All Time XIs – The Letter D

A brief mention of last night’s heroics by the England women, and a continuation of the all-time XIs theme with a look at the letter D.

I continue my All Time XIs theme with a look at the letter D. Before getting to the main meat of my post I have a piece of cricket news to pass on that is not entirely inappropriate to my overall theme.

ENGLAND WOMEN SECURE SERIES WIN AGAINST SA

Yesterday evening saw a T20I between England Women and South Africa Women. England dominated the game from the word go, and one of the two heroes may in future years merit consideration for the squad I am selecting here – after South Africa had limped to 111 from their 20 overs with Katherine Brunt taking a T20I best 4-15, England knocked the runs off very easily, Sophia Dunkley leading the way with an imperious 59 opening the batting. One of the three sixes she hit voided any discussion of boundary placements since it went right out of the ground. England’s win made them uncatchable in the multi-format series putting them 10-2 up with only four more points to play for.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. Chris Dent (Gloucestershire). Finding openers for this side was a challenge, but the left hander from Gloucestershire has scored over 10,000 FC runs at an average of 38 and can be trusted to do a solid job in this position.
  2. Stewie Dempster (Leicestershire and New Zealand). His brief international career, before he moved to Leicestershire yielded a batting average of 65.72.
  3. Rahul Dravid (India). No argument about this slot, since we have at our disposal one of the greatest number threes in cricket history, averaging over 50 through a very long test career. He was technically excellent and possessed limitless patience.
  4. Martin Donnelly (New Zealand). Another like his compatriot Dempster whose career at the highest level was short, and for similar reasons, but he did enough in that brief time to justify his place. One of only two cricketers along with Percy Chapman, also left handed, to achieve the triple feat of Lord’s centuries in The Varsity Match, Gentlemen versus Players match and a test match (206 in 1949 in this latter).
  5. Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji (Sussex, England). His career was shortened by ill health, but he averaged 58 in his brief test career, including 173 against Australia at Lord’s in 1930.
  6. Basil D’Oliveira (Worcestershire, England). Usually I reserve this position for a genuine all rounder, and based on his first class and test records D’Oliveira was a batter who bowled rather than a true all rounder. However, by the time he got the show what he could do on a stage worthy of his talents he was past his cricketing prime, being well into his 30s when he made his FC debut, and officially 35 but actually probably older by the time the test call came, and in the cricket he played in his native land before moving to England he was a genuine all rounder, so here he is at number six in this line up.
  7. +Jeff Dujon (West Indies). An elegant, attack minded, middle order batter good enough to score four test centuries, and superb at keeping to fast bowling. There is, due to his prime coinciding with the era of West Indies speed quartets, a question mark over how we would have handled keeping to top class spin, but his athleticism was such that I am prepared to believe he would have coped without undue difficulty.
  8. Alan Davidson (Australia). A demon left arm bowler, generally operating at pace but capable of turning his hand to spin at need, a fielder of such brilliance that he earned the nickname ‘the claw’ and a useful lower order batter. 186 test wickets at 20.53 tells its own story about how good he was.
  9. Wayne Daniel (Middlesex, West Indies). He never quite established himself at test level, but he was sensational for Middlesex. West Indies were spoilt for fast bowling options when he was in his prime, and he was far from the only top notch pacer not play as much at the very highest level as he ought to have done.
  10. Allan Donald (Warwickshire, South Africa). South Africa’s first great fast bowler on their return to the fold from sporting isolation, and probably still part of most people’s modern era South Africa pace trio (I would have him, Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada in these three slots). Although his decision to wait for SA to be readmitted to test cricket, rather than qualify by residence for England, meant a latish start at test level he still took 330 wickets in 72 test matches.
  11. *George Dennett (Gloucestershire). He did not get to play test cricket, because when he was in his pomp as a left arm spinner so too were Wilfred Rhodes and Colin Blythe. 401 FC matches yielded him 2,151 wickets at 19.82 a piece. I have named him as captain, believing that he would do the job well, although in his playing days the obsession with “amateur” captains meant he never actually had the job.

This XI has a strong top six, one of the all time great keeper batters, one of the greatest of all ‘bowlers who can bat’ and three superb specialist bowlers. A bowling attack of Davidson, Donald, Daniel and Dennett backed up by D’Oliveira should not have any trouble capturing 20 opposition wickets either.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Abraham Benjamin ‘AB’ De Villiers is without doubt the greatest player I have left out, and had I been picking a limited overs side he would have definitely have been in there. As it is I had strong positive reasons for my selections of Donnelly, Duleepsinhji and D’Oliveira. Ted Dexter was also close to selection, but his natural slot is number three and I would laugh outright if anyone suggested that he was a better than Rahul Dravid. Many Indians would have named Mahendra Singh Dhoni as both keeper and captain, but I considered my batting to be deep enough to enable the selection of the best keeper, and I consider Dujon to be that. Once again, had I been picking with white ball in mind, Dhoni would have been in the XI. Quinton de Kock will feature later in this series – the letter Q is so tough that a certain amount of trickery is required. Johnny Douglas would be some people’s pick for the all rounders slot that I gave to D’Oliveira. There might have been a second West Indian speedster in the line up, but I preferred picking a spinner, Dennett, rather than going for an all out pace battery with Winston Davis in the line up. Joe Denly might have had the slot I awarded to Chris Dent, but unlike Dent he did appear at test level and an average of precisely 30, while it places him above his county colleague Crawley, also confirms him as not quite good enough. Mark Davies, formerly of Durham, is a ‘what might have been’ – his career was ruined by injuries, but he did enough while not injured to finish with an FC bowling average of 22. Similarly, Alonzo Drake, who was sensational for Yorkshire as a left arm spinner and middle order batter in the run up to WWI, but died before FC cricket resumed in 1919, didn’t quite have a weight enough record to claim a place. I mentioned Dunkley while covering England Women’s triumph of last night, and a second spinner who would contrast with Dennett would be off spinner Charlie Dean, beginning to make a name for herself in the England women’s side. A combination of injuries and the selectorial caprices of the 1980s meant that Graham Dilley was short of qualifying for a pace bowling slot.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Double L v Double T

An ‘all time XI’ post that continues the double letter theme from a couple of days ago. A team of players whose surnames contain a double L are pitted against a team of players whose name contains a double T.

After my recent post about cricketers with double letters in their names I am exploring the theme further with a team of players all of whom have a double L in their surnames taking on a team of players all of whom have a double T in their surnames.

TEAM DOUBLE L

  1. Roy Marshall – right handed opening batter. He was part of the 1950 West Indies team that toured England, and there were those who reckoned that in terms of pure talent he was the equal of any of the three Ws. However, his main distinction was a brilliant overseas player for Hampshire, including playing a key role in their first ever County Championship.
  2. Bill Woodfull – right handed opening batter. He averaged 65 in first class cricket, 46 in test cricket. He once went two whole years without being out ‘bowled’ at all. Although both were right handers he represents a good contrast to Marshall as he was a blocker, while Marshall preferred a more flamboyant approach.
  3. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. A test average of 60.97, including a highest score of 274.
  4. Jacques Kallis – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. A man who averaged over 50 with the bat and in the low 30s with the ball. Just as Woodfull was a blocker to accompany Marshall the hitter, so Kallis’ approach is much more staid than was that of Pollock.
  5. *Clive Lloyd – left hander batter, captain. 7,515 test runs for the Guyanese giant. He scored the joint second fastest first class double hundred ever, reaching that mark in precisely 120 minutes v Glamorgan, thereby equalling Gilbert Jessop who reached 200 in the same length of time for Gloucestershire v Sussex. He made a century in the final of the first ever men’s cricket world cup (the women had taken their bow in this format two years previously).
  6. Keith Miller – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, occasional off spinner. Australia’s greatest ever all rounder, and one the two individuals in whose honour the Compton-Miller medal was named. He once took a seven-for in his secondary bowling style, on a Brisbane pitch (uncovered in those days) that had been turned into a mud heap by heavy overnight rain.
  7. Ray Lindwall – right arm fast bowler, right handed batter. He scored two test centuries with his batting, while has bowling record was outstanding.
  8. +Don Tallon – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Rated by many of those who saw him (including Bradman) as the greatest of all keepers, and a capable batter.
  9. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. An all-time great of fast bowling.
  10. David Allen – off spinner. The Gloucestershire bowler took his first class wickets (over 1,200 of them) at 23.64, and was unlucky that his prime years coincided with those of Titmus and Illingworth, which limited his test exposure. I opted for him over Illingworth because he was a slower bowler than Illingworth, contrasting nicely with my other front line spinner who was notably quick for a bowler of his type…
  11. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner. He bowled his leg breaks at a briskish medium pace and had a well concealed googly in his armoury. Although the pair famously did not get on Bradman rated O’Reilly high enough to include him in his all time World XI, covered in detail by Roland Perry in “Bradman’s Best”.

This team has a stellar top five, a legendary all rounder at six, a great bowling all rounder at seven, an all-time great keeper who could also bat at eight and three quality bowlers to round out the order. Only David Allen, included for reasons of balance (apologies Mr D K Lillee, four fast bowlers plus Kallis with only O’Reilly as a spin option just doesn’t look right). could be considered other than great. Another fast bowler who could not be accommodated on similar grounds was big Bob Willis. Phil Tufnell might have had the second spinner’s berth, but his successes were too sporadic to make him eligible as far as I am concerned.

TEAM DOUBLE T

  1. *Len Hutton – right handed opening batter, captain. Take a look at his outstanding record and then consider that he missed six years of his prime due to World War II, from which he also emerged with one arm shorter than the other following an accident.
  2. Charlie Barnett – right handed opening batter. Again combining a blocker and a hitter for our opening pair. In the Trent Bridge test of 1938 he was 98 not out by lunch on the first day, opening with Hutton. There is a story that a spectator once arrived a few minutes late a Bristol and saw that one over had gone and the score was 20-1 – Barnett had hit five fours and then been dismissed by the sixth ball!
  3. Jonathan Trott – right handed batter. From 2010 to 2012 he was a superb no3, including scoring two centuries in an Ashes series in Australia, the first to help save the first match at the Gabba and the second to bury Australia at the MCG after the hosts were dismissed for 98 on the opening day.
  4. Mike Gatting – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer. A combination of a very slow start at international level and the fact that he played on for too long at the end makes his test record look ordinary, but for the second half of the 1980s he was superb at that level.
  5. George Ulyett – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. A test best score of 149, and he also had a seven-for at that level.
  6. Albert Trott – right handed batter, right arm slow bowler. He made a sensational start to his test career, taking 8-43 in one innings of his debut match and also scoring 110 undefeated runs in his own two batting innings (38* and 72*). He also featured prominently in his second test match, but was surprisingly overlooked for the 1896 tour of England captained by his brother Harry. He travelled over anyway, signed for Middlesex, and was a few years the best all rounder in the game. Even after his star had faded he had occasional spectacular moments, such as the devastating spell in his benefit match where in a short space of time he took four wickets in four balls and followed up with another hat trick to finish things, unfortunately to the detriment of his financial well being. He played three times for England against South Africa, and his test record from five matches played shows a batting average of 38 and a bowling average of 15 (26 wickets, including two five fors, but no ten wicket match).
  7. +Alan Knott – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of the greatest of all glovemen and he tended to score his runs when they were most needed.
  8. Tom Emmett – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. At a time when such were much scarcer than today he was good enough with the bat to score a first class hundred, and his averages at that level are the right way round – 14.84 with the bat and 13.55 with the ball. Test cricket came too late for him (he was already 35 when he played in the first ever test match, the first of seven such appearances).
  9. Albert ‘Tibby’ Cotter – right arm fast bowler. Had a fine record for Australia in the first decade of the 20th century.
  10. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. 216 test wickets in 37 matches at that level, and more first class wickets (1,424) than anyone else who never played in the County Championship.
  11. George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. 2,151 first class wickets at 19.82 and never played for his country. Against Northamptonshire in 1907 he had match figures of 15-21, only to see rain save his opponents in the end. Gloucesterhsire scored 60 all out in the first innings, Northants then crumbled for just 12, Dennett 8-9, Jessop 2-3, Gloucestershire then made 88 at the second attempt, and set 137 to win Northants were 40-7, Dennett 7-12, when the rain made its final decisive intervention.

This side has depth in batting, with everyone down to Emmett at eight capable of making a significant contribution, a superb bowling attack with Emmett, Cotter and Ulyett to bowl fast, and Grimmett and Dennett two great spinners.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have a fine collection of photos for you, including swans demonstrating synchronized diving:

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet V

Today’s ‘all time XI’ cricket post continues the alphabetic progression theme. Also features a mathematical teaser and lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XI cricket post. We continue the alphabetic progression theme. Yesterday’s second XI ended with a J, so we start with an opening batter whose name begins with K.

SHAUN UDAL’S XI

  1. Don Kenyon – right handed opening batter. A consistent and reliable opener for Worcestershire over a number of years.
  2. David Lloyd – left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. After a distinguished career for Lancashire and nine appearances in test matches he went to become a highly entertaining commentator and writer, and a good coach.
  3. Roy Marshall – right handed batter. He usually opened, mainly for Hampshire. Regular openers often fare well at number three – Mark Butcher and Michael Vaughan are two who did so for England.
  4. Brendan Nash – right handed batter. Australian born, but played for the West Indies.
  5. Simon O’Donnell – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Toured England in 1985 as a promising young all rounder, but did not quite make the grade at test level (he was a casualty of a rebuilding effort that paid dramatic fruit starting in 1989 with an Ashes win in England and going on to become a dominant international force). He finished his first class career with a first class batting average of 39 and a bowling average of 37.
  6. Ellyse Perry – right handed batter, right arm fast medium.
  7. +Quinn Sunde – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Finding Qs to fit the bill calls for some flexibility. He is only just 19 and has not yet played first class cricket, but has played for NZ U-19.
  8. Graham Rose – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. A Somerset stalwart, who did not do quite enough to attract the attention of the England selectors. I saw him in  action in 1996 at Swansea, and he took four cheap wickets in a Glamorgan total of 310 in the first innings. Somerset took a small lead, with Lathwell playing fluently early in their innings and Hayhurst and Bowler providing grittier efforts, while Steve Watkin had a very similar analysis to Rose’s. Somerset’s advantage was insufficient – Robert Croft spun them to defeat on the final day. His averages are just the right way round, and hos bowling average is just less than 30.
  9. Brian Statham – right arm fast bowler. 252 test wickets at 24 each, mainly from the wrong end – for Lancashire when he had the choice of ends he took his wickets at just 16 a piece. Like his successor as Lancashire and England new ball bowler, James Anderson, he batted left handed, occasionally playing very useful innings – in one of the 1954-5 Ashes matches he was involved in a crucial partnership in England’s first innings – the last wicket stand between him and Johnny Wardle account for 43 of a total of 154, and England won that game by 38 runs. Also, at a time when quite a few of his colleagues had to be ‘hidden’ in the field he was excellent in that department as well.
  10. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. The other half of that 1954-5 Ashes winning new ball pairing. His was a brief but spectacular career – he had other strings to his bow, which meant that he did not have worry about prolonging his career, and by the end of the 1950s he was finished as a professional.
  11. *Shaun Udal – off spinner, captain. A long career, mainly for Hampshire, before moving to Middlesex for his last few years. He did get to play for England but did not fare very well at the highest level.

This team has a decent top four, one good and one great all rounder, a wicket keeper and a bowling foursome that looks pretty good. It is deficient in the spin department – the only back up available for Udal’s off spin is Lloyd’s part time left arm spin.

GEORGE DENNETT’S XI

  1. Joe Vine – right handed batter, leg spinner. The role he played for Sussex for many years, and briefly for England. Sussex in that period were a magnificent batting side, but somewhat light on bowlers, so they never seriously threatened in the county championship – there is a vast mass of evidence to support the contention that if you are going to a little short in either of these departments it is better to be light in batting – good bowlers do not need absolutely huge totals to defend, whereas unless you get lucky with opposition declarations you cannot win games without taking 20 wickets. This is why, when I started this series with a look at the 18 first class counties and restricted myself to one overseas player per county that overseas choice was nearly always a bowler, occasionally an all rounder and almost never a pure batter.
  2. Benjamin Wilson – right handed opening batter. He was Wilfred Rhodes’ most regular Yorkshire opening partner in the years immediately before World War 1. He was sometimes criticized for taking an overly defensive approach to his innings (I have an idea that there was a more recent Yorkshire opener who also got that kind of criticism!).
  3. Xavier Marshall – right handed batter. A man who has played for two international sides – the West Indies where he was born and the USA. X, like Q, calls for a wee bit of flexibility.
  4. Mohammad Yousuf – right handed batter. After a slightly suspect top three we come to someone who averaged over 50 in his test career. He finished under something of a cloud (and I saw every ball of that shocking match in Sydney which he basically handed to Australia after Pakistan had taken a first innings lead of 200). First, with Hussey and tail ender Siddle resuming overnight and Australia only 74 to the good he failed to set attacking fields, and his tactics allowed Australia to reach lunch with no further loss. Then, with Pakistan needing 176, when it should have been under 100, he surrendered his own wicket to an appalling stroke, leaving his side 54-4 and with no experienced front line batters left.
  5. Bas Zuiderent – right handed batter. England’s performance in the 1996 World Cup was one of their most disgraceful ever in any tournament, on-field incompetence being matched by bad behaviour off it (skipper Atherton, who should have been nowhere near a limited overs side in any case,  called one reporter who was having difficulty phrasing a question in what was after all not his first language a buffoon, and there were other cringeworthy stories as well). England reached the quarter finals only because they had been put in a group with two non-test playing nations, Holland and the United Arab Emirates, the only two teams they beat in that competition (justice was done in the quarter-final when they were marmalised by Sri Lanka). The Holland win was decidedly unconving, with Zuiderent, then only 18, and Van Noortwijk plundering a century stand together – it was only Van Noortwijk’s dismissal to a boundary catch that finally put England in control. Zuiderent’s share of the spoils was a merry 54. He did not go on to great things after that start, but his innings that day, which garnered more plaudits than Hick’s century for England had, gets him his place as a middle order batter beginning with Z.
  6. +Tim Ambrose – right handed batter, wicket keeper. He made a century on test debut, but never fully established himself. For Sussex and then Warwickshire he was a consistent run getter in the middle of the order and a superb wicket keeper.
  7. Katherine Brunt – right arm medium fast bowler, right handed batter. She began as a pure bowler, but although not doing so as effectively as Ellyse Perry who also began down the order she has developed her batting to a level that allows her to be described as an all rounder.
  8. Tom Cartwright – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. The obverse of Brunt in terms of career development – he started as mainly a batter, and actually scored a first class double century playing as such, before dropping down the order because his bowling was more valuable to the side than his batting. He started with Warwickshire and moved to Somerset. He became so metronomically accurate that it is claimed that at the end of a season at Taunton there would be a worn patch two feet long and six inches wide at one end, where he had been lading the ball time after time through the season. He played a walk-on role (more accurately walk-off) in the D’Oliveira affair – he was initially selected in the 1968-9 tour party to South Africa, while D’Oliveira to general consternation was left out. Cartwright then withdrew citing injury, but as he later admitted, actually because he did not wish to go to South Africa. His replacement was D’Oliveira, mainly a batter, and Balthazar Johannes Vorster, then South African president, proceeded to state that D’Oliveira would not be accepted (attempts had earlier been made to bribe D’Oliveira, as documented by Peter Oborne in his book “Basil D’Oliveira”), and the tour was promptly cancelled. England and South Africa next went head to head in 1994, and a visit by Bradman to South Africa in which he had a face to face meeting with Vorster, and the latter, erroneously feeling safe, gave vent to some unvarnished racism led to the final isolation of apartheid South Africa.
  9. *George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. When cricinfo tweeted yesterday asking for people’s suggestions for the best player never to have played test cricket this man was mine. 2,151 wickets at 19.82 each in first class cricket, mainly for Gloucestershire, and never an England call up. This is because when he was in his pomp first Wilfred Rhodes and then Colin Blythe (2,503 first class wickets at 16) were ahead of him in the pecking order of left arm spinners, and Frank Woolley, worth his place as a batter anyway, also bowled left arm orthodox spin. Similarly, when I named my Gloucestershire all-time XI (second post in this series), Charlie Parker, third leading wicket taker in first class history got the left arm spinner’s position, with the off-spin of Tom Goddard (no 5 on the all time first class wicket taking list with 2,979) in support. The mores of his time prevented it from even being a consideration then, but I have named him as captain of this team, a job I think he would have done well.
  10. Fidel Edwards – right arm fast bowler. A genuinely fast bowler for the West Indies, at a time when they as a side were struggling. His tendency to waywardness is partially addressed by the fact that the support pace bowlers, Cartwright and Brunt are both noted for accuracy.
  11. Chuck Fleetwood-Smith – left arm wrist spinner. He was the reason for Denis Compton choosing this most difficult type of bowling when he decided to add a second string to his bow. He was often expensive, but always capable of bowling the wicket taking ball.

This team has a respectable top order, a quality keeper who can bat well in the middle od the order, and five players selected principally for their bowling, although two of them could definitely make significant contributions with the bat. There is not a front line off spinner, but Dennett, Fleetwood-Smith and Vine are a fine and varied trio of spinners, while the presence of Brunt and Cartwright should enable Edwards ton be used in short bursts.

THE CONTEST

Shaun Udal’s XI are somewhat stronger in batting (if only because they bat deeper)  than George Dennett’s XI, but their bowling attack is not as well balanced. I would expect George Dennett’s XI to prevail, and would be absolutely certain that they would do so on a turner, as Udal backed by Lloyd’s part time stuff hardly compares with Dennettt, Fleetwood-Smith and Vine.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

This problem came up on brilliant.org today:

Octagons

The original question has multiple choice answers, but I am not offering that. I will offer you a gentle hint – there are three possible answers to this question. In tomorrow’s post I will include an official solution and an explanation of my own ‘method’.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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TTA V
The teams in tabulated form