All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet XII

Another alphabetic progression for today’s all time XI cricket post, some thoughts on events at the Ageas bowl and England’s 1st test line up and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the 12th of our alphabetic progression posts, starting today at I. Tomorrow’s post will have a historical theme, the last of these alphabetic progression posts will appear on Sunday morning, and I have an international post lined up for Monday, which leaves me subject matter to find for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s posts, and then on Thursday I will have an actual live test match to write about, and my gap-filling mission will have been accomplished. Before getting into the main body of today’s post it is time for an…

UPDATE FROM THE AGEAS BOWL

Yesterday Buttler’s team bowled out Stokes’ team for 233, taking a first innings lead of 54. Bess bowled well, taking two wickets. Oliver Edward Robinson also had two wickets, and was very economical, and there was a cameo appearance from Amar Virdi in which he looked impressive and picked up the wicket of Saqib Mahmood (admittedly one of the more genuine no11s playing today). The Buttler team are now 142-4 in their second innings, with Pope going well. Dan Lawrence has not batted this time round, so I presume that he has already been told he is in the test team (otherwise this is inexcusable since if he gets to the wicket it will be to have a slog before the declaration). Moeen Ali has had a turn at the bowling crease, and Rory Burns got out to him as Team Buttler started trying to force the pace, which they have done moderately effectively, but the evidence from his spell overall was clear – he is the third best off spinner on show at the Ageas bowl behind Bess and Virdi, and the fifth best spinner, with Leach and Parkinson also better practitioners. Curran has gone down ill, and will presumably miss the test match, and with Anderson failing to impress this morning, unless Broad turns on a spectacular new ball spell when the time comes I see Robinson as the one to get the nod, meaning that allowing for the loss of Curran my XI for the test match would be: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Lawrence, *Stokes, Pope, +Foakes, Robinson, Bess, Wood, Archer.

ABDUL QADIR’S XI

  1. James Iremonger – right handed opening batter. He played for Nottinghamshire, mostly in the years running up to World War 1, and had a first class batting average of 35. Subsequently he became a coach, and numbered Larwood and Voce among his charges.
  2. Steve James – right handed opening batter. He played for Glamorgan, and was the first batter ever to score a triple century for the county (albeit on a very flat pitch and at a very small ground – Glamorgan topped 700 for the loss of just three wickets). He played very briefly for England, discovering as others before him had that England selectors aren’t good at picking up what happens to their west. After his retirement he became a writer, his books including the excellent “The Plan” and the interesting “The Art of Centuries”.
  3. Jacques Kallis – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Only one other test cricketer to have been a regular bowler (Alastair Cook took one test wicket at a cost of 7 runs in his long test career)  has had as big a credit balance between their batting and bowling averages as Kallis: Garfield St Aubrun Sobers.
  4. VVS Laxman – right handed batter. In partnership with Rahul Dravid he turned the Kolkata 2001 test match on its head, so that India, following on 273 runs behind ended up winning by 171 runs, as Harbhajan Singh completed the turn around by spinning through a dispirited Australia in the 4th innings.
  5. John Morris – right handed batter. A heavy scoring stroke maker for Derbyshire, he never managed to establish himself for England, and his involvement in the ‘Tiger Moth’ incident with David Gower may well have ended his chances of so doing – certainly, even though he had scored 132 in the match in question, he was never heard from again at England level.
  6. Marcus North – left handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played for a number of counties, and made a good start to his international career before falling away at that level. The axe descended on his international career during the 2010-11 series when an ill-equpped and poorly led Australia were well beaten.
  7. +Bertie Oldfield – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of the finest keepers ever to play the game, his 52 test stumpings remains an all-time record.
  8. Keemo Paul – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. He is best known for his performances in limited overs cricket, but he also has a respectable record in long form cricket.
  9. *Abdul Qadir – leg spinner. In the 1980s the art of leg spin nearly died out, with all due respect to Australians Bob Holland, Trevor Hohns and Peter Sleep, the latter two of whom would never have been picked but for their skills with the bat. The man who kept the embers aglow, to fanned into glorious flame by Shane Warne in the 1990s was Abdul Qadir.
  10. Raymond Robertson-Glasgow – right arm fast medium bowler. A Scot who was able to short circuit the residential qualification rules of the day because he was related to someone who owned property in Bath, and also because Somerset were past masters at dodging those rules anyway. He regularly opened the Somerset bowling with James Bridges. Both believed they should bat higher than they did, and Bridges could be said to have had the better of that little dispute since it was usually him who got to bat at the lofty heights of no10. He went on to become one of the finest writers on the game.
  11. Billy Stanlake – right arm fast bowler. He plays mainly short form cricket, especially T20, but a first class bowling average of 31 is a respectable effort for someone who is not a regular at long form cricket (he has played eight first class matches in total as compared to 28 list A games and 64 T20 games). He is often referred to by commentators as ‘big Billy’ because of his great height (2.04 metres, approximatedly 6’8″ in imperial measurements).

This team has a good top six, a top of the range keeper and four varied bowlers. The spin department is a little understocked, with only North’s part time off spin as a back up for Qadir, but Stanlake, Robertson-Glasgow, Paul and 4th seamer Kallis is certainly a respectable pace attack.

XENOPHON BALASKAS’ XI

  1. Mark Taylor – left handed opening batter. He was one of the stars of the 1989 Ashes, with 839 runs in the series – more than any other Aussie save Bradman has ever tallied in a series. That series saw the end of Australia as whipping boys and the beginning of a rise that would see them reach the top of the cricket world by 1995, and then occupy that position for another decade. The combined impact of mismanagement, Kerry Packer and Ali Bacher had seen Australia flat lining since the mid 1970s, with England winning the Ashes at home in 1977, retaining in 1978-9, retaining again in 1981, surrendering them in 1982-3 when they were themselves weakened by the attentions of Mr Bacher, regaining them in 1985 and retaining them in 1987. Then, when Australia turned the tables in 1989 a combination of English mismanagement and refusal to face the obvious saw Australia retain the urn in 1990-1, 1993, 1994-5, 1997, 1998-9, 2001 and 2002-3, and all of those eight Ashes series from 1989 through to 2002-3 England only once one a game with the series still alive, at Edgbaston in 1997. Taylor, as well as his contributions at the top of the order took on the captaincy after Border retired, eventually handing over to Steve Waugh in turn.
  2. Taufeeq Umar – left handed opening batter. Played for Pakistan at the start of the 2000s, and averaged just below 39 as an opener in test matches.
  3. Ken Viljoen – right handed batter. He batted in this position in the infamous timeless test at Durban in 1939.
  4. Everton Weekes – right handed batter. Averaged 58.62 in test cricket, being the only player ever to score five centuries in successive test innings. He died recently at the age of 95, the last of the ‘three Ws’ (Walcott, Weekes and Worrell, born within a few miles of each other in the space of 18 months) to die.
  5. *Xenophon Balaskas – right handed batter, leg spinner. He is perhaps a little higher in the order than his batting record warrants, but he was a fine all rounder in his day.
  6. Norman Yardley – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. When he went on the 1946-7 tour of Australia, which was supposed to be a ‘goodwill tour’, except that Bradman did not get the memo it was as young batter whose bowling was rarely even used by his county, but a combination of injuries and a lack of resources in that department saw him pressed into service as a bowler for his country, and he responded well, bowling economically and picking up the odd useful wicket. He captained England in the 1948 Ashes, but was one of two candidates to refuse the captaincy of the 1950-1 tour (FG Mann of Middlesex being the other).
  7. +Zulqarnain Haider – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A brief but spectacular appearance in the limelight, during one of Pakistan’s many troubled periods.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. He got his break when, at the age of 16, he bowled a spell in the nets that caught the eye of his country’s captain, Imran Khan. That was the launch of a career that saw him become one of the game’s all time greats, a fearsome fast bowler, a dangerous attacking bat in the lower middle order, and at one time captain. In 1992 he and Waqar Younis teamed up to render England’s batting feather legged. That winter in the world cup final he made the key intervention, ripping out two wickets at a crucial stage of the match and enabling his side to lift the trophy. England would spend most of the next 20 years or so after that loss producing one day cricket performances that were uninspired at best and downright incompetent at worst before a humiliating experience in the 2015 world cup would finally act as the kick up the backside they needed.
  9. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. That official description tells you about on tenth of the story of Barnes the bowler, discovered in the Lancashire nets by Archie MacLaren (England’s own nearest equivalent to the Wasim story), taken on a tour of Australia largely on the strength of that net session. A combination of him being constitutionally incapable of tugging his forelock, disapproval in official circles of his preference for Lancashire League cricket over the county ground and the fact that Lord Hawke, the Lincolnshire born author of the ‘Yorkshire born players only’ policy at that county did not see eye to eye with MacLaren and tended to disapprove of his hunches as a matter of principle led to Barnes playing less than half the number of tests he could, therefore should, have done. In 13 tests in Australia he captured 77 wickets, also taking 29 Aussie wickets in seven home tests against them, while against South Africa he captured 83 wickets in just seven test matches, and had he not quarrelled over terms and conditions with management and pulled out of what turned out to be the last test match before World War 1, he would almost certainly have had 60+ wickets for that series (he was on 49 from four matches) and been the first to 200 test wickets in what would have been his 28th game at that level.
  10. Rahkeem Cornwall – off spinner. 13 test wickets at 22 after two matches, 303 first class wickets at 25 each. We are likely to see something of the 27 year old off spinner in the upcoming ‘biosecure’ test series. This is a possible head to head contest between someone named Cornwall, and someone who was born in the neighboring county of Devon (there four Devonians in the current England camp, Bess the offspinner, Gregory the seam bowling all rounder and the Overton twins – one a genuinely fast bowler, one a fast medium, while England women’s captain Heather Knight was also born in Devon). I do not particularly expect to Gregory or either Overton in test action, but Bess must surely play.
  11. George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. 2,151 first class wickets at 19.82 each and never a single England cap. In the 1907 season, a very wet one in which in those days of “ooncoovered pitches” spinners flourished, he took over 200 first class wickets. The trouble was that Wilfred Rhodes and Colin Blythe were even greater masters of the art of left arm spin bowling than he was, and Frank Woolley always commanded a place as a batter.

This side has a decent top four, and the presence of Wasim Akram at no 8 means that all the next four are also capable of major innings. The bowling, with Akram and Barnes to take the new ball, Dennett, Cornwall and the skipper as spin options and Yardley’s medium paced nibblers as sixth option is very strong.

THE CONTEST

Abdul Qadir’s XI have the stronger batting line up, but Xenophon Balaskas’ XI have a quartet of front line bowlers that looks seriously formidable, plus the skipper. In keeping with my reckoning that it is the bowlers who win matches I make Xenophon Balaskas’ XI definite favourites. If the pitch turns than Qadir will struggle to match the combined efforts of Cornwall, Dennett and the opposition skipper. Over at the Ageas bowl Team Stokes have been set 255 for victory, and are 46-0 in the 13th, with Sibley and Bairstow opening.

PHOTOGRAPHS

While I have been typing this up Team Stokes have moved to 126-2, needing a further 129 with 19 and a half overs to be bowled. Zak Crawley, no 3 in the test for a certainty (Denly’s score of one for Team Buttler earlier today removed any tiny lingering doubt there) is going well. Now it is time for my usual sign off…

IMG_1348 (2)IMG_1350 (2)IMG_1352 (2)IMG_1354 (2)IMG_1355 (2)IMG_1356 (2)IMG_1356 (3)IMG_1359 (2)IMG_1361 (2)IMG_1361 (3)IMG_1361 (4)IMG_1362 (2)IMG_1365 (2)IMG_1365TTAXII

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet III

Continuing the alphabetic progression of the last two days.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s all time XIs cricket post continues the alphabetic progression established over Friday and yesterday, so out first XI begins with an S.

GRAEME SMITH’S XI

  1. *Graeme Smith – left handed opening batter, captain. Scored large numbers of runs for South Africa. Appointed captain at a very young age he did that job very well as well.
  2. Glenn Turner – right handed opening batter. The only New Zealander to score 100 first class hundreds. In reversal of the more frequent pattern of development he started out as an absolute barnacle and developed an impressive range of strokes as he matured and grew in confidence – his 100th first class hundred as reached in the morning session of the first day of that game. This opening pair should blunt the opposing attack nicely for…
  3. Polly Umrigar – right handed batter, off spinner. India’s leading test run scorer prior to Gavaskar.
  4. Bryan Valentine – right handed batter. A great stylist for Kent and England.
  5. Everton Weekes – right handed batter. One of the greatest of all time to strengthen the middle order.
  6. Jerome Xaba – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. X is a very difficult letter in this context, hence my inclusion of a player who has yet to feature in first class cricket.
  7. +Hugo Yarnold – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Holds the all-time record for stumpings in a first class innings, with six (six successive batters no less, only David East of Essex who caught eight in a row beats that sequence). In total he made almost 700 dismissals in his 287 first class matches. I accept that he is a trifle high in the order.
  8. Dawlat Zadran – right arm fast medium bowler.
  9. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler.
  11. Bhagwath Chandrasekhar – leg spinner. Our only front line spinner, and one member of this team whose position in the batting order will not cause any controversy.

This team is weaker in batting than is usual with my selections – Weekes is likely to need to remember how to count to six in the latter part of the innings.

CB FRY’S XI

  1. Ian Davis – right handed opening batter for Australia in the second half of the 1970s, known to his team mates as ‘wiz’ after a TV character of the time, ‘the wizard of ID’.
  2. John Edrich – left handed opening batter. A scorer of over 100 first class hundreds, and with a fine record at test level. He is one of five Surrey batters to have reached 100 first class hundreds (Hayward, Hobbs, Sandham and Ramprakash are the others).
  3. *CB Fry – right handed batter, captain. The English Leonardo, with an astonishing range of accomplishments to his credit. 
  4. Syd Gregory – right handed batter, brilliant fielder. A record eight tours of England, the first in 1890 and the last in 1912, the first test double century in Australia (Billy Murdoch scored 211 at The Oval in 1884), 201 at the SCG in 1894.
  5. Graeme Hick – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. His international record makes disappointing reading when compared to his stellar first class record, but there are two bog mitigating factors: his promotion to international cricket was rushed through, pitching him in to the fray against a very formidable West Indian fast bowling line up, and he was then dropped for the Sri Lanka game at tbe end of that season, and subsequently, when he was producing consistently at the top level for the first and only time of his career Ray Illingworth became supremo of English cricket (good idea, utterly wrong choice of person), and publicly described Hick as being ‘soft’, and Hick found himself back to being in and out of the side, as the Illingworth era was marked not so much by selectorial policy as a selectorial merry-go-round. Hick was merely the most prominent of a number of cricketers, along with Devon Malcolm, to be victims of the combination of crassness and insensitivity that marked the Illingworth era.
  6. Jack Iddon – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Just five England caps, because he was in prime during the tail end of Rhodes’ career and with Roy Kilner also well to the fore, but his first class record, coinciding with his county, Lancashire, enjoying their most successful ever period was 504 matches, 22,681 runs at 36.76 and 551 wickets at 26.90. He was also a decent fielder – once when Hammond commenced a day’s play by hitting the great Ted McDonald for five successive boundaries it was only a great stop by Iddon that prevented ball number six of that opening over going the same way.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. The ultimate x-factor player to be coming at seven.
  8. +Jim Kelly – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He succeeded the great Jack Blackham as Australia’s wicket keeper and held the post for some 15 years.
  9. Geoff Lawson – right arm fast bowler. Had an excellent record in the 1980s, including being well capable of making irritating lower order runs, most notably his 74 at Lord’s in 1989 in support of Steve Waugh who was on his way to a second straight 150 (and was undefeated in both those innings).
  10. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner. 800 test wickets in 133 appearances at the highest level.
  11. Sarfraz Nawaz – right arm fast medium bowler. The highlight of his distinguished career was a spell of 7-1 in 33 deliveries that turned seeming defeat against Australia into victory – 305-3 became 310 all out.

This team has solid batting, and a bowling attack of Lawson, Nawaz, Muralitharan, Jessop and Iddon is hardly shabby, though not as stellar as some I have part together in this series.

THE CONTEST

CB Fry’s XI have greater depth in batting, while Graeme Smith’s XI are heavily reliant on their top five to score lots of runs. Graeme Smith’s XI has a stellar bowling unit, especially Ambrose, Barnes and Chandrasekhar. I see this as a close contest, with the odds possibly favouring CB Fry’s XI.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

IMG_0908 (2)IMG_0910 (2)IMG_0911 (2)IMG_0912 (2)IMG_0912 (3)IMG_0913 (2)IMG_0913 (3)

TAII
The teams in tabulated form.