All Time XIs – Match Ups 31

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

Welcome to the latest instalment jn my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today we finish the Gs, who are currently on 72 of a possible 105 points and see the H’s move into the spotlight, with 20 of a possible 35 points from the encounters in which they are alphabetically second banked.

THE Gs V THE Ws

The Gs have the better opening pair, though by much less than the raw figures suggest – Woolley and Worrell is a right/ left handed combo, whereas Gavaskar and Greenidge were both right handed. Also Woolley began before WWI, so faced some very rough pitches in his early days, while Worrell achieved his successes in test cricket’s lowest and slowest scoring period. Weekes was definitely the better number three, though by less than raw figures suggest – had they played on the same surfaces Weekes would probably have been about 10 per innings ahead of Grace. Walcott and Waugh win the number four and five match ups. Gilchrist wins his match up against Watling. Whitty and Willis have a small advantage as a new ball pair of Garner and Geary, especially given Whitty’s left arm, and while Gregory was the finer batter, Woods wins the bowling element of the fast bowling all rounders match up. Warne and Grimmett is a clash of leg spinning titans, but the diminutive Kiwi born Aussie of yesteryear took more wickets per match than Warne and had a better average – and there were plenty of big scorers around in the 1920s and 1930s. Wardle, probably being used mainly in his left arm wrist spin style as this is a bigger contrast to leg spin than left arm orthodox outranks Gibbs. The best sixth bowling option is close between Grace and Woolley, but the Ws have an accredited seventh bowler in Worrell. This contest is close on batting, features two ace skippers (I just give Worrell the verdict in that department), is close on keeping, the Ws are ahead on pace bowling and more comfortably ahead on spin bowling. The Ws are significantly clear in view of the depth and variety of their bowling, but we are not in whitewash territory: Gs 1, Ws 4.

THE Gs V THE Xs

The Gs have much stronger batting, an overwhelming superiority in pace bowling, a clear superiority in spin bowling and the better captain. BoX probably outranks Gilchrist as a keeper, but this is hugely one-sided: Gs 5, Xs 0.

THE Gs V THE Ys

The Gs have the better opening pair, the Ys the better number three, though not by much – playing Younis Khan’s era Grace would probably have averaged not far short of 50. M Yousuf outranks Gower in the number four slot, but Yallop is outranked by Graveney. Gilchrist wins the keepers match up hands down, while Gregory beats Yardley in both departments. Geary outranks U Yadav, Garner outranks W Younis. The Gs also win the spin match ups. The Gs have somewhat better batting, the better captain, the better keeper and a much better bowling unit – Grace as sixth bowler for the Gs certainly outranks the Ys fifth bowler, Yardley, as indeed does Gregory, who may also outrank U Yadav as a bowler. There is no circumstance in which the Ys can make a dent in the Gs: Gs 5, Ys 0.

THE Gs V THE Zs

The only match up the Zs arguably win is the keeping element of Zulqarnain Haider/ Gilchrist. For the rest it is the Gs all the way: Gs 5, Zs 0.

THE Gs FINAL SCORE

The Gs have scored 16 of a possible 20 points today, moving them up to 88 out of 125 points in total, 70.40% overall.

THE Hs V THE Is

The Hs utterly dominate the batting, winning all of the top six match ups, though the Is do just win at nos 7 and 8. Healy is the finer keeper, Illingworth probably outranks Hutton as a captain. Hadlee and Holding massively outrank Islam and Ireland as a new ball pairing, though Iremonger would outrank Hammond as third seamer. Ironmonger outranks Herath with the ball but Harmer outranks Illingworth is an off spinner. There can be only one result here: Hs 5, Is 0.

THE Hs SO FAR

The Hs now have 25 of a possible 40 points, 62.5%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just before my usual sign off, here is a link to a crowdfunder on behalf of the West Norfolk Autism Group.

All Time XIs – Match Ups 24

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

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Fs take their place in the spotlight today, with 16.5 of a possible 25 points already banked. This post also comes with a two part picture gallery.

THE Fs V THE Gs

The Gs have the better opening pair, but not by as =much as raw figures make it look: Fredericks was left handed whereas both Gs openers are right handed, and also Fry’s average of 32 on early 20th century pitches is would equate to considerably more on modern pitches. Conversely Flower at number three outranks Grace the batter by a lot less than the figures suggest, and Grace also offers a genuine bowling option. Gower outranks Fletcher, but the difference in batting averages between Faulkner and Graveney is more than made up for by the different pitches they played on and the fact that Faulkner provides a bowling option. Gilchrist hugely outbats Foakes, though Foakes wins the keeping side of their match up. Fender and Grace were two of the greatest captains to feature in this series, and I just award Fender the laurels in this epic match up. The Fs have the better pace attack – of the Gs three pacers only Garner would merit a place in the Fs XI. George Freeman retired in 1875, to concentrate on his auctioneering business, and although he would undoubtedly have paid more per wicket on modern surfaces he would still have been utterly outstanding. Ferris’ test bowling average of 12.70 converts on my rough and ready scheme for Victorian to modern to someone averaging 19.05 today, while Foster the third seamer clearly outranks Gregory as a bowler. While Grimmett and Gibbs rank as the two best spinners in this contest, Flowers, Fender and Faulkner are a trio of genuinely front line options. The Gs do of course have Grace as their own extra bowling option. This is an epic contest, but I think the pace bowling resources of the Fs plus Fender’s captaincy tip the scales their way: Fs 3, Gs 2.

THE Fs V THE Hs

The Hs dominate the batting, winning every match up down to number eight in the order. However, the Fs have a massive advantage in the bowling department, with Hammond the H’s only back up bowler behind the front four. Holding and Hadlee might be a fair match for Freeman and Ferris, although Ferris’ left arm gives the Fs an extra point of difference, but Hammond the bowler is miles behind Foster. While I would give Harmer the verdict over Flowers, Fender and Faulkner both probably outrank Herath. Bowlers win more than batters, so I score this one Fs 3.5, Hs 1.5.

THE Fs V THE Is

This is a non-contest with the Fs dominating the batting, having the better skipper, the better keeper, far the better pace attack, being outpointed only in the spin department, and that not by nearly enough to affect the outcome: Fs 5, Is 0.

THE Fs V THE Js

The Fs have a clear advantage in this one as well, but less so than in the previous case. No team with the mercurial talents of Jayasuriya, Jessop and Mitchell Johnson available can be completely dismissed, so I score this Fs 4, Js 1.

THE Fs V THE Ks

The Ks have the edge in batting, and they like the Fs have six authentic bowling options. The Fs are ahead in spin bowling with R Khan and Kumble both being leg spinners, whereas the Fs have an off spinner as well as their two leggies. The front line pace trios are very hard to separate, although all three of the Ks speedsters bowl right handed, so they lose on lack of variation. Kallis is his side’s sixth bowler, and I rate him less valuable to the cause in that department than Faulkner, his equivalent. There is very little between the captains, two of the best ever in that role. I think the slightly more varied bowling attack will just be enough for the Fs – Fs 3, Ks 2.

THE Fs PROGRESS REPORT

The Fs scored 18.5 of a possible 25 points today, putting them on 35 out of 50 so far, 70%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Part one of today’s photographic selection features pictures taken while stewarding at Greenland Fishery during yesterday’s rescheduled Heritage Open Day (should have been the 11th, but the death of a ludicrously over privileged old lady necessitated a postponement and yesterday was the new day chosen. A number of stewards were not available for the new date, hence some of us being relocated (I was originally due to be at the Red Mount Chapel).

Part two of the photo gallery is some of my more typical photography….

All Time XIs – Match Ups 20

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%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Today’s gallery includes some shots from King’s Lynn and some I took while travelling north on Saturday…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 16

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

Welcome to the latest installment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Ds are in the spotlight today, coming into the day with 15 out of a possible 30 points.

THE Ds V THE Hs

The Hs are much stronger in batting. They also have to given the captaincy palm, while Healy was the better keeper, though Dujon’s superior batting somewhat compensates for that. The Ds are ahead on seam/ pace bowling, with Hammond third seamer for the Hs, but the Hs are far better equipped with spinners. I don’t think the Ds seam/ pace attack is quite sufficient to compensate for their obvious disadvantages in this contest and score it Ds 2, Hs 3.

THE Ds V THE Is

The Ds are massively ahead in batting and pace bowling, Dujon beats Imtiaz in both departments, while the Is are way ahead in the spin department. The Is spin superiority may win them one match, but even that is no certainty: Ds 4.5, Is 0.5.

THE Ds V THE Js

The Ds win the batting, though by less than the figures suggest. The Js win on captaincy, keeping and spin bowling, though the Ds are ahead on front line seam/ pace options, though this is slightly mitigated by the Js having Jessop as a back up option. I award this one to the Js: Ds 2 Js 3.

THE Ds V THE Ks

This is close on batting, the Ks have the better keeper and the better skipper (by far), the Ks pace trio is maybe marginally behind the Ds, but they have Kallis as 4th seamer to compensate for that. R Khan and Kumble give the Ks a definite advantage in spin bowling. The Ds are losing this one heavily: Ds 0.5, Ks 4.5.

THE Ds V THE Ls

Lawry comfortably beats Dent at number one, Dempster also wins vs Labuschagne, especially given that the latter is batting out of position. The number three slot features a clash of titans. I give the verdict to Dravid just about, on two grounds: 1) Dravid scored more total runs and 2)Lara’s two biggest test knocks both came on exceedingly flat decks in Antigua in games that England quite comfortably drew. Donnelly and Duleepsinhji have better averages than their opposite numbers, but much smaller sample sizes to achieve those numbers. D’Oliveira beats Langridge with the bat, while Dennett outranks Langridge as a left arm spinner. Dujon has Langley covered in both departments. Lillee, Lindwall and Lohmann outrank Davidson, Daniel and Donald as a pace/ seam trio, and Laker’s off spin is far more of an asset to his side than D’Oliveira’s medium pace is to his side. The Ls also have one of the greatest of all skippers, while the Ds are led by someone who never captained in actual life. Thus I score this one Ds 0 Ls 5.

THE Ds PROGRESS UPDATE

Even with one huge win the Ds have not had a great day, scoring just nine off a possible 25 points, which puts them overall on 24 out of a possible 55, 43.64%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups (11)

Welcome to the next post in my series analysing how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. The Cs XI currently occupy the hot seat, and they enter this post on 3.5 out of 15 points.

THE Cs V THE Es

The Cs are ahead in each of the top five batting positions, though Elgar and J Edrich aren’t out of position whereas Cowdrey and Chanderpaul are. Also Bill Edrich lost six prime years to WWII, so Chappelli’s advantage over him the bat is slightly illusory. Endean outbats Constantine but doesn’t bowl. Evans is marginally behind Carter with the bat, but compensates by being the finer keeper. Tom Emmett and Gideon Elliott look capable of matching Cummins and Croft, and Emmett’s left arm is an extra point of variation. Edwin Evans beats Cornwall with the ball, while Ecclestone against Chandrasekhar is a close contest. The Cs have better back up bowling options, with Constantine, Compton, Chanderpaul and G Chappell all capable of offering something, whereas only Bill Edrich is remotely close to being a back up bowling option for the Es. This is a close contest, but I think the Es superiority in front line bowling is just enough: Cs 2, Es 3.

THE Cs V THE Fs

The Cs have the edge in batting, although the Fs extra depth in that department narrows the gap. The Fs are dominant in bowling – Ferris, Foster and Freeman are all arguably superior to any of the Cs pacers, and whoever out of Foster or Ferris ends up third seamer knocks Constantine out of the park in that department. Similarly, the Fs three front line spin options, Faulkner, Fender and Flowers are all better than Cornwall, with Faulkner and Flowers both clearly also ahead of Chandrasekhar. For all their marginal batting advantage there are no circumstances in which I can envisage the Cs having the advantage, and Fender is one of the few skippers not to lose that contest to Chappelli. I score this one Cs 1, Fs 4.

THE Cs V THE Gs

The opening pairs are apparently closely matched, but Gavaskar and Greenidge are in their natural positions, while Chanderpaul and Cowdrey are not. Similar Chappelli at three is not as well placed over Grace as the figures make it look – Grace came late to test cricket – 32 when he made his debut, almost 51 when he finally retired, and that batting average of 32 is worth at least half as much again in more modern times. Plus he provides a bowling option. The Cs win the number four and five slots. However Gilchrist knocks the spots off Carter with the bat, though the latter was probably the better keeper. Gregory outpoints Constantine in the battle of the fast bowling all rounders. Geary and Garner are a little behind Croft and Cummins as a pair, but not significantly so. Grimmett outpoints Chandrasekhar, and from a bowling point of view Gibbs is the proverbial country mile clear of fellow West Indian Cornwall. The Gs are definitely ahead in terms of the front five bowlers, and their sixth option, WG Grace, outpoints at least two of the Cs front five as well. The Gs have a significant advantage, and a skipper who will certainly stand up to opposite number Chappelli. Not even Chappelli can salvage anything for the Cs from this one: Cs 0, Gs 5.

THE Cs V THE Hs

The Hs win the first four batting positions, G Chappell just having the edge on compatriot Hussey at no 5. Hendren is far superior with the bat to Constantine, while Healy clearly beats Carter. Hadlee and Holding at least match Cummins and Croft, Harmer and Herath beat Cornwall and Chandrasekhar. The Cs have the better fifth bowler, Constantine outdoing Hammond in that department. The Cs extra bowling depth does not make up for their lack of front line strength or for the fact that they are badly outgunned with the bat: Cs 0, Hs 5.

THE Cs V THE Is

The Cs boss the first five batting positions, , though the Is win the next three. Bowling wise the Is win on spinners, but lose heavily in the pace department – Iremonger may rate as a better third seamer than Constantine, but the new ball pairing does not compare to Cummins and Croft. I score this as Cs 4, Is 1.

Cs PROGRESS REPORT

Even with four points in the final match up the Cs have scored just seven points out of 25 today, moving them on to 10.5 out of 40, 26.25% so far.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups (2)

Continuing my analysis of how I see the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet faring against on another.

Yesterday I started the long process of analyzing how my teams for each letter of the alphabet measure up against each other. In that post I have covered the As XI against Bs, Cs, Ds, Es and Fs. At that stage the As rated at 13.5 out of 25. We pick up where we left off.

THE As V THE Gs

The Gs have substantial advantages batting wise in positions 1 and 6, a theoretical disadvantage in position 3 and are otherwise about even down to number seven. WG Grace’s test batting average of 32.29 has to be looked at a) with regard to the fact that he was 32 when his career at that level began and almost 51 when it ended and b) with regard to the fact that he played on some pretty ropey pitches. I would thus say that he should be regarded as at minimum Babar Azam’s equal in that department. In bowling the Gs have a very clear advantage, with their sixth best bowler by average, Gregory, marginally better than the As fifth best, Shakib Al Hasan. I also have to say that I reckon that WG has to be considered a better skipper than Shakib Al Hasan. I would score this one as Gs 4, As 1.

THE As V THE Hs

The question here is whether the Hs can make their massive batting advantage tell, when their bowling is weaker than the As. With Hammond prospective third seamer for them, they probably need a turner, when their spinners Harmer and Herath are probably a stronger pair than Ashwin and Al Hasan – Ashwin may be better than Harmer, though it is far from conclusive, but Herath is unquestionably superior to Al Hasan as a bowler. For all the greatness of Hadlee and Holding, they are outnumbered by Akram. Ambrose and Anderson, and the first named of the trio is left handed to add a point of variation. I think that anywhere other than India or Sri Lanka the As would be able to make their pace bowling advantage count, and I score this one As 3, Hs 2.

THE As V THE Is

The As have a huge advantage in batting and in seam bowling, additionally, Ashwin’s clear superiority as an off spinner over Illingworth counter balances Ironmonger’s advantage over Al Hasan as a bowler. Finally, the tail end of the Is is very weak batting wise – Anderson would bat above any of Islam, Ireland or Ironmonger. This is a colossal mismatch in favour of team A, and I accordingly score it As 5 Is 0.

THE As V THE Js

Down to number five the Js win every batting match up. They also have an ‘X factor’ player in Jessop, a great captain in Stanley Jackson. In bowling the Js have greater depth, but the As have more frontline strength. I consider the As to have a definite advantage overall, courtesy of their stellar bowling line up, but not enough to score it at 4-1. Final verdict: As 3.5, Js 1.5.

THE As V THE Ks

Positions 1-3 are fairly even between these two teams, but the Ks boss positions four and five, and while Shakib Al Hasan has a slightly better batting average than his rival skipper, Imran Khan’s bowling average blows Al Hasan’s out of the water. Ames has a better batting record than Kirmani, but the Indian was probably the finer keeper. Charles Kortright, Bart King and Imran Khan are a faster trio than Akram, Ambrose and Anderson, though don’t include a left armer in their number. The contrasting pair of leg spinners, Kumble and Rashid Khan probably give the Ks the edge in the spin department, and they also have the luxury of having Kallis available as sixth bowler. Finally, whereas the As who two genuine tail enders in Ambrose and Anderson, the Ks bat literally all the way down, with the no11 having two first class hundreds. I award the Ks a substantial advantage, my final score being As 1, Ks 4.

As STATS UPDATED

In the end, with two heavy defeats, one overwhelming win and two respectable wins in these five matches the As score another 13.5 points, now having 27 out of a possible 50 and still being on 54%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – The Letter H

Continuing the all-time XI theme with a look at the letter H.

Before introducing this post I have a point of information to offer. I have various commitments over the next few days which may mean I don’t get to put up any further posts before Sunday. We continue the all-time XIs theme with the letter H (letter G was treated out of position to coincide with the skipper’s birth anniversary), which presents us with a massive embarrassment of riches. There will be a vast mass of honourable mentions.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. Jack Hobbs (Surrey, England). The Master’s case for inclusion needs no further amplification – it is beyond dispute.
  2. *Leonard Hutton (Yorkshire, England). His extraordinary record is even more extraordinary when you consider he lost six prime development years to WWII and emerged from that conflict with one arm shorter than the other due to a training accident.
  3. George Headley (West Indies). To date the only test cricketer to have been born in Panama, and one of the select few to finish with an average in excess of 60 at that level. He was nicknamed ‘Atlas’ because he seemed to carry WI’s batting on his shoulders.
  4. Walter Hammond (Gloucestershire, England). Only an ill advised comeback post WWII when he was in his mid forties reduced his test average below 60 runs an innings. He was also an ace slip fielder and a serviceable medium-fast bowler.
  5. Mike Hussey (Northamptonshire, Australia). His test career started late because when he was in his absolute prime Australia were utterly dominant, with a strong and settled batting line up, but once the chance came he took it with both hands, establishing a superb record at the highest level.
  6. Patsy Hendren (Middlesex, England). The third leading scorer of FC runs and second leading scorer of FC centuries in history, he rounds out a fearsome top six.
  7. +Ian Healy (Australia). Australia have had a long line of top class wicket keepers, and this guy was one of the greatest of them all, though his batting was not a match for that of his successor, Gilchrist.
  8. Richard Hadlee (Nottinghamshire, New Zealand). Indisputably the finest cricketer ever to play for New Zealand (Clarrie Grimmett, the great leg spinner, was born in Dunedin, though he had to cross the Tasman to find cricketing fulfilment).
  9. Simon Harmer (Essex, South Africa). So far he has had few opportunities at test level, but his performances for Essex in the county championship have been sensational over the years, and I expect to see him in action against England later this summer.
  10. Michael Holding (Derbyshire, Lancashire, West Indies). Attained legendary status in 1976 when alone among the bowlers on either side he managed to make things happen on a placid Oval surface, claiming 14-149 in the match, as many wickets as the other bowlers on both sides took put together. In 1981 he produced possibly the most intimidating opening over ever bowled in a test match, at Bridgetown, when veteran opener Geoff Boycott was comprehensively beaten by four balls, got bat on one and lost his off stump to the sixth.
  11. Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka). The left arm spinner was one of the best of his kind ever to play the game, and his test record makes hugely impressive reading.

This side contains a massively strong top six, a great keeper who could bat and four of the greatest bowlers ever to play the game. Due to my decision to select Harmer, the only controversial choice in the XI, it has only two specialist quicks, with Hammond as third seamer, but I don’t foresee taking 20 wickets being a huge problem even so.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

We start with the openers, of whom at least four were unlucky to have surnames beginning with the same letter as Hobbs and Hutton: Two west Indians, Conrade Hunte aka ‘old everlasting’ and Desmond Haynes had excellent test records but could not quite challenge my two choices, two other English openers, Tom Hayward and Percy Holmes both had fine records, although the latter got few opportunities at test level due to overlapping with Hobbs and Sutcliffe. Finally, Matthew Hayden had a magnificent overall record, but he has one black mark: in England in 2005 he had a shocking series only partially redeemed by a score of 138 in the final match thereof.

Among the middle order batters who failed to make the cut are Neil Harvey, a magnificent left hander who might have been awarded the slot I gave to Hussey, David Hussey who had a fine domestic record but got few opportunities at test level, Clem Hill, another legendary left hander, Hunter ‘Stork’ Hendry also had a fine record but not quite good enough to challenge. James Hildreth of Somerset never got the opportunity to show what he could do at the highest level, and given the strength of the batting available for this letter he has to miss out again.

Three wicket keepers challenged for the slot I gave to Ian Healy: his niece Alyssa, who has a magnificent record for the Aussie women’s team, Brad Haddin, who was not Healy’s equal with the gauntlets though may have been better with the bat and Warren Hegg of Lancashire. Those who pick their keepers solely on batting ability might have looked to Geoff Humpage of Warwickshire, but even he would not claim on his own behalf to have been a great keeper, and I am disinclined to pick anyone who chose to go on rebel tours to South Africa, as he did.

I did not pick an all rounder, which is unusual for me, but I felt that none of that top six could be left out. Five all rounders had records to merit consideration: George Hirst of Yorkshire and England, and Jason Holder of the West Indies are the two pace bowling all rounders to merit a mention for this letter, while three leg spinning all rounders, JW ‘young Jack’ Hearne, David Holford (West Indies) and Wanindu Hasaranga (Sri Lanka) also merit mentions. Krom Hendricks, the first South African to be excluded from selection based on skin colour, back in the 1890s, does not have a detailed enough record to be given more than a mention.

There is an absolute plethora of great bowlers for with surnames beginning with H: Wes Hall, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Heine, Vanburn Holder (part of the original WI pace quartet of 1976), Steve Harmison and JT ‘old Jack’ Hearne (the fourth leading wicket taker in FC history, with 3,061 scalps) being clear cut examples. Ryan Harris and Dean Headley were fine bowlers who were deprived of greatness by injuries. Rodney Hogg had a meteoric career starting in the late 1970s and ending in the early 1980s. Schofield Haigh, a bowler of above medium pace who could swing, seam, cut or spin the ball had a massively successful county career for Yorkshire but only a few England caps. David Harris of Hambledon would need a law change to be able to use his preferred methods in the modern game, and a lack of any detail about his career figures relegates him to the honourable mentions. Finally, Alex Hartley, a world cup winning left arm spinner, is unlucky to be competing with Herath for a slot, and has to settle for a commentary gig (she is good at that too).

Our on-field umpires to go with this XI can be John Holder and Anna Harris.

PHOTOGRAPHS

After a look at the cornucopia of talent available to a selector of a side with surnames beginning with H it is time for my usual sign off…

All Time XIs: Ultimate Talents

A look at a selection of record breaking and utterly unique cricketers by way of explaining the unanswerability of the question “who was the greatest ever cricketer”.

This post was provoked by a question I saw posted on twitter yesterday: who was the greatest cricketer of all time. This question is of course unanswerable and to explain why this is so I have assembled a touring party of 17 all of whom were about as good as players of their type can be. All of these players have attributes that mean that the claim that they stand alone in cricket history is unassailable, and I explain why in the course of my look at that them.

FIRST XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. JB Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. ‘The Master’, scorer of more FC runs and more FC centuries than anyone else in the history of the game.
  2. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types through his career. The most dominant player of any era, towering over his contemporaries both literally and metaphorically.
  3. DG Bradman – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. A test batting average of 99.94, maintained over 52 matches at level needs no further comment.
  4. SR Tendulkar – right handed batter, occasional bowler. The only player to have scored 100 centuries across formats in international cricket.
  5. FE Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The only cricketer to tally over 10,000 FC runs, take over 1,000 wickets and hold over 1,000 catches in the course of a first class career.
  6. GS Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. The most complete cricketer the game has ever seen.
  7. GH Hirst – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. Achieved the feat of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class matches in each of 10 successive seasons, including the only ever instance of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets in the same FC season.
  8. +RW Taylor – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The most wicket keeping dismissals (1,649 of them – 1,473 catches and 176 stumpings) of anyone in first class cricket history.
  9. W Rhodes – left arm orthodox spinner, right handed batter. More first class wickets than anyone else in the game’s history, even though there was a phase in his career when he hardly bowled. He also scored almost 40,000 runs in FC cricket.
  10. SF Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed batter. The best wickets per game ratio of anyone to play 20 or more tests – 189 in 27 matches, at 16.43 each = seven wickets per match. Generally regarded as the greatest of all bowlers.
  11. T Richardson – right arm fast bowler, right handed batter. The fastest to the career landmarks of 1,000 FC wickets (134 matches) and 2,000 (327 matches). From the start of the 1894 season to the end of the 1897 season he took just over 1,000 wickets, a period of wicket taking unique in cricket history.

This is a well balanced XI of awesome power. Now onto…

THE RESERVES

These are my six designated reserves:

  1. H Sutcliffe, right handed opening batter. My reserve opener was the ultimate big game player. His overall FC average was 52.02, his overall test average 60.73 and his overall Ashes average 66.85. As he himself once said to Pelham Warner “ah Mr Warner, I love a dogfight”.
  2. JH Kallis, right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Has a fair claim to be regarded as the best batting all rounder ever to play the game. He didn’t master the full range of skills that Sobers did, hence his place as a reserve rather than in the starting XI.
  3. GA Faulkner, right handed batter, leg spinner. The only cricketer to have finished a career of over 20 test matches with a batting average of over 40 and a bowling average of less than 30.
  4. GL Jessop, right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The most consistently fast scorer ever to play the game.
  5. +LEG Ames, right handed batter, wicket keeper. The only recognized keeper to have scored 100FC hundreds, also holds the record for most career stumpings in first class cricket – 418.
  6. GA Lohmann, right arm medium fast bowler, right handed batter. The man with the lowest career bowling average of anyone take 100 test wickets – 10.75.

CONCLUSIONS

This little collection of players fully illustrates why there is no definitive answer to the question I saw on twitter yesterday. I also missed the taker of 800 test wickets (Muralidaran), the only player to score 5,000 test runs and take 400 test wickets (Kapil Dev), the holder of the record test and first class individual scores (Lara), and quite a few others who have and deserve to have legions of fans. If forced to provide a single player as answer to this question I would consider WG Grace to be less far wrong than any other single answer.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Channel Islands 5: A Cricketing Journey to Alderney

Journeying through cricket history and from King’s Lynn to Alderney in honour of John Arlott.

Having reached Alderney in my account of my recent holiday it is now time for a special post in honour of John Arlott, the legendary cricket commentator, who lived his last years on the island. We will travel through considerable space and time in the course this journey.

STOP ONE: CAMBRIDGE

Cambridge, which my route from King’s Lynn to Portsmouth passed through, was the birthplace of Jack Hobbs, ‘The Master’. It also provides a specialist spinner for the XI since after his falling out with Yorkshire, which ended his first class career, Johnny Wardle played minor counties cricket for Cambrigeshire.

STOP TWO: VAUXHALL

The train from Waterloo to Portsmouth passes through but does not stop at Vauxhall, which overlooks The Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket Club. It is not my purpose to pick an time Surrey XI here (I did that a while back) so I am not actually using this location to pick any players – I am merely noting it.

STOPS 3,4 AND 5: SURBITON, WOKING, GUILDFORD

As with Vauxhall the train passes through Surbiton. Surbiton is not in itself of major relevance, but a line branches off here to Thames Ditton and Hampton Court, and at one time of his life the legendary fast bowler Tom Richardson had a home in Thames Ditton.

Woking, the first stop on the London-Portsmouth route, was home for many years to the Bedser twins, Alec (right arm fast medium, useful lower order batter) and Eric (right handed batter, off spinner).

Guildford, also a scheduled stop on the route, is home to the earliest verifiable reference to the great game of cricket. Testimony regarding the usage of a piece of land, made in 1598 and referring to the childhood of the man testifying, tells us that some form of cricket was being played in Guildford by the 1550s. Surrey still play the odd match at Guildford and one of the more recent of those games featured Kevin Pietersen scoring a double century in the course of which he hit a number of balls into the river Wey which flows past the ground.

STOPS 6-7: GODALMING AND PETERSFIELD

Godalming is home to Charterhouse School, where George Geary (Leics and England) was cricket coach for a time and one of his charges was Peter May. More recently Martin Bicknell (Surrey and England) has been director of cricket there.

Petersfield has a connection that dates to much earlier in cricket’s history: John Small, one of Hambledon’s finest batters in that clubs glory days of the late 18th century, lived there. According to John Nyren in “Cricketers of My Time” Small was a keen skater and enjoyed skating on the surface of Petersfield Pond when that body of water froze over in the winter.

STOP 8: PORTSMOUTH

Portsmouth was one of Hampshire’s out grounds when such were regularly used. In 1899 Major Robert Poore smashed Somerset for twin tons there, and then confirmed his liking for west country bowling by scoring a career best 304 in the return match at Taunton (when another army officer, Captain Teddy Wynyard, scored 225, in a sixth wicket stand of 411).

STOP 9: GUERNSEY

Guernsey has not to my knowledge produced any significant cricketers, though it has produced a couple of well known sportspeople: tennis player Heather Watson, at one time British number one, and footballer Matt Le Tissier who played for Southampton for many years. However it did indirectly give me a squad member, because it was there that I consumed bottle of ginger beer whose place of origin was significant:

Bundaberg, where this variety of ginger beer comes from, was the birthplace of Don Tallon, Australian keeper batter named by Bradman as keeper in his all time XI and considered by many of his contemporaries to have been the best ever in that role.

THE TERMINUS: BRAYE ROAD, ALDERNEY

Braye Road is one terminus of the Alderney Railway, once a genuine commercial railway transporting stone from a quarry, now a heritage railway using carriages of 1938 tube stock (I was not able to travel it being there too early in the year for it to be open). It also gave me, by way of a piece of lateral thinking, a final player for my cricket journey:

The cricket significance of this picture lies in the name of the road rather than that of the station: it provides a tenuous link to opening batter Tammy Beaumont.

SELECTING OUR XI

In terms of the players I have linked to specific locations we have:

Jack Hobbs, Johnny Wardle (Cambridge), Tom Richardson (Surbiton/ Thames Ditton), Alec and Eric Bedser (Woking), Kevin Pietersen (Guildford), Peter May, George Geary, Martin Bicknell (Godalming), John Small (Petersfield), Major Robert Poore (Portsmouth), Don Tallon (Guernsey, by subterfuge), Tammy Beaumont (Alderney, by cunning use of a street sign). These are 13 players, from whom 11 must be selected. My XI in batting order is:

  1. Jack Hobbs
  2. Tammy Beaumont
  3. John Small
  4. Peter May
  5. Kevin Pietersen
  6. Eric Bedser
  7. +Don Tallon
  8. George Geary
  9. Alec Bedser
  10. *Johnny Wardle
  11. Tom Richardson

This XI is well balanced, with good batting depth. The bowling has a genuine speedster in Richardson, two high quality fast medium/ medium fast bowlers in Geary and A Bedser, a great left arm spinner in Wardle and off spin back up from E Bedser, with Hobbs’ medium pace as sixth bowling option. I end this post with a view of Fort Clonque:

An All Time XI All From Different Countries

A variation on the all-time XI, this time requiring every player to come from a different country. Also some photographs.

I have one other thing to mention besides my main topic, which is a revisit to the All Time XI theme which I have explored here many times, especially during the period immediately after Covid-19 was officially declared a pandemic.

THE BRIEF

This is to be an All Time XI with every selected player coming from different countries. It is to be a team that will pose a formidable threat in any and all conditions, so variety is essential. There are some players (Bradman and Sobers e.g) whose preeminence is such that they have to be their country’s representative, and in the case of some of the minor nations who are represented they had only one player wh0 could even be considered. This in turn limited who could be picked from other countries where the field was theoretically wider.

THE TEAM INCLUDING 12TH

  1. Jack Hobbs (England, right handed opening batter and occasional medium pacer). “The Master”, scorer of 61,237 FC runs including 197 centuries, scorer of 12 Ashes centuries. The oldest ever test centurion, the last of his centuries at that level coming at Melbourne in 1929 by when he was 46 years old. My English representative is highly likely to be one half of a pair that gets the innings off to a strong start.
  2. Sunil Gavaskar (India, right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer). He was the first to reach the milestone of 10,000 test runs. He had an excellent technique and seemingly limitless patience. One would absolutely ideally prefer one of the openers to be left handed but I can’t see many new ball bowlers queuing up for a crack at this opening pair!
  3. Don Bradman (Australia, right handed batter, occasional leg spinner). The greatest batter ever to have played the game (his test average of 99.94 puts him almost 40 runs an innings ahead of the next best, his FC average of 95.14 puts him 24 an innings ahead of the next best at that level). He is also vice captain of the team.
  4. Graeme Pollock (South Africa, left handed batter, occasional leg spinner). The best test average of any left hander to have played 20 or more test matches, 60.97 per innings.
  5. Garry Sobers (West Indies, left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket). Quite simply the most complete player the game has yet seen and one whose absence from this XI I could never countenance.
  6. +Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh, right handed batter, wicket keeper). One of the great stalwarts of Bangladesh cricket, an excellent keeper and a gritty middle order batter whose test record would almost certainly be even more impressive than it actually is had he been part of a stronger side.
  7. *Imran Khan (Pakistan, right handed batter, right arm fast bowler). Has a strong case to be regarded as the greatest genuine all rounder in test history (batting average 37, bowling average 22), and a great captain as well (he is designated skipper of this side, and one of very few who could possibly see Bradman named vice captain rather than captain).
  8. Rashid Khan (Afghanistan, leg spinner and useful right handed lower order batter). This one was fairly inevitable – I need a wide range of top class bowling options, and a leg spinner of undisputed world class who hails from a minor nation is pretty much indispensable in that regard.
  9. ‘Bart’ King (USA, right arm fast bowler, useful right handed lower order batter). The original ‘King of Swing’, taker of over 400 FC wickets at 15 a piece, and good enough with the bat to average 20.
  10. Richard Hadlee (New Zealand, right arm fast bowler, useful left handed lower order batter). With genuine respect to today’s Kiwi side, comfortably the strongest they have ever been able to field, he remains his country’s greatest ever cricketer.
  11. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka, off spinner, right handed tail end batter). 800 test wickets, taken at a rate of six per game. At The Oval in 1998, on a pitch that was quite hard and quite dry but basically blameless he claimed 16 English wickets in the match (7-155 in the first innings, and then after SL had taken a lead of 150, spearheaded by Jayasuriya scoring a double hundred, 9-65 in the second English innings).
  12. Andy Flower (Zimbabwe, left handed batter, wicket keeper, occasional off spinner). This man covers as many bases as possible as 12th – while I would not relish him coming in for any of the front line bowlers given that he is very much a part timer, and Sobers and Bradman can both be considered impossible to cover for anyway he won’t massively weaken the side even in a worst-case scenario.

RESULTS AND PROSPECTS

I start this little section by looking at the bowling, as it is that department that separates winners and also-rans. A pace bowling unit of Richard Hadlee, ‘Bart’ King and Imran Khan is awesome by any reckoning, and if there is definitely nothing for spinners, there is Sobers in his faster incarnations as fourth seamer. If spinners are called for, Rashid Khan and Muttiah Muralitharan are two of the all time greats, and offer a contrast, being leg spinner and off spinner respectively, and Sobers can bowl left arm orthodox and left arm wrist spin support. Thus there are bowling options available to meet every eventuality, and this side can be very confidently expected to take 20 wickets in any conditions.

The batting features a pair of openers who are highly likely to give the innings a strong start, a trio of fast and heavy scoring batters at 3, 4 and 5, a keeper who scores lots of runs at six, a genuine all rounder at seven, and three bowlers who can genuinely bat as well. Murali is the only bunny in a very deep batting order.

A number of the players in this XI, most notably Hobbs, Bradman and Sobers are rated among the the finest fielders ever to have played the game, and there are no carthorses anywhere, so they will give a good account of themselves in this department as well.

Finally, with Imran Khan as captain and Don Bradman as vice captain and Hobbs also there to be consulted this team has tactical acumen to burn and is highly unlikely to be outmatched in that area.

Thus this team seems to tick every box, and I would confidently expect it to dispose of any opposition put in front of it.

THE STEAM HOUSE CAFE

The STEAM House Cafe on King’s Lynn High Street is a cafe-style safe space for people with mental health issues, and I was there yesterday as part of a group from NAS West Norfolk. We and they are hoping to be able to organize something there specifically for autistic people.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…

A brief summary of the XI.