All Time XIs – Match Ups (18)

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

Welcome to the next series of match ups in my extended analysis of how the all-time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. The Ds continue to occupy the spotlight. They come into today with 38 of a possible 80 points.


The Rs have the better opening combo, the Ds win the number three slot, though no 4 has to go the Rs purely on sample size, while nephew ‘Duleep’ beast uncle ‘Ranji’ in the number five slot. D’Oliveira out bats Robins, but Robins’ bowling is more likely to of value than D’Oliveira’s, and additionally the Rs have the better captain. Dujon was the better batter than Russell, the Russell definitely the finer keeper. Roberts, Rabada and Richardson are possibly just short of Davidson, Donald and Daniel as a pace trio, but as against that Rhodes clearly outpoints Dennett (Rhodes the bowler was one of the two, along with Blythe, who was chiefly responsible for Dennett not gaining any test caps). It is very close on batting, but the Rs have a clear advantage in bowling – their attack is better balanced, and they win the spin department by a bigger margin than they lose the pace department. I score this Ds 1.5, Rs 3.5.


The Ss win the batting comfortably, with only Dravid of the Ds top eight definitely outpointing his opposite number . Starc, Steyn and Statham are fractionally behind Davidson, Donald and Daniel as a pace trio, but the Ss back up options, Stokes and Sobers in his quicker incarnations are both ahead of D’Oliveira. Dennett outpoints Sobers the left arm orthodox spinner, but Sobers the left arm wrist spinner and Stevens are both unmatched by anyone from the Ds line up. The Ss thus have a much more powerful batting line up, a marginally inferior pace trio, more spin options and much better back up seam/ pace options. I score this one as Ds 0, Ss 5.


The Ts have the better opening pair, the Ds win the number slot comfortably, the Ts win the number four slot, Thorpe’s inferiority vis a vis Duleepsinhji is lessened by the vastly increased sample size on which his figures are based, and Ross Taylor outbats D’Oliveira, while Tarrant is far ahead of D’Oliveira as a bowler. Dujon beats Bob Taylor with the bat, but Taylor was the finer keeper. Tyson, Trueman and Thomson are at least a match for Davidson, Donald and Daniel, and Trumble outranks Dennett as a spinner. Mark Taylor outranks Dennett as a skipper as well. The Ts are well clear in this contest and I score it Ds 0.5, Ts 4.5.


The Ds absolutely boss the batting side of this, have the better keeper, are totally dominant in pace bowling, though outmatched in spin bowling and having the inferior skipper. I score this one Ds 4, Us 1.


The Ds have the better batting, the better keeper and are ahead in the pace bowling department, though by less than the figures make it look – Vaas would fare better as third seamer in a strong attack than he actually did as opening bowler in a moderate one. As against that Verity is clear of Dennett, and Vogler and Vine have no equivalents in the Ds line up, and the Vs have the finer skipper. I score this one Ds 3, Vs 2.


The Ds have scored nine of a possible 25 points today, meaning that they now have a total of 47 points from a possible 105, 44.76%.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – The Letter V

Continuing my exploration of the all time XIs theme with a look at players whose surnames begin with V.

I continue my exploration of the all time XIs theme with a look at players whose surnames begin with the letter V. There were many challenges with the selection of this side, which I will elucidate through the post.


  1. Michael Vandort (Sri Lanka). A left handed opening batter, his test record was respectable rather than outstanding.
  2. Joe Vine (Sussex, England). A right handed opening batter and a leg spinner. His job for much of his career was to bat defensively for long periods – Sussex sides of his time were well equipped with stroke makers, but no so much with folk capable of playing the anchor role. An innings of 202 in five hours late his career showed that he could play more expansively when the situation allowed. His batting and bowling averages are the right way round.
  3. *Michael Vaughan (Yorkshire, England). A right handed batter, occasional off spinner, and an excellent captain, a role I have given him in this side.
  4. Gundappa Viswanath (India). A right handed batter possessed of consdierable grit and determination. He averaged over 40 in test cricket.
  5. Dilip Vengsarkar (India). A right handed batter who averaged 42 in test cricket. He scored tough runs as well – he averaged a run more per innings against the West Indies, utterly dominant in his era, than he did in overall test cricket. At Headingley in 1986 when no one else on either side could score even one 50 he produced innings of 61 and 102.
  6. +Kyle Verreynne (South Africa). A right handed batter and a fine wicket keeper. He is still establishing himself at test level, but he averages over 50 in FC cricket, and his keeping skills are abundantly clear.
  7. Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka). A quality left arm fast medium bowler who never benefitted from having adequate seam support, and a useful left handed lower order batter. I freely admit that he is one place higher than would be ideal, but none of the bowlers I have named could accurately be described as mugs with the bat.
  8. Bert Vogler (South Africa). A leg spinner, part of the great ‘googly quartet’ that South Africa fielded in the years 1907-10. His test wickets cost 22 a piece and came at well over four per match. In first class cricket his averages were the right way round – 20 per innings with the bat and 18 runs per wicket with the ball.
  9. Hedley Verity (Yorkshire, England). One of the greatest of all left arm orthodox spinners. 144 test wickets at 24 a piece in a decade that featured doped pitches and Bradman’s batting is a fine record, and he also averaged 20 with the bat in test cricket. At first class level he was an absolute destroyer, claiming is wickets at 14.90 a piece, which enabled him to have batting and bowling averages the right way round.
  10. Bill Voce (Nottinghamshire, England). A high quality left arm fast medium bowler, and a useful lower order batter. He was part of the 1932-3 England side that won 4-1 down under, and was the best bowler in the side four years later in a 2-3 defeat.
  11. Vintcent Van Der Bijl (South Africa). The only member of this XI not to play test cricket, due to apartheid, but regarded as a great bowler by all who met him. The deeds at test level of the likes of Garner, Ambrose and McGrath are testament to how effective exceptionally tall bowlers can be at that level. He took his FC wickets at 16.57 a piece, though he doesn’t quite join the list of players in this side with their averages the right way round since he only averaged 16.20 with the bat.

This side contains an opening pair likely to build a good platform for the engine room of Vaughan, Viswanath and Vengsarkar to cash in on, a keeper who is also a genuinely high class batter, and a strong and varied bowling unit. Van der Bijl and Voce with the new ball will pose a challenge for anyone, and I suspect that Vaas as third seamer in a strong attack rather than opening bowler in an ordinary one would be even better than he actually was in the circumstances he faced, while Verity and Vogler are on reckoning a quality pair of contrasting spinners. My selection here absent a genuine all rounder (Vine, though a respectable bowler definitely does not merit the title all rounder) is an extreme example of my preference for strong bowling resources even if it means slightly limited batting. I refer sceptical readers to the deeds of Yorkshire in the 1930s and Surrey in the 1950s for examples of champion sides who were such precisely because of their bowling strength.


I start this section with a subsection devoted to a single player…


Ignoring current players, a couple of whom are in the mix, this man has the highest batting average among those to have played 20 or more test matches, so why does he miss out? Quite simply because he cashed in on some pop-gun attacks, and in the only Ashes series he was part of, he like his team came a cropper. Thus, at the risk of enraging worshippers of the baggy green, I declined to select him.


Pieter Van Der Bijl (father of Vintcent) did well in his five test matches, including coming within a few runs of notching twin tons in the last ever timeless test match, at Durban in 1939. Murali Vijay had a respectable record for India. In short form cricket, especially T20, Elyse Villani of Australia’s women’s team would have a strong case, but there is a notable falling off in her record even between T20 and OD cricket.


Hanuma Vihari has a magnificent record in Indian domestic cricket, but has never delivered at international level, and his best position is number three, reserved in this XI for skipper Vaughan. Martin Van Jaarsveld had a solid record in domestic cricket but his test record was modest, whereas Vaughan,Viswanath and Vengsarkar were all proven at the highest level. Mike Veletta had a decent record in Australian domestic cricket, but a test batting average of less than 20 tells its own story about him at international level. Lou Vincent of New Zealand was no more than a goodish middle order batter, reflected by averaging in the mid thirties. Bryan Valentine of Kent had an excellent record in the few test matches he got to play, and I regretted not being able to include him. Dane Van Niekerk of South Africa Women is excellent at T20, good at OD cricket, but has hardly played any long form cricket.


Other than Verreynne two candidates entered my thoughts. Sadanand Viswanath was one of the most talented keepers India ever produced, but that talent was largely unfulfilled, especially at international level. He has 25 years experience as an umpire however, so there is a role for him. Ricardo Vasconcelos started sensationally at Northamptonshire, but has fallen back in recent years, with his FC batting average standing at 34.


The two bowlers I most regret not being able to accommodate were both left arm spinners, and unsurprisingly could not challenge the claims of Hedley Verity. Alf Valentine, the second of ‘those two little pals of mine’, took the first eight wickets to fall in the first test innings in which he ever bowled, but his overall record was not as good as Verity’s. Daniel Vettori of New Zealand may well be the second best spinner ever to have been born in the land of the long white cloud behind Clarrie Grimmett, who played his test cricket for Australia, but he comes some way short of challenging Verity.


Our cricketing journey through the letter V is at an end and all that remains is the usual sign off…

100 Cricketers – Eighth XI Numbers 3, 4 and 5

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, also marking the start of the new County Championship season.


Welcome to the latest in my “100 cricketers series“, featuring numbers 3,4 and 5 from the eighth XI. The introductory post to the series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the eighth XI can be seen here and the most recent post in the series here. Before I get to the main meat of the post there is something else to cover…


Yes, today is the start of County Championship season 2019. The first day between Somerset and Kent has been abandoned without a ball being bowled. All the other scheduled matches are in progress. The situation as I start this post is as follows:

  • Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire – Nottinghamshire 204-3
    Yorkshire paying more attention to the early April date than to the weather or the pitch took advantage of the playing condition allowing visiting sides to avoid the toss if they wanted to put their opponents in and so far it has not been working for them. Ben Slater made a fine 76 for Nottinghamshire, Ben Duckett played well for 43 but gave it away when well set and Joe Clarke is on 40 not out. Ben Coad, an England prospect as a bowler, has been economical but has yet to take a wicket. 
  • Hampshire v Essex – Hampshire 192-3
    Another uncontested toss not working very well for the fielding side. Ex-england batter James Vince made 40 at the top of the Hampshire order, South African Aidan Markram scored 63, while Sam Northeast and South African Kolpak player Rilee Rossouw are currently going well on 37 and 35 respectively. Kiwi Matthew Quinn had taken two of the wickets for Essex.
  • Derbyshire v Durham – Derbyshire 156-6
    Derbyshire won the toss and chose to bat. Only wicket keeper Harvey Hosein, currently on 57 not out has fared well with the bat (England are so well stocked with keeper-batters at present that he would need to do something sensational to even enter the selectors thoughts), while Chris Rushworth and Ben Raine have taken two wickets each (at 32 the former is surely too old to be called up now, but Raine might be considered.
  • Northamptonshire v Middlesex — Northamptonshire 182-4
    A third uncontested toss, and it looks suspiciously like 0 for 3 on automatically fielding first thus far. Alex Wakely made 76, wicketkeeper cum opening batter Ricardo Vasconcelos 38, and Rob Keogh is 37 not out. All four wickets have been claimed by Ireland’s Tim Murtagh.
  • Sussex v Leicestershire – Sussex 173 all out, Leicestershire 30-2
    First up, a warning about reading too much in to seam bowler’s efforts in early April: most of the damage in the Sussex innings was done by Tom Taylor (6-47), who prior today had a very pedestrian looking record of 76 wickets at 32.80 from 27 matches. Three of the other four wickets went to 32 year-old journeyman Chris Wright. The two Leicestershire wickets have fallen to Ollie Robinson (who came into this match with 165 wickets at 23.92 in first-class cricket – stats that suggest a quality performer) and Mir Hamza, a Pakistani left-arm medium pacer who takes his first-class wickets at an eye-popping 18.34 a piece.

The other matches taking place at the moment involve university sides, and I question whether such games should be awarded first-class status and certainly pay them no attention when considering potential England picks. Now to the main business of the post, starting with…


Vaughan the batter had his finest hours against India at home in 2002 and then against Australia away in 2002-3, scoring six centuries (three against each opponent) in that period, the lowest of which finished at 148. He only made one major batting contribution to his greatest captaincy triumph, the 2005 Ashes, 166 at Manchester in the third test match, which finished with Australia clinging on nine down in their second innings. For people who traditionally despised draws (to quote Australian born Somerset captain of yesteryear Sammy Woods “draws are for bathing in”) their celebrations at having escaped were something to behold, and a sure sign of the destiny of that series. 


At Lords in 1986 he scored 126 not out, his third century in successive Lord’s test matches. Then in a match at Headingley in which no other batter could manage even one fifty plus score, and England only just topped the 100 in both innings he contributed 61 and 102. Making runs in difficult conditions is particularly impressive, and especially given that Indian batters have by and large tended to struggle away from the subcontinent. These performances briefly had him rated the number one batter in the world.


164 test matches yielded him 11,867 runs at 43.11. His leg-spin bowling was hardly used (a grand total of nine wickets at that level). A wide-open stance and very ugly looking method did not stop him from making stacks of runs or from serious crease occupation – most of the current test records relating to long periods of survival stand to his credit. He spent a large part of his career as a cricketing equivalent of Casabianca, standing on the burning deck of the West Indies innings. 


My usual sign off…