All Time XIs – Surrey

My all-time Surrey XI, as I find ways to make up for the absence of live cricket.

INTRODUCTION

Since there will be no cricket, or any other sport come to that, for a while I am going to fill the void by playing selector for a few all-time squads. Since I grew up in south London I will start with Surrey.

MY SURREY XI EXPLAINED

  1. Jack Hobbs – more first class runs and more first class hundreds than anyone else, also still has the England record for Ashes runs – 3,636 of them, including another record, 12 centuries in those matches. He was also a more than handy bowler of medium pace and a brilliant fielder at cover point. His claim to an opening slot is unanswerable.
  2. John Edrich – the left hander was one of three strong contenders for this slot, and both of the other two, Andrew Sandham and Tom Hayward, actually did open the innings with Hobbs, but although I see the value of picking an existing partnership, Edrich’s left handedness creates an extra problem for the fielding side to contend with, and for me that is the crucial factor.
  3. Ken Barrington – finding big run scorers associated with Surrey is not difficult, but what sets Barrington apart (and no 3 is has natural position) is that he was even more of a heavy scorer at test level (average 58.67).
  4. Graham Thorpe – that rara avis an English middle order batter from the 1990s with a record to boast about. A century on debut against Australia and an average in the mid 40s maintained through precisely 100 test caps tells its own story about his consistency.
  5. Peter May – In what was an overall low scoring decade (the 1950s) he maintained a test average of 46.77, and was also highly prolific for his county.
  6. +Alec Stewart – in spite of the fact that doing so loses some of the brilliance of Stewart the batter I name him as keeper for the sake of the balance of the side. The leading scorer of test runs in the 1990s, and a very able keeper. Given the top five he would very likely be coming in with free rein to play his strokes.
  7. *Percy Fender – a fine all-rounder, a highly respected captain who many felt should have had the England job and precisely the right kind of person to be batting no 7 in a strong team – he holds the record (35 minutes) for the fastest century against genuinely first class bowling.#
  8. Alec Bedser – a man who in the period immediately after World War two was not just the spearhead, but pretty much the entire spear of England’s bowling attack, and the first to take 200 wickets for England.
  9. Jim Laker – probably the finest of all orthodox offspinners, and for Surrey he was frequently more successful away than at home (in each of seasons 1955, 1956 and 1957 this applied to name but three).
  10. Tony Lock – the other half of the great spin pairing of the 1950s, a slow left-armer.
  11. Tom Richardson – a fast bowler who took more wickets for Surrey than any other bowler in their history. His 1,000th first class wicket came in his 134th first class match, and his 2,000th in his 327th.

This team consists of an awesome top five, a batter-keeper at six, an all-rounder and four frontline bowlers. There are two left handers among the top batters, and the bowling contains the new ball pair of Richardson and Bedser, an offspinner, a slow left armer and a leg spinner (Fender), plus Hobbs’ medium pace if required. I have not included an overseas player, but if mandated to do so I would bring in Waqar Younis in place of Richardson.

George Lohmann (definitely in an all-time Surrey tour party as cover for Bedser), Martin Bicknell, Bill Lockwood and Alf Gover all merit consideration as bowlers, while other than the openers I could not accommodate Douglas Jardine and Eric Bedser were two of the better batters to miss out. Mark Ramprakash did not come into my calculations because his record at the highest level was ordinary, and the bulk of his runs for Surrey came while they were in division 2 and not up against the strongest bowling attacks.

PHOTOGRAPHS

 

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I am rationoing my photographs at the moment because I cannot be sure of getting opportunities to take more in the immediate future.

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Ashes Composite XI

My composite Ashes XI with reasoning and justification. Also some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

A common feature of final days of series is the selection of a composite XI based on performances in said series. This is my effort for the current Ashes series. I am going to name my team in batting order first and then explain/amplify/justify these selections.

THE TEAM

My team in batting order (England player names in dark blue, Aus in green):

  1. Alastair Cook
  2. David Warner
  3. Dawid Malan
  4. Steven Smith (Captain)
  5. Shaun Marsh
  6. Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)
  7. Mitchell Marsh
  8. Mitchell Starc
  9. Pat Cummins
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Jimmy Anderson

MY REASONING

The openers need no justification – the only major contribution from an opener not named Warner in the series was Cook’s monumental innings at the MCG. Number three is a thorny one. James Vince has demonstrated clearly that he does not belong there, and his huge score here at the SCG notwithstanding I remain skeptical about Usman Khawaja, hence my decision to promote England’s leading run scorer in the series to a position he occupies for his county. Number four, and with it the captaincy was the easiest selection of the whole lot. Shaun Marsh has not put a foot wrong since being called up to replace the inadequate Handscomb at number 5, and I regarded him as a must pick. Jonny Bairstow and Tim Paine have both had good series with the gloves, but I have opted for Bairstow as definitely the superior batsman. Mitchell Marsh has had a magnificent series, and was an absolute shoe-in at number 7, especially as Moeen Ali has had a terrible series – he has batted poorly in every match and his bowling average reads like a Bradman batting average. Of the specialist bowlers I have picked those at number 8,9 and 10 in the batting order are absolute stand outs. Number 11 was tricky, since Anderson with virtually no support has had a good series, and the better supported Hazlewood as also had a fine series. Accepting that even were it possible vivisection is not permissible (though ‘Anderwood’ is only one letter removed from a former test great!) I have opted for Anderson as I rate his the greater achievement. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Looking at the makeup of the team (and accepting that Hazlewood for Anderson and Khawaja for Malan would both be valid changes), Australian picks predominate in both batting and bowling, though it is especially the bowling, which in my team comes out at 4-1 (including all-rounder Mitchell Marsh) to Australia and is reality more like 4.3-0.7 (rating my selection of Anderson over Hazlewood as a 70:30 pick) which has split the sides. England have collected barely more than half of the 100 wickets that were available to them at the start of the series, whereas Australia assuming that they take the six England wickets that remain in this match will have managed 90, failing to take 20 opposition wickets only on the MCG pitch. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

I always like to include a few photographs in my blog posts, so I end with these recently taken pictures:

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The first five pictures were taken while walking to the Scout Hut on Beulah Street for Musical Keys yesterday.

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These last four pictures were taken in Fakenham on Thursday.

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