All Time XIs – Mixed Chirality

Today’s ‘all time’ XI circket themed posts focusses on players who batted and bowled with different hands. Also contains a couple of links and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s variation on an all-time XI cricket theme. As hinted at yesterday, today we look at players who bat and bowl with different hands.

THAT WORD CHIRALITY

I have borrowed this from the realm of chemistry. Here is an official definition – screenshot below:

Chirality

BATTED LEFT AND BOWLED RIGHT XI

  1. Matthew Hayden – left handed opening batter, very occasional right arm medium pace bowler. He averaged 50 with the bat in test cricket with the bat. He did bowl at that level as well, but never picked up a wicket.
  2. Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter, very occasional off spinner. Bizarrely has one of the most economical wicket taking averages of all in test cricket – his one visit to the bowling crease in his long career yielded him figures of 1-7, an average of 7.00. He scored nearly 12,500 runs at 45 as a batter, including a 50 and a century on debut against India, and the same double in his last match against the same opponents 12 years later.
  3. Brian Lara – left handed batter, very occasional leg spinner. Holds world record individual scores at both test and first class level.
  4. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter, very occasional leg spinner. Averaged 60.97 in his test career, before his country’s isolation brought the curtain down on it.
  5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul – left handed batter, occasional leg spinner. Possessor of one of the most unusual of all batting stances – and opponents have been given plentiful opportunities to study it at length. 
  6. *Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The ultimate big occasion player. I have named as captain of this team, a role he is due to assume later this year on a temporary basis, while Joe Root is with his wife for the birth of their child.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper, very occasional off spinner. He bowled two overs in all senior first team cricket across the formats, and they were classed as off spin.
  8. Richard Hadlee – right arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. Quite simply his country’s G.O.A.T.
  9. Bill O’Reilly – leg spinner, left handed lower order batter. One of the greatest of all bowlers, rated by Bradman as the best he ever saw or faced. His batting highlight was an unbeaten 30 in the third test of the 1930 Ashes, which prevented Australia from having to follow on, after his narrow failure to do the same at Lord’s had led to them suffering an innings defeat. Avoiding the follow on meant that Australia saved that match, and after a draw in the 4th match they won at The Oval to regain the Ashes.
  10. Curtly Ambrose – right arm fast bowler, left handed tail end batter. One of the greatest of all fast bowlers, taking his wickets at under 21 a piece in test cricket, the most economical rate of anyone to have taken 400 or more.
  11. James Anderson – right arm fast medium bowler, left handed tail end batter. England’s all time leading test wicket taker, currently on 584 and officially still counting.

This team has an excellent top five, the ultimate x factor all rounder, a keeper batter, and four excellent bowlers. There is only one genuine spin option, O’Reilly, but overall the bowling is pretty impressive.

THREE NEAR MISSES

Stuart Broad, right arm fast medium bowler and left handed lower order batter, came close, but I do not think one could seriously pick him ahead of Ambrose. Stan Nichols and Jack Gregory were both attacking left handed batters who regularly bowled right arm fast with the new ball, but they hardly challenge Stokes and Hadlee.

BATTED RIGHT AND BOWLED LEFT XI

  1. Wilfred Rhodes – right handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. 39,807 first class runs, 4,187 first class wickets. In one of the many phases of his extraordinary career he was effectively a specialist batter, opening for England with Jack Hobbs, and being number two in the batting averages as well.
  2. Vinoo Mankad – right handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He once scored 184 and 72 either side of a five wicket haul. He amassed four double centuries in his test career, including what was then the Indian record of 231, when he and Pankaj Roy put on 413 for the first wicket.
  3. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. Averaged 49.48 in test cricket, was the first black captain of the West Indies.
  4. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. Averaged 50 in his test career, and fared respectably with his wrist spin, which he developed after a tour to Australia in which he noticed how many Aussies were good at more than one department. He chose left arm wrist spin because he was impressed by Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, a specialist bowler in that style.
  5. Charlie Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Averaged 41.78 with the bat, including three successive centuries in the 1926 Ashes. Also had a ten wicket match haul with his left arm spin.
  6. +Sarah Taylor – wicket keeper, right handed batter. I could not find a high class keeper who batted right handed and was an occasional left arm bowler, so I went for one who batted right handed and never bowled a ball in senior first team cricket (and who happens to be one of the two best English keepers I have ever seen in action).
  7. George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest of all all rounders. When he and Rhodes, known as the ‘Kirkheaton twins’ because they both hailed from that village, were in the prime there was a famous joke quiz question “who is the world’s best all rounder?” The only definitive answer to which was “he comes from Kirkheaton, bats right handed and bowls left, and beyond that we cannot go.” Hirst was always inclined to award Rhodes the palm, while Rhodes, cagier (he was after all the original author of the definitive Yorkshire phrase “we doan’t play it for foon, tha knows”), always refused to be drawn.
  8. Frank Foster – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. He and Sydney Barnes (32 and 34 wickets respectively) were the bowling force behind arguably England’s greatest ever series performance in Australia, the 4-1 win in 1911-2 against a definitively full strength Aussie side, which held the Ashes going into that series. Foster was also a very fine batter, the first Warwickshire player to score a treble century, and captain of their first ever championship winning side.
  9. Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, right handed lower order batter. 1,956 first class wickets at 14.90, 144 of them at 24 in test cricket. Although definitely not a genuine all rounder he did have some useful batting performances to his credit, including stepping in as emergency opener for England and seeing through a dangerous period. He never managed the season double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, tallying just over 800 in his best batting season.
  10. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler, right handed tail end batter. A very economical bowler, rarely collared even on the flattest of pitches and a destroyer on a rain affected pitch (and also the match winner on the only documented fusarium affected pitch in test history, at Headingley in 1972). He did eventually register a first class ton, near the end of his long career, but there was never any serious chance of him being considered an all rounder.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler, right handed tail end batter. He flourished just before test cricket was a thing, but 138 first class matches brought him 863 wickets at 12.09 each. 791 runs at 5.34 over the same period makes him not so much a rabbit in that department as a ferret (the one who comes after the rabbits).

This team has a respectable opening pair, an excellent 3,4 and 5, a superb keeper batter, two of the greatest of all all rounders, and three excellent specialist bowler. It commands the full range of left arm bowling from outright pace (Mycroft) through fast medium (Hirst and Foster), medium fast (Worrell), slow medium (Underwood) and spin (Verity, Rhodes, Mankad and Macartney bowling the orthodox variety, Compton wrist spin).

A NEAR MISS

Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, a left arm wrist spinner, came very close to selection, but I felt that with Compton in the side, Underwood’s slow-medium craft and guile offered me an extra variation.

THE CONTEST

The contest would be a good one. I think that the bowling options possessed by the batted right, bowled left brigade just give them the edge, but it is a very close call.

SPORTING AMBIDEXTERITY

The first Dr Grace, WG’s father, was a moderate cricketer, but noted for one peculiarity – although he insisted on batting right handed, he bowled and threw with his left. There are stories of Hanif Mohammad bowling with both hands at club level, and even snagging a wicket left handed. Neil Harvey, a great left handed batter, was right handed for everything other than cricket. I have yet to locate a cricketer who actually had bowling styles with each arm at first class level, but ambidexterity is positively encouraged these days, so it is probably just a matter of time. In other sports golfer Phil Mickelson plays left handed while being right handed everywhere other than the golf course. Snooker legend ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan regularly plays left handed shots in championship matches, and has apparently made entirely left handed century breaks in less exalted settings. Moving back to cricket, the sideways on stance used by almost all batters means that a right handed batter sees the ball mainly with their left eye, while a left handed batter sees it mainly with their right eye (this is why the Nawab of Pataudi junior, aka Mansur Ali Khan, could return to top level cricket after losing his right eye in an accident but Colin Milburn, another attacking right handed batter, could not do so after losing his left.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The statue of slave trader Robert Milligan has recently been removed from its plinth in West India dock in response to public pressure. Now there is a petition for its place to be taken by a memorial honouring writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, which you can sign and share here.
Equiano

APF News Agency have produced this splendid infographic about Britain and the slave trade:

BST

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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Radioactive clocks, from Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth”.
Mixed Chirality
The teams in tabulated form.

 

 

All Time XIs – Left Hand v Right Hand

Today’s ‘all time XI’ cricket post sees a team of left handers take on a team of right handers.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed post. Today we have a team who did everything right handed against a team who did everything left handed, and a guessing game – based on some of my explanations can you work out what tomorrow’s post will be?*

THE LEFT HANDED XI

  1. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter, very occasional left arm wrist spin. Rated by Bradman as the best left handed opener he ever saw. Morris the bowler was in action when Compton hit the four that won the 1953 Ashes.
  2. Sanath Jayasuriya – left handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner.
  4. Martin Donnelly – left handed batter, very occasional left arm orthodox spinner. He averaged 52.90 in his very brief test career, including 206 v England at Lord’s in 1949.
  5. *Allan Border – left handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. The guy who if the first three wickets fall quickly will dig the team out of the hole, while also being capable of playing very aggressively if circumstances warrant. 
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. The most complete all rounder ever to play the game. His 254 for Rest of the World v Australia in the series that replaced the 1971-2 Australia v South Africa series was rated by Bradman as the best innings he ever saw played in Australia.
  7. +Steven Davies – wicket keeper, left handed batter. Once seen as England material he did not quite kick on. He has never bowled a ball of any kind in senior first team cricket.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. An ideal number eight, who meets all the qualification criteria for this XI.
  9. Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast bowler, useful left handed lower order batter. A cricketing version of the ‘little girl with the curl’ – when he was good he was very good indeed, when he was bad (e.g Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in the 2010-11 Ashes) he was awful. Having listened to a number of them I consider his good times to be good enough to warrant his inclusion.
  10. Johnny Wardle – left arm orthodox spinner, left arm wrist spinner, left handed lower order batter. 102 test wickets at 20.39, in spite of often missing out to make way for Tony Lock, and his career ending early due to a fall out with authority.
  11. Fred Morley – left arm fast bowler, left handed genuine number 11 batter. Took his first class wickets at 13 a piece, and his four test appearances netted him 16 wickets at 18.50 (he died at the age of 33, in 1884, hence the brevity of his test career).

This team has an excellent batting line up, and with Wasim Akram, Mitchell Johnson and Fred Morley to bowl fast and Sobers as fourth seamer, plus Wardle, Woolley, Sobers and Jayasuriya as front line spin options the bowling is none too shabby either.

NOT QUALIFIED

Among the specialist batters who did not qualify were Graeme Pollock, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Alastair Cook who all bowled their few deliveries with their right hands. Adam Gilchrist, keeper and left handed batter, bowled only a few balls in his career, but he did so with his right hand, officially described as ‘off spin’. Two of the greatest of left arm orthodox spinners batted right handed, Wilfred Rhodes and Hedley Verity, while the crafty left arm slow medium of Derek Underwood was paired with rather less crafty right handed batting. Left arm fast bowler William Mycroft, who took his first class wickets even more cheaply than Morley, and was a similarly genuine no11, did his batting right handed, and so did not qualify. This little list contains a clue to tomorrow’s post.

RIGHT HANDED XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter, very occasional right arm medium pacer.
  3. *Donald Bradman – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner, captain. The greatest batter of them all, to build on the foundation laid by the greatest of all opening pairs.
  4. George Headley – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. Averaged 60.83 in test cricket, converting 10 of his 15 50+ scores at that level into hundreds.
  5. Walter Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, ace fielder. Averaged 58.45 in test cricket, topping 200 seven times at that level, including twice hitting two in succession – 251 at Sydney and then 200 not out at Melbourne in 1928-9 and 227 and 336 not out in New Zealand on the way home from the 1932-3 Ashes.
  6. WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of varying styles through his career.
  7. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper, very occasional leg spinner. Statistically the greatest of all wicket keeping all rounders, and ticks all the qualifying boxes for this team.
  8. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, useful right handed lower order batter.
  9. Shane Warne – leg spinner, useful right handed lower batter.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. 189 wickets in just 27 test matches, 77 of them in 13 games down under.
  11. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner, right handed tail end batter. 800 wickets in 133 test matches – an average of six per game.

This team contains a super strong top six, a great wicket keeping all rounder and four all time great bowlers. Hammond is not the worst as a fifth bowler, particularly behind that foursome, while Grace is also a genuine all rounder, and even Hobbs might take wickets with his medium pace. Because there have historically been many more pure right handers than pure left handers, people turning out not to be qualified is less of an issue for this team.

THE CONTEST

The Right Handed XI is stronger in batting, but not quite so formidably armed in the bowling department, although still mighty strong. Overall I would expect the right handers to win, but certainly would not entirely rule out the left handers.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced my two teams for today’s contest, set you a guessing game re tomorrow, and now just before signing off I have a couple of superb twitter threads to share:

My usual sign off…

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LH v RH
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – The Literary Clash

Today’s all time XI cricket themed post uses fictional characters for its inspiration. Also featured are #NHSPayRise and #BlackLivesMatter.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another variation on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. Today I pit two XIs whose players share names with characters from fiction against each other.

ROLY JENKINS’ XI

  1. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter. 46 test matches yielded him 3,533 runs at 46.48, and Don Bradman rated him the best left handed opener he ever saw. King Arthur has been fictionalized by many writers, arguably beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth. In primary school I read “Swords and Circles” by Rosemary Sutcliff, and almost equally long ago I first read “The Once and Future King” by TH White, but it is particularly Stephen Lawhead’s “Pendragon” series that I wish to flag up.
  2. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. I have commented on his success in this specific role before. The literary connection is to Alan Breck Stewart, who features in two of Robert Louis Stephenson’s novels.
  3. Jimmy Sinclair – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer. He registered the first test century for South Africa. His literary alter ego is Sabrina Sinclair, the female lead in Magda Josza’s “Sherlock Holmes and the Femmes Fatales”, the sequel to “The Private Diaries of Doctor Watson”.
  4. Eoin Morgan – left handed batter. England’s current One Day International captain. One of Colleen McCullough’s novels is titled “Morgan’s Run”, and the Morgan in question is Eoin’s literary alter ego for this purpose.
  5. Jamie Dalrymple – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. When he first appeared on the first class scene big things were expected of him, but he ended with a respectable rather than genuinely outstanding record. His alter ego is Carola Dunn’s series character Daisy Dalrymple.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. He was already established as one of England’s finest before 2019, but his deeds that year moved him into the category of all time greats. His literary connection is a slightly convoluted one involving Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”. Unlike Tess, who is a direct descendant of the real D’Urbervilles the villain of the story, Alec D’Urberville owes his surname to his grandfather, Simon Stokes, who changed his name by deed poll and purchased a coat of arms to back it up.
  7. *Roly Jenkins – leg spinner, right handed batter. 386 first class matches brought him 10,073 runs at 22.23 and 1,309 wickets at 23.64. His problem with the bat was a failure to convert fifties to hundreds – he reached 50 on 41 occasions, but only once went on to the hundred. He has a part share in a first class record: in a match between Worcestershire and Scotland the county’s keeper Hugo Yarnold accounted for six Scotland second innings wickets in a row – all stumped! Four of those six stumpings were effected off the bowling of Jenkins. His literary namesake is Tilly Jenkins of Mandy Morton’s “No2 Feline Detective Agency” series of novels. Tilly Jenkins is one of the two detectives in said agency, along with Hetty Bagshaw.
  8. +Godfrey Evans – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He played 95 test matches, scoring 2,439 runs at 20.49, taking 173 catches and making 46 stumpings. While in his 465 first class appearances he scored 14,882 runs at 21.22, took 816 catches and made 250 stumpings. Bradman named him as England wicket keeper in “Bradman’s Best Ashes Teams”. His literary alter ego is ‘Killer’ Evans, villain in “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs”, one of the stories that appears in the collection “The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes”, the fifth and last book of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short stories.
  9. Percy Jeeves – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. 50 first class matches brought him 1,204 runs at 16.05 and 199 wickets at 20.03. He took 12 five wicket hauls, with a best of 7-34, and achieved one ten wicket match. He is not merely a namesake of famous fictional character, his performance for Warwickshire v Gloucetsreshire at Cheltenham, witnessed by PG Wodehouse, actually inspired the naming of Jeeves the valet.
  10. Edwin Tyler – left arm orthodox spinner. A one-cap wonder for England, against South Africa at Cape Town in 1896 – he took four wickets at 16.25 in that sole international appearance. His 185 first class appearances brought him 895 wickets at 22.09, with 77 five wicket innings hauls and 22 10 wicket matches. His best innings figures were 10-49, the first all-ten by a Somerset bowler. He gets in on a childhood memory – at primary school one of the books I read was Gene Kemp’s “The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler”.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 138 first class appearances yielded him 863 wickets at 12.09, with 87 five wicket innings hauls and 28 10 wicket matches. His namesake is of course Mycroft Holmes, elder brother of Sherlock, who appears twice in the original Holmes stories, with a mention in a third (“The Greek Interpreter”, “The Bruce-Partington Plans”, and a walk on role in “The Final Problem”) and many times in pastiche/ new Holmes stories by other authors.

This team has a respectable batting order, and a strong bowling line up, with Mycroft and Jeeves likely to share the new ball, Stokes third seamer, Jenkins and Tyler as front line spinners and Dalrymple as sixth bowler.

PETER MAY’S XI

  1. Bobby Abel– right handed opening batter. 13 test match appearances yielded him 744 runs at 37.20, with two centuries and a best of 132 not out. In all first class cricket he scored 33,128 runs at 35.46, with 74 centuries, including the Surrey individual record 357 not out. His literary namesake is Abel Whittle who appears in Thomas Hardy’s “The Mayor of Casterbridge.”
  2. Vince Wells – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. He once scored three double centuries in the same season for Leicestershire, but typically his England call up did not occur during this purple patch, but a little later in his career. He ended with 9,314 first class runs at 32.79 and 302 wickets at 26.22. He owes his place here to being a namesake of Daisy Wells, president of the Wells & Wong Detective Society from Robin Stevens’ “Murder Most Unladlylike” series.
  3. *Peter May – right handed batter, captain. In a difficult decade for batting, the 1950s, he averaged 46.77 in test cricket, captaining his country 41 times along the way. His literary namesake is John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, the May of Christopher Fowler’s “Bryant and May” series of novels. Another May, John’s grand-daughter April, also appears in those books.
  4. Willie Watson – left handed batter. The only person to have played in a football world cup and for England in test cricket. His most famous innings was his five and three quarter hour century at Lord’s in 1953 which helped England to a draw, the full value of which was brought home at The Oval in the final match of the series when England’s victory secured them the Ashes for the first time since surrendering them in 1934. In his 468 first class matches he scored 25,670 runs at 39.86 with a best of 257. He is of course namesake of Dr John H Watson, narrator of the original Holmes stories.
  5. Toby Colbeck – right handed batter. He played 32 first class matches between 1905 and 1913-4, in which he scored 1,368 runs at 24.87, with three centuries, and a best of 175 not out. I would not normally select someone with a record of this nature, even given the allowances that can be made for him, but I was willing to stretch a point to be able to include a namesake of Inspector Robert Colbeck, aka The Railway Detective, star of a series of novels by Edward Marston. I have given these books coverage elsewhere on this blog (here, here and here).
  6. Vic Wilson – left handed batter, brilliant close fielder. 502 first class matches brought him 21,650 runs at 31.33 and also 549 catches in the field. He was the first professional to be officially appointed as captain of Yorkshire. His literary alter ego is Daniel Wilson, one of the two stars of Jim Eldridge’s ‘Museums’ series of murder mysteries (“Murder at the Fitzwilliam Museum”, “Murder at the Ashmolean”, “Murder at the British Museum”, and one that I have yet to read, ‘Murder at the Manchester Museum’) – the other being Abigail Fenton.
  7. +Jock Cameron – wicket keeper, right handed batter. 26 test appearances brought him 1,239 runs at 30.21, with 39 catches and 12 stumpings. In all first class cricket he made 107 appearances, scoring 5,396 runs at 37.47, and took 155 catches and made 69 stumpings. He once took 30 in an over from the great Hedley Verity, an onslaught that got the bowler some ‘Yorkshire brand sympathy’ from keeper Arthur Wood “tha’s got ‘im in two minds Hedley, he doan’t know whether t’hit thee for fower or six.” His position in this line up is by way of a nod to Cassandra ‘CJ’ Cameron, hero of Matthew Reilly’s “The Great Zoo of China”, with an acknowledgement also to the journalistic couple Pete and Alison Cameron in “Ice Station” by the same author.
  8. Johnnie Clay – off spinner, useful lower order batter. He played for Glamorgan when they were promoted to first class status in 1921, and was still in the team when they won their first county championship in 1948! He played 373 first class matches, taking 1,317 wickets at 19.76 each with 105 five wicket innings hauls and 28 10 wicket matches, and scored 7,186 runs at 15.45, with two first class hundreds. His literary analogue is John Clay, villain of “The Red Headed League”, who also appears in “Sherlock Holmes and the Femmes Fatales” as partner of Sabrina Sinclair’s sister, in Hugh Ashton’s novel “The Darlington Substitution”, and also one of Ashton’s collections of short stories, presented as an autobiography.
  9. Frank Holmes Tyson – right arm fast bowler. A meteor who blazed through the cricketing skies in the 1950s, he played 17 test matches, taking 76 wickets at 18.56 and being the star of the 1954-5 Ashes, and also scoring 230 runs at 10.95. He played 244 first class matches in all, taking 767 wickets at 20.89 and scoring 4,103 runs at 17.09. I have given his full name including middle name, because of course it is that middle name of Holmes that gets him in here.
  10. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler. A magnificent servant of Barbados, Somerset and the West Indies down the years. 58 test match appearances saw him capture 259 wickets at 20.97 and score 672 runs at 12.44. His total first class record was 214 matches, 881 wickets at 18.53 and 2,964 runs at 16.74. His literary namesake is Paul D Garner, from Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”.
  11. Shannon Gabriel – right arm fast bowler. 45 test matches have yielded him 133 wickets at 30.63, with a best of 8-62. In all first class cricket he has played 103 matches, taking 289 wickets at 29.67. His literary alter ego is Gabriel Oak, the shepherd in Thomas Hardy’s “Far From The Madding Crowd”

This team has a strong top four, Colbeck at five, Wilson a respectable six, a keeper who can really bat and four fine bowlers. There is a shortage of spin options, with only Clay available in that department, but Tyson, Garner and Gabriel look a fearsome trio of quick bowlers (I suggest Tyson and Garner with the new ball, Gabriel on when Tyson needs a breather).

THE CONTEST

Both squads have strengths and weaknesses. I think that the presence of the genuine all rounder in Ben Stokes just tips the odds in favour Roly Jenkins’ XI but I would expect it to be close.

NHS POSTER COURTESY OF 38 DEGREES

A little while back I signed up to get a free poster from 38 degrees calling for NHS workers to be given a pay rise, and it arrived in today’s post and is now on display in my front window. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been through a very serious illness, and my experiences then have served only to underline the extent to which I value our NHS (see the posts you find following this link), and it is long past time they received a pay rise. Their efforts during this pandemic have been amazing.

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The window I chose, the most prominent I have.
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A close up of the poster.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Maureen Fitzsimmons has produced an excellent twitter thread on what the #BlackLivesMatter protests have accomplished thus far, the beginning of which is screenshotted below – click to view full thread:

Fitzsimmons

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Literary Clash
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Anti-racism XI

Today for my all-time XI cricket themed post I present a team of players whose names provide links to those who have fought against racism.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s installment in my ‘all time XI‘ cricket series. Today we have a single XI rather than a match up, and our focus is on anti-racism. I have selected an XI of players who share names with important figures who have fought against various manifestations of racism. There is one player in this XI who doubles up as a campaigner.

THE ANTI-RACISM XI

  1. Jack Brown – right handed opening batter. A great player for Yorkshire and England in his day. He is a namesake of John Brown, a legendary name among the abolitionists who fought against slavery in the US.
  2. Glenn Turner – right handed opening batter. The only Kiwi to have scored a hundred first class hundreds. His namesake for the purposes of this XI is Nat Turner, an ex-slave who was involved in an insurrection, and who wrote an autobiography in which he gave an account of this and other doings of his.
  3. *Clive Lloyd – left handed batter, captain. Scorer of 7,515 runs in 110 tests, and the man responsible for the four pronged pace attacks that took the West Indies to the top of the world game and kept them there for almost 20 years. I have got him in by linking to William Lloyd Garrison, another legend of the abolitionists.
  4. Robin Smith – right handed batter. Averaged 43 in test cricket, and it was only that low because Shane Warne gave him a horrible time in 1993. His namesake is Ruby Doris Smith, who got arrested at an anti-segregationist sit in as a teenager, and went on to become one of the leading figures on the Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee, which organized such protests in the 1960s.
  5. Ashwell Prince – left handed batter, occaional off spinner. Averaged 41 in test cricket. His analogue is Mary Prince, author of a particularly graphic slave narrative, and the first woman ever to present a petition to parliament.
  6. +Jim Parks – wicket keeper, right handed batter. An England cricketer in his time, although by no means a regular. He took 1,087 first class catches and made 94 stumpings at that level. His namesake is of course Rosa Parks who refused to sit at the back of the bus, and triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
  7. Franklyn Stephenson – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. One of only two cricketers (the other being Sir Richard Hadlee) to have done the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in an English first class season since the reduction of first class games to accommodate the John Player League in 1969 (anyone achieving it in a 14 game season as we have had for the last few years would achieve a feat that is in truth comparable to George Hirst’s ‘double double’ of 1906). His namesake is Paul Stephenson, an anti-racist campaigner who is being suggested as a replacement for Edward Colston on the now vacant plinth from which the statue of that slave trader was removed by #BlackLivesMatter protesters. The petition is here.
  8. Bart King – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. The greatest of all USian cricketers, a pioneer of swing bowling whose 415 first class wickets cost just 15 a piece. His namesake is Martin Luther King.
  9. Palwankar Baloo – left arm orthodox spinner. Just 33 first class matches, in which he took 179 wickets at 15.21 each. He was a member of a low caste, and he was one of three members of his caste who negotiated the pact that ended Gandhi’s fast against separate electorates for members of depressed castes.
  10. Cameron Cuffy – right arm fast bowler. His career suffered because the West Indies were still very strong in fast bowling when he was in his prime. He only got an extended run at the highest level when already past his best. I admit to a small cheat here – his namesake is actually the black Chartist leader William Cuffay.
  11. Devon Malcolm – right arm fast bowler. England’s fastest bowler of the 1990s, with his career highlight that 9-57 against South Africa at The Oval. He was one of many among his generation to be adversely affected by Ray Illingworth’s tenure os supremo of English cricket (the idea was a sensible one, and had been advocated by CB Fry many years previously, but the person chosen for the role was catastrophically wrong, a mistake which destroyed a number of careers and hindered others). His namesake is Malcolm X.

This team has a good top five, a keeper batter, an allrounder and four fine bowlers. The bowling is heavy on pace and light on spin, but nevertheless this side should be able to give a good account of itself.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few links before I bring this little post to a conclusion…

Finally, just a few pictures…

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AR
The players and their analogues in tabulated form.

 

All Time XIs – England

Today is international day in my ‘all-time XIs’ cricket series, and it is England in the spotlight. I also have a mini-section offering solidarity to #BlackLivesMatter.

INTRODUCTION

Today is a Monday, which means that it is international day in my ‘all time XIs’ cricket series. The international set up in the spotlight today is England.

ENGLAND IN MY TIME

  1. Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter. England’s all time leading scorer of test runs and test centuries.
  2. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. His average for England in this specific role (he played many roles in his long and distinguished career) was 45, excellent for his era. I have opted for him out of my available options because as a right hander of fundamentally attacking inclinations he complements Cook perfectly.
  3. *Michael Vaughan – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, captain. The captaincy did somewhat negatively affect his batting output, as it has done a lot of incumbents, but he was such a good captain that I am prepared to accept that.
  4. Joe Root – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. A magnificent batter, but wasted as captain, a role which is negatively affecting his output.
  5. David Gower – left handed batter. There were two choices for the left handed specialist middle order batter, Gower or Graham Thorpe, and I opted for Gower.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Ian Botham’s pomp occurred before I had got seriously into cricket, so I could not honestly include him in this XI, which left me two choices for the all-rounder, Flintoff or Stokes, and I regarded Stokes as the better option.
  7. +Matthew Prior – right handed batter, wicket keeper. This is a thorny one, which I shall be going into more detail on later on. Suffice to say for the present that this is not a selection I am entirely happy with.
  8. Graeme Swann – off spinner, useful lower order batter. The best spinner England have had in my lifetime (although the future in that department looks bright).
  9. Jofra Archer – right arm fast bowler. One of the most exciting talents I have ever seen.
  10. Steve Harmison – right arm fast bowler. Rated number one in the world at his absolute peak.
  11. James Anderson – right arm fast medium. England’s all time leading test wicket taker.

This team has a decent balance, although there is only one genuine spin option – until very recently England struggled in that department. The batting in strong, and Stokes’ bowling workload should be kept reasonably light with Harmison, Archer, Anderson and Swann also there.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I will split these into playing roles:

  • Opening batters – besides my actual choices there were three outstanding candidates for the positions, Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Strauss and Graham Gooch.
  • Nos 3-5 – the main candidates among those I did not pick were Graham Thorpe, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen. I expect Ollie Pope to force his way in in the next few years.
  • The all-rounder – Flintoff was the only other serious candidate. I saw many ‘all rounders’ who were in truth not up to the job with either bat or ball.
  • The wicketkeeper – Ben Foakes should be England’s current keeper, and if he was he would have been in this team. Jack Russell was a fine keeper who was poorly treated by the selectors of his day. I also considered registering my unhappiness with the behaviour of the current England selectors over the keeping position by naming Sarah Taylor, a magnificent keeper for the England Women’s team.
  • Spinners – None of slow left armers Tufnell, Panesar, Giles or as yet Leach have a record to quite merit selection, nor does leg spinner Rashid. There are various young spinners who may feature in a few years time.
  • Fast bowlers. Mark Wood was in the mix and might have displaced Harmison. Simon Jones was another to merit consideration.

ENGLAND ALL TIME

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter. Among the greatest ever to have played the game.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. Averaged 60.73 in test cricket, and 66.85 in the cauldron of The Ashes. Also formed the greatest opening partnership ever seen in test cricket with Hobbs (average stand 87).
  3. *WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of various types through his career, captain. His test average of 32.29 looks modest, but was achieved between 1880 and 1899, when batting averages were lower, and he was already 32 by the time he made his debut in the first test on English soil in 1880. His record as test captain was excellent – eight wins in 13 matches in that role, another reason for his selection. He usually opened, and I see value in having three recognized openers at the top of the order.
  4. Wally Hammond – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium fast bowler. 85 test matches, 7,249 runs at 58.45. Had he not returned to top level action after World War II, when into his forties, he would have had 6,883 test runs at 61.75.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed batter, occasional left arm wrist spinner. He averaged over 50 in test cricket in spite of losing six years of his prime to World War II.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler.
  7. Ian Botham – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. For about the first five years of his career he was an authentic great, and he still had great moments after that for a few more years, although he went on long after his decline had become obvious. He completed the test career double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in 21 matches, 2,000 runs and 200 wickets in 42, maintaining the pace, and then slowed down, reaching the triple double in his 72nd test, while by the end of his career after another 30 matches he had over 5,000 runs, but was still short of 400 wickets.
  8. Billy Bates – off spinner, useful lower order batter. An eye injury ended his test career after just 15 matches, but 656 runs at 27.33 and 50 wickets at 16.42 were testament to his effectiveness. He was the first England bowler to take a test hat trick, in a match in which he took seven wickets in each innings and scored a 50.
  9. Fred Trueman – right arm fast bowler.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. 189 wickets in 27 test matches at 16.43 each. 77 of those wickets came in 13 matches in Australia.
  11. +Herbert Strudwick – wicket keeper. His career was disrupted by World War 1. 28 test matches between 1910 and 1926 saw him take 61 catches and execute 12 stumpings, while his 674 first class appearances saw him achieve 1,495 dismissals.

This team has a very strong top five, two magnificent all rounders at six and seven, a superb keeper and three excellent and varied bowlers. Although he would have share the new ball with Trueman, there is an argument for regarding Barnes, based on descriptions of his method as effectively a leg spinner, which is why I did not select a second front line spinner (Compton is also available as back up).

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

It is impossible to cover everyone who would have claims advanced on their behalf, but I shall mention some of the more obvious omissions:

  • Opening batters – I had positive reasons, based on their records, and their amazing success as an opening pair for going for Hobbs and Sutcliffe, and the only other England opener for whom I would consider breaking this pair up is Len Hutton, who was also an all-time great.
  • Nos 3-5 – Eddie Paynter (test average 59.23), Ken Barrington (58.67) and KS Duleepsinhji (58.52) had the highest averages of anyone I omitted, and Paynter in particular as a left handed batter was unfortunate. Peter May who averaged 46 batting in a difficult decade for run scoring (the 1950s) would also have his advocates. Frank Woolley, Patsy Hendren, Phil Mead and KS Rinjitsinhji all also had fine test records, while Colin Cowdrey’s longevity at the highest level was remarkable, and Ted Dexter would also have his advocates.
  • The all-rounders – Andrew Flintoff had a a few magnificent years (2004, 2005, first part of 2006) and had occasional moments either side of that golden period, but cannot displace Botham on any rational assessment. George Hirst, Trevor Bailey and Tony Greig all did good things for England over the years without having records to merit serious consideration.
  • Keepers – England have had some excellent ones, including the three contrasting Kent characters Ames, Evans and Knott, Bob Taylor and JT Murray.
  • Spinners – Jim Laker would have been the conventional selection as an off spinner, There have been a plethora of quality left arm spinners down the years: Johnny Briggs, Bobby Peel, Wilfred Rhodes, Colin Blythe, Roy Kilner, Hedley Verity, Johnny Wardle, Tony Lock and Phil Edmonds of the conventional type, plus the left arm slow-medium of Derek Underwood. Also three bowlers of that type who barely believable given their first class records have a single cap between them: George Dennett, Alonzo Drake and Charlie Parker. There have been fewer leg spinners with really good England records, but Tich Freeman, Ian Peebles and Doug Wright might all have their advocates.
  • Pace bowlers – too many of these to name. I am aware that I have not selected a left arm quick, and the best options in that department among those who got to play for England would be Fred Morley, Frank Foster or Bill Voce, while William Mycroft was at his peak just too early (he took his wickets at 12.09 each in first class cricket).

If naming another five players to make up a standard sized touring party I would choose Paynter and Woolley as reserve batters, Ames officially as reserve keeper, noting that he could also be played as a batter, and noting Woolley’s skill as an left arm orthodox spinner, Lohmann (right arm medium fast, 112 wickets at 10.75 in 18 test matches) and Underwood as my reserve bowlers.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

This links section is to declare my solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and especially to support the activists who toppled the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

Had Covid-19 not caused a change of plan for them, soprano Charlotte Hoather and her fiancee, pianist George Todica would have been married this weekend. Instead they settled for giving a wonderful concert from their balcony, posted by Charlotte on her blog yesterday.

Finally it is time for my usual sign off…

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This picture, and the next five after it are of a little bird that I spotted for the first time yesterday and captured on camera. My bird book does not offer a conclusive answer, so I post it here to invite comment.

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England
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Music and Military

Today’s ‘all time XI’ cricket post sees two topics beginning with M, music and military, as the themes for our XIs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another installment of my ‘all time XI‘ cricket series. Today we have an XI of players with names that connect to music and an XI with names that connect to military matters.

THE MUSIC XI

  1. *Andrew Strauss – left handed opening batter, captain. The man who captained England to the top of the test world, and who have a very respectable test average. There have been a phalanx of composers named Strauss – Johann I, Johann II, Joseph, Richard etc. Here is a youtube video of Johann Strauss II’s “Blue Danube Waltz”:
  2. Dean Elgar – left handed opening batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. Has a fine record for South Africa, though just short of being genuinely top drawer. He gets in here thanks to Sir Edward Elgar. Since openers represent the overture to the innings, here is a youtube video of Elgar’s “Cockaigne Overture”:
  3. Bob Barber – left handed batter, occasional leg spinner. An attacking batter whose greatest innings was played when opening the batting for England in the 1965-6 Ashes – 185 to set up an innings victory. Samuel Barber was a USian composer, best known for his “Adagio for Strings”:
  4. Michael Clarke – right handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner. Averaged 49 in his test career, in spite of a truly horrible series in the 2010-1 Ashes. Jeremiah Clarke was a composer, chiefly known for his “Trumpet Voluntary”:
  5. Walter Gilbert – right handed batter, right arm slow bowler. A cousin of WG Grace whose career ended in sad circumstances. He played a peripheral role in bringing about the first test match to be played on English soil – he and GF Grace strengthened many of the sides against whom the 1880 Aussies, who had arrived under a major cloud, played against, and were impressed by their strength, which they communicated to WG, who was eventually able to persuade the right people that a test match should be arranged. He gets is as name sake to WS Gilbert, the Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan.
  6. Felix Organ – right handed batter, off spinner. A very promising youngster, having already scored a century and taken a five for in the course of his fledgling career. He averages 26 with the bat and 15 the ball at the present moment, but his five-for does account for more than half of his tally of first class wickets.
  7. +Keith Piper – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Part of Dermot Reeve’s Warwickshire side that had a brilliant period in the mid 1990s. There are various musical instruments that include the name pipes, and one who plays the pipes is a piper, as in “who pays the piper, calls the tune.”
  8. Jason ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie – right arm fast bowler. The original Dizzy Gillespie was a famous jazz musician:
  9. Trent Boult – left arm fast medium bowler. Sir Adrian Boult was a famous conductor.
  10. Neil Wagner – left arm fast medium bowler. Very different to Boult in approach. He is here as analogue to Richard Wagner, a great composer. Here is a youtube video of “The Ride of The Valkyries”:
  11. Charlie Parker – left arm orthodox spinner. The third leading wicket taker in first class history, with 3,278 scalps at that level. The other Charlie Parker was a jazz musician. Here, again from youtube, is “Ornithology”:

This team has a solid top four, two all rounders, an excellent keeper and four very respectable bowler. Gillespie, Boult, Wagner and Parker backed by Gilbert and Organ, with Barber’s leg spin also available make for a decent and very balanced attack.

THE MILITARY XI

  1. *Pelham Warner – right handed opening batter, captain. He earned the nickname ‘the general’ because by the time he became captain of Middlesex he had led England on several successful campaigns, including the 1903-4 Ashes.
  2. Harry Lee – right handed opening batter. A regular opening partner of Warner at Middlesex. He was once the victim in a very quirky scorebook line, when Middlesex played Somerset – his brother Frank took the catch that dismissed him off the bowling of his other brother Jack. His analogue is General Lee.
  3. Stan McCabe – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. Nicknamed ‘Napper’, which derived from Napoleon.
  4. Julius Caesar – right handed batter, occasional fast bowler. Appropriately given his name he was inclined to the aggressive approach. His playing days were before the era of test cricket, but he did tour Australia in 1863-4. His military namesake can be read about here.
  5. Paul Collingwood – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler. His approach to batting earned him the nickname “Brigadier Block”.
  6. Stanley Jackson – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. Hero of the 1905 Ashes, when as England captain he won all five tosses, led England to victory in both the matches that reached a conclusion and topped both the batting and bowling averages. Although it is as a namesake of general ‘Stonewall’ Jackson that I have picked him he also won a DSO in the Boer War.
  7. +Phil Mustard – wicket keeper, left handed batter. Due to his surname and the game Cluedo he was nicknamed ‘Colonel’.
  8. Xenophon Constantine Balaskas – leg spinner, right handed batter. The original Xenophon served as a mercenary soldier, while the most famous Constantine became Roman Emperor after winning the battle of the Mulvian Bridge.
  9. Paul Franks – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. Referred to as ‘the general’ because of US general Tommy Franks.
  10. Amanda-Jade Wellington – leg spinner. Yes, on this occasion we have a Napoleon – ‘Napper’ McCabe – and a Wellington on the same side!
  11. Neil Hawke – right arm medium fast bowler. Played for Australia in the 1960s, and had a decent record. His analogue is Admiral Hawke who won the naval battle of Quiberon Bay. His direct descendant, Martin Bladen seventh Baron Hawke, captained Yorkshire for many years, but his playing record did not justify inclusion.

This side has a respectable top five, an all rounder in Jackson, a keeper who could bat and four varied bowlers. There is a lack of genuine pace, and also both front line spinners are leg spinners, but the bowling attack is perfectly respectable.

THE CONTEST

I have to say that, notwithstanding managing to accommodate references to Napoleon and Wellington in the same side for that purpose, the music themed side looks the stronger and I would expect them to win the contest for the ‘John Philip Sousa Trophy’ (he was a composer of military music).

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) have produced an official response to Jonathan Reynolds’ (supposedly ‘Labour’) comments on welfare reform. Please click on the screenshot below to see it in full:

DPAC

Now we are ready for my usual sign off…

RS

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MM
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Graeme v John

Today’s voyage through ‘all time XI’ cricket territory features a team of players with forename Graham or Graeme take on a feature of players with forename John for the ‘Bretton Trophy’.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s exploration of ‘all time XI‘ cricket territory focusses on forenames. An XI all of whom have the forename Graeme or Graham take on an XI who all have the forename John.

THE GRAEME/GRAHAM XI

  1. Graeme Fowler – left handed opening batter, occasional medium pace bowler, occasional wicket keeper. His highest first class score came in a test match, 201 vs India in India. His most remarkable first class batting performance came against Lancashire at Southport in1982. He made 128 in the first innings and 126 not out in the second, as Lancashire, after seeing their opponents make 523-4 declared on the first day won by ten wickets. Fowler was injured early in his first innings, and batted for the rest of that innings with David Lloyd as his runner. In the second innings Ian Folley took over as runner, while Lloyd reverted to his main role as opening partner to Fowler. At the end of this match Fowler had eight first class hundreds to his credit and four of them had come at the expense of Warwickshire. He was dropped by England at the start of the 1985 season to make way for Gooch, returning from his three year international ban for going on the first rebel tour of apartheid South Africa. Then, with England winning the Ashes in 1985 the incumbents Gooch and Tim Robinson who had made a remarkable start to his test career were selected for the trip to the West Indies, with Wilf Slack of Middlesex chosen as reserve opener and Fowler ignored. Robinson failed badly on that tour, but there was to be no international return for Fowler.
  2. Graham Gooch – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. He was a little fortunate to be brought straight back into the team after his ban for going to South Africa, and he then missed the 1986-7 Ashes, when Chris Broad and Bill Athey opened for England. He had a good series against the West Indies in 1988, but then some crass comments of his played their own role in the cancellation of the planned 1988-9 tour to India, and in 1989 against Australia he fared poorly, at one point in the series actually asking to be dropped. The 1989-90 tour of the Caribbean saw England fare respectably, winning one test and being denied victory in another only by scandalous time wasting tactics. However, it was the 1990 home season against New Zealand and India that saw Gooch, then 37 years of age, really come to the fore as an international batter. At Headingley in 1991 he played one of the finest of all test innings, and as late as 1994 at the age of 41 he hit a double century against New Zealand, but the Ashes tour of that winter was as he would subsequently admit a tour too far, and his test career ended with 8.900 runs at 42.38.
  3. Graeme Smith – left handed batter. An unattractive player to watch but his record speaks for itself.
  4. Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. He averaged 60.97 in test cricket before his country’s isolation for political reasons ended his career. He was due to play in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, but fears of that being used as a stalking horse for the readmission of apartheid South Africa led to a ruling that only South Africans who played county cricket could participate. Besides Pollock a leg spinner named Denys Hobson missed out because he too was not a county cricketer.
  5. Graham Thorpe – left handed batter, occasional medium pace bowler. He made his debut in the Trent Brisge test of 1993, scoring 114 in the second innings, but not getting to savour a victory first time out as skipper Gooch delayed the declaration too long and Australia had no great difficulty securing a draw. His England career ended in 2005, when the selectors decided to go with Pietersen and Ian Bell for that year’s Ashes (for my money they made two mistakes in the early part of that season – Pietersen should have played in the tests against Bangladesh at the start of it, and Bell should have been left out – he fared well against Bangladesh but was unconvincing against Australia.
  6. Graham Dowling – right handed batter. He averaged 31 in test cricket for New Zealand, similar to the average recorded by Graeme Hick for England. The highlight of his test career was an innings of 239.
  7. +Graham Kersey – wicket keeper, right handed batter. His death following a  car accident at the age of 25 ended a career that had shown huge promise – in 59 matches at first class level he made 193 dismissals (181 catches and 12 stumpings) and had produced a few significant batting performances as well.
  8. *Graeme Swann – off spinner, useful lower order bat. England’s best off spinner of my life time.
  9. Graham McKenzie – right arm fast medium bowler. At the end of his career he had the most wickets ever by an Australian pace bowler (246), though he was overhauled by Dennis Lillee not many years later. On an Old Trafford pitch in 1964 which yielded 1,271 runs for 18 wickets over five days he had bowling figures of 7-153 in England’s 611.
  10. Graham Dilley – right arm fast medium bowler. His career was ravaged by injuries, and he also suffered from the sometimes bizarre approach of England selectors in those days. His test career ended when he signed up for what turned out to be the last of the rebel tours of apartheid South Africa in 1989, and he took his wickets at the highest level at only just under 30, while at first class level he paid 26 a time. It was him joining Botham, with the score reading 135-7 in the England second innings and 92 still needed to avoid the innings defeat that started the incredible turnaround at Headingley in 1981 – he contributed 56 to a stand of 117 in 80 minutes, which inspired Old to contribute a further 29 to a stand of 67, and finally Willis resisted gamely will Botham continued to lash out. In the final innings Dilley showed a cool head and excellent judgement to remain within the fine leg boundary while catching Rod Marsh’s skied hook, a moment that left Australia 74-7. Had Dilley misjudged and slipped over the rope it would have been 80-6 instead.
  11. Graham Onions – he was first noted because of his combination with his county wicket keeper, Phil Mustard, which led to a significant number of C Mustard B Onions entries on scoresheetts. While never a star at the very highest level he did not ever let England down either. He himself would not quarrel with his position at no11, but would justly point out that he did help to save two successive test matches withe bat.

This team is strong in batting, has an excellent wicket keeper, but the bowling attack is neither absolutely top line nor fully balanced. Still they would not be pushovers for anyone.

THE JOHN/JACK XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter. ‘The Master’ is a fine start to any batting order.
  2. Jack Robertson – right handed opening batter. His 11 test appearances between 1946 and 1951 saw him average 46 at that level. Bizarrely he was not chosen for either the 1946-7 or the 1950-1 Ashes tours, even though one of England’s chief weaknesses on both tours concerned the top of the order.
  3. Johnny Tyldesley – right handed batter. His test highlight was 138 at Edgbaston in 1902. He was a regular part of the Lancashire line up from 1895 until the outbreak of World War I and made further sporadic appearances over the course of four years after that war ended. He was once involved in a famous exchange with Lancashire opener and captain Archie MacLaren. The pair of them were batting against Frank Laver who discovered a way to bowl a really vicious late swinger, and they initially played him with great caution. After a few overs MacLaren summoned Tyldesley for a mdiwicket conference. MacLaren said “Johnny, I’m going to drive this chap Laver” to which Tyldesley responded “You’ll of course do as you think best, Mr MacLaren, but I am going to cut him.”
  4. John Small – Right handed batter. He was one of the greats of Hambledon. He once batted through an innings lasting three whole days of play. He was also indirectly responsible for a major change to the game – on one occasion Edward ‘Lumpy’ Stevcns, rated no2 to David Harris among bowlers of that era beat him three times in an innings with balls the passed between the wicket, which at that time comprised two stumps and a single crosspiece linking them. Stevens’ misfortune was noted, and the arrangement of three stumps set sufficiently close together that a ball could not pass through with two bails on top was introduced. Since then top level matches have not seen any repeats of Stevens’ misfortune, but one HS Dawe of Thistleton took all of his opponents wickets but had his analysis slightly spoiled by two deliveries passing between the stumps. What happened? The umpires had used an old (and as it transpired) swollen ball to measure the distance between the stumps!
  5. John Richard Reid – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. One of New Zealand’s greatest ever.
  6. *Johnny Douglas – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. His initials, JWHT (for John William Henry Tyler), and his approach to batting saw Aussie spectators dub him “Johnny Won’t Hit Today”, with a few even suggesting that “Johnny Won’t Even Hit Tomorrow”. He was an effective user of the new ball, although giving it to himself in preference to SF Barnes in the first test of the 1911-2 Ashes was misconceived – a fact which Douglas eventually acknowledged, and he restored the new ball to Barnes for the rest of the series, which England won 4-1. He was sometimes temperamental in the field. On one occasion the Essex slips were being more than usually generous towards opposition batters, and eventually second slip muffed one sitter too many, and turning to chase the ball he found himself being overtaken by his skipper, who was shouting “don’t worry, I’ll fetch the bl***y thing myself.”
  7. +John Murray – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Eratosthenes, Librarian of Akexandria at a time when that was THE plum academic posting was once dubbed ‘Beta’ by a rival, after the second letter of the Greek alphabet on the grounds the he was “second best in the world at everything.” In a sense, Murray was the ‘Beta’ of wicket keepers  – second to Bob Taylor in career dismissals, and the second of only two (the other being Les Ames who achieved the feat three times) to manage the wicket keeper’s season double of 1,000 runs and 100 dismissals.
  8. John Emburey – off spinner, useful unorthodox lower order batter.  He was in his prime in an era that was not friendly to any kind of spin bowling, and was often required by his captains to bowl in a purely defensive capacity, keeping things tight while the quicker bowlers got thier breath back. This means that his record looks very ordinary by comparison with many of his forebears among conventional off spinners, but until the 1992-3 tour of India when he encountered batters who regularly dealt with quality spinners even in club cricket and was simply not allowed to bowl in his preferred style he was rarely collared. He visited Australia twice, in 1978-9 and 1986-7, and England won both series quite comfortably (the 1986-7 scoreline looks close, but England;s loss was in the final match of the series, when they took on a run chase that they would have eschewed had the series been live.
  9. Jack Walsh – left arm wrist spinner. An excellent counter part to the very orthodox off spin fo Emburey, the Leicestershire based Aussie was a huge spinner of the ball, regular taking huge bags of wickets in the county championship.
  10. John Wisden – right arm fast bowler. I opted for him in preference to that other Sussex speedster John Snow. His most famous bowling performance was all ten wickets in an innings, all clean bowled. On a tour of North America he once took six wickets with successive balls in a two day match.
  11. Jack Ferris – left arm medium fast bowler. One of the finest of Australia’s early bowlers.

This team has a fine top four, two genuine all rounders, a splendid keeper and four excellent and varied bowlers, three of whom could make useful contributions with the bat.

THE CONTEST

The contest for what I shall dub the ‘Bretton Trophy’ (from Charlotte Bronte’sVillette“, honouring the character John Graham Bretton, who we meet first as ‘Graham’ and then as ‘Dr John’) should be a good one. The Graene/Graham team are stronger in batting, but as against that the John/Jack (and all my chosen Jacks were actually registered as John at birth, but later referred to as Jack) team have greater strength, depth and variety in bowling, and therefore I would expect them to emerge victorious in the end.

A CRICKET VIDEO

My thanks to the pinch hitter for putting me on to video footage of Murali’s destruction of England at The Oval in 1998:

POLITICAL UPDATE

The Cummings/ Johnson scandal continues to rumble on, with the number of Tory MPs now being openly critical of Cummings into the 60s. Durham Police have confirmed what most of us already knew, namely that Cummings’ activities did constitute a breach of lockdown. My second message to my own MP, former Johnson advisor James Wild, remains, as does the first, unresponded to. If this is still the case come tomorrow morning then a third message from me will be hitting his inbox. This has gone beyond the political scandal it has been since Cummings’ activities were revealed and is now a public health scandal, as in spite of such being necessary to anyone with eyes to see, no government with Cummings still involved can claim the moral authority to enforce a lockdown. I recognize that I am fortunate in two regards, in that my home small as it is is all mine – it is not shared with anyone, and it does have a small garden, which means that although it is still two weeks before my shielding period expires I am at least able to get out in the open air, but it is still thoroughly annoying to see senior Tories effectively declaring that normal rules do not apply to them and their mates, while I have not been further afield than my little bit of garden since mid March.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Yesterday’s post included the following from brilliant.org:

The blue area is three quarters of a square, which thus has area (48 x 4)/3 = 64. The orange area has area 64 less the overlapping portion of the green square. The green square has dimensions precisely half that of the blue and orange squares, i.e 4X4, making its area 16, and the overlap is one quarter of that = 4, so the orange region has a total area of 64 -4 = 60.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Having introduced today’s teams and explained the contest, produced a quick update on the political situation and solved yesterday’s teaser it is time for my usual sign off:

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Graeme v John
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Good vs Bad

Today we have a topical battle between good and bad as the Ardern XI, containing some of the more prominent good folk of cricket, takes on the Cummings XI featuring 11 from the dark side of cricket.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s variation on the all-time XI maintains the link with the scandal convulsing British politics at the moment, as a team of cricket’s more prominent good people, named in honour of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern takes on a team drawn from the dark side of cricket, which as punishment for their collective misdeeds bears the name of the 21st century Rasputin.

THE CUMMINGS XI

  1. David Warner – left handed opening batter. One of the two members of the sandpaper trio to be included in this team (the third of this particular unholy trinity, Cameron Bancroft, is not a good enough player to merit selection, so must make do with this dishonourable mention). He was prepared to appeal against his punishment, so lacking in genuine repentance was he, but when both of his two partners in crime held their hands up even he recognized the hopelessness of his position.
  2. Salman Butt – right handed opening batter. Captain of Pakistan at the time of the 2010 spot fixing scandal, and one of those in the pay of illegal bookmakers (during the previous Australian season, when I was in that country, he was involved in some odd happenings that in view of his later fall from grace look highly suspicious, such). His two partners in crime, the bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir miss out on places, as he serves for all three (Amir at least pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and accepted his punishment, and is now back playing, whereas the other two both failed to show repentance).
  3. Mohammad Yousuf – right handed batter. He was captain of Pakistan when they took Australia on at Sydney in 2010. Australia sank for 124 in the first innings, Pakistan led by 200 on first dig, and Australia at the end of the third day were 274-8 in their second innings, Huseey an unconvincing 79 not out and Siddle new to the crease. The following morning Yousuf failed to attack either Hussey or Siddle, and they batted through to lunch without either of their wickets being threatened. As a result of this, instead of having under 100 to chase, Pakistan ended up needing 176, and with Yousuf compounding his felonies by getting out to a dreadful shot to make the score 57-4 they ended up losing. The subsequent abrupt end to Yousuf’s international career suggests that his failings that allowed Australia back into that match had more about them than met the eye.
  4. *Hansie Cronje – right handed batter, occasional medium pace bowler, captain, criminal and hypocrite. Not only did this man not merely accept but solicit money from illegal bookies, he drew at least two of his most vulnerable team mates (Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams) into his web of corruption. When there was no longer any way of denying his guilt he finally confessed, and was banned from cricket for life. Subsequently he died in a flying accident, and some of his compatriots have made attempts to rehabilitate his reputation, but no one outside South Africa is buying it.
  5. *Steve Smith – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner, captain. The captain of the sandpaper trio, and very lucky indeed as such not to have been banned for life.
  6. Shahid Afridi – right handed batter, leg spinner. HIs various misdeeds include an incident in which he was caught on camera biting the ball.
  7. +Kamran Akmal – right handed batter, wicket keeper. He was regarded as a fine batter, but an unreliable wicket keeper, until it emerged that not all of his droped catches had been accidental, and his international career came to a very sudden end.
  8. Roy Gilchrist – right arm fast bowler. His indelible entry in the hall of shame came in a Central Lancashire League game between Crompton and Radcliffe. Marsh of Radclifffe had been involved as fielder in an incident that aroused Gilchrist’s ire, and when Marsh walked out to open the Radcliffe batting, Gilchrist opening the bowling began with a bouncer, followed by a beamer, and then completed his little performance by charging through the bowling crease and hurling the thing at Marsh from about 16 yards. At that point Marsh and his partner took matters into their own hands and walked off. Both Crompton and Gilchrist copped severe punishments.
  9. Sylvester Clarke – right arm fast bowler. There were no major incidents like the Gilchrist one above, just a pattern of vicious aggression as a bowler that saw him established as comfortably the most disliked county pace bowler of the 1980s.
  10. Leslie Hylton – right arm fast bowler. The only test cricket ever to be hanged for murder (just for the record I am deeply opposed to the death penalty). His victim was his wife Lurlene who had been having an affair with a notorious lothario and wanted to leave him. There were those who reckoned that Hylton killed the lothario he would probably have been acquitted, suchwas the man’s reputation. As it was he shot his wife, and came with a defence that has hints of ‘Classic Dom’ about it – he claimed he had been trying to shoot himself rather than her. Among the holes in this were problems with just how anyone could be that inaccurate, and the fact that some point in proceedings he had reloaded the gun. The jury took 40 minutes to arrive at their guilty verdict.
  11. Jack Crossland – right arm fast. The Lancashire quick was such a chucker that England always refused to select him for that very reason. He was eventually no-balled out of the game.

This team lacks a bit of balance with four fast bowlers and only Afridi as genuine spin option, but otherwise it is perfectly functional.

THE ARDERN XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium. A great cricketer and by all reports a fine human being as well.
  2. Victor Trumper – right handed opening batter. There are countless stories of his goodness. Once on a tour of England Trumper spotted an urchin selling sheet music on the street on a cold wet evening, bought his entire stock, and soon as he was out of sight, binned it. On another occasion a wannabe batmaker asked Trumper to use his product, a misshapen club at least a pound heavier than Trumper’s preferred bats. Trumper used it, scored 80-odd, and returned signed and with a hearty endorsement to the young hopeful.
  3. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm spinner, captain. In the words of CLR James “He was a happy man, a good man and a great man.”
  4. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. In the 1996 World Cup, when he could have secured sponsorships from absolutely everybody he made a point of refusing to accept money from purveyors of booze or cigarettes. Subsequently he has used the great wealth he acquired from cricket to assist the less well off in his native Mumbai.
  5. Ellyse Perry – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. She is regarded pretty much as highly for how she conducts her life as for how she plays the game.
  6. Learie Constantine – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. CLR James again “He revolted against the revolting contrast between his first class status as a cricketer and his third class status as a human being”. His civil and human rights work after his cricket days were done earned him a knighthood and ultimately the title of Baron Constantine of Maraval and Nelson.
  7. +Sarah Taylor – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Her bravery in speaking out about her own mental health issues and encouraging others to do likewise gets her in here.
  8. Tom Cartwright – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. He actually began his career as a batter, before concentrating his attention on bowling. His withdrawal from the 1968-9 tour party to South Africa virtually obliged the MCC to name Basil D’Oliveira as his replacement, which forced Balthazar Johannes Vorster, the racist thug who ran South Africa at the time, to tip his hand. Vorster stated publicly what he had already privately told certain English high-ups, that D’Oliveira would not be accepted, and that was the end of the tour,  and the beginning of the process that led to South Africa’s sporting isolation, and contributed to the downfall of Apartheid. Various people tried various underhanded methods to get apartheid South Africa back into the international fold, but it took the release of Nelson Mandela and subsequent dismantling of apartheid to end their isolation.
  9. Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner. Captain Verity of the Green Howards was leading his men towards a strategically important farmhouse on the island of Sicily in 1943 when he was hit by a shell. His last words were “Keep going, keep going”.
  10. Radha Yadav – left arm orthodox spinner. 49 international wickets, all in T20s, at 16 each, and she has only just turned 20, and is clearly still improving. When she got her central contract to play for the Indian Women the first thing she did with the money that came with it was buy a proper shop for her father, who had earned a small living as a street vendor.
  11. Glenn McGrath – right arm fast medium bowler. A good few English batters of the 1990s and early 2000s will wonder how he can qualify for this team, but his work with the Jane McGrath foundation, which he established in honour of his first wife who died of breast cancer at the age of just 42 gets him in.

This team has a good batting line up, and a well varied bowling line up. Although Verity and Radha Yadav both bowl left arm spin Verity was quicker than most bowlers of that type, and except on rain affected pitches not a huge turner – variations of flight and pace were his main weapons.

HONOURABLE AND
DISHONOURABLE MENTIONS

Everyone will have their own ideas about inclusions and exclusions from these squads. Conrad Hunte might had an opening berth in the Ardern XI but for me he cannot quite dislodge Hobbs or Trumper. Mohammad Azharruddin and Saleem Malik were probably the most prominent batters to escape the Cummings XI, while Charlie Griffith and Colin Croft might have had places as fast bowlers. Obviously there have been spinners with dodgy bowling actions, but the worst offender, Tony Lock, was genuinely horrified when he saw video footage of his own bowling on the 1958-9 tour and promptly remodelled his action, going on to bowl with distinction for Leicestershire and Western Australia. Most of the stories that exist of spinners misdemeanours do not suggest true villainy. Also just for clarification I do not regard ‘Mankadding’ as in any way an offence – if you seek to gain advantage by leaving your ground at the non-strikers end early and the bowler runs you out, well don to them, so I never even considered Vinoo Mankad. Finally, there have been plenty of wicket keepers whose over-enthusiasm for appealing has led to dodgy incidents, but I am disinclined to be over harsh on that sort of thing.

THE CONTEST

I think that the Ardern XI would see justice done by winning this one – especially if the groundstaff were discreetly advised to prepare turners for Hedley Verity and Radha Yadav to exploit. Given some of the players in the Cummings XI, I suggest Dickie Bird and Frank Chester as on field umpires, Aleem Dar as TV Replay umpire, Clive Lloyd as match referee.

ON THE SCANDAL

At the most recent count that I have seen, which dates from last night, has almost certainly increased since then the number of Tory MPs to have publicly stated that Cummings needs to go has gone into the forties:

MPs turning on Cummings

Shrewd observers will note that the name of Northwest Norfolk MP James Wild is not on that list. I have as yet have no response to my email to my him on Monday (automated ones do not count), and this morning I got on to him again:

Thomas Sutcliffe
21 Columbia Way
King’s Lynn
Norfolk
PE30 2LA

Email: thomasavsutcliffe@gmail.com

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Dear James Wild,

I wrote you on Monday morning about the Dominic Cummings scandal. So far other than the automated acknowledgement one always gets for such things I have yet to receive a response from you. Meanwhile the scandal has deepened and extended to become the Cummings/ Johnson scandal. Cummings’ public appearance in the rose garden at Downing Street exacerbated an already bad situation as he failed to show any remorse for his conduct or any understanding of why people were angry, and the story he hold in a pathetic attempt to justify his conduct had more holes in it than my colander. Then came Johnson’s follow up in which he refused to answer questions about Cummings. Then yesterday there was ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ which was again marked by the arrogance and lack of understanding that has been the feature of all official Tory responses to the situation.

Cummings’ position is completely untenable, and by supporting him so unequivocally Johnson has put his own position in great jeopardy. Over 40 of your Conservative colleagues have publicly stated that Cummings must go, and one minister at least has resigned in protest at the government’s handling of this situation. It is way past time for you, who used to be one of Johnson’s advisors, to stand up and be counted, and make it clear to Johnson that continuing to ignore the public is entirely unacceptable and that at barest minimum Cummings must be fired (at this stage allowing him to resign would no longer be acceptable).

Many people in tougher situations than that experienced by Cummings managed to adhere to the lockdown in full and without caveats.

While ever Cummings remains in post the government has no moral authority to impose lockdown measures, though I believe that such are still necessary.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Sutcliffe

A MEASURE OF MATHEMATICS

I have a solution and another problem for you. In yesterday’s piece I included the following:

There are only to ways to split eight tiles such that each of three people have different numbers of tiles and all eight are used: 4,3,1 and 5,2,1. 11 cannot be reached with one tile, so Kaitlin has at least two tiles, but she has also said that she does not have the greatest number, so she has no more than three. Kaitlin’s tiles have sum 11 and a product divisible by three, which means that they must include either the six or the three. A little bit of experimenting leads to the conclusion that the only way to meet all the criteria is if Kaitlin had 6,4 and 1, Kevin just has the 8 and Conor the remaining four tiles, 2,3,5 and 7. We are looking for the sum of Conor’s tiles and that comes to 17.

Today’s problem is this:

Orange

Solution as usual in a later blog post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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A bug put in appearance while I was reading this yesterday afternoon (John Gribbin’s “The Reason Why”).

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Good v Evil
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – The BS Clash

Today in ‘all time XI’ territory cricket and politics overlap as a team of players whose surnames begin with B take on a team of players whose surnames begin with S for the Johnson-Cummings trophy. Also a few extras.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome the latest in my series of variations on an ‘all-time XI‘ cricket theme. Today’s takes its inspiration from recent developments in British politics.

THE BRIEF

The Johnson-Cummings scandal now has more legs than a millipede, as both leading figures in it provided media appearances which managed to conflict with both the truth and each other. One government minister has already resigned in protest, and others may well follow. Today’s variation on an all-time XI theme therefore sees a team og players whose surnames begin with B pitted against a team of players whose surnames begin with S, combining to form BS, competing for the Johnson-Cummings Trophy.

THE B XI

  1. Sidney Barnes – right handed opening batter. A combination of World War II and conflicts with various authority figures limited his test career, but the few matches he did get to play yielded an average of 63.05 at that level. His most famous match was at Sydney in the second match of the 1946-7 Ashes when he and Don Bradman each scored 234, sharing a 5th wicket stand of 405.
  2. Bill Brown – right handed opening batter. Had a fine record at the highest level, with a test best of 206. He was briefly before his death the oldest living test cricketer.
  3. *Don Bradman – right handed batter, captain. The greatest batter the game ever saw.
  4. Ken Barrington – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. Averaged 58.67 in test cricket. His first nine test centuries were all scored away from home, his first three figure test innings in England being the 256 he made at Old Trafford in 1964 to save that match for England after Bob Simpson, given a plumb pitch on which to take on the task of ensuring at least a draw to guarantee his side retention of the Ashes managed to do so quite literally off his own bat, making 311 in just over two full days at the crease.
  5. Basil Butcher – right handed batter. He averaged 43 in test cricket with a highest score at that level of 209. However, his greatest and most important test knock came at Lords in 1963, when his 133 with the West Indies otherwise doing very little with the bat in their second innings helped save the match for the visitors. A great spell of fast bowling by Wes Hall almost won it for the West Indies, but Colin Cowdrey came out to bat one handed when the ninth England wicket fell, and David Allen survived the last two balls with England needing six for victory.
  6. Ian Botham – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler, ace slipper. The designated all rounder in this side, although in truth the 6.7 and 8 slots could be moved around without difficulty.
  7. +Ben Brown – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The Sussex stumper has a first class batting average of 40 (he has never had the opportunity to play at the top level, and by now is too old for such to be a realistic prospect) and is a highly regarded keeper.
  8. Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed batter. He played 15 tests in the 1880s, averaging 27 with the bat and 16 with the ball. His greatest highlight came at Melbourne in 1882-3 (as part of Ivo Bligh’s mission to regain ‘The Ashes of English Cricket’, following the defeat at The Oval in 1882 and Regunald Shirley Brooks’ mock obituary in The Sporting Times) when he took 7-28 including the firt hat trick by an English bowler at test level, scored 55 and then took 7-74 to give England an innings win.
  9. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. The greatest there has ever been in this department, 189 wickets in just 27 test matches at 16.43 each.
  10. Bishan Bedi – left arm orthodox spinner. The former Indian skipper had a splendid test record and also did well for Northamptonshire as an overseas player.
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. The best genuine quick bowler his country has ever produced (they have not been overstocked in that department down the years), a rare visiting fast bowler who managed to rattle the Aussies in their own backyard.

This team features a very strong top five, two bowling and one wicket keeping all rounder and three of the finest specialist bowlers you could wish to meet. With Bumrah and Barnes to share the new ball, Bedi and Bates to bowl spin and the ‘golden arm’ of Botham as fifth bowling option a good number of bowling bases are covered. It is true that with Barrington the best available the leg spin department is under stocked, but this side should be able to cope with that.

THE S XI

  1. Bert Sutcliffe – left handed opening batter. One of the greatest batting talents ever produced by New Zealand.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. Statistically England’s greatest ever opener, averaging 60.73 in test cricket, including 2,741 Ashes runs at 66.8S. The two great Sutcliffes complement each other nicely, Bert the New Zealander being left handed and attack minded, Herbert the Englishmen being more inclined to dig in for the long haul (although never neglectful of scoring opportunities).
  3. *Graeme Smith – left handed batter, captain. A third recognized opener just to make sure that the middle order are not exposed too early. He was a fine captain of his country, and his many batting feats included scores of 259 and 277 in successive matches against England.
  4. Steve Smith – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. His current test batting average places him second to Bradman among those who have played at least 20 games on the all-time list.
  5. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, ace fielder. The most complete cricketer there has ever been.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. A clash of the all round titans as he goes head to head with Botham. In this team it is his batting that will count for more, his bowling being used in short sharp bursts.
  7. Greville Stevens – right handed batter, leg spinner. Averaged 29.56 with the bat and 26.84 with the ball in first class cricket.
  8. Amar Singh – right arm fast medium bowler. One of the greatest pace bowlers his country ever produced, capturing his wickets at 18.56 each in first class cricket, at a time when Indian cricket was chiefly known for tall scoring. He is at no 8 here because his batting record included first class centuries.
  9. Harbhajan Singh – Off spinner, occasionally useful lower order batter. His performance against the 2001 Australians when he took 32 wickets in a three match series was the highlight of his career.
  10. +Herbert Strudwick – wicket keeper. Born in Mitcham in 1880 (even today, though to a large extent swallowed by the sprawl of London, Mitcham is classed as Surrey – I grew up a few miles away from there in Tooting, which is very definitely southwest London), he made his Surrey debut in 1902, beginning an association with the county that would last in various guises for over six decades. His first class career, which lasted until 1927 (and he was keeper in the 1926 Ashes) saw him take 1,237 catches and execute 258 stumpings. His 28 test matches yielded 61 catches and 12 stumpings. The batting available to this team, and Strudwick’s brilliance as a keeper between them are enough to pick a specialist with the gloves in this XI.
  11. Brian Statham – right arm fast bowler. 252 test wickets at 24, his overall first class bowling average was a mere 18. He has an end named in his honour at the Old Trafford ground that he graced for so many seasons.

This team has a strong if not entirely aesthetically pleasing top four (remember, there are no style marks in cricket), the most complete player there has ever been at no 5, an x-factor all rounder at six, another genuine all rounder at seven, three bowlers and one of the greatest keepers ever to play the game. The bowling has all bases covered – there is outright pace from Statham and Stokes, fast-medium from Amar Singh, anything left handed that conditions call for courtesy of Sobers, Harbhajan Singh’s off spin and Stevens’ leg spin.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

For the B XI Alec Bedser missed out as IMO SF Barnes would do the same job better, I considered Palwankar Baloo for the role I gave to Bishan Bedi, and Bernard Bosanquet would have dealt with the leg spin shortage. For the S XI the biggest miss is John Snow, but I rated Statham higher. If I wished to include an extra pace option and sacrifice the leg spinner then Franklyn Stephenson could come in for Greville Stevens. Finally, there would be some who would have given a batting slot to Guyanese stayer Ramnaresh Sarwan.

THE CONTEST FOR THE
JOHNSON-CUMMINGS TROPHY

Even though the ‘B’ XI has both Bradman and SF Barnes in its ranks, and they are well backed by quite a few other greats, I do not consider this to be a one-sided contest – the S XI have a quite awesome top five, a keeper in Strudwick who will miss nothing and some awesome bowling options. I cannot predict a winner.

A COUPLE MORE CUMMINGS STORIES

Having introduced the two teams who fill the BS brief and will compete for the ‘Cummings-Johnson Trophy’. I have a couple more bits for you. Fintan O’Toole has a piece in The Guardian comparing the arrogance of Cummings and Johnson with that of the Catholic Church in O’Toole’s native land and notes that the behaviour of the church cost it most of its influence in that country. The Tory Fibs twitter account has brought my attention the letter signed by leaders of six opposition parties (Labour being cunningly, forensically absent from the list). The letter is below:

Image

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

Can you solve this little tester from brilliant.org:

Brilliant

Solution will appear in a later blog post.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Just before we come to the pictures I have a few more links to share:

Now it is time for my usual sign off:

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This goldfinch shot was blurry (due to the nature of the light I could not really see what I was doing – but was not remotely tempted to head off for a jaunt to a castle).
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This was a better shot, and I was able to extract from it…
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…this magnificent close up.
BS Clash
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Myth & History vs Science

Today’s variation on the all-time XI theme links science, mythology and history. I also use this post to highlight the Dominic Cummings situation.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed post. I have a Sunday spectacular for you, with a team of players who share names with characters from history or mythology taking on a team of players who share names with scientists or science writers.

THE MYTH & HISTORY XI

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various types, captain. The three Graces in a cricketing contest refers to this man and his brothers EM and GF who all played for England, all featuring in the Oval test match of 1880. The Three Graces were three sisters in Greek mythology, daughters of Zeus and the nymph Eurynome. Their names were Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne. You can fet full details here.
  2. Septimus Kinneir – left handed opening batter. In a first class career that began in 1898 and ended in 1914 he amassed 15,641 runs at 32.72, with a best score of 268 not out. Septimus is a Latin name meaning ‘seventh son’, and if you add an ‘i’ you get Septimius, which gives Lucius Septimius Severus, one of the better Roman emperors.
  3. Krishnamachari Srikkanth – right handed batter. His 38 was the highest individual score of the 1983 World Cup final (India 183 all out beat West Indies 140 all out by 43 runs, in one of the greatest of all sporting upsets). The first seven letters of his forename spell out Krishna, an important Indian deity.
  4. Julius Caesar – right handed batter, occasional right arm fast bowler. I have not made him up – he played for Surrey in the 1850s. The Julii Caesares were a famous Roman family, the most famous of all being the original ‘Caesar’, murdered on the ides of March in 44BCE. Appropriately enough given his name the cricketing Julius Caesar took a very aggressive approach to his batting.
  5. Nicholas Felix – left handed batter. Another legendary player of the mid 19th century. His real surname was Wanostrocht (‘pronounced one-horse-trot’), but he played under the nom de guerre ‘Felix’ because he was also a schoolmaster and did not wish the parents of his charges to know about his cricketing sideline. He was an early player turned writer, author of ‘Felix On The Bat’. His name sake for this purpose was Felix, governor of Judaea in the reign of the emperor Claudius.
  6. Octavius Radcliffe – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played for Gloucestershire, and got selected for the 1891-2 Ashes tour. The Octavii were a Roman family which had two known branches, one of which was senatorial for most of its existence but died out in the mid 80s BCE, and the other of which did not number any senators until the very time that the senior branch died out, when Gaius Octavius whose father had made a fortune as banker was accepted into the senate. He reached the rank of Praetor, second highest in the ranking of magistrates in the Roman republic but died before he could become consul. His son, also Gaius Octavius was adopted in the will of his great uncle Julius Caesar and became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, and eventually the emperor Augustus.
  7. +Arthur Frederick Augustus ‘Dick’ Lilley – wicket keeper, right handed batter. We have already met the emperor Augustus, but his first given name, Arthur gives him a link to the mythical King Arthur.
  8. Xenophon Constantine Balaskas – leg spinner, right handed batter. We have already met him in ‘The CLR James Trophy‘. As well as the historical Xenophon who I mentioned in that post his middle name connects to the first christian emperor of Rome, Constantine.
  9. Alfred Shaw – right arm slow to medium bowler. One of the most economical bowlers ever to play the game, he paid just 12 per wicket through a long career in which he bowled more overs than he conceded runs. His historical namesake isof course the only English monarch ever to have been dubbed ‘the Great’, Alfred of Wessex, king from 871 to 899CE.
  10. Freya Davies– right arm fast medium bowler. She is only just starting her career, but she has seven T20I wickets at 21 each, and an economy rate in that format of 5.88, which is highly impressive. If you add a j to her first name you get Freyja, a nordic/ teutonic goddess.
  11. Gideon Elliott – right arm fast bowler. I covered his brief but spectacular first class career in ‘Days In The Sun‘. His analogue is the biblical Gideon, who fought against the Midianites. His story appears in The Book of Judges, and I am both unrepentant and unapologetic in describing both that and indeed the bible of which it is part as mythology.

This team has a respectable top six, a fine keeper and four skilled and well varied bowlers. It is a fairly impressive looking side, especially given the selection criteria.

THE SCIENCE XI

  1. Marcus Trescothick – left handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer, slip fielder. I covered him in my Somerset post. He serves here as an introduction to two authors. Marcus Chown writes about cosmology, and among the books of his to be found on my shelves are “The Never Ending Days of Being Dead”, “We Need To Talk About Kelvin” and “Afterglow Of Creation”. He currently has a short article of the 1665 plague here. Marcus Du Sautoy writes about mathematics, and became the second holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science after Richard Dawkins. His books, all highly readable, include “The Music of Primes” and “Number Mysteries”.
  2. Jimmy Burke – right handed opening batter. An adhesive opening batter who once scored 28 not out in four and a quarter hours (he was playing unselfishly, feeding his partners the strike, and in company with Norman O’Neill who played plenty of strokes, he saw Australia to victory). His full name was James Wallace Burke, which means he shares two names with his analogue, James Burke, author of “The Day The Universe Changed.”
  3. Colin McDonald – right handed batter. He usually opened, but I have dropped him one place in order to preserve the left-right opening combo. He was the batting star of the 1958-9 Ashes, well chronicled by Jack Fingleton in “Four Chukkas to Australia”. His counterpart is David McDonald, author of “The Velvet Claw”.
  4. Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. I have rolled his full name rather than simply calling him Viv Richards because it is that first given name, Isaac, that gets him in here. His scientific counterpart is of course Isaac Newton, to date the only person from the Grantham area to have done anything that warrants being remembered. Newton was one of the greatest of all scientists. Patricia Fara is the author of an excellent book about him, “Newton: The Making of Genius.”
  5. Brian Close – left handed batter, off spinner and occasional medium pacer, fearless close fielder. His England career spanned 27 years, his debut coming in 1949 at the age 18, and his final appearances at that level being against the West Indies in 1976. Ten years after even that he turned out for a match in the Scarborough festival, and with his side due to field noted that protective gear had been set out in the dressing room. He asked about this and was told that it was the short leg fielder. The then 55 year old Close responded to that with “Well, ahm at short leg today and ah doan’t need it.” His scientific counterpart is Brian Clegg, author of “Inflight Science” and “First Scientist”, a biography of Roger Bacon, among others.
  6. Oliver Pope – right handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He averages just over 60 in first class cricket, 47 in his fledgling test career, but I have kept him down at no 6 in this team because there have been suggestions regarding England moving him up, and I believe that at this stage of his career that would be a mistake. His analogue is Oliver Sacks, author of “Uncle Tungsten” and “An Anthropologist on Mars”. I especially recommend the former volume, which is indeed about a relative who worked with and was obsessed by tungsten.
  7. +Rachel Priest – right handed batter, wicket keeper. The Kiwi stumper gets in as counterpart to Rachel Carson, whose ‘Silent Spring’ made waves when it was first published. I have a copy of “The Sea Around Us” on my shelves and have read a couple of other books of hers. Anything with her name on the cover will be worth reading.
  8. Bart King – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. The greatest cricketer ever produced by the USA. The science link is to Brian King, co-author with Martin Plimmer of “Beyond Coincidence.”
  9. Jack Walsh – left arm wrist spin bowler. The Australian who played most of his first class cricket for Leicestershire took 1190 first class wickets at 24.55. His full name was John Edward Walsh, as compared to John Evangelist Walsh, author of “Unravelling Piltdown”, an account of one of the most famous of all scientific hoaxes, which identifies the culprit beyond any real doubt.
  10. Bob Newson – right arm fast bowler. His test bowling average was a horrible 66.25, partly because of his involvement in the infamous timeless test at Durban in 1939. Near the end of that match before the weather made its final intervention he took what was the 12th new ball to be used in its absurd duration. His first class record was 60 wickets at 26.03 each, or outside the test arena 56-1297 for an average of 23.16 each. His scientific counterpart is Lesley Newson, author of “The Atlas of the World’s Worst Natural Disasters”.
  11. Charlie Parker – left arm orthodox spinner. The third most prolific wicket taker in first class history with 3,278 scalps. Joint second in the list of first class hat trick takers, having performed the feat on six occasions. His counterpart is Andrew Parker, author of “In The Blink Of An Eye”, a natural history of the eye, and the role that the development of that organ played in the ‘Cambrian Explosion‘. Simon Ings is also the author of a book about eyes, “The Eye”, will Richard Dawkins’ “Mount Improbable” contains a chapter called ‘The Fortyfold Path to Enlightenment’, a title referring the minimum number of times on which eyes have evolved in the history of life on our planet.

This team has a fine top six, a keeper who can bat, and four well varied bowlers, with Close as a back up option in that department.

THE CONTEST

This should be a fine contest. My money would just about be on the team with scientific links.

A LINK AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced the teams, but there is one thing to do before signing off. As some of my readers will be aware Dominic Cummings, the Rasputin of 21st century Britain, is in deep trouble. Yesterday it was revealed that he had travelled to Durham at the height of the lockdown, and then after some hours of various senior Tories sacrificing their credibility in desperate efforts to defend him, perpetrated at the behest of puppet prime minister Johnson, a second revelation came out yesterday evening regarding a trip to Barnard’s Castle during the lockdown period. The story had moved even further on, with a further sighting of Cummings in Durham on May 10th attested to by multiple witnesses. The lockdown policy, which was sensible but introduced far too late by the Johnson misgovernment, is unenforceable so long as Cummings remains in office, and those calling for his removal now include at least eight Tory MPs, with others doubtless to follow. I fully agree that his position is entirely untenable, and there is a petition running on change.org calling for his removal, which I have already signed, and now I urge all of you to sign and share it by clicking the screenshot below.

Scummings petition

Finally, it is time for my usual sign off…

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Science v History
The teams in tabulated form.