All Time XIs – England v West Indies Special

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.

INTRODUCTION

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.

ENGLAND

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. *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.
  6. +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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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

  1. 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.
  2. *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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. +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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

OTHER CONTENDERS

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.

THE CONTEST

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:

Exponent

Solution in tomorrow’s post.

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Eng v WI special
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet II

Picking up where I left off yesterday, with my first team starting with a ‘w’.

INTRODUCTIONS

For today’s all time XI cricket post I am picking up where I left off yesterday, continuing the alphabetic progression, so our first XI begins with a player whose surname begins with W.

FRANK WORRELL’S XI

  1. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Zaheer Abbas – right handed batter. Known on the county circuit as ‘Zed’, Z is another difficult letter.
  5. +Leslie Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper.
  6. Ian Bell – right handed batter. Given the opening situation I felt an extra specialist batter was warranted, so Ian Botham missed out.
  7. Percy Chapman – left handed batter. Extra batting depth needed.
  8. Alan Davidson – left arm fast medium bowler, left handed batter.
  9. Phil Edmonds – left arm spinner, right handed lower order batter.
  10. Jack Ferris – left arm medium fast bowler.
  11. George Gartonleft arm fast bowler. The Sussex youngster has had some good moments in his fledgling career.

This team has an adequate line up, albeit with an ersatz opener, and a fine collection of bowlers.

HEATHER KNIGHT’S XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter.
  2. 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.
  3. Archie Jackson – right handed batter. A regular opener, batting at no 3 here.
  4. *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.
  5. Clive Lloyd – left handed batter. My second world cup winning captain, in this team he will be vice captain to Heather Knight.
  6. Mushtaq Mohammad – right handed batter, leg spinner. The first of two all rounders in this side.
  7. 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.
  8. +Niall O’Brien – wicket keeper, right handed batter.
  9. Peter Pollock – right arm fast bowler.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

THE CONTEST

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. 

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Just before my usual sign off, physics-astronomy.com have an excellent article about some new x-ray pictures of the sky. The image below, taken from the article, is formatted as a link.

X-Ray sky

Now for my pictures…

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TAII
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Mixed Chirality

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.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s variation on an all-time XI cricket 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:

Chirality

BATTED LEFT AND BOWLED RIGHT XI

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Brian Lara – left handed batter, very occasional leg spinner. Holds world record individual scores at both test and first class level.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
  6. *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.
  7. +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.
  8. Richard Hadlee – right arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. Quite simply his country’s G.O.A.T.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. *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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. +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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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

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.

SPORTING AMBIDEXTERITY

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.
Equiano

APF News Agency have produced this splendid infographic about Britain and the slave trade:

BST

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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Radioactive clocks, from Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth”.
Mixed Chirality
The teams in tabulated form.

 

 

All Time XIs – Good vs Bad

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.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s variation on the all-time XI maintains 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. *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.
  5. *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.
  6. Shahid Afridi – right handed batter, leg spinner. HIs various misdeeds include an incident in which he was caught on camera biting the ball.
  7. +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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium. A great cricketer and by all reports a fine human being as well.
  2. 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.
  3. *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.”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. +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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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”.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

HONOURABLE AND
DISHONOURABLE MENTIONS

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.

THE CONTEST

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:

MPs turning on Cummings

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:

Thomas Sutcliffe
21 Columbia Way
King’s Lynn
Norfolk
PE30 2LA

Email: thomasavsutcliffe@gmail.com

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Dear James Wild,

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.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Sutcliffe

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.

Today’s problem is this:

Orange

Solution as usual in a later blog post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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A bug put in appearance while I was reading this yesterday afternoon (John Gribbin’s “The Reason Why”).

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Good v Evil
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Four Fast Bowlers v Balanced

A team with an attack of four fast bowlers is pitted against a fully balanced team. Also a solution to yesterday’s teaser and a link to an autism related thread, and of course some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest variation on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. Today’s post owes its genesis to three twitter correspondents who raised valid points in response to yesterday’s piece. Rather than change yesterday’s XIs I have decided to acknowledge the validity of the comments by selecting two teams that enable to me to devote coverage to the issues raised.

THE FOUR FAST BOWLERS XI

When I covered the West Indies I named an attack of four fast bowlers in the West Indies team from my lifetime, as a tribute to the great West Indies teams of my childhood, which were based precisely on that type of attack. I now name an all-time team with the same type of bowling attack.

  1. Barry Richards – right handed opening batter, named by Don Bradman in his all-time XI (see “Bradman’s Best” by Roland Perry). The four tests that he played before South Africa’s enforced isolation (four more than any of his non-white compatriots in the period concerned save for Basil D’Oliveira, who managed to get to England) yielded him 508 runs at 72.57, with two centuries. He was subsequently one of the stars of Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. Statistically the most successful opener among those to have played 20 or more tests, with 4,555 runs at 60.73 at that level, including 2,741 at 66.85 in Ashes cricket. This upward progression of averages as the cricket he played got tougher bore out his famous response to being congratulated by Pelham Warner on a good rearguard action: “Ah, Mr Warner, I love a dogfight.”
  3. George Headley – right handed batter. Averaged 60.83 in test cricket, converting 10 of his 15 fifty-plus scores at that level into hundreds. I decided that to give either side Don Bradman would give them too big an edge, so he is not present today – instead we have ;the black Bradman’.
  4. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. Averaged 60.97 at test level, a figure exceeded among thos to have played 20+ games only by Don Bradman and Adam Voges, the latter of whom was lucky in his opponents – his sole Ashes series was a poor one. A twitter correspondent yesterday suggested that he should have been in my non-county XI, and very constructively suggested I drop George Giffen to make way for him. I acknowledge the validity of the comments by naming him here.
  5. *Clive Lloyd – left handed batter and captain. 7,515 test runs, a century in the first men’s world cup final in 1975. He was the man behind the West Indies ‘four fast bowlers’ strategy that propelled them to the top of the cricket world and kept them there for a long time. As such there could be no better captain for an ‘all time’ squad whose chief feature is an attack of four fast bowlers. A twitter correspondent suggested that I could have found a place for him in yesterday’s best overseas county player team, again a perfectly valid suggestion, and I hope his presence here in the role he played so successfully IRL will be taken as a suitable acknowledgement.
  6. Steve Waugh – right handed batter. Probably the finest ever to be a regular no 6. He played 168 test matches, and in spite of not reaching three figures until the 27th of those he ended up with a batting average of over 50. His twin tons at Old Trafford in conditions with which none of the 21 other batters in that match came to terms were a particularly outstanding example of his toughness and determination.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Statistically the greatest keeper batter ever to play test cricket.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. His record speaks for itself.
  9. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. Probably the greatest fast bowler of the golden age of West Indies fast bowling.
  10. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler. The lowest bowling average of any bowler to have taken over 400 test wickets. A twitter correspondent yesterday queried the absence of Joel Garner from my overseas county stars team, and suggested that perhaps I was placing too much stress on balance: “with Macko and Bird bowling together do you need balance?” While not wholly agreeing I acknowledge that the objection had weight (after all, I did include Garner in my Somerset team), and the selection of this side is an acknowledgement that one can rely exclusively on fast bowling. Rather than ‘big bird’ I opted for another extra tall fast bowler whose record was even better.
  11. Waqar Younis – right arm fast bowler. His ability to produce greased lightning yorkers seemingly on demand led cricket journalist Martin Johnson to write “when a pitch does not favour him, Waqar Younis does not bother to use it.” At one time he was probably the fastest in the world, and his great record stands as testament to his overall effectiveness.

This side has an awesome top six, a fabulous keeper batter and four awesome specialist fast bowlers. In Clive Lloyd they have the perfect captain to handle an attack thus constituted, and their opponents will need to be on their mettle to have a chance.

THE BALANCED XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter. Known universally as ‘The Master’, he tallied 61,237 first class runs with 197 centuries, both all time records. He still holds the England records for Ashes runs and centuries, with 3,636 and 12 respectively, the last made at the age of 46 making him test cricket’s oldest ever centurion.
  2. Bert Sutcliffe – left handed opening batter. The Kiwi’s most astounding performance came for Otago versus Canterbury, when he scored 385 in an all out tally of 500, and Canterbury in their two innings combined managed 382 off the bat all told! On the 1949 tour of England he aggregated more first class runs than any other tourist save only for Bradman. Given his left handedness and the challenge posed by pairs comprise one left and one right handed batters, and his outstanding skill there is every reason to believe that this Hobbs/Sutcliffe opening pair would be every bit as effective as the original.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, brilliant close fielder. The only cricketer to have achieved the career first class treble of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches, and indeed the only outfielder ever to have taken 1,000 catches.
  4. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, occasional left arm medium fast. The first black captain of the West Indies, and he led them to the top of the cricket world. Before his time success had been something of a rarity for the West Indies. CLR James contributed a chapter on him to “Cricket: The Great Captains”, and also gives him extensive coverage in “Beyond a Boundary”, and the name Worrell occurs again and again in the pages of the collection of CLR James writings titled simply “Cricket”.
  5. Walter Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast, ace slipper. The first ever to reach 7,000 test runs (7,249 at 58.45), the first fielder to pouch 100 test catches and sometimes useful with his bowling as well. He scored seven test match double centuries, four of them against the oldest enemy – 251 and 200 not out in successive matches in 1928-9, 231 not out in 1936-7 and 240 at Lord’s in 1938, which stood for 52 years as the highest score by an England captain.
  6. Garry Sobersleft handed batter, every kind of left arm bowler known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete all rounder there has ever been. He is the fulcrum of this side, enabling it to have a vast range of options.
  7. +Leslie Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The only recognized keeper to have scored 100 first class hundreds, holds the record for most career stumpings (over 400 of them, to go with 700 catches). In two of the first three years in which the Lawrence trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season Ames won it (the intervening time it went to another Kent legend Frank Woolley).
  8. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. I covered him in my Northamptonshire piece. Suffice to say that he was probably the quickest there has ever been.
  9. Sydney Francis Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. Probably the greatest of all bowlers. 27 test matches yielded him 189 wickets at 16.43 each. His special weapon was a leg break delivered at fast medium pace, beautifully described by Ian Peebles, himself a former test bowler, in a piece titled “Barnes The Pioneer” which appears in “The Faber Book of Cricket”.
  10. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner. The all time leading taker of test wickets, with 800 of them at a rate of just about six per game (Barnes had he played the same number of tests and maintained his wicket taking rate would have had approximately 930 test wickets). His 16 wickets on a plumb Oval pitch in 1998 (England batted first, Sri Lnaka scored nearly 600 in between the two England efforts) remains the greatest match performance I have ever seen by bowler. Two years before that he had been one of the heroes of the Sri Lankam world cup winning side, which relied as much on its phalanx of spinners not getting collared as it did on its dazzling batting line up. 
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. He never got to play test cricket, his prime years coming just too early for that (and I mean just – in 1876 he took 17 wickets in a match against Hampshire, which Hampshire sneaked by one wicket). I note that he played for a county who have always been unfashionable (Derbyshire), and that 138 first class games yielded him 863 first class wickets at 12.09 each. I believe he would be even more devastating as part of the attack I have created here than he actually was. His brother Thomas was a wicket keeper, and this combination and the Nottinghamshire pair of fast bowler Frank Shacklock and keeper Mordecai Sherwin may well have been the inspiration for the names of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle was a cricket fanatic, and a very useful cricketer, some times turning out for MCC, and at least once accounting for WG Grace, albeit his bowling was not required until that worthy had 110 to his name). His presence alongside Tyson means that this side have some heavy weaponry of their own to counter the pace onslaught, as India did not in 1975-6, nor England in 1976, 1980 or 1984.

This side has a strong and varied top five, the greatest of all all rounders at six, a legendary keeper batter at seven and four superbly varied bowlers. The bowling, with Mycroft, Tyson, Barnes and Muralitharan backed up by Sobers, Woolley, Hammond and Worrell has pretty much every base covered.

THE CONTEST

This would be an epic contest. The toss would hardly be needed, since Lloyd would probably want to bowl first and Worrell would definitely want to bat first. Although I acknowledge that as exemplified by the West Indies under Lloyd a team with four fast bowlers can be well nigh unbeatable I am going to predict that it is Frank Worrell’s side who would emerge victorious.

SOLUTION TO TEASER

Yesterday I offered up the following from brilliant:

I got the the correct answer by first identifying the size of the large square from which the ‘L’ section comes – it is 16 by 16. I then counted backwards round the spiral to arrive at the size of the next largest square in the relevant segment – 12 X 12. So the answer we are looking for, for the area of the ‘L’ section is (16 x 16) – (12 x 12), which is equal to 256 – 144 = 112 units. NB – it took me less long to do the actual working out, which I did in my head, than it has to type this explanation.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Our two contending XIs have been introduced, I have provided a solution to the teaser I posed yesterday, which leaves on one thing to do before applying my usual sign off. Pete Wharmby has produced a superb thread about ‘functioning labels’ in relation to autism. His advice is the autism equivalent of Darwin’s famous note to himself about evolutionary biology: “avoid the words higher and lower.” I urge you to read his piece in full, which you can do here. Now for my usual sign off…

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A Black Headed gull.
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The beak is a slightly darker maroon than a well looked after West Indies cap.

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Pace v Balanced
The team in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – Niners v Party Themed

This latest variation on the #all time XI’ cricket theme marks an aspi.blog landmark that you will have to read the full post to find out about!

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest variation on the ‘all time’ XI cricket theme. The current still slightly iffy state of my health precludes a serious attempt at doing a full blog post in one go, so I am aiming at publishing this one day after starting it, for a reason that I will make clear later in the post.

THE BRIEF

This post has a central aim celebrating a landmark which will be revealed later, and to that end I have created two XIs, one of whom have associations with the number nine and one of whom have associations with parties. As always class is by no means discounted even in these circumstances. The day on which I started work on this post, May 9th, was the day in 1895 on which WG Grace launched the first successful assault on 1,000 first class runs in the month of May, but I deemed that connection a tad too tenuous to include him.

THE NINERS XI

  1. David Lloyd – left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. He played nine test matches, in one of which he scored 214 not out, his only 50 plus score at that level (the record holder in this curious department is Karun Nair of India whose 303 not v England last time England toured there accounts for over four fifths of his tally of test runs).
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter, excellent outfielder. Nine of his 149 first class hundreds were amassed in Roses matches – at one stage big scores in such fixtures were so common with Sutcliffe that Neville Cardus of the Manchester Guardian took ro describing him as “keeping his appointment with a century”. .
  3. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, left arm medium fast, occasional left arm orthodox spin. He scored nine test centuries (his conversion rate from 50s to hundreds was not especially good) in the course of a distinguished career that saw him become the West Indies first ever black captain.
  4. Clem Hill – left handed batter, brilliant fielder. In the 1901-2 Ashes series Hill had a unique series of test innings, 99, 98 and 97 in succession (he did amass eight centuries in his test career, and was at one point until overhauled by Hobbs the leading career run scorer at that level).
  5. Jess Jonassen – left handed part, left arm orthodox spinner. Scored 99 in a recent test match, which is her highest international score to date.
  6. Arthur Chipperfield – right handed bat, leg spinner. He scored 99 on test debut. Unlike Jonassen who has yet to do so he did eventually score a test hundred.
  7. Richard Hadlee – right arm fast bowler, left handed attacking middle order bat. He has the best innings figures ever recorded by a fast bowler at test level, 9-52 vs Australia in the 1984-5 series.
  8. +Gil Langley – wicket keeper, right handed bat. He was the first keeper ever to make nine dismissals in a single test match – he tallied 98 overall in 26 test matches (83 catches and 15 stumpings).
  9. George Lohmann – right arm medium pacer, attacking right handed lower order bat. He has the cheapest nine-for in test history, 9-28 versus South Africa (in another match in that same series he took 8-7 as SA were rolled for 30, the joint second lowest innings total in test history, shared by the 1924 South Africans who were dismissed by Tate and Arthur Gilligan for that same score). He has the lowest average of any taker of 100 or more test wickets, 10.75, the best strike rate, a wicket every 34 balls and was joint quickest to 100 wickets in 17 matches). He once played an innings of 62 not out in a test match that only included one single!
  10. Arthur Mailey – leg spinner. He took 99 test wickets in all, including the first ever nine wicket innings haul by an Aussie, 9-121 in the 1920-1 Ashes series won 5-0 by Australia (Mailey took 36 wickets in that series, a record at the time). He is one place above his regular batting slot, but I deemed a more worthy candidate for promotion than…
  11. Devon Malcolm – right arm fast bowler and genuine no11. He has the best test innings figures ever recorded by an England fast bowler, 9-57 vs South Africa at The Oval in 1994.

This team contains a solid looking opening pair, a good 3 and 4, all rounders at 5,6 and 7, a great wicket keeper who was no mug with the bat, and three quality specialist bowlers. The bowling, with a front four of Hadlee, Malcolm, Lohmann and Mailey backed up by Jonassen, Chipperfield and if needed Frank Worrell looks even more impressive than the batting (sorry, Bumble, you are definitely eighth choice bowler). Even with my decidedly unusual selection criteria it is unquestionably a strong and balanced unit that should give a good account of itself.

THE PARTY XI

  1. Jack Lyons – right handed attack minded opening batter. The Aussie had some remarkable high speed knocks to his credit, often opening the batting with Harry Trott. He is here courtesy of the ice cream makers Lyons.
  2. Tim Robinson – right handed opening batter. The Nottinghamshire opener made an extraordinary start to his test career against India away and then Australia at home, before being found out in the West Indies in 1986, an experience from which Robinson the batter never fully recovered. His international involvement ended for good in 1989 when he signed up for what turned about the last of the rebel tours of South Africa. He is in this team courtesy of Robinson’s Barley Water.
  3. Alf Dipper – right handed batter. A regular opener for Gloucestershire I have moved him one place down here.
  4. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. He is here not just for his likely contribution with the willow, but also because his nickname, ‘KP’, is the name of manufacturer of snack foods.
  5. Andrew Symonds – right han ded batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. He is here courtesy of Symonds Scrumpy Jack, a brand of cider that is not actually a genuine scrumpy – it is fizzy, but a less sweet than most such, as well as for his big hitting batting and fine fielding.
  6. Ellyse Perry – right handed bat, right arm fast medium, brilliant fielder. The most complete all rounder currently playing the game in my book. In addition to her immense cricketing merit, perry is of course a variant of cider made from pears rather than apples.
  7. *FHB Champain – right handed batter, right arm slow bowler. Full name Francis Henry Bateman Champain, sometimes shown as hyphenated but I have seen scorecards from the period with it not hyphenated. His first class career began in 1895 and ended in 1914, and he amassed 4677 runs at 24.61 with five hundreds and took 17 wickets at 24.58, the latter figure suggesting that his bowling was underused. I have named as captain as none of this team are full time captains, and I think that his performances are least likely to be adversely affected by the captaincy.
  8. Will Beer – leg spinner, capable lower order batter. Although left arm spinner Michael Beer has a test cap and Will does not I remember how impotent Beer was in that match – other than Collingwood who holed out to ‘raging against the dying of the light’ type smear down the ground essayed when two metres from the pitch of the ball he got no other wickets, and I never sympathise with bowlers of no balls, especially slow ones, so for me his ‘denied wicket’ of Alastair Cook is an irrelevance, mentioned only to dismiss it. Will Beer, our chosen Beer, has played for Sussex for a number of years, and during the 2019 championship season they used him up the order when they were lacking options in that area.
  9. Robert Crisp – right arm fast bowler, right handed batter. The only bowler to have twice captured four wickets in four balls in first class matches (the second instance occurring in an innings haul of 9-64). He was a very adventurous type, and a multiply decorated war hero as well as a top level cricketer.
  10. +’Punch’ Phillipson – wicket keeper, right handed bat. Played for Middlesex and England the 1890s. Played the last four matches of the 1894-5 Ashes after Leslie Gay had a disaster in the first at Sydney.
  11. Doug Bollinger – left arm fast medium, genuine no11. Had it arisen it would have been rather harder to decide who got the promotion out of him and Malcolm than it was in the actual case of Malcolm and Mailey. He had his moments at test level before his unqualified disastrous performance at Adelaide in 2010 when he was lacking in pace or threat and quite blatantly obviously not fully fit.

This team has a fine top five, a magnificent all rounder at six, Champain at seven is admittedly something of a punt, but the the keeper and the three guys selected as bowlers all have fine records. The big decision is whether your trust ‘Doug the rug’ with the new ball or open up with Crisp and Perry (my inclination would be the latter).

THE CONTEST

I would say that the ‘Niners’ are not quite as strong in batting as the ‘Party Themed’ XI but their bowling is unquestionably stronger. The ‘Party Themed’ XI would probably need Perry to ‘come to the party’ in a big way to have a serious chance, but of course that cannot be ruled out. My prediction, borne out by the evidence of cricket’s long history that sides with better bowling and somewhat less good batting are more likely to win (see Yorkshire in the 1900s and the 1930s and Surrey in the 1950s as positive examples and the bowler-light but batter-heavy and never close to winning Sussex of the 1900s as a negative example of this), is that ‘The Niners’ would win a five match series, with the most likely margins for such being in my book 3-2, 3-1 with one draw, 2-1 with two draws and 4-1 in that order.

EPILOGUE

What was this little exercise all about (apart from obviously some fun)? Well today, my envisaged day for publishing this post is a landmark in aspi.blog’s history. It is my ninth ‘blogiversary’ (hence the team with the associations with the number nine). Click here to view the first post that ever appeared on this site way back in 2011. Since then this blog has truly gone global, which as an internationalist I am delighted by, with a follower count just topping the thousand, and visitors from the majority of our planet’s 192 recognized countries, as the map below shows – only the completely unshaded countries have yet to provide this sit with a visitor:

ABMap

Incidentally for a real life example of XIs marking a special occasion I refer you to David Kynaston’s book “W.G.’s Birthday Party”, referring to the scheduling of the 1898 Gentlemen versus Players match so that its third and final day coincided with “The Champion’s” 50th birthday. On that day, WG, carrying an injury, took part in a last ditch resistance with Charles Kortright ‘the Demon of Leyton’ which almost saved the game for the Gentlemen. Precisely eight years later in 1906 WG playing in the same fixture marked his 58th birthday was last major innings in top level cricket, a match saving 74.

Finally, although I have avoided honourable mentions I must explain one omission: Mohammed Azharruddin played 99 test matches which I could have used to include him, but I took note of the reason why his tally of test caps did not reach the century: he was embroiled in a match fixing scandal.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Our two ‘blogiversary’ XIs have been introduced, the topped and tailed by explanations of the brief and the reason for the choice of theme. There is of course one last ingredient needed to complete an aspi.blog post – the signing off flourish…

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Multiple birds, multiple species of bird.
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A prowling on garage roofs across the private and hence rather poorly maintained road behind my bungalow (it is an unisgned turning off Raby Avenue and leads to nowehre other than the garages and the backs of the bungalows).

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My Fuchsia holding out the promise of glories to come.

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A rather splendid little bug crawling on my outside table.

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This world map, included by Patricia Fara in “Science: A Four Thousand Year History”, is designed to challenge northern hemisphere chauvinism by reversing the conventional polarity. In doing so, it shows New Zealand where it deserves to be ranked for its response to Covid-19: on top of the world.

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Blogiversary
The two teams in tabulated form with abbreviated comments.

 

All Time XIs – The West Indies

Today in a break from some of my more esoteric ‘all time’ XIs we take a look at the West Indies. Also features, politics, nature and a couple of family blogs, plus a mention for the fulltossblog.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series of ‘All Time XI‘ themed posts. It being a Monday (yes, even in the somewhat strange circumstances in which I am currently living I am managing to keep track of what day of the week it is!) I am looking at an international outfit, in this case the West Indies, before reverting to more esoteric matters for the rest of the week. As usual with an international set up I will start with a team from my cricket lifetime and move on from that to an all-time version.

THE WEST INDIES WITHIN MY LIFE TIME

For this purpose I am considering only players I actually witnessed.

  1. Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter, for Hampshire as well as his home island of Barbados and the West Indies. He scored two contrasting double centuries in the 1984 series, 223 not out in ten hours at Old Trafford, and 214 not out in about half of that time to win the Lord’s test for his side. I saw him score a ton in the MCC Bicentennial match, when he hit one square cut with such ferocity that the ball actually went through an advertising board. He was one half of a legendary opening partnership with…
  2. Desmond Haynes – right handed opening batter, also Barbadian, and played county cricket for Middlesex for many years as well as international cricket for the West Indies. Where Greenidge was an attacker by instinct but capable at need of defending for long periods, Haynes was by inclination an anchor man, who could when circumstances demanded it absolutely annihilate bowling attacks, as shown by his magnificent ODI record.
  3. Brian Lara – left handed batter. The Trinidadian holds the record test and first class scores, one of only two ever to have the double distinction (Bradman did so for a couple of years, between Headingley in 1930 where he made 334 to go with his 452 not out for NSW v Queensland and Christchurch 1933 where Hammond scored 336 not out) – 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994 and 400 not out v England at Antigua in 2004. Ten years earlier he had hit 375 v England on the same ground, the only player to hold the world test record twice (Hayden intervening with 380 v Zimbabwe at Perth). A small caveat over these feats of tall scoring by Lara is that none came in winning cause – all three matches were drawn. Just for the record, the full progression of test record high scores is: Bannerman 165 in the first test innings of all in 1877, Murdoch 211 at The Oval in 1884, Foster 287 at Sydney in 1903, Sandham 325 at Kingston in 1930, Bradman 334 at Headingley in 1930, Hammond 336 not out at Christchurch in 1933, Hutton 364 at The Oval in 1938, Sobers 365 not out at Kingston in 1957, Lara 375 at Antigua in 1994, Hayden 380 at Perth, Lara 400 not out at Antigua in 2004.
  4. Viv Richards – right handed bat, occasional off spinner. The ‘Master Blaster’. Among his many credits are a 56 ball hundred v England at Antigua in 1986, and an innings in 1990 against the same opposition when he twice mishit Devon Malcolm for sixes. He came into bat in a manner equivalent to a prima donna taking centre stage in an opera – all eyes immediately focussed on him, while everyone else, especially opposition bowlers, seemed simply to have the task of feeding him lines.
  5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – left handed bat, occasional leg spinner. He announced himself by scoring a double century in an under-19 match, and unlike his English equivalent who went straight back to his county second XI after doing so, he was fast tracked in the West Indies full team, and immediately began scoring runs (he would tally over 12,000 in test cricket).
  6. Carl Hooper – right hand bat, semi-regular off spinner. This man simply exuded elegance and class – the main criticism that he attracted being that he did not often enough go on for the really big score.
  7. +Jeff Dujon – Wicket keeper, right handed middle order bat – quite simply the best keeper the West Indies have had in my lifetime, and an average of over 30, including four test tons. He tended to get his runs when the team really needed them, not by thrashing already demoralized bowlers.
  8. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, useful lower right handed lower order bat. By my reckoning the greatest fast bowler of the West Indies’ golden age of fast bowling – and 376 test wickets at 20.94 is substantial backing for that claim. He was pretty much the ultimate pro, as he demonstrated during his years as Hampshire’s overseas star, and developed bucketloads of  craft and guile to go with the pace he always possessed.
  9. Michael Holding – right arm fast bowler, aggressive right handed lower order bat. ‘Whispering Death’ as he was known because of his silent run up was another magnificent fast bowler, one of the stars of the attack during both the ‘blackwashes’ the West Indies inflicted on England in the 1980s.
  10. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler (later in his career slowed to fast medium, if not medium fast). Twice he won test matches by destroying the England batting, once with 8-45 in an innings at Bridgetown, and he was only prevented from the being the match winner at Headingley in 1991 by the batting of Graham Gooch (154 not out in a total of 252 all out on a pig of a pitch, second highest score 27 jointly by Ramprakash and Pringle) and a display of ineptitude by his own colleagues in the face of England’s much less threatening bowling ‘attack’. Against the Aussies in Perth he once produced a spell of 7-1 which unsurprisingly settled the outcome of that match. I saw him in action last year for Lashings World XI, when he bowled two overs off a reduced run up, and the opposition simply could not lay a bat on him.
  11. *Courtney Walsh – right arm fast bowler (slowed late in his very long career to fast medium if not medium fast). The first bowler of any description to capture 500 test wickets. Although I do not usually think that fast bowlers make the best captains, he did the job well, suffering mainly from the fact that a once great side was becoming ordinary around him. His last bow, in England in the year 2000, showed up the problems in sharp relief (under the captaincy of Jimmy Adams), with the batting folding on a regular basis, and the bowling other than that of the then 38 year old Walsh being little to write home about – Trescothick made his test debut in that series, showed great character to survive the new ball but was still on 0 not out when Walsh was relieved, and got off the mark from the first ball bowled by Walsh’s replacement, going on to a fine 66.

This team has six quality batters, five of them definitely meriting the label ‘great’, a top drawer glove man who knew how to bat and four of the finest fast bowlers you would ever meet. There is little in way of spin for reasons I will go into in the next section of this post, with Hooper’s off breaks the nearest thing to a front line spin option.

EXPLANATIONS, HONOURABLE MENTIONS AND A SPECIAL FEATURE

I will start with a few honourable mentions: Chris Gayle, ‘Universe Boss’, scored two test triple centuries, and I saw him make a classic 167 not out at Adelaide in 2009, but I felt that the value of the Greenidge/Haynes combo was too great to include him. Richie Richardson was a fine batter, at one time rated no1 test batter in the world, but I could only have got him in by sacrificing Hooper at no 6. Clive Lloyd was a fine batter and captain, but I never actually witnessed him in action, so could not select him. Ramnaresh Sarwan was also a fine batter who I regretted not being able to fit in. Denesh Ramdin probably believes he was a candidate for the keeper’s slot, but in truth, a double ton against England on a feather bed of a pitch in Barbados notwithstanding, he was not in Dujon’s class in either department.

SPECIAL FEATURE: BALANCE, ALL ROUNDERS, BOWLERS AND THE WEST INDIES GOLDEN AGE

As mentioned in my overview of it the team lack either an all-rounder or a genuine spinner. The reason for this is that in my lifetime the West Indies men have only produced four cricketers who could be dubbed all rounders, Eldine Baptiste, Hamesh Anthony, Franklyn Stephenson and Ottis Gibson, and none were really good enough with the bat to drop a front liner for, nor with so many genuine fast bowlers to pick from could they force their way in that category. If I am mandated to select an all rounder then Stephenson comes in for Hooper, but under protest. Roger Harper, a middle order batter who bowled off spin and was a great fielder, was not quite good enough in either department to be considered. I only gave serious consideration to two specialist spinners, Suleiman Benn and Sunil Narine, but although Narine especially would have his advocates, neither have a test record that really commands respect, though Narine is an outstanding limited overs bowler.

Even had there been a spinner in the period concerned with a really fine test record, I had a particular reason for picking four specialist pace bowlers (albeit Marshall and Holding were both capable of scoring useful runs) – the four pronged pace battery propelled the West Indies to the top of the cricket world under Clive Lloyd and kept them there under Viv Richards. At Trinidad in the 1975-6 series against India Clive Lloyd, in anticipation of a turner was given a team containing three front line spinners, Inshan Ali, Albert Padmore and Raphick Jumadeen, to match the three India would play, Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan. For three of the four innings, things went to plan, and India were set 406 to win. India knocked those runs off, a test record at the time, for the loss of just four wickets, the three West Indies spinners leaking 220 of the runs. Lloyd decided there and then that he wanted his best available bowling attack irrespective of conditions, and secured an all pace quartet (initially Andy Roberts, Wayne Daniel, Bernard Julien and Vanburn Holder) for the future. The West Indies did not look back from that point. One series was lost to New Zealand in 1980, but otherwise the West Indies ruled supreme until the rise of the Aussies in the 1990s. Other pace stars who featured for greater or lesser periods in this period were Colin Croft, Joel Garner, Sylvester Clarke, Milton Small and Tony Gray. Later, even after their domination had faded the West Indies produced a few other notably quick bowlers – Ian Bishop who was blighted by injuries, Kemar Roach (who I saw bowling at over 150kph at Adelaide, not a ground beloved of many bowlers) and most recently Shannon Gabriel. It is now time to move on to…

WEST INDIES ALL TIME

Of the players I named in the XI from my life, Lara, Richards, Marshall, Holding and Ambrose make the all-time XI. They are joined by the following:

  • George Headley – right handed bat, nicknamed ‘Atlas’ because he carried the team on his shoulders, like the titan of Greek mythology carried The Earth on his shoulders. He averaged 60.83 in test cricket, converting 10 of his 15 fifty plus scores into centuries. He usually batted three, but the West Indies in his day so often lost an early wicket that he was effectively opening anyhow, which is how I use him in this team.
  • *Frank Worrell – right handed bat, left arm fast medium and occasional left arm spin. He sometimes opened, which is the task I have given him in this team, and CLR James’ ghost would haunt me for eternity if I dared named anyone else as captain of an all-time West Indies XI. He was the first black player to be West Indies captain, breaking a particularly vile shibboleth that black fellows needed to be led by someone with white skin, and he led the West Indies to the top of the cricket world, becoming the first to succeed in banishing inter-island rivalries from the dressing room.
  • Everton Weekes – right handed bat, averaged 58 in test cricket, including a run of five successive centuries (ended by a run out 90). He also represented his home island of Barbados at Contract Bridge, a game that I enjoy playing.
  • Garry Sobers – left handed bat, left arm fast, left arm swing or seam and left arm finger and wrist spinner, brilliant fielder. Quite simply the most complete cricketer the world has ever seen, averaging 57.78 with the bat and taking 235 test wickets. If Ellyse Perry (still only 29 years old, though she has been around a long time) takes up spin bowling to add to her other cricketing accomplishments she may match him in that regard. Sobers was actually first selected as a left arm spinner, developed his batting after that, and then as a Lancashire League pro developed the ability to deploy pace, seam and swing because pros there are expected to be able to contribute heavily with both bat and ball no matter what, and the heavy skies and green surfaces that are both such regular features of north western England tend to lend themselves more to pace, swing and seam than to spin.
  • +Clyde Walcott – right hand bat, wicket keeper. He was a recognized wicket keeper, as well averaging 56 in test cricket, and the only way I could have got him in as other than a keeper would have been by dropping King Viv.
  • Lance Gibbs – off spinner, taker of 309 test wickets (world record at the time). While there was a reason why the West Indies team from my lifetime should feature an all-pace battery, for this combo I revert to a more balanced attack.

Thus my all-time XI in batting order reads: Headley, *Worrell, Lara, Weekes, Richards, Sobers, +Walcott, Marshall, Holding, Ambrose, Gibbs. This combination has a splendid looking opening pair, a stellar 3,4 and 5 with Lara a left hander for extra balance, the most complete cricketer of all time at six, a batter/keeper at 7, three fast bowlers and an off spinner. The bowling, with the three specialist quick bowlers backed up by Gibbs’ off spin, Sobers’ variety of left arm options, Worrell and possibly Richards as seventh bowler, looks awesome (the only base not covered is right arm leg spin).

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

George Challenor and Percy Tarilton, the pioneers of ‘Caribbean style batting’ never got to show what they could do at test level. Allan Rae and Jeff Stollmeyer were a highly successful opening combo, but had I opted to pick an opening partnership Greenidge and Haynes would have got the nod. Conrad Hunte was a great opener who never benefitted from having a truly established partner. I have the word of CLR James that Rohan Kanhai was an absolute genius with a bat in his hands, but just who could I drop to make way for him?

Among the great fast bowlers not getting the nod were: George John who flourished before his country played test cricket, Herman Griffith (also a tough captain – he was once captaining a youngster of whom big predictions were being made and when it came to time for the youngster to bowl he requested a suggestion of field placements beginning with the word ‘deep’, and when he prefaced his fourth successive position with that word Griffith snapped, and called up another bowler, saying “No, you obviously intend to bowl foolishness” – a refusal to accept low standards of which I wholeheartedly approve), Learie Constantine, Manny Martindale, Roy Gilchrist, Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith. Spinners to miss out included Ellis Achong (from whom the term ‘chinaman’ for the left arm wrist spinner’s equivalent of a googly derives – his parents came to Trinidad as indentured labourers, and were indeed Chinese, and the story is that when Walter Robins fell LBW to him, misreading the spin, he said en route back to the pavilion “fancy being done by a chinaman” and so the term was born), and my little pals Ram and Val (Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine, who took the first eight wickets to fall in the first test innings in which he bowled). Had I been able to accommodate a specialist wicket keeper Deryck Murray would have got the nod, but with only 11 spaces to fill there was just no way to do so.

I am well aware that at least one of the regular readers of this series of posts knows a very great deal about West Indian cricket, and I hope that ‘africanherbsman’ as he identifies himself feels that I have done something approaching justice to the cricketers of his islands, for whose achievements I have great admiration.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Well, our virtual Caribbean cruise is at an end, but I have a few links to share before applying my usual sign off…

Finally, it is time for my usual sign off…

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West Indies
The teams in tabulated form with abridged comments.