All Time XIs – The Letter J

Continuing my all time XIs theme with a look at the letter J.

I continue the all-time XIs theme with a team comprising players whose surnames begin with J.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka). Opening batter, left arm spinner and good fielder. His test match highlights include a high score of 340 and an innings of 213 against England at The Oval that combined with Muralidaran’s 16 wickets in the match to give SL their first victory in England. In ODI cricket (T20 only became a thing after his prime cricketing years) he completely redefined the role of an opener, his explosive performances in that role playing a large part in winning his country the 1996 World Cup.
  2. Archie Jackson (Australia). He was a contemporary of Donald Bradman, and many who saw both rising through the ranks rated him the finer prospect. Ill health ruined his career – he died of tuberculosis at the tender age of 23, but an innings of 164 on test debut as a 19 year old provided some hard fact to reinforce the credentials he had established as a youngster.
  3. Dean Jones (Derbyshire, Australia). A combative character, he came of age as a cricket during the first innings of what proved to be only the second tied test match in history (36 years on there have still only been two) at Chennai in 1986. Jones in that innings scored 210, batting almost eight hours, and at the end of it he had to be taken to hospital and put on a saline drip. Later, during the 1986-7 Ashes he played an innings of 184, albeit aided by being given not out when on just 5. He also produced several valuable knocks in the 1989 Ashes, though not coming close to the productivity in that series of Mark Taylor or Steve Waugh.
  4. Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka). Possessor of the highest test innings by a right hander (374 versus South Africa), and without question in the top two of all time Sri Lankan test batters (Sangakkara being the other).
  5. *Stanley Jackson (Yorkshire, England). In 1905 he captained England to a decisive Ashes victory, topping both the batting and bowling averages, winning all five tosses and leading England to wins in both of the matches to reach definite conclusions. He scored five test centuries, all in home matches against the Aussies (he was an amateur, and business commitments always prevented him from touring). In 1902 he and George Hirst joined forces with the ball for Yorkshire to rout the touring Aussies for 23. His polished 49 at The Oval in the last test of that year’s Ashes enabled Jessop to begin England’s revival from 48-5 in pursuit of 263.
  6. +Amy Jones (England). A stellar keeper batter, a worthy successor in the England women’s squad to the legendary Sarah Taylor (and being kept on her toes by the knowledge that Ellie Threlkeld, also a magnificent keeper batter, is waiting in the wings).
  7. Gilbert Jessop (Gloucestershire, England). The most consistently rapid scoring batter the game has ever seen, a useful fast bowler and a brilliant fielder – in his great match at The Oval in 1902 his first significant contribution was not that innings, it was a brilliant bit of fielding that accounted for the key wicket of Victor Trumper, and he has been estimated to have been worth about 30 runs an innings in the field.
  8. Vallance Jupp (Sussex, Northamptonshire, England). An off spinning all rounder, who after his move north and qualification by residence for his new county achieved the season’s double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in FC matches eight times in succession.
  9. Mitchell Johnson (Australia). A mercurial left arm fast bowler who at his best was as good any such to have played to the game – in the 2013-14 Ashes he was nigh on unplayable. It is true that he was a cricketing version of the girl in the nursery rhyme – when he was good he was very good, when he was bad (as in the 2010-11 Ashes) he was horrid, but I choose to honour the Dr Jekyll side of his bowling rather than use the Mr Hyde element as an excuse to drop him. He was also a useful lower order batter, with a test century and a 99 in that department.
  10. Simon Jones (Glamorgan, Hampshire, England). Plagued by injuries, but when fit he produced some outstanding performances – he was crucial to England’s triumph in the 2005 Ashes, reverse swinging the ball at high pace and causing every Aussie batter problems.
  11. Bill Johnston (Australia). Australia’s leading wicket taker in three series immediately post-war. He bowled left arm fast medium and left arm orthodox spin – it was not unknown for him to go from spinning the old ball to swinging the new one.

This side possesses good batting depth (a superb top four, a batting all rounder, a keeper batter, two all rounders and a bowler who can bat, with only S Jones and Johnston describable as bunnies), and a fine variety of bowling options – Johnson, S Jones, Johnston, Jessop and Jackson providing five seam options all different from one another, while Jupp, Jayasuriya and Johnston in his slower style provide spin options.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Before going into the rest of this section there is one player I am going to give a subsection to himself…

RAVINDRASINH JADEJA (INDIA)

Averaging 35 with the bat and 24 with the ball in test cricket gives him a case to be regarded as the best contemporary all rounder of any kind in the game . The problem is that his bowling stock in trade, left arm orthodox spin overlaps with Jayasuriya and Johnston in his slower style. This is why I preferred Jupp’s off spin and the explosiveness of Jessop in the two slots he might have occupied – I was concerned with the balance of the attack, wanting my skipper to be able to change the bowling as well the bowler.

OTHER HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Steve James of Glamorgan and briefly England was a solid county opener, but I suspect that not even the staunchest of his county’s fans would expect him to be picked for this XI. Andrew Jones of New Zealand, a gritty and determinded number three for that country, might have had the slot I gave to Dean Jones, but while acknowledging his ability I felt that Dean, also a gritty competitor, had a sufficiently superior record to his trans-Tasman namesake to warrant getting the slot. Three fast bowlers who were close to being picked were in reverse chronological order Les Jackson of Derbyshire who took his FC scalps at 17 each but was only rewarded with two England caps, Ernie Jones of Australia, a seriously quick bowler in the 1890s, but also the first ever to be called for throwing in a test match, and John Jackson, a terror in the era immediately before WG Grace came to prominence. Prabath Jayasuriya has made a sensational start to his test career, but as a specialist left arm spinner it would hard for him to qualify for this XI even he maintains that start. Worcestershire leg spinner Roley Jenkins entered my thoughts, but I felt Jupp deserved the second spinner’s role. Digby Jephson, who was one of the last front line under arm bowlers at professional level and a good middle order batter is another I regret not being able to accommodate. Aqib Javed, a Pakistan fast bowler of the 1990s did not quite establish a good enough record to be a serious challenger. Among keepers only Eifion Jones, who was much less of a batter, comes close to namesake Amy behind the stumps – Geraint Jones was not up to standard in either department. Arthur Jepson does not qualify as a player but he can be one of the umpires, a role in which he excelled.

I end this section with two players who are very likely to be shoo-ins for this XI in 10 years time or thereabouts. Kyle Jamieson of New Zealand has made a magnificent start to his test career, and may well knock Mitchell Johnson out of the XI if he maintains his current progress. Will Jacks of Surrey is a hugely promising young batter and part time off spinner. In standard cricket formulation of initials and surname he is WG Jacks, and his recent 150 against Essex, most of it scored with tailenders for company, and giving his side an ultimately match settling first innings lead was worthy of the original WG.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Our cricketing adventure through the letter J is complete and all that remains is my usual sign off…

All Time XIs – The Left Handed Ashes

Today’s twist on the ‘all time XI’ theme hands the stage over to the ‘southpaws’, while there is a solution to yesterday’s mathematical teaser and a first audition for some of the potential stars of the aspi.blog 2021 wall calendar.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest twist on the all-time XI cricket theme. Today we set up an all left handed Ashes contest.

THE BRIEF

I followed two rules in my selection of these teams: obviously I was only pick players of quality, and I required that their main speciality be performed left handed. After I have introduced the teams I will explain a number of cases where this latter requirement made itself felt. Some of my selected bowlers did bat right handed, but in none of the cases concerned would the player have been selected purely as a batter. The Times, then the UK’s official ‘paper of record’ rather than the Murdoch rag we know it as today, carried an article calling for the elimination of left handers from top level cricket in the 1920s, and it is only very recently that left handed batters stopped being regarded as exotic and an exception to the rule.

ENGLAND LEFT HANDED XI

  1. Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter. Centuries at the first time of asking against three different countries, and only a dreadful call by Nasser Hussain prevented him from scoring twin tons on test debut. He won the Compton-Miller trophy in the 2009 Ashes, his 161 in the Lord’s match of that series setting England up for their first triumph over Australia there since 1934.
  2. Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter. England’s all time leading scorer of test runs and test hundreds. See ‘The Away Ashes‘, ‘Essex‘ and ‘Functional Left Handers v Elegant Right Handers‘ earlier in this series for more on him.
  3. *Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder. He has featured regularly through this series, making his first appearance when Kent were under the microscope. I have named in as captain, a role he never actually held, in spite of the presence of three actual captains in the ranks – I have reservations about the captaincy of Strauss, Cook and Gower and believe that Woolley would have been good at the job.
  4. Eddie Paynter – left handed batter. The little chap from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire had the highest average of any England left hander to have played enough matches to qualify – 59.23 per innings. He scored test double centuries against Australia and South Africa.
  5. David Gower – left handed batter. He averaged 44.25 from 117 test appearances. He scored two test double centuries, both at Edgbaston. His maiden Ashes century came at Perth in 1978, while Boycott was at the other end en route to a 77 that included an all run four but no boundaries. In his last visit to Australia he played an innings of 123 that Don Bradman rated as one of five best innings he ever saw played in that country. His first appearance in this series of posts came when I looked at Leicestershire.
  6. Maurice Leyland – left handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. England’s Ashes record partnership for any wicket is the 382 he and Len Hutton put on together at The Oval in 1938. Cricinfo describes his bowling as slow left arm orthodox, but Bill Bowes who was a Yorkshire and England team mate of his stated in the chapter on Jardine that he contributed to “Cricket: The Great Captains” that Leyland bowled ‘chinamen’ and I will go with the primary source, in this case Bowes.
  7. +Jack Russell – left handed batter, wicket keeper. He appeared in the second post in this series, when Gloucestershire were the subject.
  8. Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, right handed lower order batter. 1956 first class wickets at 14.90. His test average was 24 per wicket, due to the presence in opposition ranks of Don Bradman. Bradman himself held Verity in considerable esteem.
  9. Bill Voce – left arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. Larwood’s sidekick on the 1932-3 Ashes tour, he also made the 1936-7 trip, and a third visit down under in 1946-7 by when he was past his best.
  10. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. No bowler of below medium pace has more test wickets for England than his 297. His main weapon was cut rather than conventional spin, and his chief variation was a ball fired through at genuine speed (he started as a fast bowler before slowing down). On batting friendly pitches he was accurate enough to avoid being collared, and on a surface that he could exploit he earned his nickname ‘Deadly’ with some astonishing sets of figures, including a 7-11 at Folkestone as late as 1986, at the age of 42.
  11. Nobby Clark – left arm fast, left handed genuine no11. There were two other options for my left arm out and out speedster, Fred Morley of Nottinghamshire and William Mycroft of Derbyshire, but the last named never got to play test cricket, and Morley only when he was past his absolute best. Thus the Northamptonshire man gets the nod.

This team has an excellent top six, a great keeper and four varied specialist bowlers. The bowling, with Clark and Voce to share the new ball and various types of craft and guile from Underwood, Verity, Woolley and Leyland also looks impressive.

RULED OUT

Ben Stokes bats left handed, but his right arm fast bowling cannot be dismissed as a secondary part of his game, since he would not be selected without it. The ‘Kirkheaton twins’, George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes both batted right handed, and as with Stokes’ bowling their contributions in this department cannot be dismissed. Similarly Frank Foster, a fine left arm quick for Warwickshire and England, batted right handed, and since his career highlights include a triple century he too had to be ruled out. Stan Nichols of Essex, like Stokes, batted left handed, but his right arm fast bowling was a huge factor in his selection for both county and country. While sharp eyed observers will have noted that Verity, Voce and Underwood all scored first class centuries none were ever selected specifically for their batting.

AUSTRALIA LEFT HANDED XI

  1. Matthew Hayden – left handed opening batter.
  2. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter. See the ‘Arthurians vs the Bills‘ ost for more detail about him.
  3. Joe Darling – left handed batter. His first major innings came at school. When he was selected to play for Prince Alfred College in their annual grudge match against St Peter’s College he lashed 252 not out, which remains the highest individual score in the history of the fixture. During the 1897-8 Ashes he became the first batter ever to hit three centuries in the same series. He was also the first the reach a test century by hitting a six, which in his day meant sending the ball clean out of the ground.
  4. Neil Harvey – left handed batter, brilliant fielder. 6,149 test runs at 48 an innings, including 19 centuries.
  5. *Allan Border – left handed batter, captain. Border took of the captaincy of an Australian side that had forgotten how to win,and by the time he passed the job on to Mark Taylor the side he was leaving were established at the top of the game. He scored over 11,000 test runs at 50.56. Losing the 1986-7 Ashes to an England who had played 11 test matches without victory since The Oval in 1985 was a bitter pill for Border, but in 1989 he finally captained his team to an Ashes victory, a feat he then repeated twice before retiring.
  6. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. He preferred no 7, but I have put him at six for reasons that will soon become clear. See my T20 post for more on him.
  7. Alan Davidson – left handed batter, left arm fast medium. The all rounder of the side (see yesterday’s post).
  8. Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast, left handed lower middle order bat. See my Australia post for more on him.
  9. Jack Ferris – left arm medium fast. Regular partner of Charles ‘Terror’ Turner. He also featured in my ‘Cricketing United Nations‘ post.
  10. Chuck Fleetwood-Smith – left arm wrist spinner. A brilliant but erratic bowler, sadly best known for his 1-298 on Bosser Martin’s 1938 Oval featherbed. Australia went into that match with an ill equipped and poorly balanced bowling attack – the only genuine pace bowler in the party, Ernie McCormick, was having terrible trouble with no balls and did not play in the game, neither did Frank Ward, bizarrely selected for the tour in preference to Clarrie Grimmett. Mervyn Waite, allegedly played for his bowling skills, did take his only test wicket in that match, but his new ball partner for the game was Stan McCabe, a brilliant batter but nobody’s idea of a test match opening bowler. The truth about a bowler of the Fleetwood-Smith type is that to play them you need five frontline bowlers available to you so that you have an out if things don’t go to plan.
  11. Bert Ironmonger – left arm orthodox spinner. The second oldest ever to play test cricket, being 51 years old when he took his final bow at that level. He featured in my ‘Workers’ post.

This team has a superb front five, the best batter-keeper Australia have ever had and a well varied line up of bowlers, with likely new ball pair Johnson and Davidson having medium paced back up from Ferris, finger spin from Ironmonger and wrist spine from Fleetwood-Smith. Border might also take a turn at the bowling crease with his variety of left arm spin.

RULED OUT

The biggest rule out was Jack Gregory, a splendid all rounder in the early 1920s, who batted left handed, but bowled right arm fast (and he would never have been picked as a specialist batter). Charles Macartney, ‘the governor general’, did win a test match with his left arm tweakers, but it was his batting that got him selected and he did that with his right hand.

THE CONTEST

Unlike in rather too many real life Ashes series both sides look strong and well balanced. However, I think that England just have the edge – especially if they win the toss and bat first (which is the decision that Woolley would be likely to make – read his thoughts on this in the relevant section of “King of Games”), since Underwood, Verity and Woolley on a wearing pitch would be a well nigh unplayable combination.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

I included this from brilliant.org in yesterday’s post:

The question was which is the smallest fish. The answer is Thursday’s fish is the smallest. Clue 1 tells us that Saturday’s fish is the average size of the two previous day’s fishes, clue two that Thursday’s fish was smaller than Wednesday’s. Clue three tells that Saturday is the smallest fish to be larger than Wednesday’s. Clue four tells us that Sunday’s fish is between Friday’s and Saturday’s in size. All of this when fully reasoned out tells that the actual ranking order of fish from biggest downward is Friday, Sunday, Saturday, Wednesday, Thursday, so the smallest fish is Thursday’s.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced today’s XI, answered yesterday’s teasers, so now it is time for my usual sign off, with a twist. I have only a very few new photos ready to use, so before I display them I am going to share the photos that I am currently considering for inclusion in the aspi.blog 2021 wall calendar (a tradition that will be entering its fifth year).

P1280066 (2)
This water vole poking its head of its hole is a definite – taken in October 2019

P1280348 (2)
One of these three hedgehog pics, again from later 2019 will be there as well.

P1280349 (2)P1280350 (2)

P1320101 (2)
One of these five brimstone bitterfly pics will probably feature.

P1320102 (2)P1320107 (2)P1320115 (2)P1320131 (2)

P1320221 (2)
This is one of the starling possibilities.

P1320230 (2)
One of these three shieldbug pics is a possibility

P1320231 (2)P1320233 (2)

P1320588 (2)
I like this one.

P1320641 (2)
One of these two goldfinch pics will be there.

P1320641 (3)

P1320655 (2)
these four starlings mar get in…

P1320667 (2)
…as may one of these last two pics but not both.

P1320668 (2)

I await your views on these and other possible calendar pictures with interest, and finish with these…

P1320677 (2)P1320678 (2)

P1320679 (2)
The fuchsia is really flourishing.

Left Handed Ashes
The teams in tabulated form.

100 Cricketers – Ninth XI Fast Bowlers

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, featuring the fast bowlers from the ninth XI, some thoughts on the Wisden Five Cricketers of the Year and of course some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest in my “100 cricketers” series, featuring the fast bowlers from the ninth XI. The introductory post to the series can be found here, the post which introduces the ninth XI can be found here and the most recent post in the series is here. Before getting to the main meat of the post today saw the announcement of…

THE FIVE CRICKETERS OF THE YEAR

No one can feature in this list more than once, which has to be borne in mind when considering those who got the nod this year, revealed in this tweet from Test Match Special:

Rory Burns scored huge numbers of runs for Surrey in a season that saw that county win the championship, Sam Curran burst on the scene for England with a cracking series against India, Jos Buttler has been superb in white ball cricket and has has his momets in test matches and the only surprise about Virat Kohli is that he has not already had the honour.  Tammy Beaumont (see this post for more about her) is also thoroughly deserving, having had a fine year at the top of the order for the England Women. All in all therefore I think these are good selections and that Wisden has done itself proud. Now on to the main business of this post, those…

FAST BOWLERS

This XI has the most unorthodox bowling attack of the nine, featuring only two front line quick bowlers and three wrist spinners. However, my three wrist spinners are all quite different in style and approach, and the two quicks bowl with different hands. We will start with the right-armer…

IAN BISHOP

His career was wrecked by injuries, but nevertheless 43 test matches saw him take 161 wickets at 24.27. When he first emerged on the scene it seemed likely that he would keep the great West Indian tradition of fast bowling going into another generation, but his injury problems prevented that from happening. After his playing days finished he became one of the better commentators on the game.

MITCHELL JOHNSON

73 test matches brought him 313 wickets at 28.40 and 2,065 runs at 22.20 but these figures tell only part of the story because there were at least two Mitchell Johnsons. In the 2009 Ashes in England, and with the exception of Perth in the 2010-11 Ashes down under he was an embarrassment, leaking runs at 4.5 an over and rarely looking threatening. At Sydney walking out to play his final innings of that series he got what must be the most hostile reception anyone has ever had from what was supposedly a home crowd (in truth most of the Aussies had deserted by then, leaving the Barmy Army to enjoy their final triumph, so it was principally an English crowd).

In the 2013-14 Ashes, having missed the 2013 series which England won 3-0, he spearheaded 5-0 whitewas, capturing 37 wickets as he found accuracy to go with his huge pace. He had the lower half of the England order feather-legged in that series, exemplified by the end of the final England innings of the series when Kevin Pietersen blocked out an over of his in a way that said as clearly as if he had uttered the words “don’t worry about this guy, I will deal with him” and two wickets were promptly surrendered to the workaday spinner bowling at the other end.

I saw him in the Australia v West Indies match at Adelaide that I have mentioned previously on this blog, and he was outdone for sheer pace on that occasion by Kemar Roach of the West Indies, though he definitely looked more impressive than either Peter Siddle or Doug Bollinger

Mitchell Johnson was a cricketer of extremes, and when the force was with him he achieved things to make him famous for as long as the game of cricket is played and to earn him his place in one of my XIs.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I sign off in my usual fashion…

P1220601P1220602P1220603P1220605P1220606P1220607P1220608P1220610P1220611P1220613P1220614P1220615P1220616P1220618P1220619P1220620

P1220621
I was pleased to spot this butterfly while walking round the grassy area outside my bungalow this morning.

P1220622P1220623P1220624P1220625P1220626P1220627P1220628

P1220629
I made two attempts to capture this helicopter on camera this afternoon…

P1220630
…and succeeded twice.

P1220631P1220632P1220633