Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the teams I selected for each letter of the alphabet. The Gs are currently in the spotlight and start today with 37.5 of a possible 55 points. There are links (light blue text) back to the posts I created for today’s featured sides in the selection stage of this series.
THE Gs V THE Ms
The opening pairs are both stellar. I rate WG as the better number three – Macartney benefitted from some very flat pitches – 16 of the 25 all time leading run scorers in FC history played some part of their careers in the inter-war years (Macartney finished his test career in 1926) and there is a reason why that era was known for tall scoring, especially in Australia. Grace is the only super stacker to have played all his FC cricket before WWI (an appearance for The Gentlemen of England v Surrey early in the 1908 season was his last FC match). Second and third among all time pre-WWI scorers in FC cricket are Fry and Ranji, both over 20,000 runs behind Grace. I give the number four slot to Gower – his test average is a few runs per innings lower than Mead’s, but the sample size is much larger for him. Miandad definitely gets the verdict over Graveney. Gilchrist wins the batting element of the keepers match up by a greater margin than he loses the keeping element. Miller outpoints Gregory in both departments. The Ms have a significant advantage in pace bowling – only Garner among the Gs specialist pacers would find a place in the Ms XI did one change the opening letter of his name. As against that, while Murali clearly outpoints Gibbs, Grimmett outranks Mahmood and gives the Gs a better balanced attack than the Ms. Both Grace and Miller were fine skippers, though I think Grace has to be awarded the palm in this department. I cannot pick a winner of this epic contest: Gs 2.5, Ms 2.5.
THE Gs V THE Ns
The Gs have far the better opening pair, Grace is about even on batting with Nurse given the different eras in which they played, Dudley Nourse outpoints Gower, but Dave Nourse is outpointed by Graveney. Noble is outbatted by Gilchrist and outbowled by Gibbs, Nixon is outbatted by Gregory but outkeeps Gilchrist. The Gs win the pace bowling match up due to having Garner in their ranks, and they are miles clear in spin bowling, with Grimmett outbowling Nadeem by an even bigger margin than Gibbs outbowls Noble. Only in middle order batting, and that not by much, can the Ns claim an advantage: Gs 5, Ns 0.
THE Gs V THE Os
The Gs absolutely boss the batting, with every match up in that department going their way bar Gower v O’Neill, which goes to the Aussie by a fraction. The seam bowling is also overwhelmingly in the Gs favour. Grace massively outranks O’Reilly (who never actually had the job IRL) as a skipper, and Oldfield wins the keeping side of his match up against Gilchrist. The Gs win the spin bowling – Gibbs outranking Ojha, while O’Reilly and Grimmett were both absolute titans of leg spin. There is simply no way the Os can offer any serious resistance: Gs 5, Os 0.
THE Gs V THE Ps
With all due respect to Ponsford, the Gs have the better opening pair. The Ps win the batting element of the number three slot, but by much less than raw figures suggest – Grace’s average, recorded between the ages of 32 and almost 51, equates to about 48 on 21st century pitches. G Pollock clearly wins the battle of the left handed stroke players at number four. Pietersen and Graveney is a closer battle – Graveney, a stroke maker by instinct, played in an era when scoring rates were generally slow and would probably have fared better in Pietersen’s era than he did in his own. I make this one level pegging. Gilchrist outpoints Pant, although Pant is young enough that he may yet change that. Circumstances restricted Procter to a handful of tests, in which he fared very well. Myself I think Gregory probably wins the batting element of their match up, while Procter very comfortably wins the bowling element. S Pollock outpoints Geary in both departments. P Pollock loses his match up to Garner. Grimmett outranks Parker for my money, though the scandalous way in which the England selectors of that era treated Parker makes it hard to be sure. Gibbs v Prasanna is more clear cut – their test careers had an overlap, Gibbs took more wickets at a better average, and Prasanna’s home pitches favoured spin more than Gibbs’ did, giving Gibbs a comfortable win. I make the Gs slightly the better batting side, and I just rank Grace ahead of Procter as a skipper, and I think they have a bigger advantage in spin bowling than the Ps do in pace bowling. This is a superb contest and I score it Gs 3, Ps 2.
THE Gs V THE Qs
This is a total non-contest. The Gs win every match up batting wise, have the better keeper, far the better captain, are the only side who can actually be said to have a pace attack, and barring something extraordinary from the largely untried Qais Ahmad they also boss the spin bowling department. Fs 5. Qs 0.
THE Gs PROGRESS UPDATE
The Gs have scored 20.5 of a possible 25 points today, moving them up to 58 of a possible 80 points, 72.5% so far.
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.
Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Also some photographs.
Welcome to the latest installment in my extended analysis of how the teams I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. This post features a ‘changing of the guard’ – the Cs occupy the hot seat at the beginning, and then we start the Ds. The Cs start today with 33 out of 115 points.
THE Cs V THE Ys
The Cs definitely have the stronger opening pair, nos 3,4 and 5 are very close, with Younis Khan outpointing I Chappell to the same extent that G Chappell outpoints Yallop. Norman Yardley outbats Constantine but loses the bowling element of their match up. Also, Chappelli is the better captain. S Yousuf outbats Carter but is out kept by the Aussie. Cummins and Croft have to be ranked above Younis and U Yadav as a new ball pair. Jack Young comfortably outmatches Cornwall as a finger spinner, while P Yadav vs Chandrasekhar is an even contest. The Ys have a marginal batting advantage, and win the spin bowling, but the pace bowling advantage is strongly with the Cs, and I think that will count for more than anything else and accordingly score this one: Cs 3, Ys 2.
THE Cs V THE Zs
The Cs dominate the top batting, with only Cowdrey arguably losing his match up against I Zadran. Zulch outbats Constantine, but does not offer a serious bowling option. Carter wins the wicket keeping match up, and Zaheer Khan and Monde Zondeki are way behind Cummins and Croft in the fast bowling stakes, while Constantine is the only back up pace option available to either side. The Zs probably win the spin department, but I don’t see that making much difference to the outcome of this one: Cs 4, Zs 1.
THE Cs FINAL SCORE
The Cs finish with 40 out of 125 points, a total score of 32%, comfortably bottom out of the three XIs who have been fully under the spotlight so far.
THE Ds V THE Es
The Cs have one solid pro and one genius opening the batting, one of the greatest number threes of all time, two legendary stroke makers at four and five, and a number six whose record at the top level suffered because his elevations was massively delayed by his personal circumstances and who still had a fine record. Dujon was an excellent keeper and a stylish batter, their pace trio is awesome, with Daniel probably third seamer behind an opening pair of Davidson and Donald, and they have a great spinner who was unlucky to overlap with two even greater ones of the same type – Wilfred Rhodes and Colin Blythe. The Es have two left handed battlers to open the batting, a number three who is less far behind his opposite number than figures suggest on two counts – 1)Dravid batted in an easier era for batting than Bill Edrich, and 2) Edrich lost six prime years to WWII, in which he distinguished himself as a flying ace. Emmett and R Edwards are undoubtedly well behind Donnelly and Duleepsinhji, and Endean is beaten by D’Oliveira. Dujon wins the batting element of his match up against Evans, but the Englishman was an even greater keeper than the West Indian. The Es have a left/ right opening pair of pacers, and a couple of crafty slower bowlers in Evans and Ecclestone. Evans v Daniel is not strictly a match up since they were very different types of bowler, and it is hard to say who would be preferable. I rank Ecclestone ahead of Dennett as a slow left armer. The Ds are ahead on batting, the Es may be ahead on front line bowling, but the Ds have an extra option in D’Oliveira. I score this one as Ds 3, Es 2.
THE Ds V THE Fs
The Ds have a marginal advantage when it comes to the opening pair, and Dravid rates above Flower as a number three. Donnelly beats Fletcher confortably, and Duleepsinhji beats Faulkner with the bat, but as against that Faulkner offers a bowling option. The Ds are stronger with the bat at nos 6,7 and 8, but the Fs have the potential of useful contributions from Flowers at 9. The Fs boss the bowling, Foster, Freeman and Ferris being at least as good a pace combo as Davidson, Donald and Daniel, and the Fs having three front line spin options to the Ds 1. I expect the Fs to win this comfortably and score it Ds 1, Fs 4.
THE Ds V THE Gs
The Ds have the edge in batting, though by less than it seems at first glance, the Ds also have the better pace attack, with only Garner in the same class as their trio. The Gs have a significant advantage in the spin bowling department, and they have the redoubtable WG as skipper. I still make the Ds favourites and score this one Ds 3, Gs 2.
THE Ds PROGRESS REPORT
The Ds had 8 points out of 15 from their three previous encounters. They are now on 15 points out of 30, exactly 50%.
Continuing my all time XIs theme with a skip ahead to the letter G, it being the 174th anniversary of the birth of that letters captain.
Outside it is ferociously hot, as per weather forecast. I have curtains drawn at the front of my bungalow, blinds down at the back and windows open everywhere, and so far that is keeping indoors bearable. I have skipped forward a few letters in my selection of teams with surnames beginning with the same letter because today is the 174th anniversary of the birth of the skipper of the team for whom that letter is G. Coverage of the second women’s ODI between England and South Africa is just underway. Ben Stokes has announced that tomorrow’s ODI in Durham will be his last game in that format – he is still available for selection in T20Is, but his main focus is the team of which he is captain, the test team.
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
Sunil Gavaskar (Somerset and India). The first to reach the career milestone of 10,000 test runs. His career highlights include an innings of 221 at The Oval in 1979 which almost enabled India to chase down a target of 438 (they were 429-8 when time ran out, having panicked from a high-water mark of 366-1).
Gordon Greenidge (Hampshire, West Indies). The Barbadian was aggressive by nature but possessed the ability to rein in his attacking instincts in the interests of the side. His two double centuries in the 1984 ‘blackwash’ series exemplify the different ways he could approach an innings: at Lords he was brutally destructive, carrying WI to a nine wicket victory with 214* in under five hours at the crease. Later in the series at Old Trafford, with WI needing a long innings Greenidge contributed 223*, batting almost 10 hours to wrench the initiative back for his side.
*WG Grace (Gloucestershire, London County, England). The birthday boy, and this team’s captain. His first first class hundred (out of 126 he was to score – I have no truck with the revisionist stats that give him only 124) came at The Oval in 1866 (224*). His last began on his 56th birthday, in 1904 (166). When he completed 50 FC centuries in 1875 that tally was equal to that of the next 13 leading century makers combined. When he made it 100 FC centuries 20 years later second in the list of century makers was Arthur Shrewsbury with 41 to his name). Add to that the bowling that brought him 2,876 FC wickets at 17.39 each and about 900FC catches and you have a serious all rounder. He was a regular opener, but I do not see him having a problem with first drop.
David Gower (Leicestershire, Hampshire, England). After three right handers we have a left hander. 8,231 test runs at 44.25 show that he had plenty of steel to go with the style he was justly famous for.
Tom Graveney (Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, England). The second leading scorer of FC runs among players who played exclusively after WWII. He was part of an astonishing turn around at The Oval in 1966 – England were 166-7, still over 100 behind the WI first innings total at low water mark. Graveney (165) and keeper Murray (112) began the turn around, which was completed when tail enders Snow and Higgs each hit maiden test fifties, carrying England to 527 all out. WI not surprisingly went down to an innings defeat.
+Adam Gilchrist (Australia). The wicket keeper, and our second left hander, one place above his preferred no seven. The only minor blot on a stellar international record was his horror series in England in 2005.
Jack Gregory (AIF and Australia). It was Plum Warner who suggested to the Australian International Forces team when they were uncertain of who to pick for the last place in their XI to go for Gregory, saying “there never was a Greogry of Sydney who couldn’t play the game”. Plum was spot on, and Jack Gregory developed into a genuine all rounder, attacking left handed batter (once hit a century against South Africa in just 70 minutes at the crease), one half of test cricket’s first great pair of fast bowlers along with Ted McDonald and a superb fielder in the slip and gully regions.
George Geary (Leicestershire and England). A bowler of seemingly inexhaustible stamina (once at Melbourne he bowled 81 overs in a single innings, taking 5-105) and possessed of all the tricks of the medium-fast bowler’s trade and a useful lower order batter to boot. His CV included two Ashes winning moments – in 1926 it was he who bowled Arthur Mailey to seal the victory at The Oval, while at the MCG two and a half years later he hit the winning runs as England scored 332-7 to go 3-0 in the five match series. His best FC bowling performance came for Leicestershire against Glamorgan, when he took all ten wickets for 18 runs, the second cheapest first class all ten ever (Hedley Verity 10-10 v Nottinghamshire being the champion performance in this department).
Joel Garner (Somerset and West Indies). One of the most awkward propositions ever seen on a cricket field – his 6’8″ height, a leap in delivery stride and long arms combined to mean that the ball came down from way up in the air (above the height of more than one test match ground’s sight screens).
Clarrie Grimmett (Australia). He had to cross one international and two state boundaries before establishing himself. He was 33 when he made his test debut, collecting 11 English wickets in the match. He ended with 216 wickets in just 37 test matches, and there were many, including his regular test match bowling partner Bill O’Reilly who thought that 46 year old Grimmett should have been picked for the 1938 tour of England.
Lance Gibbs (Warwickshire and WI). The off spinner was briefly the world record holder for career test wickets, with 309 wickets at that level, breaking the record set by Fred Trueman.
This team has a powerful top five, the most destructive keeper-batter ever, a genuine all rounder, a bowling all rounder (Geary), and three great specialist bowlers. Garner, Gregory and Geary represent an excellent pace/seam trio, Grimmett the leg spinner and Gibbs the off spinner represent a fine combination in that department, and of course there is WG as an extra bowling option.
Graham Gooch cannot be accommodated, with three regular openers already there (backdated punishment for going on the first of the rebel tours of SA!). Larry Gomes (test average 39) and Mike Gatting (35.55) are a both a touch short of the necessary class. Lewis Gregory is a fine all round cricketer for Somerset, but not a serious rival to his namesake Jack. Lewis Goldsworthy may challenge for batting/ left arm spin slot in years to come, but having only just registered his maiden first class century his case remains to be made. Alf Gover was a fine fast bowler, and in later years a highly respected coach (although the coaching school he established in Wandsworth numbers at least one ghastly failure – I attended sessions there in my childhood and never developed so much as a hint of skill as a player) but hardly a serious rival to Garner. George Gunn was another I regretted not being able to fit in. Shannon Gabriel was another fast bowler to come up short. Anshuman Gaekwad was another test batter with a respectable rather than outstanding record. Had I been selecting with white ball in mind Ruturaj Gayakwad would have had a strong case. In ten years time Shubman Gill may be considered a shoo-in, but he does not yet have the weight of proven achievement to dislodge any of my choices.
My latest variation on the ‘all time XI’ theme pits Davids against Goliaths. I also present the answer to yesterday’s teaser, an important post about disease prevention and of course some photographs.
It is time for another variation on the ‘All Time XI‘ theme, this time pitting a team made of players of small stature against a team of some of the tallest of all cricketers. I will also answer yesterday’s mathematical teaser.
THE GOLIATHS XI
Chris Gayle – left handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. He stands 6’5″ tall. His career highlights include two test triple centuries. However, he would be banned from using the DRS because of his record in that department.
Will Jefferson – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm fast medium. At 6’11” the Essex and later Leicestershireopener is one of the tallest of all professional cricketers. He never quite managed to attract the attention of the England selectors, but achieved a very respectable output in first class cricket.
Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. At 6’4″ one of the shorter members of this team. He averaged almost 50 in test cricket, with his highest score 227 at Adelaide. Late in his career he came within two of the highest score ever made forSurrey, with 355. He was not always popular with team mates – his departures from his first two counties, Nottinghamshire and Hampshire were both decidedly acrimonious, but his record speaks for itself.
Tom Moody – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer. The 6’7″ Aussie scored stacks of runs for Warwickshire and Worcestershire over the years and was also a fine fielder. One of the few to have admitted to being embarrassed by making a century due to the circumstances of its making. The innings in question, which saw the normally prized landmark arrive in just 26 minutes, was played against bowlers who were deliberately giving away runs to expedite a declaration was at the time greeted as a new first class record, but wiser counsels have since prevailed and it is now entirely correctly relegated to a footnote. Moody made ample numbers of runs that he had to earn, and his genuine embarrassment at effectively being handed a century speaks volumes for him.
*Clive Lloyd – left handed batter, cover specialist fielder, captain. The 6’5″ bespectacled Guyanese ace featured in my piece about the West Indies. Against Glamorgan he once reached 200 in precisely two hours against genuine bowling. In the inaugural men’s world cup in 1975 (the women played one two years earlier, won by Rachael Heyhoe-Flint’s England) he scored a ton in the final to put West Indies in charge of the contest, a position they never relinquished.
+Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Wicket keepers are rarely particularly tall, and Walcott was over six feet tall. I wrote about him in the West Indies piece.
George Bonnor – right handed batter, medium pacer, excellent catcher. Bonnor was one of the first renowned big hitters, with his best test innings being a score of 128 that included sending the ball clean out of the ground four times. He was inclined to attempt to ‘bat properly’, a policy that did not work for him – his best moments came when he realized that he was a big hitter and did not try to play a real innings.
Sulieman Benn – left arm orthodox spinner. At 6’7″ the West Indian is probably the tallest specialist spinner there has ever been, and he did have his moments. When I watched the West Indies play Australia at Adelaide in 2009 he was one of only two of their bowlers, greased lightening quickie Kemar Roach being the other, to cause the Aussie batters genuine apprehension. That match should have been an all-time classic, the West Indies being all out early on the final morning to leave Australia needing 330 off 81 overs on a pitch that was still pretty good for batting. Unfortunately, influenced by being already one up in a three match series, the Aussie skipper ‘Punter’ Ponting declined to live up to his nickname and Australia made no serious attempt to mount a chase that they should have had a fair chance of pulling off.
Mohammad Irfan – left arm fast bowler. The Pakistani paceman at 7’1″ is officially the tallest international cricketer there has ever been.
Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler, excellent boundary fielder. The 6’8″ Barbadian who has one end of his home ground, the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, named in his honour was a very difficult bowler to score off, and took ana average of just over four wickets per test match. His ODI economy rate of 3.09 is unapproached in that format. He was my chosen overseas player for Somerset.
Bruce Reid – left arm fast bowler. The 6’8″ Aussie had a fine test record for those matches when he was able to play, though he spent a lot of time on treatment tables (his only rival that I can think of in that regard was another Aussie, Damien Fleming).
This team has a good top six, including a serviceable wicket keeper, a big hitter at no 7 and four fine bowlers. It is weak in the spin bowling department, with only the part time tweakers of Gayle and Pietersen to supplement Benn’s left arm spin. That is the suitably Brobdingnagian “Goliaths XI”, and now, slings at the ready, here are their opponents:
THE DAVIDS XI
Bobby Abel – right handed opening bat. The diminutive Surrey opener (officially 5’4″ but perhaps less) was the first to carry his bat through an England innings, finishing on that occasion with 132 not out. He also holds the record for carrying his bat through the highest first class team total to feature such an innings, and in that same innings the highest score ever made for Surrey. In 1899 at Taunton, Surrey scored 811 all out, with Abel batting through for an undefeated 357. Abel and Tom Hayward shared the Surrey record partnership for any wicket, 448 for the 4th. Playing for the Players against the Gentlemen at The Oval Abel scored 247, a score only beaten in that series by his fellow Surreyite Jack Hobbs (266). Abel also formed a contrasting friendship withWG Grace, and was among the pallbearers at the latter’s funeral. There is a biography of him by David Kynaston that I recommend.
Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening bat. She has established a magnificent record at the top of the order in recent years (visit my postof two days ago to see a clip of highlights from one of her innings), and while the women play scandalously little test cricket, her record in ODIs is significantly better than her record in T20s, leading me to take the view that if she got a proper chance in long form cricket she would be highly successful.
*Don Bradman – right handed batter, brilliant outfielder, captain. He was just a little over 5’6″ in height, the second tallest of my chosen XI. A test average of 99.94 renders further comment superfluous. This is his third appearance in this series of posts, after Australia and the Scribes.
Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. The Indian maestro, scorer of 100 international hundreds is an automatic selection at four as Bradman was at three.
Gus Logie – right handed batter. The West Indian, one of the smallest players of his era, was not anything like as heavy a scorer as his immediate predecessors in this order, but he tended to score his runs when his side really needed them.
+Mushfiqur Rahim – right handed batter, wicket keeper. The Bangladeshi, one of the smallest players ever seen in the test arena, has two test double centuries to his credit, and averages 36.77 overall with the bat, and he has not all that often had the luxury of being able to build on a strong start by his team. He has also taken 104 catches and executed 15 stumpings in test cricket. Bangladesh has probably during his career only had five players who can genuinely be regarded as top class, opener Tamim Iqbal, all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan (currently suspended), off spinner Mehedi Hasan, fast bowler Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (now a member of the Bangladeshi parliament, and a spent force as a player) and Mushfiqur Rahim himself. In this team he is part of a strong unit, which would be a new experience for him.
Gilbert Jessop – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. At 5’7″ the tallest member of my chosen XI, he is the x-factor all rounder in the side. He featured in yesterday’s post.
Katherine Brunt – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed bat. The Barnsley born Brunt is approximately 5’5″ tall – among her regular England team mates only Beaumont and Danielle Wyatt are noticeably shorter. It is her skiddy bowling that has earned her a place in this XI, but she has also developed her batting to a very considerable degree, and shares with Logie the knack of producing the goods when they are most required – her career best 72 not out got England to a total in excess of 200 when at one stage a prediction of 150 would have been viewed as seriously optimistic.
John Wisden– right arm fast, useful lower order batter. The Sussex pacer, also founder of the United All England XI, a touring XI which played matches against local teams who had a numerical advantage – 18 and 22 were the two most frequent sizes of team for such matches, and sometimes secured the services of professionals, described as ‘given men’, once took all ten in a first class innings, all clean bowled. He stood only 5’4″, probably the shortest specialist fast bowler there has ever been.
Tich Freeman – leg spinner. The 5’2″ Freeman (his actual given names were Alfred Percy) was the second most prolific wicket taker in first class cricket history, with 3,776 (and he played only about half the number of matches that Yorkshire’sWilfred Rhodes, the no1 in this category, did). He holds all manner of records for large wicket hauls. Even more remarkable by today’s standards is the age at which he achieved these feats – a combination of his being a late developer and World War 1 meant that by the age of 30 the Kent leggie had precisely 29 first class wickets to his credit.
Poonam Yadav – leg spinner. The tiny Indian leg spinner was one the stars of the recent Women’s World T20, again and again confounding opponents with her flight and spin. She is also one of the slowest bowlers of any description to have been seen in top level cricket.
This team has an opening pair who should combine well, a powerhouse combination at three and four, a battler at no six, a wicket keeper batter at six, the most explosive batter the game has ever seen at seven, and four varied bowlers to round out the XI. I regret that both spinners are leg spinners, but I think there is enough difference in their methods that this is not a very serious weakness.
This contest for the ‘Sling Trophy’ as I shall call it should be a fine one. However, especially if Wisden, Brunt and Jessop, the pace bowlers for the Davids, concentrate on yorkers, which the Goliaths would find it difficult to get down to, I would still expect this to go the same way as the original David vs Goliath – in favour of the Davids.
SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER
Yesterday I offered up this, from brilliant.org
The key lies in that word ‘similar’. All the four rectangles (the big overarching rectangle, with long side 16, the intermediate rectangle that is half the area of that one and the two smaller rectangles all have the same proportions. This means that the key shape, the triangle is an isosceles right angled triangle and its longest side can be calculated from the similarity of the rectangles to equal to 4 x the square root of 2. This squares up to 32, and Pythagoras tells us that the sum of the squares of the other two sides is equal to the square of the longest side (aka hypoteneuse). Since the triangle is isosceles as well as right angled, the square of each remaining side is half of 32, i.e. 16. 16 has two square roots, 4 and -4, and the length of the side of a triangle is a positive number, so the answer is four.
Here is David Vreken’s elegant published solution:
Just to complete this mini-section, it took me much less long to actually solve this than to type my explanation, and I am a fairly rapid typist.
A FINAL LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS
The Davids and Goliaths of cricket have been paraded in all their glory, and I have a single link left to share before finishing with my usual sign off. Phoebe MD has hosted a post by Barbara Leonhard titled “Avoiding the Tragedy: A Look into Disease Prevention” which I consider to be a must-read. My thanks to both Phoebe and Barbara for that piece.
Continuing my all-time XIs series with a look at Somerset.
Welcome to the latest installment in my “All Time XIs” series. Today we are looking at Somerset. In the course of our journey we will meet heroes of the past, stars of the present, a couple of hopes for the future and the man who when I get round to creating it will be captain of the “What Might Have Been XI”.
SOMERSET ALL TIME XI
Marcus Trescothick – left handed opener who scored stacks of runs in his long and distinguished career. He was selected for England against the West Indies in 2000, showed masses of character in surviving an early onslaught from the veteran pacers Ambrose and Walsh, going on to score 66 on debut. That same winter facing the very different challenges posed by a dry pitch and some crafty spinners in Sri Lanka he made his maiden test hundred. Runs continued to flow against all opponents for some years. At Edgbaston in 2005 after England had been badly beaten in the opening match of that year’s Ashes series at Lord’s a display of controlled aggression brought him 90 on the opening day, after Ponting in spite of losing McGrath, the bowler most likely to cause such a decision to succeed, to injury on the morning of the game put England in. His England career was ended my mental health issues at the back end of 2006, but he returned to Somerset and went on scoring runs for them right up until the end of the 2019 season. He was also a fine slip fielder and bowled respectable medium pace.
Harold Gimblett – the man who still holds the record for most career first class runs for Somerset, and the highest first class score by a Somerset native (310). On his debut against Essex, after being called up at the last moment, he scored 123 in 79 minutes, winning that season’s Lawrence Trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season in the process. As with many others who plied their trade for a county who were generally on the fringes of things he received less international recognition than he deserved.
Lionel Palairet – a stroke making batter of the late Victorian and Edwardian period. In the 1901 season he scored 100 runs in a morning session on five separate occasions. One of those was in a game against Yorkshire that tests credulity: On the first morning Somerset were rolled for 87, to which Yorkshire replied with 325, only for Somerset to score 630 in their second innings, nos 1,2 and 3 all scoring hundreds. Facing a victory target of 393 Yorkshire crumbled to 113 all out, and defeat by 279 runs, their only defeat of the season. He was picked twice for England, Old Trafford and The Oval in 1902, a pulsating three run defeat that settled the destination of that year’s Ashes and “Jessop’s Match” – see my Gloucestershire piece, an extraordinary one wicket victory.
James Hildreth – a free and heavy scoring middle order batter who somehow completely escaped the notice of the England selectors during a distinguished career. He was used a fielding substitute during the 2005 Ashes, but never got closer than that to the test arena.
Leonard Braund – at a time when Somerset had few reliable batters, and were not unknown to struggle to get 11 players together for their matches he was a very consistent run scorer, rated as one of the finest of all slip fielders and was a high quality leg spinner. Braund was one of the three centurions in the Somerset come-back mentioned in connection with Palairet (Frank Phillips was the third), and, mirabile dictu, the following season Yorkshire were again champions, again lost only one game and again it was Somerset who were their undoing. This triumph was very much down to Braund – he made the highest individual score of the game and captured 15 wickets in the two Yorkshire innings. In 1907 he found himself in a “good player were at t’other end” scenario, when Albert Trott comprehensively ruined his own benefit match by taking four wickets in four balls and then shortly afterwards ending such resistance as Somerset had offered by doing the hat trick – and poor Braund observed this carnage from 22 yards away, emerging with 28 not out.
*Sammy Woods – born in Sydney but Somerset through and through. Captain through some very difficult times, and my choice for that role in this side. An attacking right handed bat and a right arm fast bowler.
Ian Botham – all rounder, a third acknowledged expert in the art of slip fielding alongside Trescothick and Braund in this side. I have him in the position in the batting order from which he scored his two most iconic centuries – 149 not out at Headingley in 1981 to breathe life back into that year’s Ashes when it seemed that Australia were in charge (Bob Willis then took 8-43 to complete the turnaround – see my Warwickshire piece) and then a few weeks later, after he psyched out the Aussie lower order at Edgbaston (a spell of 5-1 in 28 balls, and the only wicket to go a really difficult ball wasRay Bright), with England looking to push home a first innings advantage at Old Trafford he settled the destination of the Ashes and the series by reaching his century off 86 balls, eventually finishing with 118 off 102. After 53 balls of that Old Trafford innings he was on 28 not out, meaning that his last 90 came off 48 balls.
Dominic Bess – an offspinner and handy lower order bat, who I would hope still has a lot of his career to run. I have selected him in this team because I have been hugely impressed by what he has done in his career thus far, and because I felt obliged for reasons I will explain later to overlook another current England spinner. I first wrote about him in this post, on July 19, 2017, and he has done plenty right since then.
Joel Garner – my chosen overseas player. A right arm fast bowler of extreme accuracy who was especially awkward on account of his great height (6’8″, which coupled with a leap in his delivery stride and a high arm action meant that the ball was coming down from a height of somewhere in the region of 10 feet above ground level).
Farmer White– a slow left arm bowler of extreme stamina and accuracy. In the course of the 1928-9 Ashes series in which all matches were played to a finish (and England won 4-1) he ploughed through 542 overs in the five test matches. In the Adelaide match (and beautiful place though it is I would doubt that Adelaide is on many bowlers’ lists of preferred destinations!) in great heat he bowled 124 overs over the course of the two Australian innings, collecting match figures of 13-256.
+Wally Luckes – a wicket keeper who rendered 25 years service to his county. He batted low in the order on the instructions of his doctor (on one occasion against Kent he was sent in at no 5 and scored 121 not out, so he could make runs). His neat and unobtrusive style of wicket keeping was massively appreciated by the bowlers, but was so very unobtrusive as to absolutely fail to attract the attention of the England selectors. As already mentioned he was largely restricted on health grounds to batting late in the order, and he made a name for himself in tight finishes. Against Gloucestershire in 1938 he hit the third and fourth balls of the last possible over of the game for fours to give Somerset a one wicket win (Ben Stokes, if you are reading this, you and only you are permitted to say “what, he didn’t wait until the fifth and sixth balls to complete the job?”). In 365 first class appearances he took 587 catches and executed 240 stumpings.
My chosen XI consists of four specialist batters, three genuine all-rounders of differing types, three specialist bowlers of differing types and an excellent wicketkeeper. I have two out and out pacemen of contrasting approach in Garner and Woods, a right arm swing bowler in Botham, and all types of spin other than left arm wrist spin (White, Bess and Braund). The only type of bowling not available to this side is left arm pace. Other than that, unlike far too many real Somerset sides it looks both balanced and formidably strong.
SOMERSET PRESENT AND FUTURE
Somerset have never won the County Championship, and deep into the 1980s had never finished higher than third. They have been runner-up a number of times in recent years, including in 2019, and in 2016 when they topped the table going into the final day of the season but lost out when Middlesex and Yorkshire connived to create a result out of what looked a certain draw (Middlesex being the beneficiaries in the end). Firmly established in front rank of current players are Jack Leach, who I considered for the left arm spinners slot given to White, Lewis Gregory, a right arm fast medium bowler who is also a useful lower middle order bat and the Overton twins, Craig and Jamie, robust lower order hitters who both bowl right arm at above medium pace (Jamie on top form can be genuinely quick). Also rapidly establishing himself is Tom Abell, a right handed batter who seems to positively relish playing long innings against the red ball (a rarity in this day and age), and who has shown himself to be a shrewd captain. Finally, three youngsters who are at various stages of emerging talent, all of whom I expect to be seriously big names before too many years have passed are Tom Banton, an attacking top order batter and sometimes wicket keeper, George Bartlett, another top order batter who also bowls off spin, and Lewis Goldsworthy, slow left arm bowler and middle order bat (and the only player so far mentioned anywhere in this series whose birth year begins with a 2) who had some memorable moments in the under-19 world cup. That elusive County Championship should not remain elusive for many more years with this kind of talent on tap.
MAURICE TREMLETT – A TALENT DENIED
When Somerset went to Lord’s in 1947 to take on Middlesex who were on their way to that year’s County Championship they took with them a young fast medium bowler named Maurice Tremlett. He took 3-47 in the first Middlesex innings, and then in the second innings 5-39, all of those wickets coming in a spell of five overs during which he conceded only eight runs. Then, batting at no 11 he joined Horace Hazell, a slow left armer who already had a reputation in tight finishes (he was Luckes’ last wicket partner in that 1938 game against Gloucestershire) and won the game for his side with a little gem of an innings which included a straight six off spinner Jack Young. This sort of debut should have set the stage for an illustrious career (and maybe if physicists are right about there being parallel universes that is what happened in one of those). Sadly England’s desperate need for pace bowling options at that time and maybe Tremlett’s own nature intervened. Various coaches, and at least one international captain, Gubby Allen, in the West Indies that winter, tried to mould him into the genuine fast bowling article. Changes to the length of his run up (four strides added in an effort to generate more pace), the position of his hips, thighs and feet, and so on led to a loss of his greatest natural asset, the outswinger, control and confidence. Within a few years he had packed in bowling save for occasional attempts to break a partnership and was making his way as a specialist batter, in which capacity he did fairly well but was never of international standard. He was also for a period a highly regarded county captain, which is why when I have created it he will be captain of the “What Might Have Been XI”. In a counterfactual novel dealing with the cricket of this period (or that parallel universe!) Tremlett, not messed about with, would have developed into an attacking no 8 bat and new ball bowler with a hugely successful test record. In the real world it would be two generations before a Tremlett, grandson Chris, would enjoy serious test match success as a bowler, playing a vital role in 2010-11 Ashes triumph.
In addition to Leach and White the left arm spinner’s berth could have gone to Edwin Tyler, Beaumont Cranfield or Horace Hazell. Roy Virgin, Brian Rose and Mark Lathwellwere three fine opening batters (and there are those who would say that had be been properly handled Lathwell could have been a great batter). In the middle of the order three names who might have had a place were Jack MacBryan (who would have expected to be unlucky – this is the guy who played test cricket but never batted, bowled or fielded, since the match he was selected for was ruined by rain, and there was evidently something wrong with the way he hung around in the pavilion), Brian Close, who taught Somerset how to win in the 1970s, and Peter Randall Johnson. The last named played in an era when residential/ birth qualifications were taken very seriously by the powers that be, but less so by Somerset, who found ingenious ways round these rules. In Mr Johnson’s case Somerset went for the absolutely brazen approach of airily telling the powers that be “oh yes, he was born in Wellington”, which was the truth but not the whole truth – they failed to mention which Wellington he was born in, and yes, it was the one in New Zealand! Bill Alley, an Australian born batter and medium pace bowler merited consideration. Arthur Wellard, a fast medium bowler and big hitting batter (25% of his 12,000 first class runs came in the form of maximums) was also a candidate, but with Woods and Botham nailed-on selections his presence would have unbalanced the side. ‘Crusoe’ Robertson-Glasgow, a Scottish born pace bowler and no 11 batter did not make the cut as a player but has the consolation of being my first choice to write about this team’s performances. Finally, only one Somerset born bowler has ever lifted a senior world cup: Anya Shrubsole – and I did think about it. Somerset has had some splendid official overseas players down the years, with Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar, Justin Langer, Greg Chappell and Martin Crowe all authentic greats, but as usual when it came to the overseas player I went for a bowler, in this case Garner. The off spinner’s position could have gone to Brian Langford, who had a long and distinguished Somerset career, while Vic Marks also played for England as an off spinning all rounder. Ian Blackwell, a big hitting middle order bat and left arm spinner simply could not be accommodated. Among the wicket keepers the wonderfully named Archdale Palmer Wickham (nicknamed ‘snickham’ such was his incompetence with the bat) was clearly s splendid practitioner. More recently Piran Holloway, Craig Kieswetter, Jos Buttler and Steven Davies would all have their advocates.
Readers may have other players that I have not mentioned in mind, and suggestions are welcome, but remember to consider the effect that your suggestions will have on the balance of the side.
Yes, our rollercoaster ride through Somerset cricket is at an end, and all that remains is my usual sign off…