All Time XIs – Essex

Continuing with the all-time XIs, today is the turn of Essex.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my All Time XIs series. Today we are dealing with Essex.

ALL TIME ESSEX XI

  1. Graham Gooch – A huge run scorer over a very long period. In 1985 he made 196 at The Oval to ensure that England would regain The Ashes. In 1986 he made centuries against both India and New Zealand. In 1988 he scored 459 runs in a series against the West Indies that they won by four matches to nil (the series opener was drawn due to the weather), in 1990 he scored over 1,000 test runs in the home summer, the first (and to date) only time that such has ever been achieved, including 752 runs in a three match series v India (333 and 123 in the opener at Lords, 121 and 2 in the second and 88 and 85 in the third). In 1991 at Headingley he scored 154 not out against the West Indies in a team total of 252.
  2. Alastair Cook – England’s all time leading test run scorer by some margin, the left handed opener’s greatest series was against the Aussies in their own backyard, in 2010-11 when he helped England to a 3-1 series triumph (a scoreline that frankly flattered the Aussies) with 766 runs at 127.66. After digging England out of some trouble at Brisbane with 235 not out he scored 148 in the win at Adelaide, contributed a half century at Melbourne after Australia had been rolled for 98 in their first innings and finally at Sydney responding to a modest Aussie total he batted for over eight hours scoring 189 to set England up for another innings victory, a unique third in an Ashes series.
  3. Percy Perrin – a big run scorer at a time when Essex as a whole were not the strongest of sides. He hit 68 fours in making 343 not out, a boundary count rivalled only Brian Lara who hit 62 fours and 10 sixes in his 501 not out, against Derbyshire at Chesterfield in 1904. Unfortunately for Perrin, this innings was ultimately unavailing as Derbyshire ended up winning by nine wickets (Essex 597 and 97, Derbyshire 548 and 149-1).
  4. *Keith Fletcher – the man who captained Essex to their first county championship in 1979, and until Gooch overhauled him Essex’s leading first class run scorer.
  5. Nasser Hussain – a big run scorer through the 1990s, also the captain who initiated England’s climb back from bottom of the world test rankings, where they found themselves in 1999 after losing a home series against New Zealand in the immediate aftermath of a humiliating exit from a home world cup (in those days there was less separation between red and white ball cricket). Like many of his era he was mishandled at test level in the early stages of his career, which had an adverse effect on his overall career figures.
  6. Stan Nichols – an attacking left hand bat and right-arm fast bowler (does that remind you of any all-rounders of more recent vintage? hint – think Durham in county terms) whose first class career brought him over 17,000 runs and 1,800 wickets.
  7. +James Foster – a useful middle order batter and one of the finest wicket keepers ever to play the game.
  8. Peter Smith – a legspinner and a lower order batter who once scored 163 coming at no 11 (he and Frank Vigar, a rather more sedate type of player put on 218 for the tenth wicket, turning 199-9 into 417 all out).
  9. Simon Harmer – a South African born off spinner who played five test matches for his native land before deciding that English cricket offered brighter prospects he has been a key part of Essex’s recent successes, not just with his wickets, but also with some useful lower order runs at vital times.
  10. Charles Kortright – one of those whose name gets mentioned in discussions about just who was the quickest bowler ever. He produced what today would be described as an ‘epic burn’ when he cleaned up W G Grace, a notoriously reluctant leaver of the crease, with a snorter of a ball, saw that worthy look at the wreckage and head, face like thunder, towards the pavilion and chimed in with “You’re not going already are you Doctor? There’ s still one stump standing”.
  11. Walter Mead – a crafty medium pacer who still holds the record match figures for an Essex bowler – 17 wickets in a tour match against The Australians in 1893.

The decision that was most difficult in selecting this XI was who to have at no 6. As well as Nichols, Johnny Douglas and Trevor Bailey, both England regulars in their day had very obvious claims, but I went for Nichols both because of his left handed batting and his more aggressive approach in that department. Bowling wise this team has the pace of Kortright and Nichols, medium pace from Mead, off spin from Harmer, leg spin from Smith, with Gooch as a sixth option, while there are five top of the range batters, an all-rounder, a keeper-batter plus the possibility of runs from Smith, Harmer and Kortright.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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100 Cricketers – Third XI Opening Batters

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series and using the photography section to mention an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers“. Today, having finished the second XI we start going through the third XI, with the opening pair. For those who are new to the series and would like to catch up here are the most important staging posts so far:

  1. The post in which I introduced the whole series.
  2. The post in which I completed my coverage of the firxt XI and introduced the second XI.
  3. My most recent post, in which I completed my coverage of the second XI and introduced the third XI

CHAMARI ATAPATTU

She owes her presence in my list to one innings , but what an amazing innings it was. In the 2017 Women’s World Cup, facing one of the pre-tournament favourites Australia she scored 178 not out. None of her team mates were able to handle the strong Aussie bowling attack – her dominance of this innings is reflected in the fact that Sri Lanka as a whole tallied only 255. 

As a one-person show it had few precedents (Viv Richards, 189 not out in a total of 272-9 v England at Old Trafford in 1984 and Kapil Dev, 175 not out coming in at 9-4 to get India to an ultimately winning 266-8 v Zimbabwe in the 1983 world cup are two that come to mind, while in test cricket there was Graham Gooch’s 154 not out at Headingley in 1991 which got England to 252 all out). Unfortunately for Atapattu her amazing innings was not quite enough – Australia won the match in spite of it. A full account of the match can be read here.

The England Women are starting a series in Sri Lanka this Saturday, and I for one hope for more fireworks from Atapattu during it. 

VIRENDER SEHWAG

One of the select few batters to have scored two test match triple hundreds (Don Bradman, Brian Lara and Chris Gayle are the others), and alone in having scored 100 runs in each session of a test match day (Bradman’s 309 on the opening day at Headingley in 1930 saw him score 220 not out in the first two session and then add a mere 89 in the third), Sehwag’s aggression has been well an truly backed by results. I remember a series opener between India and England when India needed 384 to win in the fourth innings of the match and a very rapid innings from Sehwag completely knocked the stuffing out of England, enabling India to win with considerable ease.

He also bowled occasional off-spin, with his batting and bowling averages being just the right way round, although it would be a risible over-statement of the case to describe someone who paid 47 runs per wicket as an all-rounder. 

Finally, as a right-handed bat he contrasts nicely at the top of the order with the left-handed Chamari Atapattu, meaning that opponents of this XI would face a varied challenge right from the start. 

In my next post in this series I will cover nos 3, 4 and 5, and given who two of those are, and who I have down at number 6, I think most would agree that the luxury of an all attacking opening pair is one that this XI can well afford.

PHOTOGRAPHS

This morning was an NAS West Norfolk coffee morning, using a new venue, a Caribbean Soul Food establishment which has recently opened on Tower Street. It is an excellent space, and they were sensible about the background music – they did play some, even though it was a morning, but the volume was not too loud. There was a good tunrout, including several very welcome new faces, and I had an enjoyable morning getting away from my bungalow for a bit (something that has not been easy of late). Here are some photographs I took while I was there:

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In the summer months this seating area may suit us well, but today was definitely not the day for it!

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The establihsment includes an art gallery.

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Just across the street from the front entrance is this bakery which was also doing good business.
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This staircase is an impressive sight.

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Special Post: Oval and Vauxhall

A piece principally about Ashes moments at the Oval cricket ground, with an introductory mention of the history of the two stations that serve it.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my series “London Station by Station”. I hope you will enjoy this post and that some of you will be encouraged to share it.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE GAS HOLDERS

I am treating these two stations together because they are at opposite ends of the Oval cricket ground. Oval was one of the original six stations of the City and South London Railway, the world’s first deep-level tube railway, which opened in 1890. Vauxhall only opened as an underground station in 1971, part of the newest section of the Victoria line, but is also a main-line railway station and would have opened in that capacity long before Oval.

Today is the Saturday of the Oval test, by tradition the last of the summer. At the moment things are not looking rosy for England, but more spectacular turnarounds have been achieved (bowled at for 15 in 1st dig and won by 155 runs a day and a half later – Hampshire v Warwickshire 1922, 523-4D in 1st dig and beaten by ten wickets two days later – Warwickshire v Lancashire 1982 to give but two examples). The Oval in it’s long and illustrious history has seen some of test cricket’s greatest moments:

1880: 1st test match on English soil – England won by five wickets, Billy Murdoch of Australia won a sovereign from ‘W G’ by topping his 152 in the first innings by a single run.

1882: the original ‘Ashes’ match – the term came from a joke obituary penned after this game by Reginald Shirley Brooks. Australia won by 7 runs, England needing a mere 85 to secure the victory were mown down by Fred Spofforth for 77.

1886: A triumph for England, with W G Grace running up 170, at the time the highest test score by an England batsman. Immediately before the fall of the first England wicket the scoreboard nicely indicated the difference in approach between Grace and his opening partner William Scotton (Notts): Batsman no 1: 134           Batsman no 2: 34

1902: Jessop’s Match – England needing 263 in the final innings were 48-5 and in the last-chance saloon with the tables being mopped when Jessop arrived at the crease. He scored 104 in 77 minutes, and so inspired the remainder of the English batsmen, that with those two cool Yorkshiremen, Hirst and Rhodes together at the death England sneaked home by one wicket.

1926: England’s first post World ward I Ashes win, secured by the batting of Sutcliffe (161) and Hobbs (100) and the bowling of young firebrand Larwood and old sage Rhodes – yes the very same Rhodes who was there at the death 24 years earlier.

1938: The biggest margin of victory in test history – England win by an innings and 579. Australia batted without opener Jack Fingleton and even more crucially no 3 Don Bradman in either innings (it was only confirmation that the latter would not be batting that induced England skipper Hammond to declare at 903-7)

1948: Donald Bradman’s farewell to test cricket – a single boundary would have guaranteed him a three figure batting average, but he failed to pick Eric Hollies’ googly, collecting a second-ball duck and finishing wit a final average of 99.94 – still almost 40 runs an innings better than the next best.

1953: England reclaim the Ashes they lost in 1934 with Denis Compton making the winning hit.

1968: A South-African born batsman scores a crucial 158, and then when it looks like England might be baulked by the weather secures a crucial breakthrough with the ball, exposing the Australian tail to the combination of Derek Underwood and a rain affected pitch. This as not sufficient to earn Basil D’Oliveira an immediate place on that winter’s tour of his native land, and the subsequent behaviour of the South African government when he is named as a replacement for Tom Cartwright (offically injured, unoffically unwilling to tour South Africa) sets off a chain of events that will leave South Africa in the sporting wilderness for almost quarter of a century.

1975: Australia 532-9D, England 191 – England in the mire … but a fighting effort all the way down the line in the second innings, Bob Woolmer leading the way with 149 sees England make 538 in the second innings and Australia have to settle for the draw (enough for them to win the series 1-0).

1985: England need only a draw to retain the Ashes, and a second-wicket stand of 351 between Graham Gooch (196) and David Gower (157) gives them a position of dominance they never relinquish, although a collapse, so typical of England in the 1980s and 90s sees that high-water mark of 371-1 turn into 464 all out. Australia’s final surrender is tame indeed, all out for 241 and 129 to lose by an innings and 94, with only Greg Ritchie’s 1st innings 64 worthy of any credit.

2005: For the second time in Oval history an innings of 158 by a South-African born batsman will be crucial to the outcome of the match, and unlike in 1968, the series. This innings would see Kevin Peter Pietersen, considered by many at the start of this match as there for a good time rather than a long time, finish the series as its leading run scorer.

2009: A brilliant combined bowling effort from Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann sees Australia all out for 160 after being 72-0 in their first innings, a debut century from Jonathan Trott knocks a few more nails into the coffin, and four more wickets for Swann in the second innings, backed by the other bowlers and by Andrew Flintoff’s last great moment in test cricket – the unassisted run out of Ricky Ponting (not accompanied by the verbal fireworks of Trent Bridge 2005 on this occasion!).

The above was all written without consulting books, but for those who wish to know more about test cricket at this iconic venue, there is a book dedicated to that subject by David Mortimer.

As usual I conclude this post with some map pics…

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