All Time XIs – Rest Of The World v Asia

An international clash of the titans today, as the Rest of the World take on Asia in our ‘all time XIs’ cricket post.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s all time XIs cricket post follows the usual Monday theme of going international. Today we pit the Rest of the World against Asia. I am, as usual in this series, thinking principally in terms of long form cricket, although of course this contest could not (or at least should not) officially be given test status.

REST OF THE WORLD

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, scorer of 12 centuries in Ashes cricket,a tally only beaten by Don Bradman with 19. He was one half of no less than four of the greatest opening partnerships in the history of cricket, at county level with Hayward and then Sandham, and at test level with Rhodes and then Sutcliffe.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opener. His case for selection for a contest of this nature is even more watertight than was his actual case for England selection. He got better the tougher the competition – averaging 52 in all first class cricket, 60.73 in test cricket and 66.85 in Ashes cricket. He and Hobbs had an average opening stand of 87, 15 times topping the hundred. At The Oval in 1926 they put on 172 in England’s second innings, beginning on a very spiteful pitch, with Hobbs falling for exactly 100 to end the partnership (the first time he had made a test century on his home ground), while Sutcliffe went on to 161 and to put England in an invincible position. At Melbourne in the third match of the 1928-9 series he and Hobbs started the final innings with England set to make 332, and many people reckoning that on the rain damaged pitch they had to contend with that the innings would not even last a full session. Actually, the pair were still in residence by the tea interval, and part way through the evening session Hobbs sent a message to the pavilion that if a wicket fell that night Jardine rather than Hammond should come in at no3. Hobbs finally fell for 49 to make to 105-1, and Jardine duly came in, and he and Sutcliffe were still together at close of play. The following day the surface was easier, and although England suffered a mini clatter of wickets, including Sutcliffe for 135, with victory in sight, George Geary ultimately settled the issue by hitting a ball through mid on for four with three wickets still standing.  Sutcliffe’s 100th first class hundred was scored when Yorkshire were after quick runs for a declaration, and he duly attacked from the get go, clobbering eight sixes on his way to the landmark.
  3. *Don Bradman – right handed batter, captain. To follow the greatest opening pair the game has ever seen we have the greatest batter of them all, the man who averaged 99.94 in test cricket. He scored 974 runs (a record for any test series) in the 1930 Ashes, at 139.14, but perhaps his most remarkable display of high scoring given the circumstances came in the last three matches of the 1936-7 series. England won both of the opening games, and the weather played havoc with the third, England declaring their first innings at 76-9 to get Australia back in while the pitch was still vicious. Bradman countered by sending in tailenders O’Reilly and Fleetwood-Smith, and then when O’Reilly was out before the close, another specialist bowler, Frank Ward. As a result of this the score when Bradman emerged to join regular opener Fingleton was 97-5, and the pitch had largely eased. Bradmand and Fingleton put on 346 together, and then McCabe joined Bradman. Bradman in that innings made 270, the most ever by someone coming in at no7 in a test innings, and England, set 689 to win, were duly beaten by a huge margin. Bradman then made another double ton in the fourth match, which Australia won to make it 2-2. In the final game Bradman was dropped early in his innings, scored 169, and Australia duly won again, becoming the first and to date only side to win a five match series after losing the first two matches thereof.
  4. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. He averaged 60.97, a figure exceeded among those to have finished careers that included 20 or more test matches only by Bradman and Adam Voges, the latter named benefitting from playing most of his test cricket against weak opposition, and coming a cropper in his only Ashes series.
  5. Wally Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, occasional off spinner, ace slip fielder. When he led England out at Trent Bridge at the start of the 1938 Ashes he made history – he was the first person to have been a professional and also to be appointed an official England captain. A directorship at the Marsham Tyre Company had enabled him to turn amateur, which also saw him become the first and only player to captain the Players against the Gentlemen and the Gentlemen against the Players. In that team that he led out at Trent Bridge was the man who would get to lead his team out without turning amateur, Leonard Hutton. By the time of the outbreak of World War II he had scored 6,883 test runs at 61.75, but a comeback post war which never really worked out for him, and ended with a disastrous 1946-7 Ashes (168 runs in the series at 21.00).
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. The most complete player ever to have played the game.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. The most destructive keeper/ batter there has ever been, he completely rewrote the requirements for keeper/ batters. The search for the keeper who is also a destructive batter has led to some bizarre decisions – the current England camp’s obsession with Buttler, barely even a competent keeper and someone who has failed to transfer his white ball form to the red ball game is an example of people being led up a blind alley by this thinking (though arguably it is only England’s second worst selection blooper for the upcoming resumption of test cricket behind the selection of Denly at four, which amounts to a v-sign being flashed at Lawrence and Bracey, compilers of the only two major scores of the warm up match). It is nowadays unthinkable that a Bert Strudwick, who habitually batted no11, would be selected as a test wicket keeper, and even Bob Taylor, another brilliant wicket keeper who was not a proper front line batter would have a hard time convincing national selectors to pick him – just look at the treatment Ben Foakes has had from the England selectors.
  8. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. For my money the greatest fast bowler of the West Indies’ golden age.
  9. Michael Holding – right arm fast bowler. His 14-149 in the match on flat Oval wicket in 1976 is probably enough on its own to justify his inclusion, but he produced many other stellar performances. At Bridgetown, Barbados in 1981 he made use of a super-fast pitch to bowl probably the most intimidating opening over any test match has ever seen – the England opener, by then a veteran of over 100 test appearances, was beaten all ends up by four deliveries, got bat on one and had his off stump uprooted by the final ball of the over.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. His wicket taking rate of seven per match is out on its own among bowlers who played 20 or more test matches. At Melbourne in 1911-2 Johnny Douglas won the toss for England and put Australia in, a decision that needed early wickets to justify it. Barnes soon had the Aussie top four back in the hutch, for a single between them, and with a couple more wickets also falling early in the game Australia were at one point 38-6 in their first innings. They recovered to reach the semi-respectability of 184, but England remained in total control and ran out winners by eight wickets. Wilfred Rhodes, who went on that tour as a specialist batter, having started his career as a specialist bowler, was asked many years later about Barnes and just how good he was and said simply “the best of them today are half as good as Barnie wor.”
  11. Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. The Dunedin born leggie first crossed the Tasman in search of cricketing fulfilment, and then crossed two state boundaries in his new country, before eventually breaking into the South Australia side, and then, at the age of 33 into the test side. He took 11 wickets on test debut, and went on to finish with 216 wickets in 37 matches, a wicket taking rate of just short of six per match, putting him ahead of his mate Bill O’Reilly and significantly ahead of Shane Warne.

This team features a stellar batting line up, two out and out quicks, probably the greatest bowler of them all, the craft and guile of Grimmett, and of course the most complete player ever to play the game in Sobers. Barnes, Holding, Marshall, Grimmett and Sobers, with Hammond as sixth bowler represents a mighty fine range of bowling options.

SOME OF THOSE WHO MISSED OUT

Everyone will have their own ideas about possible selections, but here are some of my own additional thoughts:

  • Opening batters – I went for the greatest opening partnership of all time. Thinking in partnership terms their only serious rivals are Greenidge/ Haynes and Hayden/ Langer. WG Grace, especially given his all round skills, Victor Trumper, Len Hutton, Arthur Morris, Barry Richards and Chris Gayle might all have been considered on their individual methods.
  • No3 – this position was non-negotiable, ‘the Don’ standing high above all other contenders.
  • Nos 4 and 5 – Steve Smith was ruled out on grounds other than technical ones. Brian Lara and Allan Border had fine records as left handed batters, but I considered Pollock to have an even stronger case – all available evidence suggests that when the curtain came down on that incarnation of his country as a test playing nation he was still getting better. Among right handers Viv Richards, Kane Williamson and Steve Waugh all have serious cases for consideration, but Hammond has his slip fielding and his potential value as a support bowler on his side as well as his phenomenal batting record.
  • No6 – non-negotiable. Sobers’ range of cricketing talents make him not so much a star as a galaxy – or at the very least a constellation.
  • The keeper – Gilchrist gets it because of his batting, but many from Jack Blackham, the so-called ‘prince of wicket keepers’ who kept for Australia in the inaugural test match through to Ben Foakes of today would be worth a place as glovemen.
  • The fast bowlers – too many potential candidates to list. I regret that left arm fast bowler William Mycroft was in his pomp before test cricket was a thing, and similarly the brilliant USian Bart King was not quite brilliant enough to propel hbis country to test status. Two other 19th century legends, Charlie Turner and George Lohmann could have had the spot I gave to Barnes.
  • The spinners – I ruled out selecting a specialist left arm spinner, because I already had Sobers to attend to that department, I considered off spinners Billy Bates and Jim Laker, while O’Reilly and Warne were obvious rivals to Grimmett, but I think the obstacles Grimmett had to clear before even having a chance to prove himself get him the nod.

ASIA

  1. Sunil Gavaskar – right handed opening batter. The first ever to score 10,000 test runs, and the first to score as many as 30 test centuries. He made 13 of those centuries against the West Indies, a dominant cricketing force for much of his career.
  2. Hanif Mohammad – right handed opening batter. He played the longest ever test innings, 337 against the West Indies in 970 minutes at the crease. His side had folded for 106 in their first dig, and made to follow on, saved the game by posting 657-8 second time around. That 551 runs difference between 1st and second innings scores is an all time test record, and is equalled at first class level by Middlesex (83 and 634 in a match in the 1980s) and Barbados (175 and 726-7 declared). The other side of his game was seen for Karachi against Bahawalpur when he scored 499 in just over ten hours at the crease, then a world first class record (ended by a run out, depending on which you believe either going for the 500th, or, believing himself to be on 498, seeking to farm the bowling for the following morning.
  3. Rahul Dravid – right handed batter. More test runs than any other number three. When he really got settled in one got the impression that nothing short of an earthquake would dislodge him.
  4. Virat Kohli – right handed batter. A man who averages over 50 in all three international formats and has scored big runs against all opponents.
  5. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. The only player ever to have scored 100 centuries in international matches (Kohli is currently on 70, and may conceivably match Tendulkar’s achievement).
  6. +Kumar Sangakkara – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Until Alastair Cook went past him he had more test runs to his credit than any other left hander. I have chosen him as wicket keeper to be able to pick a full range of bowlers.
  7. *Imran Khan – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. Statistically, with credit balance of 14 between his batting and bowling averages he ended as the most successful of the four great test all rounders of the 1980s. He was also one of the very few captains able to unify a Pakistan dressing room.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. Has a fair claim to be regarded as the best left arm quick bowler ever to play test cricket, and a mighty useful player to have coming at no8.
  9. Anil Kumble – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. The third leading wicket taker in test history, although Jimmy Anderson is officially still in the hunt to get past him. One of only two bowlers to have taken all ten in a test innings.
  10. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner. 800 test wickets from 133 appearances at that level, an all time record tally.
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. He is in the early stages of what should be an illustrious career. He already has on his CV an achievement few fast bowlers can point to – shaking the Aussie up in their own backyard, which he did in the 2018-9 series for the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

This side has a stellar top five, a keeper who is also a world class batter at six, a genuine all rounder at seven and four excellent varied bowlers. A pace attack of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Jasprit Bumrah looks decidedly fruity, and spin twins Muralitharan and Kumble will be formidable on any surface.

SO.ME OF THOSE WHO MISSED OUT

  • Opening batters – the current Indian opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal might well have warranted selection as a partnership, while Saeed Anwar, Sanath Jayasuriya (who would also have offered an extra bowling option) and Vijay Merchant all had cases for individual inclusion.
  • No3 – I considered that Dravid had no serious rivals for this slot, but I acknowledge the successes of Zaheer Abbas in the role.
  • Nos 4-5 – Javed Miandad, Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mahela Jayawardene, Aravinda De Silva and Mushtaq Mohammad could all have a case made for them.
  • The keeper – among keepers who also count as front line batters, and therefore do not significantly alter the balance of the side Mushfiqur Rahim and Rishabh Pant had cases, while Syed Kirmani, Wriddhiman Saha and Wasim Bari all had cases for being picked as specialist glove men.
  • The All rounder – non-negotiable, especially given his claims on the captaincy (sorry, Kapil).
  • Spinners – If I revisit this post in a few years Rashid Khan, the Afghan leg spinner, may well have displaced Anil Kumble (like Kumble he is also a handy lower order batter), while Sandeep Lamichhane of Nepal may also be making a strong case, especially if he can get a contract to play county cricket and build up his long form record, and Zahir Khan, another Afghan who bowls left arm wrist spin (not to be confused, as Gulu Ezekiel did on twitter yesterday, with Zaheer Khan the left arm pace bowler for India) may also be making a case for himself. Had Palwankar Baloo had the opportunity at test level he may well have had an excellent record with his left arm orthodox spin, but just as I felt unable to pick William Mycroft for the ROW because he never played test cricket, so I cannot pick Baloo here. The great Indian spin quartet of the 1970s, Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna and Venkataraghavan, all have cases for selection, especially the highly individual Chandrasekhar. Ravindra Jadeja’s all round skills fell only just short of making a case for him, and R Ashwin would also have his advocates. Saqlain Mushtaq, off spin, Abdul Qadir and Mushtaq Ahmed (both leg spin) all warrant consideration.
  • The pace bowlers. I picked Bumrah on a hunch, although he is in the early stages of his career, and of course technically his place should have gone to Waqar Younis. Shoaib Akhtar would also have his advocates, but he was very inconsistent, and that ‘100mph delivery’ did not actually cause the batter a great deal of trouble. Two early Indians, Amar Singh and Mahomed Nissar both had fine records at a time when bowling quick on the subcontinent was a cause of heartbreak. Fazal Mahmood who bowled Pakistan to their first ever test victory at The Oval in 1954 might have been selected as an analogue for Barnes in the ROW side, and there may be those who would want to see Sarfraz Nawaz selected. Finally, about ten years ago I would have been betting that Mohammad Amir, then an 18 year old left arm fast bowler, would be among the game’s all time greats before long. Sadly he was drawn into a web of corruption, served a five year suspension from the game, and although still a fine bowler has now decided to concentrate purely on limited overs cricket, so has to be filed under ‘what might have been’. The other two players involved in that scandal, Mohammad Asif, a fast medium bowler, and Salman Butt, opening batter and captain, were both in the respectable rather than outstanding class and would never been eligible even had they not got themselves banned.

THE CONTEST

The contest, for what I shall call the ‘Hutton-Baloo’ trophy, acknowledging two of those who missed out on selection, would be a splendid one. The ROW probably just about start as favourites, but Asia do have an amazing bowling attack, and with Akram at eight and Kumble at nine their batting is deeper than that of the ROW, though lacks the eye-watering strength of the ROW’s top batting.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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The Bankhouse, venue for my first meal out in four months.

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An excellent use of a Beck style diagram.

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A red admiral.

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Socially responsible signage.

IMG_1454 (2)ROW v Asia

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet III

Continuing the alphabetic progression of the last two days.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s all time XIs cricket post continues the alphabetic progression established over Friday and yesterday, so out first XI begins with an S.

GRAEME SMITH’S XI

  1. *Graeme Smith – left handed opening batter, captain. Scored large numbers of runs for South Africa. Appointed captain at a very young age he did that job very well as well.
  2. Glenn Turner – right handed opening batter. The only New Zealander to score 100 first class hundreds. In reversal of the more frequent pattern of development he started out as an absolute barnacle and developed an impressive range of strokes as he matured and grew in confidence – his 100th first class hundred as reached in the morning session of the first day of that game. This opening pair should blunt the opposing attack nicely for…
  3. Polly Umrigar – right handed batter, off spinner. India’s leading test run scorer prior to Gavaskar.
  4. Bryan Valentine – right handed batter. A great stylist for Kent and England.
  5. Everton Weekes – right handed batter. One of the greatest of all time to strengthen the middle order.
  6. Jerome Xaba – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. X is a very difficult letter in this context, hence my inclusion of a player who has yet to feature in first class cricket.
  7. +Hugo Yarnold – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Holds the all-time record for stumpings in a first class innings, with six (six successive batters no less, only David East of Essex who caught eight in a row beats that sequence). In total he made almost 700 dismissals in his 287 first class matches. I accept that he is a trifle high in the order.
  8. Dawlat Zadran – right arm fast medium bowler.
  9. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler.
  11. Bhagwath Chandrasekhar – leg spinner. Our only front line spinner, and one member of this team whose position in the batting order will not cause any controversy.

This team is weaker in batting than is usual with my selections – Weekes is likely to need to remember how to count to six in the latter part of the innings.

CB FRY’S XI

  1. Ian Davis – right handed opening batter for Australia in the second half of the 1970s, known to his team mates as ‘wiz’ after a TV character of the time, ‘the wizard of ID’.
  2. John Edrich – left handed opening batter. A scorer of over 100 first class hundreds, and with a fine record at test level. He is one of five Surrey batters to have reached 100 first class hundreds (Hayward, Hobbs, Sandham and Ramprakash are the others).
  3. *CB Fry – right handed batter, captain. The English Leonardo, with an astonishing range of accomplishments to his credit. 
  4. Syd Gregory – right handed batter, brilliant fielder. A record eight tours of England, the first in 1890 and the last in 1912, the first test double century in Australia (Billy Murdoch scored 211 at The Oval in 1884), 201 at the SCG in 1894.
  5. Graeme Hick – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. His international record makes disappointing reading when compared to his stellar first class record, but there are two bog mitigating factors: his promotion to international cricket was rushed through, pitching him in to the fray against a very formidable West Indian fast bowling line up, and he was then dropped for the Sri Lanka game at tbe end of that season, and subsequently, when he was producing consistently at the top level for the first and only time of his career Ray Illingworth became supremo of English cricket (good idea, utterly wrong choice of person), and publicly described Hick as being ‘soft’, and Hick found himself back to being in and out of the side, as the Illingworth era was marked not so much by selectorial policy as a selectorial merry-go-round. Hick was merely the most prominent of a number of cricketers, along with Devon Malcolm, to be victims of the combination of crassness and insensitivity that marked the Illingworth era.
  6. Jack Iddon – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Just five England caps, because he was in prime during the tail end of Rhodes’ career and with Roy Kilner also well to the fore, but his first class record, coinciding with his county, Lancashire, enjoying their most successful ever period was 504 matches, 22,681 runs at 36.76 and 551 wickets at 26.90. He was also a decent fielder – once when Hammond commenced a day’s play by hitting the great Ted McDonald for five successive boundaries it was only a great stop by Iddon that prevented ball number six of that opening over going the same way.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. The ultimate x-factor player to be coming at seven.
  8. +Jim Kelly – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He succeeded the great Jack Blackham as Australia’s wicket keeper and held the post for some 15 years.
  9. Geoff Lawson – right arm fast bowler. Had an excellent record in the 1980s, including being well capable of making irritating lower order runs, most notably his 74 at Lord’s in 1989 in support of Steve Waugh who was on his way to a second straight 150 (and was undefeated in both those innings).
  10. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner. 800 test wickets in 133 appearances at the highest level.
  11. Sarfraz Nawaz – right arm fast medium bowler. The highlight of his distinguished career was a spell of 7-1 in 33 deliveries that turned seeming defeat against Australia into victory – 305-3 became 310 all out.

This team has solid batting, and a bowling attack of Lawson, Nawaz, Muralitharan, Jessop and Iddon is hardly shabby, though not as stellar as some I have part together in this series.

THE CONTEST

CB Fry’s XI have greater depth in batting, while Graeme Smith’s XI are heavily reliant on their top five to score lots of runs. Graeme Smith’s XI has a stellar bowling unit, especially Ambrose, Barnes and Chandrasekhar. I see this as a close contest, with the odds possibly favouring CB Fry’s XI.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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TAII
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Four Fast Bowlers v Balanced

A team with an attack of four fast bowlers is pitted against a fully balanced team. Also a solution to yesterday’s teaser and a link to an autism related thread, and of course some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest variation on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. Today’s post owes its genesis to three twitter correspondents who raised valid points in response to yesterday’s piece. Rather than change yesterday’s XIs I have decided to acknowledge the validity of the comments by selecting two teams that enable to me to devote coverage to the issues raised.

THE FOUR FAST BOWLERS XI

When I covered the West Indies I named an attack of four fast bowlers in the West Indies team from my lifetime, as a tribute to the great West Indies teams of my childhood, which were based precisely on that type of attack. I now name an all-time team with the same type of bowling attack.

  1. Barry Richards – right handed opening batter, named by Don Bradman in his all-time XI (see “Bradman’s Best” by Roland Perry). The four tests that he played before South Africa’s enforced isolation (four more than any of his non-white compatriots in the period concerned save for Basil D’Oliveira, who managed to get to England) yielded him 508 runs at 72.57, with two centuries. He was subsequently one of the stars of Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. Statistically the most successful opener among those to have played 20 or more tests, with 4,555 runs at 60.73 at that level, including 2,741 at 66.85 in Ashes cricket. This upward progression of averages as the cricket he played got tougher bore out his famous response to being congratulated by Pelham Warner on a good rearguard action: “Ah, Mr Warner, I love a dogfight.”
  3. George Headley – right handed batter. Averaged 60.83 in test cricket, converting 10 of his 15 fifty-plus scores at that level into hundreds. I decided that to give either side Don Bradman would give them too big an edge, so he is not present today – instead we have ;the black Bradman’.
  4. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. Averaged 60.97 at test level, a figure exceeded among thos to have played 20+ games only by Don Bradman and Adam Voges, the latter of whom was lucky in his opponents – his sole Ashes series was a poor one. A twitter correspondent yesterday suggested that he should have been in my non-county XI, and very constructively suggested I drop George Giffen to make way for him. I acknowledge the validity of the comments by naming him here.
  5. *Clive Lloyd – left handed batter and captain. 7,515 test runs, a century in the first men’s world cup final in 1975. He was the man behind the West Indies ‘four fast bowlers’ strategy that propelled them to the top of the cricket world and kept them there for a long time. As such there could be no better captain for an ‘all time’ squad whose chief feature is an attack of four fast bowlers. A twitter correspondent suggested that I could have found a place for him in yesterday’s best overseas county player team, again a perfectly valid suggestion, and I hope his presence here in the role he played so successfully IRL will be taken as a suitable acknowledgement.
  6. Steve Waugh – right handed batter. Probably the finest ever to be a regular no 6. He played 168 test matches, and in spite of not reaching three figures until the 27th of those he ended up with a batting average of over 50. His twin tons at Old Trafford in conditions with which none of the 21 other batters in that match came to terms were a particularly outstanding example of his toughness and determination.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Statistically the greatest keeper batter ever to play test cricket.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. His record speaks for itself.
  9. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. Probably the greatest fast bowler of the golden age of West Indies fast bowling.
  10. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler. The lowest bowling average of any bowler to have taken over 400 test wickets. A twitter correspondent yesterday queried the absence of Joel Garner from my overseas county stars team, and suggested that perhaps I was placing too much stress on balance: “with Macko and Bird bowling together do you need balance?” While not wholly agreeing I acknowledge that the objection had weight (after all, I did include Garner in my Somerset team), and the selection of this side is an acknowledgement that one can rely exclusively on fast bowling. Rather than ‘big bird’ I opted for another extra tall fast bowler whose record was even better.
  11. Waqar Younis – right arm fast bowler. His ability to produce greased lightning yorkers seemingly on demand led cricket journalist Martin Johnson to write “when a pitch does not favour him, Waqar Younis does not bother to use it.” At one time he was probably the fastest in the world, and his great record stands as testament to his overall effectiveness.

This side has an awesome top six, a fabulous keeper batter and four awesome specialist fast bowlers. In Clive Lloyd they have the perfect captain to handle an attack thus constituted, and their opponents will need to be on their mettle to have a chance.

THE BALANCED XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter. Known universally as ‘The Master’, he tallied 61,237 first class runs with 197 centuries, both all time records. He still holds the England records for Ashes runs and centuries, with 3,636 and 12 respectively, the last made at the age of 46 making him test cricket’s oldest ever centurion.
  2. Bert Sutcliffe – left handed opening batter. The Kiwi’s most astounding performance came for Otago versus Canterbury, when he scored 385 in an all out tally of 500, and Canterbury in their two innings combined managed 382 off the bat all told! On the 1949 tour of England he aggregated more first class runs than any other tourist save only for Bradman. Given his left handedness and the challenge posed by pairs comprise one left and one right handed batters, and his outstanding skill there is every reason to believe that this Hobbs/Sutcliffe opening pair would be every bit as effective as the original.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, brilliant close fielder. The only cricketer to have achieved the career first class treble of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches, and indeed the only outfielder ever to have taken 1,000 catches.
  4. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, occasional left arm medium fast. The first black captain of the West Indies, and he led them to the top of the cricket world. Before his time success had been something of a rarity for the West Indies. CLR James contributed a chapter on him to “Cricket: The Great Captains”, and also gives him extensive coverage in “Beyond a Boundary”, and the name Worrell occurs again and again in the pages of the collection of CLR James writings titled simply “Cricket”.
  5. Walter Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast, ace slipper. The first ever to reach 7,000 test runs (7,249 at 58.45), the first fielder to pouch 100 test catches and sometimes useful with his bowling as well. He scored seven test match double centuries, four of them against the oldest enemy – 251 and 200 not out in successive matches in 1928-9, 231 not out in 1936-7 and 240 at Lord’s in 1938, which stood for 52 years as the highest score by an England captain.
  6. Garry Sobersleft handed batter, every kind of left arm bowler known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete all rounder there has ever been. He is the fulcrum of this side, enabling it to have a vast range of options.
  7. +Leslie Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The only recognized keeper to have scored 100 first class hundreds, holds the record for most career stumpings (over 400 of them, to go with 700 catches). In two of the first three years in which the Lawrence trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season Ames won it (the intervening time it went to another Kent legend Frank Woolley).
  8. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. I covered him in my Northamptonshire piece. Suffice to say that he was probably the quickest there has ever been.
  9. Sydney Francis Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. Probably the greatest of all bowlers. 27 test matches yielded him 189 wickets at 16.43 each. His special weapon was a leg break delivered at fast medium pace, beautifully described by Ian Peebles, himself a former test bowler, in a piece titled “Barnes The Pioneer” which appears in “The Faber Book of Cricket”.
  10. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner. The all time leading taker of test wickets, with 800 of them at a rate of just about six per game (Barnes had he played the same number of tests and maintained his wicket taking rate would have had approximately 930 test wickets). His 16 wickets on a plumb Oval pitch in 1998 (England batted first, Sri Lnaka scored nearly 600 in between the two England efforts) remains the greatest match performance I have ever seen by bowler. Two years before that he had been one of the heroes of the Sri Lankam world cup winning side, which relied as much on its phalanx of spinners not getting collared as it did on its dazzling batting line up. 
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. He never got to play test cricket, his prime years coming just too early for that (and I mean just – in 1876 he took 17 wickets in a match against Hampshire, which Hampshire sneaked by one wicket). I note that he played for a county who have always been unfashionable (Derbyshire), and that 138 first class games yielded him 863 first class wickets at 12.09 each. I believe he would be even more devastating as part of the attack I have created here than he actually was. His brother Thomas was a wicket keeper, and this combination and the Nottinghamshire pair of fast bowler Frank Shacklock and keeper Mordecai Sherwin may well have been the inspiration for the names of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle was a cricket fanatic, and a very useful cricketer, some times turning out for MCC, and at least once accounting for WG Grace, albeit his bowling was not required until that worthy had 110 to his name). His presence alongside Tyson means that this side have some heavy weaponry of their own to counter the pace onslaught, as India did not in 1975-6, nor England in 1976, 1980 or 1984.

This side has a strong and varied top five, the greatest of all all rounders at six, a legendary keeper batter at seven and four superbly varied bowlers. The bowling, with Mycroft, Tyson, Barnes and Muralitharan backed up by Sobers, Woolley, Hammond and Worrell has pretty much every base covered.

THE CONTEST

This would be an epic contest. The toss would hardly be needed, since Lloyd would probably want to bowl first and Worrell would definitely want to bat first. Although I acknowledge that as exemplified by the West Indies under Lloyd a team with four fast bowlers can be well nigh unbeatable I am going to predict that it is Frank Worrell’s side who would emerge victorious.

SOLUTION TO TEASER

Yesterday I offered up the following from brilliant:

I got the the correct answer by first identifying the size of the large square from which the ‘L’ section comes – it is 16 by 16. I then counted backwards round the spiral to arrive at the size of the next largest square in the relevant segment – 12 X 12. So the answer we are looking for, for the area of the ‘L’ section is (16 x 16) – (12 x 12), which is equal to 256 – 144 = 112 units. NB – it took me less long to do the actual working out, which I did in my head, than it has to type this explanation.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Our two contending XIs have been introduced, I have provided a solution to the teaser I posed yesterday, which leaves on one thing to do before applying my usual sign off. Pete Wharmby has produced a superb thread about ‘functioning labels’ in relation to autism. His advice is the autism equivalent of Darwin’s famous note to himself about evolutionary biology: “avoid the words higher and lower.” I urge you to read his piece in full, which you can do here. Now for my usual sign off…

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A Black Headed gull.
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The beak is a slightly darker maroon than a well looked after West Indies cap.

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Pace v Balanced
The team in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – Teams of the Talents

My latest variation on the all-time XI theme.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s piece of whimsy on the theme of ‘all time XIs‘. I will set out the brief in full detail before launching into the main body of the post.

TEAMS OF THE TALENTS EXPLAINED

The two teams consist of one chosen from players who I have witnessed in action, and one chosen from players I have only read about but would dearly love to see in action. While class has most emphatically not been ignored my two principal criteria for creating these teams was to encompass the maximum breadth of skills within 11 players and that the teams should be jam packed with entertainment value. Of course no two cricket fans would arrive at similar conclusions following this brief – indeed I would probably not come up with the same set of teams twice. Please feel free to comment with your own views on my creations!

TEAM OF THE TALENTS – HISTORIC XI

  1. Victor Trumper – right handed opening bat. This is the man who at Old Trafford in 1902, with England’s primary aim as stated by skipper MacLaren being to ‘keep Victor quiet before lunch’ was 103 not out by lunch on that first morning, having absolutely splattered MacLaren’s carefully set fields. On another occasion against South Africa he taunted the Saffer skipper Percy Sherwell as follows: every time Sherwell rearranged his field Trumper would hit the next ball somewhere a fielder had just been moved away from! Later, when commiserated on over being made to look foolish while Trumper hit 214 not out Sherwell responded “don’t worry, we have seen batting today”.
  2. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying type. I could name no one else as captain of this team. He once said of his own approach to batting “I never liked defensive shots – you can only get three for them.”
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, brilliant close catcher. The “Pride of Kent” as Peebles subtitled his biography of Woolley. ‘Crusoe’ Robertson-Glasgow once wrote of Woolley that he was “Easy to watch, difficult to bowl to and impossible to write about” before going on to make a noble effort at doing the latter.
  4. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. A running theme through his book “Playing for England” and demonstrated in practice by the way he played cricket is that cricket is a game and should be fun.
  5. Charles Townsend – right handed bat, right arm leg spinner. My choice from various options for the leg spinning all rounder – he was the second after WG to achieve the season double of 2,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class matches.
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete cricketer there has ever been and incapable of being other than highly entertaining.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. The sort of cricketer for whom the phrase ‘worth the admission money on his own’ was invented, and a shoo-in for a team of this nature.
  8. +Jack Blackham – wicket keeper, right handed lower order bat. The game;s first great keeper.
  9. George Simpson-Hayward – right arm off spinner (under arm). 23 wickets at 18 in five test matches. The notion of him foxing international batters with his methods is irresistible to me.
  10. FR Spofforth – right arm fast bowler (later added considerable variations). The ‘Demon’ must have been seriously compelling to watch.
  11. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. My pick for the greatest bowler ever. A new ball pairing of him and Spofforth would test anyone.

This team features a splenid opening pair, a wonderfully entertaining and contrasting pair at 3 and 4, three genuine all rounders at 5,6 and 7, with Townsend and Jessop flanking the incomparable Sobers, a great wicket keeper who could bat, and a splendidly varied trio of specialist bowlers. The bowling also looks rich in depth and variety, with nine of XI recognized bowlers, commanding between them a minimum of 11 styles (eight plus Sobers’ three).

TEAM OF THE TALENTS MODERN XI

  1. Sanath Jayasuriya – left handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The Sri Lankan was the star of the 1996 ODI World Cup, but also did the business plenty of times at test level.
  2. Virender Sehwag – right handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. The only cricketer ever to have scored over 100 runs in each session of a day’s test cricket (nb Don Bradman at Headingley was 220 not out at tea, but only added 89 in the final session of that day).
  3. Brian Lara – left handed batter.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter, holder of a raft of records at test and ODI level.
  5. Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed lower middler order batter.
  9. *Shane Warne – leg spinner, right handed lower order bat. I have chosen him as captain of this side. His arrival in the scene, commencing with the ‘Gatting ball’ at Old Trafford in 1993 was the trigger for an international revival of spin bowling.
  10. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter.
  11. Muttiah Muralitharan – right arm off spinner. I watched transfixed as he destroyed England at The Oval in 1998, taking 16 wickets in the match either side of a huge Sri Lankan total. 

This team has an excellent top five, x factor players at six and seven and a suoerb quartet of front line bowlers. With Stokes and Jayasuriya also significant as bowlers this team has most bases covered bowling wise, although there is no left arm wrist spinner, and of course no under arm option.

THE CONTEST

The XI from my lifetime have a stronger batting line up, with Marshall listed at no10, but the historic XI have greater depth and variety in bowling. This contest would be a spectacular one, and I cannot call a winner.

PHOTOGRAPHS

This post was interrupted by illness, and I am still by no means well – we shall see whether I can manage another tomorrow or whether it has to be wait until Sunday, when I will come up with something. Now for my usual sign off…

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Teams of the talents
The teams in tabulated form.

100 Cricketers – Second XI Bowlers and Introducing the Third X1

A continuation of my “100 cricketers” series, rounding out the second XI and introducing the third XI.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series. We have covered the batters and all-rounders from our second XI, as well as the whole of the first XI, so this post deals with the bowlers from the second XI and introduces the third XI in batting order. In keeping with usual philosophy I have equipped this XI with a well-balanced bowling attack. Later in this series we shall see an example where I depart from this, because having started following cricket when I did I believed it necessary to feature a quartet of West Indies fast bowlers somewhere along the way.

WASIM AKRAM

A left-arm fast bowler who took over 1,000 wickets in all forms of international cricket, and also a very handy batter to be coming in number 8. He was spotted bowling in the nets by Imran Khan, and called into the Pakistan team while still in his mid-teens. He made an immediate impact, and never looked back. Wasim was one of the pioneers of reverse swing bowling. 

WAQAR YOUNIS

Another left-arm fast bowler, even quicker than Wasim. Like Wasim he played county championship cricket as an overseas player, in his case for Surrey and then for Glamorgan. Overseas players in the championship is a thorny issue, my opinion being that an overseas player should only be signed if they are definitiely bringing something that no-one already in your squad can provide, and if they are good enough to attract the attention of their own national selectors. The temptation to sign any old overseas player just because you are allowed to do so should be resisted. Waqar’s great trademark was a thunderbolt yorker, although against Sri Lanka in the semi-final of the 1996 World Cup he memorably came a cropper when he deployed it too predictably and his last two overs went for 40 runs. With this pairing to open the bowling and Botham as back-up the pace bowling side of things is now well covered…

SHANE WARNE

In 1993 he settled the fate a series with his first delivery therein, the legendary “Gatting Ball”, which pitched well outside leg-stump and turned so much that it dislodged the off bail. From that moment on England were spooked and the series was only ever going one way. 12 years later when England ended a long Ashes drought by winning the 2005 series Warne still captured 40 wickets in the series, in the process becoming the first bowler to take 100 test wickets in a country other than his own. When Australia took their revenge on a complacent and under-prepared England 18 months later Warne had another fine series, including the spell that virtually settled things by turning the Adelaide match upside down.

Over 700 wickets (I will not give an exact tally here, because there is an inconsistency in his official record, where wickets against a World XI are counted as test wickets, while those who played against Rest of the World sides which were recruited to replace South African touring teams in the 1970s did not have their achievements counted in the test match records) in test cricket, a tally beaten by only one bowler, and not under any immediate threat from anyone else is testament to his amazing skills, which revived a largely forgotten art (through the 1970s and 1980s spinners had increasingly, if used at all, come to be seen as keeping things tight while the quicks rested) and changed the face of cricket.

There is one caveat about Warne however – if the match or matches were scheduled to be played in India I would not pick him because he paid very dearly for his wickets in that country. Nevertheless, his huge achievements everywhere else undoubtedly qualify him to be regarded as one of the finest of all-time.

MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN

The leading wicket taker in test match history with 800 scalps to his credit. At the Oval in 1998 his captain Arjuna Ranatunga chose to field first on a plumb pitch because he wanted to be sure that his main man got a proper rest between bowling stints. England made 445, but Murali claimed seven wickets with his off-spin. Sri Lanka then made almost 600, Sanath Jayasuriya leading the way with 213, and England collapsed second time round for 166, Murali adding nine wickets to his first innings seven, and Sri Lanka knocked off their tiny target without difficulty. 

There have been many questions over his action down the years, but as far I as concerned he is one of the all-time greats, and well worth a place in this list.

INTRODUCING THE THIRD XI

Here in batting order is my third XI, perparing the way for a continuation of this series:

  1. Chamari Atapattu
  2. Virender Sehwag
  3. Jonathan Trott
  4. A B De Villiers
  5. Graham Thorpe
  6. *Steve Waugh
  7. +Jeff Dujon
  8. Ravindra Jadeja
  9. Kagiso Rabada
  10. R Ashwin
  11. Allan Donald

PHOTOGRAPHS

P1210835
My aunt, whose house I had lunch at yesterday, has a large collection of bird themed cups, this one (three pics) being devoted to the Dartford Warbler.

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This was a fun puzzle to complete (the place name that appears twice being Hayle ).
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A map of the local area
P1210842
A close-up showing the part of town where I live.

 

Anderson Joins 500 Club and Other Stuff

Jimmy Anderon’s 500th test wicket, some links, some puzzles and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

As well as the title piece this post will feature links, pictures (items that will be going under the hammer at the end of September principally) and puzzles – including answers to a couple. 

ANDERSON JOINS 500 CLUB

As predicted by me in a previous post the third and final test match of the England v West Indies series has featured a moment of cricket history as James Anderson duly collected his 500th wicket in this form of the game. Among bowlers of anything other than spin Glenn McGrath leads the way overall with 563 (off-spinner Muralitharan’s 800 for Sri Lanka is the record, followed by leg-spinner Warne’s 709 for Australia). The two spinners have set marks that are not realistically within Anderson’s grasp but the 563 of McGrath is well and truly catchable. 

The historic moment came near the end of play yesterday, in the West Indies second innings (btw as I write this Anderson has increased his tally to 504) and it was a dismissal worthy of the occasion. He was denied in the West Indies first innings not by their batting (they managed a meagre 123 all out) but by a remarkable spell from Ben Stokes who finished that innings with figures of 6-22 – a test best for him. England led by 71, which looks like being decisive – the top score coming from Stokes (60). This combination of circumstances leads to me to finish this section with a raft of predictions/ hostages to fortune:

  1. The Brian Johnston champagne moment – James Anderson’s 500th test wick – 100% certain whatever happens in what is left of this match!
  2. Player of the match – Ben Stokes barring miracles.
  3. Player of the series – Ben Stokes – 100% nailed on.
  4. Match and series results: England win and take the series 2-1 – West Indies have just been dismissed for 177 in their second dig leaving England 107 to win – Anderson a career best 7-42 taking him to 506 test wickets.

LINKS

I am grouping my links in categories, starting with…

AUTISM

Just two links in this subsection, both from americanbadassactivists and both concerned with that hate group masquerading as charity Autism Speaks, or as Laina at thesilentwaveblog calls them A$.

NATURE

This subsection features four links:

  • First, courtesy of Wildlife Planet a piece titled “A Plant That Glows Blue In The Dark“.
  • With the unprecedented sight on weather maps of America and the Caribbean of three hurricanes poised to make landfall simultaneously (by now one of those, Irma, is already battering Cuba), A C Stark has prodcued a very timely piece whose title “Climate Change: The Elephant in the Room” is sufficient introduction.
  • This subsection closes with links to two posts from Anna. First we have Part 7 of her series about Butterflies in Trosa.

    The other post features a link to a video of a swimming sea eagle (only viewable on youtube) and a picture taken by Anna in which 11 sea eagles are visible.

POLITICS

This subsection includes one stand-alone link and four related links. The stand-alone link comes from Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK is titled “Scottish people deserve the data they need to decide, whatever their political persuasion.

My remaining four pieces concern a single individual who is widely tipped to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. It is this latter fact which has exposed him to intense scrutiny, resulting in the following collection about…

JACOB REES-MOGG

To set the scene we start with Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK’s piece simply titled “Jacob Rees-Mogg“. 

The second and third pieces in this sub-subsection both come courtesy of the Guardian:

A SEGUE LINK – A QUIZ

With apologies to those of my readers whose first language is not English, and who therefore cannot take on this quiz, I offer you courtesy of quizly a test on one of the biggest sources of grammatical mistakes in English, safe in the knowledge that my own score in said quiz can be equalled but not beaten:

PUZZLES

I appended a question to a link that featured the year 1729 in a recent post. This was the question:

The puzzle I am attaching to this is: which two famous mathematicians are linked by the number 1,729 and how did that link come about?

The two famous mathematicians linked by the number 1,729 are G H Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan. The link came about when Hardy visited Ramanujan in hospital during the latter’s final illness and mentioned the number of the cab in which he had travelled – 1,729 and went on to suggest that this was a very dull number. Ramanujan said in response “No Hardy, it is a very interesting number, the smallest that can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two different ways”.

 The other puzzle I set in that post was this one from brilliant:

treasurehunt

If the statement on door 1 is true, then the treasure is behind door 2, which makes the statements on doors 2 and 3 both false = not acceptable.

If the statement on door 2 is true then the treasure is behind door 3, which makes both the other statements false = not acceptable.

If the statement on door 3 is true, then the statement on door 1 could also be true, making the statement on door 2 false – this scenario is acceptable.

Thus we open door 2 and collect the loot.

I finish by setting you another puzzle, again from brilliant, the 100th and last problem in their 100 Day Challenge, and a cracker:

SC100 - q

Don’t be intimidated by that maximum difficulty rating – it is not as difficult as the creators thought. Incidentally you still have a couple of days to answer the problems properly on that website should you choose to sign up – although it would be tough to them all in that time!

PICTURES

1
This is lot 1 in our next sale – the first of 200 lots of old military themed postcards. Can you guess which of the lots pictured here is on my radar as a potential buy?
329-a
Lot 329 (four images) – a fine volume when new but this copy is in terrible condition.

329-b329329-c

340
Lot 340
347
Lot 347 (two images)

347-a

341
Lot 341 (six images)

341-a341-b341-c341-d341-e

£2 - Trevithick 2
I picked up this coin in change at Morrison’s today and I took two photos of it, both of which I offer you to finish this post (it is only the Reverse that makes it interesting – the Obverse is the usual portrait of ludicrously over-privileged old woman).

£2 - Trevithick 1