All Time XIs – Match Ups 65

The final post in the extended analysis phase of this long series. The series will conclude with a grand finale post presenting the XIs in reverse ranking order.

Welcome to the final post in the analysis stage of this series. There may be delays to me completing these posts – I have a minor injury to my right wrist, and although the brace the hospital have provided me with to support said wrist is doing wonders in terms of enabling me to do things with my right hand, I am still somewhat incommoded and probably therefore will not complete things with my usual speed. This post starts with the Ws in the spotlight, with 97 points out of 115 accumulated so far.

THE Ws V THE Ys

The Ws dominate this contest. The only match up the Ys win is in the fast bowling department where W Younis beats Willis – but Whitty beats U Yadav by a greater margin, and Woods blows Yardley out of the water. Thus the only conceivable scoreline is Ws 5, Ys 0.

THE Ws V THE Zs

Total dominance from the Ws here: Ws 5, Zs 0.

THE Ws FINAL SCORE

The Ws have amassed 107 of a possible 125 points, 85.6% overall.

THE Xs V THE Ys

Before going into this match up, a brief note about the Xs. Had I seen developments in NZ domestic cricket in 2022-23 before I selected the Xs MaX Waller would have missed out, and Xara Jetly, a young off spinner would be in, with MaX Walker relegated one place from number 10 to number 11. The Xs have 13.5 out of 115 points coming in to today.

The Ys have much stronger batting, better pace bowling, the better skipper, and the two best spinners on either side. The Xs have the better keeper. This is clear cut: Xs 0, Ys 5.

THE Xs V THE Zs

The Zs have the better opening pair, the Xs win the batting match ups 3-9 inclusive, and AXar Patel, Xenophon Balaskas, Ron OXenham, Ted DeXter and Sam LoXton are all genuine bowling options, while BoX was a much finer keeper than Zulqarnain Haider. MaX Walker ranks first among seam/ pace bowlers on either side, and the Xs, with OXenham, Dexter and Loxton as back up options in this department also have the greater depth. The spin bowling is hard to call, but even if the Zs win, it only reduces the margin of their defeat. I score this one Xs 4, Zs 1.

THE Xs FINAL SCORE

The Xs have scored 4 points today, finishing on 17.5 out of 125, 14% overall.

THE Ys V THE Zs

The Ys have 33 out of 120 so far and the Zs 10.5 out of 120. This suggests a one-sided contest, and that impressions is not awry. The Zs have the better opening pair, the Ys win at nos 3-6, though only Yardley offers a bowling option. S Yousuf outranks Zulqarnain Haider in both departments. The fast bowling is close, with Zaheer Khan’s left arm making up for his slightly high average, but the Ys definitely win the spin bowling department. The Ys also have the better captain. I score this one: Ys 5, Zs 0.

THE Ys AND Zs FINAL SCORES

The Ys finish with 38 out of 125, 30.4% overall, the Zs with 10.5 out of 125, 8.4% overall.

A SPECIAL PHOTO GALLERY

On Saturday night I attended Luminate at Sandringham. For those so inclined (not me) there are fairground rides before the start/ after the finish of the main event, which is walk through wooded areas of the estate, with light features all the way around. I took a lots of pictures while on my way round…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 63

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

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. This, the antepenultimate post in the analysis stage of this series features those match ups in which the Us are alphabetically first. The Us come into today with 22.5 out of 100 points.

THE Us V THE Vs

The Us have the better opening pair, although there is not much in it. The Vs win the number three slot, with the Us ahead on batting at 4,5,6 and 7, although Verreynne wins the keeping match up against Umar Akmal and Vaas is a genuine top line bowler. The Vs also have genuinely useful lower order batters at eight and nine. The bowling goes meltingly in the Vs favour – Umran Malik being entirely unproven has to be ranked below any of the Vs seam/ pace options, Umar Gul is provably less good than any, and Ulyett’s bowling is less impressive than it looks given that he played in test cricket’s early days – the uprating of his batting due to the surfaces he played on has to be counterbalanced by a downrating of his bowling. Verity outranks Underwood in my view, Vogler has to be rated ahead of the unproven Ur Rahman, and Vine is a better third spin option than Umrigar. The Us do have a stronger batting line up, but the Vs are so massively superior on bowling and keeping as to absolutely discount that. I feel that there is just a tiny chance of the Us batting saving them: Us 0.5, Vs 4.5.

THE Us V THE Ws

The Ws are utterly dominant in all departments – the nearest any of the Us comes to competing with their opposite number is Underwood v Wardle. Only one scoreline is conceivable here: Us 0, Ws 5.

THE Us V THE Xs

Save for DeXter at number three winning over Imam Ul Haq, the Us have the better batting and the better captain, though the Xs have the better keeper. The Us win on pace/ seam bowling, and are probably just second best on spin bowling. I expect the Us to win this one quite comfortably: Us 4, Xs 1.

THE Us V THE Ys

The Us have the better opening pair (Ulyett in the 21st century would probably average 36 with the bat and 30 with the ball or thereabouts). The Ys win at three four, with the Us winning batting match ups at 5,6 and 7. However, Yardley offers more the ball than Umrigar and S Yousuf ranks far higher as a keeper than Umar Akmal. The Ys have the better seam/ pace attack, while the spin bowling honours are split – I rate Underwood ahead of J Young, but P Yadav ahead of Ur Rahman. I think the Ys bowling and keeping advantages are sufficient for them to win this quite comfortably: Us 1, Ys 4.

THE Us V THE Zs

The Zs have the better opening partnership, and also win at number three. The match ups at 4,5,6 and 7 all go the way of the Us, though Zulqarnain Haider wins the keeping match up over Umar Akmal. The Us have a numerical advantage in the seam/ pace department, though only Ulyett provably outranks one of the Zs – even adjusting to allow for the more favourable conditions in which he bowled, Ulyett comes out ahead of Zaheer Khan (though behind Zondeki on this metric). Umar Gul is the least impressive seam/ pace bowler in either XI, and Umran Malik is a bonus option for the Us. Also, on proven record Underwood comfortably outranks Zia Ur Rehman, while Ur Rahman outranks Zahir Khan. I think the Us have this one quite comfortably: Us 4, Zs 1.

THE Us FINAL SCORE

The Us have scored 9.5 of a possible 25 points today, moving on to 32 out 125, 25.6% overall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 54

Continuing my extended analysis of how my the all time XIs I have selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another, a brief account of the T20 World Cup final and some photographs.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Os occupy the spotlight for the last time, coming into the day on 28 out of a possible 100 points.

THE Os V THE Vs

The Vs have the better opening pair – Vandort has a proven test record, Orr not yet, and Vine was a regular opener where Oldroyd wasn’t (and being number three behind Holmes and Sutcliffe he wasn’t often in that close to the start of the innings either). Vaughan comfortably outranks Ollivierre and and has to be rated above O’Reilly on captaincy. The Os win the number 4 match up, but the Vs have better batters in positions 5,6 and 7. However, the Os have the better keeper. I rate Vaas ahead of O’Riordan as third seamer but Odumbe ahead of Vine in the spin stakes. The Vs have the better new ball spinner, and Verity outranks Ojha by far more than O’Reilly does Vogler. Both sides have good and varied bowling units, and I feel that the Vs advantage in batting strength and better skipper count for more than the Os keeping advantage. I score this Os 1, Vs 4.

THE Os V THE Ws

An utter mismatch, with Ws being stronger in batting, pace/seam bowling, spin bowling and captaincy, and the Os winning only on keeping. There can be only one score: Os 0, Ws 5.

THE Os V THE Xs

There is only one super clear differential between these teams – the Os are better in the pace/seam department, the presence of DeXter and LoXton for the Xs notwithstanding. I think this enough for a good win but not a total whitewash, so score this one as Os 4, Xs 1.

THE Os V THE Ys

It is close on opening pairs, the Ys are comfortably ahead batting wise in the 3-6 slots, but the Os have two good bowling options in those slot, Odumbe and O’Riordan, while the Ys have only Yardley’s medium pace. S Yousuf wins the batting match up at seven but Oldfield was far the better keeper. The new ball contest is close, but O’Riordan outranks Yardley as third seamer, giving the Os an overall win in the pace/seam department. O’Reilly outranks P Yadav as a leg spinner, but by less than Young outranks Ojha as a left arm spinner, as against which the Os have a third spin option. The Ys bat better and have the better skipper, the Os bowl better and have the better keeper. This is close, but as usual I expect the side stronger in bowling to win out in the long term and thus score this: Os 3, Ys 2.

THE Os V THE Zs

The Zs have the better opening pair and also win the number three slot. The Os win the number four slot, Odumbe wins the batting element at number five and is the only one of these players to offer a bowling option. O’Riordan is outbatted by Zulch, but he, like Odumbe, offers a good bowling option. Zulqarnain Haider outranks Oldfield as a batter, but the Aussie of yesteryear is streets clear with the gloves. The Os have the better opening pair, plus a genuine third seam option, and O’Riordan’s left arm means that they as well varied in this department as the Zs. The Os also have to be given the spin department, with O’Reilly the only proven top class practitioner on either side, Ojha having had test successes and Odumbe also an international. I think we are in whitewash territory here and duly score it Os 5, Zs 0.

THE Os FINAL SCORE

The Os have had strong finish, scoring 13 of a possible 25 points today, to take them to a final total of 41 out of 125, 32.8% overall.

T2O WORLD CUP FINAL AND PHOTOGRAPHS

England made history late this morning UK time by becoming the first men’s team to hold both limited overs world cups simultaneously, adding the 2022 T20 World Cup to the 2019 ODI World Cup (England Women and Australia Women have both also achieved this dual feat). The feared rain held off, Buttler put Pakistan in and a superb bowling performance, highlighted by Sam Curran (3-12 from his four overs, a performance which earned him both Player of the Match, and following several other good efforts this tournament, Player of the Tournament) restricted them to 137 from their 20 overs. At one stage, with Stokes struggling to score, this looked like it might be enough, but then left arm fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi limped off injured one ball into his third over, part time off spinner (i.e right arm slow bowler) Iftikhar Ahmed was called on to bowl the remaining balls of that over, England cashed in and were never thereafter in any serious danger, winning by five wickets with a whole over to spare. Stokes emerged with the highest scored of the day and saw his side to a victory that unlike the one in 2019 even the saltiest of England’s detractors cannot argue with.

Now time for my usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Non-Cricketing Birthplaces

My latest variation on the ‘All Time XI’ theme – an XI of cricketers with non cricketing birthplaces, which I then use for a little look at birthplace in cricket, mentioning a couple of current interesting cases.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my latest variation on the ‘All Time XI theme. Today our XI are linked by born in ‘non-cricketing’ countries – which is to say countries not generally associated with the game, since the ICC, the sport’s global governing body has over 100 members and affiliates. After introducing the XI I will share some of my own thoughts on the relevance or otherwise of birthplaces. I will look at a couple of current cases in detail. Before moving in to the main body of this post I would like to thank the pinchhitter (latest post here), who you can also visit on twitter @LePinchHitter for including links to a number of my recent posts in their own efforts.

THE NON-CRICKETING BIRTHPLACE XI

  1. Paul Terry – right handed opening bat, born Osnabruck, Germany, 16,427 first class runs at 36.66. He played for Hampshire and briefly England. Even by 1980s standards his treatment by the England selectors was utterly disgraceful – he was pitched in at the deep end against the 1984 West Indies who were en route to a ‘blackwash’ of their hapless hosts (whether the 1980 or 1984 fast foursome was the more awesome combo is discussion topic for another post – in terms of pitching a debutant in against them it is a bit like asking whether a punch from Muhammad Ali or Jack Dempsey would do more damage), got horrifically injured and was callously cast aside, never to be heard from again at international level.
  2. Archie Jackson – right handed opening bat, born Rutherglen, Scotland, 4,383 first class runs at 45.65. I covered this man in the ‘what might have been XI‘. Although it has been the birthplace of some talented cricketers down the years, Scotland is not widely thought of as a cricket hot spot.
  3. Ted Dexter – right handed bat, right arm fast medium bowler, born Milan, Italy, 21,150 first class runs at 40.75, 419 first class wickets at 29.92. A swashbuckling no 3, a fine fielder and his bowling is by no means negligible. You can find out more about him in my Sussex post.
  4. George Headley – right handed bat, born Colon, Panama, 9,921 first class runs at 69.86 (he averaged 60.83 in test cricket, with 15 fifty plus scores, of which he converted ten into centuries, a conversion rate ahead of everyone other than Bradman. Also the progenitor of a cricketing dynasty that at the time of writing spans three generations (son Ron and grandson Dean) and two test teams (the West Indies and England), and may yet go to on to join the Cowdreys (all five players shown are of the same family) in producing a fourth successive generation of first class cricketers.
  5. Mike Denness – right hand bat, born Ayr, Scotland, 25,886 first class runs at 33.48. A fine batter for Kent and later Essex, his test average was actually six runs per innings higher than his first class, in spite of a horror run in the 1974-5 Ashes which induced him to drop himself as captain.
  6. Natalie Sciver – right hand bat, right arm medium, born Tokyo, Japan, 3,538 international runs at 31.87 and 104 international wickets at 23.23. A genuine all-rounder, her wickets tally looks low because of her internationals have been limited over and T20s. She is also an outstanding fielder. She also has a shot anmed after, the ‘Natmeg’ where the ball is played under the batter’s leg (descriptions of the ‘draw’, a shot favoured by some 19th century batters suggest she may not have been quite such a pioneer as this suggests, but there is no doubting the stroke’s value).
  7. *Freddie Brown – right hand bat, leg spin and occasional right arm medium, born Lima, Peru, 13,325 first class runs at 27.36, 1,221 first c;ass wickets at 26.21. He played county cricket for Surrey and Northamptonshire. After being part of the 1932-3 Ashes winning party but not playing a test match on tour, he next went on tour when he captained the 1950-1 Ashes tour party (the tour is sympathetically chronicled by Bill O’Reilly in “Cricket Taskforce” and Jack Fingleton in “Brown and Company”, two excellent reads both penned by Aussies). Brown’s team went down 4-1, dogged by injuries and ill luck, but his efforts as captain (third choice – George Mann and Norman Yardley were both offered the job but already had commitments they could not renege on) were universally appreciated. It was on that tour that with an already ill equipped bowling unit hit by injuries he turned to medium pace in an attempt to plug a gaping hole and did not fare badly. I reckon that with the combination I am giving him he would be both a good and a winning captain.
  8. +Geraint Jones – Wicket keeper and right hand bat, born in Papua New Guinea, 9,037 first class runs at 32.45, 599 first class catches and 36 first class stumpings. I mentioned him briefly in my Kent post, and also gave him a place in my ‘Tried and Untrusted‘ XI.
  9. John Barton ‘Bart’ King – right arm fast bowler and right hand bat, born Philadelphia, USA, 415 first class wickets (in 65 appearances at that level) at 15.66, 2,134 first class runs at 21.34. The original ‘King of swing’ – the first bowler to deliberately use swing as a weapon. Various first class counties tried to persuade him to settle there and play for them, including one county who tried an ‘out of the box’ approach – they offered to set him up with a wealthy widow who was a fan of the club if he would come and play for them. The very first international game of cricket was between the USA and Canada in 1844, while the first documented tour to leave English shores in 1859 was also to North America, and the first of WG Grace’s three overseas trips (in 1872-3) was to Canada and the USA. At one time the possibility was entertained of the USA joining England, Australia and South Africa as a test playing nation. Philadelphia was the strongest cricketing outpost in those parts, with the Newhall family also boasting impressive records. It would seem likely that King developed the technique of swinging the ball from baseball (as the slightly later Australian Frank Laver did, with remarkable effects in the test arena). The game of course did not build on these promising beginnings in that part of the world, although maybe with Liam Plunkett heading that way it will experience a rebirth there.
  10. Ole Mortensen, right arm fast medium bowler, right hand batter, born Vejle, Jutland, 434 first class wickets at 23.88, 709 runs at 8.97. Part of a Derbyshire bowling unit of considerable effectiveness, but one that was also decried by nativists (yes, USians, we have them too, although not usually in high office) because as well as him it featured Devon Malcolm, born in Jamaica, and Alan Warner who was actually born in this country but who was often assumed by those who judge on physical appearance not to have been.
  11. Ian Peebles – leg spinner, right hand bat, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, 923 first class wickets at 21.38, 2,213 first class runs at 9.13. Peebles did play a few games for England, and numbered Bradman among his test victims, but was largely victim of endemic English mistrust of wrist spinners. He had a distinguished county career with Middlesex. After his playing days were done he turned to writing and achieved arguably even greater success there, with “Woolley: Pride of Kent”, “Batter’s Castle”, “Spinner’s Yarn”, “The Fight For The Ashes 1958-9” and “Batters Castle” among his considerable and very readable output, which also includes a chapter on Pelham Warner in “Cricket: The Great Captains”. I would expect him to turn out a splendid chronicle of this team’s endeavours!

My team features a strong top five, two genuine all rounders, a keeper who can bat and three superb specialist bowlers. The bowling has five front liners plus Dexter, with spin options in Peebles and Brown, so that won’t let it down. The keeping, with Jones having the gloves is not of the very highest standards, and someone would have to make it clear to Jones that he is expected to stand up not just for the spinners but also for Sciver (some of whose wickets have come by means of stumpings) and possibly even Dexter.

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE (IR)RELEVANCE OF BIRTHPLACE

I am far more concerned about the quality of a cricketer than where they are born. If you can hire a top player do so regardless of their origins. What I object to is the use of second string foreign born players who qualify as ‘English’ on a technicality while having neither the intention nor the skill to play for England. Apart from anything else it has a record of proven failure – Leicestershire, one of the most notorious followers of this policy have been stone last five times in the last ten seasons. If somebody is good enough they might hail from a lunar colony (read Andy Weir’s “Artemis” for one version of how such a thing might work – come to think of it I could imagine Jazz Bashara faring pretty well as a crafty spinner!) for all that it matters. That said, there are a couple of current cases I am going to touch on…

SIMON HARMER

After playing five tests for his native South Africa with some success, Harmer, not thinking he was getting picked regularly enough decamped for this country, and a contract with Essex. He has been wonderful for Essex, a fact that I have acknowledged by naming him in my ‘All Time Essex’ XI, and that this year’s Wisden has acknowledged by naming him as one of the ‘five cricketers of the year’. He has now been based in this country for long enough to qualify by residence, and of course that means that thoughts are turning in some circles to whether to pick him for England. My answer is in the negative, not from lack of respect for Mr Harmer, nor from any worry over someone representing two countries – has happened before and probably will again, but because with Bess looking established in the off spinner’s spot for England and young Virdi doing brilliantly at Surrey I believe it would be a retrograde step and a slap in the face for the two players I have just named to select Harmer at this juncture. I will finish this subsection by re-emphasising that this is not anti Harmer in any way – both his play and his on-field conduct have been impreccable, it is about the best interests of England looking forward, which I consider to lie in developing and encouraging the young spinning talent that we have. That leads on to…

DUANNE OLIVIER

This young quick bowler made waves in his native South Africa, and like Harmer has actually played for them at international level, but he has now decided to make a life and a career for himself in England, and good luck to him. In a few years from now he will qualify for England, and the question will be whether to pick him or not. My answer will depend on the situation regarding English fast bowling at that time – if picking him means blocking the career development of a home grown talent then the answer should be “no”, but if the fast bowling situation is less rosy then there would be a serious case for picking him.

OVERSEAS AND ‘KOLPAK’ TYPE PLAYERS

On overseas players my feeling is straightforward: if you can get one of genuinely top class standard go for it, but don’t sign any old overseas player just for the sake of having one. With the ‘Kolpak’ types I would ask myself two questions: first, are they of top class or possessing the obvious potential to become top class?, second, am I sure that they offering me something that the players I already have cannot provide? If the answer to either of the foregoing is a no, then don;t do it, and if the answer to the first of the two questions is only a ‘maybe’ I would be strongly disinclined to proceed.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Our look at cricketers with non-cricketing birth places is done, and it now remains only for me to provide my usual sign off…

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The only flower that is fully out on my fuchsia – but there are a couple of other buds clearly visible.

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In among the gravel borders of my garden, a small sea shell.

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A collared dove among the greenery (only the giant pigeons of which there are far too many count as ‘aves non grata’)

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Non-cricketing birthplaces
The team in tabulated form.