England’s Triumph At Old Trafford

An account of the test match that finished yesterday evening with a victory for England, a look forward to the decider which starts on Friday, some links and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks back at the test match that concluded yesterday evening in Manchester and forward to the one that starts at the same ground on Friday morning.

THE TALE OF THE TAPE

Thursday morning at Old Trafford was grey and rainy, and so play got underway late. England were deprived of Archer due to that player’s misconduct in between the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford, had already decided to rest Wood and Anderson, while Crawley was correctly retained with Joe Denly losing his place, presumably permanently. Thus England’s line up read: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, Pope, +Buttler, Woakes, Curran, Bess, Broad. This was a very strong batting line up, but there was no genuine pace in the bowling attack, with the possible exception of Stokes. The West Indies were unchanged.

Jason Holder won the toss for the West Indies and immediately made the first mistake of the match when he allowed himself to be influenced by the overhead conditions and chose to bowl first on a very flat looking pitch. At first things did not look too bad for the West Indies as Burns and Crawley fell cheaply, and even when Root was third out the score had only reached 81. At this point Ben Stokes got into the action, and was scarcely to be out of ti again for the rest of the match. Sibley was looking secure at one end, and now Stokes displayed considerable resolve and patience to stay with him. By the end of the first day the fourth wicket pair were still in occupation and the score was 207-3, and the decision to bowl first stood revealed as a ghastly howler on Holder’s part. On the second day Stokes and Sibley consolidated their position, with Sibley reaching his second test century just before lunch, and Stokes completing his tenth such score just afterwards. Finally, with the score at 341 Sibley fell for 120, having also completed a century of a much rarer kind – 100 balls left alone in the course of a single innings. GThe stand of 260 was the second highest ever for any wicket at Old Trafford, though some way short of England’s all time fourth wicket record stand, the 411 put on by Peter May and Colin Cowdrey versus the West Indies at Edgbaston in 1957. Pope fell cheaply, bringing Buttler to the crease at 352-5, and with an opportunity, undeserved in many opnions including mine, to cash in on tired bowlers. Ben Stokes was finally dislodged for 176, his second highest test score, with the score at 395, Woakes fell first ball which brought Curran to the crease. At 426 Buttler who had made a less than impressive (given the ultra favourable circumstances) 40 was caught off the bowling of Holder. One run later Curran was out. Dom Bess, in company with Stuart Broad, played a useful cameo reaching 31 not out before Root declared with the score at 469-9. John Campbell was out in the mini-session of batting the West Indies had before day 2 closed, Alzarri Joseph was sent in as nightwatchman and took them through to the close, at which point they were 32-1. Day three was washed out, a big dent to England’s hopes. In the middle of the fourth afternoon the West Indies were 235-4 and the draw was a strong favourite. Then that man Stokes intervened again, bowling a hostile spell in which he accounted for the obdurate Kraigg Brathwaite and destabilized the West Indies innings. Stuart Broad then bowled a magnificent spell with the second new ball before Woakes took a couple of late wickets, and the West Indies were all out for 287, giving England a lead of 182. With quick runs needed England sent in Buttler and Stokes. Buttler proceeded to be bowled for a third-ball duck, a dismissal which really should end his test career (he is a magnificent limited overs player but has never been anything special in long form cricket), which brought Zak Crawley to the wicket. Crawley made 11 before he too fell, and England closed the 4th day on 37-2, with Stokes and Root in occupation. England, as they had to in the circumstances, needing a win to keep both the Wisden trophy and their slender hopes of the World Test Championship alive, went on the all out attack on the final morning, blazing 91 off 11 overs before declaring at 129-3, with Stokes 78 not out and Pope 12 not out off seven balls. This left the West Indies needing 312 to win and with 85 overs to get them.

Broad bowled superbly with the new ball, and the West Indies rapidly plunged to 37-4. Blackwood and Brooks then put on exactly 100 together before that man Stokes broke the partnership, dismissing Blackwood for 55. Woakes then cleaned up Dowrich for a duck, bringing skipper Holder in to join Brooks. Holder and Brooks took the score to 161 before Curran pinned Brooks LBW, which went to review where it came up as umpires call, the third time a West Indian had suffered that fate in the innings. Holder and Roach offered some resistance before Bess made the crucial breakthrough, bowling Holder for 35, to make at 183-8, and leave three tailenders tasked with holding out for more than 20 overs to save the game. Alzarri Joseph scored nine, was then caught by Bess of the bowling of Stokes to make it 192-9. I had an evening engagement and was not able to catch the fall of the final wicket, that of Kemar Roach, caught by Pope off the bowling of Bess. England took that wicket just after umpire Richard Illingworth had signalled the start of the last 15 overs of the game and had won by 113 runs, meaning that the third match of this series will be a ‘winner takes all’ battle.

STOKES THE COLOSSUS

Stokes’ performance in this match saw him displace Jason Holder at the top of the test match all rounders rankings, and it also saw him rise to no3 in the world batting rankings behind Virat Kohli and ‘sandpaper’ Steve Smith. Stokes’ participation in this match was as follows: 176 off 356 balls spread over 487 minutes at the crease in the first innings, 1-29 off 13 overs in the second, with that wicket coming in the spell that destabilized the West Indies innings, 78 not out off 57 balls to set up the declaration in the third innings and 14.4 overs for figures of 2-30 (he was unable to complete his final over, the last two balls of it being bowled by Joe Root). At Lord’s in 1952 Mulvantrai Himmatlal ‘Vinoo’ Mankad scored 72 in the first innings, bowled a marathon stint of 73 overs in the England reply, scored 184 in the third innings and bowled a further 24 overs in the second England innings, this all round effort all coming to nought as his side were beaten anyway. In first class cricket there are George Hirst’s spectacular dominance over Somerset in 1906 – 111, 117 not out, six first innings wicket and five second innings wickets, George Giffen’s 271 not out, 7-70 and 9-98 for South Australia versus Victoria, while in 1874 WG Grace had a spell of sustained brilliance in which he combined centuries with ten wicket match hauls five times in the space of six matches. At club level there is the feat of Dr M E Pavri, an Indian all rounder who apparently bowled at a lively pace (he toured England in the 1880s, long before his country were promoted to test status, and there is a story of him sending a stump nine yards backwards in a match at Norwich), and who decided on one occasion that teammates were unnecessary, taking on an XI all on his own. In that game he batted first, scored 52 not out before deciding that he had enough runs to serve his purposes, and then without fielders to aid him dismissed the opposing XI for 38 to win the match.

ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS

  1. Dom Sibley – 9 – a magnificent display of concentration in his only innings, though he was reprieved when Jason Holder dropped a fairly regulation chance, so it was not an absolutely blemish free effort.
  2. Rory Burns – 3 – a failure with the bat, nothing notably good or bad in the field.
  3. Zak Crawley 4a first baller in the first innings, and also failed in the second innings thrash for runs, managing 11 off 15 balls, which does at least represent a half decent scoring rate.
  4. *Joe Root – 6 – two scores in the twenties, though in the second innings he was good foil to Stokes while the latter was lashing out. He was possibly a little conservative in the matter of the second innings declaration, but overall he captained well.
  5. Ben Stokes – 10 – he batted England into a commanding position with his first innings effort, his bowling intervention in the first West Indies innings was crucial in reopening the possibility of an England win, his second innings batting effort in altogether different circumstances was precisely what the team needed, and he again made the crucial breakthrough in the final innings when he broke the Brooks/Blackwood partnership. I reckon even Craig Revel-Horwood would have rated this performance a 10.
  6. Ollie Pope – 5 – failed in the first innings, 12 not out off 7 balls in the second to help England to the declaration and he performed the last action of the game, taking the catch that dismissed Kemar Roach.
  7. +Jos Buttler3 – his first innings 40 was unimpressive given the circumstances, he responded to being given the opportunity to open the innings and bat in his best T20 fashion with a third ball duck, and although he held on to three catches in the match this must be the end of the road for Buttler the test cricketer.
  8. Chris Woakes6.5 – failed with the bat in his only innings, but bowled well in both innings, reminding everyone that he is always difficult to play in English conditions.
  9. Sam Curran – 6 – only 17 with the bat, but bowled quite well. It was with his dismissal of Brooks in the second innings to make it 161-7 that moved victory from possible to probable.
  10. Dom Bess – 6.5 – his 31 not out in the first innings was a useful knock, he was economical though not penetrative in the first West Indies innings, and it was his delivery to bowl Jason Holder that effectively sealed the destiny of this match, while he completed a trio of late interventions by then catching Alzarri Joseph and finally picking up the wicket of Roach to complete the victory.
  11. Stuart Broad – 8.5 – he bowled a magnificent spell with the second new ball in the West Indies first innings to ensure that England would have a substantial advantage and bowled another fine spell with the new ball in the West Indies second innings which left them in tatters at 37-4.

LOOKING FORWARD TO FRIDAY

It is possible that England will want to play two spinners in the decider, and they could also maintain their rotation policy with Broad and Anderson, although I suspect that even in King’s Lynn I will not need the assistance of a radio to hear Mr Broad’s response should be told that he is being rested for the decider, and there is also the question of whether to play Archer in the decider. Of the three specialist batters who failed in this match two, Burns and Pope already have test hundreds, and it seems likely that the third, Crawley, will be joining them sooner rather than later, so I am not unduly worried about them. Buttler, just to re-emphasize the point has to go. Thus I offer up three potential line ups, two of which have permutations:

Potential Line ups

The first line up brings in Archer for his extra pace but sticks to one spinner and a choice between Broad and Anderson. The second line up accommodates two spinners but runs the risk of having Stokes as third seamer. The third line up is gamblers line up, entails Pope as keeper, a job he has done in test cricket, and five regular bowlers, with Stokes as back up. If England do decide to go with two spinners that would be my preferred option, although the second line up does at least have variety going for it – right arm fast (Archer), left arm medium fast (Curran), off spin and left arm orthodox spin plus x-factor Stokes. England need a win to regain the Wisden trophy and retain an interest in the World Test Championship, while the West Indies have not won a series in England since 1988, and so although a draw would see them retain the Wisden trophy it would not be a great result for them. So far this has been a splendid series, with England bouncing back well after the loss in Southampton.

TYING THINGS TOGETHER

The full scorecard for this fine match can be viewed here, courtesy of cricinfo. My other posts about this match are:

For a different view, here is the fulltoss blog’s account.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have a varied trio of links to share today:

And now it is time for my usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet XI

The eleventh alphabetic progression post in this series.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the eleventh alphabetic progression post i this series. When we get to the main body of this post today’s first XI will start at M as our last such ended at L, but there are a couple of things to attend to first…

CORRECTION

In yesterday’s ‘Alec v Charles‘ post I described Alex Lees as a right handed batter. As a twitter correspondent swiftly pointed out he actually bats left handed. I apologize for the error. I would also like to thank the ‘Womens County Cricket Day‘ twitter account for sharing my post and commenting approvingly on the selection of Alex Hartley, the left arm spinner, in the Alec XI.

UPDATE FROM THE AGEAS BOWL

Team Buttler reached 287-5 by the close of yesterday, with Bracey making 85 and Lawrence 58. They declared on that overnight score, as was virtually mandatory in a game of this nature. Today’s play has been slow so far, initially because Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes bowled very few balls in the appropriate area, both being habitually wide, and both operating at a decidedly sluggish pace. Between them in 11 overs they managed one genuinely threatening delivery, a ball on which Broad appealed vociferously and at length for LBW, but to no avail. Archer and Wood livened things up, being both quicker and more accurate than their predecessors at the bowling crease, and Archer accounted for Sibley courtesy of a close catch. Oliver Edward Robinson (full name, because there is a young wicket keeper named Oliver Graham Robinson who is on the fringes of the England set up) bowled accurately but unthreateningly, and unless he can find at least an extra yard of pace from somewhere it is hard to see him worrying international class batters. Dom Bess ended Jennings’ purely defensive innings of 23 with a good delivery just before lunch. Zak Crawley, almost sure to bat at three in the test match, is just starting to play nicely, and at present he has Jonny Bairstow, who needs to play a major innings to press his case, for company. For the record, my team based on previous thoughts and the day and bit of action at the Ageas bowl would be: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Lawrence (remember Root is absent), *Stokes, Pope, +Foakes, Curran, Bess, Wood, Archer – Anderson was less unimpressive yesterday than Broad has been today, but at the moment neither appear to be at full throttle, so I am going for both the ultra quick bowlers, who have been impressive, with Curran’s left arm medium fast as third seam option, Stokes to operate in short bursts as and when needed and Bess’ off spin.

VINOO MANKAD’S XI

  1. *Vinoo Mankad – right handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner, captain. He regularly opened for India, sharing an opening stand of 413 with Pankaj Roy on one occasion. In one match at Lord’s he scored 72 and 184, taking a five-for in the intervening England innings. It took him just 23 matches to reach the test career double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, a figure beaten only by Ian Botham – 21 matches. My views on slow bowling all rounders as captaincy candidates should be known to all by now.
  2. Mudassar Nazar – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. An adhesive opener who holds the record for the longest time spent batting in the course of a series (it was a six match series against India, and his job was to soak up lots of time, softening the bowling up for the stroke makers in Pakistan’s middle order). He also holds the record for the slowest ever test century, taking over eight hours to reach three figures on one occasion.
  3. Edgar Oldroyd – right handed batter. Over 15,000 first class runs at 35, and never called up for England. As Yorkshire’s regular no3 in the 1920s he spent a lot of time padded up ready to bat – Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe put on a total of 69 century opening stands for Yorkshire. His granddaughter Eleanor is a well known sports commentator, broadcaster and presenter.
  4. Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter. After the top batters have softened the bowling up we need some stroke makers to cash in, and few fit that bill better than Kevin Pietersen. A number of his best test innings were played after Strauss, Cook and Trott had given the England innings a solid start.
  5. Quinton De Kock – left handed batter, wicket keeper. Another attacking middle order batter to back up Pietersen. I have selected him as a Q based on his first name because Q is a difficult letter to fill, and at least by allowing myself this latitude I also solve the wicket keeping problem.
  6. Ernie Robson – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. An all rounder who scored over 10,000 first class runs and took over 1,000 first class wickets. At the age of 53 he won a match for Somerset by hitting a six in the final possible over. As a bowler his speciality was outswing, and Jack Hobbs rated him as difficult as any bowler he ever faced. Jimmy Anderson might like to note that he was still doing damage with his outswinger right to the end of his career, as mentioned at the age of 53.
  7. Franklyn Stephenson – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. In 1988 he was the last cricketer to achieve the season double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets. Anyone managing that in today’s 14 game first class season would achieve a feat comparable with George Hirst’s 1906 ‘double double’ of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets.
  8. Fred Titmus – off spinner, useful lower order batter. Among Middlesex bowlers only JT Hearne took more career first class wickets than Titmus, who made his debut in 1949, and became one of the few cricketers to play first class matches in five different decades when he answered an SOS in 1982.
  9. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler. 297 test wickets is proof of his efficacy as a bowler.
  10. Tayla Vlaeminck – right arm fast bowler. The 21 year old Aussie describes herself as a fast bowler, a detail that has not yet reached those who maintain player records at cricinfo. She and Issy Wong of England both have their sights set on bowling at over 80mph (two earlier Aussies, Sharon Tredrea and Cathryn Fitzpatrick may already have done so, but the recording equipment that would prove it was not around in their day, while South African Shabnim Ismail is also not far away). She was born in Bendigo, the very same town as one of Australia’s first bowling greats, Harry Boyle, Spofforth’s partner in destruction and capturer of the final wicket at The Oval in 1882 in the match that led to the creation of The Ashes.
  11. Courtney Walsh – right arm fast bowler. Whatever you may say about the positioning of some of the other members of this XI he is certainly in his correct slot in the batting order. He was the first bowler ever to take 500 test wickets, though his longevity was actually of doubtful benefit to the West Indies because it masked the extent of their decline from the heights they once occupied, which in combination with ostrich logic/ wishful thinking by the West Indian powers that be meant that when reality hit it did so with sledgehammer power.

This side has a good top five, two genuine all rounders and four quality bowlers. Walsh, Vlaeminck, Stephenson and Robson represent a fine pace/swing/seam quartet, with Underwood’s slow-medium craft and guile plus the spin of Titmus and Mankad providing further good options.

CLARE CONNOR’S XI

  1. Xavier Marshall – right handed opening batter. Double international, having played for his native West Indies and the USA. X is the most difficult letter of all to fill.
  2. Martin Young – right handed opening batter. Long serving Gloucestershire opener.
  3. Zaheer Abbas – right handed batter. The only Pakistani to score 100 first class 100 hundreds. He played for Gloucestershire for many years, and was known on the county circuit as ‘Zed’, which, in addition to the difficulties posed by that letter, is why I have used him as a Z for this purpose. He was one of the early masters of ODI batting, being the first ever to score centuries in three successive ODIs, and the first Pakistani to score as many as seven ODI centuries.
  4. Tommy Andrews – right handed batter. Averaged almost 40 in overall first class cricket, but was not a success in his test career. His record also looks a little better when you bear in mind that he made his first class debut in the 1912-3 Aussie season, and thus had his career disrupted just as he was looking to establish himself. He was also acknowledged as an outstanding fielder in the covers.
  5. Ian Bell – right handed batter. An excellent timer of a cricket ball. He looked out of his depth against the 2005 Australians (some thought England should have kept faith with the gritty left hander Graham Thorpe for that series, before bringing Bell through against less testing opposition), but thereafter his improvement was rapid. His career is not quite over – he has just signed a contract with Warwickshire to play until the end of the 2021 season.
  6. *Clare Connor – right handed batter, captain. She played for the first XI of Brighton College, the first female to do so (much to the disapproval of some of the more antediluvian types associated with cricket), blazing a trail followed subsequently by spinner Holly Colvin and keeper/ batter Sarah Taylor. She went on to be a hugely successful captain of England women. In spite of all this it is arguable that her most recent triumph is her greatest of all – for the first time in its 233 year history the MCC has a woman president, and yes, the woman in question is Clare Connor. She is also well known to those who listen to cricket on the radio as a commentator.
  7. +Haydn Davies wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was Glamorgan’s keeper when they won their first county championship in 1948.
  8. Tom Emmett – left arm fast bowler, useful lower order batter. He took his first class wickets at 13.55 each, a similar average to his near contemporary Fred Morley and just a bit more than the 12.09 recorded by the slightly older William Mycroft (they were both also left arm quick bowlers). He played in the first three test matches, being part of James Lillywhite’s 1876-7 tour party and one of two professionals brought along by Lord Harris in 1878-9 to do the bowling (George Ulyett was the other), meaning that he toiled hard in those months but also that he avoided one of Britain’s most unpleasant winters – the last to be cold enough for the river Thames to freeze over.
  9. Kenneth Farnes – right arm fast bowler. The Essex amateur was one of the fastest bowlers of the second half of the 1930s. He died in a flying accident in World War II, so his career was very brief.
  10. Tom Goddard – off spinner. He started as a fast bowler, even taking a first class hat trick in that style, before Charlie Parker (left arm spinner, 3,278 first class wickets) noted his huge hands and suggested that he might go further as a spinner. Goddard spent three years reinventing himself as an off spinner, before returning to the fray. Since he would play on for another quarter of a century and finish with a tally of 2,979 first class wickets, including doing the hat trick a further five times, and it was only an attack of pleurisy that finally induced him to hang up his boots it can safely be said that Parker made the right call, and that Goddard did well to heed it.
  11. Jack Hill – leg spinner. He toured England with 1953 Australians, and though he never established himself at test level (a certain R Benaud providing a rather large obstacle in that direction) he had a respectable first class record.

This side has a respectable top six, a fine keeper and four varied bowlers. There is not much back up to the front four bowlers – Ian Bell would probably be next in line for a bowl with his medium pacers, but Emmett, Farnes, Goddard and Hill look a pretty useful foursome.

THE CONTEST

Clare Connor’s XI are probably stronger in batting, though Vinoo Mankad’s XI have good depth in that department. Vinoo Mankad’s XI have a greater range of bowling options, while Clare Connor’s XI would be heavily reliant on their front four bowlers. Clare Connor’s XI would also of course be boosted by her captaincy. I expect a good contest, but I think that Vinoo Mankad’s XI have a definite edge here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

The warm up game at the Ageas bowl has moved on while I have been typing this. Team Stokes are now 167-5, with Zak Crawley and the eponym, Stokes, having each scored forties. Bairstow made just 11, not nearly enough to earn selection at this stage. Archer, Wood, Woakes, Bess and leg spinner Parkinson each have a wicket. Bess has had plenty of bowling, which augurs well for him – just so long as the selectors don’t fudge things by picking Ali for the spinners slot on the grounds that ‘he can bat’. On that note, here is my usual sign off…

IMG_1340 (2)IMG_1341 (2)IMG_1342 (2)IMG_1344 (2)IMG_1345 (2)IMG_1346 (2)TTA XITTA XI

All Time XIs – DRS and Umpiring Controversies

Today we have a fruity ‘all time XI’ #cricket themed post and an excellent autism related thread by Pete Wharmby.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed series of blog posts. Today’s will require a bit of explaining, but before that there are a couple of matters in connection with yesterday’s post…

A HAT TIP AND A CORRECTION

In yesterday’s image showing the teams in tabulated form I has failed to change their names, so instead of the columns being headed “Playing Cards” and “Alliterative” they read “London” and “The North”, the names of the previous day’s teams. I noticed that this morning when creating today’s tabulated list. Within moments of my teams coming out yesterday Oliver Martens on twitter had come up with the name of Devon born Warwickshire and New Zealand left handed batter Roger Twose (pronounced twos) for the Playing Card XI, an ingenious suggestion. With a career FC average of almost 39 Twose rates above Collis King, and he could be accommodated by splitting the all right opening pair of Hobbs and Robertson, making the Playing Card XI read: Jack Hobbs, Roger Twose, Jack Robertson, Ryan ten Doeschate, Jack Mason, Jack Gregory, John King, Jack Board, Bart King, Jack Walsh and Jack Saunders. Well played, Oliver.

TODAY’S BRIEF

The two teams in action today are called DRS Burners, containing players who would be well advised not to use DRS, strengthened in the middle order by a couple of characters from earlier in the game’s history whose conduct suggests that they may not have been the best users of DRS (middle order batters often don’t get to burn up reviews because the openers have already done so) and the Rule Stretchers, players who have stretched the rules as far as they will go, to say nothing of beyond, and/or have been involved in ructions with officialdom.

THE DRS BURNERS XI

  1. Chris Gayle – left handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. The worst of his many failed reviews was at Brisbane in 2009 when he sent an LBW upstairs and the replay showed to the surprise of nobody other than possibly Gayle himself that the ball would have hit plumb in the middle of middle stump – as out as it is possible to be.
  2. Shane Watson – right handed opening batter. In some circles he is referred to as LBWatson because of both the frequency with which he suffered that mode of dismissal and the frequency with which he sent it upstairs only to discover it was stone cold out – usually hitting middle and leg.
  3. Ricky Ponting – right handed batter. He earned his place in this side at the MCG in 2010 when he had an onfield bust up with Aleem Dar over a decision that most of his team mates were not bothered by, for the very simple reason that Mr Dar had quite clearly got it right. Ponting saw a white mark, nowhere near either bat or ball, on the hot spot replay on the big screen, and his subsequent display of temper, which rivalled that over his run out by Gary Pratt in 2005, cost him 75% of his match fee.
  4. Greg Chappell – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer (leg spinner earlier in his career), fine slip fielder. He gets in for the first of two incidents involving him in an ODI against New Zealand. He was on 52 when he declined to accept Martin Snedden’s word that he had taken a catch in the deep. It happened that neither umpire had seen the incident, and in the words of one reporter on that match “they gave Chappell the benefit of their ignorance”. The replays showed that Snedden’s word had been pretty good. Chappell went on to reach 90. However this misdemeanour was overshadowed by his subsequent action when Brian McKechnie needed to hit a six of the final ball to force a tie and he instructed his brother Trevor to roll the ball along the ground to prevent that from happening. This provoked a typically hamfisted response from the powers that be, outlawing all underarm bowling. I have explained elsewhere how underarm bowling both of the Simpson-Hayward type and the more vigorous David Harris type could be legalized while running no danger of a repeat of this incident.
  5. *Faf Du Plessis – right handed batter, captain. He gets in for his repeated handling of the ball during his last test innings. England complained about his behaviour, but as far as I am concerned they should simply have appealed against him and left him to nurse any grievance he felt over being thus dismissed while sat in the pavilion.
  6. Tiger Lance – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. This time we have an incident where a member of the Chappell family was the victim. Ian, the eldest brother, hit one which went to Lance, asked that worthy if he had caught it and on receiving an answer in the affirmative headed for the pavilion. A team mate of Lance asked him if was sure about it and Lance replied “he didn’t ask if it had bounced”, earning his place in this side.
  7. +Tim Paine – wicket keeper, right handed batter. Among the many misjudgements he as fielding captain perpetrated over when to use DRS there was one that assisted England to bring off the ‘Headingley Heist’ of 2019 – he sent an LBW appeal that had been turned down against Stokes upstairs, the ball was quite clearly wide and going on to miss, and a few minutes later he was unable to send another LBW decision upstairs which would have been resolved in his favour had not burned the review.
  8. Stuart Broad – right arm fast medium bowler. One who does not die wondering. Fortunately his captains have been as well aware of his over optimism in the matter of appeals as the rest of us so he has not actually burned up all that many reviews, but the intent has been there.
  9. Mitchell Starc – left arm fast bowler. Reviewed an LBW against him at the end of an ODI innings, but realized that it was so absolutely plumb that he did not bother to wait for confirmation.
  10. Kagiso Rabada – right arm fast bowler. Has recently served a test match suspension for accumulated demerit points.
  11. Monty Panesar – left arm orthodox spinner. Another who would have burned a stack of reviews given the opportunity but whose captains realized that he was seriously over-optimistic when it came to appealing.

This side has a strong top five, an all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four fine bowlers. Spin options are thin on the ground, but it is a decent side, though it would likely keep the match referee busy!

THE RULE STRETCHERS XI

  1. Chris Broad – left handed opening batter. Some of his responses to being dismissed were decidedly unsavoury, including a stump demolishing act in Lahore, and various very slow and reluctant departures. He subsequently turned game keeper, becoming a match referee in later years.
  2. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of various styles through his career. The only possible candidate for the captaincy of this particular XI. Stories of him stretching the rules to the absolute limit are legion, one such playing its part in the creation of The Ashes. In Australia’s second innings Sammy Jones left his crease to pat down a divot in the pitch, and Grace whipped the bails off and appealed, and since the ball had not been called dead umpire Bob Thoms raised the finger. This revved ‘the Demon’, FR Spofforth up to a pitch of near homicidal fury, and England needing 85 to win were bowled out for 77 to lose by seven runs. There were many other such incidents in the course of his long career.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, close fielder. On one occasion he took so long to leave the crease after being given out that the umpire reprimanded him, prompting Woolley to explain “I was not disputing your decision, I just could not believe that such an awful bowler could get me out twice.”
  4. Colin Cowdrey – right handed batter, slip fielder. He was a self proclaimed ‘walker’, i.e someone who would give himself out without waiting to be told. However, there is a fair amount of evidence that he exploited this reputation to his own benefit, on occasions declining to walk because he knew that his reputation would make umpires reluctant to give him out. There is a big question mark over ‘walking’ anyway, because it was generally ‘amateurs’ who did it, implying that they knew what was going on better than the umpires, who were usually former professionals. If you are going to walk, then you cannot pick and choose your moments, you must do it every time. Personally I would say wait for the umpire’s decison, but once that finger is raised against you do not hang around.
  5. Bill Alley – left handed batter, right arm medium pacer. After a very long and quite distinguished playing career he became an umpire. There are a couple of stories, or possibly two versions of the same story, from the career of Alley the umpire that suggest he got up to his share of mischief as a player: version 1 features newly minted umpire Alley spotting a youngster tampering with the ball and telling him “no, this is how you do it” and providing a demonstration. Version 2 has Alley seeing the ball near the end of an over and saying to the young bowler “you’ve don a good job on this one, if you don’t get seven-for with it I am reporting you.”
  6. Vinoo Mankad – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was the first bowler in test history to run out a non-striker for backing up too far, a mode of dismissal that now bears his name. My own view is that a non-striker trying to gain an advantage by leaving their ground early and being spotted by the bowler deserves to be run out, and I refuse to sympathise with the batter who is thus dismissed, although I accept that a bowler who deliberate pauses before going into their delivery stride in an effort to lure the non-striker out of their ground is going too far. If anyone on the opposition side is to be ‘Mankaded’ I would want it to be Ponting – his reaction would be something to behold.
  7. +Saleem Yousuf – wicket keeper, right handed batter. During Pakistan’s 1987 visit to England he claimed a catch when the ball had very obviously bounced well in front of him. The batter who waits for the finger to be raised is merely declining to plead guilty, whereas the fielder (or in this case keeper) who claims that catch in full knowledge that the ball has bounced is more in the position of someone faking evidence for the prosecution.
  8. Cec Pepper – leg spinner, right handed lower middle order batter. One of the best cricketers to not be picked for his country, the reason he suffered that fate is that he lost his cool with an umpire after that worthy turned down three successive confident LBW shouts by him against Don Bradman. He subsequently moved to England, became a Lancashire League pro and after that a highly respected umpire.
  9. Jack Newman – right arm fast medium, useful lower middle order bat. He once had an on field blow up which led to his captain, Lionel Tennyson, sitting him down and dictating a letter of apology to be sent to the umpires and the opposing captain. However, having seen to it that Newman produced an appropriate written apology Tennyson then proceeded to give him £5, not a negligible gesture in the 1920s, and one that suggests he recognized that Newman was not entirely at fault.
  10. John Snow – right arm fast bowler. He famously failed to see eye to eye with umpire Lou Rowan on the 1970-1 tour of Australia. The worst incident, at Sydney, reflects extremely poorly on Rowan. Terry Jenner, no 8 for Australia, but by no means a bunny with the bat, ducked into a short of a length ball and was hit in the face. Rowan after a short pause gave Snow a warning for intimidatory bowling, and the crowd subsequently bombarded the field with bottles and cans. As well as Rowan’s mishandling of the Jenner incident, England were frustrated by the fact that not a single Aussie was given LBW in that series. Also, after a test match at Melbourne was washed out without a ball being bowled, leading to the staging of the first ever ODI, England manager David Clark agreed without consulting skipper Illingworth or the players to the addition of another test match to the schedule, which made that the first and only test series to feature a seventh match (six had been scheduled right from the get go).
  11. Colin Croft – right arm fast bowler. Right at the start of the 1980s the West Indies suffered what would be their only series loss of the whole decade, in New Zealand, when the hosts sneaked home by one wicket in the only decided match. Colin Croft got so frustrated with the umpiring of Fred Goodall, which does indeed seem to fallen badly short in either competence, impartiality or both that at one stage he barged into him and sent him flying. In that same series Michael Holding kicked the stumps over in response to a poor decision.

This team features a strong top five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four excellent bowlers. The bowling also looks impressive, with Croft, Snow and Newman excellent pace options, Pepper and Mankad to bowl spin, and WG and Bill Alley both quite capable of taking a turn at the bowling crease.

THE CONTEST

This would be a very hard contest for umpires and match referees, but I think that the extra bowling strength of the Rule Stretchers XI would see them victorious. In acknowledgement of a famous incident not commemorated in my selections, and the fact that the two players I thus name definitely did not see eye to eye I will call the trophy for this one the Bradman-Hammond trophy. The incident in question happened in the first test of the 1946-7 Ashes, supposedly a goodwill tour except Bradman did not get the memo. Bradman had reached 28 without showing any great authority when he sent a ball shoulder high to Jack Ikin at second slip. Ikin did not appeal at first purely because he did not think it necessary – it was a high and clear catch. Bradman stood his ground, and when England finally did appeal it was turned down. Cliff Cary, himself an Australian, in “Cricket Controversy”, his account of that tour, makes it abundantly clear that Bradman should have been given out. Hammond’s immediate response was to comment “A fine ****ing way to start a series”. Bradman went on to make 187, Australia to tally 645 and England were then caught on a sticky following a tropical storm. Had Bradman been given out England would have batted before the storm hit, Bradman’s second innings would probably have happened on the sticky, and he might well have called it a day.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Pete Wharmby has produced an excellent twitter thread about autistic students and returning to school after lockdown. Please click on the screenshot below to visit the full thread:

Wharmby

Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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NDRS v RS
The teams in tabulated form.