All Time XIs – The Grand Finale

Bringing the curtain down on an immense series that has taken us through the alphabet, 200+ years of cricket history and every inhabited continent in the world. The XIs are presented in reverse ranking order, with links back to the selectorial posts.

This post concludes our cricketing journey through the alphabet, a couple of centuries of history and every inhabited continent, with a listing of each XI in reverse ranking order from 26th up to first. I have appended extra comments along the way where my thinking may have changed, or where cricketing developments caught up with me during the course of this series, which has been running since late July. Each XI is also accompanied by a link to the relevant selectorial post.

26TH: THE Qs

The challenge for this letter was actually finding 11 players to constitute an XI, and not surprisingly the final result was decidedly ill assorted. They managed just 7 of a possible 125 points.

25TH: THE Zs

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24TH: THE Is

While this XI has no great strength anywhere its biggest weakness was in the seam/ pace bowling department.

23RD: THE Xs

This was an XI which required a lot of chicanery to pull together. Between the creation of this XI and latter stages of the match ups a women’s tournament took place in New Zealand, and one development there was the arrival in the big time of off spinner Xara Jetly, who were I selecting this XI now would replace MaX Waller, who adds very little to the XI.

22ND: THE Us

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21ST: THE Ns

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20TH: THE Ys

The strong middle order, good spin pairing and one high class fast bowler saved this side from complete disaster.

19TH – THE Cs

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18TH: THE Es

A good spin pairing, two pacers with remarkable records and a world class keeper, but not enough batting for comfort and Bill Edrich the best available back up bowler. More here.

17TH: THE Os

The same score as the Es, but the Os get the higher spot as they won the match up between the two sides.

16TH: THE Ds

Good batting, good pace/ seam bowling, good keeper but the Ds fall down on spin bowling and captaincy.

15TH: THE Js

The Js.

14TH: THE Vs

The Vs superb bowling unit did not quite propel them into the top half of the table, as they lost a split tie (both XIs scoring 69 out 125) to…

13TH: THE As

Solid batting, a top keeper and a superbly balanced bowling unit was just enough to get the As into the top half of the table, since they won their match up with the Vs.

12TH: THE Hs

Stellar batting, a great keeper and a sound captain, but not quite enough bowling to get them to the very top. Neil Harvey might replace Hussey in some people’s estimation, and I would probably have served this letter better had I steeled myself to pick an all rounder (probably George Hirst, with his bowling stock in trade being left arm pace) rather than Hendren, but dropping the scorer of the second most FC centuries ever would have been a huge call.

11TH: THE Ps

The Ps, just missing out on the top ten.

10TH – THE Rs

This exemplifies the advantage of having Rhodes available – you can pick him for any one of several roles depending on your needs. Here, Rhodes the specialist spinner was required and therefore I selected him in that capacity, the one in which he both started and finished his career. The Rs.

9TH – THE Bs

In retrospect, given that Barnes could be said to attend to the leg spinners angle of attack with his ‘Barnes ball’, as explicated by Ian Peebles, himself an England leggie, it might have made this team even better to have selected Palwankar Baloo, Bishan Singh Bedi or left arm spinning all rounder Enid Bakewell in place of Benaud (who could instead be put in charge of the commentary team) to increase the variety available in the bowling department. Nevertheless, the Bs are a fine combination, and it says more about the top eight than it does about them that they ended up ninth.

8TH: THE Gs

If the Gs can be said to have a defect it is that none of their bowlers are left armed.

7TH: THE Ts

The Ts amassed the same number of points (90 out of 125) as the Ks and the Fs, but my tie-splitting procedure ranked them third out of three. Their batting was weakened slightly by the necessity of ensuring that there were relief bowling options available for three specialist quicks who demanded inclusion, a problem resolvable only by turning to the all round talents of Frank Tarrant.

6TH: THE Ks

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5TH: THE Fs

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4TH: THE Ls

Strong and well balanced, but the Ls just missed out on a medal.

3RD: THE Ss

The Ss are a stellar combination, although Sangakkara would not be considered a top flight keeper and the spin options are limited.

2ND: THE Ms

A powerful batting line up and a superbly balanced bowling line up, with Mahmood’s leg cutter meaning that a specialist leg spinner is unlikely to be missed.

FIRST: THE Ws

A strong batting line up, a wonderfully balanced bowling attack (Wardle’s ability to bowl left arm wrist spin covers the lack of an off spinner), a quality keeper and one of the greatest of all captains. The Ws are worthy champions.

This has been a fun exercise, though challenging in parts (both weak letters where actually completing an XI takes effort and strong letters where in some cases a second or third XI would beat most of the rest of the alphabet, which require extended acknowledgements of players one has overlooked).

PHOTOGRAPHS

Not one of my largest photo galleries, but I hope you enjoy it…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 61

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today sees the end of the Ss, who come into today with 84 of a possible 105 points, and the start of the Ts who have banked 67.5 of a possible 95 points from the matches in which they are alphabetically second.

THE Ss V THE Ws

The Ss have the better opening pair, although both Ws offer bowling options. The Ws win the match up at number three, and both sides have superb skippers. The Ss win every batting match up from four to nine inclusive, though Watling outranks Sangakkara as keeper, Warne comfortably outranks Stevens as a leg spinner and Wardle equally clearly outranks the slower incarnations of Sobers, and the Ws also have Woolley as a third genuine spin option. It is close between the front line pace trios, though the Ss have Stokes and the quick version of Sobers in reserve, whereas the Ws have only Worrell. Boiling it all down, the Ss have an advantage in batting and in pace/ seam bowling, while the Ws have much the better keeper, and much the better spin attack. I think the Ws advantages just outweigh those of the Ss and score this Ss 2, Ws 3.

THE Ss V THE Xs

The Ss win every batting match up down to number eight. To a casual observer it looks like they also win the batting match up at number nine, but Fuller Pilch, the best batter of BoX’s era averaged only 18, and on that basis Box is as clearly ahead of Starc with the bat as he is of Sangakkara with the gloves. The Ss are miles clear in seam/ pace bowling and also have much the finer skipper. As against that the Xs have the better spin attack. I still think however that the Ss are so massively superior in the areas where they are superior that this has to be scored: Ss 5, Xs 0.

THE Xs V THE Ys

With the exception of the number three slot, which goes the way of Younis Khan, the Ss win every batting match up down to number nine. They also have an overwhelming dominance in the seam/ pace department. The Ys have the better keeper, and the better spin attack, but neither can save them from the inevitable: Ss 5, Ys 0.

THE Ss V THE Zs

Full spectrum dominance for the Ss: Ss 5, Zs 0.

THE Ss FINAL SCORE

The Ss have scored 17 points out of 20 today, to give them a final score of 101 out of 125, 80.8% overall.

THE Ts V THE Us

The Ts have the better opening pair. A casual observer might think that the Us win the number three slot based on test being more difficult than FC cricket, but Tarrant played a lot of his cricket before WWI, so my own view is that he wins that match up, and he also offers a bowling option. The Ts win the match up at number four, while number five is draw, Misbah Ul Haq’s slightly better batting average being offset by Thorpe’s greater sample size and the lack of support that Thorpe had at test level. Ross Taylor beats Umrigar in the number six slot. Umar Akmal wins the batting match up at number seven, but Bob Taylor wins the keeping element by a much greater margin. The Ts have much the better pace/ seam bowling unit. I also give the spin department to the Ts – Tarrant would be little if any inferior to Underwood as a bowler, and on proven success as opposed to potential Trumble has to outrank Ur Rahman, though their positions may be reversed in a few years time. The Us can make no dent on the Ts, resulting in Ts 5, Us 0.

THE Ts PROGRESS REPORT

The Ts are now on 72.5 out of 100, 72.5% overall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Today’s gallery comes in two parts – I have revisited by cricket cigarette card collection, digging out the first set I ever acquired, some years ago, and the ones I chose to photographs form the first gallery, with links to posts that the players feature in included…

…part two of the gallery features some of my regular photographs.

All Time XIs – Match Ups 60

Continuing my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another. Today the Rs, with 74 out of 115 points, finish their time in the spotlight and The Ss, with 72 of a possible 90 points banked from the matches in which they are alphabetically second take their place in the hot seat.

THE Rs V THE Ys

The Rs have the better opening pair, the Ys win the batting match ups and three and four, the Rs win at number five and win the batting element of the match up at six, while Yardley as prospective third seamer is massively behind Tom Richardson. The batting match up at number seven is close, but Russell was definitely the better keeper. Rabada and Roberts outrank U Yadav and W Younis as a new ball pairing. Rhodes outranks Young as a left arm orthodox spinner, but Yadav outranks Robins as a leg spinner. The Rs are ahead in batting, way ahead in seam/ pace bowling, have the better keeper. In captaincy and spin bowling it is about level, so I see only one possible scoreline: Rs 5, Ys 0.

THE Rs V THE Zs

The Rs win all the top five match ups, Zulch and Zulqarnain Haider win the batting match ups at six and seven, but Zulch does not offer a bowling option and Russell was a finer keeper than Zulqarnain Haider. Zondeki and Zaheer Khan are massively behind Roberts, Rabada and Richardson. Rhodes comfortably outranks Zia Ur Rehman. Robins v Zahir Khan is closer, but not enough to alter the scoreline: Rs 5, Zs 0.

THE Rs FINAL SCORE

The Rs have scored 84 out of 125 points, 67.2% overall.

THE Ss V THE Ts

The Ss have the better opening pair – while Trumper would undoubtedly have averaged more playing in Sutcliffe’s era I do not think the difference is enough to close the gap. G Smith wins the batting element of the match up at number three, but Tarrant offers a bowling option that outweighs the slower incarnations of Sobers. The Ss win the batting match ups at five, six, seven, eight and nine, and while Bob Taylor massively outranks Sangakkara as a keeper, the quick version of Sobers, and Stokes, are two bowling options with no comparator available in the ranks of the Ts. Trumble definitely outranks Stevens as a bowler, and the Ts pace trio are quicker than the Ss, though there is not much in the overall comparison and the Ss as documented have back up options as well. Both sides are well captained. The Ss win comfortably on batting, win on seam/ pace bowling and lose on keeping and spin bowling, and I will allow the latter to prevent a whitewash: Ss 4, Ts 1.

THE Ss V THE Us

A tale of almost total dominance by the Ss. Underwood outranks Sobers in his slower incarnations as a bowler, and Ur Rahman might outrank Stevens as bowler, but the Ss are miles ahead on batting and pace/ seam bowling, ahead on keeping and level on captaincy. I think the extreme strength of the Ss batting, especially bearing in mind Sutcliffe’s tendency to come good in difficult circumstances will prevent the Us from being able to do much even on a turner and accordingly score this Ss 5, Us 0.

THE Ss V THE Vs

The Ss dominate the batting, winning every match up down to number nine. The Vs have the better keeper, and both sides will be well captained. Verity outranks the slower incarnations of Sobers as a bowling option, and Vogler considerably outranks Stevens as a bowler. The pace attacks are both excellent, though the Ss have a couple of bonus options in that area: Stokes and the quicker version of Sobers. I think the Ss deep batting and stronger pace attack are enough to win this for them, but the Vs are no pushovers even for a powerful side: Ss 3, Vs 2.

THE Ss PROGRESS REPORT

The Ss have scored 12 points today, moving them up to 84 points out of 105, exactly 80% so far.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 57

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today sees the Qs take their place in the spotlight, currently having amassed 4.5 of a possible 80 points from the matches in which they were alphabetically second.

THE Qs V THE Rs

The Rs are utterly dominant in batting and pace bowling (the Qs sole accredited pace/ seam bowler ranks fourth in this match up, some way behind all three of the Rs pacers, have the better captain and the better keeper. The Qs have a numerical superiority in spinners, but until and unless Qais Ahmad develops his record to prove otherwise, the Rs two practitioners of spin bowling, Robins and Rhodes rank numbers one and two in that department. This is Qs 0, Rs 5.

THE Qs V THE Ss

The Ss absolutely boss the batting and pace bowling departments and have the better captain. The Qs are level on keeping and ahead on spin bowling, but not by enough to effect the scoreline: Qs 0, Ss 5.

THE Qs V THE Ts

The Qs win the batting match up at number seven, though Bob Taylor far outranks Bernard Quaife as a keeper. Appearances suggest they win the batting element of the match up of number three but I would argue otherwise – batting was more difficult in the early years of the 20th century when Tarrant played most of his cricket than it was in Qasim Umar’s day. Otherwise, it is the usual story for the Qs – any surface that offers Qadir, Qasim and Qais Ahmad assistance will also be good for Tarrant and Trumble, so once again the Qs suffer their regular fate: Qs 0, Ts 5.

THE Qs V THE Us

The Qs have the better opening pair here – Quinton de Kock outranks Ulyett by more than Umar outranks Quaife. Qasim Umar wins the match up at number three. Then normal service is resumed, with the Us winning every match up from four to seven inclusive, though Bernard Quaife outranks Umar Akmal as a keeper. The Us have the better captain. Even their less than impressive pace attack beats that of the Qs. The Qs have a numerical superiority in the spin department, but Underwood ranks as the best such bowler on either side, and Ur Rahman would outrank Qais Ahmad, if not as yet Qasim and Qadir. I will acknowledge the Qs possession of the stronger top order and probably a better spin attack to offset some of the damage they take elsewhere, but this a clear win for the Us: Qs 1.5, Us 3.5.

THE Qs V THE Vs

The Qs have marginally the better opening pair, but the Vs win every other batting match up down to number nine, they have the better captain, probably the better keeper. They absolutely dominate the pace bowling, and Verity and Vogler would rank as the two best spinners in this match up. On any surface giving serious assistance to the Qs spinners, Verity and Vogler would both be utterly unplayable. Thus only one scoreline in possible: Qs 0, Vs 5.

THE Qs PROGRESS REPORT

The Qs have scored 1.5 of a possible 25 points and are now on 6 out of 105, 5.76% so far

PHOTOGRAPHS

All Time XIs – Match Ups 55

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet. Also a couple og bonus features in addition to the regular photo gallery.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another. This is the first of two posts which between them will cover every match up in which the Ps come alphabetically first. They have 49 out of 75 points coming into the spotlight. There are also a couple of bonus features, after the main body of the post and before the final photograph gallery.

THE Ps V THE Qs

Close contests involving the Qs have been rare in this series, and this one does not buck that trend in any way. The Ps absolutely boss the batting, have the better captain, the better keeper and a far better pace attack. Only in spin bowling are the Qs possibly ahead, and if they do have an advantage there it is not enough to alter the scoreline: Ps 5, Qs 0.

THE Ps V THE Rs

The Rs have the better opening partnership – Rogers clearly outranks Petersen, while no lesser person than Sir Donald Bradman, an Aussie team mat of Ponsford to boot, rated Barry Richards ahead of Ponsford. Ponting outranks Viv Richards, though not by much, while Root’s larger sample size does not wipe out a 10.83 run per innings gap in batting averages between him and G Pollock. Pietersen would seem to outrank Ranjitsinhji, but the latter played in an era when batting was more difficult, with pitches often treacherous, and Ranji got no easy opponents to cash in on (all his tests were played against Australia). Pant outranks Robins with the bat, while the latter is on a par with Procter as a skipper and outranks Prasanna as a bowler. Procter outbats Russell, while the latter was a finer keeper than Pant, and Procter is up there with any of the Rs fast bowlers, as great as they are. S Pollock outranks Roberts in both departments, while Rabada marginally outranks P Pollock as a bowler. Rhodes undoubtedly outranks Parker as a left arm spinner. The Rs are ahead in batting and keeping and about even in fast bowling, the Ps have an advantage in spin bowling. This is close, but I think that the the Rs are just winning it: Ps 2, Rs 3.

THE Ps V THE Ss

The Ss have the better opening pair – Sutcliffe was a near contemporary of Ponsford and outdid him at the highest level, while Strauss definitely outranks Petersen. Ponting wins the number three slot, bu G Pollock outranks S Smith – all evidence points to Pollock being on an upward trajectory when the curtain came down on SA’s first period as a test playing nation. Sangakkara outranks Pietersen with the bat, but Pant rates higher than him with the gloves. Sobers wins his batting match up with Pant, and has no bowling equivalent in the Ps ranks, though Parker was a finer exponent of left arm orthodox spin. Stokes wins the batting match up with Procter, but the Saffa was a much greater bowler than Stokes. Stevens outranks S Pollock as a batter, and marginally loses the nearest bowling match up for him, against Prasanna. The pace bowling is quite close in terms of the front liners – the Rs are a little better on averages, but the Ss have Starc’s left arm to add variety. Also, the Ss have back up in that department in the form of Stokes and the quicker versions of Sobers the bowler, which tips the scales in their favour in that department. The Ss thus win on batting and pace/ seam bowling, tie on captaincy, lose narrowly on spin bowling and heavily on keeping. I think the Ss are winning, and score this Ps 2, Ss 3.

THE Ps V THE Ts

The Ts have the better opening pair – Trumper’s average of 39.04 on Victorian and Edwardian pitches is a more impressive achievement than Ponsford’s 48.22 on the shirtfronts of the interwar era, and ‘tubs’ Taylor clearly outranks Petersen. Ponting wins the batting match up at three, but Tarrant offers a bowling option comparable to Parker in quality. The number four batting match up is a draw, featuring two all time greats of the game. Superficially Pietersen seems to have Thorpe beaten in the number five slot, but Pietersen had a lot more support from the rest of the order than Thorpe, so I am giving Thorpe the verdict. Ross Taylor outranks Pant with the bat, while Bob Taylor was much better keeper. Procter outranks Bob Taylor with the bat, and also wins the bowling match up against Thomson. S Pollock outranks Trumble with the bat, but is outranked by Trueman with the ball, Peter Pollock just loses his match up against the even quicker Frank Tyson, and Trumble comfortably outpoints Prasanna in the battle of the off spinners. It is close with the bat, and in the fast bowling department, both sides are well captained, but the Ts have clear advantages in keeping and spin bowling, so I give them a narrow win in the contest: Ps 2, Ts 3.

THE Ps V THE Us

The Ps have an overwhelming superiority in batting and fast bowling, the better keeper and a captain at least the equal of his opposite number in that role. Underwood outranks Parker with the ball and it maybe that in time Ur Rahman will end up outranking Prasanna, but at the moment he is unproven. Nevertheless, I will concede that the Us win the spin bowling department, and allow them one big day out: Ps 4, Us 1.

THE Ps PROGRESS REPORT

The Ps have scored 15 points out of 25 today and move up to 64 points out of 100, 64%.

A BOOK REVIEW

I have just finished reading “How to Make an Apple Pie from Scratch: In Search of the Recipe for Our Universe” by Harry Cliff, a quirky account of the current state of play in Particle Physics and Cosmology. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and heartily recommend it.

CLIMATE CHANGE AT WORK

Bear in mind as you read this section that we are in the middle of November, and my home is roughly 100 miles north of London. This morning I walked into town by way of Bawsey Drain, and back by the route I use most frequently for this trip. On the outbound trip I saw a red admiral butterfly in a patch of nettles – a creature I have never previously seen in Norfolk any later than September. Then, on the homeward journey I saw a ruddy darter, a species of damselfly and hence even more out of place in Norfolk at this time of year, sunning itself (yes, a damselfly sunning itself in an English November, you read that right) on a brick wall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 53

Welcome to the latest instalment of my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Os are in the spotlight, and they start the day on 13.5 points out of a possible 75.

THE Os V THE Qs

The Qs have the better opening pair, given that Oldroyd is out of position, and they also clearly win the number three slot. O’Neill is massively clear of Walter Quaife at four, Odumbe outdoes Quinton in both departments at number five. Quinlan wins the batting element of the match up at six, but O’Riordan was a much better bowler. Oldfield is miles clear of Bernard Quaife. While Old and Olivier are a long way from being the best new ball pairing in this series, the Qs have only one recognized new ball bowler, Quinn. The Os have the best spinner on either side in O’Reilly, but Qasim and Qais Ahmad are probably better support options than Ojha and Odumbe. I think that the Os massive advantage in the pace/seam bowling department settles this one, but it is not an utter rout: Os 3.5, Qs 1.5

THE Os V THE Rs

The Rs totally dominate the batting, winning every match up down to number seven in that department. The Rs also have the better captain, while the keeping match up is a clash of titans. The Rs have the better pace trio, but O’Riordan’s left arm slightly reduces the difference as it gives the Os more variety. Rhodes is miles clear of Ojha as a left arm orthodox spinner, but O’Reilly is well clear of Robins as a leg spinner, and the Os have a third genuine spin option in Odumbe, whereas the Rs next best spin options after their front two would be between The Richardses and Root, so the Os are a little better in that department overall. The Rs advantages in batting, captaincy and pace/ seam bowling should be enough that their only disadvantage, in spin bowling, does not unduly damage them. I score this one Os 1, Rs 4.

THE Os V THE Ss

The Ss dominate the batting and are also streets clear in fast bowling and have to be given the captaincy match up as well. The Os have the better keeper and the better spin attack, though not massively so. This is a clear cut win for the Ss, but not quite a whitewash: Os 1, Ss 4.

THE Os V THE Ts

The Ts win every batting match up down to number six, lose the batting element of the keepers match up. The Ts also have the finer pace attack, and while O’Reilly outranks Trumble (he bowled on more batting friendly surfaces than Trumble) Tarrant outranks Ojha by a greater margin and Odumbe’s presence is not enough to influence this contest in the Os favour. The Ts also have to given the captaincy match up, while the keeping honours are split. There can be only one score: Os 0, Ts 5.

THE Os V THE Us

The Os have the better opening pair, the Us win the batting match ups from 3-7 inclusive, although their only bowling option in this slots, Umrigar, is outranked by both Odumbe and O’Riordan, and Umar Akmal massively loses the keeping match up. The Os claim pace bowling honours – Umran Malik is unproven and Umar Gul fairly ordinary, and O’Riordan’s left handedness lends them extra variety, though the right armed George Ulyett is of comparable stature as a bowler. O’Reilly outranks Ur Rahman, Underwood outranks Ojha, Odumbe monsters Umrigar in the bowling stakes, so I award spin bowling honours to the Os as well. The Us are better in batting and captaincy, but outclassed everywhere else. I will allow their strong batting to make its presence felt in the contest, but this is a clear win for the Os: Os 4, Us 1.

THE Os PROGRESS REPORT

The Os have scored 9.5 points out of 25 today and now have 28 points out of a possible 100, 28% overall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 51

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against on another

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Ns are in the spotlight today, with 19 of a possible 80 points scored so far.

THE Ns V THE Rs

The Rs dominate the top batting positions. In positions 1,2,3 and 5 they win comfortably, Root at number four is officially a few runs an innings less good than Dudley Nourse, but he had less support than did Nourse, and his record has been established over many more games. Robins is outmatched by Noble as a player, but their captaincy is of similar (very high) standing. Nixon possibly outbats Russell but is indisputably the lesser keeper. Rabada, Richardson and Roberts are definitely a superior pace trio to that possessed by the Ns, while Rhodes absolutely blows Nadeem out of the water as a left arm spinner. The Rs are thus ahead on batting, bowling and keeping, and level on captaincy, allowing for only one scoreline: Ns 0, Rs 5.

THE Ns V THE Ss

This is a real thrash job, with the Ss totally dominant in batting and fast bowling, Sobers in his slow incarnations and Stevens little if any inferior to Noble and Nadeem as a spin combination. Stokes is clearly preferable to Nichols, good as he was, as a sixth bowling option. Nixon outranks Sangakkara as keeper, but that cannot alter the scoreline: Ns 0, Ss 5.

THE Ns V THE Ts

Other than Nurse at number three outranking Tarrant in that department the Ts win all the batting match ups in the top six, most of them with some comfort (Trumper beats Nazar by more than the difference in averages suggests as he played on more difficult surfaces than Nazar). Nixon clearly rates above Bob Taylor with the bat, but the latter was by far the finer keeper. Trumble outranks Noble as off spinner, and Tarrant massively outranks Nadeem as a bowler. The Ts also have the better pace trio, though this is slightly offset by the presence of Nichols as a fourth pace bowling option for the Ns. Once again, the Ns are further out of their depth than were 1989 England when the Aussies came calling: Ns 0, Ts 5.

THE Ns V THE Us

Neither side have a great opening pair, though Ulyett’s average on Victorian era pitches makes him at least a match for Nazar on the pitches he batted on. Ulyett also has to rate as a better fast bowler than Nichols and Nawaz, though the Ns have the two best fast bowlers, Nortje and Ntini in their ranks. Nurse outranks Imam-ul-Haq, Dudley Nourse just outranks Inzamam-ul-Haq, while Misbah=ul-Haq makes up the difference by outclassing Dave Nourse. Umrigar rates above Noble as a batter, but offers little bowling. Umar Akmal outranks Nixon as a batter, but Nixon was far the superior keeper. The Ns have the better fast bowling, but Underwood massively outranks Nadeem and would also put Ur Rahman above Noble. It is close in batting, the Ns have a small advantage in pace bowling, the Us a bigger one in spin bowling. The Ns have the finer skipper and the finer keeper. I think the Us just have enough and score this one Ns 2, Us 3.

THE Ns V THE Vs

The Ns have a small advantage in batting strength and in captaincy. Keeping is too close to call, but the Vs are better in bowling – Verity and Vogler are the two best spinners in this match up, Vine probably outranks Nadeem for fourth spot in that category, and the Vs pace trio outrank the Ns by more than enough to render Nichols irrelevant – Vaas’ record is better than Nawaz as it stands, but he would fare even better as third seamer in a strong attack than he did IRL as opening bowler in a weak one. I am not going to call this one a whitewash, but the Vs are significantly clear: Ns 1, Vs 4.

THE Ns PROGRESS REPORT

The Ns have scored 3 of a possible 25 points today, and are now on 22 out of 105, 20.86% overall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

All Time XIs – Match Ups 46

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Ls are in the spotlight and have so far accrued 60 of a possible 80 points.

THE Ls V THE Rs

The Rs have the better opening pair (Lawry outranks Rogers but Richards absolutely blows Labuschagne out of the water, especially given that the latter is batting out of position). Lara shades the number three slot, but Root handsomely wins the number four slot. The number five slot looks a big win for Lloyd, but appearances are a bit deceptive – Ranji played on much more difficult batting surfaces than Lloyd. Langridge comfortably wins the battle of the spin bowling all rounders over Robins, but Russell totally bosses the keeping match up. The Ls win the pace/ seam element of this match up, Lohmann being the deciding factor there. They also win the spin bowling element – Laker outranking Robins by more than Rhodes outranks Langridge in the battle of the left armers. I think the Ls bowling settles this one in their favour and I make it a comfortable win: Ls 4, Rs 1.

THE Ls V THE Ss

The Ss have the better opening pair – Lawry outranks Strauss, but by far less than Sutcliffe outranks Labuschagne. Lara wins the battle of the number threes, but Smith comfortably outranks Laxman and Sangakkara outranks Lloyd, though the Ls do have the better keeper. Sobers massively outbats Langridge, but Langridge was the finer left arm orthodox spinner, and similarly Laker’s off spin is more valuable than Sobers’ left arm wrist spin. Stokes is the bonus the Ss get for having Sangakkara as keeper. The Ss win the pace/seam bowling – Starc’s left arm gives them extra variation among the three front liners, and Stokes and Sobers in his quicker incarnations lend them extra depth as well. The Ls win the spin bowling. I think the Ss have got this but not by a huge margin: Ls 2, Ss 3

THE Ls V THE Ts

I give the Ts the better opening pair – Trumper was a regular opener and he scored his runs on uncovered, often treacherous pitches, which I think comfortably makes up both the discrepancy between his and Labuschagne’s averages and for Lawry’s advantage over Taylor. Lara comfortably wins the batting match up at number three, but Tarrant outranks Langridge as a bowler. Tendulkar bosses the number four slot, and while Lloyd had a somewhat better test average than Thorpe, the Englishman had a lot less support from the rest of the order than the West Indian. Ross Taylor outbats James Langridge at six. The Ts comfortably win the battle of the keepers. The pace bowling is hard to call – the Ts are quicker, but the Ls are probably better. Trumble and Laker are about equal, so with Tarrant outpointing Langridge as a bowler the Ts win the spin bowling department. I think the Ts superior batting and spin bowling wins it for them, but it is close: Ls 2, Ts 3.

THE Ls V THE Us

The Ls boss the batting – only Inzamam Ul-Haq, Umrigar and Umar Akmal win their match ups in that department. The Ls win the keeping contest hands down, and massively outrank the Us in pace/ seam bowling as well. Underwood outranks Langridge, and at the moment, though subject to change as more evidence comes in from Ur Rahman, Laker massively outranks Ur Rahman as an off spinner. It is hard to see the Us claiming anything from this contest: Ls 5, Us 0.

THE Ls V THE Vs

The Ls have a significant advantage with the bat, with only Verreynne and Vaas winning their match ups in that department for the Vs. Langley outranks Verreynne as keeper. The pace/seam bowling contest is close – the Vs have two left armers in Vaas and Voce, the former of whom would fare better as part of this attack than he did IRL to counter the Ls superior overall figures. Verity hugely outranks Langridge – he was the reason the latter only go the test call up quite late in his career, though Laker just outranks Vogler, giving the Vs the advantage in spin bowling. I think the Ls being ahead in batting and at least level on seam/ pace bowling is enough for a comfortable win for them, but I will grant the Vs spinners (particularly Verity) one big day out: Ls 4, Vs 1.

THE Ls PROGRESS REPORT

The Ls have scored 17 out of 25 today, moving them up to 77 out of 105, 73.33% overall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

All Time XIs – Match Ups 43

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Ks continue to occupy the spotlight, and they come into today on 53.5 of a possible 75 points.

THE Ks V THE Qs

An easy one to start – the Ks boss all departments completely, and the Qs can do nothing to prevent the inevitable: Ks 5, Qs 0.

THE Ks V THE Rs

The Rs win the first four batting match ups (sorry India fans, Root has more runs, more centuries and a higher average than Kohli), though Kallis outranks Ranji and offers a bowling option. The Ks have the better all rounder, while both sides are excellently captained. The Rs have the finer keeper. Both sides have superb pace trios, the Rs possibly just the better. The Rs also have a small edge in spin bowling, with Rhodes and Robins being better balanced than the Ks two leg spinners. The Ks have a fourth seam option in Kallis, as against which the Rs have part time off spin available from Root or either Richards. In the end the sheer power of the Rs top batting, and their more varied bowling unit leads me to give them the verdict, just: Ks 2, Rs 3.

THE Ks V THE Ss

The Ss win the first four batting slots, narrowly lose the batting match up at five. Sobers beats I Khan with the bat, though the latter outranks G Smith as a captain. Kirmani wins the keeping match up, but Sangakkara as keeper gives the Ss a bonus pick – Stokes has no match up in the Ks ranks. Both sides have ace fast bowling trios, though the Ss have a small edge there in the form of Starc’s left arm. The Ss not only have Stokes as fourth seamer (he outranks Kallis the bowler), they also have the quicker version of Sobers as a fifth seam option, and a second left armed one. The Ks do have better spinners, but the Ss with Stevens leg spin, and Sobers in his slower guises cover every spin angle (left arm wrist spin is quite similar in angle to off spin). I think the Ss have this one quite comfortably, but the Ks would avoid a whitewash: Ks 1 Ss 4.

THE Ks V THE Ts

The Ts have the better opening pair, and by more than the figures suggest – Trumper played on some rough pitches and would undoubtedly average a lot more on 21st century surfaces. The Ks win the number three slot batting wise. Tendulkar wins the number four slot, Kallis the number five. Ross Taylor outbats I Khan but does not offer a bowling option. I Khan outranks Mark Taylor as a skipper. Bob Taylor wins the keeping match up. Trumble was a better spinner than either of the Ks two, and Frank Tarrant also ranks very high. The Ts pace trio is the fastest in this series, and they outrank the Ks for quality as well. The Ks of course have the Kallis factor on their side, but I do not think that is enough for them to win outright: Ks 2.5, Ts 2.5.

THE Ks V THE Us

The Ks win in all departments. It is just conceivable that Underwood and Ur Rahman would prove better than Kumble and R Khan on a turner, so I will score this as Ks 4, Us 1.

THE Ks PROGRESS

The Ks have scored 14.5 out of 25 today, putting them on 68 out of 100, 68% overall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 40

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Js are in the spotlight, starting with 38 of a possible 75 points.

THE Js V THE Qs

The Js are massively stronger in batting and in pace bowling, and the only way the Qs are doing anything at all against them is if Qais Ahmad lives up to his potential and the Qs spinners have a field day. Even acknowledging this long shot as a possibility, I still score this one Js 5, Qs 0.

THE Js V THE Rs

The Rs have the stronger batting line up, both sides are ably captained, and the keeping match up is a clash of titans. Johnson and Johnston being left armers gives the Js pace attack more variation than the Rs, but the Rs are definitely ahead on spin bowling. Rs are well clear but not quite in whitewash territory: Js 1, Rs 4.

THE Js V THE Ss

The Ss have a super powerful batting line up, the better pace attack, and courtesy of Sobers cover virtually all angles known to spin bowlers (Sobers bowled wrist spin as well as orthodox, and left arm wrist spin is similar to orthodox off spin in angle of attack). Even with that ultimate x-factor guy, Gilbert Jessop, I cannot see the Js making a dent in this one: Js 0, Ss 5.

THE LETTER T

The Ts have the stronger batting line up, though Jupp and Johnson at eight and nine somewhat redress the imbalance there. Trumble outranks Jupp as an off spinner, and Tarrant outranks Jayasuriya and the slower version of Johnston as a bowler. The pace bowling is a tricky one: the Ts theoretically outrank the Js, but 1)the Js have extra variation through possessing left arm pace, 2)Johnson for all his middling overall record had a higher ceiling than any of the other pacers and 3)S Jones was also better than his average suggests. I think the Js actually therefore shade the fast bowling contest, but I don’t think that is enough to make up for losing in batting and spin bowling. Js 2, Ts 3.

THE Js V THE Us

The Js are ahead on batting, keeping, captaincy and pace bowling. The Us have an advantage in the slow bowling department. I see this is a clear win for the Js but will allow Underwood and Ur Rahman one field day: Js 4, Us 1.

THE Js PROGRESS

The Js have scored 12 out of 25 points today putting them on 50 out of 100, exactly 50%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…