An all time XI picked to play in the style of Ben Stokes’ England test team and a large photo gallery, including a new bird sighting.
Welcome to my latest offering. I am studiously avoiding paying any attention whatsoever to events in London today, and this sentence will be the only hint of anything to do with those events you get in this blog. Today I select an all time XI that I would trust to play cricket with the same approach as Ben Stokes’ current England test side. I am following my “county” rules in terms of selection – one overseas player allowed, the rest English.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
*WG Grace (right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types through his career, captain). A batter who always looked to score runs and scored huge numbers of them, his approach to captaincy was also fundamentally attacking.
Lionel Palairet (right handed opening batter). A dashing opening batter who scored 10o+ runs in a morning session on five separate occasions in 1901, one of them against that years champions Yorkshire when Somerset trailed by 238 on first innings and came back to win by 279 runs.
Frank Woolley (left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, ace slip fielder). The only cricketer ever to score 10,000+ FC runs, take 1,000+ FC wickets and pouch 1,000+ FC catches, and noted for feats of fast scoring with the bat.
Denis Compton (right handed batter, occasional left arm wrist spinner). A top drawer entertainer with a magnificent record.
Garry Sobers (left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, ace fielder). There was really only one candidate for the overseas player in an XI of this nature – the most complete player there has ever been, and very attacking by inclination.
+Les Ames (right handed batter, wicket keeper). He won the Lawrence trophy for the fastest first class century of the season twice in the first three years of its existence.
Gilbert Jessop (right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, ace fielder). He scored 53 first class hundreds, yet only once did he bat for more than three hours in a single innings, for a score of 240. He still has the record for the fastest test century by an England batter, though there have been several recent challenges.
Arthur Wellard (right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter). In 1935 he hit 66 sixes in the first class season, a record that stood for half a century. A quarter of his 12,000 FC runs came in sixes, and he was a good enough bowler to set the Somerset record for most first class wickets in a season.
Jim Laker (off spinner, right handed lower order batter). With Woolley, Sobers and Compton able to cover every variety of left arm spin and the next player in the order famed for bowling what was effectively a quick leg break I felt that an off spinner was called for, and Laker was clearly the answer.
Syd Barnes (right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter). Probably the greatest bowler there has ever been, a must pick.
William Mycroft (left arm fast bowler, right handed tail end batter). My envisaged new ball partner for Barnes, he just missed out on the start of test cricket, being 35 years old when the inaugural such match was played, though he had had a fine season in 1876. He took over 800 first class wickets at 12 a piece.
This squad has a powerful batting line up, with all of the top seven save Palairet (two caps in 1902) test match regulars, and the only non-bowlers are keeper Ames and Palairet, though Compton would be unlikely to be called on for many overs in this line up. The bowling attack is richly varied, and that Barnes was well suited to sharing the new ball with a left arm pacer is proven by the great success he had in the 1911-12 Ashes when opening the bowling with Frank Foster, just such a bowler. I would expect this side to score big totals at a rapid rate and not to have any problems taking 20 opposition wickets.
Of course there are hundreds of potential qualifiers for this XI. My biggest regret was not being able to accommodate an under arm bowler – there were three outstanding candidates, David Harris, the first authentically great bowler, Digby Jephson who might have had Wellard’s slot and George Simpson-Hayward, the last of the breed to play at test level. If you want to suggest other players go ahead – as I have said there are many possibles, but do consider how your choices would affect the balance of the side.
I have a fine photo gallery, including a new bird sighting – I saw a pair of shelduck where the Nar flows into the Great Ouse while out walking this morning. Also, I will probably not get a post up tomorrow as I will be out for most of the day since the Metronomes are playing at Broxbourne. Now for those photos…
A combined Gloucestershire/ Sussex all time XI and a bumper photo gallery.
It is the final day of another round of county championship matches and so I am picking a combined all time XI for the two teams involved in the game I am focussing on. In this case with only two matches still in progress and the game between Glamorgan and Leicestershire a stone-cold certainty to end in draw that means Gloucestershire and Sussex (also highly likely to end in a draw but there is an outside chance of a Sussex win). I also have a splendid photo gallery to share with you.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
*WG Grace (Gloucestershire, right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types, captain). An absolute must, both as player and as captain.
CB Fry (Sussex, right handed opening batter). Managing to average 50 with the bat over the course of a very long first class career and scoring 94 FC centuries is all the more remarkable given how much else he did besides playing cricket – he never visited Australia as a player, and general reckoning is that he would have been an even bigger scorer there than he was at home. He and WG opened together for England in what turned out to be WG’s last test match, the first of the 1899 Ashes.
Wally Hammond (Gloucestershire, right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, ace slip fielder). A truly amazing career record, especially given that he lost a season to bureaucratic malice (on the part of the ignoble Lord Harris who had discovered that by birth Hammond belonged to Harris’ own Kent), another to illness and six to WWII. He still scored over 50,000 FC runs including the third most FC tons of anyone, 167.
KS Ranjitsinhji (Sussex, right handed batter). The first of two members of the ruling family of Nawanagar to feature in this line up. He was the first ever to score 3,000 runs in first class matches in a single season.
KS Duleepsinhji (Sussex, right handed batter). Nephew of ‘Ranji’ and according some an even finer batter than his uncle had been. For many years he held the Sussex scoring record with 333.
Mike Procter (Gloucestershire, right handed batter, right arm fast bowler). One of the greatest of all all rounders and my choice for the overseas slot.
Gilbert Jessop (Gloucestershire, right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, outstanding fielder). His approach to batting makes him a perfect fit for number seven in a very strong line up.
+Jack Russell (Gloucestershire, wicket keeper, left handed batter). One of the greatest of all wicket keepers and a decent batter to boot.
Maurice Tate (Sussex, right arm fast medium, right handed batter). One of the greatest of all seamers and a good enough bat to have achieved the season’s double of 1,000 runs and 200 wickets in first class matches three times in a row (the only other examples of this type of double being Albert Trott’s two and George Hirst’s double double of 1906).
Tom Goddard (Gloucestershire, off spinner, right handed tail end batter). The fifth leading wicket taker in first class cricket, with 2,979 scalps, all the more remarkable given that he started as a fast bowler and took time out to remodel his action and come back as spinner, and his retirement was hastened by an attack of pleurisy.
Charlie Parker (Gloucestershire, left arm orthodox spinner, left handed tail end batter). The third leading wicket taker in first class history with 3,278 scalps, yet he only got to play one test match. In his benefit match he hit the stumps with each of five successive deliveries, but the second of them was called a no-ball.
This side has an incredibly powerful batting line up, and a superb bowling line up as well – I reckon that between Parker, Goddard, Tate, Grace, Jessop, Procter and Hammond there are about 15,000 FC wickets, and save for the absence of an accredited leg spinner they have all bases covered.
I had two great fast bowling all rounders available for the overseas slot, Imran Khan of Sussex being the other. John Langridge was a candidate for the second openers slot that I gave to Fry, while selecting Joe Vine in that position while somewhat weakening the batting would have given me a leg spin option.
Ted Dexter of Sussex was a fine number three, and like my actual choice Hammond, was also a useful bowler at somewhat quicker than medium pace, but there is no serious question as to who was the better batter.
Another way to have got a leg spinner in would have been to give Charles Townsend of Gloucestershire, the second cricketer after WG Grace to achieve the 2,000 runs/ 100 wickets double in a first class season, the number seven slot that I assigned to Jessop, but I felt that Jessop’s claim was the stronger.
The best home grown fast bowler I left out was John Snow of Sussex, but I wanted the two spinners and felt Tate offered more variation in the attack than Snow did. Also Snow was not exactly enthusiastic about county cricket, rarely stirring himself to bowl at above medium pace at that level – he needed the buzz of test cricket to really get the juices flowing. Courtney Walsh of Gloucestershire was great fast bowler and utterly whole hearted in county cricket, but I felt that a fast bowling all rounder was a better choice as overseas player than a specialist (and I am pretty sure that not even Walsh himself would put him anywhere other than number 11 in the order). Oliver Edward Robinson (Sussex), a tall right arm fast medium bowler, is establishing himself as one of the finest of contemporary English bowlers, but at the moment he does not dislodge Tate.
The two spinners picked themselves, leaving another great left armer, George Dennett of Gloucestershire, yet again unlucky to miss out. With the batting strength available to me I had no need to compromise at all on keeping standards, so neither James M Parks nor Matt Prior, both of Sussex, were ever candidates in my mind.
11 of the greatest test matches that I know about only at second hand – I may have watched highlights of them, read about them or both of the foregoing, but I did not witness them live.
This is a follow up to my earlier post about great test matches I did get to witness. These are matches I have read about and/or witnessed highlights of but did not get to follow live at the time. The matches are listed ibn chronological rather than ranking order, and to set the tone there is match not of test status as an hors d’oeuvre.
MCC V AUSTRALIA, LORD’S 1878 – A WARNING SHOT
The Australians had had a rough start to their tour of England in what was a very wet summer. When they arrived at Lord’s to take on the MCC few gave them much of a chance. MCC were fielding a very respectable side, with the mighty WG Grace to the fore. MCC batted first, and Frank Allan, a graceful left armer dubbed ‘bowler of the century’ in the run up to the tour shared the new ball with Harry Boyle, a medium pacer of exceptional accuracy. WG Grace hit the first ball of the match for four, but was out to the second. Another wicket fell one run later, but then Albert ‘Monkey’ Hornby and Arthur Ridley shared what turn out to be the largest partnership of the match. The moment that tilted this game towards being a historic one was when Frederick Robert Spofforth was called upon to bowl in place of Allan. Spofforth destroyed the MCC middle and lower order with sheer pace, a high water mark of 27-2 becoming 33 all out. Spofforth had taken 6-4 for the innings. The Nottinghamshire pair of Alfred Shaw (right arm slow/ medium) and Fred Morley (left arm fast) took the new ball for MCC. Australia fared little better than the home side, limping to 41 all out, with Shaw following the general pattern of his career by bowling considerably more overs than he conceded runs. For the second MCC innings Spofforth was given the new ball alongside Boyle, and MCC were rolled for a paltry 19, Boyle taking 6-3 and Spofforth 4-16. Charles Bannerman fell early in the fourth innings, but Billy Midwinter and Tom Horan saw Australia to a nine wicket win. The match was over on the same day it started, the thick end of a century before games with that intention would become a regular thing in top level cricket, and the aggregate of 105 runs remains the smallest ever for an FC match with a definite result. This tour did not feature any test matches, but the next visit by Australia in 1880 did, England winning a hastily organized match in September of that year by five wickets.
ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA, THE OVAL 1882: ASHES BORN
Unlike its predecessor in 1880 this match was planned when the tour itinerary was created. Albert ‘Monkey’ Hornby captained England, a mistake, espeically given that Spofforth, the leading Australian bowler, had a hex on him (if they weren’t yet prepared to appoint WG Grace who would have been the best choice then Lord Harris would have done). Rather than Hornby, EM Grace should have been the other opener for England (as he was in 1880, when he and WG put on 91 together in the first innings). However, all seemed rosy when Australia were dispatched for 63 in their first innings, and England responded with 101, Yorkshireman George Ulyett top scoring with 26. Hugh Massie now played a crucial innings for Australia, scoring 55 of the first 66 runs in their second innings and propelling them into credit with only one wicket down. Once he was out there was little more to the Australian innings, though Murdoch batted through such of it as there was to finish on 29* in a score of 122. The single most significant moment of the innings was the dismissal of Sammy Jones, who left his crease to pat down the pitch with the ball not officially dead. Grace, fielding at point, ran him out, a move which provoked Spofforth to absolute fury. While England were preparing to chase 85 to win Spofforth was telling his team mates “this thing can be done”. Grace and Hornby put on 15 for the first wicket, but then Hornby and Richard Barlow, also of Lancashire, were both out at that score. Grace and Ulyett shared a fine partnership, but Ulyett was dislodged with the score at 51, and two runs later, Grace, only the second player in the game to record a score of above 30, was dislodged for 32, making it 53-4. It was at this juncture that things turned against England. Lyttelton and Lucas, paralysed by nerves, could barely score, and skipper Hornby started panicking and messed with his batting order. When Lyttelton was dismissed to make it 66-5 the panic really set in, Hornby holding CT Studd, scorer of two centuries against the Aussies that season, back in the order until the eighth wicket fell. Billy Barnes was dismissed shortly after Studd’s arrival to make it 75-9, and Peate had three balls to survive from Harry Boyle before the end of the over. He scored two off the first of these, but a wild swing at the second met fresh air, while the ball clattered against his stumps. England 77 all out, and beaten by seven runs. Studd, with his two centuries against the Aussies earlier that season, was 0* (0), not the least ridiculous feature of this ridiculous match.
AUSTRALIA V ENGLAND, SCG 1894: 586 BATTING FIRST…
England were captained by Andrew Stoddart, Australia had entrusted veteran wicket keeper Blackham (who had played the first test match of all in 1877) with the captaincy. Blackham won the toss and batted. Tom Richardson the great Surrey fast bowler claimed three early wickets, but the then George Giffen and Frank Iredale joined forces. Their stand, apparently helped by some clumsy keeping on the part of Leslie Gay, yielded 171 runs, and then after Iredale’s dismissal Syd Gregory joined the fray, adding a further 139 with Giffen before the latter fell for 161 just before the end of day one. Australia closed on 346-5. On day two Syd Gregory completed a double century, only the second ever achieved in test cricket, and with Blackham scoring a test best 74 Australia reached 586.
England were all out for 325 in their first innings, Albert Ward top scoring with 75. They were made to follow on, and when the sixth wicket went down at 296, with the lead still only 35 Australia still looked well place. However, Francis Ford and Johnny Briggs put on 89 together for the seventh wicket, and even the tail made contributions. England mustered 437 in this second innings, setting Australia 177 to win. Jack Lyons began breezily, hitting 25 in 15 minutes at the crease, but after he and Harry Trott were both out, Giffen opted to play safe, making sure he was still there for the following morning (tests in Australia were played to a finish in those days). Australia close on 113-2, needing just 64 the following morning, Darling 44*, Giffen 30*. Overnight it rained (pitches were uncovered in those days, and overnight rain, followed by strong Australian sun the following morning created what was known as a ‘sticky dog’), though England’s trump card in such circumstances, left arm spinner Bobby Peel, did not hear the rain following, as he had given the match up for lost and drowned his sorrows in emphatic fashion. The Australians certainly did realize that it had rained. Peel and fellow left arm spinner Johnny Briggs gradually tightened the screw on Australia, and the ninth wicket went down with Australia still 15 short. Blackham was last man in, nursing a cracked thumb, and the other remaining batter, Charlie McLeod did his best to protect the injured keeper, ultimately Blackham prodded a catch back to Peel and England had won by 10 runs, with Peel having innings figures of 6-67.
OLD TRAFFORD 1902 – ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA
A spat between chairman of selectors (Lord Hawke, Yorkshire) and captain (Archie MacLaren, Lancashire) led to an odd looking England side. MacLaren wanted Schofield Haigh, but Hawke would not release him. MacLaren in a fit of pique at this left another Yorkshireman, George Hirst, out on the morning of the match, handing a debut to 35 year old Fred Tate of Sussex.
Australia batted first, and by lunch they were 173-1 with Victor Trumper having reached three figures, the first ever to do so on the first morning of a test match. Post lunch England did better, but a rapid partnership between middle order left handers Clem Hill and Joe Darling (73 in 45 minutes) helped Australia to reach 299. England began poorly, but a big stand between FS Jackson and Len Braund, plus some further lower order support for Jackson (128) got England to 262. Australia in their second innings were 10-3 and should have been 16-4, but MacLaren had high-handedly refused to move Lionel Palairet, a fellow amateur, from square leg to the right hander to square leg to the left hander, sending Fred Tate (who fielded close to the bat for Sussex) out there instead. Tate dropped a chance offered by Darling, and the partnership added 46 further runs. Thereafter it was a procession and Australia mustered just 86 second time round, setting England 124 to win. At 92-3 England appeared to be cruising home, but then a collapse set in. When keeper Dick Lilley was brilliantly caught by Clem Hill, who ran 30 yards round the boundary and threw himself full length to make the catch, it was 116-9 and Fred Tate joined Wilfred Rhodes. Tate snicked a boundary off Jack Saunders to open his account, but then Saunders’ next ball kept fiendishly low and bowled the unfortunate Tate to give Australia victory by three runs.
THE OVAL 1902 – ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA: A REVERSAL
George Hirst and Gilbert Jessop returned for England after missing the match described above. Australia batted first and tallied 324, Hugh Trumble top scoring with64* and Monty Noble making 52. Trumble then turned to his more publicized ability, bowling unchanged through the England first innings, taking 8-65. England avoided the follow on only thanks to Hirst who scored 43 out of the last 54 runs of the innings. Australia at the second time of asking were all out for 121, setting England 263, which looked a massive total in those circumstances. It was looking even further distant by the time Saunders (four wickets) and Trumble (one) had reduced England to 48-5. At this point Gilbert Jessop joined FS Jackson and the match began to turn. Jackson fell for 49 with the score at 157, and George Hirst joined Jessop. This pair added 30 together in just eight minutes, Jessop completing three figures in 75 minutes and off his 76th ball, both still England records, though the latter has seemed under constant threat lately. Jessop fell for 104, making it 187-7, and still 76 needed from the last three wickets. However, Bill Lockwood stayed with Hirst while 27 of those were scored, and keeper Dick Lilley helped add a further 34, meaning that when fellow Yorkshireman Rhodes joined Hirst in the middle 15 were needed with one wicket standing. England inched their way towards the target, and finally Rhodes hit the winning single off Trumble. Trumble had scored 71 undefeated runs with the bat and captured 12 wickets, Hirst had 101 runs for once out and a first innings five-for but this is always called “Jessop’s Match”. Lionel Palairet gained two England caps – the Old Trafford and Oval tests of 1902.
MCG1907 – AUSTRALIA V ENGLAND – NEARLY A TIE
This was a match which swing back and forth but seemed settled in Australia’s favour when England were 209-8 in the final innings, needing 73 more to win. Joe Humphries was ninth out, with 39 still needed for the win, to an LBW which added fuel to the flames of a controversy – England had had several rough LBWs in that match, George Gunn being furious about the two given against him. Arthur Fielder, a fast bowler, but as he was to show both here and a little later for Kent when sharing a last wicket stand of 235 with Woolley no mug with the bat, joined Barnes in the middle. The last wicket pair chipped away at the target and eventually levelled the scores. Barnes then went for a winning run that Fielder was unsure about. Had the fielder, Gerry Hazlitt, kept his head and lobbed to the keeper test cricket would have seen its first ever tied match. As it was, Hazlitt panicked and shied wildly at the stumps, missing and allowing the completion of the winning run.
MCG 1928 – AUSTRALIA A ENGLAND – ASHES HELD
England had comfortably won the first two matches of the series, but although Hammond had already entered the record books by becoming the first to score two consecutive test double hundreds, with 200 in the first England innings, it looked long odds against a third win in a row when England set off in pursuit of a victory target of 332 on a pitch that had become so spiteful that opening batter Jack Hobbs reckoned it would be all over by the tea interval. As it turned out Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe, the other opener, were still both in residence by said interval, and midway through the evening, with the great pair still together Hobbs made a vital intervention, sending a message to the dressing room that if either opener fell that evening Jardine should be promoted to number three as his defence was more reliable than Hammond’s. Hobbs was the one to go, for 49 out of an opening stand of 105, and Jardine duly survived the remainder of the evening and England returned the following morning still only one down. Jardine contributed a crucial 33, Herbert Sutcliffe went on to 135, and although England had a bit of a stutter late on, George Geary, who had claimed the final wicket of the 1926 Ashes, smashed a four through mid-on to seal a three wicket win and with it retention of The Ashes.
OLD TRAFFORD 1956 – ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA
Good pitch which one side handled badly or spinners paradise made to order? England batting first ran up 459 in rapid time. Although Australia’s two recognized spinners, leg spinner Benaud and off spinner Ian Johnson claimed six scalps between them, they also leaked 274 runs while doing so.
Jim Laker, England’s off spinner, took the first two Aussie wickets, before Lock claimed the third, which opened the floodgates for Laker, who polished off the Aussie first innings with a spell of 7-8, giving him 9-37 in total. Regular rain interruptions and a fine defensive effort by Aussie opener Colin McDonald took the game into the final day. Eventually, with the second ball of his 52nd over, Laker trapped Maddocks LBW and Australia were all out for 205, beaten by an innings and 170 runs. Laker had all ten Aussie second innings wickets for 53, still the cheapest all ten in test cricket, and 19-90 in the match. The three other front line spinners had combined match figures of 7-380, an average of 54.29 per wicket, and earlier in the season, in the first innings of the match on a good Oval pitch Laker had recorded figures 10-88 from 46 overs against the Australians for Surrey. In all 58 of Laker’s first 100 Fc wickets of 1956 were Aussies, 46 in the Ashes series and 12 for Surrey in that tour match.
BRISBANE 1960 – AUSTRALIA V WEST INDIES
52 years after Gerry Hazlitt had failed to make the most of an opportunity to secure test cricket’s first tie Joe Solomon showed how to keep his head under pressure, executing two direct hit run outs in less than 15 minutes, first to dismiss Davidson (80), thereby giving his side a chance to save themselves, and then to seal the tie. Alan Davidson bestrode this match like a colossus, taking 5-135 in West Indies first innings 453, then scoring 44 of Australia’s reply of 505, then taking 6-87 as West Indies managed 284 second time round and finally scoring that 80 which so nearly won the match for Australia.
HEADINGLEY 1981 – ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA
This is proper script rejection stuff – not only did England record only the second ever victory by a side made to follow on, but one of the players who was key to achieving that result was not originally selected for the game and the other had been asked (albeit at most semi-seriously) if he wanted to play, having just stood down as captain (moments before he would have been sacked from that role). Australia scored 401-9 declared batting first, which was far more than they should have scored on that surface. John Dyson scored a very slow century, Kim Hughes made 89 and Graham Yallop 58, while Botham, recently resigned from the captaincy, claimed 6-95, his first five wicket haul since before taking up the reins of captaincy. England were 87-5 when Botham went in for his first innings, and a rapid 50 from him was the only highlight of their 174 all out. In the second innings they plummeted to 41-4 before Boycott and Willey added 64 for the fifth wicket. At 133 Boycott was pinned LBW, and two runs later keeper Bob Taylor departed. That brought Graham Dilley in to join Botham, and in 80 minutes the eighth wicket pair added 117, Dilley recording a maiden test 50, and Botham being well past his second 50 of the match. Chris Old helped the ninth wicket to raise a further 67, Botham racing past the 100 mark (87 balls to get there). Willis stayed long enough for a further 37 to accrue. England had totalled 356, a lead of 129, and Botham had scored 149*. The final morning was just underway. Approaching the lunch interval Australia were 56-1 and seemingly cruising towards their target of 130, when Bob Willis was put on to bowl at the Kirkstall Lane end. The first victim of one of the greatest spells of fast bowling in test history was Trevor Chappell, who in truth resembled a test match number three in name only, fending a bouncer through to Bob Taylor. Then came back to back wickets right on the stroke of lunch, Hughes well caught by Botham in the slips and Yallop superbly taken at short leg by Gatting. At lunch Australia were 58-4, and suddenly realizing that match wasn’t over just yet, while England went into lunch on a high. Old got one through Border’s defences early in the afternoon and it was 65-5. Dyson, who had one boundary off Willis post lunch took an a short ball from him and succeeded only in gloving it to the keeper to make it 68-6. Rod Marsh, the Aussie keeper, who had made a light-hearted bet on England when Ladbrokes were offering 500-1, took on another short ball from Willis, and Dilley at deep fine leg judged the catch superbly, being less than a foot inside the boundary when he completed it. That was 74-7, and one run later Lawson fell to mkae it 75-8. There was one final twist, as Lillee, who like Marsh had placed a bet on England at 500-1, helped Bright add 35 for the ninth wicket in four overs. Lillee then mistimed a drive at Willis and Gatting just managed to complete the catch, having to run in and dive forward to do so. Alderman came in at number 11, and was reprieved twice in one Botham over as Old at third slip put down catches. Willis summoned up enough energy for one final over, and with the first ball thereof he ripped a perfect yorker through Bright’s defences and Australia were all out for 111m giving England victory by 18 runs.
CHENNAI 1986: INDIA V AUSTRALIA – A TIE
Australia in the early to mid 1980s were a struggling outfit, but in this particular match they did a lot right, though not quite enough to win it. Dean Jones, in part due a vicious taunt from skipper Border, batted himself into a hospital bed, scoring 210 in eight hours at the crease on the first two days of the match, after which he had to put on a saline drip. Towards the end of the fifth day it looked like India were odds to complete their chase of 348, but Greg Matthews refused to give up, and eventually, with the scores level he trapped Maninder Singh LBW to secure test cricket’s second ever tie.
KOLKATA 2001: INDIA V AUSTRALIA – A VERY VERY SPECIAL TEST MATCH
Australia in the late 1990s and early 2000s were well nigh invincible, and the first two innings of this match did not suggest anything other than business as usual for Steve Waugh and his men, as they forced India to follow on. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid then produced a historic partnership, with Laxman going to a then Indian individual record test score of 281 and Dravid making 180. India declared their second innings at 657-7, setting Australia 384 to win. Australia, unsurprisingly dispirited, collapsed to 212 all out and defeat by 171 runs, the third (and to date) last test defeat suffered by a side enforcing the follow on. Australia have rarely chosen to enforce the follow on since then, preferring to build stupendous leads and then look to dismiss their opponents a second time. Myself I would still need a good reason to suggest not enforcing.
Time for my usual sign off (the gallery is smaller than usual – there is not as much to see in foul weather)…
Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I picked 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 created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Js currently occupy the spotlight and they have so far scored 26.5 points out of 50 (there was a mistake near the end of yesterday’s post).
THE Js V THE Ls
The Ls are stronger in all departments, though their advantage in batting is not huge. The Js have too many X-factor players for me to forecast a whitewash, so I score this Js 1.5, Ls 3.5.
THE Js V THE Ms
This is close in batting, but the Ms are well ahead on bowling. I score this one Js 1, Ms 4.
The Js comfortably outbat the Os, and also have the better pace/ seam attack, though O’Reilly ranks highest among the spinners on either side. Jackson outranks O’ Reilly as skipper. I score this one Js 4, Os 1.
THE Js V THE Ps
The Ps have the stronger batting and the better pace attack. The spin honours are split in my view, and I expect the Ps to win this quite easily: Js 1, Ps 4.
THE Js PROGRESS REPORT
The Js have scored 11.5 out of 25 today, moving them up to 38 out of 75, 50.67% overall.
Continuing my analysis of how the all time XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.
Welcome to the latest instalment in my series analysing how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. It is a few days since I last blogged – a combination of work, volunteering and a family get together in the lake district have swallowed all my time over the last few days. The Es XI currently occupy the spotlight and they have 9 of a possible 25 points going into this post.
THE Es V THE Gs
The Gs have the stronger opening pair. Bill Edrich and Grace are both ill served by their test records, Edrich because he lost six of his prime years to WWII and Grace because he was already 32 by the time he got the opportunity to play at test level, and because test pitches were a lot less easy to bat on than they are these days. I give the verdict to Grace. Gower and Graveney clearly outpoint G Emmett and Edwards. Gilchrist wins the batting part of his match up handsomely, but Evans was the finer keeper, though not by enough to make up for the batting gulf. Endean is outbatted by Jack Gregory, and Gregory is undoubtedly clear of Bill Edrich as a bowling option. The Gs undoubtedly also have the better bowling unit as a whole, though T Emmett’s left arm gives the Es extra variety. The Gs are a long way ahead: Es 1, Gs 4.
THE Es V THE Hs
The Hs dominate this one completely. Es 0, Hs 5.
THE Es V THE Is
The Es have much the better batting, with only Iredale and Imtiaz Ahmed clearly winning their match ups for the Is in that area. Tom Emmett and Gideon Elliott have to be considered miles better than Islam and Ireland as a new ball pairing, and while Ironmonger ranks first among the slower bowlers in this contest, for my money Illingworth ranks fourth. I score this one Es 4, Is 1.
THE Es V THE Js
The Js have the better opening contest, especially given that they have a right/ left combo, compared to the Es two left handers. The Js absolutely boss the 3,4 and 5 slots. They also bat deeper than the Es, with Johnson having a test ton to his name. The Js also have greater bowling depth. Es 1, Js 4.
THE Es V THE Ks
Barring the opening pair, where the Es have a small advantage, the Ks boss this one. The Es have two redeeming features bowling wise: only they have left arm pace, with T Emmett, and their slower bowlers, Ecclestone and Evans are a more varied combination than R Khan and Kumble. As against that the Es barely even have five bowling options (after their front four Bill Edrich is the best remaining option), while the Ks have Kallis as a SIXTH bowling option should their front five be struggling. Es 0, Ks 5.
THE Es SO FAR
The Es have scored six of a possible 25 points today, moving them up to 15 of a possible 50, 30%.
Today’s gallery includes some shots from King’s Lynn and some I took while travelling north on Saturday…
Continuing my all time XIs theme with a look at the letter J.
I continue the all-time XIs theme with a team comprising players whose surnames begin with J.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka). Opening batter, left arm spinner and good fielder. His test match highlights include a high score of 340 and an innings of 213 against England at The Oval that combined with Muralidaran’s 16 wickets in the match to give SL their first victory in England. In ODI cricket (T20 only became a thing after his prime cricketing years) he completely redefined the role of an opener, his explosive performances in that role playing a large part in winning his country the 1996 World Cup.
Archie Jackson (Australia). He was a contemporary of Donald Bradman, and many who saw both rising through the ranks rated him the finer prospect. Ill health ruined his career – he died of tuberculosis at the tender age of 23, but an innings of 164 on test debut as a 19 year old provided some hard fact to reinforce the credentials he had established as a youngster.
Dean Jones (Derbyshire, Australia). A combative character, he came of age as a cricket during the first innings of what proved to be only the second tied test match in history (36 years on there have still only been two) at Chennai in 1986. Jones in that innings scored 210, batting almost eight hours, and at the end of it he had to be taken to hospital and put on a saline drip. Later, during the 1986-7 Ashes he played an innings of 184, albeit aided by being given not out when on just 5. He also produced several valuable knocks in the 1989 Ashes, though not coming close to the productivity in that series of Mark Taylor or Steve Waugh.
Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka). Possessor of the highest test innings by a right hander (374 versus South Africa), and without question in the top two of all time Sri Lankan test batters (Sangakkara being the other).
*Stanley Jackson (Yorkshire, England). In 1905 he captained England to a decisive Ashes victory, topping both the batting and bowling averages, winning all five tosses and leading England to wins in both of the matches to reach definite conclusions. He scored five test centuries, all in home matches against the Aussies (he was an amateur, and business commitments always prevented him from touring). In 1902 he and George Hirst joined forces with the ball for Yorkshire to rout the touring Aussies for 23. His polished 49 at The Oval in the last test of that year’s Ashes enabled Jessop to begin England’s revival from 48-5 in pursuit of 263.
+Amy Jones (England). A stellar keeper batter, a worthy successor in the England women’s squad to the legendary Sarah Taylor (and being kept on her toes by the knowledge that Ellie Threlkeld, also a magnificent keeper batter, is waiting in the wings).
Gilbert Jessop (Gloucestershire, England). The most consistently rapid scoring batter the game has ever seen, a useful fast bowler and a brilliant fielder – in his great match at The Oval in 1902 his first significant contribution was not that innings, it was a brilliant bit of fielding that accounted for the key wicket of Victor Trumper, and he has been estimated to have been worth about 30 runs an innings in the field.
Vallance Jupp (Sussex, Northamptonshire, England). An off spinning all rounder, who after his move north and qualification by residence for his new county achieved the season’s double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in FC matches eight times in succession.
Mitchell Johnson (Australia). A mercurial left arm fast bowler who at his best was as good any such to have played to the game – in the 2013-14 Ashes he was nigh on unplayable. It is true that he was a cricketing version of the girl in the nursery rhyme – when he was good he was very good, when he was bad (as in the 2010-11 Ashes) he was horrid, but I choose to honour the Dr Jekyll side of his bowling rather than use the Mr Hyde element as an excuse to drop him. He was also a useful lower order batter, with a test century and a 99 in that department.
Simon Jones (Glamorgan, Hampshire, England). Plagued by injuries, but when fit he produced some outstanding performances – he was crucial to England’s triumph in the 2005 Ashes, reverse swinging the ball at high pace and causing every Aussie batter problems.
Bill Johnston (Australia). Australia’s leading wicket taker in three series immediately post-war. He bowled left arm fast medium and left arm orthodox spin – it was not unknown for him to go from spinning the old ball to swinging the new one.
This side possesses good batting depth (a superb top four, a batting all rounder, a keeper batter, two all rounders and a bowler who can bat, with only S Jones and Johnston describable as bunnies), and a fine variety of bowling options – Johnson, S Jones, Johnston, Jessop and Jackson providing five seam options all different from one another, while Jupp, Jayasuriya and Johnston in his slower style provide spin options.
Before going into the rest of this section there is one player I am going to give a subsection to himself…
Averaging 35 with the bat and 24 with the ball in test cricket gives him a case to be regarded as the best contemporary all rounder of any kind in the game . The problem is that his bowling stock in trade, left arm orthodox spin overlaps with Jayasuriya and Johnston in his slower style. This is why I preferred Jupp’s off spin and the explosiveness of Jessop in the two slots he might have occupied – I was concerned with the balance of the attack, wanting my skipper to be able to change the bowling as well the bowler.
OTHER HONOURABLE MENTIONS
Steve James of Glamorgan and briefly England was a solid county opener, but I suspect that not even the staunchest of his county’s fans would expect him to be picked for this XI. Andrew Jones of New Zealand, a gritty and determinded number three for that country, might have had the slot I gave to Dean Jones, but while acknowledging his ability I felt that Dean, also a gritty competitor, had a sufficiently superior record to his trans-Tasman namesake to warrant getting the slot. Three fast bowlers who were close to being picked were in reverse chronological order Les Jackson of Derbyshire who took his FC scalps at 17 each but was only rewarded with two England caps, Ernie Jones of Australia, a seriously quick bowler in the 1890s, but also the first ever to be called for throwing in a test match, and John Jackson, a terror in the era immediately before WG Grace came to prominence. Prabath Jayasuriya has made a sensational start to his test career, but as a specialist left arm spinner it would hard for him to qualify for this XI even he maintains that start. Worcestershire leg spinner Roley Jenkins entered my thoughts, but I felt Jupp deserved the second spinner’s role. Digby Jephson, who was one of the last front line under arm bowlers at professional level and a good middle order batter is another I regret not being able to accommodate. Aqib Javed, a Pakistan fast bowler of the 1990s did not quite establish a good enough record to be a serious challenger. Among keepers only Eifion Jones, who was much less of a batter, comes close to namesake Amy behind the stumps – Geraint Jones was not up to standard in either department. Arthur Jepson does not qualify as a player but he can be one of the umpires, a role in which he excelled.
I end this section with two players who are very likely to be shoo-ins for this XI in 10 years time or thereabouts. Kyle Jamieson of New Zealand has made a magnificent start to his test career, and may well knock Mitchell Johnson out of the XI if he maintains his current progress. Will Jacks of Surrey is a hugely promising young batter and part time off spinner. In standard cricket formulation of initials and surname he is WG Jacks, and his recent 150 against Essex, most of it scored with tailenders for company, and giving his side an ultimately match settling first innings lead was worthy of the original WG.
Our cricketing adventure through the letter J is complete and all that remains is my usual sign off…
A variation on my All Time XI theme pits a ‘Blast from the Past’ XI against a #BBL10 Composite XI. Also, on the 40th anniversary of the Chappell incident I look at under arm bowling.
Today we revisit all-time XI territory with a bit of a twist, and then I have a bonus section prompted by today being the 40th anniversary of Trevor Chappell’s most (in)famous moment on the cricket field.
THE GROUND RULES
I have given this post a hint of an ‘Ashes’ flavour – my Blast From The Past XI is mainly English, though this being put in a T20 setting I have allowed myself two overseas players, while similarly my BBL10 Composite XI is mainly Australian with two overseas players permitted. It is two XIs, with the ‘x-factor sub’ idea given the treatment it deserves – in the bin. A variant on the ‘Bash Boost’ could be used as a tie-splitting procedure if a Super Over doesn’t do the job, while the Power Surge would remain. Naturally, DRS would be in use for this contest, though with my chosen on-field umpires, of whom more later, Claire Polosak as TV Replay umpire probably wouldn’t be overturning many deicisons. If you think I have had mistakes with either XI please feel free to make alternative suggestions, but remember that balance and variety are important, and tell me who should be dropped to make way for the people you want.
THOMAS SUTCLIFFE’S BLASTS FROM THE PAST XI
All members of this team played before T20 was a thing in top level cricket, and only three even played what is now called List A cricket.
Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, ‘gun’ fielder. The fastest scoring batter with a first class average of over 25 that the game has ever seen, a useful fast bowler and an electrifying fielder, the ‘Croucher’ is a must for this side.
Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close catcher. All-out attack was his natural tendency with the bat anyway, his all round record was astonishing – 58,969 runs at 40 an innings, over 2,000 wickets at 19 a piece and 1,018 catches in first class cricket, the latter a record for any outfielder.
Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. One of my overseas players, and one of the three members of this side to have played List A cricket – he actually held the record in that format with an innings of 222, which stood until Ally Brown hit 268 for Surrey v Glamorgan at The Oval, with the pitch for that game being way off centre, giving a very short boundary on one side.
Denis Compton – right handed batter, occasional left arm wrist spinner.
Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of pretty much every type known to cricket. The first person ever to hit six sixes in an over in first class cricket, and without a doubt the most complete player the game has yet seen. My second overseas player, and one of the three members of this side to have played List A. He averaged 38 with the bat and 21 with the ball in list A, though his only ODI innings was a duck (he did bowl respectably in that game).
+Leslie Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Twice a winner of the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season, the only keeper ever to score 100 first class hundreds, all-time record holder for first class stumpings – 418 in total in his career.
*Percy Fender – right handed batter, leg spinner, brilliant fielder, captain. He scored the fastest century ever scored off authentic first class bowling, in 35 minutes versus Northamptonshire.
Billy Bates – off spinner, useful lower order batter. Took England’s first ever hat trick, part of a performance in which took seven wickets in each innings and scored 55 with the bat.
Bill Lockwood – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. One of the first fast bowlers to develop a slower ball as part of his armoury, and he caused as many problems with it as any player prior to Franklyn Stephenson.
Alfred Shaw – right arm slow to medium bowler. Bowled more overs in his first class career than he conceded runs, took his wickets at 12 a piece, and once said “length and successful variation of pace are the secrets of good bowling”, a philosophy which would stand him in good stead for T20s.
Derek Underwood – left arm slow-medium bowler. The third member of this side to have played List A cricket. His economy rate in ODIs was 3.44.
This team has massive batting depth, with only Shaw and Underwood unlikely to contribute in that department. Only Pollock and Ames of the XI are completely unrecognized as bowlers, with Sobers’ three styles meaning that there are in total 10 front line options plus Compton’s left arm wrist spin.
#BBL10 COMPOSITE XI
This XI have been selected on their performances during the tournament and with an eye to balance and variety. Note also that I have only allowed myself two non-Aussies.
Alex Hales – right handed opening batter. He has had a quite magnificent tournament, and in many people’s eyes should be back in the mix for England’s T20 team.
+Josh Philippe – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Excellent with both bat and gloves this tournament.
Chris Lynn – right handed batter. Usually an opener, I put him at three here, with his four fifty plus scores in the tournament indicating that he is far from finished just yet.
Sam Heazlett – left handed batter. His ‘Sambulance rescue‘ innings of 74 not out off 49 when his team were in big trouble against Thunder yesterday sealed his place in this XI.
Jordan Silk – right handed batter, excellent fielder. There were many possibilities for this slot, but ‘Astrophysicist’ (in honour of Joseph Silk FRS) gets the nod because in a tournament where there have been rather more sinners than saints in the field he has shone in that department.
*Mitch Marsh – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, captain. A T20 side really needs six front line bowling options at minimum so that you have cover if one misfires, and Marsh’s batting is unequivocally good enough to be no six, usually considered mainly a batter’s position.
Rashid Khan – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. The Afghan, rated the no1 T20 bowler in the world, did superbly for the Strikers before his country’s needs took over and he left the tournament.
Steve O’Keefe – left arm orthodox spinner. He has bowled very economically this tournament.
Peter Siddle – right arm fast bowler. The veteran impressed for the Strikers, still being able to hit the 140kph mark, and generally being very accurate.
Jhye Richardson – right arm fast bowler. The leading wicket taker in this tournament.
Jason Behrendorff – left arm fast medium. Close between him and Ben Dwarshuis for this slot.
This side has good batting strength, and a strong and varied bowling attack, and should be able to give a good account of itself.
MY ON-FIELD UMPIRES
In keeping with this post I choose one umpire who is in the ‘blast from the past’ category and one from the modern era to officiate on the field. I am opting for Frank Chester, who stood in 48 test matches, a record at the time and for many years afterwards as my ‘blast from the past umpire’. One story about Chester to sum up his skill in this role: there was an occasion when he was officiating and a ball went through to the keeper with an audible click en route, the fielding side went up in a huge appeal for caught behind and were shocked when Chester gave it not out, while the umpire, unflustered, walked up to the stumps at the batter’s end, looked at the off stump and nodded to himself – he had identified the faint red mark that confirmed that he was right, and that the click has been the ball brushing the stump not quite hard enough to dislodge a bail. The other on-field umpire for this contest, from the modern era, is Aleem Dar.
THE CHAPPELL INCIDENT AND UNDER ARM BOWLING
It was 40 years ago today that with New Zealand needing six off the last ball to tie the match and no11 Brian McKechnie on strike Greg Chappell ordered his brother Trevor to roll that last ball along the ground. This disgraceful incident led to under arm bowling being ruled illegal, an overreaction in my opinion. Since that time a law change has seen balls that bounce multiple times called no balls, so the Chappell situation can be handled simply by adding a note that a ball that rolls along the deck is considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and is therefore a no-ball. This would keep the way open for a latter-day Jephson or Simpson-Hayward, or indeed a would-be reviver of the art of David Harris to emerge, while preventing dishonourable tactics such as those used by the Chappell brothers 40 years ago (if you would have it so Greg can be considered the chief culprit, but Trevor cannot be held blameless, since he could have challenged his brother and said that he would not adopt those tactics but would bowl the best yorker he could summon up).
Three all-time England T20XIs selected with differing criteria in response to a twitter challenge from The Cricket Men, some photographs and a video.
This post is a response to a challenge thrown out on twitter yesterday by The Cricket Men. I have extended their brief, and rather than one XI will be naming three: one made up exclusively of T20 players, one which features two past greats who methods I believe would have been especially suited to T20, and one which is made up entirely of past greats.
CONVENTIONAL T20 XI
Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. An explosive batter, just right for opening a T20 innings.
+Jos Buttler – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Possibly the finest limited overs batter England have ever had, and a shoo-in for this XI.
Dawid Malan – left handed batter, occasional left arm spinner. Officially the highest rated T20I batter ever, with 915 points following his amazing series against South Africa.
Jonny Bairstow – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. One of the most devastating of short form batters around. His 86 not out in the first match of the series against South Africa first kept England in the contest and then led them to victory.
Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Explosive with the bat, and a golden arm with the ball, though probably seventh bowler in this combination.
Andrew Flintoff – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. A must for this XI.
Sam Curran – left handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler. His stocks went through the roof in this year’s IPL, and his performances against South Africa confirmed his advancement.
Chris Woakes – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. A big hitting batter and a crafty operator with the ball.
Adil Rashid – right handed batter, leg spinner. He is superb in this form of the game, economical with the ball even when he is not picking up wickets.
*Graeme Swann – right handed batter, off spinner. I preferred him to Moeen Ali for the second spinner’s role because he was a much better bowler, although not as good in his secondary role.
Jofra Archer – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. With all due respect to Messrs Flintoff and Stokes, likely sixth and seventh bowlers in this combination, we need some genuine pace at our disposal, and for me Archer is the man to provide it
PAST GREATS INTO THE MIX
My second XI involves the addition of two blasts from the past who I consider would have been particularly effective in this format:
*Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Jessop was the fastest scoring top line batter the game has ever seen, and bear in mind that for most of his career a ball had to go right out of the ground as opposed to just over the ropes to count six. He was also a highly skilled quick bowler who once bowled unchanged through a first class innings conceding just three runs (v Northants in 1907, in a total of 12 all out – George Dennett 8-9, Jessop 2-3). Finally, he was what is now termed a ‘gun’ fielder to the extent that most reckonings of his contribution in this department have him effectively coming to the crease already 30 not out. I have also named him as captain, a job he did for Gloucestershire for some years.
Derek Underwood – right handed batter, left arm slow medium bowler. He was famously miserly at the bowling crease, and his style of bowling, with taking the pace of the ball so often being desirable at T20, would seem well suited to this format.
BLASTS FROM THE PAST
My final selection comprises entirely players from the past:
*WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of varying types, excellent close catcher, captain. With his range of skills and forceful personality he just has to feature.
Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, brilliant fielder. His attacking brilliance with the bat makes him well suited to the no3 slot in this team and he would also be full value in the field.
Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. Capable of scoring all round the wicket.
+Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. In the 1930s the Walter Lawrence trophy, awarded to the scorer of the fastest first class hundred of the English season, was launched. In two of it’s first three seasons it went to Les Ames, the only recognized keeper ever to score 100 first class hundreds. He holds the record for career first class stumpings – 418 of them in total.
Percy Fender – right handed batter, leg spinner. The scorer of the fastest competitive first class century (35 minutes vs Northants, there have been a few instances of players getting to the mark quicker against bowlers deliberately feeding them runs to bring about a declaration), a brilliant fielder, and a regular wicket taker. Also, although no one could usurp the mighty WG for the captaincy, I acknowledge his skills in this area by naming him vice captain of the XI.
George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest all rounders ever to play the game, and his attacking approach would be well suited to short form cricket. Like Jessop he was what we now call a ‘gun’ fielder, in his case usually patrolling mid off.
Billy Bates – right handed batter, off spinner. He had a remarkable record, including a 55 and two seven-fors in the same test match, at Melbourne in 1883. Playing for the Players against the Gentlemen in 1881 he had a spell of 17 overs for eight runs (so much for those carefree, all-attacking amateurs!), so he could certainly keep it tight.
Bill Lockwood – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Variation of pace was mentioned in the context of certain earlier bowlers, notably Alfred Shaw and the Australia FR Spofforth, but the first bowler about whom the phrase ‘slower ball’ was regularly used was this man, and his version appears to have been the deadliest to see the light of day until Franklyn Stephenson came on the scene almost a century later. Given the role the slower balls play in the armoury of T20 bowlers I suggest that one of the great early masters of the craft has to be included.
William Mycroft – right handed batter, left arm fast bowler. His extraordinary record (863 wickets in 138 first matches at 12.09 apiece), the fact that he could move the ball as well as propel it at great pace and his the fact that he bowled left handed all militate in his favour.
BRIEF ANALYSES OF THE XIS
My pure T20 squad has good batting depth, with everyone in it having some degree of skill with the bat, and seven genuine bowling options. It is well equipped to handle every challenge and would give a good account of itself.
The second squad has even greater bowling depth, and although it features one genuine tailender in Underwood the bowling depth is awesome.
My final offering, the blasts from the past combination, is simply awesome, with recognized batting talent all the way down to Lockwood at no9, and so much depth and variety in the bowling that Compton, by no means poor in that department, would probably be 10th choice bowler on most surfaces.
A FEW OF THE MISSING
These names all relate to the blasts from the past. Alfred Shaw, the man who bowled more first class overs than he conceded runs, was one I would have loved to include, while two fast medium bowlers who hit the ball miles when they batted, Jim Smith of Middlesex and Arthur Wellard of Somerset also commanded attention but could not quite get in. Cecil Parkin of Lancashire, with his penchant for bowling six different types of delivery per over, would have been good in T20, and I nearly selected him ahead of Bates. The great SF Barnes would have been formidable at any form of the game but I think he would have found being limited to four overs per innings insupportable, so he missed out. Some of you will doubtless have your own ideas, and I hope you will post them in the comments.
A very contrasting set of photographs, featuring yesterday’s snow and today’s far more benign weather.
To finish, here is a video of the snow falling yesterday (a rare happening in King’s Lynn):
Today’s all time XI cricket post faces Janus-like in two directions simultaneously, towards the past and the future of this great game.
Welcome to the final post in this All Time XIscricket series – as I start typing it the test match at the Ageas bowl is about to get underway following weather delays. England have won the toss and chosen to bat, in view the correct decision grey skies notwithstanding. This post takes its name from the Roman god Janus because it faces two ways – a look at cricket’s past in the form of a team selected for a combination of entertainment value and class, and a look to the future with a team largely comprising up and coming players, with the topical exception of the captain.
TS ENTERTAINMENT XI
*WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career. ‘The Doctor’ just had to be the captain of this side, with his outstanding approach and his attack minded approach. One quote “I never like defensive strokes – you can only get three for them.” Against Kent in the match after becoming the first to 100 first class centuries he made 257 as Gloucestershire replied to Kent’s 470 with 443 of their own. Kent then slumped to 78 all out in their second innings, and Gloucs needed 106 in an hour and a quarter to win, and Grace was on 73 not out when they got there just in time, having been on the field fior the entire match, and with his 47th birthday less than two months away.
Victor Trumper – right handed opening batter. At Old Trafford in 1902 he scored a century in the morning session of day 1. In a wet season he amassed 2,570 first class runs for the touring Australians, including 11 centuries.
Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder. The only non-keeper to take 1,000 first class catches. At Lord’s in 1921 in the face of Gregory and McDonald against whom his colleagues could offer no resistance he scored 95 and 93. His highest first class score, 305 not out in a tour match on the 1911-2 trip to Australia, came from number three.
Charles Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He scored centuries in the second, third and fourth matches of the 1926 Ashes, the second of the three, at Leeds coming before lunch on day 1. In 1921 he scored 345 in 232 minutes against Nottinghamshire, reaching 300 in 198 minutes.
Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete player ever to play the game, and the most automatic of selections for a team of this nature.
+Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Twice winner of the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season, three times he achieved the keeper’s season double of 1,000 runs and 100 dismissals (only John Murray of Middlesex, who did so once, achieved the feat in all the rest of cricket history). He executed 418 first class stumpings, an all time record.
Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. The ultimate in x-factor players. 53 first class centuries and only once did he bat for over three hours in a single innings.
Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed batter. 16 test matches, 50 wickets at 16 each and a batting average of 27. He was the first England bowler to take a test hat trick, as part of a match performance in which he took 14 wickets and scored 55 in England’s only innings.
Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. The ‘Typhoon’, producer of possibly the fastest bowling ever seen, during the 1954-5 Ashes tour when he bowled England to victory after they had been stuffed in the opener at the Gabba (that series remains the last Ashes series down under won by a side who lost at the Gabba).
Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. Probably the greatest bowler ever seen. His signature weapon, ‘the Barnes ball’ was a leg break at fast medium pace, the nearest subsequent approach to which was Alec Bedser’s speciality. Incidentally it was from this no10 slot that he played his most important innings, the 38 not out that saw England to victory at the MCG in 1907, when they lost their eight wicket still 73 adrift, and their ninth still needing 39. Arthur Fielder of Kent was the no11 who assisted Barnes in that final partnership. In Barnes’ last test series, when he took 49 South African wickets in four matches before missing the fifth after a dispute, he took 17-159 in the match at Port Elizabeth, not a venue generally regarded fondly by bowlers.
William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 138 first class matches, 863 wickets at 12.09, including a 17 wicket haul in a losing cause against Hampshire in 1876 (the crucial innings was played by one Reginald Hargreaves, who later married Alice Pleasance Liddell, aka the Alice of “Alice in Wonderland”). He may have inspired the name of Mycroft Holmes (Doyle was fine cricketer as well as being a fanatical follower of the game, and Mycroft and brother Thomas played for Derbyshire as fast bowler and keeper, while Frank Shacklock and Mordecai Sherwin, from whose surnames one can get Sherlock played the same roles for Nottinghamshire), and in this XI he has a team mate with the middle name Holmes (Frank Holmes Tyson).
This team has an excellent top six, the ultimate in x-factor no 7s and four very fine and varied bowlers. Tyson, Barnes, Mycroft, Bates, Woolley, Sobers, Grace, Jessop and Macartney provide a wealth of bowling options. Do you open with Mycroft and Barnes and have Tyson come on first change, do you open with Tyson and Barnes and bring Mycroft on first change, or do you attempt to persuade Barnes to accept coming on first change so that you can open up with Tyson and Mycroft?
HONOURABLE MENTIONS AND SEGUE
Of course I have a stack load of regrets about players I could not accommodate, and many of you will have ideas of your own, but my principal regrets are:
Could not find a place for Denis Compton’s batting and left arm wrist spin bowling.
No place for Keith Miller.
Tyson was one of three choices for that slot – Harold Larwood, who also terrorized the Aussies in their own backyard and Charles Kortright of Essex were both in my thoughts.
Bill O’Reilly, Doug Wright, Derek Underwood, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar and Jack Iverson were all highly individualistic bowlers I would have loved to be able to accommodate.
Having attended to the past it is now time for…
TS FUTURE STARS XI
Prithvi Shaw – right handed opening batter. Has a remarkable record for someone so young, and will surely be a superstar before too many more years have passed. India would not want to break up the Sharma/ Agarwal opening pair an earlier than necessary, but perhaps they could accommodate Shaw by playing him at 3, with Kohli at four.
Dominic Sibley – right handed opening batter. His South African tour pretty much established him in the England side, especially his first test century. The restart of test cricket has not been good for him – in the brief passages of play that the weather has allowed he has been dismissed for a duck, but he will be back scoring runs again before long.
Shreyas Iyer – right handed batter. He has a magnificent record in all forms of cricket that he has played, and that will surely continue when he gets his chance at test level.
Daniel Lawrence – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played at no 4 in last week’s warm up game at The Ageas Bowl and made 58 in the first innings, and was then not called on to bat in the second. He was then left out of the test squad, with Denly being chosen for the batting spot vacated by Joe Root being on paternity leave. His time will surely come soon.
James Bracey – left handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He made 85 in that warm up game at the Ageas Bowl, and again was overlooked for the test match. He has done some work on his wicket keeping, but regards himself primarily as a batter, and that is the role I see him playing for England when he gets the call up.
*Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. The one member of this side who is indisputably established at the very highest level, and in a nod to what is happening at the Ageas Bowl I have named as captain.
+Ben Foakes – wicket keeper, right handed batter. England’s best (and worst treated) current wicket keeper. Among 21st century keepers his only rival with the gloves is the now retired Sarah Taylor, and he averages over 40 for those few tests he has been selected for. Bairstow is no longer able to perform in red ball cricket, and Buttler is barely even a competent keeper, and has never had a good red ball batting record, and yet it is this latter named individual who is currently taking the place behind the stumps that should be Foakes’. Stokes is an established test cricket, while Foakes should be but is not yet.
Lewis Goldsworthy– left arm orthodox spinner, right handed batter. He had a good under-19 world cup, and I expect to see him notable first class performances from him before too much longer. He may yet develop into a genuine all rounder, but at the moment he is definitely more bowler than batter, hence his positioning at no eight in this order.
Rashid Khan – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. Four test matches have yielded him 23 wickets at 21.08, a magnificent start at that level, and he has a phenomenal record in limited overs cricket. He has also already racked up a test 50 with his lower order batting. I look forward to seeing him establish himself as one of the greats of the game.
Oliver Edward Robinson– right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. I use his full name because there is a young wicket keeper from Kent, Oliver Graham Robinson, who is on the fringes of the England set up. He takes his wickets at 22 each in first class cricket, and bowled well in the warm up match at the Ageas Bowl. Whether he has sufficient pace to trouble top level batters remains to be seen, but he should get his opportunity before too long. Yes, one has to pick for the present, but the future should also be considered, and England are due to go to Australia for their 2021-2 season, by when James Anderson will be 39 years of age, probably too old to spearhead the attack out there (the last England new ball bowler to succeed out there at that sort of age was Syd Barnes on the 1911-2 tour).
Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. He has played 14 test matches, the second most of anyone in this side, in which he has taken 68 wickets at 20, including shaking the Aussies up in their own backyard in the 2018-9 Border – Gavaskar Trophy. I hope to hear more of him in the not too distant future – talents of this type can only be good for the game.
This team has a fine top five, the x-factor player of the current era at six, the best current keeper and a beautifully balanced selection of bowlers. Bumrah, Robinson and Stokes look a fine pace trio, and Goldsworthy and Khan should combine well as spin twins.
Pakistan left arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi has made an impressive start to his career, and would be my first reserve quick should one or other of Bumrah or Robinson be unavailable. Hamidullah Qadri was the other English success story of the u-19 world cup, although at the moment he would have to be considered as at best third in the senior off spinning queue behind Bess and Virdi, though in red ball cricket he is certainly ahead of Ali in my pecking order. Finally, a suggestion of a type that might be regarded as akin to heresy in certain quarters, all rounder Amelia Kerr has had success with both bat and leg spin for the New Zealand Women, is still only 18, and the Kiwis do not have a long queue of spin bowling options – will they take a chance on giving a female the opportunity to play alongside the men?
In today’s variation on the all-time XI theme we look at T20 cricket, with a team of former greats all of whom would have been well suited to that format pitted against a team of the best actual T20 players.
Today’s variation on the ‘all time XI‘ theme looks at the game’s shortest regular format, T20 (one innings each of 20 overs per side), and I pit a team who were in their prime before top level limited overs cricket was played against a team of T20 experts.
T20 PLAYING CONDITIONS
At least five bowlers must be used, and no bowler may bowl more than four overs in a T20 innings. For the first six overs no more than two fielders may be stationed more than 30 metres from the bat, and thereafter no more than five. This format has been very successful since its top level introduction in 2003, with T20 tournaments flourishing all round the world. Having briefly set the scene it is time to meet our teams starting with…
THE PRET20 FRANCHISE XI
Garry Sobers – left handed bat, every kind of left arm bowling known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete cricketer ever to play the game, he was an absolute must for this side.
Gilbert Jessop – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler and brilliant fielder. Even if his batting was his only recommendation the most consistently fast scorer the game has ever known would have been a ‘shoo-in’. Add his intelligent bowling and fielding that was estimated as being worth 30 an innings to his team and, from a century before the format was used at top level you have the blueprint for the perfect T20 exponent.
*WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of various styles, fine close catcher. My chosen captain.
Frank Woolley – left handed bat, left arm orthodox spin bowler, brilliant close catcher.
Denis Compton – right handed bat, left arm wrist spinner, fine fielder.
+Leslie Ames – right handed bat, wicket keeper. He won the Lawrence trophy for the fastest hundred of the season twice in the first three years of its existence. He was one of the Kent batters who combined to chase down 219 in two hours, with no fielding restrictions in place.
Bill Lockwood – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler. He was one of the pioneers of the ‘slower ball’, a type of delivery that is especially useful in T20, and it is for that reason that I have included him here.
Jim Laker – off spinner and right handed lower order bat.
Alfred Shaw – right arm medium/ slow bowler, lower order bat. The Nottinghamshire man bowled more overs in first class cricket than he conceded runs. He paid just 12 a piece for his first class wickets. He once said that “length and variation of pace are the secrets of successful bowling”, and though he would probably get hit occasionally I think his method would work beautifully in T20.
Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, useful lower order batter. His match against Nottinghamshire in 1932 provides a vignette of his bowling skills – in the first Notts innings on a pitch not assisting him he operated as a stock bowler taking 2-64 in 41 overs. In their second innings, after an overnight thunderstorm had gingered up the pitch he took 10-10 in 19.4 overs, with 16 maidens, still the cheapest ‘all ten’ in first class history. He was noted for being especially skilled at varying his pace to suit the conditions, and even in T20 it is hard to imagine anyone ‘collaring’ him.
David Harris – right arm fast bowler. Hambledon’s finest, who once sent a spell of 170 deliveries from which one solitary single was garnered by the opposition. I have argued elsewhere (see the Eccentrics post in this series) that proper styles of underarm bowling such as his, and the lobs of Simpson-Hayward mentioned in that post, as opposed to Trevor Chappell style grubbers should be legal. The grubber can be covered under today’s legislation with the single addition that a ball rolled along the deck is considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and will therefore be called no-ball.
This XI is strong in batting, everyone other than Ames would be capable of contributing with the ball, and the bowling is staggeringly rich in variety as well. Their designated fielding substitute can be Sydney Copley, who while on the Notts groundstaff took an astonishing catch as sub in the 1930 test match there to dismiss Stan McCabe (who unlike another Aussie top order batter dismissed by a sub in more recent times did not give vent to a string of obscenities on his way back to the pavilion), breaking a threatening partnership. Now we we turn to…
T20 ERA FRANCHISE XI
Chris Gayle – left handed opening bat, occasional off spinner. The ‘Universe Boss’ has to open the innings for this team, his record in this format being simply astonishing. As a very tall left handed bat he forms a perfect contrast to the person I have chosen to open with him…
Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening bat of diminutive stature but possessed of a full range of strokes, good footwork and incredible timing. Her many highlights include a 47 ball hundred against South Africa. Additionally, I consider that the completeness of the contrast between her and Gayle would pose a huge challenge to opposition bowlers. Yesterday’s post featured a video clip showing her in action – please go back and watch it.
*Virat Kohli – right handed batter. The best all format batter currently in world cricket – Steve Smith is better at test cricket, and Chris Gayle is better at T20.
Glenn Maxwell – right handed batter, off spinner. A man with an incredible record in limited overs cricket, and had I failed to select him I probably wouldn’t have needed radio equipment to hear the howls of protest from Australia.
Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The x-factor all rounder.
+Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. His career started before the establishment of top level T20, but he did play the format before he finished.
Rashid Khan – right arm leg spinner, lower order batter. The Afghan has a phenomenal record in limited overs cricket, and has had some successes in his few forays into long form cricket as well. Save for being brutalized by Eoin Morgan in the 2019 world cup he has had few bad days.
R Ashwin – off spinner, lower order bat. An excellent limited overs record. Also, the possibility for what would be the cricket incident to end all cricket incidents were he to (as he has done to others) ‘Mankad’ WG Grace!
Jofra Archer– right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. He went in a few months from people questioning whether England should pick him to being an essential part of a world cup winning outfit.
Chris Jordan – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order bat, brilliant fielder. One of the most effective bowlers at mixing the pace up and sowing confusion that way, his fielding is so good as to practically be worth picking him even if you don’t plan to use his bowling.
Lasith Malinga – right arm fast bowler. The Sri Lankan slinger would be especially dangerous in the ‘death overs’.
This team has depth in batting, with only Malinga absolutely ruled out of making a significant contribution in that department, and a splendid range of bowling options to choose from. As a designated fielding sub I give them (who else?) the one and only Gary Pratt. I apologize for the player names not being formatted as links to their cricinfo profiles – that site is currently malfunctioning – hope normal service will soon be resumed.
THE CONTEST AND AN EXPLANATION
This would be a heck of a contest, with I think the PreT20 team just about favourites, but any of these 22 players could be the match winner.
Until this post my all-time XIs have all been picked with long form cricket in mind. The reason I changed that today was because of the following tweet from the folks at cricinfo:
They were asking specifically about T20 and their options were Gayle or Kohli, and I voted for Gayle, but as I explained, it is actually a very poor comparison, since Gayle’s bowling gives him a second string that wins it for him at T20 (and at that format, and only that format, he is of more value even purely as a batter than Kohli). I decided to use this blog post to address their question at greater length than can be managed in a tweet, meaning that post I was mentally planning for today will feature tomorrow instead (yes, when sufficiently provoked even an autistic person can make rapid changes to their plans). Note that while I have named Gayle as one half of the ultimate example of a contrasting opening pair I have also named Kohli as no 3 and skipper.