A look at two contrasting T20s, one featuring Babar Azam and one featuring Virat Kohli, a mathematical teaser and a lot of photographs.
There was much wailing and gnashing of Indian teeth this morning as the new ODI batting rankings came out with Babar Azam promoted to no1, pushing Virat Kohli down to no2. Both were in T20 action today, Babar for Pakistan against South Africa and Virat for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Sunrisers Hyderabad. This post tells the story of the international match and where we are at so far in the IPL game.
RUNS GALORE AT JO’BURG
Johannesburg is no stranger to high scoring matches (just ask Ricky Ponting, who once failed to defend 434 in an ODI there!) but even so South Africa would have expected a tally of 203 from their 20 overs to be chased down with quite such ridiculous ease. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan opened the batting together and for a long time it looked like they were leading their side to a ten wicket win. Babar Azam took just 49 balls to reach his 100, and Rizwan also topped 50 quite comfortably. So unfortunately for him did Beuran Hendricks with the ball – 4-0-55-0. Eventually Babar Azam fell to the fourth ball iof the 18th over to make it 197-1, his own share 122 off 59 balls. Fakhar Zaman came in to bat and clouted the last two balls of the 18th over for fours to settle the issue with nine wickets and two whole overs unused.
RCB V SRH
Kohli was named to no one’s surprise as captain and opening batter in the Royal Challengers Bangalore XI to face Sunrisers Hyderabad. Such is Kohli’s power in certain circles that an innings of 33 off 29 balls, in reality an awful performance in a T20, was described by at least one commentator as “An excellent cameo.” Only Maxwell, who came close to living up to his moniker of “The Big Show” with 59 not out off 41 balls, did anything significant with the bat and RCB were held to 149-8 from their 20 overs, a total that seems modest. Rashid Khan as so often in any game of which is part was well to the fore with the ball, finishing with 2-18 from his four overs, and outstanding effort in this form of cricket. Although Saha fell for just one in the reply David Warner and Manish Pandey seem to be in little trouble, with SRH now 32-1 off four overs and looking set for a comfortable win.
A MATHEMATICAL TEASER
This is today’s offering from brilliant.org, slightly modified as their setting gave multiple choice options for the answer, which opened up a hack that I availed myself of. Can you solve this in the intended way and work out the answer? My hack, and an authentic solution will appear in my next post. Click here for more.
My usual sign off, with Warner and Pandey still going nicely, and Bairstow waiting to come in next…
PS as I publish, SRH are 75-1 in the tenth, well on course to chase down the modest target they have been set.
A look at two successful run chases from yesterday.
Yesterday was the fifth and final day of the second Afghanistan v Zimbabwe test match and also the day of the second T20I between India and England. This post looks at both games.
AFGHANISTAN V ZIMBABWE
Going into the final day Zimbabwe had a small lead but only three second innings wickets standing. For a time the overnight pair of Sean Williams and Donald Tiripano kept the resistance going, with Williams reaching 150. Tiripano fell only five runs short of becoming only the second ever batter named Donald to rack up a test century. The resistance did not quite end there, with Zimbabwe finally being all out for 365, an advantage of 107. Afghanistan were never in serious trouble in the chase, though the loss of three wickets as the target approached reduced the margin from nine to six wickets.
While acknowledging Zimbabwe’s great fight back I am personally pleased that Afghanistan won and thereby levelled the series. They had very comfortably the better of the game overall, and also if they had lost the follow on (see my previous post)would have become obsolete in the minds of a lot of captains. The truth is that Zimbabwe’s great fightback has no bearing on the decision to enforce the follow on, and I wonder how many were questioning it when Zimbabwe were 142-7, still 116 short of making Afghanistan bat a second time. If any Afghanistan decision was questionable it was the decision to declare the first innings at 545-4 rather than pushing on past 600.
The other notable feature of this match was the workload shouldered by leg spinner Rashid Khan – 99 overs in the match, in which he captured 11 wickets (he now has 34 test wickets in five matches at that level, including two hauls of 10 in a match), three more than Zimbabwe as a whole managed across both Afghanistan innings. This was the most since Muralitharan sent down 116 overs of off spin at The Oval in 1998, taking 16 wickets in the process. The overall test record was set by Hedley Verity, at 774 balls across the two innings of the last timeless test (eight ball overs in that match), while in first class cricket CS Nayudu tops the list having once bowled 917 balls in the course of a match. Another notable workload was the 124 overs bowled in the Adelaide test in the 1928-9 Ashes by JC ‘Farmer’ White (13 wickets, and England won albeit only just). The single innings record was set by Sonny Ramadhin at Edgbaston in 1957, when he wheeled down 98 overs in England’s second innings. Tom Veivers bowled 95.2 overs in England’s innings at Old Trafford in 1964 (A 656-8 declared, Simpson 311, E 611 all out, Barrington 256, A 4-0).
A full scorecard for the match can be viewed here.
INDIA V ENGLAND
Mark Wood had a niggle and was replaced by Tom Curran, a decision that many questioned at the time. India won the toss and put England in. No one really sparked for England, though Roy managed 46, and there were several scores in the 20s. It was only poor fielding by India that enabled England to reach 164-6 from their 20. When Sam Curran opened the defence with a wicket maiden things looked interesting. However, Kohli and Ishan Kishan, making his debut, soon put India well on top. No English bowler was really impressive, and the fielding was sloppy, lowlighted by bad dropped catches on the part of Buttler and Stokes. By the time Kishan fell for a magnificent 56 off 32 balls the game was effectively up for England. There was still time for Pant to score a rapid 26, while Kohli anchored the chase. The skipper finished things with a six, taking him to 73 not out. Shreyas Iyer was 8 not out, following his 50 in the previous match. Tom Curran bowled two overs for 26 and never looked like causing anyone any problems. Although Kohli had the highest score of the day Kishan was quite correctly named Player of the Match for his game changing innings. For India Rohit Sharma is now available again and will presumably displace KL Rahul who has had a horrible time of late, while they might also look at ways to give themselves a sixth genuine bowling option – although it did not affect them this time, Hardik Pandya as fifth bowler seems a trifle hair raising. For England Wood will return in place of Tom Curran if fit, if not either Reece Topley or if England want an extra spin option Moeen Ali could come in. The other possible move is Liam Livingstone, mainly a batter but also capable of spinning the ball both ways, to come for Stokes. A full scorecard can be viewed here.
A variation on my All Time XI theme pits a ‘Blast from the Past’ XI against a #BBL10 Composite XI. Also, on the 40th anniversary of the Chappell incident I look at under arm bowling.
Today we revisit all-time XI territory with a bit of a twist, and then I have a bonus section prompted by today being the 40th anniversary of Trevor Chappell’s most (in)famous moment on the cricket field.
THE GROUND RULES
I have given this post a hint of an ‘Ashes’ flavour – my Blast From The Past XI is mainly English, though this being put in a T20 setting I have allowed myself two overseas players, while similarly my BBL10 Composite XI is mainly Australian with two overseas players permitted. It is two XIs, with the ‘x-factor sub’ idea given the treatment it deserves – in the bin. A variant on the ‘Bash Boost’ could be used as a tie-splitting procedure if a Super Over doesn’t do the job, while the Power Surge would remain. Naturally, DRS would be in use for this contest, though with my chosen on-field umpires, of whom more later, Claire Polosak as TV Replay umpire probably wouldn’t be overturning many deicisons. If you think I have had mistakes with either XI please feel free to make alternative suggestions, but remember that balance and variety are important, and tell me who should be dropped to make way for the people you want.
THOMAS SUTCLIFFE’S BLASTS FROM THE PAST XI
All members of this team played before T20 was a thing in top level cricket, and only three even played what is now called List A cricket.
Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, ‘gun’ fielder. The fastest scoring batter with a first class average of over 25 that the game has ever seen, a useful fast bowler and an electrifying fielder, the ‘Croucher’ is a must for this side.
Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close catcher. All-out attack was his natural tendency with the bat anyway, his all round record was astonishing – 58,969 runs at 40 an innings, over 2,000 wickets at 19 a piece and 1,018 catches in first class cricket, the latter a record for any outfielder.
Graeme Pollock – left handed batter. One of my overseas players, and one of the three members of this side to have played List A cricket – he actually held the record in that format with an innings of 222, which stood until Ally Brown hit 268 for Surrey v Glamorgan at The Oval, with the pitch for that game being way off centre, giving a very short boundary on one side.
Denis Compton – right handed batter, occasional left arm wrist spinner.
Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of pretty much every type known to cricket. The first person ever to hit six sixes in an over in first class cricket, and without a doubt the most complete player the game has yet seen. My second overseas player, and one of the three members of this side to have played List A. He averaged 38 with the bat and 21 with the ball in list A, though his only ODI innings was a duck (he did bowl respectably in that game).
+Leslie Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Twice a winner of the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season, the only keeper ever to score 100 first class hundreds, all-time record holder for first class stumpings – 418 in total in his career.
*Percy Fender – right handed batter, leg spinner, brilliant fielder, captain. He scored the fastest century ever scored off authentic first class bowling, in 35 minutes versus Northamptonshire.
Billy Bates – off spinner, useful lower order batter. Took England’s first ever hat trick, part of a performance in which took seven wickets in each innings and scored 55 with the bat.
Bill Lockwood – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. One of the first fast bowlers to develop a slower ball as part of his armoury, and he caused as many problems with it as any player prior to Franklyn Stephenson.
Alfred Shaw – right arm slow to medium bowler. Bowled more overs in his first class career than he conceded runs, took his wickets at 12 a piece, and once said “length and successful variation of pace are the secrets of good bowling”, a philosophy which would stand him in good stead for T20s.
Derek Underwood – left arm slow-medium bowler. The third member of this side to have played List A cricket. His economy rate in ODIs was 3.44.
This team has massive batting depth, with only Shaw and Underwood unlikely to contribute in that department. Only Pollock and Ames of the XI are completely unrecognized as bowlers, with Sobers’ three styles meaning that there are in total 10 front line options plus Compton’s left arm wrist spin.
#BBL10 COMPOSITE XI
This XI have been selected on their performances during the tournament and with an eye to balance and variety. Note also that I have only allowed myself two non-Aussies.
Alex Hales – right handed opening batter. He has had a quite magnificent tournament, and in many people’s eyes should be back in the mix for England’s T20 team.
+Josh Philippe – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Excellent with both bat and gloves this tournament.
Chris Lynn – right handed batter. Usually an opener, I put him at three here, with his four fifty plus scores in the tournament indicating that he is far from finished just yet.
Sam Heazlett – left handed batter. His ‘Sambulance rescue‘ innings of 74 not out off 49 when his team were in big trouble against Thunder yesterday sealed his place in this XI.
Jordan Silk – right handed batter, excellent fielder. There were many possibilities for this slot, but ‘Astrophysicist’ (in honour of Joseph Silk FRS) gets the nod because in a tournament where there have been rather more sinners than saints in the field he has shone in that department.
*Mitch Marsh – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, captain. A T20 side really needs six front line bowling options at minimum so that you have cover if one misfires, and Marsh’s batting is unequivocally good enough to be no six, usually considered mainly a batter’s position.
Rashid Khan – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. The Afghan, rated the no1 T20 bowler in the world, did superbly for the Strikers before his country’s needs took over and he left the tournament.
Steve O’Keefe – left arm orthodox spinner. He has bowled very economically this tournament.
Peter Siddle – right arm fast bowler. The veteran impressed for the Strikers, still being able to hit the 140kph mark, and generally being very accurate.
Jhye Richardson – right arm fast bowler. The leading wicket taker in this tournament.
Jason Behrendorff – left arm fast medium. Close between him and Ben Dwarshuis for this slot.
This side has good batting strength, and a strong and varied bowling attack, and should be able to give a good account of itself.
MY ON-FIELD UMPIRES
In keeping with this post I choose one umpire who is in the ‘blast from the past’ category and one from the modern era to officiate on the field. I am opting for Frank Chester, who stood in 48 test matches, a record at the time and for many years afterwards as my ‘blast from the past umpire’. One story about Chester to sum up his skill in this role: there was an occasion when he was officiating and a ball went through to the keeper with an audible click en route, the fielding side went up in a huge appeal for caught behind and were shocked when Chester gave it not out, while the umpire, unflustered, walked up to the stumps at the batter’s end, looked at the off stump and nodded to himself – he had identified the faint red mark that confirmed that he was right, and that the click has been the ball brushing the stump not quite hard enough to dislodge a bail. The other on-field umpire for this contest, from the modern era, is Aleem Dar.
THE CHAPPELL INCIDENT AND UNDER ARM BOWLING
It was 40 years ago today that with New Zealand needing six off the last ball to tie the match and no11 Brian McKechnie on strike Greg Chappell ordered his brother Trevor to roll that last ball along the ground. This disgraceful incident led to under arm bowling being ruled illegal, an overreaction in my opinion. Since that time a law change has seen balls that bounce multiple times called no balls, so the Chappell situation can be handled simply by adding a note that a ball that rolls along the deck is considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and is therefore a no-ball. This would keep the way open for a latter-day Jephson or Simpson-Hayward, or indeed a would-be reviver of the art of David Harris to emerge, while preventing dishonourable tactics such as those used by the Chappell brothers 40 years ago (if you would have it so Greg can be considered the chief culprit, but Trevor cannot be held blameless, since he could have challenged his brother and said that he would not adopt those tactics but would bowl the best yorker he could summon up).
Today’s all time XI cricket post faces Janus-like in two directions simultaneously, towards the past and the future of this great game.
Welcome to the final post in this All Time XIscricket series – as I start typing it the test match at the Ageas bowl is about to get underway following weather delays. England have won the toss and chosen to bat, in view the correct decision grey skies notwithstanding. This post takes its name from the Roman god Janus because it faces two ways – a look at cricket’s past in the form of a team selected for a combination of entertainment value and class, and a look to the future with a team largely comprising up and coming players, with the topical exception of the captain.
TS ENTERTAINMENT XI
*WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career. ‘The Doctor’ just had to be the captain of this side, with his outstanding approach and his attack minded approach. One quote “I never like defensive strokes – you can only get three for them.” Against Kent in the match after becoming the first to 100 first class centuries he made 257 as Gloucestershire replied to Kent’s 470 with 443 of their own. Kent then slumped to 78 all out in their second innings, and Gloucs needed 106 in an hour and a quarter to win, and Grace was on 73 not out when they got there just in time, having been on the field fior the entire match, and with his 47th birthday less than two months away.
Victor Trumper – right handed opening batter. At Old Trafford in 1902 he scored a century in the morning session of day 1. In a wet season he amassed 2,570 first class runs for the touring Australians, including 11 centuries.
Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder. The only non-keeper to take 1,000 first class catches. At Lord’s in 1921 in the face of Gregory and McDonald against whom his colleagues could offer no resistance he scored 95 and 93. His highest first class score, 305 not out in a tour match on the 1911-2 trip to Australia, came from number three.
Charles Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He scored centuries in the second, third and fourth matches of the 1926 Ashes, the second of the three, at Leeds coming before lunch on day 1. In 1921 he scored 345 in 232 minutes against Nottinghamshire, reaching 300 in 198 minutes.
Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete player ever to play the game, and the most automatic of selections for a team of this nature.
+Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Twice winner of the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season, three times he achieved the keeper’s season double of 1,000 runs and 100 dismissals (only John Murray of Middlesex, who did so once, achieved the feat in all the rest of cricket history). He executed 418 first class stumpings, an all time record.
Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. The ultimate in x-factor players. 53 first class centuries and only once did he bat for over three hours in a single innings.
Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed batter. 16 test matches, 50 wickets at 16 each and a batting average of 27. He was the first England bowler to take a test hat trick, as part of a match performance in which he took 14 wickets and scored 55 in England’s only innings.
Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. The ‘Typhoon’, producer of possibly the fastest bowling ever seen, during the 1954-5 Ashes tour when he bowled England to victory after they had been stuffed in the opener at the Gabba (that series remains the last Ashes series down under won by a side who lost at the Gabba).
Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. Probably the greatest bowler ever seen. His signature weapon, ‘the Barnes ball’ was a leg break at fast medium pace, the nearest subsequent approach to which was Alec Bedser’s speciality. Incidentally it was from this no10 slot that he played his most important innings, the 38 not out that saw England to victory at the MCG in 1907, when they lost their eight wicket still 73 adrift, and their ninth still needing 39. Arthur Fielder of Kent was the no11 who assisted Barnes in that final partnership. In Barnes’ last test series, when he took 49 South African wickets in four matches before missing the fifth after a dispute, he took 17-159 in the match at Port Elizabeth, not a venue generally regarded fondly by bowlers.
William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 138 first class matches, 863 wickets at 12.09, including a 17 wicket haul in a losing cause against Hampshire in 1876 (the crucial innings was played by one Reginald Hargreaves, who later married Alice Pleasance Liddell, aka the Alice of “Alice in Wonderland”). He may have inspired the name of Mycroft Holmes (Doyle was fine cricketer as well as being a fanatical follower of the game, and Mycroft and brother Thomas played for Derbyshire as fast bowler and keeper, while Frank Shacklock and Mordecai Sherwin, from whose surnames one can get Sherlock played the same roles for Nottinghamshire), and in this XI he has a team mate with the middle name Holmes (Frank Holmes Tyson).
This team has an excellent top six, the ultimate in x-factor no 7s and four very fine and varied bowlers. Tyson, Barnes, Mycroft, Bates, Woolley, Sobers, Grace, Jessop and Macartney provide a wealth of bowling options. Do you open with Mycroft and Barnes and have Tyson come on first change, do you open with Tyson and Barnes and bring Mycroft on first change, or do you attempt to persuade Barnes to accept coming on first change so that you can open up with Tyson and Mycroft?
HONOURABLE MENTIONS AND SEGUE
Of course I have a stack load of regrets about players I could not accommodate, and many of you will have ideas of your own, but my principal regrets are:
Could not find a place for Denis Compton’s batting and left arm wrist spin bowling.
No place for Keith Miller.
Tyson was one of three choices for that slot – Harold Larwood, who also terrorized the Aussies in their own backyard and Charles Kortright of Essex were both in my thoughts.
Bill O’Reilly, Doug Wright, Derek Underwood, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar and Jack Iverson were all highly individualistic bowlers I would have loved to be able to accommodate.
Having attended to the past it is now time for…
TS FUTURE STARS XI
Prithvi Shaw – right handed opening batter. Has a remarkable record for someone so young, and will surely be a superstar before too many more years have passed. India would not want to break up the Sharma/ Agarwal opening pair an earlier than necessary, but perhaps they could accommodate Shaw by playing him at 3, with Kohli at four.
Dominic Sibley – right handed opening batter. His South African tour pretty much established him in the England side, especially his first test century. The restart of test cricket has not been good for him – in the brief passages of play that the weather has allowed he has been dismissed for a duck, but he will be back scoring runs again before long.
Shreyas Iyer – right handed batter. He has a magnificent record in all forms of cricket that he has played, and that will surely continue when he gets his chance at test level.
Daniel Lawrence – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played at no 4 in last week’s warm up game at The Ageas Bowl and made 58 in the first innings, and was then not called on to bat in the second. He was then left out of the test squad, with Denly being chosen for the batting spot vacated by Joe Root being on paternity leave. His time will surely come soon.
James Bracey – left handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He made 85 in that warm up game at the Ageas Bowl, and again was overlooked for the test match. He has done some work on his wicket keeping, but regards himself primarily as a batter, and that is the role I see him playing for England when he gets the call up.
*Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. The one member of this side who is indisputably established at the very highest level, and in a nod to what is happening at the Ageas Bowl I have named as captain.
+Ben Foakes – wicket keeper, right handed batter. England’s best (and worst treated) current wicket keeper. Among 21st century keepers his only rival with the gloves is the now retired Sarah Taylor, and he averages over 40 for those few tests he has been selected for. Bairstow is no longer able to perform in red ball cricket, and Buttler is barely even a competent keeper, and has never had a good red ball batting record, and yet it is this latter named individual who is currently taking the place behind the stumps that should be Foakes’. Stokes is an established test cricket, while Foakes should be but is not yet.
Lewis Goldsworthy– left arm orthodox spinner, right handed batter. He had a good under-19 world cup, and I expect to see him notable first class performances from him before too much longer. He may yet develop into a genuine all rounder, but at the moment he is definitely more bowler than batter, hence his positioning at no eight in this order.
Rashid Khan – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. Four test matches have yielded him 23 wickets at 21.08, a magnificent start at that level, and he has a phenomenal record in limited overs cricket. He has also already racked up a test 50 with his lower order batting. I look forward to seeing him establish himself as one of the greats of the game.
Oliver Edward Robinson– right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. I use his full name because there is a young wicket keeper from Kent, Oliver Graham Robinson, who is on the fringes of the England set up. He takes his wickets at 22 each in first class cricket, and bowled well in the warm up match at the Ageas Bowl. Whether he has sufficient pace to trouble top level batters remains to be seen, but he should get his opportunity before too long. Yes, one has to pick for the present, but the future should also be considered, and England are due to go to Australia for their 2021-2 season, by when James Anderson will be 39 years of age, probably too old to spearhead the attack out there (the last England new ball bowler to succeed out there at that sort of age was Syd Barnes on the 1911-2 tour).
Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. He has played 14 test matches, the second most of anyone in this side, in which he has taken 68 wickets at 20, including shaking the Aussies up in their own backyard in the 2018-9 Border – Gavaskar Trophy. I hope to hear more of him in the not too distant future – talents of this type can only be good for the game.
This team has a fine top five, the x-factor player of the current era at six, the best current keeper and a beautifully balanced selection of bowlers. Bumrah, Robinson and Stokes look a fine pace trio, and Goldsworthy and Khan should combine well as spin twins.
Pakistan left arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi has made an impressive start to his career, and would be my first reserve quick should one or other of Bumrah or Robinson be unavailable. Hamidullah Qadri was the other English success story of the u-19 world cup, although at the moment he would have to be considered as at best third in the senior off spinning queue behind Bess and Virdi, though in red ball cricket he is certainly ahead of Ali in my pecking order. Finally, a suggestion of a type that might be regarded as akin to heresy in certain quarters, all rounder Amelia Kerr has had success with both bat and leg spin for the New Zealand Women, is still only 18, and the Kiwis do not have a long queue of spin bowling options – will they take a chance on giving a female the opportunity to play alongside the men?
Continuing my “100 cricketers” series, starting the fourth XI with the bowlers for reasons that should be self-explanatory. Also features some of my photographs.
Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series. I am taking the my 4th XI in a different order from usual, starting with the bowlers, for reasons that should become clear during this post. The series will continue with the opening batters, then nos 3,4 and 5 and then all-rounders, which post will se my fifth XI introduced in batting order. The introduction to the whole series can be found here, and the most recent post in it, listing the 4th XI in batting order at the end, can be found here. Before getting into the meat of my post I have a but of related business to attend to…
AFGHANISTAN VERSUS IRELAND DAY 3
Ireland, helped by a substantial last wicket stand for the second time in the match did just enough to keep interest in this match alive. They brought their second innings tally to 288, setting Afghanistan 147 to win in the final innings. By the close Afghanistan had reached 29-1, needing a further 118 to win with nine wickets remaining. If either:
a) Ireland pick up wickets early tomorrow morning or
b)Afghanistan score score slowly in the morning and then lose wickets immediately before the lunch interval
Or both of the above happen, nerves could set in leading to a very close result. Whatever happens tomorrow, one team will have its first test match victory on the board and the other team, though defeated will not have been disgraced.
It is unfortunate for Ireland that as I acknowledged in response to a comment yesterday their elevation really came five years too late for them, with the result that most of the players who had earned it had either finished their careers or were finishing their careers, while Afghanistan were elevated as they hit the crest of a wave.
The official close of play report can be read here.
It is now time to look at those bowlers starting with…
My four selections who are in this XI purely as bowlers (there is also a seam bowling all-rounder to back them up, plus an occasional off-spinner) comprise two spinners and two quicks. We start with the person who caused me to take the bowlers first when dealing with this XI…
The 20 year old legspinner is already rated the world’s number one bowler in T20, and has just a very successful season in the Australian Big Bash League, but today he made history by becoming the first Afghan to take a five wicket innings haul in a test match. His 5-82 followed 2-20 in the first Ireland innings, meaning that in the two test matches his country have now played he has total figures of 9-256, a bowling average of 28.44. I can see this improving considerably as he gains more experience (before his 1993 visit to England which really set him on his way Shane Warne had been cuffed around at test level, notably by Ravi Shastri on his debut test), and especially if he gets to bowl second and fourth rather than first and third as he did in this game (pitches which have had more use tend to help spinners a bit more). The match now approaching its denouement will be remembered for many things – Tim Murtagh’s two remarkable efforts from no 11, the second innings batting of Andrew Balbirnie and Kevin O’Brienand Rahmat Shah’seffort in the Afghanistan first innings that came up just two short of being their first ever test century, but probably the single most important individual achievement in the game will end up being Khan’s five-for. As the saying goes – watch this space! On which note we move on to our second spinner…
The 19 year-old left arm spinner has only played in one test match (the women play far too little of this form of the game), but her records in ODIs (25 wickets at 18.96 each) and T20Is (24 wickets at 20.04) show that she is already a very fine bowler, and at her age she will still be improving for a number of years. Although she has yet to record an international five-for she has a 4-14 in ODIs to her credit and a 4-18 in T20Is, and I for one will be surprised in 2019 does not see a five-for to her credit somewhere. Note that once again I have a pair of spinners who do different things with the ball, and a part-time spinner who purveys yet a third variation. Now it is time to move on to the…
My two specialist pacers are a genuine speedster, who recently rattled the Aussies on their own pitches and someone who started out quick before slowing down later in his career and becoming pretty much unhittable, such was his accuracy. I am going to start with…
His 421 test wickets at 23.11 each are testament to his class as a bowler, while a batting average of just over 32 makes him a good person to be coming in at number 8. His father Peterwas a magnificent fast bowler for pre-isolation South Africa, and until the recent career of AdamVoges (average 61.87 from 20 test matches) his uncle Graeme was second among those who had played enough innings to qualify behind Bradman in the test batting averages with 60.97. In his early days when he bowled seriously fast and his temperament seems to have matched his red hair Shaun Pollock is reckoned to have hit the helmets of over 30 opposition batters, but his career had a second phase when he mellowed, the pace was down, but replaced with intense accuracy to the extent that along with Glenn McGrath he was among the last ODI bowlers to have an economy rate below 4 runs per over. Playing as an overseas player for Warwickshire he once took four wickets in four balls, a very rare occurence in top-level cricket. In this XI of mine I see his accuracy as a counterpoint to the sheer pace of…
His recent effort at the MCG, when his nine wickets in the two innings, including a career-best 6-33 in the first, sent Australia reeling to the defeat the saw India wiin the Border–Gavaskartrophy is a performance (I listened to it on the radio) which I will remember for a long time to come. His ten test matches so far have brought him 49 wickets at 21.89, though with a current batting average of 1.55 he is heading for the title of “Number 11’s Number 11”, being 0.45 of a run per innings below current holder Mpumelelo Mbangwa of Zimbabwe. The fact he is only 25, and my spinners are 20 and 19 respectively is why I want specifically the Shaun Pollock from the latter part of his career – as well as steadiness he will bring experience to the bowling attack.
As usual, I finish by showing some of my recent photographs…