Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I slected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.
Welcome to the continuation of my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today we see the end of the Ds and the Es taking over the spotlight.
THE Ds V THE Ws
Woolley outranks Dent as a batter and offers a bowling option. Worrell loses his batting match up against Dempster, but also offers a bowling option, and is probably the top rated captain of any of my XIs, whereas Dennett never had the job in real life. Weekes outranks Dravid, Walcott outranks Donnelly, and S Waugh’s much larger sample size at least neutralizes the gap between his and Duleep’s batting averages. D’Oliveira was a much better batter than Woods, but a fraction of the bowler that Woods was. Dujon was a finer keeper than Watling, but the Kiwis batting partly compensates for that. Whitty, Willis and Woods are a fair match for Donald, Davidson and Daniel in the pace department, Warne tops the spin rankings, and his main back up, Wardle, probably outranks Dennett as a bowler, and the Ws still have Woolley as third spinner. I make the Ws ahead on batting, equal on pace/ seam bowling and ahead by the proverbial country mile in the spin department, and accordingly score this Ds 0, Ws 5.
THE Ds V THE Xs
The Ds are miles ahead in batting and in pace bowling. The Xs have a clear advantage in spin bowling, and also Box was a finer keeper than Dujon, and not as much less of a batter than raw figures suggest – his average of 12 compared to Pilch’s 18 (Pilch was the best batter of Box’s era) is not massively different to Dujon’s 31 compared to Viv Richard’s 50. However, save on a Bunsen the Ds have a commanding advantage: Ds 4, Xs 1.
THE Ds V THE Ys
Dent just wins his match up against Yardy. Dempster has M Young on toast. Dravid just edges his match up against Younis Khan. M Yousuf beats Donnelly – the greater sample size on which his average is based more than making up for Donnelly’s slightly higher average. Duleep beats Yallop, D’Oliveira beats Yardley, although Yardley has to be considered to better of two captains. Dujon outranks S Yousuf in both departments. The Ds comfortably win the pace department, while the Ys are better equipped spin wise. Final score: Ds 3, Ys 2.
THE Ds V THE Zs
The Ds dominate the batting, being ahead in all the top eight slots. The Ds also have the finer keeper, and the captaincy is a close call. The Ds dominate the pace bowling, having the number 1,2 and 3 ranked pacers in this contest. The Zs have a numerical advantage in the spin contest, but Dennett would be the top ranked spinner in this match up. I score this Ds 5, Zs 0.
THE Ds FINAL RECKONING
The Ds scored 12 of a possible 20 points today, giving them 59 out of 125 overall, 47.2%, which places them third of the four teams we have seen in full so far.
THE Es V THE Fs
I give Elgar and J Edrich the edge over Fredericks and Fry as an opening pair. Flower wins the number three slot, and Fletcher and Faulkner win their match ups, with Faulkner also providing a bowling option. Foakes is ahead of Evans with the bat, and not far enough behind with the gloves to alter the outcome of their match up. While the presence of Endean increases the depth of the Es batting it reduces their bowling options. Fender was a fine all rounder and would have to be considered a better skipper than the pedestrian Elgar. Both sides have magnificent bowling options, and Foster and Flowers’ ability to contribute with the bat neutralizes Endean. I think the Fs have enough to win this and score it Es 2, Fs 3.
THE Es SO FAR
The Es came into the spotlight with 7 of a possible 20 points banked, which means they now have 9 out of 25, 36%.
Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Also has a king sized photo gallery.
Welcome to the next stage in my extended analysis of how my all time XIs for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. The Cs still occupy the hot seat, and they start today with 23 of a possible 90 points to their credit.
THE Cs V THE Ts
The Cs in theory have the stronger opening pair but a) both the Ts openers were regulars at that job, unlike the Cs, and b) Victor Trumper played in an era when run scoring was less than it is now. Therefore I say that the Ts win here. Frank Tarrant at three is outdone by Chappelli for the Cs, although he would average more with the bat had he played in Chappell’s era rather than considerably earlier, so this contest is not is clear in Chappelli’s favour as it looks. Tendulkar beats Compton, but Thorpe loses to G Chappell. As against that Ross Taylor is much better with the bat than Constantine. Carter beats Bob Taylor with the bat, but the Ts man was the finer keeper. Tyson and Trueman outrank even Cummins and Croft as a new ball pair, and Thomson is far superior to Constantine as third seamer. Trumble is clear of Cornwall, and Tarrant the bowler rates little if any behind Chandrasekhar. I make the Ts winners in all departments, save for Carter being better with the bat than his rival keeper, and accordingly score this Cs 0, Ts 5.
THE Cs V THE Us
The Cs win the top five batting slots, with only Inzamam Ul-Haq and Misbah Ul-Haq winning their match ups. Umrigar at six is better with the bat than Constantine, while Ulyett makes up for being outbatted by comfortably outbowling Constantine. Umar Akmal was a finer batter than Carter but a fraction of the keeper that the Aussie was. Umar Gul and Umran Malik are comfortably out pointed by Cummins and Croft, although Umran Malik would be the fastest of the four. Ur Rahman is a better off spinner than Cornwall by some way, and Underwood outranks Chandrasekhar as a bowler. Chappelli outranks Misbah Ul-Haq as a captain. The Cs win on batting, captaincy, keeping and new ball bowling, the Us have the better third seamer, more batting from their keeper and boss the spin bowling department. Overall the Cs are obviously clear, but allowing for one serious turner out of five I score this one Cs 4, Us 1.
THE Cs V THE Vs
The Cs win on opening pairs even allowing for Vine averaging more these days than he did in his actual playing days. Chappelli just edges Vaughan on batting, and also beats the Yorkie on captaincy, by a slightly wider margin. Compton beats Viswanath and G Chappell beats Vengsarkar. Verreynne handsomely beats Carter on batting but is well behind him as a keeper. Vaas was less of a batter than Constantine, but wins the bowling side of their match up more convincingly than the figures suggest – as third seamer in a strong attack he would perform even better than he actually did as opening bowler in a weak one. The Cs win the battle of the new ball pairs – Van der Bijl probably was the best of the four bowlers involved in this match up, but Voce undoubtedly ranks fourth, some way adrift of third. Vogler and Chandrasekhar are close as bowlers, while Verity blows Cornwall out of the water. The Cs have a noticeable advantage in batting, but the Vs are well clear in bowling, especially given that they have a sixth front line option in Vine. I think the Vs bowling guns settle this one, but it is far from one sided: Cs 2, Vs 3.
THE Cs V THE Ws
The Cs have theoretically the better opening pair, but Worrell and Woolley were more suited to opening than Chanderpaul and Cowdrey. Weekes is massively clear of Chappelli with the bat, and Worrell probably just wins the captaincy side of that match up. Walcott beats Compton, while G Chappell is just ahead of Waugh. Watling massively outbats Carter, but the Aussie was the finer keeper. Woods outranks Constantine in both departments. Cummins and Croft outrank Willis and Whitty as a new ball combo, although Whitty’s left arm reduces the margin between these combos. Woods’ advantage over Constantine, and the presence of Worrell as a fourth seam option gives the Ws a clear win in this department. Warne is clear of Chandrasekhar, and Wardle knocks the spots of Cornwall, and the Ws also have Woolley’s left arm orthodox spin as a third option in that department. There is no set of circumstances that enables the Cs to come out on top, so: Cs 0, Ws 5.
THE Cs V THE Xs
The Cs dominate the top batting, although Dexter wins his match up against Chappelli. As against that, Chappelli was a much better skipper than Kippax. Axar Patel beats Constantine in both departments. The Xs are well down in the pace bowling department, but have lots of depth in the spin bowling department. Box was a legendary keeper, and bearing in mind that the best batter of his era, Fuller Pilch, averaged less than 20, he is not outgunned by Carter in that department either. The Cs win this one, but not in a whitewash: Cs 4, Xs 1.
THE Cs PROGRESS REPORT
The Cs accrued 10 points out of 25 today, meaning that they now have 33 points out of 115, 28.69%.
I have a huge photo gallery to share today. To view a photo at full size just click on it
Continuing my analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. Today’s match ups are the last four involving the Bs, and the first with the Cs in the hot seat.
Welcome to the latest in my series of posts analysing how the all time XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. This post sees the completion of the Bs and the first match up with the C team in the hot seat. The Bs come into today with 69 of a possible 105 points. Before I get to the main meat of the post, Heritage Open Day 2022 which was to have been this Sunday has been postponed due to the death of a ludicrously over-privileged old woman. Apaarently the council cannot support the event on Sunday and without their support it cannot be run. Provisionally Sunday 2 October is being looked at the new date – I have already declared my availability for that date.
THE Bs V THE Ws
The Bs are ahead on batting, but the Ws are ahead on bowling. I personally think the Ws have the bowling guns to compensate for the Bs batting advantage and score this one Bs 2, Ws 3.
THE Bs V THE Xs
The Xs lose 10 match ups out of 11 fairly comprehensively. Box, allowing for how difficult batting was in his day, can be considered to win the battle of the keepers, but that will make little difference to the overall outcome – Bs 5, Xs 0.
THE Bs V THE Ys
The Bs are ahead in all areas – even if one accepts that Poonam Yadav is a better leg spinner than Richie Benaud was, the Aussie’s batting compensates for this. Bs 5, Ys 0.
THE Bs V THE Zs
The Bs once again dominate this one, with only Zulqarnain Haider definitely winning his match up. I score this as Bs 5, Zs 0.
THE Bs FINAL ANALYSIS
The Bs scored a further 17 points today, giving them 86 out of 125, or 68.80%. This puts them comfortably ahead of the As, who scored 69, and for the moment first in our ranking table.
THE Cs V THE Ds
The Cs come into this match up with 1.5 points out of a possible 10 from their match ups against the As and the Bs. The Cs have a strong opening combo, albeit both batting out of their very best positions, a good number three who is also a shrewd and resourceful skipper, two unequivocal greats at four and five, a mercurial all rounder at six, a fine keeper, and a decent quartet of bowlers. The Ds lose out in the matter of opening pairs, win the number three slot hands down, but as against that lose on captaincy. Four and five are closely fought, but the greater experience of the C pair gives them the honours. Number six goes to the Ds. Dujon comfortably wins the battle of the keepers, while Davidson beats Cornwall in the number eight slot. Daniel and Donald are a good match for Cummins and Croft in the pace department, and Dennett, possibly the finest bowler never to have played test cricket (he overlapped with Rhodes and Blythe, both even greater left arm spinners), probably has the edge on Chandrasekhar. This is by far the closes contest the Cs have been in, and allowing for Chappelli’s captaincy and the possibility of a turner, where they would have the advantage, I score this one Cs 2, Ds 3. This means that after three match ups the Cs are on 3.5 of a possible 15 points, 23.33%.
Continuing my analysis of how my all time XIs for each letter of the alphabet match up against one another.
This is the fifth post in my series analysing how the XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. This will conclude the As involvement. At the start of this post the As have 51 out of a possible 100 points.
THE As V THE Vs
The As are stronger in batting and in seam bowling, though less though than the averages make the latter look – Vaas would fare better as third seamer in a strong attack than he did as opening bowler in a moderate one. The Vs are comfortably ahead in spin bowling. The As are definitely getting the better of this, but not by a huge margin. I score this one as As 3, Vs 2.
THE As V THE Ws
The Ws are comfortably ahead in batting, behind but not massively so in seam bowling and ahead in the spin bowling department. The extra bowling options provided by Woolley and Worrell count in their favour, and Worrell is clearly the better of the two skippers. I award the Ws a clear advantage here and score this one: As 1 Ws 4.
THE As V THE Xs
The As have a massive advantage in this one. For me this one is As 5 Xs 0.
THE As V THE Ys
Even allowing for the presence of Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf the As have an advantage in batting. They also boss the seam bowling department. The Ys have the advantage in spin bowling, but not enough to compensate. As 4, Ys 1.
THE As V THE Zs
The As boss the batting and have a massive advantage in seam bowling. Spin bowling may be in favour of the Zs, but even if it is it cannot alter the outcome: As 5 Zs 0.
THE AS OVERALL
A strong final section for the As, seeing them take 18 of a possible 25 points to finish on 69 out of 125 points, 55.2%. The As fare respectably in the comparison and will be a lot closer to the top than the bottom.
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.
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…
An addition to my ‘All Time XIs’ series, this time taking double letters as its theme.
The role of players with a double o in their names for England in recent times got me thinking about a team of players who all featured that combo, and I then started thinking about other names with double letters in, resulting in a new post for my All Time XIs series.
THE DOUBLE O XI
Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. Scorer of 8,900 test runs, and player of the best test innings I have ever personally witnessed – 154 not out in an innings tally of 252 vs West Indies at Headingley in 1991, with Ambrose running riot on a pig of a pitch.
Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter, scorer of more test runs than any other left hander – 12,475 of them in all.
David Boon – right handed batter, started as an opener, but moved down to no3 to enable the formation of the right-left Marsh-Taylor combination and enjoyed tremendous success in that latter position.
Joe Root – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Arguably England’s finest batter of the 21st century, Cook’s achievements notwithstanding.
*Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The only player to have the treble of 10,000 first class runs, 1,000 first class wickets and 1,000 first class catches, and indeed the only person to have taken 1,000 catches as other than a wicket keeper. In first class cricket he averaged 40 with the bat and 19 with the ball, and his bowling won at least one test match for England. I am sufficiently impressed by his tactical thoughts, as expressed in “King of Games” to name him as captain even though as a professional of that era he never had the job.
Major Booth – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Major was his given name (he was named in honour of a respected Salvation Army figure), not a rank. He would certainly have played many times for England but for the first World War (he lost his life during the battle of the Somme). In the late stages of the 1914 season he and Alonzo Drake, another cut off in his prime by the outbreak of war, bowled unchanged together through four successive first class innings.
+Josephine Dooley – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of the successes of the most recent edition of the Women’s Big Bash League.
Bill Lockwood – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. He was one of the first fast bowlers to develop a really effective slower ball.
Harold Larwood – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. The list of visiting fast bowlers to have blitzed the Aussies in their own backyard is a short one, and the Notts express features prominently on it.
Fazal Mahmood – right arm fast medium bowler. Pakistan’s first authentically great bowler, he took 12 wickets in their first ever test victory at The Oval in 1954. He was known as a master of bowling cutters, often wreaking havoc on the matting pitches which were standard in his homeland at the time.
Poonam Yadav – leg spinner. The tiny Indian causes huge problems with her craftily flighted slow leg breaks. The greatest demonstration of her ability to change the course of a match came in the most recent World T20 when Australia seemed to be coasting as she began her spell and were obviously beaten by the time she had finished.
This team contains a strong top five, an all rounder at six in Booth, a keeper who can bat at seven and four great bowlers with plenty of variation. Woolley is an excellent second spin option with his left armers, and Gooch and Root might also contribute with the ball.
THE ANY DOUBLE LETTER XI
Jack Hobbs – Right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. The Master, scorer of 197 first class centuries in total, 12 of them in Ashes tests. He achieved all that in spite of losing four years of his cricketing prime to World War 1.
Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. First class average 52.02, test average 60.73, Ashes average 66.85. When the going got tough, he got going. He formed the most successful opening pairing in test history with Hobbs, their average opening stand being 87.81.
Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. The South African averaged 60.97 before his country’s international isolation ended his test career. I opted for his left handed stroke play in preference to having a third right handed opener in Hutton occupy this slot.
Walter Hammond – right handed batter, occasional medium-fast bowler. 7,249 runs in 85 test matches at 58.45, and that average only ended up below 60 because he returned to test action after World War Two, when into his forties.
Everton Weekes – right handed batter. He had a similar average to Hammond in test cricket.
*Frank Worrell – right handed batter, occasional left arm medium-fast bowler, captain. He averaged 49.48 in test cricket, and was one the most successful captains ever, taking the West Indies from also rans which they had been for their entire history to that point to being champions by the time he finished.
+Alan Knott – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of the game of cricket’s most noted eccentrics, and also one of the greatest keepers ever to don the gauntlets. He also averaged 32.75 with the bat, and tended to score big runs when the team most needed them.
Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. Arguably the greatest fast bowler of the golden age of West Indies fast bowling.
Dennis Lillee – right arm fast bowler. The Aussie was for some years test cricket’s all time leading wicket taker, and his 164 Ashes wickets is a tally surpassed in the history of those contests only by Shane Warne who finished just short of 200.
Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. The New Zealand born Aussie who having moved country to better his cricketing prospects had to then cross two state boundaries before establishing himself in first class cricket at the third time, and did not make his test debut until the age of 33 still became the first bowler ever to take 200 test wickets, capturing 216 from 37 test appearances – nearly six per game at the highest level. His Aussie team mate Bill O’Reilly, who was second choice for this spot, was adamant that Grimmett, then 46, should have been selected for the 1938 tour of England.
Mujeeb-ur-Rahman – off spinner. A bit of a gamble on this one – left armer George Dennett with 2,151 first class wickets at less than 20 a piece could easily have been named for this spot, but the young Afghan off spinner has impressed most times he has had the ball in his hand of late.
This team features a very strong top six, one of the all time great keepers, and four great bowlers. I consider that Hammond and Worrell between them make up for the lack of a genuine all rounder. There are too many honourable mentions to name, but before moving on to the next section I would just like to say that if you have someone who you think I have missed please indicate which of my selections should be dropped to make way for them.
OFF THE FIELD
Clive Lloyd, a near miss for a batting place in the ‘any double letter’ team can be match referee, a role he also filled with distinction. In the commentary box we can have Alison Mitchell, Lizzy Ammon, Dan Norcross and Simon Mann, with expert summarisers Mark Wood (not too far off a bowling spot in the double o XI) and Isabelle Westbury (Middlesex and Holland).
A Saturday Spectacular in the all-time XI cricket series, inspired by a combination of today’s retrolive commentary and the upcoming ‘bio-secure’ test series.
Todau a ‘retrolive’ commentary on the Headingley Test of 2017 between England and the West Indies began, and a week on Thursday the first ‘bio-secure’ test of the post Covid-19 era gets underway between the same two sides. Today’s all time XIs post therefore interrupts our sequence of ‘through the alphabet‘ posts to pit an England XI all of whom had great moments against the West Indies against a West Indies XI all of whom had great moments against England.
Dennis Amiss – right handed opening batter. In the Kingston test of 1973 England were staring down both barrels as they went into their second innings. They escaped with a draw, and when stumps were drawn at the end of the match Amiss was on career best 262 not out. In 1974 and 1975 a ferocious working over by Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson adversely affected Amiss but he bravely remodelled his stance to better enable him to stand up to the very fast bowlers, and at The Oval in 1976 England were facing a total of 687-8 declared. Amiss produced another double century, but this time the West Indies won the match.
Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pace bowler. In the first test of the 1991 series between England and the West Indies, at Headingley, England took a small first innings lead. Curtly Ambrose then served up a storm at the start of the England second innings, taking the first six wickets to fall, with only Ramprakash who exactly matched his first innings 27 having provided Gooch any support. Derek Pringle bravely held out for two hours making 27 of his own, and Gooch shepherded the nine, ten, jack as best he could. England were all out for 252, and Gooch had an unbeaten 154 to his name. The West Indies collapsed in their own second innings and England were victorious. This was by no means Gooch’s highest test score – he made 333 against India in 1990, 210 against New Zealand in 1994, 196 against Australia in 1985 and 183 against New Zealand in 1986 to give a few examples. However, these scores came on flat wickets and against largely modest bowling attacks – of the bowlers involved in those innings only Hadlee (for New Zealand in 1986) and Kapil Dev (for India in 1990) were performers of unquestionably top rank. The Headingley 1991 pitch was a difficult one, and the West Indies bowlers were Marshall, Patterson, Ambrose and Walsh, three of whom were unquestionably great bowlers and the fourth, Patterson, was seriously, blisteringly quick, although a trifle inconsistent.
Alec Stewart – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. In the third test of the 1994 series England needed 194 to win and had an hour to survive in murky light on the penultimate day. By the end of that hour they were 40-8, courtesy of the old firm of Ambrose and Walsh, and the game ended early the following morning with England out for 46, only one run more than their lowest ever total. The next match was at Bridgetown, Barbados (see yesterday’s post for more about that island’s cricketing pedigree) where no visiting side had triumphed since 1935. Stewart, opening with Atherton in that series, proceeded to notch up twin centuries and England rebounded from their humiliation in the third test with victory in the fourth. Given the make up of the West Indies bowling attack picking three recognized openers is a tactic with plenty going for it anyway.
David Gower – left handed batter. When England began their second innings in the final test of the 1981 tour of the West Indies defeat seemed certain. By the end of day four the odds were still in favour of a West Indies victory, but Gower was on 70, and had some good support from Peter Willey. On the final morning Willey fell, and Ian Botham, captaining the side and struggling for form also fell cheaply. Paul Downton joined Gower in the last chance saloon. The resistance held out, and the match was safe by the time Gower took one last single deep into the last hour to move to 154 not out, the highest individual score for England in the series. This innings, occupying eight hours and scored in the teeth of the most lethal fast bowling unit ever assembled (Andy Roberts had just been dropped after going wicketless in the previous match, leaving a foursome of Holding, Garner, Croft and Marshall, the new kid on the block) confirmed Gower’s place among the world’s top batters – his first century had been made against an ordinary New Zealand, his first Ashes century against an under-strength and badly captained Australian side and his 200 not out against India at Edgbaston was scored against a less than stellar attack on a very flat pitch. The next two series between England and the West Indies were both 5-0 to the West Indies, and it was at Headingley in 1988 that England next drew a match against them.
*Peter May – right handed batter, captain. In the Edgbaston test of 1957 England collapsed badly in their first innings against ‘those two little pals of mine, Ram and Val’ – Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine and were made to follow on. Both openers fell cheaply, and May walked out to play an innings in which England needed him to go big. The third England wicket fell with England still adrift, bringing Colin Cowdrey to the crease. May and Cowdrey who came together near the end of day 3 were still in occupation when then fifth and final day got underway. Cowdrey fell for 154 to end a stand of 411, still an England record for any wicket. By the time May declared to give the West Indies an awkward little session of batting he had been at the crease for ten hours and scored 285 not out, at the time a record for an England captain, beating the 240 scored by Hammond at Lord’s in 1938. Ramadhin had wheeled down 98 overs that second England innings and had just two wickets to show for it – and was never to same force again. The West Indies, having for a long time looked like winning were in the end relieved to come away with a draw, having lost seven wickets in the closing stages of the game. England went on to win the series.
+Leslie Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. In the last series before World War II, in 1939, Ames and Hammond shared a fifth wicket stand of 242, then an England record against all comers, to set up a victory.
Andrew Flintoff – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. He had a couple of magnificent years from 2004 through the summer of 2006, and one of the seemingly endless succession of highlights for him in that period was his highest test score, 167 against the West Indies at Edgbaston in 2006, in an England win.
Angus Fraser – right arm fast medium bowler. He twice took eight wickets in an innings in the Caribbean, including the best ever by an England bowler in that part of the world, 8-53. In 1990 England set off for the Caribbean in what seemed to be a very poor state. The last three series between the two had been 5-0, 5-0 and 4-0 to the Windies, and England had just been thrashed by Australia in the 1989 Ashes. In 1988, which included that 4-0 drubbing by the Windies, 28 players had been called up for England test teams. Then in 1989 against Australia 31 players were named in England test squads and 29 actually took the field for England. The only player to have played every game in both years was David Gower, and he was not picked for the tour of the Caribbean. Greenidge and Haynes started smoothly for the West Indies at Sabina Park, Jamaica, before their partnership was ended by misadventure – a ball was played to Devon Malcolm who fumbled it, which encouraged Greenidge to turn for a second, Malcolm unleashed a bullet throw and there was a run out. Then in a spectacular role reversal the West Indies middle order folded, and having reached 60 before losing a wicket they were all out for 164 and Fraser had 5-28. A big partnership between Allan Lamb and Robin Smith rammed home England’s advantage, and they won the match. Fraser subsequently had injury problems and also suffered like many others from the attitude of Ray ‘In My Day’ Illingworth when he was England supremo.
Steve Harmison – right arm fast bowler. When England under the captaincy of Michael Vaughan headed to the Caribbean in 2004 Harmison was just beginning to establish himself as a genuinely top class, genuinely fast bowler. That series underlined his improvement, with his personal highlight being a spell of 7-12 as the West Indies were hustled out for a record low of 47. Nb – when talking about bowling figures number of wickets take precedence, and it is only identical wicket hauls that are split by economy, a reflection of the fact that in non-limited overs cricket you need to take 20 wickets to win the match and that in limited overs cricket getting someone out is still the most definitive way to prevent them from scoring, so although on the basis of runs per wicket (1.71 against 6.63) 7-12 is better than 8-53 the fact that Fraser’s haul was eight wickets rather than seven trumps the difference in economy.
Phil Tufnell– left arm orthodox spinner. England came to The Oval in 1991 2-1 down in the series, needing to win the square it which after the disasters of the 1980s would be a very fine result. A century for Robin Smith and few other useful innings got England to 400 in their first innings. Phil Tufnell then got to work with the ball, beginning his spell of destruction with the psychologically crucial wicket of Viv Richards. That huge breakthrough achieved Tufnell took a further five wickets in his spell, at a cost of a mere four runs. His overall innings figures were 6-25, the West Indies were made to follow on, and England won and squared the series. Before this series, series scores between the two teams since 1980, with England first, had been 0-1, 0-2, 0-5, 0-5, 0-4 and 1-2 – a net 1-18 against England.
Charles ‘Father’ Marriott – leg spinner. The Lancashire and Kent leg spinner, who had been playing county cricket since 1920 was called up for the last test of the 1933 series. England batted first and scored 312. The West Indies were all out for 100 in their first innings, Marriott 5-37 (and Nobby Clark the left arm fast bowler 3-16). England enforced the follow on, the West Indies batted better second time round, but not well enough, being all out for 195, Clifford Roach making 56 opening the batting, Marriott taking 6-59, while the fast bowlers Clark, and Stan Nichols of Essex took two each, left arm spinner Langridge bowling seven wicketless overs. Marriott had 11-96 in the match, and was known to be a pure bowler (711 first class wickets at 20.11, 574 first class runs at 4.41), England had won by an innings and 17 runs, but that was the sum total of Marriott’s test career.
This side has a strong top six, a player who at his best was an x-factor all rounder, and four well varied bowlers. Harmison, Fraser, Flintoff, Marriott and Tufnell is an attack should be useful in all conditions.
THE WEST INDIES
Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. On the most difficult pitch of the 1976 ‘grovel’ series he made twin centuries, the first of them being 61% of his team’s innings total. His two double centuries in 1984 are also worthy of mention.
*Frank Worrell – right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. In 1957 he carried his bat through an innings, finishing with 191 not out. In 1963 he was captain, and the series was regarded as one of the greatest ever played.
George Headley – right handed batter. A man who averaged 60.83 in test cricket clearly had highlights against every opponent. However, the particular performance that gets him in here came in the 1939 series, when he became the first batter ever to score twin centuries in a Lord’s test.
Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Was his 232 in the opening match of the 1976 series better than his 291 at The Oval in the final match thereof, were they both trumped by the first test century to be recorded at St John’s Antigua in 1981 or were all other efforts trumped by his 56-ball century at Antigua five years later? That is even before we consider ODIs (138 not out in the 1979 World Cup Final, 189 not – then an ODI record individual score – in an innings total of 272-9 at Old Trafford in 1984). These details provide some indication of why even in 1991 when he was well past his prime his wicket which started Phil Tufnell on his merry way was so psychologically important.
Shai Hope– right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. When England and the West Indies convened at Headingley in 2017 533 first class matches had been played at the ground and nobody had ever scored twin tons there, even though some mighty fine batters called the place home, e.g. Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton. The person who finally entered the record books by achieving that feat, and did it in a test match to boot, was Shai Hope. Three years on those remain his only two test centuries at test level, a remarkable quirk.
Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. He had a stack of extraordinary performances against all opposition, as befits the most complete player the game has yet seen. The particular match I have picked on to include him here featured the West Indies deep in trouble when their fifth second innings wicket went down and Sobers being joined at the crease by David Holford, primarily a leg spinner. The pair put on an undefeated 274 together for the sixth wickets, Sobers 163 not out, Holford 105 not out, and England ended up being glad to escape with a draw after losing a few second innings wickets.
+Jeff Dujon – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Although the West Indies largely dominated the 1988 series (4-0, and the drawn first match owed more to the weather than to the stoutness of England’s resistance), but there was one occasion therein when they hit trouble – 53-5 in their first innings, and Dujon, with support from Logie rescued them – the sixth wicket stand was worth 130, and got the West Indies back into the match.
Malcolm Marshall– right arm fast bowler. At Headingley in 1984 he sustained a broken arm, a rare case in that era of a West Indian being on the receiving end of an injury. When the ninth West Indian wicket fell Gomes was on 96, and so Marshall went in to bat one-handed to see his team mate to a century. Then, to English consternation, he proceeded to take the new ball. He proceeded to rip through the second England innings with career best figures of 7-53, displacing the 63 and 36 scored by Tennyson batting one-handed against Australia with Gregory and McDonald as the greatest test performance by a cricketer playing with one usable hand.
Michael Holding – right arm fast bowler. In August 1976 England was baking in a heatwave, the pitch at The Oval was absolutely flat and lifeless and the outfield was almost grassless due to the drought. The West Indies piled up 687-8 declared, but even their bowlers could get little out of the pitch, with one exception. Michael Anthony Holding took 8-92 in England’s first innings, the best innings figures at that time by a West Indian fast bowler (a spinner, Jack Noriega, had taken nine wickets in a test innings for them). The West Indies declined enforce the follow-on, giving their bowlers a breather. A declaration at 182-0 left England needing to match their first innings 435 to win. This time round Holding took 6-57 to give him 14-149 in the match and his side victory and a 3-0 series scoreline.
Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler. I have already mentioned his bowling at Headingley in 1991 and at Trinidad in 1994 (the 46 all out game), but before that he had settled the 1990 series in the West Indies by destroying England in the last two test matches thereof. England had won the opener (see under Fraser), the second, scheduled for Guyana, had been washed out without a ball being bowled, and a combination of more bad weather and some scandalous (and unchecked, never mind punished) time wasting by Desmond Haynes as stand-in captain had condemned the third match at Trinidad to another draw, in spite of Malcolm picking up ten wickets in a test match (6-77 in one innings) for the first time in his career. However, in the final two tests, Ambrose was simply unstoppable, his figures including an 8-45 in one innings. England’s best resistance in those matches came from pugnacious wicket keeper Jack Russell who produced a day-long rearguard in one of them.
Alf Valentine – left arm orthodox spinner. He made his test debut in the 1950 series and proceeded to capture the first eight England wickets to fall, only to be denied absolute immortality to Berry and Hollies, two of the game’s greatest ‘ferrets’. The feat still remains a record, and helped the West Indies to their first win on English soil, as he and as spin twin Sonny Ramadhin weaved their webs around England’s batters. England did not properly counter this duo until the 1957 series and the May-Cowdrey partnerhsip at Edgbaston.
This team has a stellar top four, a record breaker at five, the most complete player in the game’s history at six, an excellent keeper who can bat and fine quartet of bowlers. The choice of Valentine as specialist spinner means there is a little overlap in skills with Sobers, who numbered left arm orthodox spin among his bowling styles. Marshall, Holding and Ambrose, with Sobers left arm as fourth pace option and Worrell also available looks a superb pace attack, while Valentine’s finger spin and Sobers’ wrist spin should be sufficient in that department.
There are of course many, but I will mention just some of the more obvious. Andy Sandham scored the first ever test match triple century at Sabina Park in 1930, but that match, supposedly ‘timeless’ ended in a draw because England had to go home, taking some of the gloss off the innings. Fred Trueman had a fabulous series against the West Indies in 1963, including a career best test match haul of 12-119 at Edgbaston. Among the all rounders I felt that Greig’s presence would fire the West Indies up too much, so his 13 wicket match haul at Trinidad did not get him in, Ian Botham’s record against the West Indies was very ordinary (one innings haul of 8-103 at Lord’s in 1984, but even that came in a losing cause, and a highest score against them of 81) and Stokes has not had one of his greatest performances against them as yet (the ‘bio-secure’ series may well change that). Brian Lara twice made world test record scores against England (375 in 1994, 400 not out in 2004, both at St Johns, Antigua), but both were accumulated on flat wickets in high scoring, stale, draws, and the latter, as was that case with his 501 not out for Warwickshire v Durham, was definitely an example of the individual counting for more than the team. Courtney Walsh had a magnificent series in England in 2000, at the age of 38, but lack of support from the rest of his team caused it to be in a losing cause, so, with regret, I was not able to pick him. Sonny Ramadhin, Valentine’s spin twin, missed out because of the history making nature of Valentine’s debut. Finally, Ellis ‘Puss’ Achong caused cricket’s terminology to expand when he dismissed Walter Robins, and the chagrined all rounder said as he headed back to the pavilion “fancy being bowled by a chinaman”, which is why that type of delivery is now called a chinaman.
This has all the makings of an absolute cracker. The odds definitely favour the West Indies, especially as Worrell has to be considered a better captain than May, but it should be a good contest.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND TEASER
As a lead in to my regular sign off, here is a teaser from brilliant.org:
Picking up where I left off yesterday, with my first team starting with a ‘w’.
For today’s all time XI cricket post I am picking up where I left offyesterday, continuing the alphabetic progression, so our first XI begins with a player whose surname begins with W.
FRANK WORRELL’S XI
*Frank Worrell– right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain.
Xenophon Balaskas– leg spinner, drafted in here as ersatz opener as well. X is a very difficult letter, but I will attempt to find alternatives for the leg spinning all rounder in future posts of this type. He did average 28.68 with the bat in first class cricket.
Graham Yallop – left handed batter. He batted at no 3 in the 1978-9 Ashes and was the only player on either side to score two centuries in the series – it was only as captain that he was not up to the task.
Zaheer Abbas – right handed batter. Known on the county circuit as ‘Zed’, Z is another difficult letter.
James Iremonger – right handed opening batter. Played for Notts at the start of the 20th century, opened the innings in his first full season, and finished his long career with a batting average of 36. When his playing days were done he became a coach, still with Notts, and among the youngsters he ushered into first team cricket were Harold Larwood and Bill Voce.
Archie Jackson – right handed batter. A regular opener, batting at no 3 here.
*Heather Knight – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, captain. She has batted at no3, but no4 is nowadays her regular slot. World cup winning captain, given that role in this side.
Clive Lloyd– left handed batter. My second world cup winning captain, in this team he will be vice captain to Heather Knight.
Mushtaq Mohammad – right handed batter, leg spinner. The first of two all rounders in this side.
Mohammad Nabi – right handed batter, off spinner. Part of the first ever Afghanistan team, and still in the ranks when they attained test status. His role in the astonishing rise of his country as a cricketing force means that he has played against a wider range of sides than any other player in the game’s history.
Iqbal Qasim – left arm orthodox spinner. Q is a difficult letter, but he is worth is his place, and no9 is the right place in the order for him.
Andy Roberts – right arm fast bowler. No11 is very low in the order for him, but the pace bowling department needs strengthening. He was the leader of original fearsome foursome of fast bowlers deployed by Clive Lloyd.
This side has a good batting line up, and an excellent variety of bowlers. Admittedly the only seam back up to the two big guns, Roberts and Pollock is Jack Hobbs, but it is still a good side.
Both of these teams look pretty good, and both have excellent captains. I think the presence of Roberts and Pollock just about gives Heather Knight’s XI the edge, but it has all the makings of a fine contest.
Today’s ‘all time’ XI circket themed posts focusses on players who batted and bowled with different hands. Also contains a couple of links and some photographs.
Welcome to today’s variation on an all-time XIcricket theme. As hinted at yesterday, today we look at players who bat and bowl with different hands.
THAT WORD CHIRALITY
I have borrowed this from the realm of chemistry. Here is an official definition – screenshot below:
BATTED LEFT AND BOWLED RIGHT XI
Matthew Hayden – left handed opening batter, very occasional right arm medium pace bowler. He averaged 50 with the bat in test cricket with the bat. He did bowl at that level as well, but never picked up a wicket.
Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter, very occasional off spinner. Bizarrely has one of the most economical wicket taking averages of all in test cricket – his one visit to the bowling crease in his long career yielded him figures of 1-7, an average of 7.00. He scored nearly 12,500 runs at 45 as a batter, including a 50 and a century on debut against India, and the same double in his last match against the same opponents 12 years later.
Brian Lara– left handed batter, very occasional leg spinner. Holds world record individual scores at both test and first class level.
Graeme Pollock – left handed batter, very occasional leg spinner. Averaged 60.97 in his test career, before his country’s isolation brought the curtain down on it.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul– left handed batter, occasional leg spinner. Possessor of one of the most unusual of all batting stances – and opponents have been given plentiful opportunities to study it at length.
*Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The ultimate big occasion player. I have named as captain of this team, a role he is due to assume later this year on a temporary basis, while Joe Root is with his wife for the birth of their child.
+Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper, very occasional off spinner. He bowled two overs in all senior first team cricket across the formats, and they were classed as off spin.
Richard Hadlee – right arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. Quite simply his country’s G.O.A.T.
Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner, left handed lower order batter. One of the greatest of all bowlers, rated by Bradman as the best he ever saw or faced. His batting highlight was an unbeaten 30 in the third test of the 1930 Ashes, which prevented Australia from having to follow on, after his narrow failure to do the same at Lord’s had led to them suffering an innings defeat. Avoiding the follow on meant that Australia saved that match, and after a draw in the 4th match they won at The Oval to regain the Ashes.
Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler, left handed tail end batter. One of the greatest of all fast bowlers, taking his wickets at under 21 a piece in test cricket, the most economical rate of anyone to have taken 400 or more.
James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler, left handed tail end batter. England’s all time leading test wicket taker, currently on 584 and officially still counting.
This team has an excellent top five, the ultimate x factor all rounder, a keeper batter, and four excellent bowlers. There is only one genuine spin option, O’Reilly, but overall the bowling is pretty impressive.
THREE NEAR MISSES
Stuart Broad, right arm fast medium bowler and left handed lower order batter, came close, but I do not think one could seriously pick him ahead of Ambrose. Stan Nichols and Jack Gregory were both attacking left handed batters who regularly bowled right arm fast with the new ball, but they hardly challenge Stokes and Hadlee.
BATTED RIGHT AND BOWLED LEFT XI
Wilfred Rhodes – right handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. 39,807 first class runs, 4,187 first class wickets. In one of the many phases of his extraordinary career he was effectively a specialist batter, opening for England with Jack Hobbs, and being number two in the batting averages as well.
Vinoo Mankad – right handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He once scored 184 and 72 either side of a five wicket haul. He amassed four double centuries in his test career, including what was then the Indian record of 231, when he and Pankaj Roy put on 413 for the first wicket.
*Frank Worrell– right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. Averaged 49.48 in test cricket, was the first black captain of the West Indies.
Denis Compton– right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. Averaged 50 in his test career, and fared respectably with his wrist spin, which he developed after a tour to Australia in which he noticed how many Aussies were good at more than one department. He chose left arm wrist spin because he was impressed by Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, a specialist bowler in that style.
Charlie Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Averaged 41.78 with the bat, including three successive centuries in the 1926 Ashes. Also had a ten wicket match haul with his left arm spin.
+Sarah Taylor – wicket keeper, right handed batter. I could not find a high class keeper who batted right handed and was an occasional left arm bowler, so I went for one who batted right handed and never bowled a ball in senior first team cricket (and who happens to be one of the two best English keepers I have ever seen in action).
George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest of all all rounders. When he and Rhodes, known as the ‘Kirkheaton twins’ because they both hailed from that village, were in the prime there was a famous joke quiz question “who is the world’s best all rounder?” The only definitive answer to which was “he comes from Kirkheaton, bats right handed and bowls left, and beyond that we cannot go.” Hirst was always inclined to award Rhodes the palm, while Rhodes, cagier (he was after all the original author of the definitive Yorkshire phrase “we doan’t play it for foon, tha knows”), always refused to be drawn.
Frank Foster – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. He and Sydney Barnes (32 and 34 wickets respectively) were the bowling force behind arguably England’s greatest ever series performance in Australia, the 4-1 win in 1911-2 against a definitively full strength Aussie side, which held the Ashes going into that series. Foster was also a very fine batter, the first Warwickshire player to score a treble century, and captain of their first ever championship winning side.
Hedley Verity– left arm orthodox spinner, right handed lower order batter. 1,956 first class wickets at 14.90, 144 of them at 24 in test cricket. Although definitely not a genuine all rounder he did have some useful batting performances to his credit, including stepping in as emergency opener for England and seeing through a dangerous period. He never managed the season double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, tallying just over 800 in his best batting season.
Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler, right handed tail end batter. A very economical bowler, rarely collared even on the flattest of pitches and a destroyer on a rain affected pitch (and also the match winner on the only documented fusarium affected pitch in test history, at Headingley in 1972). He did eventually register a first class ton, near the end of his long career, but there was never any serious chance of him being considered an all rounder.
William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler, right handed tail end batter. He flourished just before test cricket was a thing, but 138 first class matches brought him 863 wickets at 12.09 each. 791 runs at 5.34 over the same period makes him not so much a rabbit in that department as a ferret (the one who comes after the rabbits).
This team has a respectable opening pair, an excellent 3,4 and 5, a superb keeper batter, two of the greatest of all all rounders, and three excellent specialist bowler. It commands the full range of left arm bowling from outright pace (Mycroft) through fast medium (Hirst and Foster), medium fast (Worrell), slow medium (Underwood) and spin (Verity, Rhodes, Mankad and Macartney bowling the orthodox variety, Compton wrist spin).
A NEAR MISS
Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, a left arm wrist spinner, came very close to selection, but I felt that with Compton in the side, Underwood’s slow-medium craft and guile offered me an extra variation.
The contest would be a good one. I think that the bowling options possessed by the batted right, bowled left brigade just give them the edge, but it is a very close call.
The first Dr Grace, WG’s father, was a moderate cricketer, but noted for one peculiarity – although he insisted on batting right handed, he bowled and threw with his left. There are stories of Hanif Mohammad bowling with both hands at club level, and even snagging a wicket left handed. Neil Harvey, a great left handed batter, was right handed for everything other than cricket. I have yet to locate a cricketer who actually had bowling styles with each arm at first class level, but ambidexterity is positively encouraged these days, so it is probably just a matter of time. In other sports golfer Phil Mickelson plays left handed while being right handed everywhere other than the golf course. Snooker legend ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan regularly plays left handed shots in championship matches, and has apparently made entirely left handed century breaks in less exalted settings. Moving back to cricket, the sideways on stance used by almost all batters means that a right handed batter sees the ball mainly with their left eye, while a left handed batter sees it mainly with their right eye (this is why the Nawab of Pataudi junior, aka Mansur Ali Khan, could return to top level cricket after losing his right eye in an accident but Colin Milburn, another attacking right handed batter, could not do so after losing his left.
LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
The statue of slave trader Robert Milligan has recently been removed from its plinth in West India dock in response to public pressure. Now there is a petition for its place to be taken by a memorial honouring writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, which you can sign and share here.
APF News Agency have produced this splendid infographic about Britain and the slave trade:
Today we have a topical battle between good and bad as the Ardern XI, containing some of the more prominent good folk of cricket, takes on the Cummings XI featuring 11 from the dark side of cricket.
Today’s variation on the all-time XImaintains the link with the scandal convulsing British politics at the moment, as a team of cricket’s more prominent good people, named in honour of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern takes on a team drawn from the dark side of cricket, which as punishment for their collective misdeeds bears the name of the 21st century Rasputin.
THE CUMMINGS XI
David Warner – left handed opening batter. One of the two members of the sandpaper trio to be included in this team (the third of this particular unholy trinity, Cameron Bancroft, is not a good enough player to merit selection, so must make do with this dishonourable mention). He was prepared to appeal against his punishment, so lacking in genuine repentance was he, but when both of his two partners in crime held their hands up even he recognized the hopelessness of his position.
Salman Butt – right handed opening batter. Captain of Pakistan at the time of the 2010 spot fixing scandal, and one of those in the pay of illegal bookmakers (during the previous Australian season, when I was in that country, he was involved in some odd happenings that in view of his later fall from grace look highly suspicious, such). His two partners in crime, the bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir miss out on places, as he serves for all three (Amir at least pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and accepted his punishment, and is now back playing, whereas the other two both failed to show repentance).
Mohammad Yousuf – right handed batter. He was captain of Pakistan when they took Australia on at Sydney in 2010. Australia sank for 124 in the first innings, Pakistan led by 200 on first dig, and Australia at the end of the third day were 274-8 in their second innings, Huseey an unconvincing 79 not out and Siddle new to the crease. The following morning Yousuf failed to attack either Hussey or Siddle, and they batted through to lunch without either of their wickets being threatened. As a result of this, instead of having under 100 to chase, Pakistan ended up needing 176, and with Yousuf compounding his felonies by getting out to a dreadful shot to make the score 57-4 they ended up losing. The subsequent abrupt end to Yousuf’s international career suggests that his failings that allowed Australia back into that match had more about them than met the eye.
*Hansie Cronje– right handed batter, occasional medium pace bowler, captain, criminal and hypocrite. Not only did this man not merely accept but solicit money from illegal bookies, he drew at least two of his most vulnerable team mates (Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams) into his web of corruption. When there was no longer any way of denying his guilt he finally confessed, and was banned from cricket for life. Subsequently he died in a flying accident, and some of his compatriots have made attempts to rehabilitate his reputation, but no one outside South Africa is buying it.
*Steve Smith – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner, captain. The captain of the sandpaper trio, and very lucky indeed as such not to have been banned for life.
Shahid Afridi– right handed batter, leg spinner. HIs various misdeeds include an incident in which he was caught on camera biting the ball.
+Kamran Akmal – right handed batter, wicket keeper. He was regarded as a fine batter, but an unreliable wicket keeper, until it emerged that not all of his droped catches had been accidental, and his international career came to a very sudden end.
Roy Gilchrist – right arm fast bowler. His indelible entry in the hall of shame came in a Central Lancashire League game between Crompton and Radcliffe. Marsh of Radclifffe had been involved as fielder in an incident that aroused Gilchrist’s ire, and when Marsh walked out to open the Radcliffe batting, Gilchrist opening the bowling began with a bouncer, followed by a beamer, and then completed his little performance by charging through the bowling crease and hurling the thing at Marsh from about 16 yards. At that point Marsh and his partner took matters into their own hands and walked off. Both Crompton and Gilchrist copped severe punishments.
Sylvester Clarke – right arm fast bowler. There were no major incidents like the Gilchrist one above, just a pattern of vicious aggression as a bowler that saw him established as comfortably the most disliked county pace bowler of the 1980s.
Leslie Hylton – right arm fast bowler. The only test cricket ever to be hanged for murder (just for the record I am deeply opposed to the death penalty). His victim was his wife Lurlene who had been having an affair with a notorious lothario and wanted to leave him. There were those who reckoned that Hylton killed the lothario he would probably have been acquitted, suchwas the man’s reputation. As it was he shot his wife, and came with a defence that has hints of ‘Classic Dom’ about it – he claimed he had been trying to shoot himself rather than her. Among the holes in this were problems with just how anyone could be that inaccurate, and the fact that some point in proceedings he had reloaded the gun. The jury took 40 minutes to arrive at their guilty verdict.
Jack Crossland– right arm fast. The Lancashire quick was such a chucker that England always refused to select him for that very reason. He was eventually no-balled out of the game.
This team lacks a bit of balance with four fast bowlers and only Afridi as genuine spin option, but otherwise it is perfectly functional.
THE ARDERN XI
Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium. A great cricketer and by all reports a fine human being as well.
Victor Trumper– right handed opening batter. There are countless stories of his goodness. Once on a tour of England Trumper spotted an urchin selling sheet music on the street on a cold wet evening, bought his entire stock, and soon as he was out of sight, binned it. On another occasion a wannabe batmaker asked Trumper to use his product, a misshapen club at least a pound heavier than Trumper’s preferred bats. Trumper used it, scored 80-odd, and returned signed and with a hearty endorsement to the young hopeful.
*Frank Worrell– right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm spinner, captain. In the words of CLR James “He was a happy man, a good man and a great man.”
Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. In the 1996 World Cup, when he could have secured sponsorships from absolutely everybody he made a point of refusing to accept money from purveyors of booze or cigarettes. Subsequently he has used the great wealth he acquired from cricket to assist the less well off in his native Mumbai.
Ellyse Perry– right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. She is regarded pretty much as highly for how she conducts her life as for how she plays the game.
Learie Constantine– right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. CLR James again “He revolted against the revolting contrast between his first class status as a cricketer and his third class status as a human being”. His civil and human rights work after his cricket days were done earned him a knighthood and ultimately the title of Baron Constantine of Maraval and Nelson.
+Sarah Taylor – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Her bravery in speaking out about her own mental health issues and encouraging others to do likewise gets her in here.
Tom Cartwright– right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. He actually began his career as a batter, before concentrating his attention on bowling. His withdrawal from the 1968-9 tour party to South Africa virtually obliged the MCC to name Basil D’Oliveira as his replacement, which forced Balthazar Johannes Vorster, the racist thug who ran South Africa at the time, to tip his hand. Vorster stated publicly what he had already privately told certain English high-ups, that D’Oliveira would not be accepted, and that was the end of the tour, and the beginning of the process that led to South Africa’s sporting isolation, and contributed to the downfall of Apartheid. Various people tried various underhanded methods to get apartheid South Africa back into the international fold, but it took the release of Nelson Mandela and subsequent dismantling of apartheid to end their isolation.
Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner. Captain Verity of the Green Howards was leading his men towards a strategically important farmhouse on the island of Sicily in 1943 when he was hit by a shell. His last words were “Keep going, keep going”.
Radha Yadav – left arm orthodox spinner. 49 international wickets, all in T20s, at 16 each, and she has only just turned 20, and is clearly still improving. When she got her central contract to play for the Indian Women the first thing she did with the money that came with it was buy a proper shop for her father, who had earned a small living as a street vendor.
Glenn McGrath – right arm fast medium bowler. A good few English batters of the 1990s and early 2000s will wonder how he can qualify for this team, but his work with the Jane McGrath foundation, which he established in honour of his first wife who died of breast cancer at the age of just 42 gets him in.
This team has a good batting line up, and a well varied bowling line up. Although Verity and Radha Yadav both bowl left arm spin Verity was quicker than most bowlers of that type, and except on rain affected pitches not a huge turner – variations of flight and pace were his main weapons.
Everyone will have their own ideas about inclusions and exclusions from these squads. Conrad Hunte might had an opening berth in the Ardern XI but for me he cannot quite dislodge Hobbs or Trumper. Mohammad Azharruddin and Saleem Malik were probably the most prominent batters to escape the Cummings XI, while Charlie Griffith and Colin Croft might have had places as fast bowlers. Obviously there have been spinners with dodgy bowling actions, but the worst offender, Tony Lock, was genuinely horrified when he saw video footage of his own bowling on the 1958-9 tour and promptly remodelled his action, going on to bowl with distinction for Leicestershire and Western Australia. Most of the stories that exist of spinners misdemeanours do not suggest true villainy. Also just for clarification I do not regard ‘Mankadding’ as in any way an offence – if you seek to gain advantage by leaving your ground at the non-strikers end early and the bowler runs you out, well don to them, so I never even considered Vinoo Mankad. Finally, there have been plenty of wicket keepers whose over-enthusiasm for appealing has led to dodgy incidents, but I am disinclined to be over harsh on that sort of thing.
I think that the Ardern XI would see justice done by winning this one – especially if the groundstaff were discreetly advised to prepare turners for Hedley Verity and Radha Yadav to exploit. Given some of the players in the Cummings XI, I suggest Dickie Bird and Frank Chester as on field umpires, Aleem Dar as TV Replay umpire, Clive Lloyd as match referee.
ON THE SCANDAL
At the most recent count that I have seen, which dates from last night, has almost certainly increased since then the number of Tory MPs to have publicly stated that Cummings needs to go has gone into the forties:
Shrewd observers will note that the name of Northwest Norfolk MP James Wild is not on that list. I have as yet have no response to my email to my him on Monday (automated ones do not count), and this morning I got on to him again:
21 Columbia Way
I wrote you on Monday morning about the Dominic Cummings scandal. So far other than the automated acknowledgement one always gets for such things I have yet to receive a response from you. Meanwhile the scandal has deepened and extended to become the Cummings/ Johnson scandal. Cummings’ public appearance in the rose garden at Downing Street exacerbated an already bad situation as he failed to show any remorse for his conduct or any understanding of why people were angry, and the story he hold in a pathetic attempt to justify his conduct had more holes in it than my colander. Then came Johnson’s follow up in which he refused to answer questions about Cummings. Then yesterday there was ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ which was again marked by the arrogance and lack of understanding that has been the feature of all official Tory responses to the situation.
Cummings’ position is completely untenable, and by supporting him so unequivocally Johnson has put his own position in great jeopardy. Over 40 of your Conservative colleagues have publicly stated that Cummings must go, and one minister at least has resigned in protest at the government’s handling of this situation. It is way past time for you, who used to be one of Johnson’s advisors, to stand up and be counted, and make it clear to Johnson that continuing to ignore the public is entirely unacceptable and that at barest minimum Cummings must be fired (at this stage allowing him to resign would no longer be acceptable).
Many people in tougher situations than that experienced by Cummings managed to adhere to the lockdown in full and without caveats.
While ever Cummings remains in post the government has no moral authority to impose lockdown measures, though I believe that such are still necessary.
A MEASURE OF MATHEMATICS
I have a solution and another problem for you. In yesterday’s piece I included the following:
There are only to ways to split eight tiles such that each of three people have different numbers of tiles and all eight are used: 4,3,1 and 5,2,1. 11 cannot be reached with one tile, so Kaitlin has at least two tiles, but she has also said that she does not have the greatest number, so she has no more than three. Kaitlin’s tiles have sum 11 and a product divisible by three, which means that they must include either the six or the three. A little bit of experimenting leads to the conclusion that the only way to meet all the criteria is if Kaitlin had 6,4 and 1, Kevin just has the 8 and Conor the remaining four tiles, 2,3,5 and 7. We are looking for the sum of Conor’s tiles and that comes to 17.