Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series. In this post the spotlight is on the openers from the eighth XI. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, and the previous post in the series in whicb I introduced the eighth XI is here.
A GREAT OPENING PAIR
As with the my seventh XI, with Greenidge and Haynes, this XI features an opening pair who batted together in real life, and did mighty well as a combination. They had one poor series, the 2005 Ashes, which Australia ended up losing. In the 2001, 2002-3 and 2006-7 Ashes, all featuring this opening pair and won by Australia, the Aussies rarely started an innings badly. The 2010-11 Ashes saw Australia regularly losing the first wicket early, and with Ponting at 3 and Clarke at 4 also having shocking series with the bat a series of inadeqaute totals resulted, and England not only won the series, but on three occasions out of five they won matches in they had to bat only once. England’s own inconsistency in the test arena recently stems from not getting enough runs at the top of the order – since Strauss’ retirement England have not had a reliable opening combination, and the more recent retirement of Cook has opened another big hole at the top of the order. The second post in this series contains a radical solution of mine to this problem, meanwhile with a new county championship season under way tomorrow it would be particularly good timing were a young opener or two to hit their straps right from the start. Now on to the players themselves, starting with…
The tall, dominating left hander scored 8,625 test runs at 50.73. At Brisbane at the start of the 2002-3 series Nasser Hussain won the toss and put Australia in. By the end of day 1 they were 364-2, Matthew Hayden 197 (he would score another century in the second innings after Ponting declined to enforce the follow on), the match and series were both as good as gone. In between Brian Lara’s two efforts he held the individual scoring record for a period with an innings of 380 against Zimbabwe at the WACA. His one blip came in the first four matches of the 2005 Ashes (he made 138 at The Oval in the fifth match, but with Australia needing to win, and therefore by all logic to spend as much time out in the middle as possible, he was twice party to the team going off for bad light (by the rules of the day the batters had to be asked if they wanted to go off). The match ended in the draw the allowed England to regain The Ashes (I fully expect that the Ashes series later this summer will likewise end with England winning, though it will probably be settled before the final game).
A left-hander like his opening partner, but much shorter in stature, though no less aggressive in approach in his own way. He scored 7,696 test runs at 45.27, witrh 23 centuries and a best of 250 against England at the MCG. Like Hayden he struggled for most of the 2005 Ashes before making a century in the final match. He played in the county championship for Middlesex and Somerset, which helped him to reach 86 first class hundreds. With this pair to get the innings underway for them my eighth XI will usually have a good base for the middle order, featured in the next post in this series to build on.
My usual sign off…