All Time XIs – Great Test Matches I Did Not Get To Witness

11 of the greatest test matches that I know about only at second hand – I may have watched highlights of them, read about them or both of the foregoing, but I did not witness them live.

This is a follow up to my earlier post about great test matches I did get to witness. These are matches I have read about and/or witnessed highlights of but did not get to follow live at the time. The matches are listed ibn chronological rather than ranking order, and to set the tone there is match not of test status as an hors d’oeuvre.

MCC V AUSTRALIA, LORD’S 1878 – A WARNING SHOT

The Australians had had a rough start to their tour of England in what was a very wet summer. When they arrived at Lord’s to take on the MCC few gave them much of a chance. MCC were fielding a very respectable side, with the mighty WG Grace to the fore. MCC batted first, and Frank Allan, a graceful left armer dubbed ‘bowler of the century’ in the run up to the tour shared the new ball with Harry Boyle, a medium pacer of exceptional accuracy. WG Grace hit the first ball of the match for four, but was out to the second. Another wicket fell one run later, but then Albert ‘Monkey’ Hornby and Arthur Ridley shared what turn out to be the largest partnership of the match. The moment that tilted this game towards being a historic one was when Frederick Robert Spofforth was called upon to bowl in place of Allan. Spofforth destroyed the MCC middle and lower order with sheer pace, a high water mark of 27-2 becoming 33 all out. Spofforth had taken 6-4 for the innings. The Nottinghamshire pair of Alfred Shaw (right arm slow/ medium) and Fred Morley (left arm fast) took the new ball for MCC. Australia fared little better than the home side, limping to 41 all out, with Shaw following the general pattern of his career by bowling considerably more overs than he conceded runs. For the second MCC innings Spofforth was given the new ball alongside Boyle, and MCC were rolled for a paltry 19, Boyle taking 6-3 and Spofforth 4-16. Charles Bannerman fell early in the fourth innings, but Billy Midwinter and Tom Horan saw Australia to a nine wicket win. The match was over on the same day it started, the thick end of a century before games with that intention would become a regular thing in top level cricket, and the aggregate of 105 runs remains the smallest ever for an FC match with a definite result. This tour did not feature any test matches, but the next visit by Australia in 1880 did, England winning a hastily organized match in September of that year by five wickets.

ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA, THE OVAL 1882: ASHES BORN

Unlike its predecessor in 1880 this match was planned when the tour itinerary was created. Albert ‘Monkey’ Hornby captained England, a mistake, espeically given that Spofforth, the leading Australian bowler, had a hex on him (if they weren’t yet prepared to appoint WG Grace who would have been the best choice then Lord Harris would have done). Rather than Hornby, EM Grace should have been the other opener for England (as he was in 1880, when he and WG put on 91 together in the first innings). However, all seemed rosy when Australia were dispatched for 63 in their first innings, and England responded with 101, Yorkshireman George Ulyett top scoring with 26. Hugh Massie now played a crucial innings for Australia, scoring 55 of the first 66 runs in their second innings and propelling them into credit with only one wicket down. Once he was out there was little more to the Australian innings, though Murdoch batted through such of it as there was to finish on 29* in a score of 122. The single most significant moment of the innings was the dismissal of Sammy Jones, who left his crease to pat down the pitch with the ball not officially dead. Grace, fielding at point, ran him out, a move which provoked Spofforth to absolute fury. While England were preparing to chase 85 to win Spofforth was telling his team mates “this thing can be done”. Grace and Hornby put on 15 for the first wicket, but then Hornby and Richard Barlow, also of Lancashire, were both out at that score. Grace and Ulyett shared a fine partnership, but Ulyett was dislodged with the score at 51, and two runs later, Grace, only the second player in the game to record a score of above 30, was dislodged for 32, making it 53-4. It was at this juncture that things turned against England. Lyttelton and Lucas, paralysed by nerves, could barely score, and skipper Hornby started panicking and messed with his batting order. When Lyttelton was dismissed to make it 66-5 the panic really set in, Hornby holding CT Studd, scorer of two centuries against the Aussies that season, back in the order until the eighth wicket fell. Billy Barnes was dismissed shortly after Studd’s arrival to make it 75-9, and Peate had three balls to survive from Harry Boyle before the end of the over. He scored two off the first of these, but a wild swing at the second met fresh air, while the ball clattered against his stumps. England 77 all out, and beaten by seven runs. Studd, with his two centuries against the Aussies earlier that season, was 0* (0), not the least ridiculous feature of this ridiculous match.

AUSTRALIA V ENGLAND, SCG 1894: 586 BATTING FIRST…

England were captained by Andrew Stoddart, Australia had entrusted veteran wicket keeper Blackham (who had played the first test match of all in 1877) with the captaincy. Blackham won the toss and batted. Tom Richardson the great Surrey fast bowler claimed three early wickets, but the then George Giffen and Frank Iredale joined forces. Their stand, apparently helped by some clumsy keeping on the part of Leslie Gay, yielded 171 runs, and then after Iredale’s dismissal Syd Gregory joined the fray, adding a further 139 with Giffen before the latter fell for 161 just before the end of day one. Australia closed on 346-5. On day two Syd Gregory completed a double century, only the second ever achieved in test cricket, and with Blackham scoring a test best 74 Australia reached 586.

England were all out for 325 in their first innings, Albert Ward top scoring with 75. They were made to follow on, and when the sixth wicket went down at 296, with the lead still only 35 Australia still looked well place. However, Francis Ford and Johnny Briggs put on 89 together for the seventh wicket, and even the tail made contributions. England mustered 437 in this second innings, setting Australia 177 to win. Jack Lyons began breezily, hitting 25 in 15 minutes at the crease, but after he and Harry Trott were both out, Giffen opted to play safe, making sure he was still there for the following morning (tests in Australia were played to a finish in those days). Australia close on 113-2, needing just 64 the following morning, Darling 44*, Giffen 30*. Overnight it rained (pitches were uncovered in those days, and overnight rain, followed by strong Australian sun the following morning created what was known as a ‘sticky dog’), though England’s trump card in such circumstances, left arm spinner Bobby Peel, did not hear the rain following, as he had given the match up for lost and drowned his sorrows in emphatic fashion. The Australians certainly did realize that it had rained. Peel and fellow left arm spinner Johnny Briggs gradually tightened the screw on Australia, and the ninth wicket went down with Australia still 15 short. Blackham was last man in, nursing a cracked thumb, and the other remaining batter, Charlie McLeod did his best to protect the injured keeper, ultimately Blackham prodded a catch back to Peel and England had won by 10 runs, with Peel having innings figures of 6-67.

OLD TRAFFORD 1902 – ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA

A spat between chairman of selectors (Lord Hawke, Yorkshire) and captain (Archie MacLaren, Lancashire) led to an odd looking England side. MacLaren wanted Schofield Haigh, but Hawke would not release him. MacLaren in a fit of pique at this left another Yorkshireman, George Hirst, out on the morning of the match, handing a debut to 35 year old Fred Tate of Sussex.

Australia batted first, and by lunch they were 173-1 with Victor Trumper having reached three figures, the first ever to do so on the first morning of a test match. Post lunch England did better, but a rapid partnership between middle order left handers Clem Hill and Joe Darling (73 in 45 minutes) helped Australia to reach 299. England began poorly, but a big stand between FS Jackson and Len Braund, plus some further lower order support for Jackson (128) got England to 262. Australia in their second innings were 10-3 and should have been 16-4, but MacLaren had high-handedly refused to move Lionel Palairet, a fellow amateur, from square leg to the right hander to square leg to the left hander, sending Fred Tate (who fielded close to the bat for Sussex) out there instead. Tate dropped a chance offered by Darling, and the partnership added 46 further runs. Thereafter it was a procession and Australia mustered just 86 second time round, setting England 124 to win. At 92-3 England appeared to be cruising home, but then a collapse set in. When keeper Dick Lilley was brilliantly caught by Clem Hill, who ran 30 yards round the boundary and threw himself full length to make the catch, it was 116-9 and Fred Tate joined Wilfred Rhodes. Tate snicked a boundary off Jack Saunders to open his account, but then Saunders’ next ball kept fiendishly low and bowled the unfortunate Tate to give Australia victory by three runs.

THE OVAL 1902ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA: A REVERSAL

George Hirst and Gilbert Jessop returned for England after missing the match described above. Australia batted first and tallied 324, Hugh Trumble top scoring with64* and Monty Noble making 52. Trumble then turned to his more publicized ability, bowling unchanged through the England first innings, taking 8-65. England avoided the follow on only thanks to Hirst who scored 43 out of the last 54 runs of the innings. Australia at the second time of asking were all out for 121, setting England 263, which looked a massive total in those circumstances. It was looking even further distant by the time Saunders (four wickets) and Trumble (one) had reduced England to 48-5. At this point Gilbert Jessop joined FS Jackson and the match began to turn. Jackson fell for 49 with the score at 157, and George Hirst joined Jessop. This pair added 30 together in just eight minutes, Jessop completing three figures in 75 minutes and off his 76th ball, both still England records, though the latter has seemed under constant threat lately. Jessop fell for 104, making it 187-7, and still 76 needed from the last three wickets. However, Bill Lockwood stayed with Hirst while 27 of those were scored, and keeper Dick Lilley helped add a further 34, meaning that when fellow Yorkshireman Rhodes joined Hirst in the middle 15 were needed with one wicket standing. England inched their way towards the target, and finally Rhodes hit the winning single off Trumble. Trumble had scored 71 undefeated runs with the bat and captured 12 wickets, Hirst had 101 runs for once out and a first innings five-for but this is always called “Jessop’s Match”. Lionel Palairet gained two England caps – the Old Trafford and Oval tests of 1902.

MCG 1907 – AUSTRALIA V ENGLAND – NEARLY A TIE

This was a match which swing back and forth but seemed settled in Australia’s favour when England were 209-8 in the final innings, needing 73 more to win. Joe Humphries was ninth out, with 39 still needed for the win, to an LBW which added fuel to the flames of a controversy – England had had several rough LBWs in that match, George Gunn being furious about the two given against him. Arthur Fielder, a fast bowler, but as he was to show both here and a little later for Kent when sharing a last wicket stand of 235 with Woolley no mug with the bat, joined Barnes in the middle. The last wicket pair chipped away at the target and eventually levelled the scores. Barnes then went for a winning run that Fielder was unsure about. Had the fielder, Gerry Hazlitt, kept his head and lobbed to the keeper test cricket would have seen its first ever tied match. As it was, Hazlitt panicked and shied wildly at the stumps, missing and allowing the completion of the winning run.

MCG 1928 – AUSTRALIA A ENGLAND – ASHES HELD

England had comfortably won the first two matches of the series, but although Hammond had already entered the record books by becoming the first to score two consecutive test double hundreds, with 200 in the first England innings, it looked long odds against a third win in a row when England set off in pursuit of a victory target of 332 on a pitch that had become so spiteful that opening batter Jack Hobbs reckoned it would be all over by the tea interval. As it turned out Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe, the other opener, were still both in residence by said interval, and midway through the evening, with the great pair still together Hobbs made a vital intervention, sending a message to the dressing room that if either opener fell that evening Jardine should be promoted to number three as his defence was more reliable than Hammond’s. Hobbs was the one to go, for 49 out of an opening stand of 105, and Jardine duly survived the remainder of the evening and England returned the following morning still only one down. Jardine contributed a crucial 33, Herbert Sutcliffe went on to 135, and although England had a bit of a stutter late on, George Geary, who had claimed the final wicket of the 1926 Ashes, smashed a four through mid-on to seal a three wicket win and with it retention of The Ashes.

OLD TRAFFORD 1956 – ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA

Good pitch which one side handled badly or spinners paradise made to order? England batting first ran up 459 in rapid time. Although Australia’s two recognized spinners, leg spinner Benaud and off spinner Ian Johnson claimed six scalps between them, they also leaked 274 runs while doing so.

Jim Laker, England’s off spinner, took the first two Aussie wickets, before Lock claimed the third, which opened the floodgates for Laker, who polished off the Aussie first innings with a spell of 7-8, giving him 9-37 in total. Regular rain interruptions and a fine defensive effort by Aussie opener Colin McDonald took the game into the final day. Eventually, with the second ball of his 52nd over, Laker trapped Maddocks LBW and Australia were all out for 205, beaten by an innings and 170 runs. Laker had all ten Aussie second innings wickets for 53, still the cheapest all ten in test cricket, and 19-90 in the match. The three other front line spinners had combined match figures of 7-380, an average of 54.29 per wicket, and earlier in the season, in the first innings of the match on a good Oval pitch Laker had recorded figures 10-88 from 46 overs against the Australians for Surrey. In all 58 of Laker’s first 100 Fc wickets of 1956 were Aussies, 46 in the Ashes series and 12 for Surrey in that tour match.

BRISBANE 1960 – AUSTRALIA V WEST INDIES

52 years after Gerry Hazlitt had failed to make the most of an opportunity to secure test cricket’s first tie Joe Solomon showed how to keep his head under pressure, executing two direct hit run outs in less than 15 minutes, first to dismiss Davidson (80), thereby giving his side a chance to save themselves, and then to seal the tie. Alan Davidson bestrode this match like a colossus, taking 5-135 in West Indies first innings 453, then scoring 44 of Australia’s reply of 505, then taking 6-87 as West Indies managed 284 second time round and finally scoring that 80 which so nearly won the match for Australia.

HEADINGLEY 1981 – ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA

This is proper script rejection stuff – not only did England record only the second ever victory by a side made to follow on, but one of the players who was key to achieving that result was not originally selected for the game and the other had been asked (albeit at most semi-seriously) if he wanted to play, having just stood down as captain (moments before he would have been sacked from that role). Australia scored 401-9 declared batting first, which was far more than they should have scored on that surface. John Dyson scored a very slow century, Kim Hughes made 89 and Graham Yallop 58, while Botham, recently resigned from the captaincy, claimed 6-95, his first five wicket haul since before taking up the reins of captaincy. England were 87-5 when Botham went in for his first innings, and a rapid 50 from him was the only highlight of their 174 all out. In the second innings they plummeted to 41-4 before Boycott and Willey added 64 for the fifth wicket. At 133 Boycott was pinned LBW, and two runs later keeper Bob Taylor departed. That brought Graham Dilley in to join Botham, and in 80 minutes the eighth wicket pair added 117, Dilley recording a maiden test 50, and Botham being well past his second 50 of the match. Chris Old helped the ninth wicket to raise a further 67, Botham racing past the 100 mark (87 balls to get there). Willis stayed long enough for a further 37 to accrue. England had totalled 356, a lead of 129, and Botham had scored 149*. The final morning was just underway. Approaching the lunch interval Australia were 56-1 and seemingly cruising towards their target of 130, when Bob Willis was put on to bowl at the Kirkstall Lane end. The first victim of one of the greatest spells of fast bowling in test history was Trevor Chappell, who in truth resembled a test match number three in name only, fending a bouncer through to Bob Taylor. Then came back to back wickets right on the stroke of lunch, Hughes well caught by Botham in the slips and Yallop superbly taken at short leg by Gatting. At lunch Australia were 58-4, and suddenly realizing that match wasn’t over just yet, while England went into lunch on a high. Old got one through Border’s defences early in the afternoon and it was 65-5. Dyson, who had one boundary off Willis post lunch took an a short ball from him and succeeded only in gloving it to the keeper to make it 68-6. Rod Marsh, the Aussie keeper, who had made a light-hearted bet on England when Ladbrokes were offering 500-1, took on another short ball from Willis, and Dilley at deep fine leg judged the catch superbly, being less than a foot inside the boundary when he completed it. That was 74-7, and one run later Lawson fell to mkae it 75-8. There was one final twist, as Lillee, who like Marsh had placed a bet on England at 500-1, helped Bright add 35 for the ninth wicket in four overs. Lillee then mistimed a drive at Willis and Gatting just managed to complete the catch, having to run in and dive forward to do so. Alderman came in at number 11, and was reprieved twice in one Botham over as Old at third slip put down catches. Willis summoned up enough energy for one final over, and with the first ball thereof he ripped a perfect yorker through Bright’s defences and Australia were all out for 111m giving England victory by 18 runs.

CHENNAI 1986: INDIA V AUSTRALIA – A TIE

Australia in the early to mid 1980s were a struggling outfit, but in this particular match they did a lot right, though not quite enough to win it. Dean Jones, in part due a vicious taunt from skipper Border, batted himself into a hospital bed, scoring 210 in eight hours at the crease on the first two days of the match, after which he had to put on a saline drip. Towards the end of the fifth day it looked like India were odds to complete their chase of 348, but Greg Matthews refused to give up, and eventually, with the scores level he trapped Maninder Singh LBW to secure test cricket’s second ever tie.

KOLKATA 2001: INDIA V AUSTRALIA – A VERY VERY SPECIAL TEST MATCH

Australia in the late 1990s and early 2000s were well nigh invincible, and the first two innings of this match did not suggest anything other than business as usual for Steve Waugh and his men, as they forced India to follow on. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid then produced a historic partnership, with Laxman going to a then Indian individual record test score of 281 and Dravid making 180. India declared their second innings at 657-7, setting Australia 384 to win. Australia, unsurprisingly dispirited, collapsed to 212 all out and defeat by 171 runs, the third (and to date) last test defeat suffered by a side enforcing the follow on. Australia have rarely chosen to enforce the follow on since then, preferring to build stupendous leads and then look to dismiss their opponents a second time. Myself I would still need a good reason to suggest not enforcing.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off (the gallery is smaller than usual – there is not as much to see in foul weather)…

All Time XIs – The Grand Finale

Bringing the curtain down on an immense series that has taken us through the alphabet, 200+ years of cricket history and every inhabited continent in the world. The XIs are presented in reverse ranking order, with links back to the selectorial posts.

This post concludes our cricketing journey through the alphabet, a couple of centuries of history and every inhabited continent, with a listing of each XI in reverse ranking order from 26th up to first. I have appended extra comments along the way where my thinking may have changed, or where cricketing developments caught up with me during the course of this series, which has been running since late July. Each XI is also accompanied by a link to the relevant selectorial post.

26TH: THE Qs

The challenge for this letter was actually finding 11 players to constitute an XI, and not surprisingly the final result was decidedly ill assorted. They managed just 7 of a possible 125 points.

25TH: THE Zs

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24TH: THE Is

While this XI has no great strength anywhere its biggest weakness was in the seam/ pace bowling department.

23RD: THE Xs

This was an XI which required a lot of chicanery to pull together. Between the creation of this XI and latter stages of the match ups a women’s tournament took place in New Zealand, and one development there was the arrival in the big time of off spinner Xara Jetly, who were I selecting this XI now would replace MaX Waller, who adds very little to the XI.

22ND: THE Us

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21ST: THE Ns

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20TH: THE Ys

The strong middle order, good spin pairing and one high class fast bowler saved this side from complete disaster.

19TH – THE Cs

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18TH: THE Es

A good spin pairing, two pacers with remarkable records and a world class keeper, but not enough batting for comfort and Bill Edrich the best available back up bowler. More here.

17TH: THE Os

The same score as the Es, but the Os get the higher spot as they won the match up between the two sides.

16TH: THE Ds

Good batting, good pace/ seam bowling, good keeper but the Ds fall down on spin bowling and captaincy.

15TH: THE Js

The Js.

14TH: THE Vs

The Vs superb bowling unit did not quite propel them into the top half of the table, as they lost a split tie (both XIs scoring 69 out 125) to…

13TH: THE As

Solid batting, a top keeper and a superbly balanced bowling unit was just enough to get the As into the top half of the table, since they won their match up with the Vs.

12TH: THE Hs

Stellar batting, a great keeper and a sound captain, but not quite enough bowling to get them to the very top. Neil Harvey might replace Hussey in some people’s estimation, and I would probably have served this letter better had I steeled myself to pick an all rounder (probably George Hirst, with his bowling stock in trade being left arm pace) rather than Hendren, but dropping the scorer of the second most FC centuries ever would have been a huge call.

11TH: THE Ps

The Ps, just missing out on the top ten.

10TH – THE Rs

This exemplifies the advantage of having Rhodes available – you can pick him for any one of several roles depending on your needs. Here, Rhodes the specialist spinner was required and therefore I selected him in that capacity, the one in which he both started and finished his career. The Rs.

9TH – THE Bs

In retrospect, given that Barnes could be said to attend to the leg spinners angle of attack with his ‘Barnes ball’, as explicated by Ian Peebles, himself an England leggie, it might have made this team even better to have selected Palwankar Baloo, Bishan Singh Bedi or left arm spinning all rounder Enid Bakewell in place of Benaud (who could instead be put in charge of the commentary team) to increase the variety available in the bowling department. Nevertheless, the Bs are a fine combination, and it says more about the top eight than it does about them that they ended up ninth.

8TH: THE Gs

If the Gs can be said to have a defect it is that none of their bowlers are left armed.

7TH: THE Ts

The Ts amassed the same number of points (90 out of 125) as the Ks and the Fs, but my tie-splitting procedure ranked them third out of three. Their batting was weakened slightly by the necessity of ensuring that there were relief bowling options available for three specialist quicks who demanded inclusion, a problem resolvable only by turning to the all round talents of Frank Tarrant.

6TH: THE Ks

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5TH: THE Fs

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4TH: THE Ls

Strong and well balanced, but the Ls just missed out on a medal.

3RD: THE Ss

The Ss are a stellar combination, although Sangakkara would not be considered a top flight keeper and the spin options are limited.

2ND: THE Ms

A powerful batting line up and a superbly balanced bowling line up, with Mahmood’s leg cutter meaning that a specialist leg spinner is unlikely to be missed.

FIRST: THE Ws

A strong batting line up, a wonderfully balanced bowling attack (Wardle’s ability to bowl left arm wrist spin covers the lack of an off spinner), a quality keeper and one of the greatest of all captains. The Ws are worthy champions.

This has been a fun exercise, though challenging in parts (both weak letters where actually completing an XI takes effort and strong letters where in some cases a second or third XI would beat most of the rest of the alphabet, which require extended acknowledgements of players one has overlooked).

PHOTOGRAPHS

Not one of my largest photo galleries, but I hope you enjoy it…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 45

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 in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. Today the Ls enter the spotlight, with 40.5 of a possible 55 points banked from the teams who are alphabetically ahead of them.

THE Ls V THE Ms

Considered purely an averages the Ls have the better opening pair, but 1) Labuschagne is batting out of position, 2)Morris and Merchant both played on uncovered pitches, Labuschagne didn’t, 3)Merchant’s test average is reduced by the fact that his career at that level was so very spread out – he played 10 test matches, spread over 18 years, with a world war in the middle, and in FC cricket where he played on a much more regular basis he averaged 71, second only to Bradman. In view of all of these considerations I give the Ms the better opening pair. The Ls have much the better number three, but Macartney compensates by offering a bowling option. Number four goes to the Ms, as does number five, though Lloyd rates above Miller as a captain. Miller wins the number six slot batting wise, and is of similar standard with the ball to Lindwall. Marsh comfortably wins the battle of the keepers. Both sides have superb new ball pairs, Laker and Murali are two titans of off spin bowling, while I think Langridge offers the Ls more variation than Mahmood does the Ms. I think the key here is Macartney, and for that reason I score this Ls 1.5, Ms 3.5

THE Ls V THE Ns

The Ls dominate everywhere except at number four batting wise. They also have the better keeper, a better pace attack and a better spin combination, while it is about even on captaincy. I see no way for the Ns to offer any sort of a challenge and score this one Ls 5, Ns 0.

THE Ls V THE Os

The Ls dominate, though the Os do boast the better keeper, and they have a more varied bowling unit. Still, this cannot be seen as other than exceedingly one sided: Ls 5, Os 0.

THE Ls V THE Ps

The Ls, the caveat about Labuschagne’s position notwithstanding, have the better opening pair, number three is a clash of cricketing titans, the Ps win the number four slot hands down and are marginally ahead at number five. Pant wins the batting element of his match up, though Langley was the finer keeper. Procter wins his batting match up, and probably rates close to Lindwall as a bowler. Lillee and Lohmann outrank S and P Pollock, and while Parker was a finer spinner than Langridge, Laker outranks Prasanna. I make the Ps a little stronger in batting, and the Ls stronger in bowling, and thus give the Ls the verdict: Ls 3, Ps 2.

THE Ls V THE Qs

Here the Ls absolutely dominate. The have the better batting by far, the better captain by far, the better keeper, they are utterly dominant in the pace bowling department, and though they have only two spin options to the Qs three those are the two best spinners on either side, thus there can be only one result: Ls 5, Qs 0.

THE Ls PROGRESS

The Ls have scored 19.5 out of 25 today, which moves them on to 60 out of 80, 75% so far.

PHOTOGRAPHS

This photo gallery comprises pictures taken between Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where I attended this morning for glaucoma tests. I compromised on the journey, using the bus on the way in but walking all the way home, hence the fact that the first pic is in hospital grounds.

All Time XIs – Match Ups 28

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Gs are now in the spotlight.

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 another. Today the Gs take centre stage, with 20 of a possible 30 points banked against the teams who are alphabetically ahead of them.

THE Gs V THE Hs

The Hs are one of the few teams to have a better opening pair than the Gs. George Headley is also the better number three, though not by as much as raw figures suggest – Grace was already 32 when he made his test debut and almost 51 by the end of his test career, and an average of 32 in that era is worth about 48 in later times when surfaces were by and large better for batting than in the Victorian era. Grace also outranks Hutton as a skipper. Hammond and M Hussey clearly outpoint Gower and Graveney. Gilchrist and Hendren is a draw batting wise, but the presence of Gilchrist at six indicates where the Gs strengths lie – their range of bowling options. Healy loses his batting match up against Gregory but wins the keeping match up against Gilchrist. Hadlee and Holding are a better new ball combo than Garner and Geary, but Gregory is a much better third seamer than Hammond who would play that role for the Hs. The Gs are clear of the Hs in the spin department, having the two best spinners in these squads. The Hs are stronger in batting and keeping, about even in fast bowling, behind in captaincy and way adrift in spin bowling. I don’t think that the Hs one definite advantage, in batting, will make up for the greater depth and variety of the Gs bowling (any attack in which Grace ranks sixth is exceptionally strong) and I also expect Grace’s superior captaincy to make itself felt. This is a titanic contest which I have the Gs shading – Gs 3, Hs 2.

THE Gs V THE Is

The Gs boss the batting, winning every match up in that department down to number seven. Wicket keeping honours are shared, with Gilchrist much the better batter. While acknowledging that Illingworth was a fine skipper I rate Grace ahead of him in that capacity. The Gs utterly dominate in pace bowling, and have the better spin attack though by less of a margin. This can have only one outcome: Gs 5, Is 0.

THE Gs V THE Js

The Gs have the better opening pair without doubt. As I indicated in the match up with the Hs Grace’s average equates to about 48 in more recent times, including the era when D Jones batted, and he started his test career at an older age than would be ideal, so I give the Gs the number three slot as well. The Js win the number four and five slots, and FS Jackson and Grace is a clash of the titans captaincy wise. Gilchrist wins the batting element of the keepers match up though by less than the raw figures suggest, while A Jones is clear as keeper. Gregory outpoints Jessop. The Gs comfortably win the spin bowling – Gibbs rates above Jupp, and Grimmett is miles clear of Jayasuriya, and not even the spin element of Johnston’s bowling can close the gap. Pace bowling is close – the Js trio are 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the averages, with the Gs 1st, 5th and 6th. I think the Gs top order will make a better fist of handling the left arm rockets from Mitchell Johnson than the Js do of handling the awkward problem in £D geometry posed by Garner’s extreme height. If it reverse swings at any point S Jones would be particularly dangerous. I think the Gs are winning this with a degree of comfort and score it Gs 4, Js 1.

THE Gs V THE Ks

The Gs definitely have the better opening pair. I also give them the number three slot for reasons already explained, while Grace v I Khan is another clash of the titans captaincy wise. The Ks win the number four and five slots, though Gower’s left handedness (improving the balance of the batting order) and the more difficult conditions in which Graveney batted reduce the margins of superiority. Gilchrist is streets clear of Kirmani with the bat, but the Indian was the finer keeper. Imran Khan beats Gregory in both departments. Personally although neither got play test cricket (King was a USian – the best player that country has ever produced, while Kortright was in his prime during a very strong era for English cricket) I rate the Ks two specialist fast bowlers ahead of Garner and Geary, and also award King the number eight batting match up. The Gs spinners are better balance, being an off spinner and a leg spinner, which I think is enough to give them that department. I cannot pick a winner of this one: Gs 2.5, Ks 2.5.

THE Gs V THE Ls

I think the Gs have the better opening combo (Labuschagne is playing out of position for the Ls), but the Ls win the number three slot (albeit by much less than the raw figures suggest). The Ls also win the number four and five slots. Gilchrist comfortably wins the keepers match up against Langley, the Ls have the better pace trio, but the Gs have the better spinners, Grimmett outperforming James Langridge more than Laker outperforms Gibbs. I just give this one to the Gs – Gs 3, Ls 2.

THE Gs SO FAR

The Gs have scored 17.5 out of 25 today, putting them on 37.5 out of 55 so far, 68.18% at the moment.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 25

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

Welcome to the latest instalment in my analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Fs are the in the spotlight, and they start the day with 35 out of a possible 50 points.

THE Fs V THE Ls

The Ls are stronger in batting, winning all of the top six slots in this department, though the Fs win in positions 7-9 inclusive. The Ls also win the spin bowling department, with Laker and Langridge clearly the two best spinners in the contest. The Fs have an advantage in pace bowling, especially given that all three of the Ls pacers bowled right handed. This is close but I think the Ls have enough of an advantage to win: Fs 2, Ls 3.

THE Fs V THE Ms

The Ms outdo the Fs on batting and on pace bowling, and also have the best spinner on show, although the Fs have more depth in this department. The Fs will not go down without a fight, but they are outgunned: Fs 1, Ms 4.

THE Fs V THE Ns

The Fs have better batting than the Ns, a better keeper, better fast bowlers and better spinners: Fs 5, Ns 0.

THE Fs V THE Os

The Fs dominate in all departments: Fs 5, Os 0.

THE Fs V THE Ps

The Ps are stronger in batting than the Fs, but the Fs have the better bowling unit, and I expect this latter to be the telling factor. The Fs also have the better keeper. Fs 3, Ps 2.

THE Fs PROGRESS REPORT

The Fs have scored 16 out of 25 points today, moving them on to 51 points of out 75, 68% overall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups (7)

Continuing my analysis of how my all-time XIs for each letter of the alphabet stack up against each other.

I am continuing my analysis of how my all-time XIs for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. The Bs XI are currently in the hot seat, and come into today on 19.5 points out of a possible 30.

THE Bs V THE Hs

The Bs are ahead on batting, with only Hussey of the top five out batting his counterpart from the the Bs XI, but Hendren and Healy are both better with the bat than their opposite numbers. Healy wins the clash of the keepers. While Hadlee and Holding are close to Barnes and Bumrah as a prospective new ball pairing, Botham has to be preferred as third seamer to Hammond. Bates and Benaud are at least the equal as spinners of Harmer and Herath. I score this one Bs 3.5, Hs 1.5.

THE Bs V THE Is

This is a monster mismatch – only Imtiaz Ahmed with the bat beats his opposite number. Shoriful Islam and Anthony Ireland are hopelessly outclassed as a new ball pairing by Barnes and Bumrah, while Illingworth loses to fellow Yorkie Bates in the off spinning all rounders clash – adjusting their figures for improved pitches by the time Illingworth was playing, Bates is equivalent to an Illingworth era or later player averaging 40 with the bat and 25 with the ball, so he comfortably beats Illingworth in both departments. Ironmonger beats Benaud as a bowler, though he was of zero value with the bat. Quite simply there are no circumstances in which the Is can be envisaged troubling the Bs and I score this Bs 5, Is 0.

THE Bs V THE Js

This looks like a mismatch but 1) The Js have an extra front line bowling option compared to the Bs, 2)A Jones is a much better bat than the figures from her few test appearances suggest and is a superb keeper, 3) Jessop was the ultimayte x-factor player. Johnston, S Jones, Johnson and Jessop give the Js a clear edge in the seam bowling department, Jupp is good match for Bates, and though Benaud beats Jayasuriya with the ball, the Sri Lankan is well clear with the bat. The Bs advantage with the bat will probably tell in their favour, but this is much closer than it appears it first sight and I score it Bs 3, Js 2.

THE Bs V THE Ks

The Bs have their usual advantage in the top batting slots, with only Kallis beating his opposite number in that department. However, Khan wins the battle of the all rounders, Kirmani rates above Bari with both bat and gloves. King, Kortright and Khan represent a fearsome pace trio, with Kallis a decidedly useful fourth seamer. Although them both being leg spinners is less than ideal there is enough of a contrast in bowling styles between R Khan and Kumble to mitigate that, and they are a good match for Bates and Benaud. Here I think the Ks bowling depth will swing it for them: Bs 2, Ks 3.

THE Bs V THE Ls

Once again the Bs dominate the top batting positions, but Langridge wins the battle of the allrounders, Langley and Bari are level pegging. In bowling Lindwall, Lillee and Lohmann outpoint Barnes, Bumrah and Botham – even if you rate Barnes and Bumrah one and two in the pacers department, Lillee, the third best of the Ls on statistics is far clear of Botham as a bowler. Laker and Langridge are about level with Bates and Benaud. I do not see the Bs batting advantage saving them here, and I score a close contest as Bs 2, Ls 3.

THE Bs PROGRESS UPDATE

The Bs have scored 15.5 out of 25 in these five match ups and are therefore up to 35 points out of 55, a score of 63.63%. The As were on 28 at this same stage of their progress.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – The Letter L

A couple of pieces of news and a continuation of my exploration of the All Time XIs theme with a team whose surnames all begin with L.

Before I get to the main meat of this blog post – another variation on the all time XIs theme I have a couple of pieces of news to share.

HERITAGE OPEN DAY

Yesterday I got the news of my stewarding commitment for Heritage Open Day (Sunday 11th September), and I regard it as a plum posting: the Red Mount Chapel, between 10AM and noon. I have visited this remarkable place a number of times, including during last year’s Heritage Open Day.

PRESS COVERAGE OF WNAG

Your Local Paper have produced an article about the Beer Festival at Stewart House raising funds for the West Norfolk Autism Group.

Now we move on to the main meat of the post, a look at the greatest cricketers to have surnames beginning with the letter L.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. Bill Lawry (Australia). A dour left handed opener, his test record speaks for itself.
  2. Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan, Australia). One of the best contemporary test match batters in the world. He generally bats at three, but I am moving up one place to open due to the number high quality batters I have to accommodate and the fact that there are not many regular openers of quality who had surnames beginning with L.
  3. Brian Lara (Warwickshire, West Indies). The only person to twice hold the world record individual score in test cricket and one of only two (Bradman being the other) to simultaneously hold the world FC and test record individual scores.
  4. VVS Laxman (India). A monumental 281 vs Australia in 2001 helped set up only the third instance of a team coming back from being made to follow on to win a test match. He was part of a massively strong middle order, playing alongside Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly in their prime.
  5. *Clive Lloyd (Lancashire, West Indies). A shoo-in for the captaincy of this side, as one of the two greatest West Indian skippers ever (Frank Worrell being the other). 110 test matches yielded him 7,515 runs, and he quite often only had to bat once because of the immense strength of his West Indies side.
  6. James Langridge (Sussex, England). A left arm spin bowling all rounder, his international opportunities were limited by him being a contemporary of Hedley Verity who had first dibs on the left arm spinner’s spot. Nonetheless his test averages were the right way round, while in the course of his long first class career he averaged 35 with the bat and 21 with the ball.
  7. +Gil Langley (Australia). One of the many great wicket keepers produced by Australia over the years. He was the first keeper to make as many as nine dismissals in a single test match, a feat later equalled by Rodney Marsh and bettered by Jack Russell.
  8. Ray Lindwall (Australia). One of the greatest of all fast bowlers and a handy enough lower order batter to have scored two test centuries.
  9. George Lohmann (Surrey, England). The cheapest wicket taking average of anyone to have claimed 100+ test wickets – 110 at 10.75 each, also by far the quickest strike rate of any taker of 100+ wickets at that level – one every 34 balls.
  10. Jim Laker (Surrey, Essex, England). For my money the greatest off spinner ever to play the game. 193 wickets in 46 test matches, at 21 a piece. His absolute peak was the 1956 Ashes when he took 46 wickets at 9.60 a piece in the series, including a test AND FC record match analysis of 19-90 at Old Trafford. In the tour match for Surrey v Australia he took 10-88 in the first innings of the match, bowling 46 overs on that occasion. His most shattering single piece of bowling came at Bradford in 1950 when playing for England against The Rest he took 8-2 (one of the singles being a gift to Eric Bedser) as The Rest collapsed to 27 all out.
  11. Dennis Lillee (Northamptonshire, Australia). A former holder of the record for most career test wickets – 355 in 71 test matches. He was at least two great bowlers – a fire and brimstone quick in his younger days, and a superbly accurate fast-medium bowler late in his career.

This team has a strong top five, albeit one of them batting out of position, a great all rounder, a great keeper and four great and well varied bowlers. Two genuine quicks in Lindwall and Lillee, a very crafty medium pacer in Lohmann, Laker’s off spin and Langridge’s left arm spin represents a strong and superbly balanced bowling attack.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I considered two specialist openers in addition to Lawry. John Langridge, brother of James, scored 76 first class hundreds and tallied over 34,000 FC runs but never gained an England cap. The other possibility, as a rebuke to Cricket South Africa for their treatment of her, was Lizelle Lee, hounded into international retirement by her board. However, although I recognize that there is an element of a gamble in playing a regular number three as an opener I would challenge any who insist on selecting one of these openers to say who out of Lara, Laxman and Lloyd you will drop to accommodate Labuschagne in his preferred number three slot.

Another fine middle order batter who had to miss out was the little West Indian battler Gus Logie.

The choice of James Langridge as all rounder meant that two high quality left arm spinners missed out: Tony Lock and Jack Leach. Left arm wrist spinner Jake Lintott may well merit consideration for this XI in a few years time, but he has played very little long form cricket as yet.

The best quick bowlers to miss out were Bill Lockwood and Harold Larwood. Lockwood was one of the pioneers of the slower ball, but as fine a cricketer as he was he could not dislodge Lindwall. Harold Larwood had one great test series (the 1932-3 Ashes when he claimed 33 wickets), but otherwise a fairly ordinary international career, and could hardly therefore be seen as a challenger to the consistent excellence of Lindwall and Lillee. Brett Lee was quick but somewhat erratic, reflected in his slightly high test bowling average. Geoff Lawson had a patchy career and was not worth serious consideration.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Our look at the letter L is at an end and it remains only to produce my usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Ones That Got Away

Today we look at players whose careers caused them to make major moves.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another ‘all time XI‘ cricket post. Today our we look at players whose talents were overlooked somewhere along the line, but who came through. We have an XI mainly comprising players who made it big after their first county overlooked them, with an overseas player to boost them and an XI of players who moved countries to make it. A little bit of good news – when TMS live coverage, as opposed to the ‘retrolive’ I am currently enjoying, resumes, it will be without the obnoxious Boycott.

THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY – COUNTY

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. While his mentor and fellow Cambridge native Tom Hayward was lobbying Surrey on his behalf the man himself wrote to Essex requesting a trial. The letter was ignored, but thankfully Surrey listened to Hayward. 61,237 first class runs at 50.65 and 197 centuries rather emphatically demonstrates which county got this one right!
  2. *Wilfred Rhodes – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. There is an entry in the Warwickshire year book for 1897 which reads “unfortunately it was not possible to offer a contract to W Rhodes of Huddersfield.” In that same year of 1897 Bobby Peel, the incumbent Yorkshire left arm spinner, disgraced himself and saw his first class career brought to a sudden close. Rhodes was given his chance for his native county, took 13 wickets in the match first time out for them and never looked back. He and Hobbs opened together for England just before World War 1, and on one occasion against the old enemy they put on 323 together to launch the innings, Hobbs first out for 178, Rhodes second out, with the score at 425, for 179.
  3. Charles Burgess Fry – right handed batter. Having grown up in southwest London, albeit attending boarding school in Derbyshire (Repton, where he competed for sporting honours with the Palairet brothers, Lionel who subsequently opened for Somerset and Richard, assistant manager of the 1932-3 Ashes tour party) he began his county career for Surrey. Unfortunately for him and Surrey he took a slightly too obvious shine to the wife of then skipper Kingsmill Key, leading to his departure from the county, and the start of his association with Sussex.
  4. Phil Mead – left handed batter. He began his career with Surrey, where he was considered to be mainly a bowler, and they let him go. He signed for Hampshire, and ended his career with the 4th highest career aggregate of first class runs (55,061) and also 4th highest ever tally of centuries (153) ever assembled.
  5. David Gower – left handed batter. When Leicestershire made enquiries about speaking to a talented teenage left hander his native Kent raised no objections, and David Ivon Gower headed for the east midlands. A few years later at the age of 21 he was making his England debut and announcing his presence at the highest level by hitting his first ball at that level for four and going on to score 58. Later that year he scored his maiden test century, and then that winter his maiden Ashes century, ultimately becoming only the second England batter to reach 8,000 test runs. When he decided to leave Leicestershire, he considered two options, Kent and Hampshire, and for the second time it was Kent who missed out, as he signed for Hampshire.
  6. Len Braund – right handed batter, leg spinner. Like Phil Mead he failed to make a sufficient impression on the folk at The Oval. He headed for Somerset, and after an incident in which he was selected for a game at Lord’s before having served his residential qualifiying period he went on to a distinguished career for both Somerset and England.
  7. +Ben Foakes – wicket keeper, right handed batter. To be unwilling to drop the veteran James Foster to make way for a talented youngster is understandable, but allowing said youngster to fly the coop altogether is less so. Foakes signed for Surrey, and has subsequently played for England, a position that many think should be his as a matter of course, rather than merely for a handful of appearances.
  8. Albert Trott – right arm slow bowler, right handed batter. Overlooked for the 1896 tour of England after a sensational start to his test career (and the captain of that party was his brother Harry) he made his own way to Blighty and signed for Middlesex. In 1899 and 1901 he combined a haul of over 200 first class wickets with a tally of over 1,000 first class runs (an equivalent in today’s shorter FC season would be 100 wickets and 500 runs). He and Wilfred Rhodes were together when the Players completed a dramatic chase of 501 in under seven hours to beat the Gentlemen at Lord’s in 1900.
  9. Jim Laker – off spinner. When Surrey made enquiries about signing a young spinner from Bradford no one up north thought to raise an objection. James Charles Laker duly became a Surrey cricketer, and went on to become the greatest off spinner of the era, and possibly the greatest England ever had, with all due respect to Mr Swann.
  10. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. Lancashire failed to impressed by a young quick bowler, and he headed for pastures new, in this case Northamptonshire. In the next few years Lancashire would discover just what a rick they had made, as Frank Holmes Tyson blazed across the cricketing skies like a meteor. In a final irony Tyson’s greatest cricketing moments came in partnership with Brian Statham of Lancashire.
  11. Derek Shackleton – right arm medium pacer. A reverse of Phil Mead, who was overlooked at The Oval because his bowling was not up to standard. Shackleton was viewed in his native north (he was born and raised in Todmorden) as a batter, his bowling rarely used. He moved south to Hampshire, and after a brief and unsuccessful dalliance with leg spin he reverted to his natural medium pace, and in 1949 achieved his first season haul of 100 first class wickets, a feat he would repeat for every season until 1968, 20 successive seasons in total, ending his career with the eighth highest total of first class wickets ever recorded.

This team has a fine top five, a genuine all rounder in Braund, a great keeper who can certainly bat and a great quartet of bowlers. Tyson and Shackleton would probably combine well as an opening pair, and Trott, Laker, Braund and Rhodes are an excellent looking slow attack.

INTERNATIONAL ESCAPEES XI

  1. Roger Twose – left handed opening batter, occasional medium pace bowler. He played well for Warwickshire but was never able to attract the attention of the England selectors. So when the opportunity to play for New Zealand arose he accepted gratefully. His test record was modest but he did superbly in ODIs.
  2. Roy Marshall – right handed opening batter. When he first appeared on the scene there were those who thought he would be a match for the ‘three Ws’ who dominated Caribbean batting at the time. In the event he signed for Hampshire, and scored stacks of runs for them, his test promise remaining unfulfilled.
  3. Stewie Dempster – right handed batter. A brief but spectacular career for New Zealand, which saw him average 65.72 in 10 test matches ended when he signed for Leicestershire, who he served well for a long period.
  4. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Believing that his talents were going unrecognized in his native South Africa he moved to England. With an English mother the qualifying period was less for him than if he had had no connection to England, but still long enough for him to burn his bridges at one county (Nottinghamshire), and it was only after a move to Hampshire that he played for his new country. He top scored in both innings of his debut test, albeit in a losing cause, and at the end of that series played the innings that ensured that England would regain The Ashes. He went on to average just a bit below 50 in test cricket.
  5. Basil D’Oliveira – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler. The colour of his skin condemned him to second class status in his native South Africa, but he managed to escape, helped by John Arlott. By the time he was called up for England he was 35 years old, but he still averaged over 40 in test cricket, playing his last match at that level as a 41 year old. The events surrounding the aborted 1968-9 tour of South Africa finally forced people to take notice of the way South Africa conducted itself, and a visit by Bradman in 1971 in which he met with South African leader Vorster and was shocked by the latter’s behaviour and attitudes led to the final banishment of apartheid South Africa, although Ali Bacher and others made misguided efforts on their behalf by doing things like organizing rebel tours, it was only after the abolition of apartheid that South Africa were readmitted.
  6. Sydney Smith – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was born in the West Indies, long before they became a test nation. He got to show what he could do in front of wider audience because he qualified by residence for Northamptonshire. He did the double in his first season for them, and enjoyed a most distinguished career for them.
  7. +Sammy Guillen – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was picked for his native West Indies for a tour of New Zealand, stayed there and ended up playing for them later in his career.
  8. Simon Harmer – off spinner, useful lower order batter. After playing five tests for South Africa he decided to sign for Essex as a ‘Kolpak’, and has rendered them colossal service. He is now qualified by residence for England, but the rise of Dominic Bess, the fact that Amar Virdi is clearly knocking on the door, the presence of spinners of other type such as Leach and Parkinson, and the more distant but visible prospects of the likes of Liam Patterson-White and the all round talents of Lewis Goldsworthy mean that at least as far as I am concerned it would be a retrograde step for him to be selected for England at this stage. This is not intended as a reflection on Harmer, a denigration of his qualities, or least of all a suggestion that people who have started elsewhere should not play for another country. It is his misfortune that he has qualified at the same time as England after a fallow few years have started to develop some serious spinning talent.
  9. Jofra Archer – right arm fast bowler. The Barbadian born fast bowler, inspired by Chris Jordan, decided to try his luck in England. Having qualified by residence for his new country he played a crucial role in its triumph in the 2019 World Cup, including being chosen the bowl the ‘super over’ that settled the final. He subsequently had some great moments in the test arena, and will be part of England’s plans for some years to come.
  10. Neil Wagner – left arm fast medium bowler (mainly bouncers). Another who left South Africa to find fulfillment elsewhere, in his case in New Zealand. He has had considerable success for New Zealand.
  11. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. He had cause for reckoning that he had to move if he was going to make the most of himself as a cricketer – as it happened he was already 38 by the time his native New Zealand gained test status, and in spite of treading a winding road that involved trying his luck in NSW and Victoria before finally breaking through for South Australia, he had been playing test cricket for over five years for his new country. His test career ended when he was not selected for the 1938 tour of England, but he played on in first class cricket until World War Two caused Australian first class cricket to be suspended in 1941.

This team has a good top five, a genuine all rounder at six, a fine keeper and four well varied bowlers. Archer and Wagner should combine well with the new ball, and D’Oliveira and Twose can provide seam back up, while Grimmett, Harmer and Smith are a fine trio of spinners.

THE CONTEST

The contest, for what I shall call the ‘Learie Constantine Trophy’ would be a good one. I certainly could not forecast a winner.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced the concept and the teams, but just before bringing th curtain down I have an excellent video from Alex Collins about the importance of conservation:

Time for my usual sign off…

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IMG_0552 (2)
The first time I have ever seen a swan on the patch of grass outside my bungalow. They are much more aquatic in nature than ducks, and walk very inelegantly.

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Ones That Got Away
The teams in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – London vs The North

Today in ‘all time XI’ land we have a contest between London and the North.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s variation on an ‘all time XI‘ theme. Today features a battle between London and The North. I grew up in London, but have some northern ancestry and lived for a period in Barnsley, while I now live in Norfolk, so I consider myself decently equipped to handle this one.

THE BRIEF IN MORE DETAIL

For the purposes of of this post London means players from either Middlesex or Surrey. I am well aware that among the first class counties Kent and Essex also overlap with London. The Northern XI is drawn exclusively from Yorkshire and Lancashire, although there is an honourable mention for a Durham player. I have not included overseas players at all. Do check out my county XIs here.

LONDON ALL TIME XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter. The man with more first class runs and more first class hundreds than anyone else who ever played the game (I go with the traditional figures of 61,237 runs and 197 hundreds). This is all the more remarkable, because having been born in Cambridge he had to serve out a two year qualification period before making his Surrey debut, and he also lost four years to Wiorld War 1. He ultimately became Sir Jack Hobbs, the first professional games player of any description to be knighted.
  2. John Edrich– left handed opening batter. Another scorer of over 100 first class hundreds.
  3. Bill Edrich – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. A cousin of John. His test career got off to a slow start, but when he did manage a big score at that level it was seriously big – 219 versus South Africa at Durban, when England were baulked of victory by the weather and the necessity to return to Cape Town to get their boat home – they were 654-5 chasing 696 when time in what was supposed by a ‘timeless’ test match ran out.
  4. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. Only Don Bradman reached the career landmark of 100 first class hundreds in fewer innings than Compton’s 552.
  5. Patsy Hendren – right handed batter, brilliant fielder. The second largest tally of first class hundreds, 170, and the third largest ever tally of first class tuns, 57,611, and he did all that while never forgetting that cricket was a game to be enjoyed. He took full advantage of playing for Middlesex – a record 75 of his first class hundreds were scored at ‘the home of cricket’.
  6. +Alec Stewart – right handed batter, wicket keeper. The man who scored more test runs than anyone else in the 1990s.
  7. *Percy Fender – right handed batter, leg spinner, captain. Exactly the right kind of player to be coming in at no7 in a very strong side, and an excellent captain.
  8. Jim Laker – off spinner. He was apparently capable of putting so many revs on the ball that it would hum in the air on its way to the batter.
  9. Tony Lock – left arm orthodox spinner.
  10. George Lohmann – right arm medium pace bowler. His test wickets came at 10.75 each, and a rate of one per 34 balls. He was joint quickest to 100 test wickets (17 matches, a record he shares with ‘Terror’ Turner).
  11. Tom Richardson – right arm fast bowler. The man who would walk from his home in Mitcham to The Oval carrying his cricket bag, bowl plenty of overs in the day and then walk back similarly encumbered. He nearly did a ‘Bob Willis’ at Old Trafford in 1896, when ‘Ranji’ had scored 154 to set the old enemy a victory target of 125 after England had been made to follow on. Richardson took 6-76 bowling unchanged, and Australia were relieved in the end to get home by three wickets.

This team has a super strong top five, a batter keeper at six, an all rounder who was also a very shrewd captain at seven and four well varied bowlers. Bill Edrich as third seamer can hardly be described as a weakness, given that he did on occasion take the new ball for his country, while Laker, Lock and Fender represent a fine spin trio.

THE NORTH

  1. Len Hutton – right handed opening batter, occasional leg spinner. His record looks even more extraordinary when you consider that he lost six years to World War Two, and a training accident during that conflict left him with one arm shorter than the other.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. He averaged 52.02 in first class cricket, 60.73 in test cricket and 66.85 in Ashes cricket, bearing out his famous comment “Ah Mr Warner, I love a dogfight.” His career was affected at both ends by war – World War 1 delayed his entry into first class cricket until he was 24 years old, while World War II finished his career – and in that last season of 1939 he had become the oldest player ever to carry his bat through a first class innings, so without the interruption he may well have carried on at first class level.
  3. Johnny Tyldesley – right handed batter. In the first decade of the 20th century only two professionals were selected for England purely on the strength of their batting, David Denton and Johnny Tyldesley. Tyldesley’s record was outstanding for a player of his era, and he was noted for his skill on bad wickets. He was also notably nimble footed, it being not unknown for him to deploy his favourite cut shot against balls pitched in line with middle stump.
  4. Eddie Paynter – left handed batter. He was baulked by the strength of Lancashire’s batting in his early years, but when he did reach the top he made it count, averaging 59.23 in test cricket, which included double centuries against Australia and South Africa.
  5. Joe Root – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Note that I have not named him as captain because of his batting record while in that role, which is noticeably less good than his record before he became captain. It is his batting that I want, the same batting that saw him reach 3,000 test runs quicker than any other England batter.
  6. George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm pace bowler. This one caused me considerable thought, but his record was so good that, notwithstanding the roars of rage this decision will generate from folk based west of the Pennines I decided it had to be him. His 1906 feat of scoring 2,385 runs and taking 208 wickets in first class matches, echoed in miniature by his performance in the game against Somerset at Bath when he scored 111 and 117 not out and took six first innings wickets and five more in the second was a truly outstanding demonstration of skill and stamina – an equivalent in today’s much shorter first class season would be someone scoring 1,000 runs and taking 100 wickets in first class games, not an impossibility but certainly a feat that would be estraordinary, although anyone good enough to pull it off would very likely either be involved with England or spend some part of the season playing franchise T20 cricket somewhere else in the world.
  7. Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed lower middle order batter. He had a magnificent record until an eye injury brought a premature end to his career.
  8. Freddie Trueman – right arm fast bowler. No further comment needed.
  9. *Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner. I have named him as captain, a role he never filled on the cricket field due to the prejudices of the era in which he lived, but which I believe he would have done splendidly. He did ultimately become a captain in a very different field – it was as Captain Verity of the Green Howards that he was fatally wounded in World War II. In less than a full decade of first class cricket prior to that he had captured 1,956 wickets at 14.90 each.
  10. Sydney Francis Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. The man who took 189 wickets in 27 test matches at 16.43 each just has to feature.
  11. +David Hunter – wicket keeper. He was the keeper in the first truly great Yorkshire side, the one that dominated the early years of the 20th century, being champions five times in its first decade, including going unbeaten twice in 1900 and 1908.

This team has a formidable top five, one of the greatest of all allrounders, four excellent bowlers and a star keeper. There is a lack of leg spin, but otherwise all departments are well covered.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I am going to cover these in order by playing role:

  • Opening batters – South: At least three other Surrey openers, Hayward, Sandham and Abel had outstanding records, while Andrew Strauss and Jack Robertson of Middlesex might also have their advocates.
  • Opening batters – North: Percy Holmes of Yorkshire might be considered to recreate the great pairing of him and Herbert Sutcliffe, while Louis Hall and Jack Brown had fine records in an earlier era. Among Lancastrians, Cyril Washbrook and Mike Atherton were the two nost obvious candidates.
  • Nos 3-5 – South: strong cases could be made for Ken Barrington and Peter May here, although bringing either in for Bill Edrich would change the balance of the side, and it is hard to envisage dropping Compton or Hendren. If told that I must accommodate Barrington on account of his test average of  58.67 I would do so by dropping John Edrich, and moving Bill up to open, a job he sometimes did in tests, slotting Barrington in at no3. Mike Gatting and Mark Ramprakash both had fine county records, but neither did enough at test level – Gatting averaged 35.55, and Ramprakash less than 30. ‘Young Jack’ Hearne might have got in on all-round talent. If Ollie Pope continues his career the way he has started it he will in due time command a place.
  • Nos 3-5 North: Ernest Tyldesley of Lancashire scored over 100 hundreds, David Denton of Yorkshire warranted consideration, while more recently the Lancastrians Neil Fairbrother and John Craw;ey would have their advocates. Jonny Bairstow would have his advocates as well,and I might have created an extra slot by selecting him as keeper if I had full confidence in his glove work. Brian Close would also have his advocates.
  • The all-rounder South: I have already mentioned ‘young Jack’, and Bernard Bosanquet was another candidate, as was Greville Stevens.
  • The all-rounder North: Andrew Flintoff was an obvious candidate, and I did consider shelving the issue of transpennine rivalry by giving Ben Stokes of Durham the nod – he may yet make an already strong case irrefutable.
  • Spinners – South: No other Surrey spinners rank wiht the two I chose, although Pat Pocock was a fine cricketer. Fred Titmus, Philippe Edmonds, John Emburey and Phil Tufnell would all have their advocates on the Middlesex side.
  • Spinners – North: Ted Peate, Bobby Peel, Wilfred Rhodes and Johnny Wardle of Yorkshire were all possibles for the left arm spinner role, as was Johnny Briggs of Lancashire. For off spinners, Ted Wainwright, Bob Appleyard, Ray Illingworth and Roy Tattersall had fine records, although Wainwright had a disastrous tour of Australia in 1897-8.
  • Pace bowlers South: Alec Bedser is the most obvious miss, but Gubby Allen also had a fine record, and Maurice Allom took a hat trick on test debut, although his overall record was not that great. Martin Bicknell had a superb county record and was unlucky not to get more chances for England. Bill Lockwood, who was also a useful batter, appears to have been the first to develop a slower ball as a variation, and by all accounts it was devilishly difficult to spot. Neville Knox’s pace was legendary but he only had two really good seasons, in 1906 and 1907.
  • Pace bowlers North: Jimmy Anderson is the most obvious miss, but his huge tally of test wickets is down to longevity and the frequency with which test matches now take place more than to any special brilliance that he possesses. Brian Statham was a great bowler, but with Trueman and Barnes making irrefutable cases for selection there was no way to get him in without changing the balance of the side. Such luminaries as Schofield Haigh, George Macaulay and Bill Bowes, all magnificent bowlers, have to make do with honourable mentions, as to the two greatest Yorkshire quicks of the 19th century, Tom Emmett and George Freeman (209 wickets at 9.94 in first class matches). George ‘Happy Jack’ Ulyett was another early great, who could also have been considered as an all rounder.
  • The Keepers – South: Had I been going to select a specialist keeper for the South rather than rely on Stewart there were two obvious choices, John Murray and Herbert Strudwick, with some 3,000 dismissals in first class cricket between them.
  • The Keepers – North: apart from Jonny Bairstow, already mentioned for his batting, George Pinder, Joe Hunter (brother of David), Arthur Dolphin, Arthur Wood, Jimmy Binks and David Bairstow all had fine records for Yorkshire, while George Duckworth and Warren Hegg of Lancashire were both fine keepers.

There will doubtless be many more names that occur to readers, and do feel free to weigh in with comments.

THE CONTEST

The contest for what I shall jokingly call the ‘Watford Gap Trophy’ would be an absolute classic. I rate the London XI as stronger in batting, though not by much, but reckon that the Northern XI is somewhat better equipped in the bowling department. I cannot pick a winner here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Having set up a fruity London vs The North contest, introduced the players and provided a detailed honourable mentions section it is time for my usual sign off…

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London vs North
The teams in tabulated form.

Emails, Images and Sorts

An account of today at James and Sons, with images and links, plus a couple of bonus links at the end.

INTRODUCTION

This is a post about today at work. I also have some links to share later on.

AUCTION READY

James and Sons’ August Auction will take place at Fakenham Racecourse on the 26th (a week tomorrow). Today therefore was spent imaging lots that had not yet been done, creating and despatching a bulk email and various other bits and bobs.

IMAGING HIGHLIGHTS

There were a few interesting items in today’s imaging…

Some interesting memorabilia from the 1956 ashes (offspinner Laker 46 wickets at less than 10 each just 18 months after the pace of Tyson and Statham had done for Aus on their own pitches)
Some interesting memorabilia from the 1956 ashes (offspinner Laker 46 wickets at less than 10 each just 18 months after the pace of Tyson and Statham had done for Aus on their own pitches)

31 32 33 41 42 100 331 331a 331b 331c 331d 508 509

EMAILING

The process of creating a bulk email involves identifying recipients, selecting/ creating an image, working out a headline and body text, assembling, and once a higher authority has deemed everything acceptable sending it out. I used the cover of the catalogue as an image. There were several variations before I was done…

This was a first attempt using the scanner.
This was a first attempt using the scanner.

Subsequently I used screen dumps from the PDF document to create two possible images.
Subsequently I used screen dumps from the PDF document to create two possible images.

This one, with the front cover in the centre.
This one, with the front cover in the centre.

CPDF3

And the one I eventually used, featuring just front and back cover.
And the one I eventually used, featuring just front and back cover.

The complete document can be viewed below:

Auction Alert

View a complete catalogue

LINKS

Just a couple of links: