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


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 46

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

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Ls are in the spotlight and have so far accrued 60 of a possible 80 points.


The Rs have the better opening pair (Lawry outranks Rogers but Richards absolutely blows Labuschagne out of the water, especially given that the latter is batting out of position). Lara shades the number three slot, but Root handsomely wins the number four slot. The number five slot looks a big win for Lloyd, but appearances are a bit deceptive – Ranji played on much more difficult batting surfaces than Lloyd. Langridge comfortably wins the battle of the spin bowling all rounders over Robins, but Russell totally bosses the keeping match up. The Ls win the pace/ seam element of this match up, Lohmann being the deciding factor there. They also win the spin bowling element – Laker outranking Robins by more than Rhodes outranks Langridge in the battle of the left armers. I think the Ls bowling settles this one in their favour and I make it a comfortable win: Ls 4, Rs 1.


The Ss have the better opening pair – Lawry outranks Strauss, but by far less than Sutcliffe outranks Labuschagne. Lara wins the battle of the number threes, but Smith comfortably outranks Laxman and Sangakkara outranks Lloyd, though the Ls do have the better keeper. Sobers massively outbats Langridge, but Langridge was the finer left arm orthodox spinner, and similarly Laker’s off spin is more valuable than Sobers’ left arm wrist spin. Stokes is the bonus the Ss get for having Sangakkara as keeper. The Ss win the pace/seam bowling – Starc’s left arm gives them extra variation among the three front liners, and Stokes and Sobers in his quicker incarnations lend them extra depth as well. The Ls win the spin bowling. I think the Ss have got this but not by a huge margin: Ls 2, Ss 3


I give the Ts the better opening pair – Trumper was a regular opener and he scored his runs on uncovered, often treacherous pitches, which I think comfortably makes up both the discrepancy between his and Labuschagne’s averages and for Lawry’s advantage over Taylor. Lara comfortably wins the batting match up at number three, but Tarrant outranks Langridge as a bowler. Tendulkar bosses the number four slot, and while Lloyd had a somewhat better test average than Thorpe, the Englishman had a lot less support from the rest of the order than the West Indian. Ross Taylor outbats James Langridge at six. The Ts comfortably win the battle of the keepers. The pace bowling is hard to call – the Ts are quicker, but the Ls are probably better. Trumble and Laker are about equal, so with Tarrant outpointing Langridge as a bowler the Ts win the spin bowling department. I think the Ts superior batting and spin bowling wins it for them, but it is close: Ls 2, Ts 3.


The Ls boss the batting – only Inzamam Ul-Haq, Umrigar and Umar Akmal win their match ups in that department. The Ls win the keeping contest hands down, and massively outrank the Us in pace/ seam bowling as well. Underwood outranks Langridge, and at the moment, though subject to change as more evidence comes in from Ur Rahman, Laker massively outranks Ur Rahman as an off spinner. It is hard to see the Us claiming anything from this contest: Ls 5, Us 0.


The Ls have a significant advantage with the bat, with only Verreynne and Vaas winning their match ups in that department for the Vs. Langley outranks Verreynne as keeper. The pace/seam bowling contest is close – the Vs have two left armers in Vaas and Voce, the former of whom would fare better as part of this attack than he did IRL to counter the Ls superior overall figures. Verity hugely outranks Langridge – he was the reason the latter only go the test call up quite late in his career, though Laker just outranks Vogler, giving the Vs the advantage in spin bowling. I think the Ls being ahead in batting and at least level on seam/ pace bowling is enough for a comfortable win for them, but I will grant the Vs spinners (particularly Verity) one big day out: Ls 4, Vs 1.


The Ls have scored 17 out of 25 today, moving them up to 77 out of 105, 73.33% overall.


All Time XIs – Match Ups 37

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another, plus a rather different picture gallery from usual.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Is occupy the spotlight and they start with a mere 10 out of a possible 80 points so far. The Super 12s stage of the men’s World T20 started today. The first game saw New Zealand thump hosts Australia by 89 runs (a monster margin in aT20), while in the second England won by five wickets over Afghanistan, with 11 balls to spare – a rather disappointing chase after a magnificent effort in the field restricted Afghanistan to 112 all out, headlined by Sam Curran taking 5-10.


The Rs dominate the top batting positions – only Asif Iqbal at number five comes close to his opposite number, and ‘Ranji’ played on more difficult batting surfaces than Iqbal. The Is do have small batting advantages at six and seven, though Russell is the better keeper and Robins was a better skipper than Illingworth. The Rs powerful pace bowling unit absolutely obliterates such competition as the Is can offer in that department. The spin department is close – Illingworth outranks Robins, but as against that Rhodes, one of the all time legends of the game definitely outranks Ironmonger. There is simply no way the Is can put a dent in the Rs: Is 0, Rs 5.


The Ss powerful batting line up absolutely dominates, arguably winning all 11 slots in that department. Imtiaz outranks Sangakkara as a keeper, the Ss utterly dominate in pace bowling, though the Is to win the spin bowling that can make no difference to the final result: Is 0, Ss 5.


The Ts are way ahead on batting – only Imtiaz Ahmed and Illingworth at seven and eight can be said to win their match ups in this department. They also have by far the better keeper, and as usual dominate the pace bowling. Trumble and Tarrant are a decent match for Illingworth and Ironmonger spin wise. There is once again only one possible score: Is 0, Ts 5.


The opening pairs are closely matched – Ulyett’s runs, made in the very early days of test cricket would equate to only just less than Tamim Iqbal’s average today. The Us win the number four and five slots and the batting elements of no six and seven, though Imtiaz Ahmed wins the keeping laurels, and Iremonger offers more bowling than Umrigar, though not quite so much as Ulyett. The Us have the better new ball pairing, and Underwood outranks Ironmonger, though Ur Rahman hasn’t yet done enough to outrank Illingworth, though he probably will in the end. Neither of these sides are great with the bat, but the Us outgun the Is with the ball: Is 1, Us 4.


The opening pairs are closely matched, the Vs own positions three through six, Imtiaz Ahmed outbats Vaas, but Vaas outbowls Iremonger as third seamer. Voce and Van der Bijl are by far the better new ball pairing, Verity outranks Ironmonger, and I would personally rate Vogler ahead of Illingworth, meaning that the Vs utterly dominate the bowling in all departments. Since they are also clearly ahead on batting, and captaincy and keeping skills are about even there can be only one scoreline: Is o, Vs 5.


The Is managed one point of a possible 25 today and are now on 11 out of 105, 9.55% overall.


Today’s picture gallery is something different from usual, and necessitates a disclaimer notice. In James and Sons’ October sale I got two lots very cheaply, a set of stamps celebrating the opening of the Moscow Metro and a set of Stamps marking the 250th anniversary of The Academy of Sciences. Both these sets of stamps, and the set of Moscow Metro I already owned were issued by regimes that I must stress I regard as absolutely appalling. Stalinist Russia was one of the nastiest of all dictatorships, and the laughably misnamed German Democratic Republic was also appalling. I purchased these stamps for their subject matter and in spite of my hatred for the regimes that produced them. For each of the two new lots I show the official auction images and some that I have produced now that the items are in my possession.

We start with the Scientists:

Now the Moscow Metro stuff…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 30

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

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Gs occupy the spotlight and are on 58 of a possible 80 points going into this set of match ups. Each team featured today will have a link back to the selectorial post about them, highlighted in light blue.


The small sample size for B Richards at the highest level and the fact that Rogers indubitably ranks fourth among the openers in this match up means that I consider the Gs to have the better opening pair. The Rs win the number three slot – WG’s record on rough Victorian pitches equates to an average of 48 or thereabouts today, though the doctor offers a front line bowling option. Root beats Gower in the number four slot. Graveney achieved his test average over many more matches than Ranji, but Ranji encountered worse surfaces than Graveney. A third factor however is that Ranji played in an era that encouraged expansive stroke makers, whereas Graveney played in the slowest scoring era of all time, and his own approach was very much at variance with the general one of his era. I thus award this match up to Graveney. The Gs win the number six and seven slots with the bat, and Russell was a much finer keeper than Gilchrist. The Rs win the pace bowling – whether you make Richardson or Rabada their third pacer that third pacer outranks Jack Gregory as a bowler. Grimmett was much better leg spinner than Robins, though Rhodes outranks Gibbs as a finger spinner, albeit by much less than Grimmett outranks Robins. The Gs have the better batting by a small margin and the better spin bowling, and also the better skipper. The Rs have the better pace attack and the better keeper. I think the Rs pace attack will just make the difference and score this one Gs 2, Rs 3.


We have two superb opening pairs here. The Ss have a somewhat higher combined average and the advantage of a left/ right combo as opposed to the Gs two right handers. Grace and G Smith share the batting honours at no3 – Grace’s average on the pitches he played on converts pretty much exactly to G Smith’s on 21st century pitches, with Grace offering a bowling option and somewhat outranking G Smith as skipper. The Ss win the number four and five slots. Sobers wins the no6 batting match up against Gilchrist, though the Aussie wins the keeping match up against Sangakkara. Stokes and Gregory is a clash of the titans – two ultra aggressive left handed batters who bowl right arm fast and have very similar averages, though Stokes’ has been achieved over many more games, which just gets him the verdict. The Ss have the better pace attack, with Stokes and the quicker aspects of Sobers fourth and fifth choices for them in that department, but as against that Grimmett massively outbowls Stevens and Gibbs is better than the left arm wrist spin incarnation of Sobers (LWS have a very similar angle of attack to off spinners). The Ss have the left arm orthodox spin version of Sobers, not matched by the Gs, and the Gs have Grace as their bonus bowling option. I think the Ss just have enough, but this a mighty contest: Gs 2, Ss 3.


The opening pair is a closer contest than it looks – Trumper’s record was achieved on some pretty rough surfaces, and the Ts have the additional advantage of the left/ right combo, so I would say honours even on opening pairs. Grace outranks Tarrant as a batter, but the Aussie was the finer bowler. Grace also has to be ranked above ‘Tubs’ as a skipper, though ‘Tubs’ was a good skipper himself. Tendulkar outranks Gower by a distance, but Thorpe, on sample size and lack of support from the rest of the order, beats Graveney. Gilchrist outranks Ross Taylor as a batter, but is a distant second to Bob Taylor in the keeping stakes. Gregory wins his batting match up against Bob Taylor but loses the bowling match up against Jeff Thomson. Trumble and Gibbs is a close contest – Trumble got more responsive surfaces to bowl on than Gibbs by and large, which I consider to account for the differences in their averages. Grimmett has no challenger in the Gs ranks. Trueman and Tyson outrank Geary and Garner. The Ts have better batting, better pace bowling and much the better keeper, the Gs have the better spin bowling and the better skipper. I think the Ts have this one but not by much – Gs 2, Ts 3.


The Gs have far the better opening pair, though Ulyett was possibly a better bowler than Gregory. Grace bosses the number three slot and outranks Misbah Ul Haq as captain. The Us win the number four and five slots. Gilchrist wins the batting match up at six, and Umrigar offers less in the way of bowling than Grace. Umar Akmal loses his batting match up against Jack Gregory and his keeping match up against Gilchrist. Geary definitely outranks Umar Gul, and Umran Malik is as yet unproven, so while acknowledging that this might change over the next decade or so, at the moment that match up has to go very comfortably the way of Garner. Underwood has to outrank Gibbs as a bowler, and the moment, though again acknowledging that this might change in future Grimmett has to outrank Ur Rahman. The Gs absolutely boss the batting, have the better pace attack by far, have the better spin attack, the better keeper and the better captain: Gs 5, Us 0.


The Gs have much the better opening pair, Grace comfortably beats Vaughan both as no three and as captain, the Gs also win at numbers four and five, and Gilchrist outranks Verreynne as batter, though the Saffa wins the keeping element of the natch up. Gregory outbats Vaas, but Vaas wins the bowling element of the match up comfortably, especially given that he is likely to fare even better as third seamer in a strong attack than he actually did as opening bowler in a moderate one. Voce outranks Geary as a bowler. Van der Bijl against Garner is a toughie – the Saffa never got to play test cricket due to circumstances, but may well have had a similar record to Garner, who he resembled in height and build had he done so. Grimmett outranks Vogler as a bowler, but by less than Verity outranks Gibbs as a finger spinner. The Gs have have much the better batting, winning every significant match up, but the Vs have the better bowling. I would say that the difference in batting in favour of the Gs is bigger than the difference in bowling in favour of the Vs, but the Gs are not winning this by much: Gs 3, Vs 2.


The Gs have scored 14 of a possible 25 points today, moving them on to 72 out of 105, 68.57% so far.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 26

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

Welcome to the latest stage of my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Fs are in the spotlight, and they start with 51 of a possible 75 points.


The Fs dominate in all departments, with only Quinton de Kock theoretically winning his match up against CB Fry, and that comes with the caveat that Fry played on uncovered pitches and was known for his skill on bad surfaces. This is an obvious Fs 5, Qs 0.


The Rs are better in the top five slots, though a larger sample size and the small difference between averages certainly squares the Fredericks/ Rogers match up. Additionally Faulkner offers a bowling option, which none of the Rs top five do to the same extent. Fender outranks Robins as a player while both were superb captains, Foakes is clear of Russell with the bat and of similarly stratospheric standards with the gloves. Freeman, Ferris and Foster have to be rated ahead of Roberts, Rabada and Richardson as a pace combo, though Rhodes far outranks Flowers as a finger spinner. As against that on a turning surface the Rs could only deploy front line spin from one end, their best back up spin options being Richards and Root, both part timers, whereas the Fs have the wrist spinning talents of Fender and Faulkner at their disposal. I give the Fs a comfortable margin of superiority here: Fs 4, Rs 1.


The Ss have a massive batting superiority, though the Fs are ahead in bowling, especially in the spin department, where Stevens and the slow bowling incarnation of Sobers are well behind the Flowers/ Fender/ Faulkner trio. Foakes is far the better keeper, and Fender outranks G Smith as a skipper. The Ss will give a good account of themselves, but the Fs have the better bowling guns and will win: Fs 3, Ss 2.


The Ts have the better opening pair, and also win the numbers 4,5 and 6 slots with the bat. Tarrant is ahead of Faulkner with the ball, and any advantage Bob Taylor has behind the stumps is accounted for by Foakes’ better batting. Also I rate Fender ahead of ‘Tubs’ as a skipper, though the Aussie was a worthy successor to Border in that role. Trumble comfortably outranks Flowers as an off spinner, but his position at number eight is telling as to which side had greater batting depth. The Ts pace trio are much quicker than the Fs, but the Fs are more varied, and overall a better combination. The Ts would win on turning surfaces but not elsewhere: Fs 3, Ts 2.


The Fs are stronger in the top three batting slots, lose batting wise in positions 4 and 5, though Faulkner’s bowling mitigates that. Umrigar gives the Us extra batting strength, but he was a bit part bowler, ranking comfortably below either Faulkner or Fender. Fender outranks Misbah ul Haq as skipper. Umar Akmal outbats Foakes, but is simply not in his league as a keeper. The ordinary Umar Gul and unproven Umran Malik, plus Ulyett the bowler are way adrift of Ferris, Freeman and Foster as a pace trio. Underwood and Ur Rahman are probably better than any pairing from Flowers, Fender and Faulkner, but there are only two of them, with the expensive Umrigar third spin option. I think the Fs have a clear but not whitewash advantage here: Fs 4, Us 1.


The Fs have accrued 19 of a possible 25 points today and are now on 70 out of 100, 70% exactly.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups (9)

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

I continue my series of posts analysing how my all time XIs for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Bs XI are still in the hot seat, and they come into this series of match ups on 55 points out of 80.


The Bs are massively ahead on batting. They also have the better new ball pairing, but whoever out of Roberts or Richardson ends up first change is a better third pacer than Botham. Benaud outdoes Robins, but Rhodes is a match for Bates. Though the Rs do have an advantage in bowling it is a small one and does not make up for the gulf in batting. Bs 3.5, Rs 1.5.


The Ss are only definitively behind the Bs in one batting slot – the number three position. Sangakkara as keeper and Sobers’ constellation of talents mean that other than number three the only position for which batting skill is noted that the Bs win is at number nine, where Benaud outdoes Starc. Though Barnes and Bumrah are the best new ball combination available to either side Starc far outdoes Botham as a bowler, and his left handedness gives his side an extra variation. Stokes and Sobers in his quicker guise are decidedly useful back up seamers as well, while Sobers in his slower guises and Stevens will be a good spinning combination, albeit not the equal of Benaud and Bates. The Ss XI have a clear but not utterly overwhelming advantage: Bs 1.5, Ss 3.5.


The Bs have an advantage in batting, but the Ts have the fastest pace combo of any letter, with Tyson and Trueman matching Barnes and Bumrah for potency with the new ball and Thomson a better third pacer than Botham. Frank Tarrant and Hugh Trumble are certainly at least as potent as Benaud and Bates – Bates may have an advantage over Trumble, but Tarrant has the edge on Benaud. I think the Ts just about have the bowling guns to negate the Bs advantage with the bat. Bs 2, Ts 3.


The Bs boss the top batting, with only Inzamam Ul-Haq and Misbah Ul-Haq within ten runs an innings of their opposite numbers in the first five positions. Umrigar outbats Botham, but is much less of a bowler. Similar Umar Akmal outbats Bari, but is nowhere near him as a keeper. Umar Gul has an ordinary bowling record, Umran Malik has earthshaking potential but little actual experience, leaving Ulyett the pick of their fast bowlers. Underwood rates ahead of Benaud as a bowler, and Ur Rahman looks about even with Bates, though again, as with Umran Malik, he lacks experience. The presence of Ulyett and Umrigar does mean that the Us have six bowling options to the Bs five, but I don’t think that can save them, although they might just have a field day if Underwood and Ur Rahman with Umrigar as back up get to work on a raging bunsen. Bs 4 Us 1.


The Bs have their usual huge advantage with the bat, but the Vs are stronger in bowling. While Barnes and Bumrah have to be considered to outrank Voce and Van der Bijl as a new ball pair, Vaas is ahead of Botham as third seamer, and probably by more than the figures show – he would almost certainly fare better as third seamer in a strong attack than he did as opening bowler in a moderate one. Vogler beats Benaud as a leg spinner, while Verity and Bates look on a par, although Verity’s test figures were achieved in a decade of doped pitches and Bradman’s batting. Verity’s advantage over Bates is clear if you compare their FC figures. I do not think that the Vs can make up for their deficit in the batting department, but I would expect a good contest: Bs 3, Vs 2.


The Bs scored 14 out of 25 points in today’s match ups, moving them on to 69 of a possible 105 points, 65.72% overall. The As by comparison were on 54 points at this stage of their match ups.


My usual sign off…

I have separated some of my photographs off from the rest because I know that some of my readers are arachnophobic. If you are among them skip the last few photos…

All Time XIs – The Letter R

My exploration of the all time XIs theme continues with a team of players whose surnames begin with R, including a hugely detailed honourable mentions section, and a bumper photo gallery.

After yesterday’s struggles to produce an XI of players who could all be filed under the letter Q, today’s task of selecting an XI of players with surnames beginning with the letter R presents an altogether different challenge.


  1. Chris Rogers (Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Middlesex, Australia). The immense strength of Australia’s batting when he was in his prime meant that he got the test call up very late in his career. Nevertheless, 25 matches at that level yielded him over 2,000 runs at 42.87, respectable by any standards. In FC cricket he scored over 25,000 runs at almost 50.
  2. Barry Richards (Hampshire, South Africa). His test career was nipped in the bud by the expulsion of apartheid South Africa. Four matches at the highest level yielded him 508 runs at 72.57. He was also the leading run scorer in the first year of Packer’s World Series Cricket, when the bowling was seriously good. Don Bradman, certainly qualified to assess the merits of batters, rated him the best right handed opener he ever saw in action.
  3. Viv Richards (Somerset, Glamorgan, West Indies). The ‘Master Blaster’ was the only cricketer from the Caribbean to achieve the career milestone of 100 first class hundreds. In England in 1976 he was untouchable, tallying 829 for the series even though he missed a match due to injury. He was also the first authentically great ODI batter. West Indies in his playing days were frequently accused of intimidatory bowling, but it was also noted that he was capable of intimidatory batting.
  4. Joe Root (Yorkshire, England). Certainly the greatest batter England have produced in my lifetime, and a strong case could be made that he is England’s greatest ever (Grace, Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Hammond, Hutton and at a pinch May and Barrington would merit consideration in this discussion).
  5. KS Ranjitsinhji (Sussex, England). He averaged 56.48 in first class cricket, though his appearances at test level were limited, he scored 989 runs at 45 at that level, including twice topping 150 against Australia. He was the first known to deliberately score behind the wicket on the leg side, pioneering the leg glance. He was born in a princedom in northern India, and India;s oremier domestic FC competition is still named in his honour.
  6. *Walter Robins (Middlesex, England). A leg spinning all rounder, and a great captain who conjured a county championship in 1947 for a Middlesex side that was strong in batting but did not have a great bowling attack. Denis Compton, one of Middlesex’s all time greats, and a star of the team in Robins’ day rated him the best captain he ever played under.
  7. +Jack Russell (Gloucestershire, England). One of the greatest keepers ever to play the game and a hugely underrated left handed batter. He scored a test century against the 1989 Australians when they were running rampant against a frankly shambolic England. He scored a defiant half century when Ambrose was ripping his way through England in Barbados in 1990. Another example of his unyielding determination came against South Africa at Centurion. He joined Atherton with England pretty much buried, and the pair proceeded to bat through two complete sessions to salvage a draw for their side.
  8. Andy Roberts (Hampshire, Leicestershire, West Indies). The spearhead of the original West Indies pace quartet in 1976, he took 202 test wickets at 25 a piece, morphing as he matured from a fire and brimstone type bowler into an unhittably accurate one. He was also a useful lower order batter.
  9. Kagiso Rabada (South Africa). At the age of 27 he is just about in the age range usually regarded as a cricketer’s prime years, and he already has 243 test wickets at 22 a piece, sufficient whatever happens in the rest of his career to underwrite his claim to the status of a great fast bowler.
  10. Wilfred Rhodes (Yorkshire, England). One of the most extraordinary of all cricketers, he had a five-phase career: specialist left arm spin bowler, all rounder, specialist batter (in the 1911-12 Ashes he was England’s number two batter both in terms of his position in the order and in terms of his position in that series’ averages and didn’t bowl), all rounder (having hardly bowled in the years leading up to WWI, he picked up his bowling in 1919, and as though he had never abandoned it, he proceeded to top the national averages for that season), and finally, as his eyesight began to go, a few final years as a specialist bowler, before retiring to make way for the emerging Hedley Verity, who he summed up in typically laconic fashion “he’ll do”, which from Rhodes was a positively euphoric assessment. Given the cricketers available for the letter R I choose to use him in this XI as the specialist bowler he was both at the start and the end of his amazing career, one of the greatest ever. He was the only bowler ever to take over 4,000 first class wickets, and only three others even tallied 3,000, and none of those were ever of any great value with the bat. Of the top ten all time FC wicket takers only the mighty WG Grace outranks Rhodes as a batter. A final comment to end this section, from the legendary Victor Trumper, when Australia were piling up a massive total on a flat one, 185 of them from Trumper himself, and amidst the carnage Rhodes took 5-94 from 48 overs, at one point leading to Trumper saying “for goodness sake Wilfred, won’t you give me a moment’s peace?”.
  11. Tom Richardson (Surrey, Somerset, England). Only 14 tests for the lion hearted fast bowler, but he took 88 wickets at 25 a piece in those matches. He took more FC wickets for Surrey than any other bowler, and reached the career landmarks of 1,000 FC wickets (134 matches) and 2,000 (327 matches) quicker than any other bowler.

This XI has one great (B Richards) and one very good opener, a power packed engine room of Viv Richards, Root and Ranjitsinhji, an all rounder who happens also to be great skipper, one of the greatest of all keepers, who was also a useful batter, and four great specialist bowlers. A fast attack of Roberts, Rabada and Richardson, backed by the spin of Rhodes and Robins, plus possible part time off spin support from Root and the Richardses is an any reckoning a stellar bowling unit. This is one of the strongest XIs to feature in this mini-series.


This is a multi-part section. The first subsection deals with probably the finest of the eligible cricketers not to make the XI…


26,000 FC runs at 41, 900 FC wickets at 21, and no place for him? The problem is that this letter has immense strength available, and he never played test cricket due to circumstances. There is no way to know how he would have fared at test level – some (e.g Herbert Sutcliffe) do better against tougher opposition, some like Graeme Hick and someone we will be meeting later in this piece do very much worse. Also, fitting him in to the XI would be a major challenge – I would either have to drop one of my top five, all of whom have ironclad claims to their places, or change the balance of the side by dropping Robins and naming someone else as captain, or drop one of my three unarguably great fast bowlers to accommodate a batting all rounder, again changing the balance of the side.


CAG ‘Jack’ Russell averaged 59 in his brief test career, including becoming the first English batter to record twin tons in a test match, but the brevity of his career at the top tells against him. Jack Robertson, who contributed 12 tons to Middlesex’s 1947 championship winning season, played 11 test matches, averaging 46, and had he been left handed would have been a challenger to Rogers, but given that he played less than half as many tests as the Aussie and his average was not that much greater I felt that he had to be left out. Tim Robinson had an impressive start against India away in 1984-5 and Australia at home in 1985 but was unceremoniously found out by the West Indies mean machine in the Caribbean in 1986. Pankaj Roy shared an opening stand of 413 with Mulvantrai ‘Vinoo’ Mankad, but that was a rare major success at the top level for him – he averaged 32.56 at test level overall.


Mark Ramprakash has the best FC batting record of anyone I omitted for this letter, but he failed miserably to transfer that form to the test arena, managing just two centuries in 52 test matches. Richie Richardson had a similar test average to Ranjitsinhji and played more matches at that level, but I felt that I could not overlook Ranji. Vic Richardson was one of the greatest all round athletes ever produced by the state of South Australia, but his record in the test arena was modest – he was comfortably outdone at that level by two of his three famous grandsons. Two J Ryders, Jack who played for Australia in the mid 1920s, and Jesse who played for New Zealand much more recently had good test records, but not quite good enough. Ajinkya Rahane has done some good things at test level for India, but for me he is just a fraction short of being genuinely top class and therefore misses out. Clive Radley did all that could be asked of him when called up for England in his mid-thirties. Also, a name check for one of the greatest batters the women’s game has seen, Mithali Raj.


Other than Rice who I have already mentioned, and Robins who I selected there are two other all rounders who merit a mention: Wasim Raja, a batter and leg spin bowler for Pakistan, and Ravi Ratnayeke of Sri Lanka.


Mushfiqur Rahim of Bangladesh was closest to challenging Russell for this slot. Jack Richards of Surrey and England had one great Ashes series in 1986-7, but left the game early after a dispute over terms with Surrey. Oliver George Robinson (Kent) is a fine keeper, and has recently scored 206* in a 50 overs a side game. Some Worcestershire fans would doubtless make a case on behalf of Steve ‘Bumpy’ Rhodes, but he was in truth not Russell’s equal in either department. Denesh Ramdin of the West Indies probably believes he should be in this XI but I don’t reckon anyone else does.


Oliver Edward Robinson has done very well for England when he has been fit to bowl – and it is that caveat that prevents him from meriting serious consideration as yet. Wahab Riaz of Pakistan was a fine pacer in his day, but I cannot place him ahead of any of Roberts, Rabada or Richardson. Rumesh Ratnayake was often the only member of the Sri Lankan sides he was part of who could bowl at anything above medium pace, and I acknowledge his efforts with an honourable mention. One solitary spinner might have displaced Rhodes: Sonny Ramadhin. As good as the first half of ‘those two little pals of mine, Ramadhin and Valentine’ was he does not get in ahead of Rhodes.


I always select with long form cricket in mind unless I have specifically stated otherwise. The following names who could not be accommodated in a long form side would merit consideration in white ball: Rilee Rossouw (South Africa), KL Rahul (India), Luke Ronchi (Australia/ New Zealand), Jason Roy (England) and Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh, a left arm pacer with a great record in limited overs matches and a very moderate one in long form cricket).


Rayford Robinson was an Australian batter and near contemporary of Don Bradman. The Don himself reckoned that in pure talent Robinson outranked him, but he managed one test appearance, in which he scored 2 and 3. He appears to have had an attitude problem.

Harold Rhodes was a fast bowler whose career was ruined by suspicions about his bowling action (he was actually perfectly legitimate, doing what is today described as ‘hyperextending’ his bowling arm).


Two last names to conjure with. Mohammad Rizwan of Pakistan has not yet done enough to claim a place for himself, and would probably have to force his way in as a specialist batter, given the keeping standards set by Russell. James Rew of Somerset is going places in a big way – at the age of 18 he already has centuries in both first class and list A cricket. I would be very surprised if a version of this XI in ten years from now did not feature him.


Our cricketing journey through the letter R is complete, and it remains only to apply the usual sign off…

100 Cricketers – Third XI Bowlers and Introducing the Fourth XI

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with the bowlers from my third XI and an introduction to the 4th XI. Also features mentions of Afghanistan v Ireland and Sri Lanka Women v England Women plus some of my won photographs.


Welcome to the next post in my “100 cricketers” series. The introductory post to the series can be found here, the post that introduces the third XI here , and the most recent post in the series here. Before getting into the main body of the post there are a couple of bits of business to attend to:


Afgghanistan look in control of this one, having taken a first innings lead of 142 (314 to 172) and taken an early wicket in the Ireland second innings (Ireland are 22-1 for at the close of day two of a possible five). However, plenty may happen yet – with two days of Headingley 1981 to go England were 220 behind with one second innings wicket down, and in the first half of the fourth day they continued to nosedive, plunging to 135-7, still 92 short of avoiding the innings defeat, before Botham, Dilley, Old and Willis staged a fightback leaving Australia 130 to win. At 56-1 in the chase Australia were still heavy favourites, but then Willis was switched to bowl downhill with the wind behind him, three quick wickets meant that by lunch the score was 58-4, and the first time in four and a bit days Australia were a bit nervy, while England’s confidence was surging. England won by 18 runs. Having acknowledged the possibilitiy of a turnaround it has to be said that Afghanistan remain heavy favourites to record their first test victory. An current scorecard can be viewed here.


England women dominated this, and the rain intervention came too late to affect the result. Having scored 331 from their 50 overs, Natalie Sciver top scoring with 93, Amy Jones making 79, skipper Heather Knight 61 and Danielle Wyatt scoring 47 off just 26 balls at the end England then knocked the top off the Sri Lankan batting in brutal fashion, reducing them to 21-5 and then 46-7 (Chamari Atapattu, who has featured in this series of mine, contributing 30 of those. The 8th wicket pair saved some face, without ever threatening to get their side back into the contest by adding 88. The rain reduced Sri Lanka’s allocation of overs to 40, but because they were seven down after 35 when it came their required total was not much reduced as they had few resources (the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, DLS for short, is complicated but works better than any other rain rule that has been devised – reserve days tend to mean action taking place in empty or near empty grounds, while other attempts at adjusting for rain interventions have led to some very strange happenings (a South African target of 22 off 18 balls once became 22 off 1 ball due to the rain rule that was in place). Kathryn Brunt’s three wickets with the new ball took her tally in all forms of international cricket to within one of 250 (144 in ODIs, 66 in T20Is and 39 in tests. A full scorecard for this match can be seen hereNow for the main business of the post, starting with…


The bowling will mainly be shared between two fast bowlers and two spinners in this XI, though one or other of A B De Villers or Steve Waugh might get called on to act os third seamer in extremis, while the fact that Virender Sehwag bowls offspin, as compared to the legspin of Ashwin and the left-arm spin of Jadeja may bring him in to the equation in certain conditions. I believe that if one had them together, both at their peak my chosen new ball pair are good enough not to need a third seamer to back them up. We start, taking in them chronological rather than batting order with…


By the time South Africa were welcomed back to the official test match fold after the dismantling of Apartheid, with a historic first encounter against the West Indies Allan Donald was not quite as greased lightning quick as he was in his early days, but was still a bowler of genuine pace and the highest class. He could still serve up something decidedly nasty when riled, as Mike Atherton once discovered when he stood his ground and was given not out having gloved a ball to the keeper (he later gave to the glove to Donald with an autograph neatly covering the offending red mark). Although his entry into test cricket was somewhat delayed he had time enough to play 72 matches in which he took 330 wickets (at the time of his retirement a record by a long way for a South African). While I am not completely unsympathetic to those whose careers were disrupted, or in some cases entirely thwarted by South Africa’s period of isolation I am a great deal more sympathetic by those, going back to Krom Hendricks as long ago is the 1890s, who were denied any possibility of a career in cricket due to the colour of their skin. Basil Lewis D’Oliveira got to show some of what he could do, for Worcestershire and England, finally appearing on the international scene in 1966 at the age of 35 (given how impressive his actual record is one can only wonder what he might have achieved had he been able to play at the highest level in his mid-twenties, the period when a cricketer is usually at their peak).

My choice of opening bowling partner for Donald is made on merit, but my also be seen as a recognition of those were denied any such thing in their own time…


37 test matches so far have netted him 176 wickets at 21.77 a piece (both the average, and the wickets per game ratio of 4.76 mark him as a bowler of the highest class). He played a leading role of the right kind in the controversial fairly recent series between South Africa and Australia (the one in which messrs Bancroft, Smith and Warner played leading roles of absolutely the wrong kind). He is still only 23 years old, so if his body holds up he could have another 15 years bowling for his country (James Anderson is still going strong with his 37th birthday on the horizon, and Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh remained the West Indies finest bowlers at that age) and set a record for South African bowler that would take a lot of beating. Certainly he is well worth his nomination is one half of an all South African new ball pairing.


Bearing in mind that I have off-spin available in the person of Virender Sehwag I opted for a leg-spinner and a left arm spinner as my front line spinners. The pair I have gone for regularly play together and function well as a partnership (it was for this reason that in his all-time XI Sir Donald Bradman opted for Bill OReilly and Clarrie Grimmett as his spin twins, leaving out Shane Warne (see this post earlier in my own series) so as not to break up to the partnerhsip). 


192 test wickets at 23.68, 1485 runs at 32.28 (from 41 matches so far) and he is one of the best fielders in the world as well. This is a truly outstanding player, worth his place for his bowling, possibly would even be worth picking as a specialist fielder if he did nothing else to the required standard, and is a more than competent batter. I suspect that following on the initial onslaught of Donald and Rabada and backed up by his mate Ashwin he would bowl even more effectively in this combination than he has for India, but for his selection to work that does not have to be so.


65 Tests have netted him 342 wickets at 25.43, and he is even more of a destroyer in limited overs cricket. Although his batting is not generally highly regarded he has been used as an opener in the Indian Premier League where his ability to get the innings away to a flyer is at a premium. On any pitch offering assistance to spinners he is deadly, and I have never yet found an example of him being collared even on the flattest of tracks (even when England beat India 4-1 in 2018 on pitches and in conditions that did not suit Ashwin or any other spinner he always commanded respect).


Ready for the continuation of this series here is my 4th XI in batting order:

  1. *Charlotte Edwards
  2. Herschelle Gibbs
  3. Suzie Bates
  4. Brian Lara
  5. V V S Laxman
  6. Sophie Devine
  7. +Adam Gilchrist
  8. Shaun Pollock
  9. Sophie Ecclestone
  10. Rashid Khan
  11. Jasprit Bumrah


For those of you have made it through to the end of this post here are some of my photographs:

All of this pictures were taken this afternoon while I went out a very short walk.




England 3 South Africa 1

My thoughts on the recently concluded series between England and South Africa mens teams, plus some photographs from work.


On Monday I listened to what turned out to be the final day of the test series between England and South Africa (Tuesday would have been available had South Africa taken the game that far but they never really looked like doing so). In this post I look back at the match and the series.


England batted first and made at least 50 more than they should have done in the circumstances, getting to 360. When the ninth England wicket fell South Africa turned to the “clever ruse” of dropping the field back to allow the major batter (Jonny Bairstow on this occasion) to take singles so that they could bowl at the no11. This is a dubious tactic in any case, but South Africa’s execution of it was downright bad – on a number of occasions Bairstow took twos early in the over, which should never happen when this tactic is in play. I can think of no occasion on which it can be demonstrated that a side fared worse by attacking at both ends than they would be adopting this tactic, whereas I offer the following examples of times where adopting it caused problems:

  • Perth 1978 – Australia eight down for not many facing and England total of over 300, Mike Brearley gives Peter Toohey with 50 to his name singles so as to attack Geoff Dymock. The ninth wicket pair stage a very irritating partnership. In the end England’s superior skill and professionalism tell (Australia were depleted by the Packer affair and Graham Yallop proved to be a very poor captain). My source for this story is Brearley himself in “The Art of Captaincy”.
  • Melbourne 1982 – The ninth Australian wicket in their second innings falls with them still needing 74 for victory. England allow Border singles so they can attack Thomson, the no 11. Australia get to within a boundary hit of victory before Thomson flashes at a wide one from Botham and is caught by Miller with an assist from Tavare.
  • Sydney 2010 – Pakistan have bossed the game against Australia, leading by over 200 on first innings, and Australia are only 80 to the good with two second innings wickets standing going into the 4th morning. Pakistan decline to attack Hussey, and Siddle plays a straight bat the relatively few deliveries he has to face. In the end Pakistan need 176 to win, which is far more than they were expecting. The pressure is too much for an inexperienced batting line up, especially once Mohamed Yousuf has compounded his failure as captain by falling to a very poor shot to leave his side 57-4. Australia end up winning by almost 40 runs.

South Africa’s response, if it can be so described, was to scrape together 226 for a deficit of 136. A fine innings by Moeen Ali in the second England innings takes England to a lead of 379. Dean Elgar fell cheaply to start the South African second innings, and by the lunch interval Heino Kuhn and Temba Bavuma had also been accounted for. Amla and Duplessis resisted stoutly for a time, but the dismissal of Amla sparked a collapse, with no one else making a significant contribution as 163-3 at the high point of the innings subsided to 202 all out. Moeen Ali took five of the wickets to finish with 25 for the series alongside over 250 runs for the series (the first time this double has been achieved in a series of fewer than five matches). Moeen Ali was player of the match, and also player of the series for his all-round efforts.


Barring the aberration at Trent Bridge this was a series that England dominated, and 3-1 is a fair reflection of that fact. Lord’s (it is named after Thomas Lord of Thirsk, so Lord’s is technically correct) saw the only really huge first innings tally of the series, and from that point on England were always going to win that match. I wrote in some detail about the Trent Bridge debacle at the time. At The Oval (these days there is always a sponsor’s name attached but I refuse to mention them whoever they may be) England made a respectable first innings total and South Africa crumbled, while this final match at Old Trafford went along similar lines. 


I am going to finish the text element of this post by looking at both sets of players, starting with South Africa.

Dean Elgar – a tough competitor whose second innings 136 at The Oval when all around him were surrendering was a stand out performance. 

Heino Kuhn – resembles a test-class opener about as closely as Liam Dawson resembles a test-class all-rounder. The only surprise out his dismissal during the morning session fo what turned into the final day of the series was that it did not come sooner.

Hashim Amla – a magnificent batter now nearing the end of his illustrious career. This was not a great series for him but his fighting 83 in the final innings was a splendid effort.

Quinton De Kock – fine wicketkeeper and on his day a very destructive batter, but was miscast in the key number four role where was too often coming in with the team reeling from early blows. He was moved down for the final match of the series, but this was his equivalent of Adam Gilchrist’s 2005 in England – batting wise a series to forget.

Faf Du Plessis – it continues to be debatable whether he is worth a place as a batter, but the team play much better under his captaincy than when he is not present. 

Temba Bavuma – a very reliable batter. He needs to develop ways of keeping the scoreboard ticking – at the moment it takes him a very long time to score his runs.

Theunis De Bruyn – anonymous in this series, he did nothing significant with the bat and his bowling was not much used.

Chris Morris – occasional moments with his hard-hitting batting but his bowling was very expensive.

Vernon Philander – a great cricketer, but like Alan Davidson and Chris Old before him he is somewhat of a hypochondriac. He did not contribute fully to this series.

Keshav Maharaj – South Africa’s leading wicket taker of the series. 

Kagiso Rabada – A fine fast bowler who bowled well in this series and at times did enough with the bat to have embarrassed some of bhis supposed betters in that department.

Morne Morkel – A solid series – it was not South Africa’s bowlers who were chiefly responsible for their defeat in this series.

Duanne Olivier – more will certainly be seen of this young fast bowler.

Now for England…

Alastair Cook – continues to steadily ascend the test run scoring lists – in the course of this series he went past Allan Border’s aggregate. His effort on the truncated first day at The Oval put England in control of that game, a position consolidated by Ben Stokes’ century.

Keaton Jennings – surely he has run out chances after a series in which his highest individual score was 48 and during which he never looked convincing. 

Gary Ballance – given a chance to re-establish himself in the side because he scores so many in domestic cricket he failed, and looked out of place. He was deservedly one of the casualties of the Trent Bridge debacle.

Tom Westley – a solid start to his test career. He looks like he belongs in the test arena and I expect to see a lot more of him.

Joe Root – his first series as test captain, and with a 3-1 series win and himself being leading run scorer on either side for the series it was a splendid start. 

Dawid Malan – came in to the side after the loss at Trent Bridge and has not yet done much.

Jonny Bairstow – an excellent series with both bat and gloves.

Ben Stokes – regular contributor of runs, wickets and catches. Like the man I will be dealing with next he is that rarity, a genuine all-rounder.

Moeen Ali – deservedly named player of the series, he was outstanding with bat and ball. 

Liam Dawson – my comments about Heino Kuhn suggest that I do not rate Mr Dawson, and that impression is correct. He has neither the batting nor the bowling to be of use in test match cricket. If conditions warrant two spinners pick a real spinner, and if they don’t Moeen Ali will be the sole spinner.

Toby Roland-Jones – he started his test career firing with both barrels – a five-for including the top four in the opposition batting order, and has done well in both his matches so far. 

Stuart Broad – a good series for the big fast bowler. 

Mark Wood – two matches in the series, total figures 1-197 – ’nuff said.

James Anderson – 20 wickets in the series at 14 each. At the age of 35 he remains arguably the finest user of a new ball in world cricket. The authorities at his home ground of Old Trafford have recently paid him the compliment of naming one of their bowling ends in his honour – and he responded by taking four cheap wickets from that end at the first time of asking. I reckon he still has a couple of good years left in him which would enable him to sign off with a home world cup followed by a home Ashes series.


I always like to include photographs in my posts, and although I have none relating to cricket, here are a few from yesterday at work (these will be going under the hammer on August 30th, our second end of August auction, with a sale happening at our shop on Friday August 25th – more on this in a later post):

Lot 1403 – there is a little wallet incorporated in the inside back cover of the book to store the map when folded.


Lot 1415 – the largest railway map I have ever seen – and it has stout front and back panels so that when folded it looks a bit like a book.


A stamp on the back of one the ordinary panels.

The front panel

The back panel

Lot 1422 – A more modern and much smaller railway map, with promotional material on the reverse (four images)


Lot 1428 – Some south Wales railway history.


Moeen Ali’s Technology Aided Hat Trick Seals Big Win for England.

A post about Englanbd’s victory in the third test ,match against South Africa, with as a prequel a video in which Aggers stitches up Boycott.


This post is about England’s remarkable victory over South Africa, which has just been completed. Before I get to the details I start with a highlight from the commentary box…


BBC Cricket Correspondent Jonathan Agnew with some assistance from statistician Andrew Sampson pulled a classic stunt on Geoffrey Boycott earlier today – check out the video below: WIN BY 239 RUNS

England started today needing six wickets to win and go 2-1 up in the series, while South Africa needed to bat the day out to save the game. Roland-Jones took two of the wickets in successive balls after quiet start to the day, and then Moeen Ali snapped up the seventh wicket with the last ball of the morning session. The second session also started quietly before Moeen broke through, accounting for Dean Elgar for 136. One sensed that Soutrh Africa’s last hopes of saving the game went with the opener. This sense heightened when Rabada edged his first ball to Stokes who made no mistake. Morkel was hit on the pads by the next delivery, given not out by the on-field umpire and instantly reviewed, with all 11 members of the fielding side indicating simultaneously. The technology showed that it was out, and the game was over, with Moeen having a hat trick to his credit. 


This term, which has been borrowed by other sports for less dramatic associations with the number three dates back to a match at Hyde Park, Sheffield in the 1850s in which Heathfield Stephenson, then captain of the All-England Eleven, took three wickets with successive balls, and the crowd spontaneously recognised the feat by passing a hat around to collect money that was then presented to Stephenson. Thus the feat was termed a ‘hat trick’ and has been so called ever since. 


Ben Stokes has been confirmed as Player of the Match for his century, plus some useful second innings runs, wickets and catches. The only other appraoch to a contender was debutant Toby Roland-Jones (sometimes referred to as the ‘Sunbury Shotgun’ because he played club cricket at Sunbury early in his career and has a double-barrelled surname) who batted well in both innings and took wickets, including the top four of the South African order in the first innings. Tom Westley also had a good debut, looking composed in both innings.