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 – The Janus Contest

Today’s all time XI cricket post faces Janus-like in two directions simultaneously, towards the past and the future of this great game.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the final post in this All Time XIs cricket series – as I start typing it the test match at the Ageas bowl is about to get underway following weather delays. England have won the toss and chosen to bat, in view the correct decision grey skies notwithstanding. This post takes its name from the Roman god Janus because it faces two ways – a look at cricket’s past in the form of a team selected for a combination of entertainment value and class, and a look to the future with a team largely comprising up and coming players, with the topical exception of the captain.

TS ENTERTAINMENT XI

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career. ‘The Doctor’ just had to be the captain of this side, with his outstanding approach and his attack minded approach. One quote “I never like defensive strokes – you can only get three for them.” Against Kent in the match after becoming the first to 100 first class centuries he made 257 as Gloucestershire replied to Kent’s 470 with 443 of their own. Kent then slumped to 78 all out in their second innings, and Gloucs needed 106 in an hour and a quarter to win, and Grace was on 73 not out when they got there just in time, having been on the field fior the entire match, and with his 47th birthday less than two months away.
  2. Victor Trumper – right handed opening batter. At Old Trafford in 1902 he scored a century in the morning session of day 1. In a wet season he amassed 2,570 first class runs for the touring Australians, including 11 centuries.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, excellent close fielder. The only non-keeper to take 1,000 first class catches. At Lord’s in 1921 in the face of Gregory and McDonald against whom his colleagues could offer no resistance he scored 95 and 93. His highest first class score, 305 not out in a tour match on the 1911-2 trip to Australia, came from number three.
  4. Charles Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He scored centuries in the second, third and fourth matches of the 1926 Ashes, the second of the three, at Leeds coming before lunch on day 1. In 1921 he scored 345 in 232 minutes against Nottinghamshire, reaching 300 in 198 minutes.
  5. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete player ever to play the game, and the most automatic of selections for a team of this nature.
  6. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Twice winner of the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest first class hundred of the season, three times he achieved the keeper’s season double of 1,000 runs and 100 dismissals (only John Murray of Middlesex, who did so once, achieved the feat in all the rest of cricket history). He executed 418 first class stumpings, an all time record.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. The ultimate in x-factor players. 53 first class centuries and only once did he bat for over three hours in a single innings.
  8. Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed batter. 16 test matches, 50 wickets at 16 each and a batting average of 27. He was the first England bowler to take a test hat trick, as part of a match performance in which he took 14 wickets and scored 55 in England’s only innings.
  9. Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. The ‘Typhoon’, producer of possibly the fastest bowling ever seen, during the 1954-5 Ashes tour when he bowled England to victory after they had been stuffed in the opener at the Gabba (that series remains the last Ashes series down under won by a side who lost at the Gabba).
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. Probably the greatest bowler ever seen. His signature weapon, ‘the Barnes ball’ was a leg break at fast medium pace, the nearest subsequent approach to which was Alec Bedser’s speciality. Incidentally it was from this no10 slot that he played his most important innings, the 38 not out that saw England to victory at the MCG in 1907, when they lost their eight wicket still 73 adrift, and their ninth still needing 39. Arthur Fielder of Kent was the no11 who assisted Barnes in that final partnership. In Barnes’ last test series, when he took 49 South African wickets in four matches before missing the fifth after a dispute, he took 17-159 in the match at Port Elizabeth, not a venue generally regarded fondly by bowlers.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 138 first class matches, 863 wickets at 12.09, including a 17 wicket haul in a losing cause against Hampshire in 1876 (the crucial innings was played by one Reginald Hargreaves, who later married Alice Pleasance Liddell, aka the Alice of “Alice in Wonderland”). He may have inspired the name of Mycroft Holmes (Doyle was fine cricketer as well as being a fanatical follower of the game, and Mycroft and brother Thomas played for Derbyshire as fast bowler and keeper, while Frank Shacklock and Mordecai Sherwin, from whose surnames one can get Sherlock played the same roles for Nottinghamshire), and in this XI he has a team mate with the middle name Holmes (Frank Holmes Tyson).

This team has an excellent top six, the ultimate in x-factor no 7s and four very fine and varied bowlers. Tyson, Barnes, Mycroft, Bates, Woolley, Sobers, Grace, Jessop and Macartney provide a wealth of bowling options. Do you open with Mycroft and Barnes and have Tyson come on first change, do you open with Tyson and Barnes and bring Mycroft on first change, or do you attempt to persuade Barnes to accept coming on first change so that you can open up with Tyson and Mycroft?

HONOURABLE MENTIONS AND SEGUE

Of course I have a stack load of regrets about players I could not accommodate, and many of you will have ideas of your own, but my principal regrets are:

  • Could not find a place for Denis Compton’s batting and left arm wrist spin bowling.
  • No place for Keith Miller.
  • Tyson was one of three choices for that slot – Harold Larwood, who also terrorized the Aussies in their own backyard and Charles Kortright of Essex were both in my thoughts.
  • Bill O’Reilly, Doug Wright, Derek Underwood, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar and Jack Iverson were all highly individualistic bowlers I would have loved to be able to accommodate.

Having attended to the past it is now time for…

TS FUTURE STARS XI

  1. Prithvi Shaw – right handed opening batter. Has a remarkable record for someone so young, and will surely be a superstar before too many more years have passed. India would not want to break up the Sharma/ Agarwal opening pair an earlier than necessary, but perhaps they could accommodate Shaw by playing him at 3, with Kohli at four.
  2. Dominic Sibley – right handed opening batter. His South African tour pretty much established him in the England side, especially his first test century. The restart of test cricket has not been good for him – in the brief passages of play that the weather has allowed he has been dismissed for a duck, but he will be back scoring runs again before long.
  3. Shreyas Iyer – right handed batter. He has a magnificent record in all forms of cricket that he has played, and that will surely continue when he gets his chance at test level.
  4. Daniel Lawrence – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played at no 4 in last week’s warm up game at The Ageas Bowl and made 58 in the first innings, and was then not called on to bat in the second. He was then left out of the test squad, with Denly being chosen for the batting spot vacated by Joe Root being on paternity leave. His time will surely come soon.
  5. James Bracey – left handed batter, occasional wicket keeper. He made 85 in that warm up game at the Ageas Bowl, and again was overlooked for the test match. He has done some work on his wicket keeping, but regards himself primarily as a batter, and that is the role I see him playing for England when he gets the call up.
  6. *Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler, captain. The one member of this side who is indisputably established at the very highest level, and in a nod to what is happening at the Ageas Bowl I have named as captain.
  7. +Ben Foakes – wicket keeper, right handed batter. England’s best (and worst treated) current wicket keeper. Among 21st century keepers his only rival with the gloves is the now retired Sarah Taylor, and he averages over 40 for those few tests he has been selected for. Bairstow is no longer able to perform in red ball cricket, and Buttler is barely even a competent keeper, and has never had a good red ball batting record, and yet it is this latter named individual who is currently taking the place behind the stumps that should be Foakes’. Stokes is an established test cricket, while Foakes should be but is not yet.
  8. Lewis Goldsworthy – left arm orthodox spinner, right handed batter. He had a good under-19 world cup, and I expect to see him notable first class performances from him before too much longer. He may yet develop into a genuine all rounder, but at the moment he is definitely more bowler than batter, hence his positioning at no eight in this order.
  9. Rashid Khan – leg spinner, useful lower order batter. Four test matches have yielded him 23 wickets at 21.08, a magnificent start at that level, and he has a phenomenal record in limited overs cricket. He has also already racked up a test 50 with his lower order batting. I look forward to seeing him establish himself as one of the greats of the game.
  10. Oliver Edward Robinson – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower order batter. I use his full name because there is a young wicket keeper from Kent, Oliver Graham Robinson, who is on the fringes of the England set up. He takes his wickets at 22 each in first class cricket, and bowled well in the warm up match at the Ageas Bowl. Whether he has sufficient pace to trouble top level batters remains to be seen, but he should get his opportunity before too long. Yes, one has to pick for the present, but the future should also be considered, and England are due to go to Australia for their 2021-2 season, by when James Anderson will be 39 years of age, probably too old to spearhead the attack out there (the last England new ball bowler to succeed out there at that sort of age was Syd Barnes on the 1911-2 tour).
  11. Jasprit Bumrah – right arm fast bowler. He has played 14 test matches, the second most of anyone in this side, in which he has taken 68 wickets at 20, including shaking the Aussies up in their own backyard in the 2018-9 Border – Gavaskar Trophy. I hope to hear more of him in the not too distant future – talents of this type can only be good for the game.

This team has a fine top five, the x-factor player of the current era at six, the best current keeper and a beautifully balanced selection of bowlers. Bumrah, Robinson and Stokes look a fine pace trio, and Goldsworthy and Khan should combine well as spin twins.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Pakistan left arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi has made an impressive start to his career, and would be my first reserve quick should one or other of Bumrah or Robinson be unavailable. Hamidullah Qadri was the other English success story of the u-19 world cup, although at the moment he would have to be considered as at best third in the senior off spinning queue behind Bess and Virdi, though in red ball cricket he is certainly ahead of Ali in my pecking order. Finally, a suggestion of a type that might be regarded as akin to heresy in certain quarters, all rounder Amelia Kerr has had success with both bat and leg spin for the New Zealand Women, is still only 18, and the Kiwis do not have a long queue of spin bowling options – will they take a chance on giving a female the opportunity to play alongside the men?

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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All Time XIs – Eras Clash

A post that looks at cricket history, a view on England’s first test selections, a mathematical teaser and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s All Time XIs cricket post, in which we look at the history of English cricket. A team of cricketers who were all born before 1850 are pitted against an XI who were all born after 1850. Before getting into the main body of the post I start with:

THOUGHTS ON THE SELECTIONS FOR THE FIRST TEST MATCH

22 players have been retained by England at the ground, with 13 officially in the test squad and nine as back ups. Here courtesy of the pinchhitter is the full list:

Eng Squad

My thoughts on the above are: arguably neither Broad nor Anderson should be in the 13, and certainly Broad should not be there. Ollie Robinson should be in the 13 and if he is definitely fit so should Curran. Bracey and Lawrence should both be in the 13, as should Foakes, with Buttler not even meriting a place in the 22. I am relieved the Bess is confirmed as first choice spinner and that Moeen Ali has not even made the 22. I would have liked to see Parkinson in the 22 at least. I am personally not entirely convinced about Woakes. Buttler’s continuing presence in the test squad is a disgrace – he can barely even be described as a competent keeper and his red ball batting record is ordinary. Denly’s selection is a very poor call as well – he averages dead on 30 in test cricket, and Bracey and Lawrence provided the only two major innings of the warm up game and should both be ahead of him.

WG GRACE’S XI

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying styles through his career, captain. He was born in 1848, the latest birth year of any member of this XI. He scored 54,896 first class runs and took 2,876 first class wickets. Over the course of his best decade, the 1870s, he averaged 49 with the bat, while the next best among regular players was 25, achieved by Richard Daft and his younger brother Fred.
  2. James Aylward – left handed opening batter. His 167 against All England in 1777, a mere eight years after the first record hundred of any type was scored is enough on its own to warrant his selection. He batted through two full days of play on that occasion, and his left handedness also helps make him a good complement for Grace.
  3. Billy Beldham – right handed batter. At a time when 20 was considered a decent score, and seriously big scores were a huge rarity he amassed three centuries in matches still recognized today as being first class.
  4. John Small – right handed batter. One of the greats of his day. He is credited with pioneering the policy of playing with a straight bat – before he showed what could be done with this method cross batted swiping was the order of the day.
  5. Vyell Walker – right handed batter, right arm underarm bowler. One of only two players (the other, WG Grace, is also in this XI) to have scored a century and taken all ten wickets in an innings of the same first class match. He was one of seven brothers who hailed from Southgate, and the ground there, which still occasioanlly hosts Middlesex games, is called the Walker Ground in their honour.
  6. Alfred Mynn – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The greatest all rounder the game saw prior to the emergence of WG Grace.
  7. +Ted Pooley – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A great keeper for Surrey, and would have kept for England in the inaugural test match but for an incident that saw him briefly confined in a New Zealand prison cell.
  8. William Clarke – right arm underarm bowler. He was rated as the best bowler of this type ever to play the game, averaging 300 wickets a season in all forms of cricket at his peak, including 476 in his most productive season. He was captain of the All England XI, a touring outfit that played matches against odds (opposition having more than 11 in their team) all round the country. His most significant contribution to cricket history came as a result of his marriage to the landlady of the Trent Bridge Inn. He enclosed some land behind the inn, turning it into a proper cricket ground, and 180 years on Trent Bridge is officially still a test venue, although it will not be hosting any games this season – internationals will be happening at the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford only.
  9. William Lillywhite – right arm bowler. The greatest bowler of his era, and one of the pioneers of ’round arm’ bowling, the development between under arm and over arm in the game’s history. He was one half of the game’s first great bowling partnership, along with…
  10. James Broadbridge – right arm bowler. Like Lillywhite, who he regularly bowled in tandem with he was among the pioneers of ’round arm’, and with these two spearheading their bowling Sussex were able to take on the Rest of England on equal terms.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 863 wickets in 138 first class games at 12.09 each. His best match performance came in 1876 by when he was 35 years of age, when he took 17-103 v Hampshire, only to see them sneak home by one wicket.

This side has a powerful top six, three of whom can be described as all rounders (Grace, Walker, Mynn), a great keeper and a magnificent and varied foursome of bowlers.

FRANK WOOLLEY’S XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed batter, occasional medium paced bowler. 61,237 first class runs, including 197 centuries, both all time records. Scored his last test century at the age of 46, still the oldest ever to do so.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed batter. Hobbs’ opening partner for England, an alliance that had the best average of any opening pair in test history, 87.
  3. *Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The only player ever to achieve the career treble of 10,000 runs, 1,000 wickets and 1,000 catches in first class cricket, and indeed the only non-keeper to take 1,000 first class catches.
  4. Wally Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. He lost eight seasons of his career, one to bureaucratic malice on the part of Lord Harris, one to a mystery illness picked up in the Caribbean and six to World War II and still scored over 50,000 first class runs with 167 centuries, including 7,249 runs and 22 centuries for England. Only two players have ever scored as many as 900 runs in a test series, Hammond with 905 at 113.125 being the first in the 1928-9 Ashes, a record that was overhauled 18 months later by Don Bradman. He is joint record holder for reaching 1,000 first class runs in a season in the shortest time period, doing it in 1927 between May 7 when he started and May 28, where WG Grace in 1895 had done it between May 9 and May 30.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. He averaged 50 in test cricket, set a record first class season’s aggregate in 1947. In 1956 he was recalled for England at The Oval, having had a knee operation earlier in the season, and scored 94. He still holds the record score for England against Pakistan, with 278. He also holds the record for the quickest ever first class triple century, racking it up in 181 minutes v Benoni during the 1948-9 tour of South Africa. At Adelaide in the 1946-7 Ashes he and Arthur Morris entered the record books when each of them scored twin tons in a drawn match.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. The man who will captain England when test cricket resumes in a few days time. Instrumental in England’s 2019 World Cup win, and also largely responsible for the win at Headingley later that season, plus having an outstanding series in South Africa. When the recent intra-squad warm up match at the Ageas Bowl was accepted as a draw he had been smashing the ball all over the place, but the dismissal of Moeen Ali, LBW to Bess, ended his team’s hopes of triumph, and Team Buttler apparently decided not to press for the wickets they needed to win.
  7. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper. Over 100 first class hundreds with the bat, and over 1,000 first class dismissals with the gloves. Eight of his centuries came at test level, including 120 v Australia at Lord’s in 1934, which helped put England in position to win that match, their only victory over the old enemy at that venue in the entire 20th century.
  8. Billy Bates – off spinner, right handed batter. In his 15 match test career, ended prematurely by an eye injury, he averaged 27 with the bat and took 50 wickets at 16 each. His best match came at the MCG in the 1882-3 series, when he took seven wickets in each innings and contributed 55 to the only innings England had to play.
  9. Fred Trueman – right arm fast bowler. His record speaks for itself.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. 189 wickets in 27 test matches at 16.43 each.
  11. Derek Underwood – left arm slow medium bowler. 297 test wickets for the crafty Kent bowler.

This team has a strong batting line up, six front line bowling options (the four specialists plus Stokes and Woolley) and Hammond and Compton as back up bowlers. There is no right arm leg spin option, but Underwood, Woolley and Compton could all move the ball away from the right hander.

THE CONTEST

This has all the makings of a classic, and I will not even attempt to predict the outcome.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

This problem appeared on brilliant.org today, and should have been even better than it actually was (it was a fine one anyway):

Triangles

This was presented as multi-choice, with four possible answers, and as I will explain tomorrow that opened up an unorthodox route to a solution, so I am not making it multi-choice.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Old v New
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – The London Transport Clash

An all time XI cricket post with a public transport theme – my thanks to insidecroydon.com for providing the inspiration.

INTRODUCTION

Today’s all time XIs cricket post features players whose names link to London stations, and then leads on to something I came across yesterday and wanted to expand on today. Incidentally, three of the names featured here were suggested by a twitter correspondent in response to a previous post in this series, and none of my own station connections from that earlier post have been reused today.

HEATHER KNIGHT’S XI

  1. Chris Broad – left handed opening batter. Various London stations have Broad in their name – Ealing, Fulham and Tooting Broadway to name three, while there used to be two termini at what is now Liverpool Street, the other one being Broad Street.
  2. Victor Trumper – right handed opening batter. His given name forms the first six letters of Victoria, a massive transport hub. With all due respect to Mr Marks there are not many cricketers of distinction who have had the given name Victor.
  3. Robin Smith – right handed batter. He gets in here via Hammersmith, terminus of the Hammersmith & City line, and now linked by a subway (it used to be a horrible surface level road crossing when I first did it) to the District and Piccadilly line station of the same name (the original western terminus of the Piccadilly), which of course contains his surname.
  4. Clem Hill – left handed batter. There are several stations in London that have hill in their name. Tower Hill (District and Circle), Hillingdon (Piccadilly and Metropolitan), Harrow-on-the-Hill (Metropolitan), Sudbury Hill (Piccadilly) and others.
  5. David Gower – left handed batter. When the Metropolitan Railway as it was then called opened for business in 1863 the station that is now Euston Square was named Gower Street after the major thoroughfare of that name.
  6. *Heather Knight – right handed batter, off spinner, captain. The presence of Knightsbridge (Piccadilly line) enables me to give this side an excellent (indeed world cup winning) skipper.
  7. +Tom New – wicket keeper, left handed batter. He averaged just over 30 with the bat in his Leicestershire career. New Cross and New Cross Gate, now part of the London Overground network, but once termini of London Underground’s East London line, get him in (New Barnet and New Southgate in north London would also do the trick, as would Newbury Park on the Central line).
  8. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. Barnes and Barnes Bridge are suburban railway stations through which trains heading towards Richmond and Windsor head.
  9. Shane Bond – right arm fast bowler. As the twitter correspondent mentioned in the introduction pointed out the presence of Bond Street (Central, Jubilee and in due course Elizabeth lines) creates an opportunity to include this brilliant but injury prone Kiwi quick.
  10. Kate Cross – right arm fast medium bowler. King’s Cross and Charing Cross, as well as DLR station Crossharbour provide the links that get her into this team.
  11. Phil Tufnell – left arm orthodox spinner. Tufnell Park on the Northern line is his link station (the second of my twitter correspondent’s three suggestions).

This team has a fine batting line up, and what looks like an adequate set of bowlers, although relying on Knight’s off spin as pretty much sole back up to the front four is a little chancy.

WG GRACE’S XI

  1. Gordon Greenidge – right handed opening batter. There is a London Overground station called Gordon Hill, which I used to fill one opening berth in this team.
  2. Harold Gimblett – right handed opening batter. Harold Wood is a station on what is currently a TFL Rail route, and will ultimately part of the route of the Elizabeth line when that is finally completed.
  3. Dennis Brookes – right handed batter. The Northamptonshire stalwart gets the nod thanks to District line station Stamford Brook (Piccadilly trains run fast from Hammersmith to Acton Town, passing Ravenscourt Park and Turnham Green as well as this station).
  4. Clive Lloyd – left handed batter. There is a Tramlink station called Lloyd Park, which enables me to include this scorer of 7,515 runs and also scorer of the first ever century in a world cup final.
  5. *William Gilbert Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of various types through his career. My only usage of now closed station in this exercise. When the first deep level tube line, the City & South London Railway opened in 1890 (the origin of the Northern line), its northern terminus was King William Street. This terminus was abandoned when the line was extended in 1900, so only served as a station for 10 years.
  6. Learie Constantine – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Thanks to his civil rights work Constantine became Baron Constantine of Nelson and Maraval, and there is a station served by the District and Piccadilly lines called Barons Court, which gets him in (neither the seventh Baron Hawke, nor the third Baron Tennyson have records that would justify using this link, although both did play for England).
  7. +Arthur Bush – wicket keeper, left handed batter. There is a Tramlink station called Bush Hill Park, and a section of what is now railway but was once jointly served by railways and the Bakerloo line features a station called Bushey, while one of the potential names for the station between Hampstead and Golder’s Green that was excavated at platform level but never opened was Bull and Bush after a famous pub in the area.
  8. Chris Old – right arm fast medium, useful left handed lower order batter. ‘Chilly’ as he was nicknamed (from C.Old – discredit allegedly due to Bob Willis for that one) was a fine player in his day, though injury prone – note that I have cunningly spread the risk by placing him and Shane Bond in opposite teams. He is the third of my twitter correspondent’s picks, from Old Street on the Bank branch of the Northern line.
  9. Arnold Warren – right arm fast bowler. The Derbyshire man, who took five wickets on his only England appearance, in 1909, gets in courtesy of Warren Street on the Northern (Charing Cross branch) and Victoria lines, which is literally round the corner from Euston Square (Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan).
  10. James Bridges – right arm fast medium bowler. He took his wickets at 25.8 each, often bowling in tandem with Robertson-Glasgow, subsequently to find fame as great writer about the game, and the only Somerset player of the time to regularly bat below Bridges. London Bridge (Northern Bank branch, Jubilee), Putney Bridge (District) and Redbridge (Central) are three stations with bridge in their name.
  11. Amanda-Jade Wellington – leg spinner. My spin option comes courtesy of a piece of lateral thinking. She is a namesake of Wellington who won the battle of Waterloo, and London’s busiest station is also called Waterloo.

This team has a strong top six, a keeper, and four good bowlers. There is only one specialist spinner, but I think that can be coped with.

THE CONTEST

Both these teams are somewhat stronger in batting than bowling. I think that Heather Knight’s XI just have the edge because they have Syd Barnes, possibly the finest bowler there has ever been, and that in itself is enough for one to think they are more likely to take 20 wickets.

TRAMLINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Yesterday my attention was drawn to something on insidecroydon.com about Tramlink, and the role it could and should be playing in London Transport. They have drawn on the work of one Anthony Norris-Watson who has produced maps in the style of the legendary Harry Beck to show what might have been had every proposed scheme materialized. Some years ago in a post on my London Transport themed website I speculated about effectively combining the DLR, Tramlink and the Waterloo and City as an integrated network, and several of the Tramlink suggestions featured in the insidecroydon.com piece dovetail very well with that, while one branch that never materialized would have run through Streatham to Brixton, connecting to the Victoria line (as a former Streatham resident I particularly see the virtues of that one). I have used Tramlink and enjoyed it, and am also familiar with tram networks in Sheffield, Adelaide and Melbourne, all of which serve their purpose well, so why not give Tramlink a more central role in the transport infrastructure of the capital? It is certainly food for thought, and I may well revisit it in more detail later. For the moment please read the insidecroydon.com post – one of the maps from that post is below, formatted as a link and serving a segue to my usual sign off:

Tramlink

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My most up to date London Connections map.

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LTC
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Left Hand v Right Hand

Today’s ‘all time XI’ cricket post sees a team of left handers take on a team of right handers.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s ‘all time XI‘ cricket themed post. Today we have a team who did everything right handed against a team who did everything left handed, and a guessing game – based on some of my explanations can you work out what tomorrow’s post will be?*

THE LEFT HANDED XI

  1. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter, very occasional left arm wrist spin. Rated by Bradman as the best left handed opener he ever saw. Morris the bowler was in action when Compton hit the four that won the 1953 Ashes.
  2. Sanath Jayasuriya – left handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner.
  4. Martin Donnelly – left handed batter, very occasional left arm orthodox spinner. He averaged 52.90 in his very brief test career, including 206 v England at Lord’s in 1949.
  5. *Allan Border – left handed batter, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain. The guy who if the first three wickets fall quickly will dig the team out of the hole, while also being capable of playing very aggressively if circumstances warrant. 
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket. The most complete all rounder ever to play the game. His 254 for Rest of the World v Australia in the series that replaced the 1971-2 Australia v South Africa series was rated by Bradman as the best innings he ever saw played in Australia.
  7. +Steven Davies – wicket keeper, left handed batter. Once seen as England material he did not quite kick on. He has never bowled a ball of any kind in senior first team cricket.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed lower middle order batter. An ideal number eight, who meets all the qualification criteria for this XI.
  9. Mitchell Johnson – left arm fast bowler, useful left handed lower order batter. A cricketing version of the ‘little girl with the curl’ – when he was good he was very good indeed, when he was bad (e.g Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in the 2010-11 Ashes) he was awful. Having listened to a number of them I consider his good times to be good enough to warrant his inclusion.
  10. Johnny Wardle – left arm orthodox spinner, left arm wrist spinner, left handed lower order batter. 102 test wickets at 20.39, in spite of often missing out to make way for Tony Lock, and his career ending early due to a fall out with authority.
  11. Fred Morley – left arm fast bowler, left handed genuine number 11 batter. Took his first class wickets at 13 a piece, and his four test appearances netted him 16 wickets at 18.50 (he died at the age of 33, in 1884, hence the brevity of his test career).

This team has an excellent batting line up, and with Wasim Akram, Mitchell Johnson and Fred Morley to bowl fast and Sobers as fourth seamer, plus Wardle, Woolley, Sobers and Jayasuriya as front line spin options the bowling is none too shabby either.

NOT QUALIFIED

Among the specialist batters who did not qualify were Graeme Pollock, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Alastair Cook who all bowled their few deliveries with their right hands. Adam Gilchrist, keeper and left handed batter, bowled only a few balls in his career, but he did so with his right hand, officially described as ‘off spin’. Two of the greatest of left arm orthodox spinners batted right handed, Wilfred Rhodes and Hedley Verity, while the crafty left arm slow medium of Derek Underwood was paired with rather less crafty right handed batting. Left arm fast bowler William Mycroft, who took his first class wickets even more cheaply than Morley, and was a similarly genuine no11, did his batting right handed, and so did not qualify. This little list contains a clue to tomorrow’s post.

RIGHT HANDED XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter, very occasional right arm medium pacer.
  3. *Donald Bradman – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner, captain. The greatest batter of them all, to build on the foundation laid by the greatest of all opening pairs.
  4. George Headley – right handed batter, occasional leg spinner. Averaged 60.83 in test cricket, converting 10 of his 15 50+ scores at that level into hundreds.
  5. Walter Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, ace fielder. Averaged 58.45 in test cricket, topping 200 seven times at that level, including twice hitting two in succession – 251 at Sydney and then 200 not out at Melbourne in 1928-9 and 227 and 336 not out in New Zealand on the way home from the 1932-3 Ashes.
  6. WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of varying styles through his career.
  7. +Les Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper, very occasional leg spinner. Statistically the greatest of all wicket keeping all rounders, and ticks all the qualifying boxes for this team.
  8. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, useful right handed lower order batter.
  9. Shane Warne – leg spinner, useful right handed lower batter.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower order batter. 189 wickets in just 27 test matches, 77 of them in 13 games down under.
  11. Muttiah Muralitharan – off spinner, right handed tail end batter. 800 wickets in 133 test matches – an average of six per game.

This team contains a super strong top six, a great wicket keeping all rounder and four all time great bowlers. Hammond is not the worst as a fifth bowler, particularly behind that foursome, while Grace is also a genuine all rounder, and even Hobbs might take wickets with his medium pace. Because there have historically been many more pure right handers than pure left handers, people turning out not to be qualified is less of an issue for this team.

THE CONTEST

The Right Handed XI is stronger in batting, but not quite so formidably armed in the bowling department, although still mighty strong. Overall I would expect the right handers to win, but certainly would not entirely rule out the left handers.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have introduced my two teams for today’s contest, set you a guessing game re tomorrow, and now just before signing off I have a couple of superb twitter threads to share:

My usual sign off…

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LH v RH
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – England

Today is international day in my ‘all-time XIs’ cricket series, and it is England in the spotlight. I also have a mini-section offering solidarity to #BlackLivesMatter.

INTRODUCTION

Today is a Monday, which means that it is international day in my ‘all time XIs’ cricket series. The international set up in the spotlight today is England.

ENGLAND IN MY TIME

  1. Alastair Cook – left handed opening batter. England’s all time leading scorer of test runs and test centuries.
  2. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. His average for England in this specific role (he played many roles in his long and distinguished career) was 45, excellent for his era. I have opted for him out of my available options because as a right hander of fundamentally attacking inclinations he complements Cook perfectly.
  3. *Michael Vaughan – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, captain. The captaincy did somewhat negatively affect his batting output, as it has done a lot of incumbents, but he was such a good captain that I am prepared to accept that.
  4. Joe Root – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. A magnificent batter, but wasted as captain, a role which is negatively affecting his output.
  5. David Gower – left handed batter. There were two choices for the left handed specialist middle order batter, Gower or Graham Thorpe, and I opted for Gower.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. Ian Botham’s pomp occurred before I had got seriously into cricket, so I could not honestly include him in this XI, which left me two choices for the all-rounder, Flintoff or Stokes, and I regarded Stokes as the better option.
  7. +Matthew Prior – right handed batter, wicket keeper. This is a thorny one, which I shall be going into more detail on later on. Suffice to say for the present that this is not a selection I am entirely happy with.
  8. Graeme Swann – off spinner, useful lower order batter. The best spinner England have had in my lifetime (although the future in that department looks bright).
  9. Jofra Archer – right arm fast bowler. One of the most exciting talents I have ever seen.
  10. Steve Harmison – right arm fast bowler. Rated number one in the world at his absolute peak.
  11. James Anderson – right arm fast medium. England’s all time leading test wicket taker.

This team has a decent balance, although there is only one genuine spin option – until very recently England struggled in that department. The batting in strong, and Stokes’ bowling workload should be kept reasonably light with Harmison, Archer, Anderson and Swann also there.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

I will split these into playing roles:

  • Opening batters – besides my actual choices there were three outstanding candidates for the positions, Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Strauss and Graham Gooch.
  • Nos 3-5 – the main candidates among those I did not pick were Graham Thorpe, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen. I expect Ollie Pope to force his way in in the next few years.
  • The all-rounder – Flintoff was the only other serious candidate. I saw many ‘all rounders’ who were in truth not up to the job with either bat or ball.
  • The wicketkeeper – Ben Foakes should be England’s current keeper, and if he was he would have been in this team. Jack Russell was a fine keeper who was poorly treated by the selectors of his day. I also considered registering my unhappiness with the behaviour of the current England selectors over the keeping position by naming Sarah Taylor, a magnificent keeper for the England Women’s team.
  • Spinners – None of slow left armers Tufnell, Panesar, Giles or as yet Leach have a record to quite merit selection, nor does leg spinner Rashid. There are various young spinners who may feature in a few years time.
  • Fast bowlers. Mark Wood was in the mix and might have displaced Harmison. Simon Jones was another to merit consideration.

ENGLAND ALL TIME

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter. Among the greatest ever to have played the game.
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. Averaged 60.73 in test cricket, and 66.85 in the cauldron of The Ashes. Also formed the greatest opening partnership ever seen in test cricket with Hobbs (average stand 87).
  3. *WG Grace – right handed batter, right arm bowler of various types through his career, captain. His test average of 32.29 looks modest, but was achieved between 1880 and 1899, when batting averages were lower, and he was already 32 by the time he made his debut in the first test on English soil in 1880. His record as test captain was excellent – eight wins in 13 matches in that role, another reason for his selection. He usually opened, and I see value in having three recognized openers at the top of the order.
  4. Wally Hammond – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium fast bowler. 85 test matches, 7,249 runs at 58.45. Had he not returned to top level action after World War II, when into his forties, he would have had 6,883 test runs at 61.75.
  5. Denis Compton – right handed batter, occasional left arm wrist spinner. He averaged over 50 in test cricket in spite of losing six years of his prime to World War II.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler.
  7. Ian Botham – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. For about the first five years of his career he was an authentic great, and he still had great moments after that for a few more years, although he went on long after his decline had become obvious. He completed the test career double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in 21 matches, 2,000 runs and 200 wickets in 42, maintaining the pace, and then slowed down, reaching the triple double in his 72nd test, while by the end of his career after another 30 matches he had over 5,000 runs, but was still short of 400 wickets.
  8. Billy Bates – off spinner, useful lower order batter. An eye injury ended his test career after just 15 matches, but 656 runs at 27.33 and 50 wickets at 16.42 were testament to his effectiveness. He was the first England bowler to take a test hat trick, in a match in which he took seven wickets in each innings and scored a 50.
  9. Fred Trueman – right arm fast bowler.
  10. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. 189 wickets in 27 test matches at 16.43 each. 77 of those wickets came in 13 matches in Australia.
  11. +Herbert Strudwick – wicket keeper. His career was disrupted by World War 1. 28 test matches between 1910 and 1926 saw him take 61 catches and execute 12 stumpings, while his 674 first class appearances saw him achieve 1,495 dismissals.

This team has a very strong top five, two magnificent all rounders at six and seven, a superb keeper and three excellent and varied bowlers. Although he would have share the new ball with Trueman, there is an argument for regarding Barnes, based on descriptions of his method as effectively a leg spinner, which is why I did not select a second front line spinner (Compton is also available as back up).

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

It is impossible to cover everyone who would have claims advanced on their behalf, but I shall mention some of the more obvious omissions:

  • Opening batters – I had positive reasons, based on their records, and their amazing success as an opening pair for going for Hobbs and Sutcliffe, and the only other England opener for whom I would consider breaking this pair up is Len Hutton, who was also an all-time great.
  • Nos 3-5 – Eddie Paynter (test average 59.23), Ken Barrington (58.67) and KS Duleepsinhji (58.52) had the highest averages of anyone I omitted, and Paynter in particular as a left handed batter was unfortunate. Peter May who averaged 46 batting in a difficult decade for run scoring (the 1950s) would also have his advocates. Frank Woolley, Patsy Hendren, Phil Mead and KS Rinjitsinhji all also had fine test records, while Colin Cowdrey’s longevity at the highest level was remarkable, and Ted Dexter would also have his advocates.
  • The all-rounders – Andrew Flintoff had a a few magnificent years (2004, 2005, first part of 2006) and had occasional moments either side of that golden period, but cannot displace Botham on any rational assessment. George Hirst, Trevor Bailey and Tony Greig all did good things for England over the years without having records to merit serious consideration.
  • Keepers – England have had some excellent ones, including the three contrasting Kent characters Ames, Evans and Knott, Bob Taylor and JT Murray.
  • Spinners – Jim Laker would have been the conventional selection as an off spinner, There have been a plethora of quality left arm spinners down the years: Johnny Briggs, Bobby Peel, Wilfred Rhodes, Colin Blythe, Roy Kilner, Hedley Verity, Johnny Wardle, Tony Lock and Phil Edmonds of the conventional type, plus the left arm slow-medium of Derek Underwood. Also three bowlers of that type who barely believable given their first class records have a single cap between them: George Dennett, Alonzo Drake and Charlie Parker. There have been fewer leg spinners with really good England records, but Tich Freeman, Ian Peebles and Doug Wright might all have their advocates.
  • Pace bowlers – too many of these to name. I am aware that I have not selected a left arm quick, and the best options in that department among those who got to play for England would be Fred Morley, Frank Foster or Bill Voce, while William Mycroft was at his peak just too early (he took his wickets at 12.09 each in first class cricket).

If naming another five players to make up a standard sized touring party I would choose Paynter and Woolley as reserve batters, Ames officially as reserve keeper, noting that he could also be played as a batter, and noting Woolley’s skill as an left arm orthodox spinner, Lohmann (right arm medium fast, 112 wickets at 10.75 in 18 test matches) and Underwood as my reserve bowlers.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

This links section is to declare my solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and especially to support the activists who toppled the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

Had Covid-19 not caused a change of plan for them, soprano Charlotte Hoather and her fiancee, pianist George Todica would have been married this weekend. Instead they settled for giving a wonderful concert from their balcony, posted by Charlotte on her blog yesterday.

Finally it is time for my usual sign off…

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This picture, and the next five after it are of a little bird that I spotted for the first time yesterday and captured on camera. My bird book does not offer a conclusive answer, so I post it here to invite comment.

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England
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – All Rounders v Specialists

Today’s ‘all time XI’ cricket post pits all rounders against specialists.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another variation on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. Today an XI noted for all round talents take on an XI largely made up of specialists (although I have allowed them one all rounder).

THE ALL ROUNDERS

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career. He tallied 54,896 runs at 39.55 in first class cricket and took 2,876 first class wickets at 17.92 each. I note two things in defence of his batting average: he played on poor wickets for much of his career, and that career was very long, and went on well past his cricketing prime. In the decade of the 1870s, when he was at his zenith he averaged 49 with the bat, while no one else who played consistently over the course of that decade averaged over 25. If we accept that he would have paid for his wickets and averaged more with the bat playing on good pitches and allow 50% inflation for the effects of the change in pitches then his career figures become a batting average of 59.42 and a bowling average of 26.88.
  2. Wilfred Rhodes – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. His career figures were 39.807 runs and 4,187 wickets, at averages of 30 and 16 respectively, but his career had several distinct periods: he started as pure bowler, batting no 10 or 11, then he moved up into the middle order for a few seasons, batting habitually at 6 or 7, and doing the double regularly (seven successive seasons), then he moved up to the top of the batting order, and on the 1911-2 Ashes tour he was England’s number two in every way – number two in the order, and second to Hobbs in the batting averages. Then, after World War 1, with Yorkshire needing more bowling he picked up his bowling arts, dropped into the middle order (no 5 initially, and moved down as years passed), and he again did the double in the first seven post war seasons. In 1926, now batting at no 8, he returned to the England team at the age of 49 for the Ashes decider at The Oval, and took 4-44 in the second innings. Then came the final stage of his career, when eyesight problems, which eventually became complete blindness late in his life, caused his batting to decline and he played as an out and out rabbit with the bat who was still worth his place as a batter. He went on the 1929-30 tour of the West Indies, playing for his country for the last time at the age of 52 years 165 days, the oldest ever to play test cricket for any country. In 1930 Hedley Verity began his Yorkshire career, and at the end of that season, at the age of 53, Rhodes retired from first class cricket to leave the stage clear for the younger man. A A Thomson wrote a two part book about the ‘Kirkheaton twins’, titled simply “Hirst and Rhodes”.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, close fielder. 58,969 first class runs at 40.75, 2,068 wickets at 19.85 and 1,018 catches (the only player ever to achieve this treble, and indeed the only outfielder ever to take 1,000 first class catches. The 1906 Wisden said of Woolley after his debut season that “it is doubtful whether he is robust enough to enjoy a really long career.” He only lasted 32 years, up to the end of the 1937 season!
  4. Wally Hammond – right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler, ace slip fielder. 50,551 first class runs at 56.10, 732 wickets at 30.58, 820 catches. He lost two seasons of his early career, one to bureaucratic malice (Lord Harris, a stickler on matters of qualification, and dedicated to Kent, noted Hammond’s Dover birthplace, and that school – Cirencester Grammar – did not technically count as residence, and caused this hiatus), and one to a mysterious illness picked up in the Caribbean, and six seasons of his later career to World War II, so his figures might have been ever more remarkable.
  5. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, fine fielder. 28,314 first class runs at 54.87, 1,043 wickets at 27.74, 407 catches. The most complete all rounder the game has ever seen. Like Rhodes he started his career as a left arm spinner who did not really bat. Unlike Rhodes having climbed up the order he never went right back down, although he was moved down from three to six when his captain Frank Worrell noted that he and Rohan Kanhai were not combining very well and split them up.
  6. +Les Ames – wicket keeper, right handed batter. 37,248 runs in first class cricket at 43.51, 703 catches and 418 stumpings. The only wicket keeper ever to score 100 first class hundreds.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, ace fielder. 26,698 first class runs at 32.63, 873 wickets at 22.79, 407 catches. A contemporary assessment of his fielding had it worth 20-30 runs per innings. He scored 53 first class innings, five of them doubles, with a best of 286, and only once in his career did he spend over three hours at the crease. For most of his career a ball had to go right out of the ground to score six, otherwise his record would have been even more extraordinary. He was once involved in a partnership of 66 to which he contributed…66 – the highest such partnership in first class cricket history. 
  8. George Hirst – right handed batter, left arm fast medium bowler. 36,356 first class runs at 34.13, 2,742 wickets at 18.73. In each of 1904 and 1905 he achieved the 2,000 runs, 100 wickets double, only previously achieved by WG Grace, Charles Townsend and Gilbert Jessop, though matched in 1905 by the Aussie Warwick Armstrong, and then in 1906 he became the only player ever to the ‘double double’, scoring 2,385 runs and taking 208 wickets in first class matches. Every season from 1903-13 inclusive he scored at least 1,000 runs and took at least 100 wickets in first class matches. He went on to be a successful coach, first at Harrow, then for Yorkshire. He was at the Yorkshire nets when Trueman had his first bowl there, and when others were fretting over the youngster’s wildness Hirst said coolly “just imagine what he will do when he teach him to bowl straight”, correctly realizing that pace cannot be taught but accuracy can.
  9. Maurice Tate – right arm fast medium, right handed batter. 2,784 first class wickets at 18.16, 21,616 first class runs at 25.04. Other than Hirst’s 1906 ‘double double’ only two cricketers have ever combined a season tally of 1,000 first class runs with 200 wickets, and he is one of them. He relied on swing and cut, being the first bowler to make really devastating use of the sea fret at Hove – usually the flatness of the pitches there emasculated bowlers.
  10. Albert Trott – right arm slow bowler, right handed batter. 1,674 first class wickets at 21.09, 10,696 runs at 19.48. The first of only two members of this team to have averages the wrong way round. In 1899 and 1901 he combined over 200 wickets with over 1,000 runs in first class matches. However, his decline was rapid thereafter as an obsession with repeating his 1899 feat of hitting a ball over the Lord’s pavilion negatively affected his batting and his bowling lost its fizz, and somewhere along the line he completely lost the fast yorker that was such a devastating weapon in his armoury. His first misfortune occurred when after making a sensational start to his test career he was not picked for the 1896 tour of England, and made his own way to that country, ultimately signing for Middlesex. He seemed to have put the disappointment behind him by the time another Aussie side visited in 1899, but then came that shot of Monty Noble, and its subsequent effect on his batting.
  11. Peter Smith – leg spinner, right handed batter. 1,697 wickets at 26.55 , 10,142 runs at 17.95 in first class cricket. He achieved the season’s double for the first time in 1947, and it was in that season that he had his greatest batting moment. In the game before his big day out he had batted at no 10 and bagged a pair, so he had seemingly little cause for complaint at being made no 11 for the game against Derbyshire. The ninth Essex wicket fell at 199 and he walked out to join Frank Vigar. By the time he was out the score had risen to 417, and his share of that stand of 218 was 163, with five sixes and 23 fours, the highest first class score ever made by a no 11.

This team has an excellent top five, statistically the best batter keeper there has ever been, the ultimate x-factor player in Jessop and a fine foursome who are there principally as bowlers. Counting Sobers as three options because of his multiplicity of styles there are 12 front line bowling options in this team.

THE SPECIALISTS

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter. 61,237 first class runs at 50.65. Both this tally of first class runs and his 197 centuries are first class records, and he lost four years of his cricketing prime to World War 1. His entry into first class cricket was also slightly delayed because he was a native of Cambridge and had to qualify by residence for Surrey (after someone at Chelmsford apparently binned his letter asking for a trial without having read it).
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe – right handed opening batter. 50,670 first class runs at 52.02. The only player to score at least 2,000 first class runs in every inter-war season. He and Jack Hobbs were statistically the most productive of all test opening partnerships, the average opening stand between them being 87.81 per wicket, including 15 century opening stands.
  3. *Don Bradman – right handed batter. 28,067 runs at 95.14 in first class cricket. In his 338 innings he reached 50 186 times and went on to the century on 117 of those occasions, an average of a century per 2.78 innings, a figure not remotely approached by anyone else who played enough innings to qualify for assessment. 37 times he topped 200, an all time first class record, and on six of those occasions he scored over 300, the only player have more than four such first class scores (Hammond and Ponsford joint 2nd).
  4. Phil Mead – left handed batter. 55,061 runs at 47.67. His Hampshire tallies of 48,809 runs and 138 centuries are both records for any single first class team. He was originally associated with Surrey, and considered to be mainly a bowler, but moved to Hampshire and ended up as one of the heaviest scoring batters of all time.
  5. Patsy Hendren – right handed batter. 57,611 runs at 50.80. The third leading first class run scorer of all time, and second leading centurion with 170. He did all of this while having a reputation for being a great joker and prankster, just to show that one can be a highly successful player while remembering that it should be fun.
  6. Keith Miller – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. 14,183 first class runs at 48.90, 497 wickets at 22.30. Another who always realized that it should be fun. He served as an RAAF pilot in World War Two which led to his famous response to a question about pressure “There is no pressure in cricket – pressure is being in a Mosquito with two Messerschmidts up your arse.”
  7. +Bob Taylor – wicket keeper. He took 1,473 first class catches and executed 176 stumpings, totalling the most dismissals ever achieved by any keeper in first class cricket (two London based cricketers, John Murray and Herbert Strudwick are 2 and 3 on the list). Until he finally scored his maiden first class hundred near the end of his career he was in a club of two with Tony Lock – players who had over 10,000 first class runs, but no first class hundred (Lock’s highest score was 89 not out).
  8. Alec Kennedy – right arm medium fast bowler. 2,874 first class wickets at 21.23. He was seventh in the all-time list of first class wicket takers, and the only one of those seven not to be in Philippe-Henri Edmonds’ “100 Greatest Bowlers”. For many years he and Jack Newman (see yesterday’s post) carried the Hampshire bowling, until left arm spinner Stuart Boyes came along to lighten their workload a bit.
  9. Jack Hearne – right arm medium fast bowler. 3,061 first class wickets at 17.75 each. Number four in the list of all time wicket takers, a haul that included nine in an innings no fewer than eight separate times.
  10. Tich Freeman – leg spinner. 3,776 first class wickets at 18.42, taken in 550 first class games. Second on the all-time list of wicket takers behind Rhodes. Remarkably a combination of World War 1 and the strength of Kent’s bowling in his youth meant that by the time he turned 30 he had captured precisely 29 first class wickets. He took 200 or more wickets in each of eight successive seasons, including the only ever instance of 300 (304 in 1928).
  11. Charlie Parker – left arm orthodox spinner. 3,278 first class wickets at 19.46. The third leading wicket taker in first class cricket. Six times in first class cricket he achieved the hat trick, most remarkably in his benefit match when he hit the stumps five times in succession but the second was called no-ball.

This team has a stellar top five, a great all rounder, a great wicket keeper and four excellent and varied bowlers. The bowling with Kennedy, Hearne, Freeman and Parker with Miller as fifth option also looks highly impressive.

HONOURABLE MENTION

Every single batter to have scored over 50,000 first class runs is present in one or other of my teams, and numbers 1,2,3,4,6 and 7 of the all time leading wicket takers are also represented. No 5 in that list is Tom Goddard, the Gloucestershire off spinner who took 2,979 first class wickets at 19.84. For reasons of balance I had to select Kennedy, otherwise my only recognized pace options would have been Hearne and Miller, which is a bit too rich even for my blood.

THE CONTEST

This would be an absolute cracker of a contest. From no 3-11 inclusive the all-rounders team has a combined batting average of 280.95, while for different reasons it is hard to quantify Grace and Rhodes as openers. It would seem likely given their records when they were at their best as openers that these two would contribute sufficiently to make a team total of 400 more likely than not. The top six of the specialists team have a combined average of 344 in first class cricket, so nos 6-11 would have to come up with 50-60 between them to equalize things on this assessment. Without Bradman the specialists would have no chance whatsoever, with him it looks very even. I will call the trophy for this contest the ‘Martin – Stokes Trophy’, honouring two New Zealand born cricketers, one of the great specialists, that purest of pure bowlers Chris Martin, and a great all rounder in Ben Stokes.

AFTERWORD

For all that I would expect my side of all rounders to give a good account of themselves I most emphatically do not recommend selecting a fistful of all rounders in general. Especially I would warn of the curse of the ‘bits and pieces’ cricketer – the player who can bat a bit and bowl a bit but is not good enough at either to warrant selection. In general someone should only be picked if they merit selection as a specialist – and if they have a second string to their bow so much the better. The other problem that I did not highlight in connection with the all rounders side is that teams that bat literally all the way down often end up struggling because folk in such teams tend to develop the feeling that it is not likely to matter much if they do get out. I have memories seared in to me of England teams in the 1980s and 1990s picking bowlers who could bat a bit, and ending up neither able to score commanding totals nor to bowl the opposition out.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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All Rounders v Specialists
The teams in tabulated form.

 

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.

All Time XIs – Teams of the Talents

My latest variation on the all-time XI theme.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s piece of whimsy on the theme of ‘all time XIs‘. I will set out the brief in full detail before launching into the main body of the post.

TEAMS OF THE TALENTS EXPLAINED

The two teams consist of one chosen from players who I have witnessed in action, and one chosen from players I have only read about but would dearly love to see in action. While class has most emphatically not been ignored my two principal criteria for creating these teams was to encompass the maximum breadth of skills within 11 players and that the teams should be jam packed with entertainment value. Of course no two cricket fans would arrive at similar conclusions following this brief – indeed I would probably not come up with the same set of teams twice. Please feel free to comment with your own views on my creations!

TEAM OF THE TALENTS – HISTORIC XI

  1. Victor Trumper – right handed opening bat. This is the man who at Old Trafford in 1902, with England’s primary aim as stated by skipper MacLaren being to ‘keep Victor quiet before lunch’ was 103 not out by lunch on that first morning, having absolutely splattered MacLaren’s carefully set fields. On another occasion against South Africa he taunted the Saffer skipper Percy Sherwell as follows: every time Sherwell rearranged his field Trumper would hit the next ball somewhere a fielder had just been moved away from! Later, when commiserated on over being made to look foolish while Trumper hit 214 not out Sherwell responded “don’t worry, we have seen batting today”.
  2. *WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying type. I could name no one else as captain of this team. He once said of his own approach to batting “I never liked defensive shots – you can only get three for them.”
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner, brilliant close catcher. The “Pride of Kent” as Peebles subtitled his biography of Woolley. ‘Crusoe’ Robertson-Glasgow once wrote of Woolley that he was “Easy to watch, difficult to bowl to and impossible to write about” before going on to make a noble effort at doing the latter.
  4. Denis Compton – right handed batter, left arm wrist spinner. A running theme through his book “Playing for England” and demonstrated in practice by the way he played cricket is that cricket is a game and should be fun.
  5. Charles Townsend – right handed bat, right arm leg spinner. My choice from various options for the leg spinning all rounder – he was the second after WG to achieve the season double of 2,000 runs and 100 wickets in first class matches.
  6. Garry Sobers – left handed batter, left arm bowler of every type known to cricket, brilliant fielder. The most complete cricketer there has ever been and incapable of being other than highly entertaining.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. The sort of cricketer for whom the phrase ‘worth the admission money on his own’ was invented, and a shoo-in for a team of this nature.
  8. +Jack Blackham – wicket keeper, right handed lower order bat. The game;s first great keeper.
  9. George Simpson-Hayward – right arm off spinner (under arm). 23 wickets at 18 in five test matches. The notion of him foxing international batters with his methods is irresistible to me.
  10. FR Spofforth – right arm fast bowler (later added considerable variations). The ‘Demon’ must have been seriously compelling to watch.
  11. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. My pick for the greatest bowler ever. A new ball pairing of him and Spofforth would test anyone.

This team features a splenid opening pair, a wonderfully entertaining and contrasting pair at 3 and 4, three genuine all rounders at 5,6 and 7, with Townsend and Jessop flanking the incomparable Sobers, a great wicket keeper who could bat, and a splendidly varied trio of specialist bowlers. The bowling also looks rich in depth and variety, with nine of XI recognized bowlers, commanding between them a minimum of 11 styles (eight plus Sobers’ three).

TEAM OF THE TALENTS MODERN XI

  1. Sanath Jayasuriya – left handed opening batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The Sri Lankan was the star of the 1996 ODI World Cup, but also did the business plenty of times at test level.
  2. Virender Sehwag – right handed opening batter, occasional off spinner. The only cricketer ever to have scored over 100 runs in each session of a day’s test cricket (nb Don Bradman at Headingley was 220 not out at tea, but only added 89 in the final session of that day).
  3. Brian Lara – left handed batter.
  4. Sachin Tendulkar – right handed batter, holder of a raft of records at test and ODI level.
  5. Viv Richards – right handed batter, occasional off spinner.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler.
  7. +Adam Gilchrist – left handed batter, wicket keeper.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed lower middler order batter.
  9. *Shane Warne – leg spinner, right handed lower order bat. I have chosen him as captain of this side. His arrival in the scene, commencing with the ‘Gatting ball’ at Old Trafford in 1993 was the trigger for an international revival of spin bowling.
  10. Malcolm Marshall – right arm fast bowler, right handed lower order batter.
  11. Muttiah Muralitharan – right arm off spinner. I watched transfixed as he destroyed England at The Oval in 1998, taking 16 wickets in the match either side of a huge Sri Lankan total. 

This team has an excellent top five, x factor players at six and seven and a suoerb quartet of front line bowlers. With Stokes and Jayasuriya also significant as bowlers this team has most bases covered bowling wise, although there is no left arm wrist spinner, and of course no under arm option.

THE CONTEST

The XI from my lifetime have a stronger batting line up, with Marshall listed at no10, but the historic XI have greater depth and variety in bowling. This contest would be a spectacular one, and I cannot call a winner.

PHOTOGRAPHS

This post was interrupted by illness, and I am still by no means well – we shall see whether I can manage another tomorrow or whether it has to be wait until Sunday, when I will come up with something. Now for my usual sign off…

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Teams of the talents
The teams in tabulated form.

All Time XIs – Pioneers v Developers

Some cricket history in today’s twist on the ‘All Time XI’ theme as ‘The Pioneers’ take on the ‘The Developers’, a couple of bonus cricket links, a measure of mathematics, some important stuff about the NHS and of course photographs.

INTRODUCTION

A new month starts today, and in keeping with the theme of beginnings my latest ‘All Time XI’ variation features various milestones from the beginning of cricket’s history. For those of a geological turn of mind it can be thought of spanning the cricketing equivalent of Cambrian to Cretaceous. The scene thus set, we can introduce the teams, beginning with…

THE PIONEERS XI

  1. Jack Brown – right handed opening batter. Brown scored two triple centuries for his native Yorkshire in the course of his career, but his greatest innings came for England. The 1894-5 Ashes saw England leap out of the blocks by winning a thriller in Sydney and then more comfortably in Melbourne (this was the first ever five match Ashes series, and Sydney and Melbourne each got two games, with the middle match being played at Adelaide) before Australia hit back by winning in Adelaide and in the second Melbourne game. In the final match of the series (all tests in Australia at the time were played out until a definite result was gained, so a draw was not a possibility, and in any case England needed to win the series to recapture the Ashes, held by Australia) England were set 297 to win, lost two very early wickets, which brought Brown and Albert Ward together. Brown responded to crisis by reaching 50 in 28 minutes (still the fastest in time times by an Englishman in test cricket), and though he could not main this hectic pace he reached his hundred in a then test record 95 minutes, and his stand with Ward (93) was worth 210. Brown ultimately scored 140 in that innings, falling as victory beckoned, but the Australian resistance had been well and truly broken, and England won by six wickets to win the series and the Ashes. In travelling to Australia without the urn and returning with it England’s captain for that series, Andrew Stoddart, had achieved a feat since duplicated among England captains only by Warner (1903-4), Douglas (1911-2, with a sick Warner masterminding from his sickbed), Jardine (1932-3) and Illingworth (1970-1). In addition to his own role as a stalwart opener, Brown was one half of the game’s first recognized great opening pairs along with…
  2. John Tunnicliffe – right handed opening bat, brilliant slip fielder (667 catches in 408 first class games). Tunnicliffe was the first Pudsey product to open the innings for Yorkshire, and as such a forebear to more illustrious Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton. In 1898, against Derbyshire, he and Brown shared an opening stand of 554, accumulated very rapidly. This was the record first class stand for any wicket until Herbert Sutcliffe and Percy Holmes opened up with a stand of 555 against Essex in 1932. After he had retired from playing Tunnicliffe became a coach, working at among others, Cirencester Grammar School where his charges included a certain Walter Reginald Hammond. Unusually for a long serving Yorkshire opener he never got to play for England.
  3. James Aylward – left handed bat. In 1777, a mere eight years after John Minshull scored the first century recorded at any level of cricket, in a local derby match between Wrotham and Sevenoaks, Aylward playing against an England side racked up 167 in an innings which saw him occupy the crease for two whole days. This score stood as the first class record for 43 years, and the fixture in which William Ward who beat it scored his 278 would not today be regarded as first class.
  4. William ‘Silver Billy’ Beldham – right handed batter. I covered him in detail in my ‘one cap wonders v nontest stars‘ piece earlier in this series. He was the first to be anything approaching a consistently big scorer.
  5. William Lambert – right handed batter, brilliant close fielder and sometimes wicket keeper. In 1817 William Lambert, playing for Sussex, became the first ever to score twin centuries in a match, a feat next achieved by WG Grace over half a century later. His fielding skills are attested to by his partner in more than one double wicket game…
  6. George Osbaldeston – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler (underarm). The first acknowledged great all rounder. In his autobiography, which did not see the light of day until 1926, Osbaldeston describes a couple of matches in which he teamed up with Lambert, and mentions that the latter took catches and executed stumpings off his bowling, the fastest around at the time. In one of these encounters Osbaldeston and Lambert got the better of the decidedly ignoble Lord Frederick Beauclerk, one of the most unsavoury characters from that period of cricket’s history.
  7. +Jack Blackham – wicket keeper, right handed bat.  The Aussie stumper who appeared in the first 17 test matches ever played, before missing a game due to a dispute and then returning to the side for another 10 years, was the first to habitually do without a ‘long stop’ fielder behind him – and he pulled of stumpings of the bowling of Fred ‘The Demon’ Spofforth on occasion. Blackham was also the first keeper to score fifties in both innings of a test, a record that remained solely his for half a century before Dilawar Hussain equalled it.
  8. *William Clarke – right handed (under arm) bowler, captain. Clarke established Trent Bridge (he was landlord of the Trent Bridge inn as well as a cricketer), and also founded the first of the great itinerant XIs who flourished until the mid 1870s. The MCC were sufficiently worried by the travelling elevens that WG Grace was proposed for membership of that club at the age of 21 (by the treasurer, with the secretary seconding) in an effort to secure the game’s biggest drawcard. Grace duly joined the MCC, but also until 1879 captained the United South of England XI, and earned good amounts of money from doing so. Clarke played high level cricket until his mid-fifties, continuing to bag hatfuls of wickets right up to the very end.
  9. William Lillywhite – right arm fast bowler (round arm). ‘The Nonpareil’ featured in my post about nicknames, and is here is the fast half of the first recognized great bowling partnership, along with…
  10. James Broadbridge – right arm fast bowler (round arm). His partnership with Lillywhite as pioneers of the then new craft of round arm bowling enabled Sussex to take on and beat The Rest of England.
  11. David Harris – right arm fast bowler (under arm). The first universally acknowledged master bowler, I included him in my T20 Clash post.

This team features a solid opening pair, a magnificent looking three, four and five, a genuine all rounder, a keeper who can bat and four varied bowlers. Clarke can provide the craft to go with the pace of the others, and the differing angles of attack offered by these bowlers will also pose a problem. Osbaldeston, as the all rounder and a very quick bowler will be used in short bursts as a shock weapon, while the front four will bowl more overs.

THE DEVELOPERS XI

  1. *WG Grace – right handed opening bat, right arm bowler of multiple types, captain. I covered him in my Gloucestershire post.
  2. Victor Trumper – right handed opening bat, fine fielder. The first to score a hundred before lunch on day 1 of a test match, the Aussie opener revolutionized batting in his own country.
  3. Frank Woolley – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He defined the image of Kent cricket, based on attacking batting and slow bowling, throughout his long career.
  4. Charles Macartney – right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The second batter ever to score a hundred on the first morning of a test match, what made Macartney’s performance even more extraordinary is that he was a blocker in his early years, before becoming more expansive and aggressive in approach as he grew older.
  5. Kumar Shri Ramjitsinhji – right handed batter, occasional right arm slow bowler, slip fielder. I covered him in my Sussex post, and he is in this squad as the pioneer of the leg glance.
  6. Bernard Bosanquet – right handed batter, right arm leg spinner. I covered the inventor of the googly in my Middlesex post.
  7. Gilbert Jessop – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler, brilliant fielder. This man has been in a number of my previous XIs, and he is here for his unique approach to batting, based on “doing everything we are taught not to – with consummate success”.
  8. +Ted Pooley – wicket keeper, right handed bat. Pooley (Surrey) should have been England’s keeper in the first ever test match, except that he was cooling his heels in a Kiwi prison at the time. He had got into a fracas with one Ralph Donkin over a bet. Pooley had bet Donkin at a shilling to a penny that he could nominate the scores for match England were playing in. Donkin took the bet, and Pooley simply wrote a duck against each batters name, which even in a first class match would have seen him a comfortable winner, while in a game against odds, which this one was it was even more of a certainty. Donkin refused to pay, and heated words and ultimately blows were exchanged. There was some sympathy for Pooley on the grounds that “a bet is a bet” and also because Donkin was notorious for being a trouble maker. Pooley set a first class match record while keeping for Surrey that stood unchallenged for over a century when he caught nine and stumped three of the opposition in a single game.
  9. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium, right handed bat. Never has a piece of cricket terminology been more unfit for purpose than that standard descriptor of Barnes’ bowling method. The truth is he bowled every type of delivery then known save the googly, and that his special weapon, of his own creation, was a fast-medium leg break. Ian Peebles, in a chapter called ‘Barnes the Pioneer’ which appeared originally in “Talking of Cricket” and reappears in “The Faber Book of Cricket”, where it starts on page 12 and ends on page 15 explains Barnes’ methods in some detail. I have previously covered Barnes in the Lancashire and ‘Staffordshire Born‘ posts in this series.
  10. George Simpson-Hayward – right arm off spin (under arm). I mentioned him, and the possibility of reviving under arm, both slow in his manner and fast in the manner of the likes of Harris and Osbaldeston in my ‘Eccentrics‘ piece. The brief revival of under arm that he was the star of was initiated by Digby Jephson of Surrey who bowled fast under-arm, and must have come close to being picked for England. However, the crafty Simpson-Hayward (Worcestershire) not only did get to play test cricket, he was one of the stars of a series in South Africa (1909-10), when he took 23 wickets at 18 in the five matches, so it is he who I honour with a place in this XI. No one took up the cudgels on behalf of under arm after him.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. The first bowler ever to take 17 wickets in a county game, for Derbyshire v Hampshire in 1876, a game that I featured in my Derbyshire post, he rounds out this XI.

This XI features a power packed and all attacking top five, a fine and innovative all rounder at six, the inimitable Jessop at seven, a class keeper who was no mug with a bat in Pooley and a splendidly varied trio of specialist bowlers in Barnes, Simpson-Hayward and Mycroft. The bowling is equally varied, with left arm speed, the all-purpose maestro Barnes, right arm speed for Jessop, leg spin from Bosanquet, under arm off spin from Simpson-Hayward, two purveyors of left arm orthodox spin in Woolley and Macartney (each had a ten wicket haul in a test match in their day) and the types of bowling pursued by Grace in his day, which included fastish round arm at the start of his career.

THE CONTEST

This contest would be a splendid affair, red blooded in the extreme (Grace and Osbaldeston on opposing sides would guarantee that even of the other 20 players were all anodyne, which they are most certainly not) and featuring a vast range of skills. I cannot even attempt to pick a winner.

A COUPLE OF BONUS CRICKET LINKS

The pinchhitter blog has honoured me not just with a mention, but with the official title of their post this morning – check out their offering here.

The above blog introduced me to cricblog who have a post up analysing the England men’s ODI revival post 2015. I recommend you have a read.

ANOTHER TEASER

I give you another problem from brilliant.org, one which I solved very easily this morning:

Perimeter

In it’s original setting this was a multiple choice question, but I reckon that makes it far too easy.

TWO FINAL LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Our two teams, dubbed ‘pioneers’ and ‘developers’ have made their appearances, there have been a couple of bonus cricket links, and a mathematical teaser. Before proceding my usual sign off I have a couple of related links to share:

And now, here is my closing flourish:

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Pioneers v Developers
The two teams, in tabulated form with abridged comments.