All Time XIs – Match Ups 33

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

Welcome the 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 post sees us move past halfway in the match ups element of the series. The Hs are in the spotlight today and they so far have 36 out of 65 points.


The Hs have much the stronger batting, the better new ball pairing (although O’Riordan outranks Hammond as third seamer). The Os have the best individual spinner in this match up in the person of O’Reilly, and they also have a numerical superiority in that department, but Harmer and Herath both outrank Ojha. The Os have the better keeper, though Healy wins the batting element of that match up. The Os may have the better bowling attack and certainly have more options in both pace and spin departments, but the overwhelming superiority of the Hs batting renders that null: Hs 5, Os 0.


The Hs win five of the first six batting match ups, the Pant, Procter and S Pollock all their batting match ups. Healy outranks Pant as a keeper, Procter outranks Hutton as skipper. Hadlee and Holding v P and S Pollock is a close contest for which is the better new ball pairing, but Mike Procter massively outranks Hammond as a bowler. The Hs have the edge in spin bowling. I see this as about even in batting, the Ps ahead in pace bowling and the Hs a tiny bit better in the spin department, and I expect the Ps pace bowling to settle the issue: Hs 2, Ps 3.


This one is clear cut, with the Hs ahead in all departments. Hs 5, Qs 0.


The Hs have the better batting line up, the Rs have the better keeper and also the better bowling – even if Hadlee and Holding are the best available new ball pair, which is open to debate, whoever out of Rabada, Roberts and Richardson ends as third seamer is way ahead of Hammond as a bowler. The spin department is closer, but Rhodes was certainly the finest of the four front line spinners featured in this match up. The Hs batting advantage is not enough to overcome their deficit on the bowling and keeping fronts: Hs 1.5, Rs 3.5.


This is very close on batting, with the Ss extra depth in that department possibly making the difference there. The Hs have the finer keeper, but the use of Sangakkara as keeper plus the presence of Sobers gives the Ss a range of bowling options far greater than that possessed by the Hs. Sobers in his quicker incarnation would be fifth choice seamer for the Ss, and he outranks Hammond, the Hs third seamer, as a bowler. Herath outranks the left arm orthodox version of Sobers, but does not also offer a wrist spin option. Harmer outranks Stevens. I think that with the batting fairly evenly match and the Hs having only a small advantage in spin bowling the Ss vast superiority in pace bowling gives them a huge win: Hs 0.5, Ss 4.5.


The Hs have scored 14 out of 25 points in this set of match ups, putting them on 50 points out of a possible 90, 55.56% so far.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 22

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. The Es XI continue to occupy the spotlight, and they start today on 21 of a possible 75 points.


The Es dominate the batting, and are also massively superior in pace bowling, having a proper new ball pairing in the form of T Emmett and Elliott, whereas the Qs only front line seamer is a bad third in the seam bowling rankings across the sides. The Qs have a numerical advantage in the slow bowling department, but Ecclestone is probably the best individual slow bowler on either side. I do not think that even on a turning pitch the Qs can close the gulf between them and the Es and accordingly score this one Es 5, Qs 0.


The Rs win the first five batting match ups, and while Endean ranks ahead of Robins as a batter, Robins’ all round skills partly compensate for that, and he also comfortably outranks the fairly pedestrian Elgar as a captain. Russell’s batting advantage of over 6.5 per innings over G Evans undoubtedly more than makes up for any slight superiority Evans may have had as a keeper. The Rs are comfortably clear in bowling as well – they have three front line pacers to the Es two, and magnificent though she is Ecclestone cannot be ranked ahead of Rhodes in the pantheon of left arm spinners. I score this one Es 0, Rs 5.


The Ss dominate in all departments save wicket keeping – G Evans was undoubtedly a finer keeper than Sangakkara. Es 0, Ss 5.


I give the Ts the verdict on opening pairs – Taylor’s marginal disadvantage v J Edrich is compensated for by his greater tally of runs, while Trumper made his runs on much more difficult pitches than Elgar. Additionally I would rate Taylor a better skipper than Elgar. While Tarrant loses the batting element of his match up against Bill Edrich, he offers an extra bowling option. The Ts have an overwhelming advantage in the number 4,5 and 6 positions. Bob Taylor ranks below Evans with the bat, similarly as a keeper. The Ts have far the stronger pace attack, and while Ecclestone just outranks Tarrant as a bowler Trumble has a significant advantage over E Evans. The Ts are well ahead and I score this Es 0, Ts 5.


The Es win the first three batting slots, the Us win the the next three. Umar Akmal outranks G Evans with the bat but is miles behind him as a keeper. The Es comfortably outrank the Us in the new ball contest, though Ulyett’s presence as a third pace option reduces the gap in this department. Ecclestone against Underwood is a mighty contest, though Ecclestone offers more with the bat. Given that he has done his bowling on 21st century pitches, which offer less to slow bowlers than the 19th century surfaces that E Evans exploited I put Ur Rahman ahead in this match up. Overall the Es should have enough, but it is close: Es 3, Us 2.


The Es have scored 8 of a possible 25 points today, moving them to 29 out of 100 – 29%.


Today’s photo gallery comes from the first part of my return journey from Cumbria. I agreed to be dropped at Penrith station and buy a single from Penrith to Carlisle to get back on track with my return journey. I had a bit of a wait at Carlisle for a train to Newcastle, and as you will see the station there has various points of interest. This gallery takes us to my arrival at Newcastle, where I had a much longer wait as I opted to travel on the train on which I had a reserved seat rather than trying my luck on an earlier service.

Channel Islands 5: A Cricketing Journey to Alderney

Journeying through cricket history and from King’s Lynn to Alderney in honour of John Arlott.

Having reached Alderney in my account of my recent holiday it is now time for a special post in honour of John Arlott, the legendary cricket commentator, who lived his last years on the island. We will travel through considerable space and time in the course this journey.


Cambridge, which my route from King’s Lynn to Portsmouth passed through, was the birthplace of Jack Hobbs, ‘The Master’. It also provides a specialist spinner for the XI since after his falling out with Yorkshire, which ended his first class career, Johnny Wardle played minor counties cricket for Cambrigeshire.


The train from Waterloo to Portsmouth passes through but does not stop at Vauxhall, which overlooks The Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket Club. It is not my purpose to pick an time Surrey XI here (I did that a while back) so I am not actually using this location to pick any players – I am merely noting it.


As with Vauxhall the train passes through Surbiton. Surbiton is not in itself of major relevance, but a line branches off here to Thames Ditton and Hampton Court, and at one time of his life the legendary fast bowler Tom Richardson had a home in Thames Ditton.

Woking, the first stop on the London-Portsmouth route, was home for many years to the Bedser twins, Alec (right arm fast medium, useful lower order batter) and Eric (right handed batter, off spinner).

Guildford, also a scheduled stop on the route, is home to the earliest verifiable reference to the great game of cricket. Testimony regarding the usage of a piece of land, made in 1598 and referring to the childhood of the man testifying, tells us that some form of cricket was being played in Guildford by the 1550s. Surrey still play the odd match at Guildford and one of the more recent of those games featured Kevin Pietersen scoring a double century in the course of which he hit a number of balls into the river Wey which flows past the ground.


Godalming is home to Charterhouse School, where George Geary (Leics and England) was cricket coach for a time and one of his charges was Peter May. More recently Martin Bicknell (Surrey and England) has been director of cricket there.

Petersfield has a connection that dates to much earlier in cricket’s history: John Small, one of Hambledon’s finest batters in that clubs glory days of the late 18th century, lived there. According to John Nyren in “Cricketers of My Time” Small was a keen skater and enjoyed skating on the surface of Petersfield Pond when that body of water froze over in the winter.


Portsmouth was one of Hampshire’s out grounds when such were regularly used. In 1899 Major Robert Poore smashed Somerset for twin tons there, and then confirmed his liking for west country bowling by scoring a career best 304 in the return match at Taunton (when another army officer, Captain Teddy Wynyard, scored 225, in a sixth wicket stand of 411).


Guernsey has not to my knowledge produced any significant cricketers, though it has produced a couple of well known sportspeople: tennis player Heather Watson, at one time British number one, and footballer Matt Le Tissier who played for Southampton for many years. However it did indirectly give me a squad member, because it was there that I consumed bottle of ginger beer whose place of origin was significant:

Bundaberg, where this variety of ginger beer comes from, was the birthplace of Don Tallon, Australian keeper batter named by Bradman as keeper in his all time XI and considered by many of his contemporaries to have been the best ever in that role.


Braye Road is one terminus of the Alderney Railway, once a genuine commercial railway transporting stone from a quarry, now a heritage railway using carriages of 1938 tube stock (I was not able to travel it being there too early in the year for it to be open). It also gave me, by way of a piece of lateral thinking, a final player for my cricket journey:

The cricket significance of this picture lies in the name of the road rather than that of the station: it provides a tenuous link to opening batter Tammy Beaumont.


In terms of the players I have linked to specific locations we have:

Jack Hobbs, Johnny Wardle (Cambridge), Tom Richardson (Surbiton/ Thames Ditton), Alec and Eric Bedser (Woking), Kevin Pietersen (Guildford), Peter May, George Geary, Martin Bicknell (Godalming), John Small (Petersfield), Major Robert Poore (Portsmouth), Don Tallon (Guernsey, by subterfuge), Tammy Beaumont (Alderney, by cunning use of a street sign). These are 13 players, from whom 11 must be selected. My XI in batting order is:

  1. Jack Hobbs
  2. Tammy Beaumont
  3. John Small
  4. Peter May
  5. Kevin Pietersen
  6. Eric Bedser
  7. +Don Tallon
  8. George Geary
  9. Alec Bedser
  10. *Johnny Wardle
  11. Tom Richardson

This XI is well balanced, with good batting depth. The bowling has a genuine speedster in Richardson, two high quality fast medium/ medium fast bowlers in Geary and A Bedser, a great left arm spinner in Wardle and off spin back up from E Bedser, with Hobbs’ medium pace as sixth bowling option. I end this post with a view of Fort Clonque:

All Time XIs – Record Setters XI

My latest variation on the all-time XI theme, a USian thread about protecting one’s family, introducing my father’s blog and the inevitable photographs.


It is time for another variation on the ‘All Time XI‘ theme. Today I introduce you to a squad of record setters. While most of them had extraordinary careers, the records I have chosen to highlight were usually established over a few matches or a season, with one and a bit exceptions. As usual with one of my XIs I have been selecting it as a team as well as a collection of individuals, so it encapsulates a broad range of talents.


  1. *WG Grace – I have selected him for two extraordinary purple patches, not his overall career record, although that too is extraordinary. In his last 11 matches of the 1874 season, at the start of which no one had ever achieved the season double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class matches, he achieved that double. These 11 matches, capping an already fine season, included a spectacular burst of six games in which he scored a century and took 10 or more wickets five times, managing a 10 wicket haul in the other game but only one run. Before this the dual feat had been accomplished only seven times, four of them by WG himself. In August 1876 he scored 839 runs in three successive first class knocks – 344 for MCC v Kent, 177 for Gloucestershire v Nottinghamshire and 318 not out for Gloucestershire v Yorkshire.
  2. Tom Hayward – the Cambridgeshire born Surrey opener achieved a feat the to this day remains his alone – he scored twin centuries in each of two successive first class games, all four centuries being scored in the space of a week.
  3. Frank Woolley – the Kent left handed all rounder is the only one who is selected for a record achieved over the duration of a career – he alone achieved the career ‘treble’ of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches in first class cricket. He is joint record holder (with his captain in this XI, WG Grace) of the record number of 1,000 run seasons, 28. He achieved the ‘batting all rounders double of 2,000 runs and 100 wickets in a first class season on four occasions, which is also a record.
  4. Denis Compton – the Middlesex ace holds the record aggregate for first class runs in a seaon and first class centuries in a season, 3,816 and 18 respectively, both set in 1947. He also scored the fastest ever first class triple century, 181 minutes in Benoni.
  5. James Horace Parks – the Sussex batting all rounder is given his full name because his son, also a James Parks, played for Sussex as a middle order batter and sometimes wicket keeper. In 1937 he achieved a feat that is likely to remain his alone by combing 3,000 runs (3,003) with 100 wickets (101) in the first class season. His grandson Bobby kept wicket for Hampshire in the 1980s, but as yet there has been no sign of a fourth generation of first class cricketing Parkses to draw them level with the Cowdreys.
  6. George Hirst – the Yorkshire all rounder has a unique season double to his credit – in 1906 he scored 2,385 first class runs and captured 208 first class wickets, the only 2,000 run, 200 wicket double ever achieved in a first class season. Against Somerset at Bath that season he had a match that was a microcosm of his season – centuries in both of this sides innings and five-fors in both of the opposition teams innings, a unique match ‘quadruple’.
  7. +Leslie Ames – the ‘wicket keeper’s double’ of 1,000 runs and 100 dismissals in first class matches for the season has been achieved four times in first class history, and the first three occasions were all by the Kent man, including in 1929 a record season haul for a keeper of 128 dismissals (79 caught, 49 stumped). 
  8. Richard Hadlee – in 1969 the English first class season was drastically reduced to make room for the John Player League, a 40 overs per side competition (part of the definition of a first class game is that must run to at least three days, which is why Alastair Cook’s 2005 double century against the Aussies does not feature in his first class record – that was a two day game), and further changes since then have continued to reduce the number of first class fixtures played. The first of only two players to achieve the 1,000 runs, 100 wickets double for a season post 1969 was the Kiwi right arm fast bowler and left handed attacking batter, an overseas stalwart for Nottinghamshire over many years, in 1984. He planned his campaign that year with a thoroughness that would have left most generals blushing, assessing exactly what he reckoned he needed to do and which opponents he could do it against, and it worked out more or less according to his script. He wrote a book, “At The Double”, which came out in 1985 and detailed his extraordinary assault on the history books. Hadlee also has the best test innings figures ever recorded by a fast bowler, 9-52 against Australia, in the first test series that New Zealand ever won against their trans-Tasman rivals (the eighth Aussie dissmissed in that innings, Geoff ‘Henry’ Lawson, attempted to attack spinner Vaughan Brown and succeeded only in offering a dolly catch, which Hadlee, a possible all ten not withstanding, coolly accepted).
  9. Charles ‘The Terror’ Turner – the Aussie took 283 first class wickets on the 1884 tour of England, a record for any tourist anywhere, and in 1887-8 became the first and only bowler to take 100 first class wickets in an Australian season. 
  10. Tich Freeman – the 5’2″ Kent leg spinner took 304 first class wickets in the 1928 season, the all time record (he also has numbers 2,3 and 5 on the list, and six of the 13 occasions on which a bowler has taken 250 first class wickets in a season were his. Freeman also stands alone in achieving three first class ‘all tens’.
  11. Tom Richardson – the Surrey fast bowler, who took more wickets in a season than any other of his pace – 290 in 1894 was his best haul.

This is a beautifully balanced XI, with depth in batting (even Turner and Freeman had records that included test fifties), a bowling attack that is rich in both numbers and variety, with speedsters Richardson and Hadlee being backed an off spin/ cut bowler in Turner, a leggie in Freeman, a left arm orthodox spinner (Woolley), a left arm unorthodox spinner (Compton) plus Hirst’s left arm pace and swing and the far from negligible bowling offerings of Grace and Parks, and Hayward’s medium pace sometimes had its moments – only Ames would definitely not get a turn at the bowling crease (though even that could be arranged – WG deputized as keeper in test matches on occasions, once enabling the official glove man, the Hon Alffred Lyttelton to collect 4-19 bowling lobs!).


Within my brief (record setting, but over a few matches or a season, rather than a career, with an exception made for Woolley), the most obvious miss was Jim Laker, the Surrey off spinner who holds the record for most wickets in a first class game (19-90 v Australia at Old Trafford in 1956), while, as mentioned by Woolley in “King of Games”, had things gone a bit differently when Kent played Northamptonshire in 1907 Blythe would have had an unassailable case for inclusion with the only ‘all twenty’ in first class history to his credit. Maurice Tate and Albert Trott each had seasons in which they scored 1,000 first class runs and took 200 first class wickets. Don Bradman holds the record average for an English first class season, 115.66 in 1938. Geoffrey Boycott twice averaged over 100 for a full English season, but in both cases his side fell down the table (nine whole places to a then historic low of 13th in 1971), while Hirst’s annus mirabilis saw Yorkshire finish second to Kent, the single run by which they lost to Gloucestershire being the biggest small margin in cricket’s history until the final of the 2019 Men’s World Cup. Brian Lara holds the world record individual scores in both test and first class cricket, but both of those scores, and his earlier 375 v England in 1994 came in drawn games which never really looked like being anything else. Syd Barnes’ 49 wickets in the series against South Africa in 1913-4, missing the last game after a dispute over terms and conditions, was an extraordinary feat. George Giffen’s match for South Australia v Victoria in which he scored 271 not out, and then took 7-70 amd 9-96 nearly earned him a place.

I end this section by reminding folks that I am selecting XIs, not full squads or even tour parties, and that I endeavour to ensure that each side has a good balance to it, both of which need to be borne in mind when suggesting changes.


Another XI has trodden the boards, but before signing off in my usual fashion I have a couple of other things to do. First, Gabrielle Blair has posted a wonderful twitter thread on the theme of “protecting one’s family”, taking aim at the obsession some of compatriots have with guns, which she then turned into a blog post on her site, designmom. I urge to read it.

Second, in a couple of my recent posts I have drawn attention to my mother’s new blog (see here and here), well now it is my father’s turn. He has set up a blog called morethanalittlefoxed, in which he writes about books. He has begun an A-Z series, and as a starter I offer you his D entry, “D is for Frances Isabella Duberly” (he has reached the letter E, but shrewd wordpressers will realize that by picking out the D I have given visitors three posts that are no more than two clicks away – ‘previous post’ and ‘next post’ being available when they exist.

Finally it is time for the usual sign off…

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I was delighted to see this bird through my window this morning – my photographic opportunities are limited to what I see through my front window and what I can get while out in the back garden when weather permits.

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A large and surprisingly co-operative fly

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Even with a telescopic zoom lens capturing a goldfinch when looking upwards, with the sun in a less than ideal position and over a distance of approximately 50 metres is not the most straightforward of tasks.

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I spotted this stone while walking laps of my garden.

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An insect crawls on my book..

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…and here it is on the forefinger of my left hand.

Record Setters XI
The XI in tabulated form with abridged comments.