All Time XIs – Match Ups 62

Continuing my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another. Today sees the end of the Ts.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how my the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today we see the Ts last five match ups, with them having 72.5 out of 100 points so far.

THE Ts V THE Vs

The Ts win the batting match ups at 1,2,4,5,6 and 8, with Vaughan winning at no 3 for the Vs, though unlike Tarrant he does not offer a bowling option. Vaas at seven and Verity at nine also win batting match ups for the Vs, while Bob Taylor is clearly the superior keeper. I award the Vs the pace/ seam bowling honours on two grounds: 1) the Ts pacers are all right handers, reducing the variation in their attack, and 2) Vaas would fare better as third seamer in a powerful attack than he actually did as opening bowler in a moderate one. The spin pairings are closely matched – Verity beats Tarrant (in FC cricket, which is where a comparison is available Verity was 2.5 runs per wicket cheaper than Tarrant and bowled in less favourable conditions), while Trumble beats Vogler. The Ts are stronger in batting, the Vs are stronger in bowling. The Ts have the better keeper. I think the Ts good batting is enough to save them from defeat, but I am not prepared to award them victory: Ts 2.5, Vs 2.5.

Two of the Vs brightest stars, Verity and Voce.

THE Ts V THE Ws

The Ws dominate the batting – apart from Mark Taylor up top, the only other winners of batting match ups are Ross Taylor at six and Hugh Trumble at eight. The Ts have the better keeper. The fast bowling is close, Whitty’s left handedness possibly the decisive factor in giving that department to the Ws. The Ws steamroller the spin bowling department, Wardle outranking Tarrant and Warne outranking Trumble. The Ws also have the better captain – as good as Mark Taylor was in that role, Worrell’s achievement in unifying the West Indies and turning them for the first time in their history to into a combination that could and did win anywhere and against anyone puts him a cut above even Taylor as a skipper. As good as the Ts are there is no areas save wicket keeping in which they are even close to the Ws, so I have to score this Ts 0, Ws 5.

Johnny Wardle, left arm trickster for the Ws

THE Ts V THE Xs

Total dominance with the bat for the Ts – not until Xenophon Balaskas at seven, Ron Oxenham at eight and Tom Box at nine do the Xs win any batting match ups. Box is one of the few keepers in this series to be a match for Bob Taylor. The Ts also have the better captain and dominate the pace/ seam department. Also, while the Xs have a numerical superiority in the spin department, Trumble is definitely the best spinner on either side, and Tarrant would be at least Axar Patel’s equal. Therefore there can be only one scoreline: Ts 5, Xs 0.

Captain of the Xs, Alan KippaX.

THE Ts V THE Ys

The Ts are dominant in batting – only Younis Khan at three and Saleem Yousuf at seven win batting match ups for the Ys. Bob Taylor resumes his usual position of being obviously the best keeper on either side, the Ts are utterly dominant in seam/pace bowling, and also have the better spin pairing – Tarrant definitely outranks Jack Young in that department, whereas P Yadav is not definitively clear of Trumble (though I call that match up just her way). Thus this one is Ts 5, Ys 0.

Ys skipper Norman Yardley. This was from early in his career, and by the time of the 1946-7 Ashes he was bowling medium pace and used mainly as a partnership breaker.

THE Ts V THE Zs

The Ts utterly dominate the batting – only Zulqarnain Haider at seven wins a match up for the Zs in this department, and he loses the keeping match up against Bob Taylor. The Ts also have the better captain. They utterly dominate the pace/ seam bowling department, and they are least on level terms in the spin department: Ts 5, Zs 0.

Trueman, one of three out and out fast bowlers available to the Ts. None of my cigarette cards feature any of the Zs.

THE Ts FINAL SCORE

The Ts have scored 17.5 out of 25 today, to finish on 90 out of 125, exactly 72%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 59

Continuing my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another plus some of my regular photographs,

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another. Today sees the Rs in the spotlight, with 59 points out of 90 banked thus far.

THE Rs V THE Ts

The Rs have the better opening pair, though by less than the raw figures suggest. They also win the batting match up at number three, although Tarrant was a greater bowler than Robins. The Ts win the batting match up at 4,5 and 6, but Russell beats Taylor with the bat, and both were stellar keepers. The Rs win on pace bowling, but the Ts win on spin bowling, Rhodes outranking Trumble by less than Tarrant outranks Robins. This is a close contest, but I just give it tp the Ts: Rs 2, Ts 3.

THE Rs V THE Us

The Rs boss the first four batting match ups, narrowly lose at number five and heavily lose the batting element of number six. Umar Akmal wins the batting match up at seven, but Russell massively wins the keeping element of the contest. The Rs dominate the pace/ seam bowling element, the spin bowling is close, and the Rs have the better captain, The Rs have a clear advantage but not enough for a whitewash: Rs 4, Us 1.

THE Rs V THE Vs

The Rs win every batting match up down to number five, the Vs win the batting element of number six, Vogler wins the bowling match up against Robins but Russell comfortably wins the keeping homours. Russell also wins the batting element of the match up at number seven, while Vaas is outranked as a bowler by Roberts but by less than figures suggest – Vaas would fare better in this attack than he did in the attacks of which he was actually part, and he is one of two left arm pacers for the Vs. Rhodes v Verity is truly titanic clash of left arm spinners. Voce and Van der Bijl are about level with Rabada and Richardson. The Rs are stronger in batting, better captained, have the better keeper. Pace/ seam bowling is too close to call, and the Vs win the spin bowling. I think the Rs are just winning this: Rs 3, Vs 2.

THE Rs V THE Ws

The Rs have the better opening pair, but the Ws win every other match up down to number six, though Russell is the better keeper, while Warne massively outranks Robins as a leg spinner. The pace/ seam element is close, but Bill Whitty’s left arm gives the Ws an edge there. Rhodes probably ranks as the greatest left arm finger spinner in this match, but the Ws have two such bowlers, and additionally a top class left arm wrist spin option – Wardle could bowl this at least as well as he bowled finger spin, whereas the Rs best third spin option would be Joe Root, a part timer. Additionally Ws have a bonus bowling option in Worrell. I think Ws are comfortably clear, but it won’t be a whitewash: Rs 1, Ws 4.

THE Rs V THE Xs

The Rs are totally dominant in batting and pace/ seam bowling, and though the Xs have more spinners the Rs have better spinners. The Rs also have the better captain, and both sides have great keepers. There can be only one scoreline: Rs 5, Xs 0.

THE Rs PROGRESS REPORT

The Rs have scored 15 points out of 25 today, putting themselves on 74 points out of 115 overall, 64.35% overall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 34

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 extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter fare against each other. The Hs occupy the spotlight and have so far accrued 55 out of a possible 90 points. The Men’s T20 World Cup is just underway, and we have already seen two major upsets – yesterday Namibia beat current Asia Cup holders Sri Lanka by 55 runs, while early this morning UK time Scotland beat twice former winners the West Indies by 42 runs.

THE Hs V THE Ts

The Hs as usual dominate batting wise, though there are several factors that lessen that dominance. Taylor and Trumper are a right/ left opening combo whereas Hobbs and Hutton were both right handed, and in addition Trumper played on poorer pitches than any of the others. Second is that Tarrant offers a genuine top line bowling option, unlike any of the Hs top six. Tyson and Trueman are at least a match for Hadlee and Holding as a new ball pairing, while Thomson is miles clear of Hammond as third seamer. Trumble outranks Harmer, and for my money Tarrant outranks Herath as a bowler, though that contest is a close one. The Ts also have the better keeper. I don’t reckon that the Hs advantage in batting is enough to make up for their deficit in bowling and score this Hs 2, Ts 3.

THE Hs V THE Us

This one is not a contest at all – the Hs comfortably outrank the Us in all areas, leading to an inevitable scoreline of Hs 5, Us 0.

THE Hs V THE Vs

The Hs dominate the batting, and have the better keeper. Bowling wise is a very different story – Voce and Van der Bijl have to be considered at least the equal of Holding and Hadlee as a new ball pair, and Vaas far outranks Hammond as third seamer, especially given that he would be likely to fare even better as third seamer in a strong attack than he actually did as new ball bowler in a moderate one. Verity far outranks Herath, and for my money Vogler outranks Harmer. I think the Vs bowling advantage outweighs the Hs batting advantage: Hs 2, Vs 3

THE Hs V THE Ws

The gap between the opening pairs is reduced by the fact that the Ws have a left/ right opening combination as against two right handers. Nos 3-5 feature three titanic clashes, while Hendren wins the batting element of his match up at six and Healy wins the keeping element but loses the batting element of his match up to Woods (Woods played on the rough and ready pitches of England before WWI and would have averaged more playing today). Whitty and Willis would be at least as potent a new ball pair as Holding and Hadlee, and Woods comfortably outranks Hammond as third seamer. Warne far outranks Harmer, while Wardle is clear of Herath, and there is also Woolley to bowl left arm spin. The Hs have a small advantage in batting and a massive deficit in bowling: Hs 1, Ws 4.

THE Hs V THE Xs

The Hs are massively ahead overall, though the Xs do have decent spin bowling and they do have the better keeper. Still, the Hs superiority is so marked that there can only be one scoreline: Hs 5, Xs 0.

THE Hs PROGRESS REPORT

The Hs have scored 15 out of 25 today, putting them on 70 out of 115, 60.87% (yesterday’s percentage was incorrect – should have read 61.11%, not 55.56%).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 27

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

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today is the Fs last day in the spotlight.

THE Fs V THE Vs

The Fs win the first three batting match ups, the Vs win the no 4 and 5 slots, but Faulkner’s bowling mitigates his narrow loss to Vengsarkar on the batting front. Verreynne is significantly ahead of Foakes on FC batting average, although Foakes out batted him in the only test series in which both have featured, and Foakes is also the better keeper. Fender, whose captaincy I rate ahead of Vaughan’s, outbats Vogler, though the Saffa was much the better bowler. Foster and Vaas is a good battle – Foster was the classier bat, Vaas probably the better bowler, especially given that in this XI he would be third seamer in a strong attack rather than opening bowler in a moderate one. Verity is far ahead of Flowers as a bowler, though the Notts man was a better batter. I would rate Freeman and Ferris a better new ball pairing than Voce and Van der Bijl. Ferris can definitely be ranked ahead of Voce as a left arm seamer, though like Voce he was metaphorically overshadowed by a team mate who was an even more fearsome bowler than himself. Freeman and Van der Bijl both missed out on test cricket, Freeman because he retired just before test cricket started, Van der Bijl because SA were personae non grata during his playing days. On my usual method of allowing for bowlers being more expensive now than they were in the 19th century Freeman’s bowling average of 9.71 becomes 14.56, while Van der Bijl had an FC bowling average of 16.54, two runs a wicket more expensive than Freeman’s adjusted figure. The Fs have better batting, a better captain, a better keeper and better pace bowlers while the Vs have better spinners. I will allow the Vs spinners their day and score this one Fs 4, Vs 1.

THE Fs V THE Ws

The Fs have the better left handed opener, while the Ws have the better right handed opener, and both Ws openers offer bowling options. The Ws boss the 3-5 slots batting wise, although Faulkner outranks Worrell and possibly Woolley as a bowler. Watling outranks Foakes as a batter, but Foakes is clear as a keeper. Woods and Foster are about equal as pace bowling all rounders, Warne is way ahead of Fender with the ball, but Fender was the finer batter. Wardle was a much better bowler than Flowers. Ferris outranks Whitty as a left arm pacer, while I would rate Freeman ahead of Willis. Worrell was at least the equal of Fender as a captain. I think the Ws are far enough ahead in batting and spin bowling to make up for their deficit in pace bowling and award them a narrow win – Fs 2, Ws 3.

THE Fs V THE Xs

The Fs win the batting and pace bowling hands down, but the Xs are closer in spin bowling, and Box may even have been a better keeper than Foakes. Fender was definitely the finer skipper. I cannot see the Xs causing the Fs any problems and can only score this as Fs 5, Xs 0.

THE Fs V THE Ys

Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf win their batting match ups for the Ys, and Yallop narrowly wins the batting element of his match up with Faulkner, although the latter offers a bowling option. Foakes is comfortably ahead of Saleem Yousuf in both departments, Yardley is massively outpointed by Frank Foster, and similarly the Fs have the better new ball pairing. Poonam Yadav rates highest of the three leg spinners involved in this match, and Jack Young was a finer bowler than Wilf Flowers, so the Ys must be conceded an advantage in spin bowling. I score this one Fs 4, Ys 1.

THE Xs V THE Zs

The Fs win the first five batting slots, and have a genuine bowling option in there in the form of Faulkner. Foakes outranks Zulqarnain Haider in both departments, Zulch was a better batter than Fender but the latter offers a bowling option and also outranks Zaman as a captain. Zondeki and Zaheer Khan are massively outpointed as a new ball combo by Freeman and Ferris, while the Fs have a third seamer of high class in Frank Foster whereas the Zs have no back up seam options. The Zs two spinners are unproven, whereas the Faulkner/ Fender/ Flowers trio were all quality practitioners. Fs 5, Zs 0.

THE Fs FINAL RESULT

The Fs scored 20 of a possible 25 points today, giving them a final score of 90 out of 125, 72% and currently top of the rankings among those teams who have been fully analysed.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – The Letter W

I continue my exploration of the all time XI theme with a look at surnames beginning with the letter W. Such is the immense strength of players who qualify for this team that a second XI of near equal strength could easily be selected and some fine players would still miss out.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. Frank Woolley (Kent, England). A left handed batter known for his excellence against fast bowling, a high class left arm orthodox spinner and a brilliant close catcher. He frequently opened for Kent, especially late in his career when he found the newer ball easier to see first up. This was the only way I could accommodate the only cricketer ever to achieve the triple career landmark of 10,000 runs (58,969), 1,000 wickets (2,066) and 1,000 catches (1,018).
  2. *Frank Worrell (West Indies). A right handed batter of high class (averaged 49 in test cricket), opening was one of his positions, though he could bat anywhere. He was also a useful left arm seamer, and one of the greatest of all captains, a role I have given him in this side. West Indies has unique features in international cricket terms, being in truth a composite side, with players from a number of different countries who usually view each other as rivals making up the XI. The number of captains who have overcome these rivalries sufficiently to create a genuinely unified and harmonious team totals two, Worrell, also the first black captain WI ever had, and Clive Lloyd.
  3. Everton Weekes (West Indies). Statistically the finest batter to have a surname beginning with W, having averaged 58.61 at test level. A powerful stroke maker, but one who believed firmly in keeping the ball on the ground. He was a dual international, having represented Barbados at contract bridge.
  4. Clyde Walcott (West Indies). A powerful right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper and even more occasional seamer. He averaged 56.62 at test level.
  5. Steve Waugh (Australia). Until 1989 his seam bowling was a makeweight which kept him in the team while his batting matured. The 1989 Ashes changed all that, as he began the series with two massive unbeaten centuries, setting a pattern that would endure from then until his retirement. He allowed his right arm medium-fast bowling to fall in virtual abeyance as his right handed batting flourished and he became one of the best in the world in that department. He made tough runs – his batting was crucial to the series win in the Caribbean in 1995 which set the seal on Australia’s ascent to the top of the cricket world, and on a pig of an Old Trafford wicket he chiselled out twin centuries to settle the match in favour of his side.
  6. +BJ Watling (New Zealand). A superb keeper and a gritty right handed middle order batter.
  7. Sammy Woods (Somerset, Australia, England). In his day one could only play county cricket by qualifying by residence for a county, which meant giving up playing for his home country. He turned for England against South Africa, but not, as Billy Midwinter had done against Australia. An attacking middle order batter, handicapped at Somerset by often having almost nothing to come after him and a right arm fast bowler of superb quality. He was also a fine captain, and with all respect to the guy one place below him in this order would be my choice as Worrell’s vice captain in this XI.
  8. Shane Warne (Hampshire, Australia). Arguably the greatest of all leg spinners (although Bill O’Reilly and Clarrie Grimmett both took more wickets per game at better averages), a fine slip fielder and a useful lower order batter, holding the record for most test runs without a century (HS at that level 99).
  9. Johnny Wardle (Yorkshire, England). A left arm orthodox spinner and a left arm wrist spinner (probably more needed in this latter category in this XI), and a hard hitting lower order batter. His career ended prematurely when he made the mistake of publicly criticising Yorkshire for their appointment of Ronnie Burnett as captain, but 102 wickets at 20.39 at test level is testament to his skill, and I don’t see Worrell having any problems handling him.
  10. Bill Whitty (Australia). A left arm fast medium bowler whose 14 tests yielded 65 wickets at 21 a piece, an excellent prospective new ball partner for the man one place below him in the order…
  11. Bob Willis (Surrey, Warwickshire, England). A right arm fast bowler. His ‘phoenix from the ashes’ turn around in 1981, when at Headingley he was called up for one final burst from the Kirkstall Lane end knowing that anything other than quick breakthroughs would spell the end of his test career and proceeded to blow Australia apart, claiming eight wickets in next to no time extended his test career by three years and meant that by the end he had claimed 325 wickets at the highest level, at the time an England record.

This is a superb XI, with a stellar top five, a keeper who can bat, an aggressive all rounder at seven and four wonderfully varied specialist bowlers. A bowling attack that features Willis, Whitty, Woods and Worrell to bowl seam, and Warne, Wardle and Woolley as spin options is top of the range by any standards.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

This is its own way is the most difficult section of its type that I have yet had to write, and will feature many subsections. I am starting with three name checks because all with strong advocates for their inclusion.

DAVID WARNER

A fine attacking left handed opener, but could only be accommodated by dropping either Woolley with is vast range of skills or Worrell, my chosen captain. Although I could quote sandpapergate against him I settle for saying that I had strong positive reasons for selecting Woolley and Worrell rather than reasons for not selecting alternatives.

MARK WAUGH

‘Junior’ or ‘Afghan’ as he was referred to (the latter because of the delay compared to his twin brother in him getting international recognition – ‘the forgotten Waugh’) was a fine batter in the middle order in tests and opening in limited overs, as safe a slip fielder as I have ever seen in action and an occasional off spinner. However, the stellar records of my chosen specialist batters and my preference for five genuine bowlers left no space for him. If Aussies didn’t volubly disapprove of such things I would name him as designated substitute fielder.

KANE WILLIAMSON

One of the best batters in contemporary cricket, but just who out of Weekes, Walcott or S Waugh would I drop to make way for him? Sadly, as great as he is he has to miss out.

OPENING BATTERS

I have already dealt with Warner, but there are a stack of other openers who need to be mentioned. Bill Woodfull was a fine opener for Australia in his day, but a small mark against him as the considerable fall off from an FC average of 65 to a test average of 46, respectable rather than truly great. John Wright was a gritty and determined opener for New Zealand. ‘Plum’ Warner was the second England player ever to carry his bat through a test innings, and was also a notable captain. Siddath Wettimuny played a crucial role in the test match in which Sri Lanka first made the cricketing world treat them with respect, at Lord’s in 1984. His 190, which lasted until the third morning of the match was the underpinning of a Sri Lankan score of 491-7 declared. Shane Watson did well for Australia as a makeshift opener, but rarely produced really big scores. Albert Ward of England had a fine series in the 1894-5 Ashes but not the necessary consistent test success to merit any more than a mention. Finally, the silky skills of Laura Wolvaardt, for my money the best player of the cover drive of any contemporary cricketer deserve an honourable mention.

MIDDLE ORDER BATTERS

Doug Walters is probably the best middle order batter beginning with W that I have not yet mentioned. I considered acknowledging his partnership breaking skills as a medium pacer by giving him the number seven slot that I actually assigned to Woods, but preferred the genuine all rounder to the batter who bowled. Willie Watson was at the heart of one of cricket’s greatest rearguard actions at Lord’s in 1953, when England saved a match in which they looked beaten for all money, Watson holding out for approximately six hours. However his overall record falls short of greatness, so not even his left handedness could get him in. Another left hander who had to miss out was Vic Wilson, a gritty batter, Yorkshire’s first ever professional captain and a brilliant short leg fielder. Bob Woolmer had his moments for England, including three centuries, all against the oldest enemy, but he was a definite cut below top class. Imad Wasim of Pakistan is not quite good enough with the bat to qualify, and in a team already featuring Woolley and Wardle his left arm spin is a non-factor.

ALL ROUNDERS

David Wiese of Sussex and Namibia would have been one of the first names on the team sheet had I been picking with limited overs in mind, but his FC record while good is not on a par with his limited overs record. Rockley Wilson had a good record for Yorkshire and did well for England when getting a late call up, but is chiefly known for his work at Winchester College where one of his charges was a certain DR Jardine. Vyell Walker shares with WG Grace the distinction of scoring a century and taking all ten wickets in an innings of the same first class match, but I needed a fast bowling all rounder.

WICKET KEEPERS

Other than Watling I considered John Waite and Harry Wood of England for the gloves, but neither have the weight of achievement that Watling does.

FAST BOWLERS

The biggest miss here was Courtney Walsh, but I felt that he and Bob Willis were a trifle to similar, both being right armers of similar height, whereas Whitty’s left arm introduced an extra level of variation. Two injury blighted England quicks of different eras, Mark Wood and Alan Ward missed out. Willie Watson of New Zealand had a respectable test record, but like many others of his era his main job was to support Richard Hadlee. Arnold Warren of Derbyshire took five cheap wickets on his only test appearance. Daniel Worrall, an Aussie born seamer who has played a lot of county cricket was another to miss out. Probably the best quick bowler I overlook was Thomas William Wall of Australia, but his average ended up the wrong side of 30 due to the strength of the batting he came up against and the fact that he was often the only quick bowler in the side. Luke Wood, a left arm quick, is just beginning to make a name for himself, and may displace Bill Whitty in time. Mike Whitney of Australia was called up in an injury crisis after just six FC appearances, and established a respectable record. William Woof, the first player ever to sign a professional contract with Gloucestershire, was a left arm bowler who took 754 FC wickets at less than 18 a piece, but the fact that he was never chosen to play for England tells against him. Similarly, Tom Wass of Nottinghamshire, a right arm bowler of fast medium or leg spin who took 1,666 FC wickets at 20.43 just misses out, partly because the leg spin aspect of his bowling would not get much use in this XI.

SPINNERS

JC ‘Farmer’ White was a very fine left arm spinner, essential to England’s success in the 1928-9 Ashes, but lost out to Wardle due to the fact the Yorkie could bowl wrist spin as well as orthodox, whereas White could only bowl orthodox. Had the leg spinner’s slot not been an automatic selection I would have considered Amanda-Jade Wellington of Australia. Doug Wright, taker of seven first class hat tricks, was too inconsistent to qualify.

PLAYERS OF HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Tom Walker of Hambledon had to be overlooked due to lack of a verifiable career record, but as the first cricketer ever to have been styled ‘old everlasting’ he deserves a mention. John Willes and Edgar Willsher were key contributors to two major transitions in bowling history – the former the introduction of round arm, and the latter the move from round arm to over arm. Tom Wills was involved in the 1868 tour of England by a team of aboriginals and also created Aussie Rules football to give Aussie c.ricketers a way to keep fit during the close season.

OTHER LETTERS

Two players who would otherwise have merited considerable thought, Waqar Younis and MaX Walker were needed for other letters of the alphabet – X requiring a considerable degree of chicanery to fill.

ONE FOR THE FUTURE

Isabelle Eleanor Chih Ming Wong, generally known as Issy Wong, is a young quick bowler who has also had her moments with her aggressive batting, including a 94 (33) in domestic cricket. In ten years or so, if she keeps improving in both disciplines she may challenge Woods for the number seven slot.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Our cricketing journey through the letter W is at an end and it remains only to apply the usual sign off…

An East Anglian XI In Honour of John Edrich

An XI with East Anglian connections in honour of John Edrich.

As I write this the Melbourne Stars are closing in on victory over the Sydney Sixers, while India enjoyed a good opening day at the MCG, dismissing Australia for 195 and reaching 36-1 in response, Shubman Gill impressing on debut with 28 not out overnight. Most of the players in the XI I present are Norfolk born, as John Edrich was, although there is one Cambridge born player and two brothers (out of three who had first class experience) who were born in Suffolk, while the captain was born in Yorkshire but played for Cambridgeshire after falling out with his native county.

EAST ANGLIAN XI

  1. John Edrich – left handed opening batter. Almost 40,000 first class runs at an average of 45, 103 first class hundreds, a test triple century (a knock that included 52 fours and five sixes) and the highest individual score in the first ever ODI back in 1971.
  2. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer, brilliant cover fielder. The Master – 61,237 first class runs including 197 centuries. 3,636 runs including 12 centuries in Ashes matches. Born in Cambridge.
  3. Bill Edrich – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Older cousin of John Edrich and one of four brothers who all turned out at first class level. He lost six of his prime cricketing years to World War Two, in which he distinguished himself as a flying ace but still amassed 85 first class centuries.
  4. Fuller Pilch – right handed batter, rated by contemporary observers as the best of his era (the 1830s and 40s). Also sufferer of a bizarre dismissal for the Players against the Gentlemen in 1837 – the line in the scorebook reads “hat knocked on wicket”. The Players won a very low scoring match by an innings.
  5. Peter Parfitt – right handed batter, brilliant fielder, occasional off spinner. He once took four catches in a test innings, against Australia in 1972.
  6. Michael Falcon – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. His averages are just the right way round.
  7. +Eric Edrich – right handed batter, wicket keeper. 53 dismissals in 38 first class appearances.
  8. *Johnny Wardle – left arm orthodox spinner, left arm wrist spinner, useful lower order batter. Born in Ardsley, just outside Barnsley in South Yorkshire. After a distinguished career for his native county and for England (102 test wickets at 20.39) he fell out with the Yorkshire authorities and ultimately played minor counties cricket for Cambridgeshire (Yorkshire in their vindictiveness ensured that no other first class county would touch him). His claim on a place is somewhat tenuous but I needed a quality spin bowler somewhere in the side, so I decided to stretch a point and include him.
  9. Desmond Rought-Rought – right arm fast medium bowler, took his first class wickets at 28 a piece. Born at Brandon in Suffolk.
  10. Rodney Rought-Rought – fast medium bowler, cannot ascertain which arm he used – am hoping it is left for the sake of variety. Brother of Desmond and also born at Brandon.
  11. Olly Stone – right arm fast bowler. In this side, with the two Rought-Roughts, Falcon and Edrich able to bowl seam there would no excuse for using him in other than short spells at top pace.

ANALYSING THE XI

This team has a solid batting line up, one bowler of genuine pace, various fast-medium bowlers and one of the finest spinners of them all. It would give a good account of itself in most conditions. The Sydney Sixers somehow turned their game against the Melbourne Stars around and won by one wicket with one ball to spare, taking all four points.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Left Hand v Right Hand

Today’s ‘all time XI’ cricket post sees a team of left handers take on a team of right handers.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed post. Today we have a team who did everything right handed against a team who did everything left handed, and a guessing game – based on some of my explanations can you work out what tomorrow’s post will be?*

THE LEFT HANDED XI

  1. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter, very occasional left arm wrist spin. Rated by Bradman as the best left handed opener he ever saw. Morris the bowler was in action when Compton hit the four that won the 1953 Ashes.
  2. Sanath Jayasuriya – left handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner.
  4. Martin Donnelly – left handed batter, very occasional left arm orthodox spinner. He averaged 52.90 in his very brief test career, including 206 v England at Lord’s in 1949.
  5. *Allan Border – left handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. The guy who if the first three wickets fall quickly will dig the team out of the hole, while also being capable of playing very aggressively if circumstances warrant. 
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. The most complete all rounder ever to play the game. His 254 for Rest of the World v Australia in the series that replaced the 1971-2 Australia v South Africa series was rated by Bradman as the best innings he ever saw played in Australia.
  7. +Steven Davies – wicket keeper, left handed batter. Once seen as England material he did not quite kick on. He has never bowled a ball of any kind in senior first team cricket.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. An ideal number eight, who meets all the qualification criteria for this XI.
  9. Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast bowler, useful left handed lower order batter. A cricketing version of the ‘little girl with the curl’ – when he was good he was very good indeed, when he was bad (e.g Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in the 2010-11 Ashes) he was awful. Having listened to a number of them I consider his good times to be good enough to warrant his inclusion.
  10. Johnny Wardle – left arm orthodox spinner, left arm wrist spinner, left handed lower order batter. 102 test wickets at 20.39, in spite of often missing out to make way for Tony Lock, and his career ending early due to a fall out with authority.
  11. Fred Morley – left arm fast bowler, left handed genuine number 11 batter. Took his first class wickets at 13 a piece, and his four test appearances netted him 16 wickets at 18.50 (he died at the age of 33, in 1884, hence the brevity of his test career).

This team has an excellent batting line up, and with Wasim Akram, Mitchell Johnson and Fred Morley to bowl fast and Sobers as fourth seamer, plus Wardle, Woolley, Sobers and Jayasuriya as front line spin options the bowling is none too shabby either.

NOT QUALIFIED

Among the specialist batters who did not qualify were Graeme Pollock, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Alastair Cook who all bowled their few deliveries with their right hands. Adam Gilchrist, keeper and left handed batter, bowled only a few balls in his career, but he did so with his right hand, officially described as ‘off spin’. Two of the greatest of left arm orthodox spinners batted right handed, Wilfred Rhodes and Hedley Verity, while the crafty left arm slow medium of Derek Underwood was paired with rather less crafty right handed batting. Left arm fast bowler William Mycroft, who took his first class wickets even more cheaply than Morley, and was a similarly genuine no11, did his batting right handed, and so did not qualify. This little list contains a clue to tomorrow’s post.

RIGHT HANDED XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter, very occasional right arm medium pacer.
  3. *Donald Bradman – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner, captain. The greatest batter of them all, to build on the foundation laid by the greatest of all opening pairs.
  4. George Headley – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. Averaged 60.83 in test cricket, converting 10 of his 15 50+ scores at that level into hundreds.
  5. Walter Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, ace fielder. Averaged 58.45 in test cricket, topping 200 seven times at that level, including twice hitting two in succession – 251 at Sydney and then 200 not out at Melbourne in 1928-9 and 227 and 336 not out in New Zealand on the way home from the 1932-3 Ashes.
  6. WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of varying styles through his career.
  7. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper, very occasional leg spinner. Statistically the greatest of all wicket keeping all rounders, and ticks all the qualifying boxes for this team.
  8. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, useful right handed lower order batter.
  9. Shane Warne – leg spinner, useful right handed lower batter.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. 189 wickets in just 27 test matches, 77 of them in 13 games down under.
  11. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner, right handed tail end batter. 800 wickets in 133 test matches – an average of six per game.

This team contains a super strong top six, a great wicket keeping all rounder and four all time great bowlers. Hammond is not the worst as a fifth bowler, particularly behind that foursome, while Grace is also a genuine all rounder, and even Hobbs might take wickets with his medium pace. Because there have historically been many more pure right handers than pure left handers, people turning out not to be qualified is less of an issue for this team.

THE CONTEST

The Right Handed XI is stronger in batting, but not quite so formidably armed in the bowling department, although still mighty strong. Overall I would expect the right handers to win, but certainly would not entirely rule out the left handers.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced my two teams for today’s contest, set you a guessing game re tomorrow, and now just before signing off I have a couple of superb twitter threads to share:

My usual sign off…

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LH v RH
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs -The Underappreciated Ashes

My latest variation on the ‘all time XIs’ theme – enjoy!

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another variation on the ‘All Time XIs’ theme. Today I create two teams to do battle for the little urn, but with a twist. The players featured today are players of whom more should have been seen. There is one player of the 22 who did not get to play test cricket, but I believe I can justify his inclusion. At the other end of the scale is a player who eventually played 79 times at the highest level, but who had to wait a long time for the call to come. We start with…

ENGLAND’S UNDERAPPRECIATED XI

  1. Jack Robertson – the stylish Middlesex opener was selected for 11 test matches, all between 1947 and 1952, and he scored 881 runs in those games, at and average of 46.36, with a highest score of 133. He missed the 1950-1 Ashes, when until Reg Simpson scored 156 not out in the final match only Hutton had contributed serious runs from the top of the order.
  2. Cyril Walters – another stylist, the Glamorgan and Worcestershire opener was selected for 11 test matches between 1933 and 1939, in which he scored 784 runs at 52.26, including one century and seven fifties.
  3. David Steele – ‘The Bank Clerk Who Went to War’ – the gritty Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire man played eight tests in 1975 and 1976, against Australia and the West Indies, averaging 42.06 (672 runs in 16 innings, no not outs).
  4. Clive Radley – the Hertford born Middlesex middle order man of the 1970s who like Steele only got to play eight times at the highest level. He scored 481 runs at 48.10 with a highest of 158, and another century versus Pakistan.
  5. Eddie Paynter – the Lancashire left hander’s record reads: 20 test matches, 31 innings, 1,540 runs at 59.23, 591 of them at 84.43 in Ashes matches. Among those who have played 20 or more games for England only Yorkshire’s Herbert Sutcliffe (60.73) has recorded a higher test average.
  6. +Ben Foakes – the Surrey man is the best current English wicket keeper, any doubt about that status being removed by the retirement of the marvellous Sarah Taylor. The measly five test matches he has thus far been given have yielded him 332 runs at 41.50 including a century and also 10 catches and two stumpings. I hope that the selectors will see sense and render him ineligible for selection in future sides of this nature. For the moment, he holds this position as he keeps wicket – summa cum laudae.
  7. Harold Larwood – The Notts express who was the star of the 1932-3 Ashes, and never picked again after that series through a combination of Aussie whinging and appalling behaviour by the English powers that be. Number 7 may look high in the order for him, but he did score 98 in his last test innings and made many useful contributions for Nottinghamshire with the bat.
  8. Frank Tyson – The Northanptonshire super fast man 76 wickets at 18.56 in his 18 test matches. He like Larwood was the hero of an Ashes triumph down under – in 1954-5. Many years after his prime he played in a charity game in which he bowled at Keith Fletcher (Essex), then an England regular, and he produced a delivery that Fletcher reckoned to be the quickest he faced that season.
  9. *Johnny Wardle – 28 test matches, 102 wickets at 20.39 with his left arm spin (he could bowl both orthodox and wrist spin). The Yorkshireman was often passed over in favour of Tony Lock, which rankled in “God’s own county”, especially since Lock’s action in the period in question was rarely as far above suspicion as Caesar’s wife. He fell out with Yorkshire over their appointment of 40 year old amateur Ronnie Burnet as skipper in 1958, and Yorkshire vindictively warned other counties against signing him, which effectively terminated his chances of further international recognition as well. I have done what Yorkshire would not in 1958 and named as captain of this team.
  10. Sydney Barnes – 27 tests, 189 wickets at 16.43, 77 of them in 13 matches down under. He played in under half of the matches contested by England between his first and last appearances, which irrespective of the fact that he was an awkward blighter (if he were to dispute this assessment it would only be as a matter of principle) and chose to play most of his cricket in the leagues rather than in the county championship is simply absurd. Also, there were various times when people considered him a possible post World War 1, including as late as 1930 when some people believed he was the man to take on Bradman who was running riot (2,960 runs at 98,66 for the tour, 974 of them at 139.14 in the test matches). West Indian legend Learie Constantine who faced Barnes for Nelson vs Rawtenstall in the Lancashire League when Barnes was 59 years old said after that match (in which he made 90) “if you wanted to score off Barnes you had to score off good bowling”.
  11. Charles ‘Father’ Marriott – (Lancs and Kent) A ‘one cap wonder’. He was selected in the final match of the 1933 series against the West Indies, took 11-96 in the match and that was his international career. He was known to be a liability except when actually bowling (his 711 first class wickets comfortably beating the 574 runs he scored at that level).

This team has a splendid looking top five, a superb glove man well capable of batting at six, and five excellent and well varied bowlers, all of whom save Marriott are capable of making useful contributions with the bat (Barnes was a regular run scorer in the leagues where he generally plied his trade and played one clearly defined match winning innings in a test match, at Melbourne in 1907 when he came in with 73 needed and two wickets standing and was there on 38 not out when the winning run was scored. Now it is time to look at…

AUSTRALIA UNDERUSED XI

  1. Sidney George Barnes – 13 test matches, in which he averaged 63 with a highest score of 234 (at Sydney in the second match of the 1946-7 Ashes). A combination of World War II (six years of his prime gone), and run-ins with the authorities meant that he played ridiculously little for such a fine batter. I would want ‘Blowers‘ at the mic when Sydney Francis Barnes bowled to Sidney George Barnes – there would surely be some priceless commentary moments!
  2. Chris Rogers – averaged 42.87 in the 25 matches he played, having amassed over 15,000 first class runs before the call came. He hit his peak at just the wrong time, when Australia had a dominant side that they were understandably reluctant to change.
  3. Mike Hussey – what is a man who played 79 tests doing here? He had been playing first class cricket and amassing mountains of runs in that form of the game for over a decade before getting to don the baggy green (‘Mr Cricket’ eschewed the other classic Aussie insignia, the chip on the shoulder). Yes, 79 tests is a fine achievement, as his average in that form of the game, but it could so easily have been 159 test matches, and it is for that reason that I include him.
  4. Martin Love – his peak coincided with Australia’s most dominant period, with the result that his test record amounts to 233 runs at 46.60 with one century. At almost any other time, or in almost any other country he would be an automatic selection for most of his career.
  5. Adam Voges – although the one trough of his brief test career (he was in his mid 30s when it began) coincided with the 2015 Ashes he averaged 61.87 in his 20 matches, an output that cannot be ignored.
  6. *Albert Trott – all rounder and captain (also captain of the ‘what might have been XI’ when I come to present that). His test career was in two parts – for Australia in the 1894-5 Ashes, and then for England against South Africa in 1899. Between them they amounted to five matches in which he scored 228 runs at 38.00 and took 26 wickets at 15.00. It was also in 1899 that he achieved a thus far unrepeated feat – he struck a ball from fellow Aussie Monty Noble that cleared the Lord’s pavilion, hitting a chimney pot and dropping down the back of the building. He was a right arm spin bowler. His test debut in 1895 was remarkable – 38 and 72 not out with the bat and 8-43 in the second England innings.
  7. +Graham Manou – the most skilled glove man in Australia during his career, but Brad Haddin was generally preferred on ground of his belligerent batting. Manou played in only one test match, unusual for an Australian (there are about 70 English members of this club).
  8. Eddie Gilbert – right arm fast bowler and the most controversial of my 22 picks today. He never played test cricket, but in his brief domestic career he sometimes caused carnage, including inflicting on Don Bradman “the luckiest duck of my career”. He might have been selected during the 1932-3 Ashes had Australia adopted a ‘fight fire with fire’ approach. He was an aboriginal, which might explain his scurvy treatment by the Australian cricket powers that be – it would be until Jason Gillespie that a player of proven aboriginal ancestry would don the baggy green.
  9. Laurie Nash – another fast bowler who could have been used as part of the ‘fight fire with fire’ option in 1932-3. He claimed that he could have stopped ‘Bodyline’ in two overs given the chance. His two test caps yielded 10 wickets at 12.60. What might have happened at Australia taken the ‘fight fire with fire’ approach? My reckoning is that there would probably have been one absolute war zone of a test when both teams gave it both barrels, and then the method would have been abandoned, because the English professionals who could not afford to risk their livelihoods would have insisted on it.
  10. Stuart Clark – a tall fast-medium who took 94 wickets at 23.86 in his 24 test matches. Injury problems and a chap by the name of McGrath kept him from featuring more often than he did.
  11. Jack Iverson – mystery spinner (subject of Gideon Haigh’s book “Mystery Spinner”) whose test career amounted to the five matches of the 1950-1 Ashes series, in which he took 21 wickets at 15.23. Many reckoned that he would have been even deadlier in England (although he bowled wrist spin he was effectively a very accurate off spinner) – which creates an interesting counter-historical speculation. Had he gone to England in 1953 Australia may well have retained The Ashes, which would almost certainly have meant that the grumblers who had never liked the notion of a professional captaining England would have got their way and Hutton would have been replaced by an amateur, which would almost certainly have also meant no 1954-5 triumph with ‘Typhoon’ Tyson.

This team has a strong looking top five, a potentially match winning all rounder at six, a magnificent keeper at seven and four top quality bowlers.

THOUGHTS ON HOW THIS ASHES CONTEST MIGHT GO

Barring an emerald coloured pitch and/or heavy cloud cover that you are prepared to bet on remaining in place for long enough to cash in on the toss winner would be heavily advised to bat first and get their runs on the board (trying to score runs against Trott and Iverson in the fourth innings does not look like fun, and this is even more the case vis a vis Wardle, Barnes and Marriott). I reckon that Larwood and Tyson are a quicker pair (thought not by much) than Gilbert and Nash. Where England definitely shade it is that irrespective of conditions Barnes is likely to more dangerous than Clark. I would expect it to be close – in a five match, play to a finish series I would back England to win 3-2, while I would expect England’s margin to look a little more comfortable with draws in the equation because I reckon Steele and Radley could each be counted on for at least one match saving rearguard action,  while ‘Mr Cricket’ would probably probably save one game for the Aussies, so factoring in draws I make it 2-0 to England. Glenn McGrath would probably utter his reflex “5-0 to Australia’ line!

Given the characters on show we need some good officials in charge. I am going for Bucknor and Dar as on field umpires, Venkataraghavan as TV Replay umpire and Clive Lloyd as match referee. For commentators I have already indicated that ‘Blowers’ has a role to play, and as his colleagues I choose Jim Maxwell (Australia) and Alison Mitchell (who has a foot in both camps) – sorry ‘Aggers‘, no gig for you this series. For expert summarisers I have no strong preferences other than that Boycott is absolutely banned.

A TWITTER THREAD AND PHOTOS

I have set the stage for my Ashes series between two teams of often overlooked players, but there remains one more thing to do before my usual sign off – I have an important twitter thread about Coronavirus to share with you, from Lainey Doyle, please click on screenshot to view the whole thread:

Lainey TT

We end with the usual photographic flourish:

Neglected Ashes
The contending XIs in tabulated form.

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Sitting out in my bit of garden is providing plenty of opportunities for camera work (all bar two of the remaining pics in this post were taken while sitting outside, which I was also doing for most of the time spent typing this post).

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