All Time XIs – Match Ups 61

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 sees the end of the Ss, who come into today with 84 of a possible 105 points, and the start of the Ts who have banked 67.5 of a possible 95 points from the matches in which they are alphabetically second.


The Ss have the better opening pair, although both Ws offer bowling options. The Ws win the match up at number three, and both sides have superb skippers. The Ss win every batting match up from four to nine inclusive, though Watling outranks Sangakkara as keeper, Warne comfortably outranks Stevens as a leg spinner and Wardle equally clearly outranks the slower incarnations of Sobers, and the Ws also have Woolley as a third genuine spin option. It is close between the front line pace trios, though the Ss have Stokes and the quick version of Sobers in reserve, whereas the Ws have only Worrell. Boiling it all down, the Ss have an advantage in batting and in pace/ seam bowling, while the Ws have much the better keeper, and much the better spin attack. I think the Ws advantages just outweigh those of the Ss and score this Ss 2, Ws 3.


The Ss win every batting match up down to number eight. To a casual observer it looks like they also win the batting match up at number nine, but Fuller Pilch, the best batter of BoX’s era averaged only 18, and on that basis Box is as clearly ahead of Starc with the bat as he is of Sangakkara with the gloves. The Ss are miles clear in seam/ pace bowling and also have much the finer skipper. As against that the Xs have the better spin attack. I still think however that the Ss are so massively superior in the areas where they are superior that this has to be scored: Ss 5, Xs 0.


With the exception of the number three slot, which goes the way of Younis Khan, the Ss win every batting match up down to number nine. They also have an overwhelming dominance in the seam/ pace department. The Ys have the better keeper, and the better spin attack, but neither can save them from the inevitable: Ss 5, Ys 0.


Full spectrum dominance for the Ss: Ss 5, Zs 0.


The Ss have scored 17 points out of 20 today, to give them a final score of 101 out of 125, 80.8% overall.


The Ts have the better opening pair. A casual observer might think that the Us win the number three slot based on test being more difficult than FC cricket, but Tarrant played a lot of his cricket before WWI, so my own view is that he wins that match up, and he also offers a bowling option. The Ts win the match up at number four, while number five is draw, Misbah Ul Haq’s slightly better batting average being offset by Thorpe’s greater sample size and the lack of support that Thorpe had at test level. Ross Taylor beats Umrigar in the number six slot. Umar Akmal wins the batting match up at number seven, but Bob Taylor wins the keeping element by a much greater margin. The Ts have much the better pace/ seam bowling unit. I also give the spin department to the Ts – Tarrant would be little if any inferior to Underwood as a bowler, and on proven success as opposed to potential Trumble has to outrank Ur Rahman, though their positions may be reversed in a few years time. The Us can make no dent on the Ts, resulting in Ts 5, Us 0.


The Ts are now on 72.5 out of 100, 72.5% overall.


Today’s gallery comes in two parts – I have revisited by cricket cigarette card collection, digging out the first set I ever acquired, some years ago, and the ones I chose to photographs form the first gallery, with links to posts that the players feature in included…

…part two of the gallery features some of my regular photographs.

All Time XIs – Match Ups 59

Continuing my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another plus some of my regular photographs,

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another. Today sees the Rs in the spotlight, with 59 points out of 90 banked thus far.


The Rs have the better opening pair, though by less than the raw figures suggest. They also win the batting match up at number three, although Tarrant was a greater bowler than Robins. The Ts win the batting match up at 4,5 and 6, but Russell beats Taylor with the bat, and both were stellar keepers. The Rs win on pace bowling, but the Ts win on spin bowling, Rhodes outranking Trumble by less than Tarrant outranks Robins. This is a close contest, but I just give it tp the Ts: Rs 2, Ts 3.


The Rs boss the first four batting match ups, narrowly lose at number five and heavily lose the batting element of number six. Umar Akmal wins the batting match up at seven, but Russell massively wins the keeping element of the contest. The Rs dominate the pace/ seam bowling element, the spin bowling is close, and the Rs have the better captain, The Rs have a clear advantage but not enough for a whitewash: Rs 4, Us 1.


The Rs win every batting match up down to number five, the Vs win the batting element of number six, Vogler wins the bowling match up against Robins but Russell comfortably wins the keeping homours. Russell also wins the batting element of the match up at number seven, while Vaas is outranked as a bowler by Roberts but by less than figures suggest – Vaas would fare better in this attack than he did in the attacks of which he was actually part, and he is one of two left arm pacers for the Vs. Rhodes v Verity is truly titanic clash of left arm spinners. Voce and Van der Bijl are about level with Rabada and Richardson. The Rs are stronger in batting, better captained, have the better keeper. Pace/ seam bowling is too close to call, and the Vs win the spin bowling. I think the Rs are just winning this: Rs 3, Vs 2.


The Rs have the better opening pair, but the Ws win every other match up down to number six, though Russell is the better keeper, while Warne massively outranks Robins as a leg spinner. The pace/ seam element is close, but Bill Whitty’s left arm gives the Ws an edge there. Rhodes probably ranks as the greatest left arm finger spinner in this match, but the Ws have two such bowlers, and additionally a top class left arm wrist spin option – Wardle could bowl this at least as well as he bowled finger spin, whereas the Rs best third spin option would be Joe Root, a part timer. Additionally Ws have a bonus bowling option in Worrell. I think Ws are comfortably clear, but it won’t be a whitewash: Rs 1, Ws 4.


The Rs are totally dominant in batting and pace/ seam bowling, and though the Xs have more spinners the Rs have better spinners. The Rs also have the better captain, and both sides have great keepers. There can be only one scoreline: Rs 5, Xs 0.


The Rs have scored 15 points out of 25 today, putting themselves on 74 points out of 115 overall, 64.35% overall.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 52

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I picked 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. This post marks the fourth-fifths of the way point in the analysis part of this series, after which there will be a grand finale post presenting all 26 XIs in reverse ranking order. Today sees the end of the Ns, who so far have 22 of a possible 105 points and ushers the Os into the spotlight, with 12.5 of a possible 70 points to their credit.


The Ws dominate in departments and there can be only one scoreline: Ns 0, Ws 5.


The Ns have better batting, better pace bowling and a better captain. The Xs have the better keeper and the better spin bowling. I expect the Ns to win this but not in a whitewash: Ns 4, Xs 1.


The Ns have the better opening pair, the Ys win at number three and draw at number four, and win at number five. Noble wins the batting match up at number six, but P Yadav is comfortably the better bowler. Nixon undoubtedly outranks S Yousuf with both bat and gloves. The Ns are dominant in pace/ seam bowling, with their fourth option in that department, Nichols, outranking the Ys second, U Yadav. The Ys definitely have the better spin attack – Young outpoints Nadeem by even more than P Yadav outpoints Noble. This is close in batting, and the question is whether the Ns pacers or the Ys spinners have the bigger advantage over their opposite number. I just give this to the Ns: Ns 3, Ys 2.


The Ns are well ahead on batting, have the better captain, the better keeper and the better pace/ seam bowlers. The Zs have slightly the better spinners, and I will allow them one big day out: Ns 4, Zs 1.E


The Ns have scored 11 of a possible 20 points today, to finish on 33 out of 125, 26.4%.


The Ps absolutely boss the batting, winning every match up, a number of them by huge margins. Oldfield rates above Pant as a keeper. Procter wins the battle of the all rounders in both departments, though O’Riordan’s left arm does give the Os extra variation. S Pollock is clear of Old and P Pollock at least matches Olivier. Prasanna is about even with Ojha, but the Os also have Odumbe, and O’Reilly outranks Parker. I think that the Ps colossal advantage in batting and obvious advantage in pace/ seam bowling, plus the fact that they have the superior captain more than compensate for their disadvantages on the keeping and spin bowling fronts, though I will as usual in these cases allow the Os spinners one big day out: Os 1, Ps 4.


The Os have 13.5 points out of a possible 75, exactly 18% so far.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 49

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

Welcome to the latest installment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter fare against one another. The Ms continue to occupy the spotlight, starting today with 73 of a possible 90 points to their name.


Both these sides have strong opening pairs (Trumper played in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, when pitches were often rough – that average of 39 is worth at least 50 in the modern era). Macartney wins the batting match up at number three, but Tarrant ranks as the greater bowler. The Ts comfortably win the number four slot, while the Ms win the number five slot. Ross Taylor outranks Miller as a batter, but unlike the Aussie he does not offer a bowling option). Marsh was a finer batter than Bob Taylor, but the Pom was the finer keeper. The Ts three specialist quicks are certainly faster than the Ms pace/ seam attack, though both sides are superbly equipped in this department. Murali outranks Trumble. The two sides are both strong in batting, strong in pace bowling, well captained and equipped with great keepers. I think Murali, Mahmood’s leg cutters and Macartney offer more variation between them than Trumble and Tarrant, though the latter two were both great bowlers, and this may be the factor that splits the sides, so I score this one: Ms 3, Ts 2.


The Ms are utterly dominant batting wise, with only Inzamam Ul Haq and Umar Akmal winning batting match ups for the Us, and Umar Akmal’s is negated by his being so inferior to Marsh as a keeper. Although Umran Malik is the quickest bowler in this match up he is as yet unproven, which means that all of Marshall, McGrath and Miller have to outrank him, as they equally clearly do Umar Gul and Ulyett. Murali likewise outranks Ur Rahman, though Underwood’s left arm slow medium may be considered more useful than Mahmood’s leg cutters. I cannot see the Us doing anything against the Ms and accordingly score this one Ms 5, Us 0.


The Ms dominate the batting, with only Verreynne winning a batting match up for the Vs, and that is negated by Marsh being the superior keeper. The Vs have a pace bowling line up that is pretty much on a par with the Ms, given that a) Vaas would fare better as part of strong attack than he actually did as part of a moderate one, and b)Vaas and Voce were both left armers, whereas all three of the Ms outright fast bowlers were right armers. Verity outranks Murali as a finger spinner, while Vogler’s leg spin would probably be more dangerous than Mahmood’s leg cutters, while Macartney’s left arm spin and Vine’s leg spin are much of a muchness. On all except a spinning surface I would expect the Ms powerful batting to carry the day and accordingly score this one Ms 4, Vs 1.


The Ms have the better opening pair, though Woolley offers a bowling option comparable to Macartney and Worrell offers a bowling option not mirrored in the Ms ranks. Weekes and Walcott each comfortably win their batting match ups, and S Waugh v Miandad is a dead heat. Watling slightly outranks Miller with the bat, but Marsh outranks him as a keeper. Woods outranks Marsh with the bat (Woods played in the 1890s and 1900s, and mainly in England, where pitches were often hard to bat on) and is on a par with Miller as a bowler. Whitty, Willis and Woods are pretty close to Marshall, McGrath and Miller as a pace trio, Wardle is at least a match for Murali, Warne is clearly ahead of Mahmood. I think the Ws have this, though not by a vast amount: Ms 2, Ws 3.


The Xs arguably win two batting match ups (DeXter over Macartney, though the latter offered more with the ball, and Xenophon Balaskas over Marsh) and the wicket keeping match up. The bowling is even more strongly stacked in the Ms favour, leading to an inevitable scoreline of Ms 5, Xs 0.


The Ms have scored 19 of a possible 25 points today, moving them on to 92 out of 115, exactly 80% so far.


My usual sign off…

All Time XIs – Match Ups 44

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I selected for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another, with the Ks last day in the spotlight.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I picked for each letter of the alphabet fare against one another. Today is the Ks last day in the spotlight, and they have 68 of a possible 100 points so far.


The Ks boss the batting, they have the better keeper, the better captain and the better pace bowling unit. Only Hedley Verity saves the Vs from a complete wipeout in all departments, but not even his presence alters the scoreline: Ks 5, Vs 0.


The Ws have the better the opening pair and also comfortably win the number three and four slots. Kallis beats S Waugh at number five. I Khan and Watling are equals with the bat, Worrell and I Khan is a clash of captaincy titans, Woods ranks higher with the bat than Kirmani and is on similar plane to I Khan with the ball. The Ws have the better spin combination, and Whitty’s left arm gives them the edge in new ball bowling as well. I would say Woolley is a better sixth bowler than Kallis as well. I think the Ws winning this, though it would be a hell of a contest: Ks 2, Ws 3.


Apart from DeXter having a small advantage over Kanhai in the number three slot and BoX being the better keeper, and probably pretty close with the bat (Pilch, the best bat of BoX’s era averaged under 20) the Xs are thoroughly outclassed in all departments: Ks 5, Xs 0.


Only in the number three and four slots do the Ys have a definitive advantage over the Ks. The Ks have an overwhelming superiority in pace bowling, though the better balance of the Ys spin pairing just gives them that department their inferiority everywhere else means that the scoreline in unaffected: Ks 5, Ys 0.


The Ks dominate this outright, with the Zs not even matching them anywhere: Ks 5, Zs 0.


The Ks have scored 22 of a possible 25 points today, meaning that they finish with 90 out of 125 points, 72% overall.


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 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.


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


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


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


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


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 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%.


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.


  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.


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.


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.


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…


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.


  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.


  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.


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.


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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