All Time XIs – The Letter F

A look at some of the greatest cricketers to have surnames beginning with the letter F and some photographs.

I continue my exploration of the all time XI theme with a look at players whose surnames begin with the letter F.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. Roy Fredericks (West Indies). Somewhat overshadowed by the later deeds of the greatest opening combo WI have ever produced, Greenidge and Haynes, Fredericks was nevertheless a player of the highest class. His most famous test knock was an innings of 169 against Australia at the WACA in Perth, not generally a happy hunting ground for visiting players. He was also only the second player to score a century in a men’s ODI after Dennis Amiss.
  2. Charles Burgess Fry (Sussex, England). His mastery of the art of batting is all the more astonishing given that cricket was just one area in which he excelled. He once scored a six successive first class centuries, a feat equalled by Bradman and Procter but unsurpassed to this day. Although he did score test centuries possibly his greatest innings at that level was the 79 he scored on a horrible pitch at The Oval in 1912, which put England in an unassailable position and secured both the match and the first and only triangular tournament for England.
  3. Andrew Flower (Essex, Zimbabwe). Without doubt the best test match batter his country has ever produced, he was also an adequate wicket keeper and an occasional off spinner, neither of which roles he will be called on to perform in this side.
  4. Keith Fletcher (Essex, England). At the time of his retirement he had scored more FC runs for Essex than any other player, though Graham Gooch broke that record.
  5. Aubrey Faulkner (South Africa). Only one person to have played 20 or more test matches can claim the double feat at that level of averaging over 40 with the bat and under 30 with the ball: Faulkner, who averaged 40.79 with the bat and took 85 wickets at 26.58 each.
  6. +Ben Foakes (Essex, Surrey, England). The best keeper of the 21st century, with the possible exception of Sarah Taylor of the England women’s side and a good batter. In this side there are three batters of serious substance to follow him, and only one genuine bunny.
  7. *Percy Fender (Surrey, England). As I stated in my Surrey piece his aggression makes him an ideal person to bat at seven in a very strong line up. A good leg spinner, a brilliant fielder and a shrewd captain (unlike the England selectors of his day I have given him this role in the side).
  8. Frank Foster (Warwickshire, England). His career was terminated early by a motorcycle accident, but he had done enough, including joining forces with Sydney Barnes in the 1911-12 Ashes to form the most potent opening bowling pair seen to that point in test cricket to justify his selection here. He was also a fine middle order batter, indeed the first Warwickshire player ever to record a triple century.
  9. Wilfred Flowers (Nottinghamshire, England). With two all rounders in the side whose bowling speciality was leg spin I wanted someone to spin the ball the other way, and Flowers, a bowling all rounder who bowled off spin fitted the bill nicely.
  10. George Freeman (Yorkshire). 288 wickets in 44 first class matches at less than 10 runs a piece earn him his place in this XI. He played as an amateur, hence the small number of appearances he made at FC level, earning his living as an auctioneer.
  11. Jack Ferris (Australia, England). The left armer had an astonishing record in his brief test career, and his FC record over a much bigger sample size also stacks up very well. His “England” appearance came on a privately organized visit to South Africa, where the match that team played against an SA XI was classed as test match somewhat later.

This side has a very strong batting line up, with Flowers at number nine having done the season’s double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class matches on five separate occasions. The bowling, with Ferris, Freeman and Foster to bowl varieties of seam, and Flowers, Faulkner and Fender available as front line spin options has both depth and variety. There is a very shrewd captain in Fender, and a keeper who will accept every chance going in the form of Foakes.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I am going to start this section with subsection dedicated to the most glaring omission:

ALFRED PERCY ‘TICH’ FREEMAN

The second leading wicket taker in first class history, only bowler to have claimed 300 FC wickets in a single season, only bowler to take all ten wickets in a first class innings three times. Considered purely on this basis he should be sho0-in, but two factors mitigated against his inclusion: he was a specialist leg spinner, and with Faulkner and Fender both having ironclad cases for inclusion I wanted a third spinner who did something different, also while he was destroyer of small fry his record against the stronger counties, and at test level, was no more than respectable, and this was an additional strike against him.

BATTERS

Reginald Erskine ‘Tip’ Foster scored 287 on test debut, but only topped 50 at that level once thereafter, so record breaker though he was he doesn’t qualify. Arthur Fagg, until recently the only player to score two double hundreds in a first class match, might have had an opening slot, but Fredericks’ left handedness plus the fact that he delivered at the highest level and Fagg did not swung that position his way. Some Aussies might root for Aaron Finch, and if I was picking a limited overs side he would be a sh00-in, but I make my judgements based on long-form cricket, and Finch’s numbers don’t stack up there. Francis Ford, an attacking left hander of the late 19th century did not have a good enough test record to merit inclusion. Neil Fairbrother never quite delivered at international level as he did for Lancashire.

WICKET KEEPERS

James Foster of Essex and England was a magnificent keeper, and scurvily treated by the England selectors of his day, but in the old saying “two wrongs don’t make a right”, and to select him in this side would be to wrong Ben Foakes. The only other keeper of note to have a surname beginning with F, Bruce French, was not in the same class as Foster or Foakes in either department.

BOWLERS

Other than ‘Tich’ Freeman with whom I started this section, the best known bowler I have omitted is Gus Fraser, who had a fine test record, but who I could not in honesty place above any of Ferris, George Freeman or Frank Foster. A combination of injuries, selectorial caprice and a decision to join a rebel tour of apartheid South Africa robbed Neil Foster of the kind of record that would have earned him a place alongside his namesake Frank. If I had been going to risk picking a female pace bowler I would have gone for Cathryn Fitzpatrick, the Aussie who was by some way the quickest female bowler of her generation. Left arm wrist spinner ‘Chuck’ Fleetwood-Smith was just too expensive to claim a place. West Indian quick George Francis was past his best by the time they gained test status. Paul Franks had a fine career for Nottinghamshire but never did anything of note at international level.

ALL ROUNDERS

Duncan Fletcher might have been the second Zimbabwean to feature in this XI, but he finished before his country gained test status, so will have to settle for being head coach of this XI, a job he performed with distinction for England. Aussie James Faulkner would be well in the running were I selecting a limited overs side, but his long form record is not quite good enough.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Now that our look at cricketers whose surnames begin with F is at an end it remains only to offer up my usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Through the Alphabet IX

The ninth ‘alphabetic progression’ post in my all time XIs series.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the today’s all time XI cricket post. We continue the alphabetic progression, with today’s starting point being U.

JOE VINE’S XI

  1. George Ulyett – right handed opening batter, right arm fast bowler. He opened the batting for England on occasions, including in the 1882 match that inaugurated the Ashes.
  2. *Joe Vine – right handed opening batter, leg spinner, captain. A stalwart for Sussex for many years. It was considered unthinkable for a professional to captain a county side in his day, but in keeping with my thinking about slow bowling all rounders I have given him the job in this XI.
  3. Everton Weekes – right handed batter. Of West Indians who have played at least 20 test matches only one, George Headley, with an average of 60.83 has a better batting average than Weekes’ 58.61 per innings. He holds the record for most consecutive test centuries, with five. He once started a tour of India by scoring centuries in his five innings in that country.
  4. Xenophon Balaskas – right handed batter, leg spinner. No 4 is high in the order for him, but X is a very difficult letter to fill.
  5. Michael Yardy – left handed batter, occasional left arm spinner. A solid batter whose bowling was almost exclusively deployed in limited overs matches where he was fairly economical though never a big wicket taker. He played a few games for England in limited overs formats.
  6. Bas Zuiderent – right handed batter. The dashing Dutchman gets another outing in this team.
  7. +Les Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A fabulous keeper batter.
  8. Ian Bishop – right arm fast bowler. At one time he seemed set to be a world beater, but he was plagued by injuries (an early warning that the West Indian fast bowling production line was drying up – the greats of the 1970s and 80s were apparently only vulnerable to kryptonite) which prevented him from really scaling the heights. He once helped the West Indies to reach almost 200 after being 29-5, supporting Gus Logie in an important late partnership. He is now a commentator on the game.
  9. Dean Cosker – left arm orthodox spinner. He did not quite make the grade, paying rather too much for his wickets.
  10. Mark Davies – right arm medium fast bowler. Took his wickets at 22 a piece in first class cricket when his body allowed him to play – it was that latter caveat that prevented him from playing for England.
  11. Hans Ebeling – right arm fast medium bowler. He played for Australia in the 1930s, and had a fine record in Shield cricket. However, his greatest contribution to cricket history was being the person who came up with the idea of the Centenary Test Match, which took place at Melbourne in March 1977, precisely 100 years after the first ever test match had taken place. Over 200 former Ashes players attended the match, and since it was a one-off match and not part of a series England skipper Brearley decreed that his team would make every effort to chase down the outlandish target of 463 that they were set to win. With Derek Randall making a test best 174 and various others also batting well England reached 417, meaning that the game finished in a victory for Australia by 45 runs, precisely the same as the outcome of the inaugural test match. In Australia’s second innings Rodney Marsh became the first Aussie keeper to reach three figures in a test match, six years after Bill ‘Phant’ Lawry had declared with him on 92. The success of this game, and the exact duplication of the margin from 100 years previously had one writer suggesting that the instigator, Ebeling, should really have been named Hans Andersen Ebeling, not just Hans Ebeling.

This team has a respectable top six, several of whom are also genuine bowlers, a great keeper batter at seven and four fine bowlers. Bishop, Ebeling, Davies and Ulyett make for a good seam attack, while Cosker, Balaskas and Vine are a handy trio of spinners.

IMRAN KHAN’S XI

  1. Roy Fredericks – left handed opening batter. Gordon Greenidge’s first opening partner at test level, before the emergence of Desmond Haynes. The first player other than Dennis Amiss (who scored the first two such innings) to rack up a century in a one day international. After his playing days were done he went into politics became Sports Minister in the government of Guyana.
  2. Sunil Gavaskar – right handed opening batter. The first player to amass 10,000 test match runs, the first batter to score as many 30 test centuries (34 in total). His 221 at The Oval in 1979 helped his team to come very close to chasing down 438 for victory (they lost their way in the closing stages and finished on 429-8, having been 366-1 at one point). 13 of his 34 test centuries came against the West Indies.
  3. Walter Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, occasional off spinner, excellent fielder. He dominated the 1928-9 Ashes, won 4-1 by England, scoring 905 runs in the five tests at 113.125 an innings, and in matches 2,3 and 4 of the series he had 251 at Sydney, 200 in the first innings at Melbourne and 119 and 177 not out at Adelaide. Four years later his 440 runs at 55 was joint leading series aggregate with Herbert Sutcliffe, and having finished the series with scores of 101 and 75 not out, with a six to end the match with a flourish, he proceeded to bash 227 and then a new test record 336 not out in the two match series England played in New Zealand on their way home, a record four innings sequence of 739 runs.
  4. Clive Inman – right handed batter. He played for Leicestershire until Ray Illingworth was brought in as captain and decided that the team could not function as such with him and Peter Marner in it, whereat he moved to Derbyshire. He cashed in a combination of Nottinghamshire wanting to provoke a declaration and needing to speed up their over rate the reach a 50 in eight minutes, now quite rightly relegated to a footnote in the record books – big Jim Smith’s 11 minute effort for Middlesex was made against proper bowling.
  5. Stanley Jackson – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. The fact that he played as an amateur and was never able to commit to a tour gave him a bizarre looking test record – five test hundreds, all scored against Australia and all in home matches. Like Fredericks he went into politics post cricket, although he was never a minster – he was at one time chairman of the Unionist Party. When he was preparing to make his maiden speech in the house the debate was not going well for his side and he was told “we are holding you back, it is a sticky wicket”, and then when the situation was looking rosier “Get your pads on, you’re in next”.
  6. *Imran Khan – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. He emerged with the best record of the four great test all rounders who emerged in the late 1970s (Ian Botham, Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee were the other three), averaging 37.69 with the bat and 22.81 with the ball. He is another who went into politics after retiring from cricket, and is the current President of Pakistan.
  7. George Lohmann – right arm medium pace bowler, right handed lower order batter. A little high at number seven, but he certainly could bat. However it is is his bowling, 112 wickets in 18 tests at just 10.75 each, that gets him in here.
  8. Fazal Mahmood – right arm fast medium bowler. Once described as the ‘Bedser od Pakistan’, he took his test wickets at 24 each, including a 12 wicket haul in Pakistan’s first ever test match victory at The Oval in 1954.
  9. +Wayne Noon – wicket keeper, right handed lower order batter. 215 dismissals in 92 first class matches, and an average of 20 with the bat including 12 first class fifties. He played county cricket for Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire, and also played in New Zealand for Canterbury.
  10. Pragyan Ojha – left arm orthodox spinner. Had an excellent record in Indian first class cricket, and played for Surrey in the county championship, spinning them to promotion back to the first division.
  11. Erapalli Prasanna – off spinner. One of four great spinners to play for India in the 1970s, along with Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan. In the only test match that all four of them played it was Prasanna who had the best figures.

This team has a strong top three, Inman and Jackson are not the worst at four and five, a great all rounder, four fine bowlers and a keeper. Imran Khan, Fazal Mahmood and George Lohmann, with Jackson as fourth seamer give good options in that department and the spin duo of Ojha and Prasanna is high quality, and there is Hammond as seventh bowler.

THE CONTEST

Imran Khan’s XI are clear favourites for this one – the only batters of absolutely indisputable class possessed by Joe Vine’s XI are Weekes and the keeper Ames, and the bowling while stronger is not sensational. Imran Khan’s XI by contrast is undeniably strong in both departments. I bring this post to a close by presenting the teams in tabulated form.

TTA IX