All Time XIs – Match Ups 20

Continuing my analysis of how the all time XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my series analysing how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. It is a few days since I last blogged – a combination of work, volunteering and a family get together in the lake district have swallowed all my time over the last few days. The Es XI currently occupy the spotlight and they have 9 of a possible 25 points going into this post.

THE Es V THE Gs

The Gs have the stronger opening pair. Bill Edrich and Grace are both ill served by their test records, Edrich because he lost six of his prime years to WWII and Grace because he was already 32 by the time he got the opportunity to play at test level, and because test pitches were a lot less easy to bat on than they are these days. I give the verdict to Grace. Gower and Graveney clearly outpoint G Emmett and Edwards. Gilchrist wins the batting part of his match up handsomely, but Evans was the finer keeper, though not by enough to make up for the batting gulf. Endean is outbatted by Jack Gregory, and Gregory is undoubtedly clear of Bill Edrich as a bowling option. The Gs undoubtedly also have the better bowling unit as a whole, though T Emmett’s left arm gives the Es extra variety. The Gs are a long way ahead: Es 1, Gs 4.

THE Es V THE Hs

The Hs dominate this one completely. Es 0, Hs 5.

THE Es V THE Is

The Es have much the better batting, with only Iredale and Imtiaz Ahmed clearly winning their match ups for the Is in that area. Tom Emmett and Gideon Elliott have to be considered miles better than Islam and Ireland as a new ball pairing, and while Ironmonger ranks first among the slower bowlers in this contest, for my money Illingworth ranks fourth. I score this one Es 4, Is 1.

THE Es V THE Js

The Js have the better opening contest, especially given that they have a right/ left combo, compared to the Es two left handers. The Js absolutely boss the 3,4 and 5 slots. They also bat deeper than the Es, with Johnson having a test ton to his name. The Js also have greater bowling depth. Es 1, Js 4.

THE Es V THE Ks

Barring the opening pair, where the Es have a small advantage, the Ks boss this one. The Es have two redeeming features bowling wise: only they have left arm pace, with T Emmett, and their slower bowlers, Ecclestone and Evans are a more varied combination than R Khan and Kumble. As against that the Es barely even have five bowling options (after their front four Bill Edrich is the best remaining option), while the Ks have Kallis as a SIXTH bowling option should their front five be struggling. Es 0, Ks 5.

THE Es SO FAR

The Es have scored six of a possible 25 points today, moving them up to 15 of a possible 50, 30%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Today’s gallery includes some shots from King’s Lynn and some I took while travelling north on Saturday…

All Time XIs – Match Ups (19)

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I slected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another.

Welcome to the continuation of my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today we see the end of the Ds and the Es taking over the spotlight.

THE Ds V THE Ws

Woolley outranks Dent as a batter and offers a bowling option. Worrell loses his batting match up against Dempster, but also offers a bowling option, and is probably the top rated captain of any of my XIs, whereas Dennett never had the job in real life. Weekes outranks Dravid, Walcott outranks Donnelly, and S Waugh’s much larger sample size at least neutralizes the gap between his and Duleep’s batting averages. D’Oliveira was a much better batter than Woods, but a fraction of the bowler that Woods was. Dujon was a finer keeper than Watling, but the Kiwis batting partly compensates for that. Whitty, Willis and Woods are a fair match for Donald, Davidson and Daniel in the pace department, Warne tops the spin rankings, and his main back up, Wardle, probably outranks Dennett as a bowler, and the Ws still have Woolley as third spinner. I make the Ws ahead on batting, equal on pace/ seam bowling and ahead by the proverbial country mile in the spin department, and accordingly score this Ds 0, Ws 5.

THE Ds V THE Xs

The Ds are miles ahead in batting and in pace bowling. The Xs have a clear advantage in spin bowling, and also Box was a finer keeper than Dujon, and not as much less of a batter than raw figures suggest – his average of 12 compared to Pilch’s 18 (Pilch was the best batter of Box’s era) is not massively different to Dujon’s 31 compared to Viv Richard’s 50. However, save on a Bunsen the Ds have a commanding advantage: Ds 4, Xs 1.

THE Ds V THE Ys

Dent just wins his match up against Yardy. Dempster has M Young on toast. Dravid just edges his match up against Younis Khan. M Yousuf beats Donnelly – the greater sample size on which his average is based more than making up for Donnelly’s slightly higher average. Duleep beats Yallop, D’Oliveira beats Yardley, although Yardley has to be considered to better of two captains. Dujon outranks S Yousuf in both departments. The Ds comfortably win the pace department, while the Ys are better equipped spin wise. Final score: Ds 3, Ys 2.

THE Ds V THE Zs

The Ds dominate the batting, being ahead in all the top eight slots. The Ds also have the finer keeper, and the captaincy is a close call. The Ds dominate the pace bowling, having the number 1,2 and 3 ranked pacers in this contest. The Zs have a numerical advantage in the spin contest, but Dennett would be the top ranked spinner in this match up. I score this Ds 5, Zs 0.

THE Ds FINAL RECKONING

The Ds scored 12 of a possible 20 points today, giving them 59 out of 125 overall, 47.2%, which places them third of the four teams we have seen in full so far.

THE Es V THE Fs

I give Elgar and J Edrich the edge over Fredericks and Fry as an opening pair. Flower wins the number three slot, and Fletcher and Faulkner win their match ups, with Faulkner also providing a bowling option. Foakes is ahead of Evans with the bat, and not far enough behind with the gloves to alter the outcome of their match up. While the presence of Endean increases the depth of the Es batting it reduces their bowling options. Fender was a fine all rounder and would have to be considered a better skipper than the pedestrian Elgar. Both sides have magnificent bowling options, and Foster and Flowers’ ability to contribute with the bat neutralizes Endean. I think the Fs have enough to win this and score it Es 2, Fs 3.

THE Es SO FAR

The Es came into the spotlight with 7 of a possible 20 points banked, which means they now have 9 out of 25, 36%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 15

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Also some photographs.

Welcome to the latest installment in my extended analysis of how the teams I created for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. This post features a ‘changing of the guard’ – the Cs occupy the hot seat at the beginning, and then we start the Ds. The Cs start today with 33 out of 115 points.

THE Cs V THE Ys

The Cs definitely have the stronger opening pair, nos 3,4 and 5 are very close, with Younis Khan outpointing I Chappell to the same extent that G Chappell outpoints Yallop. Norman Yardley outbats Constantine but loses the bowling element of their match up. Also, Chappelli is the better captain. S Yousuf outbats Carter but is out kept by the Aussie. Cummins and Croft have to be ranked above Younis and U Yadav as a new ball pair. Jack Young comfortably outmatches Cornwall as a finger spinner, while P Yadav vs Chandrasekhar is an even contest. The Ys have a marginal batting advantage, and win the spin bowling, but the pace bowling advantage is strongly with the Cs, and I think that will count for more than anything else and accordingly score this one: Cs 3, Ys 2.

THE Cs V THE Zs

The Cs dominate the top batting, with only Cowdrey arguably losing his match up against I Zadran. Zulch outbats Constantine, but does not offer a serious bowling option. Carter wins the wicket keeping match up, and Zaheer Khan and Monde Zondeki are way behind Cummins and Croft in the fast bowling stakes, while Constantine is the only back up pace option available to either side. The Zs probably win the spin department, but I don’t see that making much difference to the outcome of this one: Cs 4, Zs 1.

THE Cs FINAL SCORE

The Cs finish with 40 out of 125 points, a total score of 32%, comfortably bottom out of the three XIs who have been fully under the spotlight so far.

THE Ds V THE Es

The Cs have one solid pro and one genius opening the batting, one of the greatest number threes of all time, two legendary stroke makers at four and five, and a number six whose record at the top level suffered because his elevations was massively delayed by his personal circumstances and who still had a fine record. Dujon was an excellent keeper and a stylish batter, their pace trio is awesome, with Daniel probably third seamer behind an opening pair of Davidson and Donald, and they have a great spinner who was unlucky to overlap with two even greater ones of the same type – Wilfred Rhodes and Colin Blythe. The Es have two left handed battlers to open the batting, a number three who is less far behind his opposite number than figures suggest on two counts – 1)Dravid batted in an easier era for batting than Bill Edrich, and 2) Edrich lost six prime years to WWII, in which he distinguished himself as a flying ace. Emmett and R Edwards are undoubtedly well behind Donnelly and Duleepsinhji, and Endean is beaten by D’Oliveira. Dujon wins the batting element of his match up against Evans, but the Englishman was an even greater keeper than the West Indian. The Es have a left/ right opening pair of pacers, and a couple of crafty slower bowlers in Evans and Ecclestone. Evans v Daniel is not strictly a match up since they were very different types of bowler, and it is hard to say who would be preferable. I rank Ecclestone ahead of Dennett as a slow left armer. The Ds are ahead on batting, the Es may be ahead on front line bowling, but the Ds have an extra option in D’Oliveira. I score this one as Ds 3, Es 2.

THE Ds V THE Fs

The Ds have a marginal advantage when it comes to the opening pair, and Dravid rates above Flower as a number three. Donnelly beats Fletcher confortably, and Duleepsinhji beats Faulkner with the bat, but as against that Faulkner offers a bowling option. The Ds are stronger with the bat at nos 6,7 and 8, but the Fs have the potential of useful contributions from Flowers at 9. The Fs boss the bowling, Foster, Freeman and Ferris being at least as good a pace combo as Davidson, Donald and Daniel, and the Fs having three front line spin options to the Ds 1. I expect the Fs to win this comfortably and score it Ds 1, Fs 4.

THE Ds V THE Gs

The Ds have the edge in batting, though by less than it seems at first glance, the Ds also have the better pace attack, with only Garner in the same class as their trio. The Gs have a significant advantage in the spin bowling department, and they have the redoubtable WG as skipper. I still make the Ds favourites and score this one Ds 3, Gs 2.

THE Ds PROGRESS REPORT

The Ds had 8 points out of 15 from their three previous encounters. They are now on 15 points out of 30, exactly 50%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups (11)

Welcome to the next post in my series analysing how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. The Cs XI currently occupy the hot seat, and they enter this post on 3.5 out of 15 points.

THE Cs V THE Es

The Cs are ahead in each of the top five batting positions, though Elgar and J Edrich aren’t out of position whereas Cowdrey and Chanderpaul are. Also Bill Edrich lost six prime years to WWII, so Chappelli’s advantage over him the bat is slightly illusory. Endean outbats Constantine but doesn’t bowl. Evans is marginally behind Carter with the bat, but compensates by being the finer keeper. Tom Emmett and Gideon Elliott look capable of matching Cummins and Croft, and Emmett’s left arm is an extra point of variation. Edwin Evans beats Cornwall with the ball, while Ecclestone against Chandrasekhar is a close contest. The Cs have better back up bowling options, with Constantine, Compton, Chanderpaul and G Chappell all capable of offering something, whereas only Bill Edrich is remotely close to being a back up bowling option for the Es. This is a close contest, but I think the Es superiority in front line bowling is just enough: Cs 2, Es 3.

THE Cs V THE Fs

The Cs have the edge in batting, although the Fs extra depth in that department narrows the gap. The Fs are dominant in bowling – Ferris, Foster and Freeman are all arguably superior to any of the Cs pacers, and whoever out of Foster or Ferris ends up third seamer knocks Constantine out of the park in that department. Similarly, the Fs three front line spin options, Faulkner, Fender and Flowers are all better than Cornwall, with Faulkner and Flowers both clearly also ahead of Chandrasekhar. For all their marginal batting advantage there are no circumstances in which I can envisage the Cs having the advantage, and Fender is one of the few skippers not to lose that contest to Chappelli. I score this one Cs 1, Fs 4.

THE Cs V THE Gs

The opening pairs are apparently closely matched, but Gavaskar and Greenidge are in their natural positions, while Chanderpaul and Cowdrey are not. Similar Chappelli at three is not as well placed over Grace as the figures make it look – Grace came late to test cricket – 32 when he made his debut, almost 51 when he finally retired, and that batting average of 32 is worth at least half as much again in more modern times. Plus he provides a bowling option. The Cs win the number four and five slots. However Gilchrist knocks the spots off Carter with the bat, though the latter was probably the better keeper. Gregory outpoints Constantine in the battle of the fast bowling all rounders. Geary and Garner are a little behind Croft and Cummins as a pair, but not significantly so. Grimmett outpoints Chandrasekhar, and from a bowling point of view Gibbs is the proverbial country mile clear of fellow West Indian Cornwall. The Gs are definitely ahead in terms of the front five bowlers, and their sixth option, WG Grace, outpoints at least two of the Cs front five as well. The Gs have a significant advantage, and a skipper who will certainly stand up to opposite number Chappelli. Not even Chappelli can salvage anything for the Cs from this one: Cs 0, Gs 5.

THE Cs V THE Hs

The Hs win the first four batting positions, G Chappell just having the edge on compatriot Hussey at no 5. Hendren is far superior with the bat to Constantine, while Healy clearly beats Carter. Hadlee and Holding at least match Cummins and Croft, Harmer and Herath beat Cornwall and Chandrasekhar. The Cs have the better fifth bowler, Constantine outdoing Hammond in that department. The Cs extra bowling depth does not make up for their lack of front line strength or for the fact that they are badly outgunned with the bat: Cs 0, Hs 5.

THE Cs V THE Is

The Cs boss the first five batting positions, , though the Is win the next three. Bowling wise the Is win on spinners, but lose heavily in the pace department – Iremonger may rate as a better third seamer than Constantine, but the new ball pairing does not compare to Cummins and Croft. I score this as Cs 4, Is 1.

Cs PROGRESS REPORT

Even with four points in the final match up the Cs have scored just seven points out of 25 today, moving them on to 10.5 out of 40, 26.25% so far.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups (6)

Welcome to the latest post in my series analysing how my all time XIs for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. We reached the conclusion of the A XIs match ups yesterday, so now we start with the B XIs. They have 3.5 points in the bank from their encounter with the As (see here).

THE Bs V THE Cs

The Bs dominate the batting, with only G Chappell among the top six outpointing his opposite number, and that by a mere fraction. Added to this is the fact that for reasons explained in the original post about the Cs Chanderpaul and arguably Cowdrey are batting out of position. Carter out bats Bari, but Bari was the finer keeper. Bates and Benaud are unquestionably a finer pair of spinners than Cornwall and Chandrasekhar, and both also possessed batting pedigree, something to which Cornwall has limited claim and Chandrasekhar none. Barnes and Bumrah for my money have the edge on Cummins and Croft as a new ball combination, though the Cs are undoubtedly the faster pair. Botham and Constantine were two mercurial all rounders, capable of match winning performances. I will allow for the possibility of a Constantine special, while rating it odds against, so my final score for this is Bs 4.5, Cs 0.5.

THE Bs V THE Ds

The Bs have an advantage with the bat – only Duleepsinhji, D’Oliveira and Dujon of those whose batting is of major significance win their match ups in this department. Davidson, Daniel and Donald as a pace trio probably beat Barnes, Bumrah and Botham, but as against that the Ds have only one front line spin option, Dennett, to match up against Bates and Benaud. Finally, Bradman was acknowledged to be a superb skipper, whereas Dennett never got any captaincy experience because of the social mores of his time. Although the Ds are far from helpless in this contest, the Bs are obvious favourites and I score it Bs 3, Ds 2.

THE Bs V THE Es

The Bs have a huge advantage in batting, and Botham is definitely a better third pacer than Edrich, though Emmett and Elliott v Barnes and Bumrah is a fine contest, as is Ecclestone and Evans v Benaud and Bates in the spin bowling department. I make this one Bs 4, Es 1.

THE Bs V THE Fs

The Bs boss the batting as usual, though Foakes is the better keeper. The Fs have a greater range of bowling options, with six genuine front line bowlers. I accord them a definite win the pace department, with Ferris, Freeman and Foster clearly a stronger combo than Barnes, Bumrah and Botham. Flowers, Fender and Faulkner give the Fs three front line spin options. The question is whether the Fs extra bowling will compensate for the Bs huge superiority in batting. I don’t think it quite does, but I am not prepared to award the Bs victory here – Bs 2.5, Fs 2.5.

THE Bs V THE Gs

The Bs as usual are ahead on batting, but are clearly behind on bowling – WG is his side’s sixth best bowler. Grimmett and Gibbs are a good match for Bates and Benaud in the spin department, Gregory, Garner and Geary compare nicely with Barnes, Bumrah and Botham. I award this one to the Gs – Bs 2, Gs 3.

INTERIM REPORT ON THE Bs

The Bs are that this stage on 19.5 points out of 30, or 65%. The As were on a mere 14.5 points after their first six match ups, for comparison.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – The Letter E

A look at the letter E as I continue my all time XIs theme.

This blog post continues the All Time XIs theme with a look at the letter E.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. Dean Elgar (South Africa). Among the best contemporary long form openers, a very tough competitor. He also bowls left arm orthodox spin, although he is not likely to be needed for that by this side.
  2. John Edrich (Surrey, England). One of two Norfolk born cricketers in this XI (out of five members of their family to play FC cricket). Like Elgar a very tough competitor who had to be got out. He had the useful knack of really making it count when he got himself in, illustrated by a HS of 310* v NZ and scores of 175 and 164 against Australia.
  3. Bill Edrich (Middlesex, England). Lost six years of his prime to WWII, also often missed due to differences of opinion between himself and those in authority, but still averaged 40 in test cricket. He could also bowl useful right arm fast medium, more than once taking the new ball in a test match. Possessed of almost limitless courage, exemplified by his efforts as a flying ace during the war, he was a fine player of fast bowling in particular.
  4. George Emmett (Gloucestershire, England). A fine batter for Gloucestershire.
  5. Ross Edwards (Australia). Once scored 170* against England in a test match. In the 1975 Ashes, at the end of which he retired from test cricket he showed his battling qualities with a 56 in just over four hours at Edgbaston and a 99 that saved Australia from the wreckage of 81-7 (with the assistance of a certain DK Lillee, who produced 73*)
  6. Russell Endean (South Africa). A hunch pick by his captain Jack Cheetham for a tour of Australia after SA had been hit with a huge number of retirements, leading some to argue for the abandonment of the tour. SA drew the series 2-2 with Endean justifying his skipper’s faith by producing a score of 162* in seven hours at a crucial juncture.
  7. +Godfrey Evans (Kent, England). One of the greatest keepers of all time (173 catches and 46 stumpings, the latter an England record, at test level). His batting highlights included two test centuries and an innings where with England battling for a draw he was on 0* for 97 minutes, supporting Denis Compton who was batting at the other end.
  8. Tom Emmett (Yorkshire, England). A great left arm fast bowler and a good enough lower order batter to have scored a first class ton at a time when those were not easy to come by.
  9. Edwin Evans (Australia). A right arm slow bowler and reasonably capable lower order batter, his domestic record was outstanding, and he played in the second test match ever.
  10. Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire, Manchester Originals, England). A left arm orthodox spinner who takes her international wickets at 20 a piece overall and has had her moments batting down the order. Her stock bowling speed is in the low to mid 50s miles per hour, which is somewhat quicker than that of Matt Parkinson to give just one example. I would not pick a female seam/ pace bowler as they are a lot slower than their male equivalents, but spin is not principally about the speed at which one propels the ball, and I believe Ecclestone is up to the job.
  11. Gideon Elliott (Victoria). A right arm fast bowler who played less than anyone else to feature in any of these XIs – just nine FC matches between March 1856 and a similar time in 1862. In those nine matches he took 48 wickets at less than five runs a piece, including the performance in which wickets taken outstripped runs conceded by the greatest amount in FC history – 9-2 in a single innings.

This team has a solid top six, a great keeper and four splendid and varied bowlers. Given that Bill Edrich took the new ball on occasions at test level I am not that worried about him being the third bowler of above medium pace in this side, while the slower bowlers, Ecclestone and Edwin Evans provide a classic contrast in styles.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I will deal with the spin situation first: there were two obvious spinners whose surnames begin with E, John Emburey and Philippe-Henri Edmonds. As valuable as these two were to Middlesex’s cause over the years neither had a great test record, and Emburey blotted his copybook by going on both English rebel tours to South Africa, the only person to do so.

Fidel Edwards would have been a more conventional choice of a right arm fast bowler than Gideon Elliott, but my feeling is that Elliott’s absurdly cheap wicket taking average, even from so small a sample size justifies his inclusion.

The only challenger to Godfrey Evans for the gauntlets was Faroukh Engineer of India, but though he was a better bat than Evans he was not as good behind the stumps, and as usual I opted for the better keeper.

The only other test match opening batter whose surname begins with E that I could think of was Bruce Edgar, and his average was only just the right side of 30, considerably less than either Elgar or John Edrich.

Richard Ellison, a right arm fast medium bowler and useful lower order batter, had his moments for England, including the last two matches of the 1985 Ashes, but his record is not quite good enough overall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

A Classic Match That Was One Day Too Short

An account of the test match between the England and South African women’s teams which took place on Monday to Thursday of this week.

I was delighted when it was announced that England and South Africa women’s teams would be playing a test match this summer. I was less delighted that it was scheduled for only four days rather than the five that men’s test cricket gets, and this little distinction was to prove of considerable importance to the result.

ALL CHANGE FOR ENGLAND

At the start of this season Anya Shrubsole announced her international retirement after an illustrious career, highlighted by 6-46 in the 2017 World Cup final. In the run up to the match Katherine Brunt announced that she was retiring from test cricket but would still play white ball internationals. Then Emily Arlott was injured in the run up to the match, which meant that Issy Wong was promoted from travelling reserve to full squad member. Eventually, England decided that one spinner (the incomparable Sophie Ecclestone) was sufficient and opted to strengthen the batting by giving the number seven slot in the order to Alice Davidson-Richards. The new look seam attack was led by veteran Kate Cross, supported by Wong and Lauren Bell plus the all round skills of Natalie Sciver. Batting wise there were not a huge number of surprises: Emma Lamb, in magnificent form in domestic cricket, was chosen to open alongside the experienced Tammy Beaumont, with skipper Knight at three, Sciver four, Sophia Dunkley at five and keeper Amy Jones at six. Thus the full XI in batting order read: Beaumont, Lamb, *Knight, Sciver, Dunkley, +Jones, Davidson-Richards, Ecclestone, Cross, Wong, Bell.

INEXPERIENCED SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa had not played a test since 2014, so scandalously small is the amount of women’s test cricket. Dane Van Niekerk was still recovering from a broken ankle, and in the run up to the match Shabnim Ismail, star bowler, went down injured, as did big hitting middle order batter Chloe Tryon. For some unknown reason in form pacer Ayabonga Khaka was not considered for selection. All of this meant that SA took the field with only two players out of 11 having prior test experience.

DAY ONE: KAPP’S HORATIAN PERFORMANCE SAVES SA

On Monday June 27th South Africa batted first. With Cross, Bell and Wong all highly impressive in the early stages SA were soon in trouble at 45-4. Wong claimed her first test wicket with an absolute peach of a ball to clean bowl Laura Wolvaardt (no mean feat this – the young SA opener had scored a ton in the warm up match against England A, and a repeat of that in this match would have been no great surprise. At this point Marizanne Kapp came to the crease for South Africa. She proceeded to play an innings of utter brilliance, enabling South Africa to reach the respectability of 284 all out, of which her share was precisely 150. Kate Cross had the best figures for England, with 4-63, with Bell 2-54, Wong 1-54, Ecclestone 1-33, Sciver 1-29 and Davidson-Richards 1-39 all also taking wickets.

DAY TWO: SCIVER AND DAVIDSON-RICHARDS

Beaumont and Lamb put on 65 for the first England wicket, but thereafter a collapse set in, with Knight experiencing a rare failure at test level. The score when debutant Davidson-Richards walked out join Sciver was 121-5. By the close of play this pair were still in occupation, Davidson-Richards having become the first England debutant of either sex to take at least one wicket and score a century on test debut since WG Grace did so in the first test ever played on English soil in 1880, and Sciver having also passed three figures. England, having looked deep in trouble when the pair came together were now 39 runs to the good, and it was fairly clear that only one side now had a chance of winning the match.

DAYS THREE AND FOUR: A TALE OF WEATHER WOES

Davidson-Richards was out early on the third morning, but Ecclestone now provided excellent support for the unstoppable Sciver, scoring a perky 35 and helping the seventh wicket to raise a further 86. Cross was next in, and her run out heralded the England declaration at 417-8, a lead of 133. Sciver with 169* had beaten her captain’s test best by a single run, was eight short of Claire Taylor’s 177, 10 short of Rachael Heyhoe-Flint’s 179 and 20 short of the all time England women’s test record of 189 held since 1935 by Betty Snowball. Also possibly relived by the declaration were Aussies Michelle Gozsko (204) and Ellyse Perry (213*).

The weather from this point on was hugely uncooperative and allowed only 68.1 further overs in the course of a day and a half (and the women get through their overs at a good rate – on day two 100 overs took six hours 12 minutes of playing time to bowl – rather less long than it takes the men to bowl the 90 that is their minimum requirement for a day). In those overs South Africa amassed 181-5 in their second innings. Cross and Wong each took two wickets, the latter’s haul including Wolvaardt for the second time in the match, and Ecclestone one. The combination of the allocation of only four days and bad weather on each of the last two of those days made this the sixth successive women’s test to end in a draw. A full scorecard can be viewed here.

LOOKING FORWARD

Women’s cricket is in excellent health, and both sides deserve a lot of credit, England for coming out firing with a new look bowling attack, and for ultimately dominating the contest, and South Africa for showing considerable resolve with depleted ranks. There need to be more women’s test matches, and those matches NEED TO BE SCHEDULED FOR FIVE DAYS.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Women’s T20 Challenge Underway In India

A look at the start of the Women’s T20 Challenge. Also some photographs.

The BCCI have yet to get round to creating a women’s IPL, but they do stage a small tournament, the Women’s T20 Challenge. This post looks at developments in the first match, which started at 3PM UK time today.

A NEW COMPETITION RECORD

The Supernovas won the toss against the Trailblazers and opted to bat first. With an over of their innings to go they have already set a new all time competition record, being 160-7 at the end of the 19th. As I write the eighth wicket has gone to the first ball of the final over. Harmanpreet Kaur, Harleen Deol and Deandra Dottin all topped 30 for the Supernovas, while Hayley Matthews, Poonam Yadav and Salma Khatun have all bowled respectably for Trailblazers. These bowlers faring well is not great news for Trailblazers – Supernovas spin bowling features Sophie Ecclestone (England, SLA, world number one ranked female bowler) and Alana King (Australia, leg spin). Confirmed that Supernovas have 163 to defend.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

England Women Poised For Series Win Over Kiwis

An account of yesterday’s second ODI between the England and New Zealand women’s teams plus some recent photographs.

There is no cricket happening today (except in that two-bit tournament taking place in Dubai), bu yesterday saw the second of five One Day Internationals between the England and New Zealand women’s teams. This post looks back a wonderful, low scoring contest.

THE PRELIMINARIES

Katherine Brunt was rested by England for this match, Danni Wyatt coming in to the side to make her 200th appearance in an England shirt. New Zealand won the toss and put England in.

THE ENGLAND INNINGS

The innings began with a maiden bowled by Jess Kerr to Lauren Winfield-Hill. In the second over Tammy Beaumont cracked three boundaries against Sophie Devine before deciding to shoulder arms to the final ball which came back off the pitch just enough to hit the stumps. Knight joined Winfield-Hill and the prospered for a time, until Knight fell for 18. Thereafter wickets fell at regular intervals, and at 146-9 England looked doomed. At that point Tash Farrant joined Wyatt who had shown signs of finding her best form, and now did so with a vengeance. Farrant scored 22 and helped the last wicked to put on 51. Wyatt on her return to ODI action scored 63 not out, with the only other score above Farrant’s 22 being 39 from Winfield-Hill. Hannah Rowe and Leigh Kasperek took three wickets each.

THE NEW ZEALAND INNINGS

Suzie Bates started as though this was going to be easy for New Zealand, but at 40, of which she contributed 28 she was well caught by Wyatt off Kate Cross. The decision went upstairs, but the catch was definitely clean. Sophie Ecclestone got Maddy Green in her first over to make it 63-2, and in the very next over Cross accounted for Lauren Down (22) to make it 64-3. Sophie Devine and Amy Satterthwaite put on 21, but Satterthwaite never got going, and at 85 her innings ended for 1, a third wicket for Kate Cross. Brooke Halliday joined Devine, and at 111-4, 87 needed for victory, the rain got heavy enough for the umpires to take the players off. The players returned to the field with New Zealand facing an adjusted target of 183 from 42 overs, meaning that they needed 72 from the last 18 to win. Natalie Sciver produced a superb delivery to bowl Devine for 28, making it 114-5. Then Charlie Dean, a 20 year old off spinner making just her second international appearance accounted for Katey Martin (6), Hannah Rowe (7), the big scalp of Halliday (29) and Kasperek (10), and New Zealand were 161-9, with nos 10 and 11 Lea Tahuhu and Jess Kerr together at the crease. With one ball of the 39th over to go the score had inched up to 169, at which point Tahuhu aimed a drive at Tash Farrant and succeeded only in chipping the ball straight to extra cover where Heather Knight made no mistake, and England were home by 14 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method. Charlie Dean had 4-36 from eight overs, an outstanding performance which settled the match. The Player of the Match Award went to Danni Wyatt who had followed her 63 no out that gave England an outside chance of winning with an immaculate fielding performance. Ultimately, given that four kiwis reached 20, but Brooke Halliday was their top scorer with 29 this was the right call, and in one it was fitting that on a landmark day for her Wyatt got the award, but also Charlie Dean’s outstanding spell deserved recognition and there was certainly a case for at least a shared award. England lead the series 2-0 and will have a chance to take an unassailable lead tomorrow in the 3rd ODI. There are not many innings in which she bowls in which Ecclestone is other than the most threatening spinner on show but yesterday against New Zealand was definitely one. Full scorecard here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

England’s “Selection Policy” Goes From Dumb To Dumber

A look at the latest craziness to emanate from the ECB’s ivory tower – the naming of Moeen Ali as a spin bowling option in the test squad based on his recent form in The Hundred.

It has been confirmed this morning that Moeen Ali has been added to England’s squad for the second test against India. In this post I explain just how flawed this move is.

RECENT SUCCESS
DOUBLY IRRELEVANT

Moeen Ali has been going well in The Hundred, an ultra short form competition massively removed from the long haul of test cricket. He has also been especially notable for his batting successes, coming in high in the order and throwing the bat as one has to in that competition. His bowling in that competition amounts to combined figures of 4-115 in five matches, and it is as a spinner that England will play him if they do play him. In other words, he has been succeeding in the form of the game furthest removed from test cricket and not in the department in which England would make most use of him at test level.

TACKLING THE
WRONG PROBLEM

England are not short of bowling options but are suffering at the top end of the batting order, with Crawley definitely proven as inadequate at test level, Sibley questionable and even Burns not bombproof. Moeen Ali is therefore a ‘solution’ to a ‘problem’ that exists only in the minds of the England selectors.

DISRESPECT TO SPINNERS ALREADY IN THE SQUAD

England already have two front line spinners available to them, Jack Leach and Dom Bess. Bess is a slightly questionable inclusion in the squad, but Leach from the mere 16 matches he has been given has 62 wickets at 29.98, 3.875 wickets per match. For comparison, Ali takes 3.1 wickets per match and pays 36.24 a piece for them. Frankly the way England’s #1 spinner (Leach) is being treated by the selectors is nothing short of a disgrace.

SHORT SIGHTED
AS WELL AS RETROGRADE

Additionally, one must look ahead to England’s next tour, which is the toughest of all – Australia. As I demonstrate in this piece, English off spinners have historically been of limited value in Australia, while left arm orthodox spinners have been very important. England’s two best ever Ashes tours, in 1928-9 and 1932-3 both featured a left arm spinner and a leg spinner in the party (Farmer White and Tich Freeman in the first, Hedley Verity and Tommy Mitchell in the second). Leach is the principal candidate for the left arm spinner’s role, while Matt Parkinson (86 FC wickets at 23.69) is the obvious candidate for the leg spinner’s place. Dan Moriarty with 31 wickets from four FC games at 19.77 a piece is a left arm spinner who might be in the mix, and Liam Patterson-White, who takes his FC wickets at 30.13 and averages 23.12 with the bat may yet make the grade. Also in the wings is Lewis Goldsworthy of Somerset. As a more radical idea, Sophie Ecclestone at the age of 22 has 125 international wickets across formats at 19.49 each. I would rather see any of the players I have just named than yet another recall for Moeen Ali. The latter’s last test was against India in India, and although he took wickets in the end he also bowled England into a losing position by leaking almost five an over in conditions that were helpful to a bowler of his type.

ENGLAND XI FOR THURSDAY

From the players in the squad I select as follows:

  1. Rory Burns
  2. Dom Sibley
  3. Haseeb Hameed (Crawley’s time at the top level is done)
  4. *Joe Root
  5. Dan Lawrence
  6. +Jos Buttler
  7. Sam Curran
  8. Ollie Robinson
  9. Mark Wood
  10. Jack Leach
  11. James Anderson

If one wants more batting depth, Overton could replace Wood, and then there would be a 7, 8, 9 of Curran, Overton and Robinson, which should be depth enough for anyone. I prefer Wood because his presence provides some express pace to go with the seam and swing options, which with Curran’s left arm and Robinson’s extra height are well varied (Broad was ordinary in the first test, so I rest him rather than Anderson for this one). There is also England’s best spinner in there, as there should be.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…