All Time XIs -Beginning v End of Alphabet

A team of players whose surnames start early in the alphabet against a team of players whose names start late in the alphabet, plus an important petition.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest variation on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. Today after a couple of overseas posts we return to home territory, but featuring cricketers from four different centuries. The dividing line between these teams is the centre of the alphabet – our first team have surnames that begin with a letter from early in the alphabet while our second mutatis mutandis have surnames beginning with letters from late in the alphabet.While limiting myself to home players for this post I have aimed to embrace a wide range of types of player with the prime focus on entertainment.

BEGINNING OF THE ALPHABET XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. ‘The Master’ is a good place to start any XI – 61,237 first class runs with 197 centuries at that level.
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter. A wonderful timer of a cricket ball, probably the smallest player on either side in this contest, but with a proven ability to score big – and quick – she once reached a ton against South Africa off just 47 balls.
  3. James Aylward – left handed batter. One of three 18th century cricketers in this XI, in 1777, a mere eight years after the first record century in any cricket match, he scored 167 versus England, batting through two whole days in the process. He is the ‘sticker’ of this team, surrounded by more aggressive talents.
  4. William ‘Silver Billy’ Beldham – right handed batter. At a time when such scores were very rare he amassed three first class centuries. His special glory so we are told was the cut shot. He was exceptionally long lived, being born in 1766 and not dying until 1862 – in his childhood canals were the new big thing in transportation, and he missed out by a mere six months on living to see the opening of the world’s first underground railway.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. He averaged 50 with the bat over the course of 78 test matches, and he scored his runs fast. According to the man himself in “Playing for England” he developed his left arm wrist spin as a second string to his bow because he was impressed by the Aussie ‘Chuck’ Fleetwood-Smith, and because he noticed during the 1946-7 Ashes tour how many of the Aussies had second strings to their bow and thought that he should develop one.
  6. George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm pace bowler, brilliant fielder. One of the greatest all rounders ever to play the game. He achieved the season’s double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class games on 14 occasions, 11 of them in successive years. Having topped 2,000 to go with over a hundred wickets in both 1904 and 1905 he then achieved the double double in 1906 – 2,385 runs and 208 wickets in first class matches (in the 21st century a non-pandemic hit English season involves 14 first class games, so anyone doing the 1,000 run, 100 wicket double would achieve a feat of similar standing, while 500 runs and 50 wickets would be a jolly impressive all round effort). In the Oval 1902 match in which Jessop blazed his 75 minute century Hirst took the first five Aussie wickets in the first innings and scored 101 for once out in the match (43 and 58 not out to see England home). He also stands alone in first class cricket history thus far in achieving the double double match feat of centuries in both of his own team’s innings and five wicket hauls in both of his opponents innings (Yorkshire v Somerset 1906).
  7. +Leslie Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. The only recognized keeper to have tallied a hundred first class hundreds.
  8. Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed lower middle order batter. The first ever to combine a fifty with a ten wicket match haul in a test match. His 15 appearances at that level brought him 656 runs at 27.33 and 50 wickets at 16.42. His career was ended prematurely by an eye injury. If we were to assume that without that injury he could have kept going until 40, very fair by the standards of the time, that would mean that he could have played in the 1888, 1890, 1893 and 1896 home series against Australia, the 1891-2 and 1894-5 away series against the same opposition and in a couple of the early series in South Africa, which brings him close to 40 test matches, and if he maintained similar output an aggregate of 1,749 runs and 133 wickets. If we accept that nowadays he would be pay half as much again for his wickets, we must also allow that that applies to all bowlers and that he would also score half as many runs again, so an approximate conversion of his averages in to today’s terms sees him average 41 with bat and 24.63 with the ball – a handy person to be coming in at no8!
  9. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium. Possibly the greatest of all bowlers. At Melbourne in the 1911-12 Ashes when Johnny Douglas won the toss and inserted Australia early wickets were needed to back that decision up, and Barnes in his opening burst accounted for the entire Australian top four for a single between them. Australia recovered from this blitz to tally 184, but as at Adelaide 99 years later, the damage had been done on the first morning, and England were in control of the match throughout.
  10. Sophie Ecclestone – left arm orthodox spinner. She has already enjoyed considerable success in her fledgling career, with a best ODI bowling performance of 4-14 and a T20I bowling performance of 4-13 among her highlights. In total across international formats she has 93 wickets for 1793 runs, an average of 19.28 per wicket, and she only turned 21 less than a fortnight ago.
  11. David Harris – right arm fast (underarm). The first great bowler, so highly prized that late in his career when gout was causing him horrendous problems an armchair would be brought out on to the field so that he could sit down when not actually bowling! If you look at early scorecards (early to mid 18th century) you will see that catches were not generally credited to the bowler, and the single person most responsible for changing that was Harris, who sought extra bounce with the precise intention of inducing batters to yield up catches. All you bowlers of today who rely on slip cordons, bat-pad catchers, short legs, silly mid-ons etc take note of the man who pioneered bowling to induce catches and be grateful that catches are credited to you. I have argued elsewhere for the re-legalization of under arm bowling both of Harris’ type and of under arm spinners such as Simpson-Hayward. The Greg/Trevor Chappell type of ‘grubber’ can be simply dealt with now that balls that bounce more than once are automatically called no-ball – simply add a coda that for the purposes of this law a ball that rolls along the deck shall be considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and is therefore a no ball.

This team has a splendid top five, one of the greatest of all all rounders, a keeper batter up there with the best in history and a wonderfully varied foursome of bowlers. Barnes, Harris and Hirst represent an excellent trio of pacers, Bates and Ecclestone are two high class spin options. There is no fronnt line leg spinner, but Barnes’ greatest weapon was a leg break delivered at fast medium pace, and there is Compton with his left arm trickery as well should a sixth bowler be needed. I would expect this team to take a lot of beating.

THE END OF THE ALPHABET XI

  1. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. He went through his entire test career with an average in excess of 60 – it ended at 60.73. He was often reckoned to be one of fortune’s favourites, but that was at least partly because when he did benefit from a slice of luck he made it count. For example, at Sydney in the opening match of the 1932-3 Ashes series he was on 43 when he chopped a ball from Bill O’Reilly into his stumps without dislodging a bail – and thus reprieved he went on to a test best 194, setting England up for a ten wicket win (Australia dodged the nnings defeat by the narrowest possible margin, leaving England a single to get in the fourth innings, duly scored by Sutcliffe).
  2. Arthur Shrewsbury – right handed opening batter. He was rated second only to WG Grace in his era. In those days the tea interval was not a regular part of the game, and on resuming his innings after lunch he would ask the dressing room attendant to bring him a cup of tea at four o’clock, so confident was he that he would still be batting by then. He briefly held the highest test innings score by an Englishman, 164 at Lord’s in 1886 which set his side up for an innings victory – two matches later at The Oval Grace reclaimed the record which had been his 152 in 1880 with a score of 170, made out of 216 while he was at the wicket.
  3. *Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder. Once, when Kent were chasing 219 in two hours for a victory, his partner suggested that he should try to hit fewer sixes as it took time for the ball to come back from the crowd! Kent won that match, due in no small part to Woolley. At Lord’s in 1921 when Gregory and McDonald were laying waste to the rest of England’s batting he scored 95 and 93.
  4. Eddie Paynter – left handed batter. He averaged 59.23 in test cricket, with double centuries against both Australia and South Africa along the way. He was 28 by the time he broke into the Lancashire team, and World War II brought his career to a close. He it was who officially settled the destiny of the 1932-3 Ashes, hitting the six that won the 4th match of that series giving England an unassailable 3-1 lead (they won the fifth match as well, that one also ending with a six, this time struck by Wally Hammond). None of England’s huge scorers are more frequently overlooked than the little fella from Oswaldtwistle.
  5. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The reverse combo to George Hirst, and definitely somewhat more batter than bowler – my intention in this side is that when called on to bowl it will be in short, sharp bursts.
  6. George Osbaldeston – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler (under arm). Another explosive all rounder, the fastest bowler of his day.
  7. +Sarah Taylor – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of the two finest English keepers I have seen live (Ben Foakes is the other) and a magnificent stroke making batter. Mental health issues brought her career to a premature close. Across the international formats she scored 6,535 runs at 33.17, took 128 catches and executed 102 stumpings – most of those latter eye-blink swift leg side efforts.
  8. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. One of the quickest ever – I suspect that not even the keeper I have chosen would be making many stumpings off his bowling!
  9. Bill Voce – left arm fast medium bowler. An excellent foil to an outright speedster at the other end.
  10. Linsey Smith – left arm orthodox spinner. One of a phalanx of young spinners currently involved with the England Women’s side – as well as Ecclestone and Aberdonian SLAer Kirstie Gordon there are several leg spinners, including Sophia Dunkley and Sarah Glenn, with Helen Fenby on the periphery. Thus far Smith has only been required in T20Is, but she takes her wickets in that form of the game at a bargain basement 14 a piece.
  11. Douglas Wright – leg spinner. A leg spinner with a 15 yard run up, and whose armoury included a bouncer to ensure that there was no automatic going on to the front foot against him. The problem was, that especially if the fielders were not having  one of their better days, the human world was too fallible a place for his kind of bowling – far too often he simply beat everyone and everything all ends up. When things went his way they could do so in spades – he took a record seven first class hat tricks. He is not quite the only specialist spinner to have had an accredited bouncer – Philippe-Henri Edmonds could also bowl one when the mood took him.

This team has a powerful top four, two explosive all rounders, one of the finest of all keeper batters and a strong and varied quartet of specialist bowlers. The bowling, with Tyson and Voce sharing the new ball, Osbaldeston and Stokes offering pace back up and spin twins Smith and Wright also looks impressive

THE CONTEST

This contest, for what I shall call the ‘Bakewell – Nichols Trophy’, in honour of two fine all rounders, Stan Nichols, a left handed batter and right arm fast bowler and Enid Bakewell, who batted right handed and bowled slow left arm would be an absolute belter. It is mighty hard to pick a winner, but I think that Barnes just gives the side from the beginning of the alphabet the edge, and I would suggest that a five match series would finish 3-2 to the team from the beginning of the alphabet.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

There is a petition currently running calling on the government of Botswana not to legalize elephant hunting. Please click on the screenshot below to sign and share:

Botswana

Petition Pic

Above is the picture accompanying the tweet that drew my attention to this petition.

Now, with the teams introduced and an important link shared it is time for my usual sign off:

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A tiny bug crawling over the page of my copy of Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution Is True”

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Alphabet
The teams in tabulated form.

Yesterday’s Women’s Super League Triple Header

An account of yesterday’s triple header opening to the Women’s Super League and a highly controversial suggestion re England men’s team spin difficulties.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was the opening day of what will be the final season of the Women’s Super League and featured three matches, all of which were excellent in their different ways. This post looks at all three and also stirs the pot a bit in relation to events from the third match.

GAME 1: SOUTHERN VIPERS V LANCASHIRE THUNDER

This match was largely dominated by two players, both turning out for the Southern Vipers. Tammy Beaumont, my controversial pick for the vacant opening slot in the men’s XI (see here for more detail), made a superb half-century and pouched two fine catches in the field. Dani Wyatt also scored a half-century, pouched a catch and also collected two wickets with her off-spin. With Stafanie Taylor also making 40 the Southern Vipers won by a comfortable 34 runs. In amongst the carnage of that Southern Vipers innings left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone took 1-12 from her four overs. Also noteworthy was fellow spinner Alex Hartley’s 2-34 from her four. All the bowling figures for the Southern Vipers were good, with 18 year old Lauren Bell recording  2-19 from her four.

GAME 2: LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING V WESTERN STORM

This was a low scoring match. Loughborough Lightning scored a modest 125-7, which would have been far worse but for Amy Jones who made 65. Obviously in a total like that no one got really clobbered, but in a continuing theme the most economical bowler was a spinner, Deepti Sharma, who had 1-17 from her four overs. Western Storm knocked the target off with seven wickets and three whole overs to spare. No bowlers had headline making performances in this innings, but 19 year-old Sarah Glenn had 2-13 from three overs, while Kirstie Gordon, yet another young spinner, bowled her full allocation, going for 27.

GAME 3: SURREY STARS V YORKSHIRE DIAMONDS

This was another low scoring affair. The Surrey Stars batted first, and were restricted to 130-9. The highlight of this innings was the bowling of 20 year old legspinner Helen Fenby who, bowling legspin with a very unusual action, removed both openers during the powerplay overs and then came back to bag another two wickets late in the innings, giving her the remarkable figures of 4-20 from her four overs. Linsey Smith, yet another in the phalanx of young spinners on display during the day also bowled her full allocation, taking 1-21, Katie-Ann Levick, a more experienced legspinner had 0-18 from three and Leigh Kasparek, an off-spinner had 3-25 from her four.

Remarkably, that modest Surrey Stars total proved sufficient as Yorkshire Diamonds were bowled out for 121. Mady Villiers, yet another young spinner, had 1-21 from her four overs, while veteran off-spinner Laura Marsh collected 3-17 from her four, while South Africa legspinning allrounder Dane Van Niekerk had 1-27 from 3.5 overs. Nat Sciver produced the only really good bowling figures from a pacer on the day, 2-25 from her four.

ENGLAND WOMEN’S SPIN GLUT AND A HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL SUGGESTION

In addition to all the English spinners mentioned above there is Sophia Dunkley who has international experience. This gives by my count seven spinners in their teens or early twenties plus Levick (28) and Marsh (32), discounting Bell about whose bowling I know little and Wyatt who is mainly a batter. The England women thus have far more spinners than they can ever accommodate in a team, whereas this is an ares where the men are short. When arguing the case for Tammy Beaumont as opener I noted wicketkeeping and spin bowling as areas where the women could quite possibly match the men, as well as batting. Given that no one seems able to pick Helen Fenby because of her action, and that England are somewhat short of male spinners I am tentatively adding her to my list of potentials for playing alongside the men (even if only to give Steve Smith something he has never seen before). Leach, Bess and Parkinson remain my preferred front-line options, and Amar Virdi warrants consideration, but a fifth name between a test spinner’s berth and Moeen Ali can do no harm. Should England lose at Lord’s next week putting them two down with three to play, then the necessity to gamble in an effort to retrieve the situation will make the case for Fenby a little stronger. At any event, England cannot afford Moeen Ali to be anywhere near test match consideration – the last two days at Edgbaston showed that only too clearly.

PETITION AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The LGBT community in Poland is under vicious attack, and there is a petition about this which I urge you all to sign and share be clicking the screenshot below:

LGBT

Time for my usual sign off…

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I saw this bird outside my window this morning…
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…and got two shots, one of them this close-up
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A pollinator on a dandelion

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Two swans on a stretch of The Gaywood not far from my flat.

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The first buitterfly of the day (three pics)

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A peacock butterfly.

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I am just starting to think about pictures for the 2020 calendar – nominations welcomed in the comments section. This peacock butterfly is a candidate.
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This is the original shot, edited but not rotated or cropped from which the last picture came.

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An albino duck next to a moorhen

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The drake at the front of this shot has a very white body, but the charateristic green head that marks it as a mallard drake.

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100 Cricketers – 4th XI Bowlers

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series, starting the fourth XI with the bowlers for reasons that should be self-explanatory. Also features some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series. I am taking the my 4th XI in a different order from usual, starting with the bowlers, for reasons that should become clear during this post. The series will continue with the opening batters, then nos 3,4 and 5 and then all-rounders, which post will se my fifth XI introduced in batting order. The introduction to the whole series can be found here, and the most recent post in it, listing the 4th XI in batting order at the end, can be found here. Before getting into the meat of my post I have a but of related business to attend to…

AFGHANISTAN VERSUS IRELAND DAY 3

Ireland, helped by a substantial last wicket stand for the second time in the match did just enough to keep interest in this match alive. They brought their second innings tally to 288, setting Afghanistan 147 to win in the final innings. By the close Afghanistan had reached 29-1, needing a further 118 to win with nine wickets remaining. If either:

a) Ireland pick up wickets early tomorrow morning or

b)Afghanistan score score slowly in the morning and then lose wickets immediately before the lunch interval

Or both of the above happen, nerves could set in leading to a very close result. Whatever happens tomorrow, one team will have its first test match victory on the board and the other team, though defeated will not have been disgraced.

It is unfortunate for Ireland that as I acknowledged in response to a comment yesterday their elevation really came five years too late for them, with the result that most of the players who had earned it had either finished their careers or were finishing their careers, while Afghanistan were elevated as they hit the crest of a wave.

The official close of play report can be read here.

It is now time to look at those bowlers starting with…

THE SPINNERS

My four selections who are in this XI purely as bowlers (there is also a seam bowling all-rounder to back them up, plus an occasional off-spinner) comprise two spinners and two quicks. We start with the person who caused me to take the bowlers first when dealing with this XI…

RASHID KHAN

The 20 year old legspinner is already rated the world’s number one bowler in T20, and has just a very successful season in the Australian Big Bash League, but today he made history by becoming the first Afghan to take a five wicket innings haul in a test match. His 5-82 followed 2-20 in the first Ireland innings, meaning that in the two test matches his country have now played he has total figures of 9-256, a bowling average of 28.44. I can see this improving considerably as he gains more experience (before his 1993 visit to England which really set him on his way Shane Warne had been cuffed around at test level, notably by Ravi Shastri on his debut test), and especially if he gets to bowl second and fourth rather than first and third as he did in this game (pitches which have had more use tend to help spinners a bit more). The match now approaching its denouement will be remembered for many things – Tim Murtagh’s two remarkable efforts from no 11, the second innings batting of Andrew Balbirnie and Kevin O’Brien and Rahmat Shah’s effort in the Afghanistan first innings that came up just two short of being their first ever test century, but probably the single most important individual achievement in the game will end up being Khan’s five-for. As the saying goes – watch this space! On which note we move on to our second spinner…

SOPHIE ECCLESTONE

The 19 year-old left arm spinner has only played in one test match (the women play far too little of this form of the game), but her records in ODIs (25 wickets at 18.96 each) and T20Is (24 wickets at 20.04) show that she is already a very fine bowler, and at her age she will still be improving for a number of years. Although she has yet to record an international five-for she has a 4-14 in ODIs to her credit and a 4-18 in T20Is, and I for one will be surprised in 2019 does not see a five-for to her credit somewhere. Note that once again I have a pair of spinners who do different things with the ball, and a part-time spinner who purveys yet a third variation. Now it is time to move on to the…

FAST BOWLERS

My two specialist pacers are a genuine speedster, who recently rattled the Aussies on their own pitches and someone who started out quick before slowing down later in his career and becoming pretty much unhittable, such was his accuracy. I am going to start with…

SHAUN POLLOCK

His 421 test wickets at 23.11 each are testament to his class as a bowler, while a batting average of just over 32 makes him a good person to be coming in at number 8. His father Peter was a magnificent fast bowler for pre-isolation South Africa, and until the recent career of Adam Voges (average 61.87 from 20 test matches) his uncle Graeme was second among those who had played enough innings to qualify behind Bradman in the test batting averages with 60.97. In his early days when he bowled seriously fast and his temperament seems to have matched his red hair Shaun Pollock is reckoned to have hit the helmets of over 30 opposition batters, but his career had a second phase when he mellowed, the pace was down, but replaced with intense accuracy to the extent that along with Glenn McGrath he was among the last ODI bowlers to have an economy rate below 4 runs per over. Playing as an overseas player for Warwickshire he once took four wickets in four balls, a very rare occurence in top-level cricket. In this XI of mine I see his accuracy as a counterpoint to the sheer pace of…

JASPRIT BUMRAH

His recent effort at the MCG, when his nine wickets in the two innings, including a career-best 6-33 in the first, sent Australia reeling to the defeat the saw India wiin the BorderGavaskar trophy is a performance (I listened to it on the radio) which I will remember for a long time to come. His ten test matches so far have brought him 49 wickets at 21.89, though with a current batting average of 1.55 he is heading for the title of “Number 11’s Number 11”, being 0.45 of a run per innings below current holder Mpumelelo Mbangwa of Zimbabwe. The fact he is only 25, and my spinners are 20 and 19 respectively is why I want specifically the Shaun Pollock from the latter part of his career – as well as steadiness he will bring experience to the bowling attack. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

As usual, I finish by showing some of my recent photographs…

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This and pic no 2 and 5 were taken through the window of my bungalow.

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This and pic no 4 were taken while out making a circuit of the grass in front of my bungalow.
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A pity that somebody could not be bothered to dispose of their cigarette butt properly, but these little flowers caught my eye.

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We had a bit of hail today, and this picture and especially the next, taken from my aunt’s kitchen/ dining area show it through the window.

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Another of my aunt’s collection of bird mugs – a Kingfisher this time.