We’ve had World XIs, best county XIs and best England XIs but I don’t remember seeing anywhere anyone’s Heroes XI – ie a team of the players you admired when you were growing or after you grew up . So I thought I’d have a go myself. Feel free to join in and name your own. The only stipulation is that rather than just a list of names you admire/d it should be in the form of a team ie two openers, three in the middle order, an all-rounder, wicketkeeper, and four bowlers, of which one or two (your choice) should be a spinner. The fact that I supported Kent while watching Surrey as a nipper may have influenced my decisions. I will justify my selections at a later date Anyway, here goes:
1 Alan Butcher
2 Geoff Boycott
3 Geoff Howarth
4 Dilip Vengsarkar
5 Graham Roope
6 Bob Woolmer (batting all-rounder)
7 Alan Knott (wkt)
8 Intikhab Alam
9 Max Walker
10 Derek Underwood
Congratulations to Patrick Kidd and the Twelfth Man for getting yesterday’s quiz question right. It was indeed Jack Marsh, who should have played for Australia but for various reasons didn’t, and the year he wore splints to try to avoid being called for throwing was 1900. I can see I will have to be even more obscure. How about this then.
Can you name the umpire who stormed off on the first day of a match in 2006, the match at which he was officiating and the competition.
Well, what a strange pitch that is at Old Trafford. It seemed to change its temperament on each day of the Test and finally bore out Nasser Hussain’s contention that it has become a “bowl-first” wicket. While Monty Panesar was named man-of-the-match, and Andrew Strauss rightly lauded for his innings yesterday, it has to be said that the match-winning knock came from the bat of Stuart Broad. Broad didn’t impress with his bowling in this match, but he continues to look solid and enterprising with the bat, and that 30 that carried England past the follow-on figure was exactly what the team needed at the time. Had we been forced to follow-on, Vettori would surely have taken advantage of Sunday’s conditions in the same way that Panesar did, even though New Zealand may have contributed to their own downfall. I suspect, funnily enough, that Vettori’s men thought the job was done after bowling out England for 202. They probably reasoned that the lead was significant enough, regardless of their second-innings score. But they were not to know that the pitch was going to have the last laugh, the turn, bounce and spit that the spinners were getting on the third day fading after the heavy roller had flattened the surface. They had the attitude of a team that thought that they only had to turn up to get the victory – a state of mind that has too often afflicted England in the past. It will be interesting to see what effect this defeat has on the morale of the tourists as they head to Trent Bridge.
Yesterday’s quiz was answered in a jiffy – it was Denis Compton who started his county career at No 11. So let’s see if today’s is any more cunning.
Name the bowler – and his nationality – who resorted to bowling in splints to try to prove he was not throwing. Extra kudos if you can pinpoint the year!
A little more than a week ago, two days in fact into the first Test between England and New Zealand, it was reported that Kevin Pietersen was on the verge of signing a deal worth £2million over three years to play in the IPL. Most of those who greeted the news with dismay concentrated on the workload that would face Pietersen, an already high-profile critic of player burnout, in the run-up to the next Ashes series. That, obviously, is a concern, but of equal concern I would have thought to the IPL franchise prepared to make him the competition’s highest paid player, would be his Twenty20 record. It really is nothing to make you throw billions of rupees at. In international competition, 13 innings have brought him 321 runs at an average of just over 24. Add on his domestic figures and you get 577 runs at 25. His international innings have produced just one score of more than 50. Aha, I hear you say, but isn’t strike rate the crucial thing in Twenty20? Quite so, and the figures stack up well for him there, where he is scoring at around 158 per 100 balls. Indeed, a quick 30 at the right time can be more significant than a bunch of half-centuries in this form of the game. But, from observation, my feeling is that Pietersen is not as at home with this form of the game as his reputation as an attacking batsman would seem to indicate. Pietersen is a counter-attacker of the finest kind – at least when he’s not being cast in the role of Daniel Vettori’s bunny – someone who can turn a game when the pressure is on, the field up, and someone who takes time to grow into his best innings. The immediate attacking impact required of Twenty20, to my mind, doesn’t suit him so well. Besides, when it comes to six hitting, he is not in the same class as a Brendon McCullum or an Andrew Symonds. They smack the ball flat; Pietersen is an inside-out man, as likely to get height as length on his shots. Maybe I’m wrong, but Pietersen could turn out to be an expensive mistake for the IPL
Talking of researching books – and collapses – I’m struggling with my latest, the Worst of Cricket 2, due out in November. One chapter is The Worst Collapses and I’m suffering a bit from memory loss. There must of course be enough English examples to fill a chapter, but maybe I’ve wiped them from my brain to avoid further emotional damage. So, if you can think of any for consideration please don’t hesitate in mentioning them either on here, or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Good examples from domestic cricket around the world particularly welcome. A mention in the acknowledgements section of the book is the best I can offer in return, or a pint if I know you!
Some interesting facts come to light when you’re researching a book, and with that in mind I’m starting an occasional quiz to see if Reverse Sweep reader(s) are as ignorant as I am about certain elements of cricket history. So here goes. Answer tomorrow if it proves too difficult or nobody can be bothered
1 Which former England batting great started his county career at No 11?