All Time XIs – Match Ups 23

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

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today the Es complete their match ups, coming into the day on 29 points out of 100.

THE Es V THE Vs

The Es have the better opening pair, the Vs have the better numbers 3,4 and 5. Verreynne is a much better batter than Endean was, but G Evans was miles ahead when it come to keeping. Vaas was a somewhat better batter than G Evans was, and his bowling as third seamer in a strong attack rather than his usual IRL role of opening bowler in a moderate one is likely to be even more valuable than his figures suggest. Voce and Van der Bijl have to be considered at least a match for T Emmett and Elliott as an opening pair, and the Es only back up seam option is Bill Edrich. The Vs are also clear winners in spin bowling, with Verity among the few left arm slow to medium paced bowlers to definitively outrank Ecclestone, and Vogler definitely ahead of E Evans (Vogler bowled largely on properly prepared pitches, whereas the Aussie benefitted from some very rough surfaces in the 1870s). The Es may benefit from the better starts their openers are likely to give them, but not enough to make a difference to the outcome: Es 0, Vs 5.

THE Es V THE Ws

Worrell is further clear of Edrich than Elgar is clear of Woolley with the bat, and additionally he massively outranks Elgar as a skipper. Weekes, Walcott and Waugh comfortably win the nos 3,4 and 5 slots, Watling at six outbats Endean, though G Evans was a better keeper. Woods at seven was a better batter than G Evans, and provides the Ws with an extra bowling option. Whitty and Willis probably outrank T Emmett and Elliott as a new ball combination, and while Ecclestone v Wardle is a close contest, shaded by the Yorkie on the grounds that he bowled both finger and wrist spin, Warne massively outranks E Evans. The Ws are massively clear in all departments: Es 0, Ws 5.

THE Es V THE Xs

The Xs are ahead in the number three and four slots but well behind elsewhere. Es 4, Xs 1.

THE Es V THE Ys

The Es have the better opening partnership, the Ys win the 3,4 and 5 slots. Endean was a better batter than Yardley, but the latter offers a bowling option and would outrank Elgar as a skipper. S Yousuf was a better batter than G Evans but a less good keeper. The Es have the better new ball pair, though the Ys have the better spin attack. I think the Es just have this one and score it Es 3, Ys 2.

THE Es V THE Zs

The Es dominate in batting, dominate in pace bowling, have the better spin attack and have the better keeper. This is clear cut – Es 5, Zs 0.

THE Es FINAL SCORE

The Es have scored 12 points out of 25 in this set of match ups, to finish with 41 out of 125, 32.8%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Today’s photo gallery is the last from my recent trip north, featuring the pictures I took from Newcastle onwards on the return journey.

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All Time XIs – Match Ups (10)

Continuing my analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. Today’s match ups are the last four involving the Bs, and the first with the Cs in the hot seat.

Welcome to the latest in my series of posts analysing how the all time XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against each other. This post sees the completion of the Bs and the first match up with the C team in the hot seat. The Bs come into today with 69 of a possible 105 points. Before I get to the main meat of the post, Heritage Open Day 2022 which was to have been this Sunday has been postponed due to the death of a ludicrously over-privileged old woman. Apaarently the council cannot support the event on Sunday and without their support it cannot be run. Provisionally Sunday 2 October is being looked at the new date – I have already declared my availability for that date.

THE Bs V THE Ws

The Bs are ahead on batting, but the Ws are ahead on bowling. I personally think the Ws have the bowling guns to compensate for the Bs batting advantage and score this one Bs 2, Ws 3.

THE Bs V THE Xs

The Xs lose 10 match ups out of 11 fairly comprehensively. Box, allowing for how difficult batting was in his day, can be considered to win the battle of the keepers, but that will make little difference to the overall outcome – Bs 5, Xs 0.

THE Bs V THE Ys

The Bs are ahead in all areas – even if one accepts that Poonam Yadav is a better leg spinner than Richie Benaud was, the Aussie’s batting compensates for this. Bs 5, Ys 0.

THE Bs V THE Zs

The Bs once again dominate this one, with only Zulqarnain Haider definitely winning his match up. I score this as Bs 5, Zs 0.

THE Bs FINAL ANALYSIS

The Bs scored a further 17 points today, giving them 86 out of 125, or 68.80%. This puts them comfortably ahead of the As, who scored 69, and for the moment first in our ranking table.

THE Cs V THE Ds

The Cs come into this match up with 1.5 points out of a possible 10 from their match ups against the As and the Bs. The Cs have a strong opening combo, albeit both batting out of their very best positions, a good number three who is also a shrewd and resourceful skipper, two unequivocal greats at four and five, a mercurial all rounder at six, a fine keeper, and a decent quartet of bowlers. The Ds lose out in the matter of opening pairs, win the number three slot hands down, but as against that lose on captaincy. Four and five are closely fought, but the greater experience of the C pair gives them the honours. Number six goes to the Ds. Dujon comfortably wins the battle of the keepers, while Davidson beats Cornwall in the number eight slot. Daniel and Donald are a good match for Cummins and Croft in the pace department, and Dennett, possibly the finest bowler never to have played test cricket (he overlapped with Rhodes and Blythe, both even greater left arm spinners), probably has the edge on Chandrasekhar. This is by far the closes contest the Cs have been in, and allowing for Chappelli’s captaincy and the possibility of a turner, where they would have the advantage, I score this one Cs 2, Ds 3. This means that after three match ups the Cs are on 3.5 of a possible 15 points, 23.33%.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…

All Time XIs – The Letter X

Continuing my exploration of the All Time XIs theme with a look at the letter X.

I continue my exploration of the all time XIs theme with a look at the letter X. Filling the XI required a considerable amount of chicanery, so even though other players than the eleven I chose merited consideration I shall not be producing an ‘Honourable Mentions’ section today. Most of this XI have at least some international experience, and some are genuinely top class. Also, although we get into the all rounders a trifle too early for comfort, there are no absolute bunnies.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

  1. MaX O’Dowd (Netherlands). His country’s most consistent current batter.
  2. MaX Holden (Middlesex). A left handed opening batter. His FC record is modest, but he does average over 40 in list A cricket, and he is still young enough to do something about that FC average.
  3. Ted DeXter (Sussex, England). A dashing right handed stroke maker, a useful medium-fast bowler and a fine fielder.
  4. *Alan KippaX (Australia). His opportunities at international level were limited, not least because he did not get on well with Don Bradman, but an FC average of 57 tells you how good he was. He and Halford Hooker shared the all time record 10th wicket stand in FC history, turning 113-9 into 420 all out. He was a notably stylish batter to the extent that some even mentioned him in the same sentence as the immortal Victor Trumper.
  5. Sam LoXton (Australia). An aggressive right handed batter (the five sixes he hit in his 93 at Headingley in 1948 remained an Ashes record for a single innings until Old Trafford 1981 when Ian Botham hit six in his 118) and a right arm fast medium bowler.
  6. AXar Patel (India). A good enough left handed batter to average 33 in FC cricket and a very fine left arm orthodox spinner. His test opportunities have been limited by his being a contemporary of Ravindra Jadeja, but when England visited and Jadeja was injured he was the best bowler in the series.
  7. Xenophon Balaskas (South Africa). A leg spinner and good lower middle order batter.
  8. Ron OXenham (Australia). A right arm medium pacer, and a useful batter as well. He once shared a match winning last wicket stand of 76 while nursing an injury.
  9. +Tom BoX (Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex). A wicket keeper and right handed batter. The earliest player to actually feature in an XI in this series, having played FC cricket between 1826 and 1856. His 247 FC appearances yielded 235 catches and 162 stumpings, and given the make up of this team that high number of stumpings counts in his favour. Between 1832 and 1856 inclusive he played in every single match involving Sussex. Given what my reading on the game;s history has told me about the state of pitches early in cricket’s history I have mentally upgraded his batting average of 11.95 and moved him a couple of places up the order in consequence.
  10. MaX Walker (Australia). A right arm fast medium bowler, known as “Tangles” on account of somewhat unorthodox approach to the wicket. He was at his best as third seamer behind Lillee and Thomson. He took his test wickets at 27 a piece, a respectable figure.
  11. MaX Waller (Somerset). A leg spinner, and like Walker above him, a reasonably competent lower order batter rather than an out and out tail ender.

THOUGHTS ABOUT THE XI

The opening pair of MaX O’Dowd and MaX Holden is definitely makeshift, but I would expect the latter to at least be able to bat for a bit of time even if he didn’t score many. Dexter at three and KippaX at four are the engine room of the side batting wise, with the latter the best batter in the side, and due being a contemporary of a number of superstackers is somewhat underrated. He is this XI’s answer to Joe Root, though a better captain than the Yorkshireman. LoXton is probably a place too high, but he did average closer to 40 than 30 with the bat. AXar Patel is probably the third most important player in the side behind DeXter and KippaX. Balaskas and Oxenham were both genuine all rounders as well, and Box, a superb keeper, never got to bat on properly prepared pitches – even Fuller Pilch, the best batter of his era, averaged under 20 at FC level, which lends some context to Box’s average of 11.95. MaX Walker was an authentically test class fast medium bowler, and Waller is not the worst of leg spinners, though his Fc record is modest. The XI is undoubtedly a touch light on batting, but the bowling is good to compensate. The big question is whether to open with OXenham and LoXton to enable MaX Walker to come on as third seamer, or use the one genuine test class seamer as a new ball bowler. DeXter is not the worst fourth seamer either.

PHOTOGRAPH

Our brief cricketing excursion through the letter X is at an end and it remains only to apply the usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet XII

Another alphabetic progression for today’s all time XI cricket post, some thoughts on events at the Ageas bowl and England’s 1st test line up and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to today’s all time XIs cricket post, the 12th of our alphabetic progression posts, starting today at I. Tomorrow’s post will have a historical theme, the last of these alphabetic progression posts will appear on Sunday morning, and I have an international post lined up for Monday, which leaves me subject matter to find for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s posts, and then on Thursday I will have an actual live test match to write about, and my gap-filling mission will have been accomplished. Before getting into the main body of today’s post it is time for an…

UPDATE FROM THE AGEAS BOWL

Yesterday Buttler’s team bowled out Stokes’ team for 233, taking a first innings lead of 54. Bess bowled well, taking two wickets. Oliver Edward Robinson also had two wickets, and was very economical, and there was a cameo appearance from Amar Virdi in which he looked impressive and picked up the wicket of Saqib Mahmood (admittedly one of the more genuine no11s playing today). The Buttler team are now 142-4 in their second innings, with Pope going well. Dan Lawrence has not batted this time round, so I presume that he has already been told he is in the test team (otherwise this is inexcusable since if he gets to the wicket it will be to have a slog before the declaration). Moeen Ali has had a turn at the bowling crease, and Rory Burns got out to him as Team Buttler started trying to force the pace, which they have done moderately effectively, but the evidence from his spell overall was clear – he is the third best off spinner on show at the Ageas bowl behind Bess and Virdi, and the fifth best spinner, with Leach and Parkinson also better practitioners. Curran has gone down ill, and will presumably miss the test match, and with Anderson failing to impress this morning, unless Broad turns on a spectacular new ball spell when the time comes I see Robinson as the one to get the nod, meaning that allowing for the loss of Curran my XI for the test match would be: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Lawrence, *Stokes, Pope, +Foakes, Robinson, Bess, Wood, Archer.

ABDUL QADIR’S XI

  1. James Iremonger – right handed opening batter. He played for Nottinghamshire, mostly in the years running up to World War 1, and had a first class batting average of 35. Subsequently he became a coach, and numbered Larwood and Voce among his charges.
  2. Steve James – right handed opening batter. He played for Glamorgan, and was the first batter ever to score a triple century for the county (albeit on a very flat pitch and at a very small ground – Glamorgan topped 700 for the loss of just three wickets). He played very briefly for England, discovering as others before him had that England selectors aren’t good at picking up what happens to their west. After his retirement he became a writer, his books including the excellent “The Plan” and the interesting “The Art of Centuries”.
  3. Jacques Kallis – right handed batter, right arm fast medium bowler. Only one other test cricketer to have been a regular bowler (Alastair Cook took one test wicket at a cost of 7 runs in his long test career)  has had as big a credit balance between their batting and bowling averages as Kallis: Garfield St Aubrun Sobers.
  4. VVS Laxman – right handed batter. In partnership with Rahul Dravid he turned the Kolkata 2001 test match on its head, so that India, following on 273 runs behind ended up winning by 171 runs, as Harbhajan Singh completed the turn around by spinning through a dispirited Australia in the 4th innings.
  5. John Morris – right handed batter. A heavy scoring stroke maker for Derbyshire, he never managed to establish himself for England, and his involvement in the ‘Tiger Moth’ incident with David Gower may well have ended his chances of so doing – certainly, even though he had scored 132 in the match in question, he was never heard from again at England level.
  6. Marcus North – left handed batter, occasional off spinner. He played for a number of counties, and made a good start to his international career before falling away at that level. The axe descended on his international career during the 2010-11 series when an ill-equpped and poorly led Australia were well beaten.
  7. +Bertie Oldfield – wicket keeper, right handed batter. One of the finest keepers ever to play the game, his 52 test stumpings remains an all-time record.
  8. Keemo Paul – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. He is best known for his performances in limited overs cricket, but he also has a respectable record in long form cricket.
  9. *Abdul Qadir – leg spinner. In the 1980s the art of leg spin nearly died out, with all due respect to Australians Bob Holland, Trevor Hohns and Peter Sleep, the latter two of whom would never have been picked but for their skills with the bat. The man who kept the embers aglow, to fanned into glorious flame by Shane Warne in the 1990s was Abdul Qadir.
  10. Raymond Robertson-Glasgow – right arm fast medium bowler. A Scot who was able to short circuit the residential qualification rules of the day because he was related to someone who owned property in Bath, and also because Somerset were past masters at dodging those rules anyway. He regularly opened the Somerset bowling with James Bridges. Both believed they should bat higher than they did, and Bridges could be said to have had the better of that little dispute since it was usually him who got to bat at the lofty heights of no10. He went on to become one of the finest writers on the game.
  11. Billy Stanlake – right arm fast bowler. He plays mainly short form cricket, especially T20, but a first class bowling average of 31 is a respectable effort for someone who is not a regular at long form cricket (he has played eight first class matches in total as compared to 28 list A games and 64 T20 games). He is often referred to by commentators as ‘big Billy’ because of his great height (2.04 metres, approximatedly 6’8″ in imperial measurements).

This team has a good top six, a top of the range keeper and four varied bowlers. The spin department is a little understocked, with only North’s part time off spin as a back up for Qadir, but Stanlake, Robertson-Glasgow, Paul and 4th seamer Kallis is certainly a respectable pace attack.

XENOPHON BALASKAS’ XI

  1. Mark Taylor – left handed opening batter. He was one of the stars of the 1989 Ashes, with 839 runs in the series – more than any other Aussie save Bradman has ever tallied in a series. That series saw the end of Australia as whipping boys and the beginning of a rise that would see them reach the top of the cricket world by 1995, and then occupy that position for another decade. The combined impact of mismanagement, Kerry Packer and Ali Bacher had seen Australia flat lining since the mid 1970s, with England winning the Ashes at home in 1977, retaining in 1978-9, retaining again in 1981, surrendering them in 1982-3 when they were themselves weakened by the attentions of Mr Bacher, regaining them in 1985 and retaining them in 1987. Then, when Australia turned the tables in 1989 a combination of English mismanagement and refusal to face the obvious saw Australia retain the urn in 1990-1, 1993, 1994-5, 1997, 1998-9, 2001 and 2002-3, and all of those eight Ashes series from 1989 through to 2002-3 England only once one a game with the series still alive, at Edgbaston in 1997. Taylor, as well as his contributions at the top of the order took on the captaincy after Border retired, eventually handing over to Steve Waugh in turn.
  2. Taufeeq Umar – left handed opening batter. Played for Pakistan at the start of the 2000s, and averaged just below 39 as an opener in test matches.
  3. Ken Viljoen – right handed batter. He batted in this position in the infamous timeless test at Durban in 1939.
  4. Everton Weekes – right handed batter. Averaged 58.62 in test cricket, being the only player ever to score five centuries in successive test innings. He died recently at the age of 95, the last of the ‘three Ws’ (Walcott, Weekes and Worrell, born within a few miles of each other in the space of 18 months) to die.
  5. *Xenophon Balaskas – right handed batter, leg spinner. He is perhaps a little higher in the order than his batting record warrants, but he was a fine all rounder in his day.
  6. Norman Yardley – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. When he went on the 1946-7 tour of Australia, which was supposed to be a ‘goodwill tour’, except that Bradman did not get the memo it was as young batter whose bowling was rarely even used by his county, but a combination of injuries and a lack of resources in that department saw him pressed into service as a bowler for his country, and he responded well, bowling economically and picking up the odd useful wicket. He captained England in the 1948 Ashes, but was one of two candidates to refuse the captaincy of the 1950-1 tour (FG Mann of Middlesex being the other).
  7. +Zulqarnain Haider – wicket keeper, right handed batter. A brief but spectacular appearance in the limelight, during one of Pakistan’s many troubled periods.
  8. Wasim Akram – left arm fast bowler, left handed batter. He got his break when, at the age of 16, he bowled a spell in the nets that caught the eye of his country’s captain, Imran Khan. That was the launch of a career that saw him become one of the game’s all time greats, a fearsome fast bowler, a dangerous attacking bat in the lower middle order, and at one time captain. In 1992 he and Waqar Younis teamed up to render England’s batting feather legged. That winter in the world cup final he made the key intervention, ripping out two wickets at a crucial stage of the match and enabling his side to lift the trophy. England would spend most of the next 20 years or so after that loss producing one day cricket performances that were uninspired at best and downright incompetent at worst before a humiliating experience in the 2015 world cup would finally act as the kick up the backside they needed.
  9. Sydney Barnes – right arm fast medium bowler. That official description tells you about on tenth of the story of Barnes the bowler, discovered in the Lancashire nets by Archie MacLaren (England’s own nearest equivalent to the Wasim story), taken on a tour of Australia largely on the strength of that net session. A combination of him being constitutionally incapable of tugging his forelock, disapproval in official circles of his preference for Lancashire League cricket over the county ground and the fact that Lord Hawke, the Lincolnshire born author of the ‘Yorkshire born players only’ policy at that county did not see eye to eye with MacLaren and tended to disapprove of his hunches as a matter of principle led to Barnes playing less than half the number of tests he could, therefore should, have done. In 13 tests in Australia he captured 77 wickets, also taking 29 Aussie wickets in seven home tests against them, while against South Africa he captured 83 wickets in just seven test matches, and had he not quarrelled over terms and conditions with management and pulled out of what turned out to be the last test match before World War 1, he would almost certainly have had 60+ wickets for that series (he was on 49 from four matches) and been the first to 200 test wickets in what would have been his 28th game at that level.
  10. Rahkeem Cornwall – off spinner. 13 test wickets at 22 after two matches, 303 first class wickets at 25 each. We are likely to see something of the 27 year old off spinner in the upcoming ‘biosecure’ test series. This is a possible head to head contest between someone named Cornwall, and someone who was born in the neighboring county of Devon (there four Devonians in the current England camp, Bess the offspinner, Gregory the seam bowling all rounder and the Overton twins – one a genuinely fast bowler, one a fast medium, while England women’s captain Heather Knight was also born in Devon). I do not particularly expect to Gregory or either Overton in test action, but Bess must surely play.
  11. George Dennett – left arm orthodox spinner. 2,151 first class wickets at 19.82 each and never a single England cap. In the 1907 season, a very wet one in which in those days of “ooncoovered pitches” spinners flourished, he took over 200 first class wickets. The trouble was that Wilfred Rhodes and Colin Blythe were even greater masters of the art of left arm spin bowling than he was, and Frank Woolley always commanded a place as a batter.

This side has a decent top four, and the presence of Wasim Akram at no 8 means that all the next four are also capable of major innings. The bowling, with Akram and Barnes to take the new ball, Dennett, Cornwall and the skipper as spin options and Yardley’s medium paced nibblers as sixth option is very strong.

THE CONTEST

Abdul Qadir’s XI have the stronger batting line up, but Xenophon Balaskas’ XI have a quartet of front line bowlers that looks seriously formidable, plus the skipper. In keeping with my reckoning that it is the bowlers who win matches I make Xenophon Balaskas’ XI definite favourites. If the pitch turns than Qadir will struggle to match the combined efforts of Cornwall, Dennett and the opposition skipper. Over at the Ageas bowl Team Stokes have been set 255 for victory, and are 46-0 in the 13th, with Sibley and Bairstow opening.

PHOTOGRAPHS

While I have been typing this up Team Stokes have moved to 126-2, needing a further 129 with 19 and a half overs to be bowled. Zak Crawley, no 3 in the test for a certainty (Denly’s score of one for Team Buttler earlier today removed any tiny lingering doubt there) is going well. Now it is time for my usual sign off…

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