All Time XIs – Firsts and Onlies

Today’s variation on an all time XI theme looks at firsts and a few onlies, plus a couple of bonus cricket links and a measure of mathematics, and of course photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another variation on the all-time XI theme. Today we look at people who were the first to achieve certain landmarks, generally though not exclusively related to test cricket. Our two teams are named in honour of their designated captains and as usual due consideration has been given to the balance of each side.

THE BAKEWELL XI

  1. Warren Bardsley – left handed opening batter. He entered the test record books at The Oval in 1909, when he scored 136 and 130, the first time the double feat had been performed in a test match. Ironically, having hit two in one match, in a reverse of the usual bus situation, he would then wait ages for his next Ashes ton, which finally came almost 17 years later, at Lord’s in 1926 when he scored 193 not out in all out total of 389. England on that latter occasion batted the game to a stalemate, as each of their top five passed 50, and they amassed 475-3. The 1909 game at The Oval also ended in draw, which was enough for Australia to keep The Ashes. Bardsley was Australia’s leading scorer of first class centuries at the end of his career, at which time a young chap named Bradman was just beginning to make his presence felt in the batting record books that by the time he had finished would bear his seemingly indelible stamp.
  2. CAG Russell – right handed opening batter. Charles Albert George ‘Jack’ Russell, who I introduced by his initials was no relation of the later wicket keeper Robert Charles ‘Jack’ Russell who has featured elsewhere in this series, though the first ‘Jack’ Russell was the son of a county wicket keeper. At Durban in 1923 he scored 140 and 111, the first Englishman to achieve the double feat and test level, and the only person to date to have done so in their final appearance at that level! He was a casualty of the emergence of Herbert Sutcliffe, who made his test debut the following home season, had a record breaking Ashes tour in 1924-5 (see yesterday’s post) and never looked back. Russell’s test career lasted 10 matches, in which he played 18 innings, two of them not outs and scored 910 runs for an average of 56.87, or 50.56 if you discount the not outs. He passed fifty a total of seven times in those innings and converted five of the seven into hundreds.
  3. George Headley – right handed batter. The great West Indian, referred to by some as ‘the black Bradman’ (though in the Caribbean folk preferred to talk of ‘the white Headley’) was the first ever to score twin centuries in a test match at Lord’s, the home of cricket. He also holds the record for the highest individual score in the 4th innings of a test match, 223 at Kingston in 1930.
  4. Walter Hammond – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium fast, ace slip catcher. He was the first to score back to back test match double centuries, 251 at Sydney and 200 not out at Melbourne in the second and third matches of the 1928-9 Ashes, and was also the second to do so, when on the way home from the 1932-3 Ashes he scored 227 and 336 not out in New Zealand. He was also the first non-wicket keeper to take 100 catches at test level.
  5. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close catcher. He was the first to play in as many as 50 successive test matches. A combination of the infrequency of tests in his day and World War I meant that the great sequence began in 1909 and did not end until 1928, when he was passed over for the 1928-9 Ashes in favour of Phil Mead.
  6. *Enid Bakewell – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. She was the first player to score a century and record a ten wicket match haul in the same test match. Between 1968 and 1979 she played 12 test matches, scoring 1078 runs at 59.88 and taking 50 wickets at 16.62. I have awarded her the captaincy, and with it her name in the title of the XI.
  7. +Leslie Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was the first regular wicket keeper to play at least 20 test matches and finish with a batting average of over 40. He scored 120 at Lord’s in 1934, matching left hander Maurice Leyland’s century and helping England to a total of 440, after which a combination of rain juicing up the pitch and the left arm spin of Hedley Verity (15-104 in the match) saw England to their only win in an Ashes match at headquarters in the entire 20th century.
  8. Alan Davidson – left arm pace bowler, left handed lower order batter, brilliant fielder (known as ‘the Claw’ for his ability to grasp catches that tested credulity). At the Gabba in 1960 Davidson became the first cricketer in test history to combine a match aggregate of 100 runs (44 and 80) and 10 wickets (5-135 and 6-87). His endeavours in that game were not quite in vain, but nor did they bring the desired result for his team – the match, for the first time in 83 years of test cricket, finished in an exact tie – WI 453 and 284, Aus 505 and 232. Two direct hit run outs from Joe Solomon, the first to account for Davidson when he seemed to be winning the match for Australia, and the second to bring about the tie were key, and Conrad Hunte produced a tremendous long throw to run out Meckiff when that worthy was going for a third that would have settled the issue in Australia’s favour. Davidson has the lowest average of bowlers to have played post war, taken at least 150 test wickets and finished their careers, his 186 wickets at the highest level costing 20.53 each.
  9. Billy Bates – off spinner, useful lower middle order bat. At Melbourne in 1882-3, en route to helping Ivo Bligh achieve his goal of bringing back ‘The Ashes of English Cricket’, following the 1882 Oval test match and subsequent mock obituary in The Sporting Times, Bates took seven wickets in each innings, while also scoring 55 for England. His bowling performance included the first hat trick by an English bowler in test cricket, the first hat trick by someone who scored 50 in the same test and the first test combination of ten wickets and a fifty. His career was ended early when he lost the use of an eye after being injured at net practice. His 15 tests yielded 656 runs at 27.33 and 50 wickets at 16.42. He was the first of a remarkable sporting dynasty – his son WE Bates played for Yorkshire and Glamorgan, while grandson Ted Bates was involved with Southampton Football Club in various capacities for upwards of six decades.
  10. Frederick Spofforth – right arm fast bowler (later added variations). Spofforth was the first bowler to take a test match hat trick, the first bowler to take three wickets in four balls at test level and the bowler responsible for the victory that created The Ashes.
  11. Jimmy Matthews – leg spinner. How does a bowler who took a mere 16 test wickets, and never more than four in a test innings get into a team like this? Simple, six of those wickets, his only ones of the match in question, and all captured without the assistance of fielders, came in the form of the only ever incidence of a bowler taking a hat trick in each innings of a test match. His great moment came in the Triangular Tournament of 1912, for Australia against South Africa, at Old Trafford. His victims were Beaumont, Pegler and Ward in the first innings, and Taylor, Schwarz and Ward in the second, giving Ward his place in the record books as the scorer a king pair and hat trick victim in each innings. Ward by the way was a wicket keeper, and he did actually score two test fifties in his career. The modes of dismissal were bowled, LBW, LBW in the first innings and bowled, caught and bowled, caught and bowled in the second.

This team has an excellent top five, two of whom could contribute as bowlers, a great all rounder at six, a splendid keeper batter at seven and four varied bowlers of whom three definitely deserve to be described as great. The bowling has Davidson and Spofforth to take the new ball, Hammond as third seamer if needed, Bakewell, Bates and Matthews to bowl three different varieties of spin and Woolley as seventh bowler – 20 wickets won’t be a problem for this combo.

THE WARNE XI

  1. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter. The first ever to score twin centuries on first class debut. Against Gloucestershire in 1948 he accepted responsibility for ensuring that off spinner Tom Goddard did not get an England call up, and proceeded to belt 290 in five hours, leaving Goddard nursing a very sick looking bowling analysis, and well and truly out of test contention. I have written about elsewhere.
  2. George Gunn – right handed opening batter. The Accidental Test Tourist – he was in Australia on health grounds when he got the emergency call up to join England’s ranks during the 1907-8 Ashes, the first time an English tour party had adopted such an approach. He responded by scoring 119 and 74.
  3. Lawrence Rowe – right handed batter. The first to score a double century and a century on test debut, 214 and 100 not out vs New Zealand. He subsequently took a triple century off England as well, but eye problems truncated his career.
  4. Tip Foster – the first to score a double century on test debut, the only person to captain England at cricket and football. I have covered him elsewhere.
  5. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, every kind of left arm bowler known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The first to hit six sixes in an over in first class cricket. I have written about him elsewhere.
  6. Basil D’Oliveira – right handed bat, right arm medium fast bowler. The first non-white South African to play test cricket. As mentioned in my South Africa post he had to move countries to be able to achieve this, and was lucky to find backers to help him do so. The 158 he scored against Australia at The Oval immediately before the selectors of that winter’s tour party to South Africa sat down to deliberate took his test record to 972 runs at 48.60, an average bettered only by Barrington among those then playing for England. The subsequent ramifications of his non-selection and then selection as replacement for someone picked as a bowler shook the sporting world, and ultimately led to South Africa being isolated from world cricket for over 20 years.
  7. Ian Botham – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler, ace slipper. Ian Botham was the first male test cricketer to score a hundred and take a ten wicket match haul, against India in 1979. He was also the first to combine a century with a five wicket innings haul on more than two occasions (v New Zealand at Christchurch, 103, 30, 5 first innings wickets, three second innings wickets, v Pakistan at Lord’s, 108 and 8-34, the first century and eight-for combo at that level, v India in 1979 – 114, 6-58, 7-48, v Australia at Headingley 6-95, 50, 149 not out, one second innings wicket and v New Zealand on the 1983-4 tour, 138 and 5-59, before New Zealand were inspired by Martin Crowe’s maiden test hundred to save the game with a fighting second innings display), and the first to the career triple double at test level (3,000 runs and 300 wickets, achieved in his 72nd match).
  8. +Jack Blackham – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The first keeper to regularly do without a long stop, and the first keeper to score twin fifties in a test match.
  9. *Shane Warne – leg spinner, right handed lower order bat. First bowler to take 100 test wickets in a country other than his own – he reached the mark for matches in England in 2005. He is the leading wicket taker in Anglo-Australian tests and second to Muralitharan in the all-time list. He is the designated captain of this XI.
  10. Jim Laker – off spinner. Only one bowler in first class history has taken more than 17 wickets in a first class match, and he did in an Ashes test. James Charles Laker took 19-90 (9-37, followed by 10-53) at Old Trafford in 1956 to retain the Ashes for England. In a tour match for Surrey against Australia on a good Oval pitch he took 10-88 from 46 overs in the first innings of the match, settling for 2-42 at the second attempt, when his spinning partner Tony Lock took 7-49, Surrey becoming the first county to beat the Aussies since 1912. England made 459 in the first innings of the Manchester match, Peter Richardson and David Sheppard (then bishop of Woolwich, later bishop of Liverpool) making centuries, Sheppard’s 113 being the highest individual innings of the series. Australia then sank for 84, before determined resistance by Colin McDonald (89 in 337 minutes, highest Aussie score of the series) saw them to 205 second time round. Four front line spinners operated in this match, and three of them (Ian Johnson, Richie Benaud and Tony Lock) had combined match figures of 7-380 (an average of 54.43 per wicket). In 1950 Laker had taken 8-2 for England v The Rest at Bradford as The Rest limped to 27 all out. In 1954 he was involved in one cricket’s most remarkable fixtures, when Surrey sealed their third straight County Championship (a sequence they would extend to seven under first Surridge, five of them, and then Peter May, two more). Worcestershire were rolled for 25 in their first innings, and Surrey had reached 92-3 when Surridge decided that he fancied another go at Worcestershire that evening and declared! Not bothering with conventional new ball bowling he threw the cherry straight to his spin twins, who each produced an unplayable ball before the close. The following morning Worcetsreshire were blown away for 40, to lose by an innings and 27 runs. Laker, not required in the first innings rout of Worcestershire, took a hat trick in the second. That aggregate of 157 runs for 23 wickets remains the lowest ever for a completed County Championship game, and the victory that Surridge conjured out of nothing was as mentioned enough to secure that year’s title for Surrey.
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. The first Indian fast bowler to rattle Australia in their own backyard. His 6-33 in Australia’s first innings at the MCG in 2018 effectively settled the destination of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Neither of the two great quicks of the 1930s, Amar Singh and Mahomed Nissar ever got to pit their wits against Australia, and basically between them and Bumrah India never had a really fast bowler of top quality.

This team has a splendid top four, three all rounders of differing types, a top of the range keeper and three fine specialist bowlers. Bumrah would share the new ball with either Botham or Sobers, with the other third seamer, while the spin options are provided by Warne, Laker and Sobers, and there is medium pace back up if required available from D’Oliveira.

THE CONTEST

These are two strong and formidably well balanced sides. Obviously, with all due respect to the only person ever to bag a hat trick in each innings of a test match the Warne XI have an advantage in the leg spin department. However, Bates vs Laker is a good match up, while Sobers’ talents are counterbalanced by those of Davidson, Bakewell and Woolley. The Warne XI have an edge in the pace bowling department, but not much of one. There is also no doubt in my mind that the Bakewell XI have greater strength and depth in batting. I reckon this one goes down to the wire and I cannot even attempt to call a winner.

A COUPLE OF CRICKET LINKS

The pinchhitter has produced an excellent post today, looking back 17 years ago to the highest successful run chase in test history, when the West Indies chased down 418 in Antigua.

The full toss blog have a post up comparing Strauss’ 2011 England with Vaughan’s 2005 England – and coming as far as I am concerned to the right conclusion as to which was the better unit.

A MEASURE OF MATHEMATICS

Another one from brilliant.org:

Fish Fiction

Your task is to use the above information to identify the smallest fish – and if you enjoy the task establish a complete ranking order of the five fish.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Today’s teams have put in their appearance, I have served up a couple of bonus cricket links and a mathematical teaser, so I now hand over to you for your comments with my usual sign off…

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The first of two particularly satsifying starling pics

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Mars mapping, from Dava Sobel’s “Planets”

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Firsts and Onlies
The teams in tabulated form.

 

 

All Time XIs – The Away Ashes

Today’s variation on the all-time XI theme is a paradoxical one – it features two teams of players whose finest hours occurred in enemy territory.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my ‘all time XIs‘ series. Today we look at players who enjoyed their finest hours when doing battle in enemy territory, with The Away Ashes. Before getting to the main body of this post however, there is a matter to be attended to, in my usual ‘reverse tabloid’ style so that it cannot be missed:

CORRECTION/ APOLOGY

In yesterday’s South Africa post I failed to mention Dale Steyn when looking at players from my lifetime. I still stick to my chosen pair of specialist speedsters Kagiso Rabada and Allan Donald, but I should have included Steyn in the honourable mentions as a candidate for one of those spots. My apologies to Mr Steyn for the oversight.

THE AWAY ASHES – ENGLAND

Just before I start going through the players, a quick warning about an easy trap that people might fall into: that these players greatest achievements came away from home does not imply that they were not also successful at home – the majority of my choices had their successes at home as well.

  1. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. The Yorkshireman scored 734 runs at 81.67 with four centuries in the 1924-5 series, which his side still lost 4-1. At the time both the runs aggregate and the century tally were records for a single series. In 1928-9 he played the single most crucial innings of the series when his 135, begun on a vicious sticky, underpinned England’s successful chase of 332 which put them into an invulnerable 3-0 with two matches to play lead. In 1932-3 he was joint leading run scorer of the series, with 440 at 55.00, something of an underachievement by his own stellar standards in Ashes cricket (overall average 66.85) as England ran out out 4-1 winners. That was third and last trip down under meaning that even after that 1924-5 series England had won nine and lost six in Australia with him in the side (1-4, 4-1, 4-1). His home Ashes highlights included a match and Ashes winning 161 at The Oval in 1926, and the same score at the same ground in a different outcome four years later.
  2. Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter. A career that spanned 12 years, saw him score over 12,000 test runs and set an all time record for consecutive test match appearances naturally included many highlights. However, one particular achievement shone out more brightly than anything else he did over the period: his 766 runs at 127.67 in the 2010-11 Ashes as England won down under for the first time in 24 years. In total in that series he spent just over 36 hours at the crease, 15 of them in his two innings at The Gabba, when his second innings 235 not out prevented England from going 1-0 down. His 148 at Adelaide, alongside Pietersen’s test best 227 enabled England to fully capitalise on a fantastic start to that match – Australia, having won the toss and batted lost their first three wickets on the opening day for two runs, two to slip catches off Anderson and a run out. In the final game at Sydney, with England 2-1 up he batted 488 minutes scoring 189, setting England up for a monster total after which Australia’s batting folded to give England a 3-1 series victory. At Melbourne in 2017 on a strip devoid of any hint of life he produced his final major Ashes knock, 244 not out, the highest ever Ashes score by someone carrying their bat through a completed innings.
  3. Douglas Jardine – right handed batter. He made two tours of Australia, in 1928-9 and 1932-3, and England won both series 4-1, the second under his captaincy. In the fourth match of the 1928-9 series at Adelaide he made his highest Ashes score, 98, sharing a third wicket stand of 262 with Hammond (177 not out), which put England in total control of the match. Though he did not manage any really major scores as captain in the 1932-3 series he did on some occasions soak up considerable amounts of time, putting more miles into the legs of the Aussie bowlers.
  4. Walter Hammond – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer, expert slip fielder. In his first Ashes series, in 1928-9, he announced his presence in cricket’s oldest international rivalry by scoring 905 runs at 113.125, including the first ever incidence of successive test double centuries, 251 at Sydney in the second game and then 200 not out in the first innings of the third match at Melbourne, before then hitting 119 and 177 not out in the fourth match at Adelaide. In 1932-3 he was joint top scorer for the series with 440 runs at 55.00, including the first half a record sequence – in the final match he hit 101 and 75 not out, and then in New Zealand he thumped 227 and 336 not out, the only four innings test sequence to top 700 runs. In 1936-37 he scored 231 not out in the second match of the series, but was overshadowed by Bradman for the rest of the series. He unwisely agreed to skipper England in a ‘goodwill’ tour of Australia in 1946-7, by when he was 43 years old and unable to summon up former glories, averaging only 21 in the series. Of his three home Ashes series 1930 and 1934 were both failures, while 1938 was a success.
  5. *Percy Chapman – left handed batter, occasional slow bowler, superlative close fielder, captain. Chapman was asked to captain England at The Oval in 1926 after the first four matches of the series had been drawn and the selectors had concluded that Arthur Carr was not the man for the job. He led them to victory and The Ashes. In 1928-9 he was made captain of the tour party and led England to a 4-1 triumph. His own batting contributions were minimal, but his captaincy attracted universal praise. He was a casualty of Bradman’s explosive vengeance in 1930, dropped from the captaincy after Lord’s that year, where the Don scored 254 (ended by Chapman holding a near miraculous catch – Bradman was to confirm that the ball had gone precisely where he intended to hit it and that he had not believed the catch was possible) in a total of 729-6 declared, and even though Chapman hit a defiant 121 in England’s second innings they went down by seven wickets.
  6. Bernard Bosanquet – right handed batter, leg spinner. The pioneer of the googly took his new weapon with him to Australia as part of Warner’s 1903-4 Ashes party, and played a major role in the winning of that series, including taking his best ever test figures of 8-107 in an innings.
  7. +Jack Richards – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Kept on the 1986-7 tour, when England won the series down under, scored 133 at Perth in second test thereof.
  8. Harold Larwood – right arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. Two ashes tours, 1928-9 and 1932-3, and two 4-1 series wins in Australia, in the second of which he was the undoubted star.
  9. Farmer White – left arm orthodox spinner. His accuracy and stamina were vital to England’s 1928-9 triumph – he bowled 542 overs in the five matches of that series. In the Adelaide match of that series his total figures across the two innings were 124.5 overs, 37 maidens, 256 runs, 13 wickets.
  10. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. If fast bowlers ever came quicker than the 1932-3 version of Larwood, then the 1954-5 version of Tyson was one of the few to do so. England lost the first match of that series at The Gabba by an innings and plenty, Tyson taking 1-160. However, he also listened to and acted on some shrewd advice from former fast bowler Alf Gover, shortened his overly long run considerably to conserve on energy in the Australian heat, and in matches 2,3 and 4 of that series was simply too hot for the Aussies to handle, being the key ingredient in a turnaround that saw 0-1 and likely loss of the urn become 3-1 and retention of the urn.
  11. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium. Archie MacLaren selected Barnes for the 1901-2 tour of Australia after a being impressed by him in the nets. Barnes won the first match of that series for his side, bagged another five for in the second, but was then rendered hors de combat by injury, an Australia ran out 4-1 winners. Barnes missed the 1903-4 series which England won. The 1907-8 tour party was poorly chosen and lost badly, but Barnes played a key role in the one test that England won in that series – his 38 not out in the final innings guided England home when they needed 73 from their last two wickets. His greatest Ashes moments came in the 1911-12 tour, when England won 4-1, and he took 34 wickets, backed him left arm pace bowler Frank Foster with 32, while the batting was dominated the opening pair of Jack Hobbs and Wilfred Rhodes. In all Barnes took 77 wickets in 13 test matches in Australia, as compared to 29 wickets in home Ashes matches.

This team has a magnificent looking opening pair, two good and one great batter in the 3-5 slots, an all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four splendid bowlers. The bowling has blitz men Larwood and Tyson, the extraordinary Barnes, and two contrasting spin options in White and Bosanquet, plus Hammond as a possible sixth bowler.

THE AWAY ASHES: AUSTRALIA

  1. Mark Taylor – left handed opening batter, fine slip fielder. Taylor had a fine record at the top of the Aussie order, was the second in a sequence of long serving Aussie captains after Border, and probably ranked third of the four (Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting followed Taylor) as a captain – my own reckoning makes the four skippers who spanned the ‘green and golden age’ rank as follows as captains: Border (unarguable – he taught an Australia who had forgotten the art exactly how to win and guided them from also-rans to top dogs), Waugh (who made a dominant side even better), Taylor (who consolidated Border’s work and kept Australia at the top) and Ponting (who inherited the captaincy of a team of champions and left a collection of ‘also rans’ for his successor). His greatest moments as a batter were in England in 1989 when he cashed in on the organization of what turned out to be the last of the rebel tours and general selectorial incompetence by the English to score 839 runs in the series, a record for any Aussie not named Bradman. Eight years later England was the scene of a display of massive character from Taylor, who was going through a run of dreadful form with the bat ans was under fire from his detractors. Australia were rolled in the first innings of the series at Edgbaston for 118, and had looked like not even managing 100 for large parts of the innings, and England spearheaded by Hussain with a double hundred and Thorpe with a century built a huge lead. Taylor opened the Australian second innings knowing that a second failure in the match could easily see the axe descend on him, and proceeded to chisel out a determined century, which could not save the match for his side, but did save his career. Australia bounced back to win the series, although England gained another victory in the final match at The Oval.
  2. Bill Ponsford – right handed opening batter. In 1934 the chunky opener achieved the rare feat of finishing with a better series batting average than Don Bradman. Ponsford averaged 94.83 for that series, while Bradman had to settle for a figure of 94.75. In the fourth match of the series at Leeds he scored 181, sharing a 4th wicket partnership of 388 with Bradman (304). Then, at The Oval in a match played to a finish because the series was not settled, as was tradition in England at the time (all test matches in Australia were played to a finish back then), he scored 266 in the first innings, sharing a second wicket stand of 451 with Bradman (244). Australia won the test match by 562 runs and regained the Ashes, the victory coming, as it had four years previously, on skipper Woodfull’s birthday. Ponsford retired from the game at the end of that series, the only player to date to score hundreds in his first two tests and hundreds in his last two tests.
  3. *Don Bradman – right handed batter. He played in four of the five tests of the 1928-9 Ashes, scoring one century for a badly beaten side. In 1930 he came to England, with a number of critics predicting that he would fail there. He reached his thousand first class runs for the season before May was done, the first non-English player to do so (and he would repeat the feat in 1938, the only player to achieve it twice), and he began his test performances comparatively quietly, with 131 in the second innings of the first match at Trent Bridge, when Australia were beaten. In the second at Lord’s he hit 254 in the first innings, and was one of the three Aussies dismissed in the second as they chased down 76. At Headingley in the third match he hit 334, 309 of them on the first day. After a quiet match in Manchester it was time for the final match of the series at The Oval, where in the tour match v Surrey he had scored 252 not out in a tally of 379-5 in a rain ruined affair. He racked up 232 this time round in a score of 695 as Australia won by a huge margin. In all in that series Bradman played eight innings, one of them a not out, and amassed 974 runs at 139.14. In 1934 he averaged 94.75, and in 1938 it was over a hundred again, helped by unbeaten centuries is the Trent Bridge runfest that opened the series (seven individual centuries and over 1,500 runs for less than 30 wickets in the game) and in the low scoring game at Headingley that saw Australia retain the Ashes. In 1948 he was outscored by opener Arthur Morris, but helped by 173 not out at his favourite Headingley he had a higher average for the series.
  4. Billy Murdoch – right handed batter, sometimes wicket keeper. Twice in his test career he scored over 150, 153 not out at The Oval in 1880 in an ultimately losing cause (England after largely dominating the game had an attack of collywobbles in the final innings, contriving to surrender five wickets while chasing down 57) and 211 in a drawn game at the same ground four years later, the first double century in test cricket, and the second in the sequence of record individual scores at that level that in full reads: 165 by Bannerman at Melbourne in 1877, 211 by Murdoch at The Oval in 1884, 287 by Foster at Sydney in 1903-4, 325 by Sandham at Kingston in 1930, 334 by Bradman at Headingley in 1930, 336 not out by Hammond at Christchurch in 1933, 364 by Hutton at The Oval in 1938, 365 not out by Sobers at Kinsgton in 1957, 375 by Lara at Antigua in 1994, 380 by Hayden at Perth in 2000 and 400 not out by Lara at Antigua in 2004.
  5. Charlie Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. Macartney started his career as a blocker and ended it as one of the most highly regarded stroke makers of all time. In 1926 he became the first ever to score centuries in three successive test matches, although the weather saw it that all ended in draws.
  6. Harry Graham – right handed batter. He scored a century on test debut at Lord’s in 1893.
  7. +Graham Manou – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A rare Aussie ‘one cap wonder’, that appearance coming in England in 2009.
  8. Shane Warne – leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. Only one person has ever captured 100 test wickets in a country other than their own: Shane Keith Warne, who reached the landmark in England in 2005, in the course of the only Ashes series in which he finished on the losing side. He announced his presence in Ashes contests with the ‘Gatting ball’ at Old Trafford in 1993, his first delivery in an Ashes match, which drifted in the air to land well wide of leg stump and then spun back so sharply that it brushed the outside of the off stump just enough to dislodge the bail, to the stupefaction of the batter. Robin Smith who since making his own debut four years earlier had built a hugely impressive record was made to look a novice in that series, and Alec Stewart, deployed in the middle order in that series, fine player of fast bowlers that he was, never looked anything close to comfortable against Warne either. Even in the 2005 triumph Warne retained full mastery over the England batting, collecting 40 wickets in the series.
  9. Bob Massie – right arm fast medium bowler. Australia, captained by Ian Chappell, brought a largely young and unknown side to England in 1972. The first match was lost to Ashes holders England, and then the sides reconvened at Lord’s. Massie took 8-84 in England’s first innings 272, a sensational debut effort. Australia, with a century from Greg Chappell to help them led by 36, and skipper Ian Chappell gathered his team together and said he wanted a wicket before that deficit was knocked off, well rather as with Bill Bowes and his leg side field for Vic Richardson in 1932, ‘Chapelli’ did not get one, he got five! England recovered somewhat from that catastrophic beginning to their second innings, but only enough to reach 116, Massie 8-53 to give him 16-137 on debut. A victory target of 81 did not unduly trouble Australia, opener Keith Stackpole taking the opportunity to record an unbeaten half century. That was over half of Massie’s tally of test wickets. In the end England retained the Ashes, courtesy of a victory at Headingley, although Australia levelled the series by winning the final game at The Oval, both Chappells notching first innings centuries.
  10. Charles Turner – right arm medium fast bowler. A rare example of an Aussie great who never won an Ashes series – it was his misfortune to be in his prime at a time when his only reliable bowling support came from Jack Ferris, and Australia were riven by dissension. During one of his tours (1886, I think), there was an occasion when the train carriage in which the Aussie team had been travelling was marked by blood spatters! Nevertheless, he was an even more difficult proposition in England than back at home.
  11. Terry Alderman – right arm medium fast bowler. Meet the man who should have been the first bowler to 100 test wickets in a country other than this own (although a case could actually be made on Barnes’ behalf, since had been picked for the 1903-4 tour he would surely have done it in Australia). Terence Michael Alderman took an Australian ashes series record 42 wickets in a losing cause in the 1981 series. Eight years later he took 41 in a winning cause (both these series were of six matches, whereas the England ashes record, Laker’s 46 in 1956 came in a five match series), to bring his tally in England to 83 in 12 matches. Terry Alderman should have been part of the 1985 tour party as well, but he foolishly went on a rebel tour to apartheid South Africa instead, which netted him a three year ban from international cricket. The 1989 haul included a sequence of four successive innings in which he trapped opener Graham Gooch LBW, with the Essex man’s highest score in that little patch of torment being 13. Alderman may actually have contributed to the 1985 Ashes as well, since he was for a time a Kent team mate of Richard Ellison, who as a bowler of a similar type probably benefitted from the presence of an international practitioner. In the last two matches of that series Ellison captured 17 wickets, including the prize scalp of Border in three of the four innings.

This team has a decent top six, a splendid keeper, and four excellent and varied specialist bowlers (and Macartney had a 10 wicket haul in a test match with his left arm spin as well).

THE CONTEST

This looks an absolute ripper of a contest. Perhaps the trick would be to stage it on neutral territory, though not India, as that would spike Warne’s guns, so that both sides could treat as an away contest and thereby bring the best out of themselves.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S PROBLEM

Yesterday’s post included the following teaser:

Brilliant

The available answers were 9, 15, 21 and 27.

The correct answer is nine, the speed of ball nine after collision being 511 m/s.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The scene has been set for the ‘Away Ashes’, with our players introduced and explained, yesterday’s teaser has been answered, but just before signing off there are some links to share, from the Guardian, where actor Rory Kinnear has a tribute to his sister who has just died of covid-19, in which he takes the “died with it, not of it” brigade sternly to task. Please read and share. A site which I discovered today, doodlemaths, has a number of posts about “Mathematicians who changed the world“, the example which drew me in, and which I offer as an introduction being about Florence Nightingale. Now it is finally time for my usual sign off…

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Goldfinch (two pics)

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Four starlings all perfectly positioned for the camera at one time.

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A double-page spread illustration in Dava Sobel’s “Planets”

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Away Ashes
The teams, in tabulated form with abridged comments.

All Time XIs – Teams of the Talents

My latest variation on the all-time XI theme.

INTRODUCTION

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

TEAMS OF THE TALENTS EXPLAINED

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

TEAM OF THE TALENTS – HISTORIC XI

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

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

TEAM OF THE TALENTS MODERN XI

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

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

THE CONTEST

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

PHOTOGRAPHS

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

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Teams of the talents
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs -The Cognominal Clash

For my latest variation on the ‘All time XI’ cricket theme I offer you the Cognominal Contest for the ‘Nugget-Davo’ Trophy! Also features a video clip of the little gem that is Tammy Beaumont, an important autism related link and a few photos.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest variation upon an ‘all time XI‘ theme. This one requires a little bit of preliminary explanation, so without further ado…

THE COGNOMINAL BRIEF

I have devised the word cognominal myself from the Latin cognomen, meaning nickname. Some Roman cognomina were merely functional: Scaevola indicated that the cognominee or an ancestor (cognomina were often inherited) was left handed, Magnus or Maximus indicated achievement, arrogance or some combination of the foregoing, since the meant great and greatest respectively, and there were many other such. Others pointed up features, so that if an ancestor had a wart on their nose one might inherit the cognomen Cicero, meaning chickpea because that was what the wart looked like. Others were ironic – the first Claudius to be cognominated Pulcher meaning beautiful was so dubbed because he had a decidedly unbeautiful character, and some could be cruel – the already multiply cognominated Gaius Julius Caesar Strabo Vopiscus (Caesar implying possession of a luxuriant head of hair, Strabo meaning ‘cross-eyed’ and Vopiscus meaning that he was the survivor of what had been a pair of twins) subsequently acquired Sesquiculus, not just an arsehole but an arsehole and a half! Cricketer nicknames can be excellent or they can show an utter lack of imagination. The Cognominal Clash features an XI who had impressive nicknames and an XI whose nicknames were all in the ‘must do better’ category. Some of the players I have placed in the latter XI also had less unimpressive nicknames, but I have played fair in terms of creating a contest by picking two decent looking teams. It is now time to meet the teams starting with the…

LAME NICKNAMES XI

  1. Graham Gooch – Goochie – right handed batter, right arm bowler of a pace that was described at various stages of his career as anything from fast medium to slow medium, scorer of 8,900 test runs, one of the openers for my all-time Essex XI. As well as his ‘must do better’ nickname his moustache caused him to be dubbed ‘Zap’ in honour of the Mexican revolutionary Zapata. I personally rate the 154 not out in a team total of 252 all out on a pig of a pitch and in the face Ambrose at his most host hostile at Headingley in 1991 to have been the finest innings he ever played, although he scored more on quite a few occasions.
  2. Matthew Hayden – Haydos – left handed batter, very occasional medium pacer. He was also referred to as Hulk on account of his size and his approach to batting. He was the first to cash in on the brain fade that led Nasser Hussain to put Australia in at the Gabba in 2002, walloping 197 in the first innings and then belting another ton in the second innings. He finished with a test average of over 50, in spite of a dreadful run spanning the first four matches of the 2005 Ashes.
  3. *Michael Vaughan – Vaughany – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, uncertain catcher. The elegant right hander, who also had the nickname Virgil, crunched three centuries in ultimately losing cause in the 2002-3 Ashes series (not a record, Herbert Sutcliffe hit four centuries for England in the 1924-5 Ashes which Australia won 4-1) but got his revenge when he captained England to victory in the 2005 series. In the home summer of 2002 the Indians found weaknesses, but not generally until a double century (approached closely on two occasions but never actually reached) was on the horizon!
  4. Neil Harvey – Harv – left handed batter. At the age 19 Neil Harvey ran up a ton in his first Ashes innings, at Headingley in 1948, and by the time he called it a day he had amassed over 6,000 test runs at an average of 48.41.
  5. Mike Gatting – Gatt – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. He benefitted from being far more chances to establish himself in test cricket than most, and after taking over 50 innings to notch his first three figure score at that level he ended up producing sufficiently much more to finish with an average of 35.
  6. Ian Botham – Both – right handed bat, right arm fast medium bowler. The all rounder, who also had some more colourful monikers such as Beefy (for his build), Guy and Gorilla, both in honour of a popular resident of London Zoo, took just 21 matches to complete the test double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets.
  7. +Ian Healy – Heals – wicket keeper, right handed lower middle order bat. The most accomplished male Australian wicket keeper I have actually seen in action, and without doubt, even in a team captained Steve Waugh, the undisputed world sledging champion for pretty much his entire career. Adam ‘Church’ Gilchrist was of course a far better wielder of the willow, though Healy could be a major irritant in that department as well. Why did I specify male Australian wicket keeper? Well, Alyssa Healy, Ian’s niece, is a very fine practitioner with the gloves as well and undoubtedly a finer striker of the ball than her uncle was.
  8. Shane Warne – Warney – leg spinner, attacking lower order bat. He took over 700 wickets in test cricket, and was only once in 14 years on the losing end of an Ashes series, in 2005. He was also a shrewd tactician, and although I have honoured Vaughan with the captaincy, I name him as vice-captain, and was severely tempted to name him as captain.
  9. John Emburey – Embers – off spinner and unorthodox right handed lower order bat. He also had the marginally less unimaginative moniker Ernie, derived from his middle name of Ernest. He was four times an Ashes winner, at home in 1981 and 1985 and away in 1978-9 and 1986-7.
  10. Jeff Thomson – Thommo – right arm fast bowler and occasionally useful right arm lower order batter. One of those mentioned when discussion arises about who was the fastest bowler ever. He was at his best in the second half of the 1970s, and although he toured England in 1985 he was by then approaching 35, and unlike Lillee, his most famous bowling partner, he did not have the technical virtuosity to turn himself into a quality operator once the pace had gone, which meant he posed little threat by then.
  11. Matthew Hoggard – Hoggy or The Hogster – right arm fast medium, sometimes adhesive as a lower order batter. He took over 300 test wickets, and unlike many who make their names gaining movement on green pitches and under grey English skies he did not lose much of his effectiveness abroad. His career batting highlight was undoubtedly at Trent Bridge in 2005 when his cool head pulled England through what had every appearance of a crisis – chasing 129 to win and go one up with one to play England were 116-7 with only Harmison and a crocked Simon Jones to follow when Hoggard walked into bat. Hoggard and Giles scored those 13 runs, with Hoggard latching on to a full toss from Brett Lee for a crucial boundary to ease the tension. The full value of that little innings was illustrated a couple of weeks later, when a combination of the weather, some odd Australian decision making (accepting an offer of the light when they were pummelling England’s bowlers, and they needed there to be as much play as possible, since only a win could do them any good) and an extraordinary knock by Kevin Pietersen, well supported by that man Giles, saw England draw the match and claim the Ashes which had been in Australian hands since 1989.

The ‘Lame Nicknames’ have a solid opening pair, a contrasting 3,4 and 5, an x-factor all rounder, a keeper who can bat, two spinners who would complement each other nicely and Thommo to take the new ball with the wind behind him, while Hoggy gets his regular job of opening into the wind. Now it is time to meet…

THE COOL NICKNAMES XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – The Master – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. The scorer of 61,237 first class runs, including a 197 centuries at that level, both all-time records. His tallies of 3,636 runs and 12 centuries are England Ashes records, beaten only by Bradman (5,028 runs and 19 centuries). You may have seen other figures given for his first class records, but Hobbs himself vehemently opposed any changes to traditionally accepted figures. I am 100% certain that Hobbs would not have retired had he believed himself to be only one short of 200 centuries rather than three. He opens for my Surrey All Time XI.
  2. *WG Grace – The Champion – right handed opening bat, right arm bowler of various types, close fielder. He had a wide variety of other nicknames over the course of his long, illustrious and richly storied career. He tallied 54,896 first class runs, including 126 centuries and took 2,876 first class wickets, both records at the time of his retirement, and both still in the top half dozen all-time figures. The revisionists who increase Hobbs’ tallies decrease Grace’s, reducing his century county by two, an action which retrospectively nullifies the scenes at Taunton in 1925 when Hobbs scored his 126th and 127th first class centuries there to equal and then break the Grace record. Of course it is unthinkable for anyone else to captain this side, just as he captains my all time Gloucestershire XI.
  3. George Headley – Atlas – right handed batter, nicknamed after the titan of Greek mythology who carried the world on his shoulders, because he carried the West Indies on his shoulders. Twice he scored twin tons in test matches.
  4. Mike Hussey – Mr Cricket – left handed batter. He averaged over 50 in test cricket, and in the 2010-11 Ashes series down under it was only when England got him cheaply at Melbourne and Sydney that Australia’s resistance definitively crumbled.
  5. Clem Hill – Kruger – left handed batter, brilliant fielder. Hill amassed eight test centuries, which was a record until Hobbs overhauled it. At Old Trafford in 1902, when Australia secured the Ashes with a victory by three runs he had a ‘champagne moment’, when he sprinted thirty yards and then dived to take a catch that accounted for Dick Lilley – and it is claimed that his momentum carried him on a further twenty yards beyond where he actually held the catch! This catch made the difference between England needing eight with one wicket left and needing four with two wickets left, so it can genuinely be claimed as a catch that won a match. He was one of the ‘big six’ who refused to travel to England in 1912 because of a quarrel with the then newly established Australian Board of Control for International Cricket, later the Australian Cricket Board and now Cricket Australia. During the 1911-2 Ashes, won 4-1 by England, Hill was involved in a selectorial row that turned physical – he and Peter McAlister who were at loggerheads regarding the board anyway disputed over the right make up of the team, insults were exchanged, and an outraged Hill snapped and slapped McAlister’s face, which was the start of a brawl between the two that allegedly lasted twenty minutes. The ‘Kruger’ nickname arose because of a supposed physical similarity between him and the great South African leader.
  6. Alfred Mynn – The Lion of Kent – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The best all rounder of the 1830s and 40s.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – The Croucher – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. His nickname was derived from his batting stance, and is perhaps not all that cool, but I was prepared to compromise to set up a contest in which Jessop and Botham were on opposite teams.
  8. FR Spofforth – The Demon – right arm fast bowler (added many variations later in his career), right handed bat. Frederick Robert Spofforth announced himself to English audiences at Lord’s in 1878, when he was brought on to replace Frank Allan (dubbed ‘bowler of the century’ in the pretour publicity – Aussie mind games are nothing new) with the MCC score reading 27-2. MCC were all out for 33, Spofforth 6-4 in 23 deliveries! The Australians fared little better, inching their way to a very slow 41, after which the Australian captain did not call on Allan but went straight to Spofforth and Harry Boyle. This time MCC were all out for 19, with Boyle the chief destroyer capturing 6-3, while Spofforth had 4-16. Needing 12 to win, Australia lost one wicket getting them, the game ended on the same day it had started, and that aggregate of 105 runs for 31 wickets remains the lowest ever for a completed first class match. Spofforth was injured for the inaugural test on English soil in 1880, which the hosts won, but in 1882 he produced the bowling performance that created The Ashes, 14-90 in the match, seven of them in the second England innings, when needing only 85 to win the hosts crashed for 77 and were beaten by seven runs. England reached 50 with only two batters, Hornby and Barlow, gone, but then Ulyett was out 51 and crucially, Grace at 53, for only the second 30 plus score of the match, 32. Lyttelton and Lucas froze like rabbits in headlights, and Hornby, a poor choice as skipper, started tinkering with the batting order, and that was where the match was lost. Spofforth ultimately settled in England, marrying a woman from Derbyshire, and turning out a few times for that county.
  9. Charles Turner – The Terror -right arm medium-fast. Just as England were thinking that the terrors of Spofforth and Boyle were safely behind them, another amazing Aussie bowling pair arrived on the scene, Turner and the left armer Jack Ferris. Medium-fast described Turner’s pace, but leaves his method entirely out of account. He had formidably strong fingers (he could crush an orange to pulp between his thumb and forefinger), and gave the ball a ferocious rip, generating vicious .movement in any and all conditions. Only one bowler has ever taken 100 first class wickets in an Australian season – Turner in 1887-8.
  10. William Lillywhite – The Nonpareil – right arm fast, right handed lower order bat. He was one of the pioneers of ’round arm’ bowling, the form that came between under arm and over arm, and with his regular partner James Broadbridge he turned Sussex into a force that could take on the Rest of England, a situation that has never been the case since then and had not previously been the case. Some bowlers today still bowl with their arms at similar height to the position used by Lillywhite – I refer you to Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lankan slinger. In any case, I suspect Lillywhite would have been delighted to be allowed to bowl proper over arm and would have done so magnificiently – a champion in one era would be a champion in any era. About that nickname, courtesy of merriam-webster.com:
    Nonpareil MW

    Note the first entry under the ‘noun’ section.
  11. +EJ Smith – Tiger – wicketkeeper, was wont to say that he was willing to bat at no 1 or no 11 but nowhere in between, so I have given him his second choice, no 1 having a prior claimant! The nickname owed to his ferocious disposition. He kept at a time when wicket keepers habitually stood up no matter who was bowling, and I would guarantee that ‘St Smith B Spofforth’ would appear at least once, and probably more in scorecards featuring these teams.

This team has a top of the range opening pair, a wonderful array at nos 3-5, two ferocious all rounders at six and seven, a fine and varied trio of bowlers who would live up to their fearsome cognomina and a brilliant keeper who would let nothing through.

THE CONTEST

The battle for what I shall call the “Nugget – Davo” Trophy, honouring Keith Miller and Alan Davidson, who I could not find a place for in the two teams would be intense and hard fought, but I think the ‘Cool Nicknames’ would have the edge on as well as off the field and I would expect them to emerge victorious.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The scene has been set for the Cognominal Clash for the ‘Nugget-Davo’ Trophy, but I have a few links to share before applying my usual sign off.

One final cricket related link – as drawn to my attention by the pinchhitter blog, England cricket are honouring their female batting stars this week. Our ‘cool nicknames’ XI features a fast scorer of diminutive stature, 5’7″ Gilbert Jessop, and this video courtesy of England cricket shows and even smaller player, Tammy Beaumont climbing into South Africa to the tune of a 47-ball hundred (and it’s not slogging – these are high class cricket shots struck with perfect timing):

Charlie Hancock, an autistic writer who I follow on twitter has contributed two magnificent pieces to spyglass magazine this month, which between them make a superb ten points:

Please read both, and on that note, due to the weather being uncooperative I there is less to my standard sign off than usual…

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Nicknames battle
The teams in tabulated form with abbreviated comments.

All Time XIs – Australia

Continuing the all-time XIs theme with a look at Australia, I use this post to make more explicit some of my thinking about team balance.

INTRODUCTION

After completing my look at the English first class counties yesterday (click here to visit a page from which you can access all 18 of those posts) I am now moving on to the next stage of this series. In this post I am going to attempt to explain more of my thinking about selection. I will begin by presenting an Australian XI of players from my time following cricket, which I am taking as starting from the 1989 Ashes (I saw odd bits from the 1985 series and heard about the 1986-7 series but 1989 was the first I can claim really direct memories of. Before moving on to the team that many of my fellow Poms would be watching from behind the sofa there is one other thing to do…

THE RECEPTION OF MY FIRST 18 POSTS (WITH A NOD TO THE PINCHHITTER)

Yesterday I shared my All Time XIs for the counties on twitter. The feedback was very interesting, and mainly tendered in the right spirit. The PinchHitter, who sends out a daily email to those who sign up for it was today kind enough to include a reference to this endeavour in today’s email, which you can view here. Everyone’s opinions differ, and so long as suggestions are made with constructive intent I will not complain, though I would ask that you suggest who should be left out to accommodate your favoured choices. I am bound in an endeavour of this nature to fail to flag up people who merit attention – tthere are vast numbers of players to be considered when doing something like this.

AUSTRALIA IN MY CRICKET LIFE XI

  1. Matthew Hayden – an attack minded left handed opener who was very successful over a number of years. He had a horrible time in the first four matches of the 2005 Ashes, but bounced back with 138 in the fifth match at The Oval. In Brisbane in 2002 he cashed in on Nasser Hussain’s decision to field first by scoring 197, and then adding another ton in the second innings.
  2. Justin Langer – a different style of left handed opener to Hayden, his most regular partner, Langer was no less effective at the top of the order. His greatest performance was a score of 250 at the MCG. He played in the county championship for Middlesex and Somerset.
  3. Ricky Ponting – a right hander whose natural inclination was to attack but who could also produce a defensive knock at need. Although he had one very poor Ashes series, in 2010-11 his overall record demanded inclusion.
  4. Steve Smith – a right hander, with an even better average (to date), than Ponting. He was tarnished by his involvement in sandpapergate, but his comeback in the 2019 Ashes showed that while he cannot be trusted with a leadership position his skill with the bat remains undminished.
  5. *Allan Border – a left handed middle order bat who was the first to 11,000 test runs, also an occasional left arm spinner who did once win his country a match with his bowling (match figures of 11-96 against the West Indies in 1988). For the first 10 years of his long career he was a mediocre side’s only serious bulwark against defeat, but in the last years of his career he was part of the first of a succession of great Australian teams. The role he played as captain in Australia’s transformation from moderate to world beaters was an essential part of the story of the ‘Green and Golden Age’ and I recognize it as such by naming him captain of this side.
  6. +Adam Gilchrist – attacking left handed middle order bat (opener in limited overs cricket) and high quality wicket keeper. One of the reasons that England won the 2005 Ashes was that they were able to keep him quiet (highest score of the series 49 not out), the only time in his career any side managed that. At Perth in the 2006-7 series, immediately following a victory at Adelaide after England had made 550 in the first innings and then did a collective impression of rabbits in headlights against Warne in the second, he smashed a century off 57 balls, then the second fastest ever test century in terms of balls faced.
  7. Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast bowler and attacking left handed lower middle order bat, also the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ of 21st century test cricket. In the 2010-11 Ashes the ‘Hyde” version predominated, save for one great match at Perth, struggling to such an extent in his other games in that series that he probably scared his own fielders more than the England batters! The ‘Jekyll’ version was on display in the 2013-14 Ashes, when he bowled as quick as anyone in my cricket following lifetime, was also accurate, and scared the daylights out of the England batters, taking 37 wickets in the series and being the single most important reason for the 5-0 scoreline that eventuated.
  8. Shane Warne – leg spinner and attacking right handed lower order bat – one of the two greatest spinners I have seen in action (Muttiah Muralitharan being the other). From the moment that his first ball floated in the air to a position outside leg stump and then spun back to brush Mike Gatting’s off stump at Old Trafford in 1993 he had a hex on England, becoming the first bowler ever to take 100 test wickets in a country other than his own. In the 2005 Ashes, when England regained the urn after 16 years, he took 40 wickets and scored 250 runs in the series. His only blot in the series came at The Oval when he dropped an easy chance offered by Kevin Pietersen, which allowed that worthy to play his greatest ever innings and secure the series. He took over 700 test wickets (the exact figure is open to argument, since some of his credited wickets were taken in an Australia v Rest of The World game, and earlier ROW games organized when South Africa were banished from the test scene are not counted in the records). He also scored more test runs than anyone else who never managed a century, 3,154 of them.
  9. Pat Cummins – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order bat. Injuries hampered his progress (he first appeared on the scene as a 17 year old, but he has still done enough to warrant his inclusion. At the MCG in 2018, when Jasprit Bumrah rendered the Aussies feather-legged with a great display of fast bowling, Cummins took six cheap wickets of his own in India’s second innings, not enough to save his side, who lost both match and series, but enough to demonstrate just how good he was, a fact that he underlined in the 2019 Ashes.
  10. Nathan Lyon – off spinner and right handed tail end bat. One of only three spinners of proven international class that Australia have produced in my time following cricket (Stuart MacGill, a leg spinner, is the third). In the first match of the 2019 Ashes he cashed on Steve Smith’s twin tons by taking 6-49 in the final innings of the game.
  11. Glenn McGrath – right arm fast medium bowler and right handed tail end bat. Australia lost only one Ashes series with McGrath in the ranks, and he was crocked for both of the matches they ,lost in that series. I tend to be a bit wary of right arm fast mediums having seen far too many ineffective members of the species toiling for England over the years but this man’s record demands inclusion. In that 2005 Ashes series he was the player of the match that his side did win – his five cheap wickets after Australia had been dismissed for 190 in the first innings wrenched the initiative back for the Aussies and they never relinquished it. He is at no11 on merit, but even in that department he is a record breaker – more test career runs from no 11 than anyone else.

This combination comprises a stellar top five, a wicket keeper capable of delivering a match winning innings and a strong and varied bowling attack – left arm pace (Johnson), right arm pace (Cummins), right arm fast medium (McGrath), leg spin (Warne) and off spin (Lyon) with Border’s left arm spin a sixth option if needed. It also has a tough and resourceful skipper in Border.

BUILDING THIS COMBINATION

Australia in the period concerned have not had a world class all rounder – the nearest approach, Shane Watson, was ravaged by injuries and although he delivered respectable results with the bat his bowling was not good enough to warrant him being classed as an all rounder. I could deal with this problem by selecting Gilchrist as a wicket keeper and assigning him the traditional all rounders slot (one above his preferred place admittedly), which is what got him the nod over Ian Healy, undoubtedly the best pure wicket keeper Australia have had in my time following the game. A more controversial option would have been to borrow Ellyse Perry from the Australian Women’s team and put her at no six. Having opted for Gilchrist the question was then whether I wanted extra batting strength or extra bowling strength, and in view of the batters I could pick from and the need to take 20 wickets to win the match I opted for an extra bowling option – those who have studied my county “All Time XIs” will have noted that I always made sure they had plenty of depth and variety in the bowling department – I want my captains to be able to change the bowling, not just the bowlers. Warne and Lyon picked themselves for the spinners berths, with the coda that if the match was taking place in India Warne would have to be dropped and someone else found as he was expensive in that country (43 per wicket). Australia in this period has had two left arm quick bowlers who merited consideration, Johnson and Mitchell Starc. I opted for Johnson, as Johnson at his best, as seen in the 2013-14 Ashes was simply devastating. McGrath picked himself. For the final bowling slot I had an embarrassment of riches to choose from. I narrowed the field by deciding that I was going to pick a bowler of out and out pace. Brett Lee’s wickets came too expensively, Shaun Tait does not have the weight of achievement. I regard Cummins at his best as a finer bowler than either Josh Hazlewood or James Pattinson, so opted for him.

Turning attention to the batting, Langer and Hayden were a regular opening pair, and I did not consider either Mark Taylor or David Warner who both have great records to have done enough to warrant breaking an established pairing. Border got the no 5 slot and the captaincy because of his great record as both batter and captain and the fact that Ponting and Smith whose claims were irrefutable are both right handers. If I revisit this post in a few years I fully expect Marnus Labuschagne to be in the mix – he has made an incredible start to his test career. Adam Voges averaged 61.87 in his 20 test matches, but his career only spanned a year and a half, and a lot of the opposition he faced was weak – and in the heat of Ashes battle he failed to deliver, scoring only two fifties and no century in the series, which is in itself sufficient reason not to deem him worthy of a place. He never played in an Ashes match, the ultimate cauldron for English and Australian test cricketers, and so that average not withstanding cannot truly be considered a great of the game. The Waugh twins both had amazing test records, especially Steve, but such has been Australia’s strength in the period concerned that they cannot be accommodated.

TURNING THIS INTO AN ALL TIME XI

For me Smith and Border of the front five hold their places. Ponting would be a shoo-in for the no3 slot in almost any other team one could imagine, but for true if cruel reason that he is only the second best Australia have had in that position he loses out, with Donald Bradman (6,996 test runs at 99.94) getting the no 3 slot. At no six we now have a genuine all rounder, Keith Miller (George Giffen, once dubbed “the WG Grace of Australia”, Monty Noble and Warwick Armstrong also had superb records), with Gilchrist retaining the gloves and now dropping to no 7. There is a colossal range of bowling options, out of which I go for Alan Davidson (186 test wickets at 20.53 and a handy man to have coming in at no 8), Hugh Trumble, an off spinner whose tally of 141 Ashes wickets was a record over 70 years, and who twice performed the hat trick in test matches at the MCG, in “Jessop’s Match” at The Oval in 1902 he scored 71 runs without being dismissed and bowled unchanged through both England innings, collecting 12 wickets, comes in at no 9, Clarrie Grimmett the New Zealand born leg spinner who captured 216 wickets in just 37 test matches gets the no 10 slot and Glenn McGrath retains his no 11 slot. This team has a stellar top five, an all-rounder at six, a fine wicket keeper and explosive batter at no 7 and a very varied and potent line up of bowlers. Why Grimmett ahead of Warne? Grimmett in both test and first class cricket (he took more wickets in the latter form than anyone else who never played county championship cricket) averaged a wicket per match more than Warne.

At the top of the batting order I have replaced Hayden and Langer with Arthur Morris, a left handed opener who Bradman rated the best such that he ever saw and Victor Trumper, right handed batting hero of the early 20th century. In 1902 at Old Trafford, when England needed to keep things tight on the first morning until the run ups dried sufficiently for Bill Lockwood to be able to bowl Trumper reached his century before lunch, and since Australia won that game by just three runs this was a clearly defined match winner.

Australia has had a string of top class glove men down the years – Blackham who played in each of the first 17 test matches, Bert Oldfield, Don Tallon, Wally Grout, Rodney Marsh and Ian Healy are some of the best who appeared at test level, but none of them offer as much as Gilchrist does with the bat.

There are an absolute stack of legendary bowlers who have missed out, likewise batters – I will not attempt a listing these, but everyone who wants to is welcome to mention their own favourites.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This has been a very challenging exercise, but also a very enjoyable one. As for my All Time Aussie XI, not only would I not expect anyone else to agree with all my picks, I might well pick different players next time – there are a stack of players one could pick and be sure of. The one from my cricket following life (remember that start point of the 1989 Ashes) has fewer options, but again, it is probable that with the options available even in that period, no one else would pick the same XI that I have. If you plan to suggest changes please indicate who your choices should replace, and please consider the balance of the side when making your choices.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Our little look at the oldest enemy is over, and it remains only for my usual sign off…

Aussies
My two teams tabulated for ease of consumption.

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100 Cricketers – Second XI Bowlers and Introducing the Third X1

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

INTRODUCTION

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

WASIM AKRAM

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

WAQAR YOUNIS

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

SHANE WARNE

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

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

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

MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN

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

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

INTRODUCING THE THIRD XI

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

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

PHOTOGRAPHS

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

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

 

Anderson Joins 500 Club and Other Stuff

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

INTRODUCTION

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

ANDERSON JOINS 500 CLUB

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

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

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

LINKS

I am grouping my links in categories, starting with…

AUTISM

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

NATURE

This subsection features four links:

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

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

POLITICS

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

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

JACOB REES-MOGG

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

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

A SEGUE LINK – A QUIZ

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

PUZZLES

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

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

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

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

treasurehunt

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

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

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

Thus we open door 2 and collect the loot.

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

SC100 - q

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

PICTURES

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

329-b329329-c

340
Lot 340
347
Lot 347 (two images)

347-a

341
Lot 341 (six images)

341-a341-b341-c341-d341-e

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

£2 - Trevithick 1