The final post in the extended analysis phase of this long series. The series will conclude with a grand finale post presenting the XIs in reverse ranking order.
Welcome to the final post in the analysis stage of this series. There may be delays to me completing these posts – I have a minor injury to my right wrist, and although the brace the hospital have provided me with to support said wrist is doing wonders in terms of enabling me to do things with my right hand, I am still somewhat incommoded and probably therefore will not complete things with my usual speed. This post starts with the Ws in the spotlight, with 97 points out of 115 accumulated so far.
THE Ws V THE Ys
The Ws dominate this contest. The only match up the Ys win is in the fast bowling department where W Younis beats Willis – but Whitty beats U Yadav by a greater margin, and Woods blows Yardley out of the water. Thus the only conceivable scoreline is Ws 5, Ys 0.
The Ws have amassed 107 of a possible 125 points, 85.6% overall.
THE Xs V THE Ys
Before going into this match up, a brief note about the Xs. Had I seen developments in NZ domestic cricket in 2022-23 before I selected the Xs MaX Waller would have missed out, and Xara Jetly, a young off spinner would be in, with MaX Walker relegated one place from number 10 to number 11. The Xs have 13.5 out of 115 points coming in to today.
The Ys have much stronger batting, better pace bowling, the better skipper, and the two best spinners on either side. The Xs have the better keeper. This is clear cut: Xs 0, Ys 5.
THE Xs V THE Zs
The Zs have the better opening pair, the Xs win the batting match ups 3-9 inclusive, and AXar Patel, Xenophon Balaskas, Ron OXenham, Ted DeXter and Sam LoXton are all genuine bowling options, while BoX was a much finer keeper than Zulqarnain Haider. MaX Walker ranks first among seam/ pace bowlers on either side, and the Xs, with OXenham, Dexter and Loxton as back up options in this department also have the greater depth. The spin bowling is hard to call, but even if the Zs win, it only reduces the margin of their defeat. I score this one Xs 4, Zs 1.
THE Xs FINAL SCORE
The Xs have scored 4 points today, finishing on 17.5 out of 125, 14% overall.
THE Ys V THE Zs
The Ys have 33 out of 120 so far and the Zs 10.5 out of 120. This suggests a one-sided contest, and that impressions is not awry. The Zs have the better opening pair, the Ys win at nos 3-6, though only Yardley offers a bowling option. S Yousuf outranks Zulqarnain Haider in both departments. The fast bowling is close, with Zaheer Khan’s left arm making up for his slightly high average, but the Ys definitely win the spin bowling department. The Ys also have the better captain. I score this one: Ys 5, Zs 0.
THE Ys AND Zs FINAL SCORES
The Ys finish with 38 out of 125, 30.4% overall, the Zs with 10.5 out of 125, 8.4% overall.
A SPECIAL PHOTO GALLERY
On Saturday night I attended Luminate at Sandringham. For those so inclined (not me) there are fairground rides before the start/ after the finish of the main event, which is walk through wooded areas of the estate, with light features all the way around. I took a lots of pictures while on my way round…
The penultimate post in the analysis stage of this long series.
Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today sees all the matches in which the Vs are alphabetically first, with them starting on 55 points out of 105. We then see the first match up in which the Ws are alphabetically first. The remaining match ups (W v Y, W v Z, X v Y, X v Z and Y v Z) will be covered in the final analysis post of this series, setting the stage for a grand finale post in which the teams are presented in reverse ranking order.
THE Vs V THE Ws
With the possible exception of Vandort vs Woolley in the number one slot the Ws win every batting match down to number seven (Woods’ batting average equates to about 35 in the modern era, though by the same token he is slightly behind Vaas as a bowler). Worrell outranks Vaughan as a skipper, the pace/ seam trios are hard to split – Vaas as stated outranks Woods, Whitty outranks Voce, but it is tricky to assess which of the two tall right arm quick bowlers, Van der Bijl or Willis was the greater. The spin honours definitely go to the Ws – Warne outranks Vogler by much more than Verity outranks Wardle and Wardle could turn the ball both ways, reducing Verity’s margin of superiority. Additionally, Woolley rates as a better third spinner than Vine (Woolley paid less than 20 a piece for his FC wickets. Thus the Ws have clear advantages in batting, captaincy and spin bowling, the wicket keepers are hard to separate and the Vs possibly have an advantage in pace/ seam bowling. I score this one Vs 1, Ws 4.
THE Vs V THE Xs
The only batting match up the Xs win is at number three, where Dexter definitely outranks Vaughan. The Vs have the better captain, the better pace/ seam attack and the better spin attack, though the Xs have the finer keeper. There can be only one scoreline: Vs 5, Xs 0.
THE Vs V THE Ys
The Vs have the better opening pair – Vandort’s test average exceeds Yardy’s FC average, while Vine batted in a more difficult era than M Young, more than making up for the latter’s slight advantage in the matter of averages. The Ys are comfortably clear at three and four, Vengsarkar outranks Yallop in the number five slot. Verreynne wins the batting match up against Yardley, and rates similarly to S Yousuf as keeper. S Yousuf wins the batting match up at seven, but Vaas is light years clear of Yardley as third seamer. Voce massively outranks U Yadav, while Van der Bijl v Younis is tough to call. Verity is way clear of J Young but I give P Yadav the verdict over Vogler. The Ys have the better batting, the Vs the better bowling. I reckon that the latter outweighs the former and score this one Vs 3, Ys 2.
THE Vs V THE Zs
The Vs boss the batting, have the better captain, a much stronger seam/ pace attack and better spinners. The Zs have no obvious area of superiority, leading to only one conceivable scoreline: Vs 5, Zs 0.
THE Vs FINAL SCORE
The Vs have scored 14 out of 20 points today to finish on 69 out of 125, 55.2% overall.
THE Ws V THE Xs
With the four points scored against the Vs, the Ws now have 92 points out of 110. The Ws are completely dominant in this one, with the sole exception of BoX outranking Watling as a keeper, leading to only one possible score: Ws 5, Xs 0.
THE Ws PROGRESS REPORT
The Ws now have 97 of a possible 115 points, 84.35% overall.
Welcome to the latest installment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today is a transitional post, seeing the end of the Qs, who currently have 6 of a possible 105 points, and bringing the Rs into the spotlight, with 57 of a possible 85 points accrued from the matches in which they are alphabetically second.
THE Qs V THE Ws
This is the most ludicrously one-sided match up I have yet presented. The Ws utterly dominate in batting and pace/ seam bowling, have the better keeper and the better captain, and even in the Qs best department, spin bowling, the Ws are clear: Qs 0, Ws 5, and the Qs are lucky to get 0.
THE Qs V THE Xs
The Qs have the better opening pair, though DeXter wins the number three slot hands down, KippaX the number four slot even more handily, and LoXton at number five is likewise clear. AXar Patel wins his batting match up at six and outranks Iqbal Qasim as left arm spinner. Xenophon Balaskas wins the batting match up at seven but Qadir outranks him as a leg spinner. OXenham wins the batting match up at number eight and has no bowling challenger in the Qs ranks. BoX wins the keeping match up and wins the batting match up at number nine. MaX Walker hugely outranks Quinn as a bowler, Qais Ahmad however outranks Max Waller as a bowler. The Xs have stronger batting, stronger pace/ seam bowling, the better keeper and the better captain. The Qs have better spin bowling, and though I cannot give the Qs a whole point I will score this Qs 0.5, Xs 4.5.
THE Qs V THE Ys
The Qs have the better opening pair, The Ys then win every batting match up down to number seven, with Yardley outranking Quinlan as a bowler, outranking Qadir as a captain, and S Yousuf outranking Bernard Quaife with the gloves. The Ys also outrank the Qs in pace/seam bowling. The Qs have a numerical advantage in the spin bowling department, but my feeling is that the Ys two spinners are better, so I score this one Qs 0, Ys 5.
THE Qs V THE Zs
The Zs dominate the batting and are ahead on pace/ seam bowling, but the Qs have to be given the spin bowling. I score this one Qs 0.5, Zs 4.5.
THE Qs FINAL SCORE
The Qs have scored 1 point out of 20 today, and finish with 7 out of 125, just 5.6% overall.
THE Rs V THE Ss
Before I get into this match up, one comment about the Rs: Sikandar Raza of Zimbabwe made headlines at the recent T20 World Cup, and probably merits an honourable mention under the heading of players who would be selected if I was picking with limited overs in mind. His long form record is not good enough to merit selection in this XI, though I could accommodate him in place of Robins, making Rhodes the captain (although Rhodes never officially captained, the various amateurs who captained him for Yorkshire and England pretty much took their cue from him) as I did when picking my all time Yorkshire XI.
The Ss have the better opening pair – Strauss outranks Rogers on sample size, and similarly Sutcliffe has to be considered on a level with B Richards, even given Richard’s average from the four tests he got to play. Number three goes to the Rs, number four is won by the Ss, who also win the batting element of every other match up down to number eight. Russell is definitely the superior keeper, and both sides are splendidly captained. The Ss have slightly the better front line pace trio, giving Starc’s left arm credit for adding variation, and they also have back up options in the form of Stokes and the quicker version of Sobers. Robins and Stevens rank about equally as leg spinners, Rhodes outranks Sobers the finger spinner by a large margin, but Sobers also bowled wrist spin, and the Rs have only part timers (Root and two Richardses) to bowl anything with a similar angle of attack to left arm wrist spin. Nevertheless, I think the Rs have to be given the spin bowling honours. I think the Ss advantages in batting and pace/ seam bowling just outweigh the Rs advantages in keeping and spin bowling, and award them the spoils by the barest of margins: Rs 2, Ss 3.
THE Rs PROGRESS REPORT
The Rs now have 59 of a possible 90 points, 65.6% overall.
I recently acquired some cricket cigarette cards, so this is a two part gallery – the cricket stuff first and then some of my more usual photos. The first part of the gallery will feature links to relevant posts.
Continuing my in depth analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another, with some comments about Ireland’s great win over England in the T20 World Cup and a photo gallery.
Welcome to the latest installment in my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another. Today sees the Js occupy the spotlight for the final time, with 50 points out of 100 currently on the board. Before getting into the main meat meat of this post I congratulate Ireland wholeheartedly on their defeat of England. The rain, which washed the second match (Afghanistan vs New Zealand) out completely did play a walk on role – officially Ireland won by 5 runs on the DLS method. However, England deserve no sympathy and will receive none from me – they were behind the asking rate the entire way through the chase, even after Ireland failed to capitalize on being 92-1 after 10 overs, slipping to 157 all out in 19.4. Dawid Malan (35 off 37) and Harry Brook (17 off 18) were chiefly responsible for putting England in a hole they couldn’t dig their way out of – their scoring, with rain an obvious threat, was absurdly slow. England had a very deep batting order, but the approach of Malan and Brook meant that by the time the rain came the biggest hitter in the side, Livingstone, who would have been on a high having taking 3-17 with the ball, faced only two balls. Ireland skipper Balbirnie was named player of the match for his 62, but crucial early momentum was also provided by Ireland number three and keeper Lorcan Tucker.
THE Js V THE Vs
The Js are stronger in batting and have the better keeper, both sides have similar strength in front line pace bowling, though the Js have Jessop as an extra option. The Vs are stronger in spin bowling, with Verity, Vogler and Vine all front line options, while the Js have Jupp, Johnston in his slower style and the part timer Jayasuriya. I think the Js have got this one, but not by a huge margin: Js 3, Vs 2.
THE Js V THE Ws
The Js have the better opening pair though not by much, the Ws dominate in positions 3-6 batting wise, though the Js have the better keeper. Warne, Wardle and Woolley are a better spin combo than the Js have (Wardle’s ability to bowl wrist spin means that the Ws effectively have off spin covered even without having a designated off spinner). There is little to choose between the front line pace trios, though Jessop outranks Worrell as a support seamer. The Ws have a clear advantage but not enough to put them in whitewash territory: Js 1, Ws 4
THE Js V THE Xs
The Js are ahead on batting (only DeXter wins his match up among the Xs top eight), massively ahead in pace bowling, a little behind in spin bowling and BoX is one of the few keepers in this series to definitely at least match A Jones in that department. I don’t think the Xs spinners will help them enough to make any difference to the result: Js 5, Xs 0.
THE Js V THE Ys
The Js have the better opening pair by some way, the Ys the better nos 3 and 4. Jackson outranks Yallop at five and probably outranks fellow Yorkie Yardley as a skipper. The Js are way ahead in pace bowling and about even in spin bowling. This is a comfortable but not whitewash win for the Js: Js 4, Ys 1.
THE Js V THE Zs
The Js have the better batting by some way, the better skipper, the better keeper, a far stronger pace attack and a spin attack that probably matches that of the Zs if it doesn’t better it. There can be only one scoreline: Js 5, Zs 0.
THE Js FINAL SCORE
The Js have scored 18 out of 25 today, giving them a final tally of 68 out of 125, 54.4%.
I continue my exploration of the all time XI theme with a look at surnames beginning with the letter W. Such is the immense strength of players who qualify for this team that a second XI of near equal strength could easily be selected and some fine players would still miss out.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
Frank Woolley (Kent, England). A left handed batter known for his excellence against fast bowling, a high class left arm orthodox spinner and a brilliant close catcher. He frequently opened for Kent, especially late in his career when he found the newer ball easier to see first up. This was the only way I could accommodate the only cricketer ever to achieve the triple career landmark of 10,000 runs (58,969), 1,000 wickets (2,066) and 1,000 catches (1,018).
*Frank Worrell (West Indies). A right handed batter of high class (averaged 49 in test cricket), opening was one of his positions, though he could bat anywhere. He was also a useful left arm seamer, and one of the greatest of all captains, a role I have given him in this side. West Indies has unique features in international cricket terms, being in truth a composite side, with players from a number of different countries who usually view each other as rivals making up the XI. The number of captains who have overcome these rivalries sufficiently to create a genuinely unified and harmonious team totals two, Worrell, also the first black captain WI ever had, and Clive Lloyd.
Everton Weekes (West Indies). Statistically the finest batter to have a surname beginning with W, having averaged 58.61 at test level. A powerful stroke maker, but one who believed firmly in keeping the ball on the ground. He was a dual international, having represented Barbados at contract bridge.
Clyde Walcott (West Indies). A powerful right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper and even more occasional seamer. He averaged 56.62 at test level.
Steve Waugh (Australia). Until 1989 his seam bowling was a makeweight which kept him in the team while his batting matured. The 1989 Ashes changed all that, as he began the series with two massive unbeaten centuries, setting a pattern that would endure from then until his retirement. He allowed his right arm medium-fast bowling to fall in virtual abeyance as his right handed batting flourished and he became one of the best in the world in that department. He made tough runs – his batting was crucial to the series win in the Caribbean in 1995 which set the seal on Australia’s ascent to the top of the cricket world, and on a pig of an Old Trafford wicket he chiselled out twin centuries to settle the match in favour of his side.
+BJ Watling (New Zealand). A superb keeper and a gritty right handed middle order batter.
Sammy Woods (Somerset, Australia, England). In his day one could only play county cricket by qualifying by residence for a county, which meant giving up playing for his home country. He turned for England against South Africa, but not, as Billy Midwinter had done against Australia. An attacking middle order batter, handicapped at Somerset by often having almost nothing to come after him and a right arm fast bowler of superb quality. He was also a fine captain, and with all respect to the guy one place below him in this order would be my choice as Worrell’s vice captain in this XI.
Shane Warne (Hampshire, Australia). Arguably the greatest of all leg spinners (although Bill O’Reilly and Clarrie Grimmett both took more wickets per game at better averages), a fine slip fielder and a useful lower order batter, holding the record for most test runs without a century (HS at that level 99).
Johnny Wardle (Yorkshire, England). A left arm orthodox spinner and a left arm wrist spinner (probably more needed in this latter category in this XI), and a hard hitting lower order batter. His career ended prematurely when he made the mistake of publicly criticising Yorkshire for their appointment of Ronnie Burnett as captain, but 102 wickets at 20.39 at test level is testament to his skill, and I don’t see Worrell having any problems handling him.
Bill Whitty (Australia). A left arm fast medium bowler whose 14 tests yielded 65 wickets at 21 a piece, an excellent prospective new ball partner for the man one place below him in the order…
Bob Willis (Surrey, Warwickshire, England). A right arm fast bowler. His ‘phoenix from the ashes’ turn around in 1981, when at Headingley he was called up for one final burst from the Kirkstall Lane end knowing that anything other than quick breakthroughs would spell the end of his test career and proceeded to blow Australia apart, claiming eight wickets in next to no time extended his test career by three years and meant that by the end he had claimed 325 wickets at the highest level, at the time an England record.
This is a superb XI, with a stellar top five, a keeper who can bat, an aggressive all rounder at seven and four wonderfully varied specialist bowlers. A bowling attack that features Willis, Whitty, Woods and Worrell to bowl seam, and Warne, Wardle and Woolley as spin options is top of the range by any standards.
This is its own way is the most difficult section of its type that I have yet had to write, and will feature many subsections. I am starting with three name checks because all with strong advocates for their inclusion.
A fine attacking left handed opener, but could only be accommodated by dropping either Woolley with is vast range of skills or Worrell, my chosen captain. Although I could quote sandpapergate against him I settle for saying that I had strong positive reasons for selecting Woolley and Worrell rather than reasons for not selecting alternatives.
‘Junior’ or ‘Afghan’ as he was referred to (the latter because of the delay compared to his twin brother in him getting international recognition – ‘the forgotten Waugh’) was a fine batter in the middle order in tests and opening in limited overs, as safe a slip fielder as I have ever seen in action and an occasional off spinner. However, the stellar records of my chosen specialist batters and my preference for five genuine bowlers left no space for him. If Aussies didn’t volubly disapprove of such things I would name him as designated substitute fielder.
One of the best batters in contemporary cricket, but just who out of Weekes, Walcott or S Waugh would I drop to make way for him? Sadly, as great as he is he has to miss out.
I have already dealt with Warner, but there are a stack of other openers who need to be mentioned. Bill Woodfull was a fine opener for Australia in his day, but a small mark against him as the considerable fall off from an FC average of 65 to a test average of 46, respectable rather than truly great. John Wright was a gritty and determined opener for New Zealand. ‘Plum’ Warner was the second England player ever to carry his bat through a test innings, and was also a notable captain. Siddath Wettimuny played a crucial role in the test match in which Sri Lanka first made the cricketing world treat them with respect, at Lord’s in 1984. His 190, which lasted until the third morning of the match was the underpinning of a Sri Lankan score of 491-7 declared. Shane Watson did well for Australia as a makeshift opener, but rarely produced really big scores. Albert Ward of England had a fine series in the 1894-5 Ashes but not the necessary consistent test success to merit any more than a mention. Finally, the silky skills of Laura Wolvaardt, for my money the best player of the cover drive of any contemporary cricketer deserve an honourable mention.
MIDDLE ORDER BATTERS
Doug Walters is probably the best middle order batter beginning with W that I have not yet mentioned. I considered acknowledging his partnership breaking skills as a medium pacer by giving him the number seven slot that I actually assigned to Woods, but preferred the genuine all rounder to the batter who bowled. Willie Watson was at the heart of one of cricket’s greatest rearguard actions at Lord’s in 1953, when England saved a match in which they looked beaten for all money, Watson holding out for approximately six hours. However his overall record falls short of greatness, so not even his left handedness could get him in. Another left hander who had to miss out was Vic Wilson, a gritty batter, Yorkshire’s first ever professional captain and a brilliant short leg fielder. Bob Woolmer had his moments for England, including three centuries, all against the oldest enemy, but he was a definite cut below top class. Imad Wasim of Pakistan is not quite good enough with the bat to qualify, and in a team already featuring Woolley and Wardle his left arm spin is a non-factor.
David Wiese of Sussex and Namibia would have been one of the first names on the team sheet had I been picking with limited overs in mind, but his FC record while good is not on a par with his limited overs record. Rockley Wilson had a good record for Yorkshire and did well for England when getting a late call up, but is chiefly known for his work at Winchester College where one of his charges was a certain DR Jardine. Vyell Walker shares with WG Grace the distinction of scoring a century and taking all ten wickets in an innings of the same first class match, but I needed a fast bowling all rounder.
Other than Watling I considered John Waite and Harry Wood of England for the gloves, but neither have the weight of achievement that Watling does.
The biggest miss here was Courtney Walsh, but I felt that he and Bob Willis were a trifle to similar, both being right armers of similar height, whereas Whitty’s left arm introduced an extra level of variation. Two injury blighted England quicks of different eras, Mark Wood and Alan Ward missed out. Willie Watson of New Zealand had a respectable test record, but like many others of his era his main job was to support Richard Hadlee. Arnold Warren of Derbyshire took five cheap wickets on his only test appearance. Daniel Worrall, an Aussie born seamer who has played a lot of county cricket was another to miss out. Probably the best quick bowler I overlook was Thomas William Wall of Australia, but his average ended up the wrong side of 30 due to the strength of the batting he came up against and the fact that he was often the only quick bowler in the side. Luke Wood, a left arm quick, is just beginning to make a name for himself, and may displace Bill Whitty in time. Mike Whitney of Australia was called up in an injury crisis after just six FC appearances, and established a respectable record. William Woof, the first player ever to sign a professional contract with Gloucestershire, was a left arm bowler who took 754 FC wickets at less than 18 a piece, but the fact that he was never chosen to play for England tells against him. Similarly, Tom Wass of Nottinghamshire, a right arm bowler of fast medium or leg spin who took 1,666 FC wickets at 20.43 just misses out, partly because the leg spin aspect of his bowling would not get much use in this XI.
JC ‘Farmer’ White was a very fine left arm spinner, essential to England’s success in the 1928-9 Ashes, but lost out to Wardle due to the fact the Yorkie could bowl wrist spin as well as orthodox, whereas White could only bowl orthodox. Had the leg spinner’s slot not been an automatic selection I would have considered Amanda-Jade Wellington of Australia. Doug Wright, taker of seven first class hat tricks, was too inconsistent to qualify.
PLAYERS OF HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
Tom Walker of Hambledon had to be overlooked due to lack of a verifiable career record, but as the first cricketer ever to have been styled ‘old everlasting’ he deserves a mention. John Willes and Edgar Willsher were key contributors to two major transitions in bowling history – the former the introduction of round arm, and the latter the move from round arm to over arm. Tom Wills was involved in the 1868 tour of England by a team of aboriginals and also created Aussie Rules football to give Aussie c.ricketers a way to keep fit during the close season.
Two players who would otherwise have merited considerable thought, Waqar Younis and MaX Walker were needed for other letters of the alphabet – X requiring a considerable degree of chicanery to fill.
ONE FOR THE FUTURE
Isabelle Eleanor Chih Ming Wong, generally known as Issy Wong, is a young quick bowler who has also had her moments with her aggressive batting, including a 94 (33) in domestic cricket. In ten years or so, if she keeps improving in both disciplines she may challenge Woods for the number seven slot.
Our cricketing journey through the letter W is at an end and it remains only to apply the usual sign off…
A post that looks at cricket history, a view on England’s first test selections, a mathematical teaser and some photographs.
Welcome to today’s All Time XIs cricket post, in which we look at the history of English cricket. A team of cricketers who were all born before 1850 are pitted against an XI who were all born after 1850. Before getting into the main body of the post I start with:
THOUGHTS ON THE SELECTIONS FOR THE FIRST TEST MATCH
22 players have been retained by England at the ground, with 13 officially in the test squad and nine as back ups. Here courtesy of the pinchhitter is the full list:
My thoughts on the above are: arguably neither Broad nor Anderson should be in the 13, and certainly Broad should not be there. Ollie Robinson should be in the 13 and if he is definitely fit so should Curran. Bracey and Lawrence should both be in the 13, as should Foakes, with Buttler not even meriting a place in the 22. I am relieved the Bess is confirmed as first choice spinner and that Moeen Ali has not even made the 22. I would have liked to see Parkinson in the 22 at least. I am personally not entirely convinced about Woakes. Buttler’s continuing presence in the test squad is a disgrace – he can barely even be described as a competent keeper and his red ball batting record is ordinary. Denly’s selection is a very poor call as well – he averages dead on 30 in test cricket, and Bracey and Lawrence provided the only two major innings of the warm up game and should both be ahead of him.
WG GRACE’S XI
*WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying styles through his career, captain. He was born in 1848, the latest birth year of any member of this XI. He scored 54,896 first class runs and took 2,876 first class wickets. Over the course of his best decade, the 1870s, he averaged 49 with the bat, while the next best among regular players was 25, achieved by Richard Daft and his younger brother Fred.
James Aylward– left handed opening batter. His 167 against All England in 1777, a mere eight years after the first record hundred of any type was scored is enough on its own to warrant his selection. He batted through two full days of play on that occasion, and his left handedness also helps make him a good complement for Grace.
Billy Beldham – right handed batter. At a time when 20 was considered a decent score, and seriously big scores were a huge rarity he amassed three centuries in matches still recognized today as being first class.
John Small – right handed batter. One of the greats of his day. He is credited with pioneering the policy of playing with a straight bat – before he showed what could be done with this method cross batted swiping was the order of the day.
Vyell Walker – right handed batter, right arm underarm bowler. One of only two players (the other, WG Grace, is also in this XI) to have scored a century and taken all ten wickets in an innings of the same first class match. He was one of seven brothers who hailed from Southgate, and the ground there, which still occasioanlly hosts Middlesex games, is called the Walker Ground in their honour.
Alfred Mynn – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The greatest all rounder the game saw prior to the emergence of WG Grace.
+Ted Pooley – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A great keeper for Surrey, and would have kept for England in the inaugural test match but for an incident that saw him briefly confined in a New Zealand prison cell.
William Clarke– right arm underarm bowler. He was rated as the best bowler of this type ever to play the game, averaging 300 wickets a season in all forms of cricket at his peak, including 476 in his most productive season. He was captain of the All England XI, a touring outfit that played matches against odds (opposition having more than 11 in their team) all round the country. His most significant contribution to cricket history came as a result of his marriage to the landlady of the Trent Bridge Inn. He enclosed some land behind the inn, turning it into a proper cricket ground, and 180 years on Trent Bridge is officially still a test venue, although it will not be hosting any games this season – internationals will be happening at the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford only.
William Lillywhite – right arm bowler. The greatest bowler of his era, and one of the pioneers of ’round arm’ bowling, the development between under arm and over arm in the game’s history. He was one half of the game’s first great bowling partnership, along with…
James Broadbridge – right arm bowler. Like Lillywhite, who he regularly bowled in tandem with he was among the pioneers of ’round arm’, and with these two spearheading their bowling Sussex were able to take on the Rest of England on equal terms.
William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 863 wickets in 138 first class games at 12.09 each. His best match performance came in 1876 by when he was 35 years of age, when he took 17-103 v Hampshire, only to see them sneak home by one wicket.
This side has a powerful top six, three of whom can be described as all rounders (Grace, Walker, Mynn), a great keeper and a magnificent and varied foursome of bowlers.
FRANK WOOLLEY’S XI
Jack Hobbs – right handed batter, occasional medium paced bowler. 61,237 first class runs, including 197 centuries, both all time records. Scored his last test century at the age of 46, still the oldest ever to do so.
Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed batter. Hobbs’ opening partner for England, an alliance that had the best average of any opening pair in test history, 87.
*Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The only player ever to achieve the career treble of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches in first class cricket, and indeed the only non-keeper to take 1,000 first class catches.
Wally Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. He lost eight seasons of his career, one to bureaucratic malice on the part of Lord Harris, one to a mystery illness picked up in the Caribbean and six to World War II and still scored over 50,000 first class runs with 167 centuries, including 7,249 runs and 22 centuries for England. Only two players have ever scored as many as 900 runs in a test series, Hammond with 905 at 113.125 being the first in the 1928-9 Ashes, a record that was overhauled 18 months later by Don Bradman. He is joint record holder for reaching 1,000 first class runs in a season in the shortest time period, doing it in 1927 between May 7 when he started and May 28, where WG Grace in 1895 had done it between May 9 and May 30.
Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. He averaged 50 in test cricket, set a record first class season’s aggregate in 1947. In 1956 he was recalled for England at The Oval, having had a knee operation earlier in the season, and scored 94. He still holds the record score for England against Pakistan, with 278. He also holds the record for the quickest ever first class triple century, racking it up in 181 minutes v Benoni during the 1948-9 tour of South Africa. At Adelaide in the 1946-7 Ashes he and Arthur Morris entered the record books when each of them scored twin tons in a drawn match.
Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The man who will captain England when test cricket resumes in a few days time. Instrumental in England’s 2019 World Cup win, and also largely responsible for the win at Headingley later that season, plus having an outstanding series in South Africa. When the recent intra-squad warm up match at the Ageas Bowl was accepted as a draw he had been smashing the ball all over the place, but the dismissal of Moeen Ali, LBW to Bess, ended his team’s hopes of triumph, and Team Buttler apparently decided not to press for the wickets they needed to win.
+Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Over 100 first class hundreds with the bat, and over 1,000 first class dismissals with the gloves. Eight of his centuries came at test level, including 120 v Australia at Lord’s in 1934, which helped put England in position to win that match, their only victory over the old enemy at that venue in the entire 20th century.
Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed batter. In his 15 match test career, ended prematurely by an eye injury, he averaged 27 with the bat and took 50 wickets at 16 each. His best match came at the MCG in the 1882-3 series, when he took seven wickets in each innings and contributed 55 to the only innings England had to play.
Fred Trueman – right arm fast bowler. His record speaks for itself.
Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. 189 wickets in 27 test matches at 16.43 each.
Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler. 297 test wickets for the crafty Kent bowler.
This team has a strong batting line up, six front line bowling options (the four specialists plus Stokes and Woolley) and Hammond and Compton as back up bowlers. There is no right arm leg spin option, but Underwood, Woolley and Compton could all move the ball away from the right hander.
This has all the makings of a classic, and I will not even attempt to predict the outcome.
A MATHEMATICAL TEASER
This problem appeared on brilliant.org today, and should have been even better than it actually was (it was a fine one anyway):
This was presented as multi-choice, with four possible answers, and as I will explain tomorrow that opened up an unorthodox route to a solution, so I am not making it multi-choice.
My ‘All Time XIs’ series continues with a look at Kent.
Welcome to the next installment in my “All Time XIs” series. Today we look at Kent, and although there will no controversies to match one of my omissions from yesterday’s Lancashire side, this one has also had its challenges.
KENT ALL TIME XI
Bill Ashdown – an attack minded opening bat. He holds the record for the highest individual Kent score, 332, made in just over a day against Essex at Brentwood. Kent were 623-2 at the close of the first day, Ashdown 300 not out, and declared at 803-4 and then bowled Essex out twice to win by an innings and 192 runs. His medium pace bowling was also sometimes of use to the team. He and Sussex pro Bert Wensleyonce teamed up to defeat a village XI in a reprise of an event that happened a century previously. The original match came about because the landlord of the village pub grew so incensed with the boasting of its team the he told them he would find two players who could beat them without team mates. He came back with two of the best players of the day, and they duly beat the village team. A century later the event was recreated with Ashdown and Wensley taking on the villagers, and the result was the same, a victory for the pros. In the field Ashdown and Wensley alternated between bowling and keeping wicket, meaning that there were just two gaps in the field – the off side and the on side! Andrew Ward’s “Cricket’s Strangest Matches” features this game.
Arthur Fagg – in 1938 at Colchester he scored 244 and 202 not out in the same match, the only time in first class history that anyone has hit two double centuries in a game. Once his playing days were done he became an umpire.
*Frank Woolley – left handed batter who scored 58,969 first class runs including 145 centuries, 2,066 wickets with his left arm spin at less than 20 a piece and 1,018 catches, the most in first class history by anyone who did not keep wicket. He was an integral part of Kent’s first four county championships. He was picked in every England team for a 19 year period (1909-28) – a run which today would give anyone achieving it about 250 test appearances as opposed to his final total of 64. In 1921 at Lord’s when everyone else was being blown away by Gregory and McDonald he scored 95 and 93. In the 1924-5 Ashes he and his county colleague Freeman shared a ninth wicket stand of 128 in ultimately losing cause. His greatest test with the ball was at The Oval in 1912 in the match that settled the Triangular Tournament (an experiment which was ruined by the weather, the weakness of the third team, South Africa, and the fact the the Aussies were hit by a serious dispute) in England’s favour. In that match Woolley had combined figures of 10-49. His volume of cricket related memoir “King of Games” is an excellent read, and I would also recommend Ian Peebles‘ “Woolley: The Pride of Kent”. It is partly on ground of the tactical thoughts expounded in “King of Games” that I have awarded Woolley the captaincy, a post that due to the class-based obsession with amateur captains that prevailed in his day he never actually held.
Colin Cowdrey – a right handed batter who made a record six tours of Australia, the last of them at the age of 42 when he answered an SOS call and replaced his intended festive season with a trip out to attempt to counter Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. At the time his career ended his 114 test match appearances were an all comers record and his tally of 7,624 runs at that level was an England record, while his 22 centuries were a joint record with Wally Hammond. He was part of a family that currently stands alone in having produced four successive generations of first class cricketers (his father Ernest played a handful of games, two of his sons Graham and Chriswere stalwarts of Kent in the 1980s and 1990s and his grandson Fabian played for Kent and now commentates on Kent games for local radio. The Tremletts with Maurice, Tim and Chris and the Headleys with George, Ron and Dean have each had three successive generations of first class cricketers and may yet get a fourth.
Fuller Pilch – rated as the best batter of his era. He also featured in a dismissal that suggests a somewhat overly lively pitch – in the Gentlemen vs Players match of 1837 his dismissal reads ‘hat knocked on wicket’. He is one of two players from this era in my Kent team. He was noted for using a bat with a long blade and a short handle.
+Leslie Ames – the only recognized wicketkeeper ever to score a hundred first class hundreds. The ‘wicket keeper’s double’ of 1,000 runs and 100 dismissals in the same season was achieved three times in history, and two of those were by Ames. In 1929 he pouched 78 catches and executed 49 stumpings, for a total of 127 dismissals. He won the Walter Lawrence trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season twice in the first three years of its existence, and his career high score of 295 took a mere three and a half hours. His test best of 149 came against the West Indies at Sabina Park in 1929-30, when Andrew Sandham scored 325, skipper Calthorpe was overly doctrinaire about not enforcing the follow on in a timeless match (England led by 563 on first innings!) and two days of rain and the necessity of England catching their boat home caused this timeless match to be drawn, with the West Indies 408-5 needing a further 428 to win (yes – they were set 836).
Alfred Mynn – a fast bowling all rounder from the same era as Pilch. He was known as ‘The Lion of Kent’, and would appear in both his physical build and his approach to the game to have been the Freddie Flintoff of the 1830s and 40s.
Arthur Fielder – right arm fast bowler, and useful lower order batter. He once scored 112 not out from no 11, as he and Frank Woolley added 235 for the last wicket.
Tich Freeman – a diminutive (5’2″) leg spinner who made use of his extreme lack of height by releasing the ball upwards so that it spent most of its journey towards the batter above their eyeline. He stands second in the all time list of first class wicket takers with 3,776. In the 1928 season he collected 304 wickets, and he also holds second and third place if the list of season wicket hauls with 298 and 295. He stands alone in having taken all 10 wickets in a first class innings on three separate occasions. He took 386 five wicket innings hauls in his astonishing career and bagged 10 in a match 140 times.
Colin Blythe – a left arm spinner who was killed during World War One, but not before he had taken a lot of wickets very cheaply. Against Northamptonshire in 1907 he took 17-48 in the match, and according to Woolley, writing in “The King of Games” he came within touching distance of getting all twenty in that match. As Woolley describes it, Blythe took all 10 in the first innings, and had the first seven in the second innings, before Vials, the last remaining Northants batter of any substance offered a return catch, which would have left Blythe a couple of absolute rabbits to polish off to claim an ‘all twenty’. Blythe dropped the catch and was apparently so discomposed by doing so that he was unable to refocus on his bowling, and the Kent captain had reluctantly to put another bowler on to finish it. He took 2,503 first class wickets at 16, and his 100 test wickets came in 19 games at that level.
Fred Martin – a left arm fast bowler who took over 900 wickets for Kent at 19 a piece. He was selected for England at The Oval in 1890, and recorded 6-50 in the first innings and 6-52 in the second, still a match record for an England debutant.
These choices give me a team with a strong top five, a wicketkeeper who made big runs at a rapid pace at no 6, a fast bowling all-rounder at 7 and four bowlers of widely varying type. The bowling resources this side has include a left arm fast bowler, two right arm fast bowlers, a leg spinner and two slow left armers, plus Ashdown’s occasional medium pace if needed. The next section will look to the present and future, and then I will look at some of the other players I have missed out.
KENT PRESENT AND FUTURE
This section deals with three current Kent players who part of the England setup and a fourth who may well become so. Joe Denly, a stop gap selection at no 3 in the test team, has produced a string of consistent performances since taking on the role. I suspect that when play resumes again post Covid-19 he will be displaced as England will go with Sibley, Burns, Crawleyas their top three. Zak Crawleywas elevated to international level without having what most would consider any considerable weight of achievement ad domestic level in the bank but has unquestionably thrived at the top level, and I suspect that if I revisit this series in ten years or so he will be challenging Ashdown or Fagg for one of those openers slots. Sam Billings is part of the England limited overs setup, but unlikely to feature in test selections. His wicket keeping will not be factor, given Kent’s illustrious history in that department, but were I selecting with white ball cricket in mind he would definitely be a candidate. Finally, Oliver Graham Robinson (as opposed to Sussex medium pacer and useful lower order batter Oliver Edward Robinson – please guys could you allow yourselves to be referred to by your middle names?) is a 21 year old wicket keeper who would appear to have a colossal future ahead of him (here’s hoping that the selectors treat him better than they have Ben Foakes), and even allowing for Kent’s historic riches in this department he may force his way into consideration in time.
Had I not been determined to include the “Lion of Kent” the number seven slot, and the captaincy that I actually awarded to Frank Woolley would have gone to Jack Mason, the subject of John Lazenby’s “Test of Time”, and also mentioned in many other cricket books, including Woolley’s “King of Games”.
There were a number of candidates for the opener’s slots: Wally Hardinge, Mark Benson(a one cap wonder for England in 1986 – 21 and 30 in a drawn game against India), David Fulton (ignored by the England selectors, even in the season in which he notched his 1,000 runs by mid June) and Robert Key being just four who merited consideration. In the middle of the order Kenneth Hutchings, Percy Chapman and Geoffrey Legge would all have their adherents. Among the bowlers to miss out were Doug Wright, who took more first class hat tricks, seven in total, than anyone else in cricket history, Derek Underwood whose left arm slow medium could not quite displace Blythe in my thinking and Bill Bradley, a right arm fast bowler who could have had the slot I gave to Fielder. I genuinely could not think of a Kent offspinner who I could even consider (yes folks, I am well aware that James Tredwellwas an England pick at one time, but he was no one’s idea of a great bowler!).
The wicket keeping issue was a knotty (or should that be Knotty?) one, as Kent have had a stack of great practitioners down the years – Fred Huish, John Hubble, Godfrey Evans and Alan Knott most notably, but also in more recent times Geraint Jones has done the job for England and I have already mentioned the emerging talent of Oliver Graham Robinson. However, to select any of these legendary practitioners and play Ames as a specialist batter would have been to deprive myself of a desperately needed slot in the team, hence giving the gloves to Ames.
Yes, a journey that has taken us through nearly 200 years of cricket in the hop county (during any period of which you could if so inclined have partaken of Shepherd Neame’s finest!) is now at an end it is time for my usual sign off…