbaston in 1985 that ended all hope of Australia saving that match (caught by Gower after he had chopped a ball on to Allan Lamb’s boot and it rebounded up and across to the skipper) and the Ponting dismissal at Trent Bridge in 2005 and that worthy’s subsequent verbal firework display.


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I have quite a few links to share today, and they divide into three sections…


Five pieces here:

  1. Cosmos Up have produced one of their quirky compilations, in this case “10 facts about Mars your probably didn’t know
  2. The remaining pieces in this section all come courtesy of whyevolutionistrue, starting with this light-hearted “Saturday Hili Dialogue
  3. Next, this piece about a very brave woman who saved a fox from bloodthirsty, law-breaking hunters.
  4. Next, Lawrence Krauss exposing the xenophobia inherent in religion.
  5. Finally, this one, in which a chimpanzee takes out a drone.


Again, five links here…

  1. A new find via twitter, and a site I wish to encourage is nextstepacademy (I acknowledge that they are not strictly autism related, but that is where the connection arose).
  2. A report provided by the National Autistic Society on Special Educational Needs.
  3. A very promising looking site called interactingwithautism
  4. From perfectltyfadeddelusions, a new blog that I thoroughly recommend, comes this reblog of a post by an autistic person.

Also on the sharing theme, and accompanied by a pic to make things clearer for you, CricketNews have for the second time in quite a brief period shared something from an autistic blogger.
CL shared


A total of six links in this section:

  • I begin with a link to what is in actuality a report of a theft committed brazenly and in broad daylight by a Jobcentre security guard. Having read the post, from samedifference, I have already stated in their comments section the “security guard” who thought it was alright ro behave in this manner needs to be arrested and charged. If I was handling the case, I would run him down to the Police Station, and tell him that either he yields up the phone so that I can be returned to its owner or he goes to court and when he is convicted, as on such ironclad evidence he would have to be, a custodial sentence will be called for. PLEASE READ AND SHARE THE FULL POST
  • julijuxtaposed takes on Scam-eron’s leadership attributes in this post.
  • Next courtesy of the Mirror comes this about David Cameron coming under pressure to abolish the bedroom tax, even from his own side. This piece contains a poll asking readers whether the bedroom tax should be abolished, and when I voted the records showed 92% had got the answer right and only 8% had clicked the no button!
  • perfectlyfadeddelusions are back, with this piece about WRAG workshops being a waste of time.
  • dwpexamination have produced this piece about who are being labelled as extremists (Anti-fracking protesters as a group and Caroline Lucas by name were mentioned in this context).
  • Finally, in an effort to finish on high note, this piece from Tina Savage, already widely shared on social media, about why she chose to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.