All Time XIs – Mark/Steve vs Alec/Eric

A nod to cricket’s most famous pairs of twins as an XI of Mark/Steves takes on an XI of Alec/Erics. Plus a mathematical teaser.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s all time XI cricket post honours cricket’s two most famous pairs of twins by pitting an XI whose names all feature Mark or Steve, or a variation thereof against an XI whose names all contain either Eric or Alec (or variations thereof).

THE MARK/STEVE XI

  1. Mark Taylor – left handed opening batter. He announced his presence at the highest level by scoring 839 runs in the 1989 Ashes, the most in a series by any Aussie not named Bradman.
  2. Stephen Moore – right handed opening batter. The Johannesburg born Worcestershire man was a little unlucky to miss out on international recognition in the course of his long career. He finished with a first class average of 36.
  3. *Stephen Fleming – left handed batter, captain. Over 7,000 test runs at an average of just over 40 for the Kiwi. The only small question mark is that his conversion rate of 50s into 100s was very poor. I have named as captain in acknowledgement of his skilled handling of a New Zealand outfit that contained few stars.
  4. Steve Smith – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. One of the best batters ever seen, for all the unorthodoxies and unattractiveness of his method.
  5. Steve Waugh – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer. Averaged over 50 in test cricket. He like Taylor really hit the headlines in the 1989 Ashes – he made two unbeaten 150+ scores in the first two matches, and at one stage, immediately before his second dismissal of the series his average for that series stood at 418. His most remarkable performance came later, in a match at Old Trafford in which 21 of the 22 players failed to make a major score between them and he chiselled out twin centuries.
  6. Mark Waugh – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Very different from his twin brother, but also had a marvellous record at the highest level.
  7. +Steven Davies – wicket keeper, left handed batter. At one time he seemed nailed on for a long and distinguished England career, but it did not eventuate. He is a better red ball player than white ball, but the England selectors picked him only in white ball games, and thereby failed to see the best of him.
  8. Greville Stevens – leg spinner, right handed batter. The only player in either team to have been slipped in by use of the surname. It was the only way I could give this side a front line spinning option, and Stevens had a significantly better bowling record than the other option, Vic Marks, with the added benefit that as a leg spinner he combines somewhat better with the next best spin option in the side, Mark Waugh, than Marks. Stevens played before limited overs cricket at the highest level was a thing, so the comparable parts of their records are: Marks six tests, batting average 27.66, bowling average 44.00, 342 first class games, batting average 30.29, bowling average 33.28 and Stevens 10 tests, batting average 15.47, bowling average 32.40, 243 first class games, batting average 29.56, bowling average 26.84. Stephens took 684 first class wickets at a rate 2.80 per game, Marks 859 at 2.52 per game, so on wickets per game Stevens was marginally more effective as well.
  9. Mark Wood – right arm fast bowler. The first of two genuinely fast bowlers to feature in this XI, a current England regular.
  10. Mark Davies – right arm medium fast bowler. He was plagued by injuries, otherwise he would have been an England regular. The 109 first class games he played when not crocked brought him 315 wickets at 22.42 each.
  11. Steve Harmison – right arm fast bowler. A third successive Durham quick, one who was ranked number one the world in 2004, and also played a starring role in the 2005 Ashes.

This team has a good top six, a keeper who can bat and four fine bowlers. There is a shortage of spin options, but overall it looks a useful side.

NEAR MISSES

Glamorgan fast medium man Steve Watkin and Middlesex quick Steve Finn were close to selection for bowling spots, while two other notable wicket keeping Steves were messrs Rhodes and Marsh (for all that he played test cricket Steve Rixon was not a notable wicket keeper). Mark Butcher was close to a batting slot, but the team was strong in that area. Mark Adair of Ireland may in due course claim his place as an all rounder but he is not there yet. Finally, although he was not close to selection, some might think that Mark Lawson of Yorkshire could have solved the spin bowling issue – the trouble with that being that he paid over 40 runs a piece for his first class wickets.

THE ALEC/ERIC XI

  1. Eric Rowan – right handed opening batter. A fine test record, including what was at the time the highest individual score by a South African, 236, a mark which stood until Graeme Pollock scored his 274 v Australia.
  2. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. He averaged 45 for England in this specific role, and the combination of him and the combative Rowan looks like a strong start to the innings.
  3. Alec Bowell – right handed batter. A stalwart for Hampshire in the 1920s, regularly batting in this position.
  4. *Alex Blackwell – right handed batter, captain. A fine batter and captain of the Australian women’s team a few years ago, and not inappropriately for this post, one half of a pair of cricketing twins.
  5. Alexander Webbe – right handed batter, occasional right arm fast bowler. A stylish batter of the 1870s.
  6. Eric Bedser – right handed batter, right arm off spinner.
  7. Alec Kennedy – right arm fast medium, right handed batter. The seventh leading first class wicket taker of all time (2,874 of them), and good enough with the willow to have done the double (1,000 first class runs and 100 wickets in a first class season) eight times in his long career.
  8. Alec Bedser – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter.
  9. +Eric Petrie – wicket keeper. A superb keeper, though a rather limited batter, the Kiwi gets in here because I need Stewart’s batting unencumbered by keeping duties.
  10. Alex Hartley – left arm orthodox spinner. Part of England women’s 2017 World Cup winning squad.
  11. Eric Hollies – leg spinner. Has the biggest negative balance between runs scored in first class cricket and wickets taken (-650 – 1,673 runs, 2,323 wickets) in history. He was the bowler in the most famous commentary moment of them all: “…Bradman bowled Hollies nought…”, which left the Don with 6,996 runs at 99.94 in test cricket.

This team has a decent top six, with Eric Bedser just about rating as an all rounder, a great keeper, and four excellent and well varied front line bowlers. It lacks genuine pace, but Bedser and Kennedy would be a fine new ball pairing, while the spin trio of Hollies, Hartley and Eric Bedser have the great merit as a combination that each does something different (LS, SLA, OS).

THE CONTEST

The Mark/Steve combination definitely looks the stronger, although a discreet hint to the groundsman to prepare a ‘bunsen’ would help to make it more of a contest!

A MATHEMATICAL CHALLENGE

This problem, set today on brilliant.org, has generated a large amount of controversy there due to the interpretation made by some of one part of the question. Click on tghe screenshot below to see it in it’s original setting:

Marathon

On brilliant there is a statement of clarification as a sop to all of those who reasoned it out correctly but then misinterpreted the final part of the question, and there are multiple choice answers available. I think making it multi-choice makes it too easy, and I want to see if any of my readers make the mistake quite a number of solvers on brilliant apparently did – explanation tomorrow.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just  a few photographs today = the weather took an unpleasant turn yesterday afternoon and is only now showing signs of becoming pleasant again.

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MS v AE
The gteams in tabulated form.

100 Cricketers – The Ninth XI Three Main Batters

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, featuring updates from the County Championship and of course some of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest piece in my “100 cricketers” series, in which we look at the three big name batters from the ninth XI. The introductory post to the series can be found here, and the most recent post in which the ninth XI is introduced is here. Before getting to the main body of the piece, it is time for a…

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP UPDATE

Two of the six county championship matches have been settled and a third is on the cusp of producing a result. 

  • Sussex v LeicestershireLeics 232 and 252-3 beat Sussex 212 and 308 by seven wickets
    Paul Horton, Hasan Azad and veteran Aussie Mark Cosgrove all made runs as Leicesterhsire ended up making light work of what had looked like being a fairly tough run chase. The feature of this match was the 80 made by Philip Salt in the Sussex second innings – if he can go on to a few centuries in the near future the England selectors may just take note.
  • Hampshire v Essex – Hamsphire 525-8 declared beat Essex 164 and 274 by an innings and 87 runs.
    A century by veteran Ravi Bopara kept this game going longer than some expected, but Hampshire had been in control most of the way, and once they got through Bopara the rest came quickly, with Adam Wheater absent hurt for the second time for the match. South African Kolpak signing Kyle Abbott took five wickets for Hampshire, to back Fidel Edwards who had done likewise in the first Essex innings.
  • Derbyshire v Durham – Derbyshire 197 and 334, Durham 171 and 207-8
    Many will be glad that Durham seem to be headed for defeat in their first match after they chose to award the captaincy of their side to a proven cheat in Cameron Bancroft. 
  • Somerset v Kent Somerset 171 and 243 beat Kent 209 and 131 by 74 runs
    This result is just in, and it did not look likely this morning, but a last wicket stand between 21 year-old George Bartlett (63) and Jack Brooks (35) gave Somerset something to bowl, Lewis Gregory ripped out three quick wickets before lunch (he went on to finish with 5-18) and Kent never looked like getting to the target. This match turned on the morning session of today, with Kent having had the better of the previous play by far. I commented on this post on Toby’s Sporting Views that if Somerset could eke out a further 50 this morning they would give themselves a chance, they actually managed 70, and ended up winning comfortably.
  • Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire Nottinghamshire 408 and 329-5D, Yorkshire 291 and 181-2
    This one looks set to end in a draw (although a dramatic Yorkshire collapse remains possible). Nottinghamshire’s overnight declaration with Joe Clarke 97 not out, following his first innings 112 provided an early talking point. My view, expressed on this site yesterday and on twitter this morning is that Notts were right to give themselves a full day in which to bowl the Yorkies out a second time – the needs of the team have to come first. Joe Root is currently 87 not out for Yorkshire and Gary Ballance is 52 not out.
  •  Northamptonshire v MiddlesexNorthants 445, Middlesex 271 and 294-4
    This one looks like petering out as well. Full credit to Middlesex captain Dawid Malan who is 151 not out in their second innings, and would appear to have saved his side. 

It is now time for the main part of this post, starting with…

ANDREW STRAUSS

112 and 83 on test debut, centuries on his debuts against two further countries (and he nearly made four), a Compton-Miller Medal winning performance in the 2009 Ashes and captaining England to Ashes success down under in 2010-11. Exactly 100 test match appearances brought him 7,037 test runs at 40.91. 

STEPHEN FLEMING

111 test matches yielded him 7,172 runs at 40.06, he also scored 8,037 ODI runs at 32.40. In addition to his attacking batting he was a fine captain of New Zealand. He is a worthy captain of this XI.

MARTIN CROWE

77 test matches yielded him 5,444 runs at 45.36, with a highest score of 299, made against Sri Lanka when New Zealand were initially in a lot of trouble. He was one of the finest batters ever to come out of New Zealand, although the likes of Stewart Dempster (average 65.72 in his very brief test career), Bert Sutcliffe (holder of the two highest first class scores by New Zealanders – 385 and 355, the 385 coming out of an innings total of 500, while his opponents, Canterbury,  managed 382 off the bat in their two innings combined) and Glenn Turner (the only Kiwi to have scored 100 first class hundreds) would all have their advocates. His first test century came against England in 1983-4 and helped to save his side after they had been over 200 adrift on first innings. 

HOT OFF THE PRESS – DERBYSHIRE SECURE VICTORY OVER DURHAM

I mentioned in my county championship update section that Derbyshire were closing on victory over Durham. They have now completed the job, the result being:

Derbyshire 197 and 334 beat Durham 171 and 235 by 125 runs
Openers Harte and Lees made half centuries, but apart from them only Burnham (32) and Trevaskis, the 19 year-old slow left-armer (27 not out) who I have marked as one to watch offered any significant resistance as the wickets were shared round. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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