Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against another. Today the Gs take centre stage, with 20 of a possible 30 points banked against the teams who are alphabetically ahead of them.
THE Gs V THE Hs
The Hs are one of the few teams to have a better opening pair than the Gs. George Headley is also the better number three, though not by as much as raw figures suggest – Grace was already 32 when he made his test debut and almost 51 by the end of his test career, and an average of 32 in that era is worth about 48 in later times when surfaces were by and large better for batting than in the Victorian era. Grace also outranks Hutton as a skipper. Hammond and M Hussey clearly outpoint Gower and Graveney. Gilchrist and Hendren is a draw batting wise, but the presence of Gilchrist at six indicates where the Gs strengths lie – their range of bowling options. Healy loses his batting match up against Gregory but wins the keeping match up against Gilchrist. Hadlee and Holding are a better new ball combo than Garner and Geary, but Gregory is a much better third seamer than Hammond who would play that role for the Hs. The Gs are clear of the Hs in the spin department, having the two best spinners in these squads. The Hs are stronger in batting and keeping, about even in fast bowling, behind in captaincy and way adrift in spin bowling. I don’t think that the Hs one definite advantage, in batting, will make up for the greater depth and variety of the Gs bowling (any attack in which Grace ranks sixth is exceptionally strong) and I also expect Grace’s superior captaincy to make itself felt. This is a titanic contest which I have the Gs shading – Gs 3, Hs 2.
THE Gs V THE Is
The Gs boss the batting, winning every match up in that department down to number seven. Wicket keeping honours are shared, with Gilchrist much the better batter. While acknowledging that Illingworth was a fine skipper I rate Grace ahead of him in that capacity. The Gs utterly dominate in pace bowling, and have the better spin attack though by less of a margin. This can have only one outcome: Gs 5, Is 0.
THE Gs V THE Js
The Gs have the better opening pair without doubt. As I indicated in the match up with the Hs Grace’s average equates to about 48 in more recent times, including the era when D Jones batted, and he started his test career at an older age than would be ideal, so I give the Gs the number three slot as well. The Js win the number four and five slots, and FS Jackson and Grace is a clash of the titans captaincy wise. Gilchrist wins the batting element of the keepers match up though by less than the raw figures suggest, while A Jones is clear as keeper. Gregory outpoints Jessop. The Gs comfortably win the spin bowling – Gibbs rates above Jupp, and Grimmett is miles clear of Jayasuriya, and not even the spin element of Johnston’s bowling can close the gap. Pace bowling is close – the Js trio are 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the averages, with the Gs 1st, 5th and 6th. I think the Gs top order will make a better fist of handling the left arm rockets from Mitchell Johnson than the Js do of handling the awkward problem in £D geometry posed by Garner’s extreme height. If it reverse swings at any point S Jones would be particularly dangerous. I think the Gs are winning this with a degree of comfort and score it Gs 4, Js 1.
THE Gs V THE Ks
The Gs definitely have the better opening pair. I also give them the number three slot for reasons already explained, while Grace v I Khan is another clash of the titans captaincy wise. The Ks win the number four and five slots, though Gower’s left handedness (improving the balance of the batting order) and the more difficult conditions in which Graveney batted reduce the margins of superiority. Gilchrist is streets clear of Kirmani with the bat, but the Indian was the finer keeper. Imran Khan beats Gregory in both departments. Personally although neither got play test cricket (King was a USian – the best player that country has ever produced, while Kortright was in his prime during a very strong era for English cricket) I rate the Ks two specialist fast bowlers ahead of Garner and Geary, and also award King the number eight batting match up. The Gs spinners are better balance, being an off spinner and a leg spinner, which I think is enough to give them that department. I cannot pick a winner of this one: Gs 2.5, Ks 2.5.
THE Gs V THE Ls
I think the Gs have the better opening combo (Labuschagne is playing out of position for the Ls), but the Ls win the number three slot (albeit by much less than the raw figures suggest). The Ls also win the number four and five slots. Gilchrist comfortably wins the keepers match up against Langley, the Ls have the better pace trio, but the Gs have the better spinners, Grimmett outperforming James Langridge more than Laker outperforms Gibbs. I just give this one to the Gs – Gs 3, Ls 2.
THE Gs SO FAR
The Gs have scored 17.5 out of 25 today, putting them on 37.5 out of 55 so far, 68.18% at the moment.
My usual sign off…