All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet

Today’s all time XI cricket post follows a strict alphabetical progression.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another variation on the all-time XI cricket theme. Today each featured player has a surname beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, and each letter is used strictly in sequence, meaning that the second XI ends with a player whose surname begins with V.

RAY ILLINGWORTH’S XI

  1. Bobby Abel – right handed opening batter. 744 test runs at 37.20, an excellent record for his period, over 30,000 first class runs.
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter. Has fared magnificently as an opener since being given the role for England in 2015.
  3. Belinda Clark – right handed batter. In the 1990s she had the same kind of reputation as a batter that her compatriot Meg Lanning does today. She averaged 45 in test cricket and 47 in ODIs, the latter figure including the first ODI double ton by anyone.
  4. Emrys Davies – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was usually to be found in this sort of place in the batting order, and played some fine innings from no4.
  5. Ross Edwards – right handed batter. One of the better Aussie batters of the first half of the 1970s (he retired somewhat prematurely at the end of the 1975 series played after the inaugural men’s world cup). In the first match of that series at Edgbaston he was horrifically out of form but ground out a half century in four hours and ten minutes, while others scored quicker (notably Rod Marsh with the top score of 61) at the other end. Rick McCosker and Ian Chappell had also scored 50s, and Thommo down near the extras scored a test best 49 to boost the score to 359. England were then bowled out twice, with skipper Denness, who had won the toss an put Australia in, managing three and eight in his last two test innings. In the second test of that series Australia slumped to 81-7 in response to England’s first innings 315 (Greig 96, Knott 69, Steele 50) and it was that man Edwards, helped by DK Lillee, who dug Australia out of this king sized hole. Edwards made 99, Lillee a test best 73 not out, and in the end England led by just 47, and were unable to force victory.
  6. Andrew Flintoff – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. He took a while to establish himself at the top level before enjoying a couple of magnificent years, and occasionally reviving old memories thereafter.
  7. Jack Gregory – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Injuries took their toll late in his career, but his record confirms his status as a genuine all rounder.
  8. George Hirstright handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. His England record does not look that great, but his play for Yorkshire, over the course of three decades, places him firmly among the greatest of all time.
  9. *Raymond Illingworth – off spinner, right handed batter. In 1970-1, with Australia holding the Ashes, and having done so since winning them in 1958-9, Illingworth captained England to a 2-0 series victory to regain the urn, the first to do so in Australia since Jardine 38 years previously, and only the sixth in all after Bligh in 1882-3, Stoddart in 1894-5, Warner in 1903-4 and Douglas in 1911-2 as well as Jardine. Subsequent to that tour England’s only successes down under have been when Brearley defended the urn in 1978-9, Gatting in 1986-7 defending the urn won back by Gower in 1985 and Strauss in 2010-11, defending the 2009 spoils. He was a quality player in his day as well.
  10. +Eifion Jones – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He made more dismissals than any other Glamorgan keeper, 933 of them (840 caught, 93 stumped) in 405 matches.
  11. Rashid Khan – leg spinner, right handed lower order batter. Although it is his bowling that has got him in (after four tests he has 23 wickets at 21.08 at that level – a more than promising start – while eight first class matches in total have yielded him 58 wickets at 17.44, and he is not quite 22 years old.

This team has a solid top five, three fine all rounders, a keeper, and two spinners who can both bat. It has no tail to speak of (even Rashid Khan averages 23 in FC cricket), and Gregory and Hirst will make a fine new ball pairing, with Flintoff as back up, while Khan, Illingworth and Davies provide fine spinning options (especially the first two). This team will take a lot of beating.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

First of all, bear in mind my decision to pick players in positions they actually occupied. That means that Abel is virtually indisputable, although Mayank Agarwal will change that if he continues as he has started. Jack Brown of England, Bill Brown of Australia and Sidney George Barnes of Australia were all good options for the letter B, and I could accept any of them. Ian Chappell might have had the no 3 slot. I felt no 4 was a position too high for Basil D’Oliveira, and felt that Davies’ bowling gave him an edge of Joe Darling. No 5 was too low in the order for Bill Edrich (he either opened or batted no 3) or his cousin John (a specialist opener), while none of the other cricketing Edriches had a good enough record. George Emmett of Gloucestershire might have his advocates, although five was lower than he usually batted. Freddie Flintoff had no rivals. Jack Gregory’s slot might have gone to Tony Greig, but I felt that that the Aussie gave me three genuine pace bowlers. Hirst’s place might have gone to Schofield Haigh but I felt that his left arm bowling and superior batting clinched it in his favour. Illingworth’s two main rivals were Jack Iverson and Bert Ironmonger, but both were genuine no11s, so would have been two places too high, and in Ironmonger’s case I already had a left arm spinner in Davies. Some might think that Geraint Jones should have had the keeper’s slot, but his allegedly superior batting (I am not wholly convinced it actually was) does not make up for the fact that he was definitely a tad clumsy behind the stumps. Rashid Khan’s place could have gone to his compatriot the left arm wrist spinner Zahir Khan, while if I had wanted an extra pace bowling option Indian left armer Zaheer Khan could have been selected.

WALTER ROBINS’ XI

  1. Justin Langer – left handed opening batter, averaged 45 in test cricket, with a best of 250 against England at the MCG.
  2. Colin McDonald – right handed opening batter. The 1950s was a slow and low scoring decade, which makes McDonald’s test average of 39, batting at the top of the order particularly impressive. His best series was the 1958-9 Ashes when the he was the most successful batter on either side.
  3. Scott Newman – left handed batter. When he first started it seemed that an England career beckoned, but he never quite kicked on, finishing with a first class average of 38.
  4. Norman O’Neill – right handed batter. A fine stroke making batter for Australia. He averaged 45.55 in test cricket, making his debut in  the 1958-9 Ashes series.
  5. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner.
  6. +Quinton De Kock – left handed batter, wicket keeper. I could not come up with a cricketer whose surname began with Q who could play as high as no six, so I allowed myself to pick someone whose first name began with Q.
  7. *Walter Robins – leg spinner, right handed batter, captain. A highly successful captain of Middlesex, well regarded by most of those who played under him. He averaged 26.39 with the bat and 23.30 with the ball, scoring 13,884 first class runs and capturing 969 wickets in his 379 games at that level.
  8. George Simpson-Hayward – off spinner (under arm). 23 wickets at 18 in his five test matches, 503 first class wickets at 21.
  9. Charles Turner – right arm medium fast bowler. One of the great bowlers of the early period of test history – took his 100th wicket in his 17th test match. Link two in an Australian chain through test history – Jack Blackham who kept wicket in the first 17 test matches ever played was a team mate of his, he gave Bill O’Reilly (3) some useful advice, who in turn gave Richie Benaud (4) some useful advice, and in his turn he passed on some advice to Shane Warne (5) – it only remains to provide a verifiable link from Warne to a current Aussie player to complete the chain.
  10. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler. 297 test wickets for the Kent maestro. Economical on pitches that did not help him and a destroyer on any surface that did help him.
  11. Vince Van Der Bijl – right arm fast medium bowler. The big South African took 767 wickets at 16.54 in first class cricket (his country were isolated due to apartheid, and he chose not to go down the route of qualifying to play for another country, so he played no official international cricket). Philippe-Henri Ednonds who played alongside Van Der Bijl for Middlesex said in “100 Greatest Bowlers” that Van Der Bijl would likely have had a test record in similar lines to Brian Statham’s had he played at that level.

This side has a powerful top five, an explosive batter/ keeper at six and a well balanced bowling attack. Turner and Van Der Bijl look every inch a quality new ball pair, while Underwood, Simpson-Hayward and Robins offer a fine variety of slower options.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

No other L challenges Langer for the no1 slot. N was also a fairly barren letter, as was O. I did consider selecting Ellyse Perry in place of Kevin Pietersen, while no5 is too low for Graeme Pollock, who batted either at no3 or no4. I covered Q in that entry. I think Robins’ all round skills and captaincy make him a must pick – no 7 is definitely at least a position too high for Andy Roberts the . great fast bowler. Similarly, I felt no 8 was too high in the order for Fred Spofforth, so went for the highly individual skills of Simpson-Hayward. Jeff Thomson’s hell fire pace was an alternative to Turner. Underwood had no rival for the letter U. I could have gone for Chaminda Vaas in place of Van Der Bijl, but considered that the South African’s amazing first class record had to be acknowledged. Including Hedley Verity would have left me with only Turner as a recognized new ball bowler.

THE CONTEST

Robins’ XI has the stronger top batting, but more of a tail. Illingworth’s XI are better equipped in bowling, and they bat deeper, although their top batting is the weaker of the two sides. It is a tough call, but I think that Illingworth’s XI just about has the edge.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Marathon

We are told that the runners in first and fourth told the truth and those in second and third lied. C’s statement has to be true, because it being a lie would put C in fourth and that is disallowed by the conditions. Since it is a true statement and C did not finish fourth there is only one place for C to finish, which is first, the other place who told the truth. A’s statement is thus proven true, so A came fourth. B thus lied and therefore finished second, making D the other liar and the third place finisher. Thus C was first and A was fourth, making them three places apart. The cause of the aggro when this problem appeared on brilliant is that two runners finished in between A and C and some therefore believed the answer to be two, but the number of places separating A and C is 4-1 = 3. Brilliant caved to the moaners, giving those who had selected two but explained their reasoning for doing so in the comments credit, and they added an explanatory note to the problem itself. However, having reasoned the problem out as I have explained above and then selected two is actually equivalent to arguing that 4-1 = 2, so I think they should have held firm on that one.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Holly Gillibrand, a young Scottish environmental activist has an article titled “Cry for the Wild” in the Oban Times. Below is a screenshot of the first few paragraphs:

HG

Time for my usual sign off:

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Through the Alphabet
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – England Women

Today we look at the England Women for our ‘all time XI’ cricket themed post.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my ‘all time XI‘ cricket series. Today is Monday,, which means that it is tipme to look at an international set up, and today’s subject is the England Women’s set up.

ENGLAND WOMEN IN MY LIFETIME

  1. Charlotte Edwards – right handed opening batter. She was an England regular for two decades, and her departure from the international scene caused some controversy when it final;y happened. However, it was undoubtedly the right decision, and within a short time the England Women had reaped rich rewards for making it. I first saw her in action as a teenager, when her more experienced team mates were by and large unable to offer any kind of resistance to Australia, and she chiselled out 74.
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter. She was moved up to the top of the order after Edwards’ departure and almost immediately began making big scores there. Regular readers of this blog will know that back in 2018, with Cook obviously due to retire soon and Jennings due for the chop (having replaced the proven international failure Mark Stoneman) I advocated that she be given an opportunity to play alongside the men. As it happened Rory Burns who had made an unanswerable case for selection came in, Jennings stayed on for the winter, and Joe Denly got given his test chance. After a disastrous experiment with Jason Roy as red ball opener and a summer of top order strife England subsequently turned to Dominic Sibley who had made a clear case for inclusion and also elevated Zak Crawley on rather less firm ground. I expect that when test cricket resumes post covid-19 the England men’s top three will read Sibley, Burns, Crawley, as it should, and that top three would be the most solid looking England have boasted since Strauss, Cook and Trott were in their prime.
  3. Claire Taylor – right handed batter. She averaged over 40 in both test cricket and ODIs, and no 3 was her regular position.
  4. *Heather Knight – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, captain. She has proven an outstanding captain since being given the job in succession to Edwards, and he record with the bat is excellent as well, while she has taken important wickets with her off spin.
  5. Natalie Sciver – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. The Tokyo born all rounder has been one of the first names on the team sheet ever since first being picked for the side.
  6. +Sarah Taylor – right handed batter, wicket keeper. One of the two finest keepers I have ever personally seen in action (the other being Ben Foakes) and a magnificent batter as well. Her presence, plus the batting abilities of the next two in the order enables to the selection of five top line bowlers.
  7. Katherine Brunt – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower middle order batter. She was a pure bowler when she came into the side, but has developed her batting, not quite in the manner of Ellyse Perry and Kiwi Sophie Devine to the point where it is arguably more important to the side than her bowling, but certainly to a sufficient extent to justify selection at no7.
  8. Laura Marsh – off spinner, right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. A multi-purpose bowler, and perfectly capable of batting for long periods in support of a more established batter, as she demonstrated famously in partnership with Heather Knight.
  9. Anya Shrubsole – right arm medium fast bowler. Brunt’s regular new ball partner. She was the hero of the 2017 Women’s World Cup final, taking six wickets to enable England to defend a fairly modest total against India, an achievement that saw her become the first female to appear on the front cover of Wisden.
  10. Sophie Ecclestone – left arm orthodox spinner. The best of the collection of young spinners currently doing well for England Women, which also features the likes of Kirstie Gordon, Linsey Smith, Sarah Glenn and Sophia Dunkley, with others such as Helen Fenby on the fringes.
  11. Isa Guha – right arm medium pacer. She made her international debut at the age of 17, bagging three cheap wickets to begin a journey that would see her at one time rated the best female bowler on the planet. She is probably better known today as an entertaining commentator who is a regular and welcome part of TMS. She did most of her international bowling into the wind, with Brunt often bowling with the wind at the other end.

This team has a formidable top six, including an incredible wicket keeper, and a collection of five bowlers who between them tick every box save leg spin.

ADDITIONS TO THE ALL TIME XI

  • Janette Brittin – right handed opening batter. Her record demands inclusion, although Beaumont still has time in which to change that.
  • *Rachael Heyhoe-Flint – right handed batter. Amagnificent captain, and a batter who averaged 45.54 in test cricket and just over 58 in ODIs.
  • Carole Hodges – right handed batter, off spinner. A magnificent all-rounder, whose feats included an ODI performance in which she scored 96 with the bat and her bowling figures included a hat trick.
  • Enid Bakewell – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. An extraordinary all round record, averaging almost 60 with the bat and under 17 with the ball, including being the firsst player of either sex to score a century and claim a 10-wicket haul in the same test match.

Rejigging the team to include these legends gives us a batting line of Edwards, Brittin, C Taylor, *Heyhoe-Flint, Hodges, Bakewell, +S Taylor, Brunt, Shrubsole, Ecclestone, Guha. This makes the batting formidably strong, and gives us three front line seamers in Brunt, Shrubsole and Guha backed by three topline spinners, Ecclestone, Bakewell and Hodges. The similarity in bowling style between Bakewell and Ecclestone can be coped with.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I have already mentioned the phalanx of young spinners currently available to England Women, and I add to that list Alex Hartley, who was part of the 2017 World Cup winning squad, and up-and-coming off spinner Mady Villiers. Isabelle Wong, still in her teens, is quicker by some way (and actually styles herself as a fast bowler, as does her Aussie contemporary Tayla Vlaemink) than any of the seamers I have picked, and I fully expect her to force her way into consideration sooner rather than later. There has been one previous player of Chinese ancetsry to play international cricket, Ellis Achong after whome the ‘chinaman’ was named, and there was also a Sheffield Shield player many years ago by the name of Hunter Poon, while in my brief umpiring career I saw a boy who I believe to have been of Korean descent, named Kim (but no relation AFAIK to the ruling family of North Korea!) take 6-6 in a spell. Three fine all rounders who I could not find space for were Jo Chamberlain, player of the match in a world cup final back in the day,  Melissa Reynard, an unglamorous but mighty effective middle order accumlator and bowler of medium pace, and Jenny Gunn, possessor of the slowest ‘slower ball’ yet seen in international cricket. Danielle Wyatt would be a shoe-in for a T20 side, but her record in other formats is not good enough for her be given serious consideration in this exercise.

WOMEN PLAYING ALONGSIDE THE MEN

I reckon that a female playing alongside the men at the highest level is something that will be seen before too many more years has elapsed. Arran Brindle nee Thompson scored a century in men’s league fixture a few years ago. While it is unlikely that a female could ever bowl as fast the quickest men, batting does not depend solely or even principally on power – timing and placement are key, and there is also no reason why a female spinner should not prove deadly, and I have named a female wicket keeper as one of the best I have ever seen in that department. Of course women who can hold their own alongside the top men,if we do see such, will always be rarities, but I refuse to accept that the possibility should be ruled out entirely.

AN INVITATION

One of my twitter followers, Iain Davidson McKane, suggested that I might offer to produce these to fill third party requests. So, keeping things sensible (perhaps study previous posts in this series to see what I have already done), I now ask readers who have an ‘all time XI’ idea for me to suggest it in the comments. If you have a blog of your own and mention that as well then if your idea works and I can produce a post about it I will link to your blog.

PHOTOGRAPHS

And it is time for my usual sign off…

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For the first time in over two months I have been somewhere other than my bungalow and its bit of garden – not very far afield (I don’t trust this government an iota, and although I am prepared to go out walking now I remain exceedingly cautious).

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EW
The teams in tabulated form.

 

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.

All Time XIs – Davids v Goliaths

My latest variation on the ‘all time XI’ theme pits Davids against Goliaths. I also present the answer to yesterday’s teaser, an important post about disease prevention and of course some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

It is time for another variation on the ‘All Time XI‘ theme, this time pitting a team made of players of small stature against a team of some of the tallest of all cricketers. I will also answer yesterday’s mathematical teaser.

THE GOLIATHS XI

  1. Chris Gayle – left handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. He stands 6’5″ tall. His career highlights include two test triple centuries. However, he would be banned from using the DRS because of his record in that department.
  2. Will Jefferson – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm fast medium. At 6’11” the Essex and later Leicestershire opener is one of the tallest of all professional cricketers. He never quite managed to attract the attention of the England selectors, but achieved a very respectable output in first class cricket.
  3. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. At 6’4″ one of the shorter members of this team. He averaged almost 50 in test cricket, with his highest score 227 at Adelaide. Late in his career he came within two of the highest score ever made for Surrey, with 355. He was not always popular with team mates – his departures from his first two counties, Nottinghamshire and Hampshire were both decidedly acrimonious, but his record speaks for itself.
  4. Tom Moody – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer. The 6’7″ Aussie scored stacks of runs for Warwickshire and Worcestershire over the years and was also a fine fielder. One of the few to have admitted to being embarrassed by making a century due to the circumstances of its making. The innings in question, which saw the normally prized landmark arrive in just 26 minutes, was played against bowlers who were deliberately giving away runs to expedite a declaration was at the time greeted as a new first class record, but wiser counsels have since prevailed and it is now entirely correctly relegated to a footnote. Moody made ample numbers of runs that he had to earn, and his genuine embarrassment at effectively being handed a century speaks volumes for him.
  5. *Clive Lloyd – left handed batter, cover specialist fielder, captain. The 6’5″ bespectacled Guyanese ace featured in my piece about the West Indies. Against Glamorgan he once reached 200 in precisely two hours against genuine bowling. In the inaugural men’s world cup in 1975 (the women played one two years earlier, won by Rachael Heyhoe-Flint’s England) he scored a ton in the final to put West Indies in charge of the contest, a position they never relinquished.
  6. +Clyde Walcott – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Wicket keepers are rarely particularly tall, and Walcott was over six feet tall. I wrote about him in the West Indies piece.
  7. George Bonnor – right handed batter, medium pacer, excellent catcher. Bonnor was one of the first renowned big hitters, with his best test innings being a score of 128 that included sending the ball clean out of the ground four times. He was inclined to attempt to ‘bat properly’, a policy that did not work for him – his best moments came when he realized that he was a big hitter and did not try to play a real innings.
  8. Sulieman Benn – left arm orthodox spinner. At 6’7″ the West Indian is probably the tallest specialist spinner there has ever been, and he did have his moments. When I watched the West Indies play Australia at Adelaide in 2009 he was one of only two of their bowlers, greased lightening quickie Kemar Roach being the other, to cause the Aussie batters genuine apprehension. That match should have been an all-time classic, the West Indies being all out early on the final morning to leave Australia needing 330 off 81 overs on a pitch that was still pretty good for batting. Unfortunately, influenced by being already one up in a three match series, the Aussie skipper ‘Punter’ Ponting declined to live up to his nickname and Australia made no serious attempt to mount a chase that they should have had a fair chance of pulling off.
  9. Mohammad Irfan – left arm fast bowler. The Pakistani paceman at 7’1″ is officially the tallest international cricketer there has ever been.
  10. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler, excellent boundary fielder. The 6’8″ Barbadian who has one end of his home ground, the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, named in his honour was a very difficult bowler to score off, and took ana average of just over four wickets per test match. His ODI economy rate of 3.09 is unapproached in that format. He was my chosen overseas player for Somerset.
  11. Bruce Reid – left arm fast bowler. The 6’8″ Aussie had a fine test record for those matches when he was able to play, though he spent a lot of time on treatment tables (his only rival that I can think of in that regard was another Aussie, Damien Fleming).

This team has a good top six, including a serviceable wicket keeper, a big hitter at no 7 and four fine bowlers. It is weak in the spin bowling department, with only the part time tweakers of Gayle and Pietersen to supplement Benn’s left arm spin. That is the suitably Brobdingnagian “Goliaths XI”, and now, slings at the ready, here are their opponents:

THE DAVIDS XI

  1. Bobby Abel – right handed opening bat. The diminutive Surrey opener (officially 5’4″ but perhaps less) was the first to carry his bat through an England innings, finishing on that occasion with 132 not out. He also holds the record for carrying his bat through the highest first class team total to feature such an innings, and in that same innings the highest score ever made for Surrey. In 1899 at Taunton, Surrey scored 811 all out, with Abel batting through for an undefeated 357. Abel and Tom Hayward shared the Surrey record partnership for any wicket, 448 for the 4th. Playing for the Players against the Gentlemen at The Oval Abel scored 247, a score only beaten in that series by his fellow Surreyite Jack Hobbs (266). Abel also formed a contrasting friendship with WG Grace, and was among the pallbearers at the latter’s funeral. There is a biography of him by David Kynaston that I recommend.
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening bat. She has established a magnificent record at the top of the order in recent years (visit my post of two days ago to see a clip of highlights from one of her innings), and while the women play scandalously little test cricket, her record in ODIs is significantly better than her record in T20s, leading me to take the view that if she got a proper chance in long form cricket she would be highly successful.
  3. *Don Bradman – right handed batter, brilliant outfielder, captain. He was just a little over 5’6″ in height, the second tallest of my chosen XI. A test average of 99.94 renders further comment superfluous. This is his third appearance in this series of posts, after Australia and the Scribes.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter. The Indian maestro, scorer of 100 international hundreds is an automatic selection at four as Bradman was at three.
  5. Gus Logie – right handed batter. The West Indian, one of the smallest players of his era, was not anything like as heavy a scorer as his immediate predecessors in this order, but he tended to score his runs when his side really needed them.
  6. +Mushfiqur Rahim – right handed batter, wicket keeper. The Bangladeshi, one of the smallest players ever seen in the test arena, has two test double centuries to his credit, and averages 36.77 overall with the bat, and he has not all that often had the luxury of being able to build on a strong start by his team. He has also taken 104 catches and executed 15 stumpings in test cricket. Bangladesh has probably during his career only had five players who can genuinely be regarded as top class, opener Tamim Iqbal, all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan (currently suspended), off spinner Mehedi Hasan, fast bowler Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (now a member of the Bangladeshi parliament, and a spent force as a player) and Mushfiqur Rahim himself. In this team he is part of a strong unit, which would be a new experience for him.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. At 5’7″ the tallest member of my chosen XI, he is the x-factor all rounder in the side. He featured in yesterday’s post.
  8. Katherine Brunt – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed bat. The Barnsley born Brunt is approximately 5’5″ tall – among her regular England team mates only Beaumont and Danielle Wyatt are noticeably shorter. It is her skiddy bowling that has earned her a place in this XI, but she has also developed her batting to a very considerable degree, and shares with Logie the knack of producing the goods when they are most required – her career best 72 not out got England to a total in excess of 200 when at one stage a prediction of 150 would have been viewed as seriously optimistic.
  9. John Wisden – right arm fast, useful lower order batter. The Sussex pacer, also founder of the United All England XI, a touring XI which played matches against local teams who had a numerical advantage – 18 and 22 were the two most frequent sizes of team for such matches, and sometimes secured the services of professionals, described as ‘given men’, once took all ten in a first class innings, all clean bowled. He stood only 5’4″, probably the shortest specialist fast bowler there has ever been.
  10. Tich Freeman – leg spinner. The 5’2″ Freeman (his actual given names were Alfred Percy) was the second most prolific wicket taker in first class cricket history, with 3,776 (and he played only about half the number of matches that Yorkshire’s Wilfred Rhodes, the no1 in this category, did). He holds all manner of records for large wicket hauls. Even more remarkable by today’s standards is the age at which he achieved these feats – a combination of his being a late developer and World War 1 meant that by the age of 30 the Kent leggie had precisely 29 first class wickets to his credit.
  11. Poonam Yadav – leg spinner. The tiny Indian leg spinner was one the stars of the recent Women’s World T20, again and again confounding opponents with her flight and spin. She is also one of the slowest bowlers of any description to have been seen in top level cricket.

This team has an opening pair who should combine well, a powerhouse combination at three and four, a battler at no six, a wicket keeper batter at six, the most explosive batter the game has ever seen at seven, and four varied bowlers to round out the XI. I regret that both spinners are leg spinners, but I think there is enough difference in their methods that this is not a very serious weakness.

THE CONTEST

This contest for the ‘Sling Trophy’ as I shall call it should be a fine one. However, especially if Wisden, Brunt and Jessop, the pace bowlers for the Davids, concentrate on yorkers, which the Goliaths would find it difficult to get down to, I would still expect this to go the same way as the original David vs Goliath – in favour of the Davids.

SOLUTION TO YESTERDAY’S TEASER

Yesterday I offered up this, from brilliant.org

Measurement

The key lies in that word ‘similar’. All the four rectangles (the big overarching rectangle, with long side 16, the intermediate rectangle that is half the area of that one and the two smaller rectangles all have the same proportions. This means that the key shape, the triangle is an isosceles right angled triangle and its longest side can be calculated from the similarity of the rectangles to equal to 4 x the square root of 2. This squares up to 32, and Pythagoras tells us that the sum of the squares of the other two sides is equal to the square of the longest side (aka hypoteneuse). Since the triangle is isosceles as well as right angled, the square of each remaining side is half of 32, i.e. 16. 16 has two square roots, 4 and -4, and the length of the side of a triangle is a positive number, so the answer is four.

Here is David Vreken’s elegant published solution:

VrekenSol

Just to complete this mini-section, it took me much less long to actually solve this than to type my explanation, and I am a fairly rapid typist.

A FINAL LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

The Davids and Goliaths of cricket have been paraded in all their glory, and I have a single link left to share before finishing with my usual sign off. Phoebe MD has hosted a post by Barbara Leonhard titled “Avoiding the Tragedy: A Look into Disease Preventionwhich I consider to be a must-read. My thanks to both Phoebe and Barbara for that piece.

Finally, my usual sign off…

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David v Goliath
The teams in tabulated form with abbreviated comments.

All Time XIs – T20 Clash

In today’s variation on the all-time XI theme we look at T20 cricket, with a team of former greats all of whom would have been well suited to that format pitted against a team of the best actual T20 players.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s variation on the ‘all time XI‘ theme looks at the game’s shortest regular format, T20 (one innings each of 20 overs per side), and I pit a team who were in their prime before top level limited overs cricket was played against a team of T20 experts.

T20 PLAYING CONDITIONS

At least five bowlers must be used, and no bowler may bowl more than four overs in a T20 innings. For the first six overs no more than two fielders may be stationed more than 30 metres from the bat, and thereafter no more than five. This format has been very successful since its top level introduction in 2003, with T20 tournaments flourishing all round the world. Having briefly set the scene it is time to meet our teams starting with…

THE PRET20 FRANCHISE XI

  1. Garry Sobers – left handed bat, every kind of left arm bowling known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete cricketer ever to play the game, he was an absolute must for this side.
  2. Gilbert Jessop – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler and brilliant fielder. Even if his batting was his only recommendation the most consistently fast scorer the game has ever known would have been a ‘shoo-in’. Add his intelligent bowling and fielding that was estimated as being worth 30 an innings to his team and, from a century before the format was used at top level you have the blueprint for the perfect T20 exponent.
  3. *WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of various styles, fine close catcher. My chosen captain.
  4. Frank Woolley – left handed bat, left arm orthodox spin bowler, brilliant close catcher.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed bat, left arm wrist spinner, fine fielder.
  6. +Leslie Ames – right handed bat, wicket keeper. He won the Lawrence trophy for the fastest hundred of the season twice in the first three years of its existence. He was one of the Kent batters who combined to chase down 219 in two hours, with no fielding restrictions in place.
  7. Bill Lockwood – right handed bat, right arm fast bowler. He was one of the pioneers of the ‘slower ball’, a type of delivery that is especially useful in T20, and it is for that reason that I have included him here.
  8. Jim Laker – off spinner and right handed lower order bat.
  9. Alfred Shaw – right arm medium/ slow bowler, lower order bat. The Nottinghamshire man bowled more overs in first class cricket than he conceded runs. He paid just 12 a piece for his first class wickets. He once said that “length and variation of pace are the secrets of successful bowling”, and though he would probably get hit occasionally I think his method would work beautifully in T20.
  10. Hedley Verity – left arm orthodox spinner, useful lower order batter. His match against Nottinghamshire in 1932 provides a vignette of his bowling skills – in the first Notts innings on a pitch not assisting him he operated as a stock bowler taking 2-64 in 41 overs. In their second innings, after an overnight thunderstorm had gingered up the pitch he took 10-10 in 19.4 overs, with 16 maidens, still the cheapest ‘all ten’ in first class history. He was noted for being especially skilled at varying his pace to suit the conditions, and even in T20 it is hard to imagine anyone ‘collaring’ him.
  11. David Harris – right arm fast bowler. Hambledon’s finest, who once sent a spell of 170 deliveries from which one solitary single was garnered by the opposition. I have argued elsewhere (see the Eccentrics post in this series) that proper styles of underarm bowling such as his, and the lobs of Simpson-Hayward mentioned in that post, as opposed to Trevor Chappell style grubbers should be legal. The grubber can be covered under today’s legislation with the single addition that a ball rolled along the deck is considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and will therefore be called no-ball.

This XI is strong in batting, everyone other than Ames would be capable of contributing with the ball, and the bowling is staggeringly rich in variety as well. Their designated fielding substitute can be Sydney Copley, who while on the Notts groundstaff took an astonishing catch as sub in the 1930 test match there to dismiss Stan McCabe (who unlike another Aussie top order batter dismissed by a sub in more recent times did not give vent to a string of obscenities on his way back to the pavilion), breaking a threatening partnership. Now we we turn to…

T20 ERA FRANCHISE XI

  1. Chris Gayle – left handed opening bat, occasional off spinner. The ‘Universe Boss’ has to open the innings for this team, his record in this format being simply astonishing. As a very tall left handed bat he forms a perfect contrast to the person I have chosen to open with him…
  2. Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening bat of diminutive stature but possessed of a full range of strokes, good footwork and incredible timing. Her many highlights include a 47 ball hundred against South Africa. Additionally, I consider that the completeness of the contrast between her and Gayle would pose a huge challenge to opposition bowlers. Yesterday’s post featured a video clip showing her in action – please go back and watch it.
  3. *Virat Kohli – right handed batter. The best all format batter currently in world cricket – Steve Smith is better at test cricket, and Chris Gayle is better at T20.
  4. Glenn Maxwell – right handed batter, off spinner. A man with an incredible record in limited overs cricket, and had I failed to select him I probably wouldn’t have needed radio equipment to hear the howls of protest from Australia.
  5. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The x-factor all rounder.
  6. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper. His career started before the establishment of top level T20, but he did play the format before he finished.
  7. Rashid Khan – right arm leg spinner, lower order batter. The Afghan has a phenomenal record in limited overs cricket, and has had some successes in his few forays into long form cricket as well. Save for being brutalized by Eoin Morgan in the 2019 world cup he has had few bad days.
  8. R Ashwin – off spinner, lower order bat. An excellent limited overs record. Also, the possibility for what would be the cricket incident to end all cricket incidents were he to (as he has done to others) ‘Mankad’ WG Grace!
  9. Jofra Archer – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. He went in a few months from people questioning whether England should pick him to being an essential part of a world cup winning outfit.
  10. Chris Jordan – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order bat, brilliant fielder. One of the most effective bowlers at mixing the pace up and sowing confusion that way, his fielding is so good as to practically be worth picking him even if you don’t plan to use his bowling.
  11. Lasith Malinga – right arm fast bowler. The Sri Lankan slinger would be especially dangerous in the ‘death overs’.

This team has depth in batting, with only Malinga absolutely ruled out of making a significant contribution in that department, and a splendid range of bowling options to choose from. As a designated fielding sub I give them (who else?) the one and only Gary Pratt. I apologize for the player names not being formatted as links to their cricinfo profiles – that site is currently malfunctioning – hope normal service will soon be resumed.

THE CONTEST AND AN EXPLANATION

This would be a heck of a contest, with I think the PreT20 team just about favourites, but any of these 22 players could be the match winner.

Until this post my all-time XIs have all been picked with long form cricket in mind. The reason I changed that today was because of the following tweet from the folks at cricinfo:

They were asking specifically about T20 and their options were Gayle or Kohli, and I voted for Gayle, but as I explained, it is actually a very poor comparison, since Gayle’s bowling gives him a second string that wins it for him at T20 (and at that format, and only that format, he is of more value even purely as a batter than Kohli). I decided to use this blog post to address their question at greater length than can be managed in a tweet, meaning that post I was mentally planning for today will feature tomorrow instead (yes, when sufficiently provoked even an autistic person can make rapid changes to their plans). Note that while I have named Gayle as one half of the ultimate example of a contrasting opening pair I have also named Kohli as no 3 and skipper.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few of links before signing off. First, the pinchhitter has again mentioned me in today’s offering, which I urge you to read. Second, to bring to the cricket part of this post to a close, a quiz in The Guardian.

Finally, a mathematical teaser adapted from a problem I solved on brilliant.org this morning (I considered their version waaay too easy, since they had made it multiple choice):

Measurement

 

Finally, after a good sized chunk of cricket and a measure of mathematics it is time for my regular sign off:

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The first squirrel I have seen recently.

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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.

Thoughts for New Zealand and a Calendar Preview.

A few thoughts about the upcoming tour of New Zealand and a preview of the 2020 aspi.blog Wall Calendar.

INTRODUCTION

The England squad for New Zealand is due to be named soon, and I have some suggestions here. I also use this post to offer aspi.blog readers a sneak preview of the aspi.blog 2020 wall calendar, currently in production and due to arrive with me early next week.

SQUAD FOR NEW ZEALAND

It is unlikely that any surface in New Zealand will warrant the selection of two front line spinners, so for this tour I am selecting fewer spinners than I normally would. Seam and swing tend to be important in NZ just as they are in this country, so I do not regard a second out and out super quick alongside Archer, who should be used in short bursts. Finally, I do not think that even if both are fully fit England should be thinking of using Broad and Anderson in the same squad, so only one of those makes the trip. Batting wise I think the experiment of picking white ball specialists to play test cricket has been tried and found seriously wanting. I have argued for some time that Tammy Beaumont deserves her chance alongside the men and I continue to believe that this experiment is warranted, however uncertainty over Stokes’ ability to function as a full-time bowler in test cricket at present leads me to temporarily shelve that idea. Dominic Sibley has made an iron-clad case for selection as a test match opener, and Rory Burns has done sufficient to hang on to his own place, which leaves Ben Stokes my envisaged no 3, Root back at 4 where he scores much more heavily than at 3, Ollie Pope in at 5, Ben Foakes wicketkeeper at six, Lewis Gregory coming at seven (there could be few better places for a seam bowling all-rounder to begin a test career than New Zealand), Sam Curran at 8, Jofra Archer at 9, Jack Leach at 10 and Stuart Broad at 11 (unless Anderson is fully fit, in which he case he replaces Broad). My reserves would be a top order batter (Beaumont – see above), a middle order batter, possibly Dan Lawrence of Essex who has played at least one major innings recently or if you want someone grittier Somerset’s Tom Abell, an out and out fast bowler (Stone or Wood depending on fitness) and a second spinner (Matt Parkinson would be my choice, his lack of skill with the bat not being a serious issue since I am not expecting him and Leach to figure in the same XI). Note that with both Burns and Pope having some experience of the role a reserve wicketkeeper is not needed.

On the radar for the future I would have Josh Bohannon, the young Lancashire batter, if more spinners are required offspinners Bess and Virdi are immediately in the equation and Patterson-White of Nottinghamshire (who have collectively been utterly dreadful this season, making his small success all the more impressive) may develop into a replacement for Jack Leach when the time comes. In the seam bowling department Ollie Robinson and Jamie Porter will warrant consideration, and the emerging fast bowling talent of Worcestershire’s Josh Tongue should also see him being talked about in the right places. Finally, opener Zak Crawley has attracted favourable notices at times, but at the moment he needs to increase the number of major innings on his CV before really meriting consideration as a test opener.

THE 2020 WALL CALENDAR PREVIEW

13 pics here, the front cover and one for each month:

Ashes Gone -What Should England Do Now?

Conceding the fourth test, and with it The Ashes, this post looks ahead to the fifth test at The Oval, with various changes to the England squad suggested. There are also lots of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

England’s defeat at Old Trafford has yet to be officially confirmed, but barring serious rain it seems inevitable, and that will mean that Australia have retained The Ashes. Even if England somehow escape with a draw (which would be undeserved) they would need to win at The Oval and that looks unlikely given Australia’s overall superiority thus far in the series (save for a few sessions at Lord’s and the amazing final stages of Headingley Australia have been bossing things all through this series). Based on three matches and four days of the fourth cricketing justice demands that Australia retain The Ashes. Thus this post looks at the future and suggests changes for the fifth test based on The Ashes being already gone, though I would still recommend that they make these changes regardless. Having started this post just before play begins on day five there is a question of which will be completed first – this post or Australia’s victory – and my lack of confidence in England’s remaining batting is such that am not betting on which happens first!

THE STORY OF DAYS 1-4

Australia racked up 497-8 declared in their first innings, Steve Smith helping himself to a double century, his third in test cricket, all of them at England’s expense (only Don Bradman, with no fewer than eight, has scored more against England). England just avoided the follow-on, Burns and Root playing substantial innings – the former in the process becoming the first opener not named Cook to score three fifties for England in a series since the retirement of Andrew Strauss. Then Australia went out for quick runs, and got enough to declare yesterday evening, setting England just over 380 to win, Smith by his standards failing, managing a measly 82 (nb – I have had plenty to say regarding his personal conduct, but I have never criticised his batting.). Then Burns and Root fell in successive deliveries in the first over of England’s 2nd innings. Denly and Roy saw things through to the close, but barring more heroics from Stokes, it has hard to see England batting out today.

ENGLAND’S PROBLEMS

Burns’ successes have resolved one of England’s top order problems, but still required there are a)another opener who can do it against the red ball and b) someone who is comfortable at no 3 against the red ball. Additionally I think that Buttler (his first innings effort here notwithstanding) and Bairstow both need replacing, with a genuine frontline batter and a wicketkeeper-batter respectively). The bowling is in a much better state, but at The Oval a second spinner is likely to be needed alongside Leach, and somehow they have to find out a way of getting Smith out.

SORTING THE BATTING

I do not believe that either Roy or Denly belong in a test XI, and even big scores for both of them today will be too little too late as far as I am concerned. I have been arguing in posts since August 31st 2018 for Tammy Beaumont to be given her chance alongside the men, and I stick to that line. At no 3 I opt for a third regular opener, Dominic Sibley, and then Root back where he really belongs at no 4. As wicketkeeper and no 5 I select Ben Foakes, with Ben Stokes rounding out the top six. I then go for all-rounder Lewis Gregory at seven, Jofra Archer at eight, Stuart Broad at nine, Jack Leach at ten, and at 11 my second spinner, to whom I dedicate the next subsection of this post…

HELEN FENBY – THE MYSTERY OPTION

I was alerted to this possibility in a match in which she took four cheap wickets and also surprised all the commentators with her action – if it is a new one on them then perhaps it will be a new one on Steve Smith (all orthodox selections seem to have drawn a blank, so let’s try an unorthodox one). While this would be envisaged XI I would also have in reserve in case conditions warrant it 1) an extra batter, in this case Ollie Pope of Surrey, and 2) a reserve pace bowler, Craig Overton. Thus, my full squad for The Oval would be (all names in hyperlink form):

  1. Rory Burns
  2. Tammy Beaumont
  3. Dominic Sibley
  4. *Joe Root
  5. +Ben Foakes
  6. Ben Stokes
  7. Lewis Gregory
  8. Jofra Archer
  9. Stuart Broad
  10. Jack Leach
  11. Helen Fenby
  12. Ollie Pope
  13. Craig Overton

FURTHER SUGGESTIONS TO COMPLETE A TEST TOUR PARTY

I want another three players to complete a test touring party, and I reckon that they should be a batter, a pace bowler and a spinner. My three choices for these roles are George Bartlett of Somerset (a look to the future, with a youngster who is better suited in both style and temperament to playing long innings against the red ball than to biffing the white one around – his county colleague Abell and Joe Clarke of Nottinghamshire both also merit consideration), Anderson if he is fit, and if not whoever out of Mark Wood and Olly Stone is fit and Dominic Bess (since I have a left arm spinner and leg spinner in my squad I opt for the off spinner Bess in preference to leg spinner Matt Parkinson).

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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A bit like too many of England’s recent batting efforts – a variety of ducks (the big one with the red face is a Muscovy duck).

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PS – contrary to the mischievous comparison made in the introduction to this post England have not lost a wicket thus far today.

New Shoes and England Looking Down Both Barrels

More (as promised) on my new shoes and an account of England’s Ashes Woes, as well as lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

In my previous post I included a picture of my new shoes, bought in Holt on Wednesday along with a challenge to my followers. In this post I complete that story and look at England’s current woes in the Ashes series.

THE SHOES

First up, the picture from my previous post and its accompanying challenge:

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The pair of shoes – can you identify their many plus points from this picture (all will be revealed in my next post)?

Here are the particularly good points of these shoes as I noted them:

  • Soft and padded leather uppers
  • user-friendly and sturdy laces
  • soles that are a) thick, meaning that they should last a long time and b) rubber, meaning that they will provide good grip even in wet conditions
  • Also, an advantage that is often available to me as a man with size seven (40 in Continental Europe) feet, they were massively discounted – £49 instead of £125.

Well done if you identified all the above. Here are some more pictures looking more closely at some of the features identified:

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The full underside
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The Ecco name

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See what I mean about the thickness of the soles?

I wore the shoes for a couple of hours on Wednesday to get an early feel for them, and was pleased. Yesterday I put them to a stiffer test, because my physio session was cancelled due to staff sickness. Thus I decided that a long walk was in order (see the photos at the end of this post), and used it to give the new shoes their first real test. They passed with flying colours – my feet were aching by the end of the walk, but that was tiredness, not because the shoes had caused them any problems.

ENGLAND’S ASHES WOES

After a magnificent bowling effort yesterday, spearheaded by Jofra Archer (6-45) accounted for Australia for 179 (and that after they had been 136-2) England’s batters proceeded to throw away the good start, slumping to 67 all out, with only Joe Denly (12) making double figures. Broad has claimed an early wicket in Australia’s second innings, but given that short of rain of ‘ark building’ intensity a draw is now a virtual impossibility it has hard to see how England can keep their Ashes hopes alive. At minimum they need a superlative bowling effort after having had a mere 27.5 overs respite and then a jolly sight more application in their second innings to have a chance.

All of the problems in this innings (most of the wickets were given rather than being taken) are ones we have seen before. The following are the most obvious needs for this squad (and with the Ashes likely gone the last two tests should be used for experimentation):

  1. An opening batter alongside Burns (Roy is not suited to this role in red ball cricket, though he may be able to handle no 3 if the openers see off the new ball). Absent anyone who has made a really commanding case I once again suggest the radical solution of dropping Tammy Beaumont a line and seeing if she is up for having a go alongside the men (I first suggested this about a year ago).
  2. Roy or Stokes (if you fancy a calculated gamble) at no 3, to enable…
  3. Root to revert to no 4 where he really belongs.
  4. Ollie Pope in at no 5 to stiffen up the middle order (he is fresh off the back of a double century, and has a first class average of almost 60).
  5. Stokes down a place to no 6 if you don’t put him at no 3, otherwise Ben Foakes to bat here as keeper
  6. If Stokes is at no 6, then Foakes bats 7, otherwise Roy (if deep batting is needed) or Lewis Gregory (if you want five genuine bowlers possibly with Stokes as 6th).
  7. No change needed at nos 8-11 – the bowlers acquitted themselves well, though Sam Curran has to be considered, and a second spinner (for my money either Matthew Parkinson or Helen Fenby depending on how radical you are prepared to be) should be in the squad.

Thus my 13 for the 4th match would be: Burns, Beaumont, Stokes, *Root, Pope, +Foakes, Roy, Woakes, Archer, Broad, Leach, Gregory, Fenby, with the first 11 names listed likely to play unless conditions warrant Gregory for Roy or Fenby for Roy if two spinners are warranted. As for Denly, he has had too many nearly innings, most of them given away by ill-judged shots and has to go. Australia’s new opener Harris has just fallen to Jack Leach making Australia 36-2. Eight more wickets and then some much better batting now the requirement.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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I have noticed huges numbers of flies that mimic wasps in King’s Lynn this year, including a numnber that I photographed yesterday.

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A swallow captured in flight…
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…and cropped much closer

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100 Cricketers – The Fifth XI Allrounders

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, dealing with the all-rounders from my fifth XI, mentioning a couple of matches from today and incljuding some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series, in which we shall look at the two all-rounders in the fifth XI. The introductory piece to the whole series can be found here, the piece in which I introduce the fifth XI here and the most recent piece here. Before I get to the main meat of the post there are two items of business to attend to.

ENGLAND WOMEN START T20 SERIES V SRI LANKA WITH BIG WIN

Having bowled Sri Lanka out for 94, with two youngsters, Linsey Smith (slow left-arm, 3-18 from her four overs) and Freya Davies (right-arm fast medium, 2-28 from her four) doing exceptionally well and the experienced Anya Shrubsole taking 2-20 from here four, England reached the target in 14.2 overs, for the loss of only two wickets, Tammy Beaumont unbeaten on 50 at the end. 

MCC V SURREY

The traditional curtain-raiser for the English first-class season, although it now takes place in Dubai, the MCC v Champion County fixture got under way today. It is the MCC’s (Marylebone Cricket Club) last remaining first-class game, and this time they picked the team from five county squads who were already out in Dubai. MCC reached 265 in their first innings, Daniel Lawrence (for whom international recognition must surely not be long away) top scoring with 58, while Will Rhodes (46) and Tom Abell (41) made significant contributions as well. South African born quick bowler Conor McKerr and the more locally born left-arm spinner Freddie van den Bergh each picked up three wickets. Surrey’s debutant wicketkeeper Jamie Smith took a catch, made a stumping and finished off a run out. In reply Surrey were 20-0 from three overs by the close. Now to the main business of this post, starting with…

+JONNY BAIRSTOW

An attacking batter and a good wicketkeeper, Jonny Bairstow earns his place at no 6 in this squad. Those who follow this blog closely will know that I have advocated that England play Bairstow as a specialist batter at no3, although at the moment, with 69 last time out Joe Denly is the man in possession, and unlikely to be dropped just yet. My reasons for this are twofold:

  1. England have problems at the top end of their order, with Cook having retired afvter an illustrious career, Stoneman recently been dropped for not being good enough, and Jennings obviously (to all save those so blind that they will not see) not up to the job at international level – a test batting average of 25.19 after 17 matches is practically down in the Brearley bracket without him having the captaincy skills to compensate. As you will see from this post, the second part of my solution to England’s top order problems is even more radical and features someone mentioned earlier in this piece.
  2. England have an even better wicketkeeper who is averaging over 40 so far in his brief test career in Ben Foakes, and it is he who should be donning the gauntlets for them.

In other words, England’s current needs dictate (at least to me) that Bairstow play as a specialist batter, but for the purpose of this series of posts I acknowledge his skills as a wicketkeeper by nominating him in that role. That leaves the number 7…

KAPIL DEV

The only player to have both scored 5,000 test runs (5,248 at 31.05) and taken 400 test wickets (434 at 29.64), Kapil Dev also captained India victory in the 1983 World Cup. For much of his career he had little or no recognized pace support in the Indian attack (even Manoj Prabhakar, his longest serving new-ball partner, was never much above medium). In 1990 at Lord’s Kapil Dev produced one of the most astonishing displays of hitting ever seen in a test match. England had made a massive 653-4 declared (Gooch 333), and in reply India were 430-9, and Narendra Hirwani, a legspinner who had taken 16 wickets in a remarkable debut against the West Indies, but was one of the most genuine of genuine number 11s was at the other end. India needed 24 to avoid the follow-on, and it was widely expected that getting them would save them the match. Kapil Dev rose to the occasion by htting off-spinner Eddie Hemmings for four successive sixes. As it happened, England made rapid runs in their second innings, Gooch scoring another century to rewrite the record books – his match aggregate of 456 remains a test record – and India failed to bat out time in their second innings, so the first innings rescue act was all in vain. 

In the next post in this series it will be the specialist bowlers from our fifth XI in the spotlight, and I will introduce the sixth XI in batting order.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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