All Time XIs – Rest Of The World v Asia

An international clash of the titans today, as the Rest of the World take on Asia in our ‘all time XIs’ cricket post.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s all time XIs cricket post follows the usual Monday theme of going international. Today we pit the Rest of the World against Asia. I am, as usual in this series, thinking principally in terms of long form cricket, although of course this contest could not (or at least should not) officially be given test status.

REST OF THE WORLD

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, scorer of 12 centuries in Ashes cricket,a tally only beaten by Don Bradman with 19. He was one half of no less than four of the greatest opening partnerships in the history of cricket, at county level with Hayward and then Sandham, and at test level with Rhodes and then Sutcliffe.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opener. His case for selection for a contest of this nature is even more watertight than was his actual case for England selection. He got better the tougher the competition – averaging 52 in all first class cricket, 60.73 in test cricket and 66.85 in Ashes cricket. He and Hobbs had an average opening stand of 87, 15 times topping the hundred. At The Oval in 1926 they put on 172 in England’s second innings, beginning on a very spiteful pitch, with Hobbs falling for exactly 100 to end the partnership (the first time he had made a test century on his home ground), while Sutcliffe went on to 161 and to put England in an invincible position. At Melbourne in the third match of the 1928-9 series he and Hobbs started the final innings with England set to make 332, and many people reckoning that on the rain damaged pitch they had to contend with that the innings would not even last a full session. Actually, the pair were still in residence by the tea interval, and part way through the evening session Hobbs sent a message to the pavilion that if a wicket fell that night Jardine rather than Hammond should come in at no3. Hobbs finally fell for 49 to make to 105-1, and Jardine duly came in, and he and Sutcliffe were still together at close of play. The following day the surface was easier, and although England suffered a mini clatter of wickets, including Sutcliffe for 135, with victory in sight, George Geary ultimately settled the issue by hitting a ball through mid on for four with three wickets still standing.  Sutcliffe’s 100th first class hundred was scored when Yorkshire were after quick runs for a declaration, and he duly attacked from the get go, clobbering eight sixes on his way to the landmark.
  3. *Don Bradman – right handed batter, captain. To follow the greatest opening pair the game has ever seen we have the greatest batter of them all, the man who averaged 99.94 in test cricket. He scored 974 runs (a record for any test series) in the 1930 Ashes, at 139.14, but perhaps his most remarkable display of high scoring given the circumstances came in the last three matches of the 1936-7 series. England won both of the opening games, and the weather played havoc with the third, England declaring their first innings at 76-9 to get Australia back in while the pitch was still vicious. Bradman countered by sending in tailenders O’Reilly and Fleetwood-Smith, and then when O’Reilly was out before the close, another specialist bowler, Frank Ward. As a result of this the score when Bradman emerged to join regular opener Fingleton was 97-5, and the pitch had largely eased. Bradmand and Fingleton put on 346 together, and then McCabe joined Bradman. Bradman in that innings made 270, the most ever by someone coming in at no7 in a test innings, and England, set 689 to win, were duly beaten by a huge margin. Bradman then made another double ton in the fourth match, which Australia won to make it 2-2. In the final game Bradman was dropped early in his innings, scored 169, and Australia duly won again, becoming the first and to date only side to win a five match series after losing the first two matches thereof.
  4. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. He averaged 60.97, a figure exceeded among those to have finished careers that included 20 or more test matches only by Bradman and Adam Voges, the latter named benefitting from playing most of his test cricket against weak opposition, and coming a cropper in his only Ashes series.
  5. Wally Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, occasional off spinner, ace slip fielder. When he led England out at Trent Bridge at the start of the 1938 Ashes he made history – he was the first person to have been a professional and also to be appointed an official England captain. A directorship at the Marsham Tyre Company had enabled him to turn amateur, which also saw him become the first and only player to captain the Players against the Gentlemen and the Gentlemen against the Players. In that team that he led out at Trent Bridge was the man who would get to lead his team out without turning amateur, Leonard Hutton. By the time of the outbreak of World War II he had scored 6,883 test runs at 61.75, but a comeback post war which never really worked out for him, and ended with a disastrous 1946-7 Ashes (168 runs in the series at 21.00).
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. The most complete player ever to have played the game.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. The most destructive keeper/ batter there has ever been, he completely rewrote the requirements for keeper/ batters. The search for the keeper who is also a destructive batter has led to some bizarre decisions – the current England camp’s obsession with Buttler, barely even a competent keeper and someone who has failed to transfer his white ball form to the red ball game is an example of people being led up a blind alley by this thinking (though arguably it is only England’s second worst selection blooper for the upcoming resumption of test cricket behind the selection of Denly at four, which amounts to a v-sign being flashed at Lawrence and Bracey, compilers of the only two major scores of the warm up match). It is nowadays unthinkable that a Bert Strudwick, who habitually batted no11, would be selected as a test wicket keeper, and even Bob Taylor, another brilliant wicket keeper who was not a proper front line batter would have a hard time convincing national selectors to pick him – just look at the treatment Ben Foakes has had from the England selectors.
  8. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. For my money the greatest fast bowler of the West Indies’ golden age.
  9. Michael Holding – right arm fast bowler. His 14-149 in the match on flat Oval wicket in 1976 is probably enough on its own to justify his inclusion, but he produced many other stellar performances. At Bridgetown, Barbados in 1981 he made use of a super-fast pitch to bowl probably the most intimidating opening over any test match has ever seen – the England opener, by then a veteran of over 100 test appearances, was beaten all ends up by four deliveries, got bat on one and had his off stump uprooted by the final ball of the over.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. His wicket taking rate of seven per match is out on its own among bowlers who played 20 or more test matches. At Melbourne in 1911-2 Johnny Douglas won the toss for England and put Australia in, a decision that needed early wickets to justify it. Barnes soon had the Aussie top four back in the hutch, for a single between them, and with a couple more wickets also falling early in the game Australia were at one point 38-6 in their first innings. They recovered to reach the semi-respectability of 184, but England remained in total control and ran out winners by eight wickets. Wilfred Rhodes, who went on that tour as a specialist batter, having started his career as a specialist bowler, was asked many years later about Barnes and just how good he was and said simply “the best of them today are half as good as Barnie wor.”
  11. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. The Dunedin born leggie first crossed the Tasman in search of cricketing fulfilment, and then crossed two state boundaries in his new country, before eventually breaking into the South Australia side, and then, at the age of 33 into the test side. He took 11 wickets on test debut, and went on to finish with 216 wickets in 37 matches, a wicket taking rate of just short of six per match, putting him ahead of his mate Bill O’Reilly and significantly ahead of Shane Warne.

This team features a stellar batting line up, two out and out quicks, probably the greatest bowler of them all, the craft and guile of Grimmett, and of course the most complete player ever to play the game in Sobers. Barnes, Holding, Marshall, Grimmett and Sobers, with Hammond as sixth bowler represents a mighty fine range of bowling options.

SOME OF THOSE WHO MISSED OUT

Everyone will have their own ideas about possible selections, but here are some of my own additional thoughts:

  • Opening batters – I went for the greatest opening partnership of all time. Thinking in partnership terms their only serious rivals are Greenidge/ Haynes and Hayden/ Langer. WG Grace, especially given his all round skills, Victor Trumper, Len Hutton, Arthur Morris, Barry Richards and Chris Gayle might all have been considered on their individual methods.
  • No3 – this position was non-negotiable, ‘the Don’ standing high above all other contenders.
  • Nos 4 and 5 – Steve Smith was ruled out on grounds other than technical ones. Brian Lara and Allan Border had fine records as left handed batters, but I considered Pollock to have an even stronger case – all available evidence suggests that when the curtain came down on that incarnation of his country as a test playing nation he was still getting better. Among right handers Viv Richards, Kane Williamson and Steve Waugh all have serious cases for consideration, but Hammond has his slip fielding and his potential value as a support bowler on his side as well as his phenomenal batting record.
  • No6 – non-negotiable. Sobers’ range of cricketing talents make him not so much a star as a galaxy – or at the very least a constellation.
  • The keeper – Gilchrist gets it because of his batting, but many from Jack Blackham, the so-called ‘prince of wicket keepers’ who kept for Australia in the inaugural test match through to Ben Foakes of today would be worth a place as glovemen.
  • The fast bowlers – too many potential candidates to list. I regret that left arm fast bowler William Mycroft was in his pomp before test cricket was a thing, and similarly the brilliant USian Bart King was not quite brilliant enough to propel hbis country to test status. Two other 19th century legends, Charlie Turner and George Lohmann could have had the spot I gave to Barnes.
  • The spinners – I ruled out selecting a specialist left arm spinner, because I already had Sobers to attend to that department, I considered off spinners Billy Bates and Jim Laker, while O’Reilly and Warne were obvious rivals to Grimmett, but I think the obstacles Grimmett had to clear before even having a chance to prove himself get him the nod.

ASIA

  1. Sunil Gavaskar – right handed opening batter. The first ever to score 10,000 test runs, and the first to score as many as 30 test centuries. He made 13 of those centuries against the West Indies, a dominant cricketing force for much of his career.
  2. Hanif Mohammad – right handed opening batter. He played the longest ever test innings, 337 against the West Indies in 970 minutes at the crease. His side had folded for 106 in their first dig, and made to follow on, saved the game by posting 657-8 second time around. That 551 runs difference between 1st and second innings scores is an all time test record, and is equalled at first class level by Middlesex (83 and 634 in a match in the 1980s) and Barbados (175 and 726-7 declared). The other side of his game was seen for Karachi against Bahawalpur when he scored 499 in just over ten hours at the crease, then a world first class record (ended by a run out, depending on which you believe either going for the 500th, or, believing himself to be on 498, seeking to farm the bowling for the following morning.
  3. Rahul Dravid – right handed batter. More test runs than any other number three. When he really got settled in one got the impression that nothing short of an earthquake would dislodge him.
  4. Virat Kohli – right handed batter. A man who averages over 50 in all three international formats and has scored big runs against all opponents.
  5. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. The only player ever to have scored 100 centuries in international matches (Kohli is currently on 70, and may conceivably match Tendulkar’s achievement).
  6. +Kumar Sangakkara – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Until Alastair Cook went past him he had more test runs to his credit than any other left hander. I have chosen him as wicket keeper to be able to pick a full range of bowlers.
  7. *Imran Khan – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. Statistically, with credit balance of 14 between his batting and bowling averages he ended as the most successful of the four great test all rounders of the 1980s. He was also one of the very few captains able to unify a Pakistan dressing room.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. Has a fair claim to be regarded as the best left arm quick bowler ever to play test cricket, and a mighty useful player to have coming at no8.
  9. Anil Kumble – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. The third leading wicket taker in test history, although Jimmy Anderson is officially still in the hunt to get past him. One of only two bowlers to have taken all ten in a test innings.
  10. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner. 800 test wickets from 133 appearances at that level, an all time record tally.
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. He is in the early stages of what should be an illustrious career. He already has on his CV an achievement few fast bowlers can point to – shaking the Aussie up in their own backyard, which he did in the 2018-9 series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

This side has a stellar top five, a keeper who is also a world class batter at six, a genuine all rounder at seven and four excellent varied bowlers. A pace attack of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Jasprit Bumrah looks decidedly fruity, and spin twins Muralitharan and Kumble will be formidable on any surface.

SO.ME OF THOSE WHO MISSED OUT

  • Opening batters – the current Indian opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal might well have warranted selection as a partnership, while Saeed Anwar, Sanath Jayasuriya (who would also have offered an extra bowling option) and Vijay Merchant all had cases for individual inclusion.
  • No3 – I considered that Dravid had no serious rivals for this slot, but I acknowledge the successes of Zaheer Abbas in the role.
  • Nos 4-5 – Javed Miandad, Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mahela Jayawardene, Aravinda De Silva and Mushtaq Mohammad could all have a case made for them.
  • The keeper – among keepers who also count as front line batters, and therefore do not significantly alter the balance of the side Mushfiqur Rahim and Rishabh Pant had cases, while Syed Kirmani, Wriddhiman Saha and Wasim Bari all had cases for being picked as specialist glove men.
  • The All rounder – non-negotiable, especially given his claims on the captaincy (sorry, Kapil).
  • Spinners – If I revisit this post in a few years Rashid Khan, the Afghan leg spinner, may well have displaced Anil Kumble (like Kumble he is also a handy lower order batter), while Sandeep Lamichhane of Nepal may also be making a strong case, especially if he can get a contract to play county cricket and build up his long form record, and Zahir Khan, another Afghan who bowls left arm wrist spin (not to be confused, as Gulu Ezekiel did on twitter yesterday, with Zaheer Khan the left arm pace bowler for India) may also be making a case for himself. Had Palwankar Baloo had the opportunity at test level he may well have had an excellent record with his left arm orthodox spin, but just as I felt unable to pick William Mycroft for the ROW because he never played test cricket, so I cannot pick Baloo here. The great Indian spin quartet of the 1970s, Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna and Venkataraghavan, all have cases for selection, especially the highly individual Chandrasekhar. Ravindra Jadeja’s all round skills fell only just short of making a case for him, and R Ashwin would also have his advocates. Saqlain Mushtaq, off spin, Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmed (both leg spin) all warrant consideration.
  • The pace bowlers. I picked Bumrah on a hunch, although he is in the early stages of his career, and of course technically his place should have gone to Waqar Younis. Shoaib Akhtar would also have his advocates, but he was very inconsistent, and that ‘100mph delivery’ did not actually cause the batter a great deal of trouble. Two early Indians, Amar Singh and Mahomed Nissar both had fine records at a time when bowling quick on the subcontinent was a cause of heartbreak. Fazal Mahmood who bowled Pakistan to their first ever test victory at The Oval in 1954 might have been selected as an analogue for Barnes in the ROW side, and there may be those who would want to see Sarfraz Nawaz selected. Finally, about ten years ago I would have been betting that Mohammad Amir, then an 18 year old left arm fast bowler, would be among the game’s all time greats before long. Sadly he was drawn into a web of corruption, served a five year suspension from the game, and although still a fine bowler has now decided to concentrate purely on limited overs cricket, so has to be filed under ‘what might have been’. The other two players involved in that scandal, Mohammad Asif, a fast medium bowler, and Salman Butt, opening batter and captain, were both in the respectable rather than outstanding class and would never been eligible even had they not got themselves banned.

THE CONTEST

The contest, for what I shall call the ‘Hutton-Baloo’ trophy, acknowledging two of those who missed out on selection, would be a splendid one. The ROW probably just about start as favourites, but Asia do have an amazing bowling attack, and with Akram at eight and Kumble at nine their batting is deeper than that of the ROW, though lacks the eye-watering strength of the ROW’s top batting.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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The Bankhouse, venue for my first meal out in four months.

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An excellent use of a Beck style diagram.

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A red admiral.

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Socially responsible signage.

IMG_1454 (2)ROW v Asia

All Time XIs – Through the Alphabet IX

The ninth ‘alphabetic progression’ post in my all time XIs series.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the today’s all time XI cricket post. We continue the alphabetic progression, with today’s starting point being U.

JOE VINE’S XI

  1. George Ulyett – right handed opening batter, right arm fast bowler. He opened the batting for England on occasions, including in the 1882 match that inaugurated the Ashes.
  2. *Joe Vine – right handed opening batter, leg spinner, captain. A stalwart for Sussex for many years. It was considered unthinkable for a professional to captain a county side in his day, but in keeping with my thinking about slow bowling all rounders I have given him the job in this XI.
  3. Everton Weekes – right handed batter. Of West Indians who have played at least 20 test matches only one, George Headley, with an average of 60.83 has a better batting average than Weekes’ 58.61 per innings. He holds the record for most consecutive test centuries, with five. He once started a tour of India by scoring centuries in his five innings in that country.
  4. Xenophon Balaskas – right handed batter, leg spinner. No 4 is high in the order for him, but X is a very difficult letter to fill.
  5. Michael Yardy – left handed batter, occasional left arm spinner. A solid batter whose bowling was almost exclusively deployed in limited overs matches where he was fairly economical though never a big wicket taker. He played a few games for England in limited overs formats.
  6. Bas Zuiderent – right handed batter. The dashing Dutchman gets another outing in this team.
  7. +Les Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A fabulous keeper batter.
  8. Ian Bishop – right arm fast bowler. At one time he seemed set to be a world beater, but he was plagued by injuries (an early warning that the West Indian fast bowling production line was drying up – the greats of the 1970s and 80s were apparently only vulnerable to kryptonite) which prevented him from really scaling the heights. He once helped the West Indies to reach almost 200 after being 29-5, supporting Gus Logie in an important late partnership. He is now a commentator on the game.
  9. Dean Cosker – left arm orthodox spinner. He did not quite make the grade, paying rather too much for his wickets.
  10. Mark Davies – right arm medium fast bowler. Took his wickets at 22 a piece in first class cricket when his body allowed him to play – it was that latter caveat that prevented him from playing for England.
  11. Hans Ebeling – right arm fast medium bowler. He played for Australia in the 1930s, and had a fine record in Shield cricket. However, his greatest contribution to cricket history was being the person who came up with the idea of the Centenary Test Match, which took place at Melbourne in March 1977, precisely 100 years after the first ever test match had taken place. Over 200 former Ashes players attended the match, and since it was a one-off match and not part of a series England skipper Brearley decreed that his team would make every effort to chase down the outlandish target of 463 that they were set to win. With Derek Randall making a test best 174 and various others also batting well England reached 417, meaning that the game finished in a victory for Australia by 45 runs, precisely the same as the outcome of the inaugural test match. In Australia’s second innings Rodney Marsh became the first Aussie keeper to reach three figures in a test match, six years after Bill ‘Phant’ Lawry had declared with him on 92. The success of this game, and the exact duplication of the margin from 100 years previously had one writer suggesting that the instigator, Ebeling, should really have been named Hans Andersen Ebeling, not just Hans Ebeling.

This team has a respectable top six, several of whom are also genuine bowlers, a great keeper batter at seven and four fine bowlers. Bishop, Ebeling, Davies and Ulyett make for a good seam attack, while Cosker, Balaskas and Vine are a handy trio of spinners.

IMRAN KHAN’S XI

  1. Roy Fredericks – left handed opening batter. Gordon Greenidge’s first opening partner at test level, before the emergence of Desmond Haynes. The first player other than Dennis Amiss (who scored the first two such innings) to rack up a century in a one day international. After his playing days were done he went into politics became Sports Minister in the government of Guyana.
  2. Sunil Gavaskar – right handed opening batter. The first player to amass 10,000 test match runs, the first batter to score as many 30 test centuries (34 in total). His 221 at The Oval in 1979 helped his team to come very close to chasing down 438 for victory (they lost their way in the closing stages and finished on 429-8, having been 366-1 at one point). 13 of his 34 test centuries came against the West Indies.
  3. Walter Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, occasional off spinner, excellent fielder. He dominated the 1928-9 Ashes, won 4-1 by England, scoring 905 runs in the five tests at 113.125 an innings, and in matches 2,3 and 4 of the series he had 251 at Sydney, 200 in the first innings at Melbourne and 119 and 177 not out at Adelaide. Four years later his 440 runs at 55 was joint leading series aggregate with Herbert Sutcliffe, and having finished the series with scores of 101 and 75 not out, with a six to end the match with a flourish, he proceeded to bash 227 and then a new test record 336 not out in the two match series England played in New Zealand on their way home, a record four innings sequence of 739 runs.
  4. Clive Inman – right handed batter. He played for Leicestershire until Ray Illingworth was brought in as captain and decided that the team could not function as such with him and Peter Marner in it, whereat he moved to Derbyshire. He cashed in a combination of Nottinghamshire wanting to provoke a declaration and needing to speed up their over rate the reach a 50 in eight minutes, now quite rightly relegated to a footnote in the record books – big Jim Smith’s 11 minute effort for Middlesex was made against proper bowling.
  5. Stanley Jackson – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. The fact that he played as an amateur and was never able to commit to a tour gave him a bizarre looking test record – five test hundreds, all scored against Australia and all in home matches. Like Fredericks he went into politics post cricket, although he was never a minster – he was at one time chairman of the Unionist Party. When he was preparing to make his maiden speech in the house the debate was not going well for his side and he was told “we are holding you back, it is a sticky wicket”, and then when the situation was looking rosier “Get your pads on, you’re in next”.
  6. *Imran Khan – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. He emerged with the best record of the four great test all rounders who emerged in the late 1970s (Ian Botham, Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee were the other three), averaging 37.69 with the bat and 22.81 with the ball. He is another who went into politics after retiring from cricket, and is the current President of Pakistan.
  7. George Lohmann – right arm medium pace bowler, right handed lower order batter. A little high at number seven, but he certainly could bat. However it is is his bowling, 112 wickets in 18 tests at just 10.75 each, that gets him in here.
  8. Fazal Mahmood – right arm fast medium bowler. Once described as the ‘Bedser od Pakistan’, he took his test wickets at 24 each, including a 12 wicket haul in Pakistan’s first ever test match victory at The Oval in 1954.
  9. +Wayne Noon – wicket keeper, right handed lower order batter. 215 dismissals in 92 first class matches, and an average of 20 with the bat including 12 first class fifties. He played county cricket for Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire, and also played in New Zealand for Canterbury.
  10. Pragyan Ojha – left arm orthodox spinner. Had an excellent record in Indian first class cricket, and played for Surrey in the county championship, spinning them to promotion back to the first division.
  11. Erapalli Prasanna – off spinner. One of four great spinners to play for India in the 1970s, along with Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan. In the only test match that all four of them played it was Prasanna who had the best figures.

This team has a strong top three, Inman and Jackson are not the worst at four and five, a great all rounder, four fine bowlers and a keeper. Imran Khan, Fazal Mahmood and George Lohmann, with Jackson as fourth seamer give good options in that department and the spin duo of Ojha and Prasanna is high quality, and there is Hammond as seventh bowler.

THE CONTEST

Imran Khan’s XI are clear favourites for this one – the only batters of absolutely indisputable class possessed by Joe Vine’s XI are Weekes and the keeper Ames, and the bowling while stronger is not sensational. Imran Khan’s XI by contrast is undeniably strong in both departments. I bring this post to a close by presenting the teams in tabulated form.

TTA IX

All Time XIs – Pakistan

Today being Monday the ‘all time XI’ post focusses on an international outfit, in this case Pakistan.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series of all time XI‘ cricket themed posts. Today, in keeping with our Monday tradition we look at an international set up. Today the focus is on Pakistan.

PAKISTAN IN MY TIME

  1. Azhar Ali – right handed opening batter. He has played 79 test matches and averages just under 43 at that level. He has also been a successful overseas player for Somerset. Pakistan have not been that well endowed with opening batters down the years, since most batters in that part of the world prefer to delay their entry until the shine has gone from the ball. The achievements of those who do open the batting are therefore all the more impressive because so few do so.
  2. Saeed Anwar – left handed opening batter. A test average of 45 per innings. His left handedness augurs well for my chosen opening pair.
  3. Babar Azam – right handed batter. This man averages 45 in test cricket and over 50 in both forms of limited overs internationals, an all format success rate that puts him firmly among contemporary greats not just of Pakistan but of world cricket.
  4. Javed Miandad – right handed batter. 8832 test runs at an average of over 50 (indeed he spent his entire test career with an average of over 50, a remarkable record of consistent success). 
  5. Misbah-ul-Haq – right handed batter. His arrival as a test cricketer came late in his career, but he made up for lost time to emerge with a batting average of 46 at that level, and an excellent record as captain.
  6. *Imran Khan – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. Even if his record as a player did not automatically command a place there could be only one choice as captain of an all-time Pakistan team. As it is he stands as one of the greatest of all all rounders, and beyond a doubt the finest that his country has ever produced. He is now of course demonstrating his leadership skills in the political sphere, running his entire country rather than merely the cricket team thereof.
  7. +Zulqarnain Haider – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A one cap wonder, he made 88 on his only test appearance and kept well. He subsequently fled to Britain, believing his life in danger from match fixers and that the Pakistan authorities were not doing enough to protect him. Pakistan have had many wicket keepers, but most of those who might be considered have question marks hanging over them.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. He was discovered by Imran who saw him bowling in the nets as a teenager and had him fast tracked into the national side. He went on to establish a record that places him firmly among the all time greats of the game.
  9. Saqlain Mushtaq – off spinner. A pioneer of the ‘doosra’, an off spinner’s equivalent of the googly that has always been controversial because of the arm angle required to produce it (there is a newer version called the ‘carrom ball’ which is less controversial). His record both for his country and for Surrey as an overseas player speaks for itself.
  10. Mushtaq Ahmed – leg spinner. He was one of two candidates for this position, Abdul Qadir being the other. However, for all Qadir’s merit in keeping alive the art of wrist spin at a time when fast bowlers ruled the world cricket roost, Mushtaq has the finer overall record. As well as his triumphs for Pakistan he was part of the first Sussex side ever to win a County Championship, having previously played for Somerset. He has gone to a coaching career which included a role in the England set up.
  11. Waqar Younis – right arm fast bowler. At one time he was probably the quickest on the planet, and his yorker was a devastating weapon for a number of years. Also, he bowled particularly effectively in tandem with Wasim Akram.

This team has a solid top five, one of the greatest ever all rounders and captains at no six, a keeper who can bat, and an awesome quartet of bowlers. The bowling, with a left arm speedster, two right arm speedsters, a leg spinner and an off spinner has both depth and variety. With Imran to captain them this would be a very tough unit to do battle against.

THE NEW NAMES FOR THE ALL TIME XI

  • Hanif Mohammad – right handed opening bat. He held the records for the highest first class score (499 for Karachi vs Bahawalpur) and the longest ever first class innings (337 in 970 minutes v West Indies, in a match saving second innings score of 657-8). Both have subsequently been broken, although his 970 minutes remains a test record for a single innings. He and the left handed, much more attack minded Saeed Anwar would make a formidable opening combination.
  • Zaheer Abbas – right handed batter. The only Asian batter to have scored 100 first class hundreds, a record that includes eight instances of twin centuries in a first class match (itself a record, which includes another record of four such instances including a double century). Although best known for his tall scoring in long form cricket he was also one of the best early ODI batters, being the first ever to hit three successive tons in that format.
  • Mushtaq Mohammad – right handed batter, leg spinner. He av eraged 39 with the bat and 29 with the ball, including twice combining centuries with five wikcket innings hauls.
  • +Wasim Bari – the finest keeper ever to play for Pakistan, his career ended just before I started following the game in earnest, but his record speaks for itself.
  • Fazal Mahmood – right arm fast medium. An expert bowler of the leg cutter, he took as test wickets at 24 each and his first class wickets at 18.96. He took 12 wickets in the first test match that his country won, against England at The Oval. His presence adds craft and variety to the bowling attack.

Thus, our Pakistan All-Time XI reads in batting order: Hanif Mohammad, Saeed Anwar, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Mushtaq Mohammad, *Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, +Wasim Bari, Saqlain Mushtaq, Fazal Mahmood and Waqar Younis. This team contains a very strong top four, three all rounders, a keeper and three varied bowlers. Waqar, Wasim, Imran, Fazal, Saqlain and Mushtaq Mohammad is a superb all round bowling unit.

THOSE WHO MISSED OUT

I have mentioned in passing Abdul Qadir, who I believe deserves full credit for keeping wrist spin bowling alive. Shoaib Akhtar, the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ might have had a fast bowling spot, but his record does not compare with Waqar Younis, and I am a little sceptical about his ‘first record 100mph delivery’, since a) there was something of an obsession during that world cup with the mark being reached, b)the delivery in question did not actually cause many problems and c)Jeff Thomson, Frank Tyson and even Charles Kortright of old may well have bowled deliveries that travelled at over 100mph but were not recorded as doing so, there being no recording equipment available at the time. If Shaheen Shah Afridi continues as he has started his left arm pave bowling will merit serious consideration, but it is Waqar’s place that would in danger – he is very much a pure bowler, and so could not be selected in place of Wasim. Sarfraz Nawaz, a fast medium not altogether dissimilar to Fazal produced one outstanding spell, 7-1 in 33 balls v Australia as 305-3 became 310 all out, but his record overall is not a match for Fazal’s. Shahid Afridi, a big hitting batter and leg spin bowler, was among the most watchable of all cricketers but his record does not have the substance to match the style. There are three batters with outstanding records who I have ignored for reasons other than their cricketing ability. Inzamam-ul-Haq was considered for the place that I awarded to Misbah, and I fully accept that he has a valid claim. Imtiaz Ahmed and Taslim Arif were both heavy scoring keepers. Asif Iqbal, a middle order batter and sometimes useful slow-medium bowler would also have his advocates. It is also a matter of regret to me that I could find no way of equipping this unit with a front line left arm spin option, and I am open to genuine suggestions about this. Finally, Asif Mujtaba and Ijaz Ahmed both had good records, but I could not see them ahead of those I actually picked. I also remind people that no two people’s selections would ever be in complete agreement in an exercise of this nature, although I would expect the choice of Imran as skipper to be pretty much unanimous.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Our journey through Pakistan cricket is at and end, but before my usual sign off I have a couple of links to share, both from Tax Research UK:

  1. The Way To Tackle The ‘How Are You Going To Repay The Borrowing?’ Question
  2. We Do Not Need A One Off Wealth Tax To Pay Off The National Debt

And now for those pictures…

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A series of illustrations from Stephen Jay Gould’s “Dinosaur in a Haystack”

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A splendid little book.

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Pakistan
The teams in tabulated form.

 

 

 

100 Cricketers – The Seventh XI Allrounders

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with the allrounders from the seventh XI. Also features a few links and as usual some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest addition to my “100 cricketers” series, which features the allrounders from my seventh XI. The introductory post to the whole series can be seen here, the post in which I introduce the seventh XI here, and the most recent post in the series here. Before getting into the main business of this post there is a bit of news.

SAM CURRAN DESTROYS DELHI CAPITALS

Many eyebrows were raised when young Surrey and England all-rounder Sam Curran fetched a seven figure sum in the IPL auction. Yesterday for Kings XI Punjab Curran who had already scored 20 off 10 balls opening the batting took 4-11 including a hat-trick which settled the match. He had bowled one over for seven when he was brought back into the attack in the closing stages. The Delhi Capitals had looked to be cruising home, but in a collapse to rival anything from 1990s England at their worst lost their last seven wickets for just eight runs. Curran benefitted from old fashioned straight, full bowling – the batters missed and he hit the stumps. A full report can be read here. Now to the main business of the post.

*IMRAN KHAN

88 test matches, 3,807 runs at 37.69 and 362 wickets at 22.81, and 175 ODIs which yielded 3,709 runs at 33.41 and 182 wickets at 26.61. He finished his career well before the launch of T20, but there can be little doubt that as an attacking bat and genuinely fast bowler he would have been a success at that form of the game as well. In 1992 he captained his country to World Cup success. This and many other successes as captain have earned him the captaincy of this XI. Captaincy sometimes adversely affects the performance of players, but this was not the case for Imran, who produced some of his finest efforts while captaining. He is a worthy captain of this XI and has an excellent back up in Heather Knight, who I named as vice-captain.

+MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI

90 test matches, 4,876 runs at 38.09, 256 catches and 38 stumpings. 341 ODI appearances yielded 10,500 runs at 50.72, 314 catches and 120 stumpings. 98 T20Is produced 1714 runs at 37.60, 57 catches and 34 stumpings. The figures show that he was an outstanding wicketkeeping allrounder. The successes in limited overs cricket show that he played an attacking brand of cricket. The fact that six of his nine first class hundreds, including his best of 224, came in test matches show that he relished the big occasion. With him behind the sticks the bowlers (Imran and the four players you will see in my next post in this series, which will also introduce the eigth XI) can be confident that their efforts will not go to waste. 

PHOTOGRAPHS AND LINKS

As well as my standard sign off I have some links to share:

trpirob

NB this is slightly harder than the original as that multiple choice answers.

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