Almost in the home straight now...
Ha. The first XI for which eleven players are not available. There are, in
fact, exactly three. The exact same circumstance manifests itself with the
Us. There are seven Zs, exactly twelve Ys, some of whom were definitely
fringe players, and no Xs at all. I therefore propose, for my last XI, to
pick the best from these twenty-four. It doesn't look too bad that way,
either. But first:
B. A. Richards (SA)
Pankaj Roy (I)
R. B. Richardson (WI)
L. G. Rowe (WI)
K. S. Ranjitsinjhi (E)
I. V. A. Richards (c) (WI)
W. Rhodes (E)
R. C. Russell (w) (E)
A. M. E. Roberts (WI)
S. Ramadhin (WI)
B. A. Reid (A)
Ramiz Raja (P)
A bit short of pace bowling among the Rs (though they do have one truly great
pace bowler), and a shortage of wicketkeepers, but this still looks a pretty
well-balanced team with plenty of strength in depth. And yet again, the basis
of a rather handy-looking second XI emerges:
R. T. Robinson (E), J. F. Reid (NZ), J. R. Reid (NZ), I. R. Redpath (A), E. A.
B. Rowan (SA), P. E. Richardson (E), D. R. Randall (E), K. R. Rutherford (NZ),
C. E. B. Rice (SA), J. R. Ratnayeke (SL), R. J. Ratnayake (SL), S. L. V. Raju
(I), C. G. Rackemann (A), T. Richardson (E).
Ask yourself: would I like to meet the second XI on a Saturday afternoon?
Pick 'em yourself. Some may want to swap some of the seconds with some of
the firsts; I could think of a few possible substitutions that wouldn't do
any drastic harm to the team's overall strength.
R. B. Simpson (c) (A)
H. Sutcliffe (E)
Shoaib Mohammad (P)
G. St. A. Sobers (WI)
Salim Malik (P)
B. Sutcliffe (NZ)
I. D. S. Smith (w) (NZ)
J. B. Statham (E)
J. A. Snow (E)
Sikander Bakht (P)
F. R. Spofforth (A)
R. J. Shastri (I)
I picked Shastri as twelfth man as he could fill in as batsman or bowler,
but I trust that nobody will argue with my observation that there is already
a rather better all-rounder in the side...
It's a strong team again; there are some more-than-useful players who don't
quite get in, and once more, substituting your personal favourites from
amongst them probably wouldn't be noticeably detrimental. I preferred Snow
to Sarfraz because he could be utterly devastating in short bursts and this
team can *afford* him; one Sobers = two, or three, (totally different)
bowlers, which would allow Snow to bowl the six-or-seven-over spells in
which he was most effective. The list of possible substitutes include:
Saeed Ahmed (P), N. S. Sidhu (I), K. Srikkanth (I), R. A. Smith (E), K. R.
Stackpole (A), Sadiq Mohammad (P), J. B. Stollmeyer (WI), Salim Yousuf (P),
G. C. Small (E), Sarfraz Nawaz (P).
G. M. Turner (NZ)
E. Tyldesley (E)
V. T. Trumper (A)
H. W. Taylor (c) (SA)
S. R. Tendulkar (I)
J. T. Tyldesley (E)
R. W. Taylor (w) (E)
H. J. Tayfield (SA)
F. S. Trueman (E)
F. H. Tyson (E)
J. R. Thomson (A)
F. J. Titmus (E)
I just couldn't resist this pace attack; it must be the equal of just about any
other in history for sheer fright value. So I picked a spinner for 12th man.
And then some very talented players ended up on the discard pile:
C. J. (watch me while I out-Boycott Boycott) Tavare (E), M. W. Tate (E), H. P.
Tillekeratne (w) (SL), C. T. B. Turner (A), H. Trumble (A), A. E. Trott (E &
A) (I kid you not, he played for both), G. H. S. Trott (A), Tauseef Ahmed (P).
D. B. Vengsarkar (I)
G. R. Viswanath (c) (I)
B. H. Valentine (E)
K. G. Viljoen (SA)
P. L. van der Merwe (SA)
S. Viswanath (w) (I)
H. Verity (E)
S. Venkataraghavan (I)
A. E. E. Vogler (SA)
W. Voce (E)
A. L. Valentine (WI)
H. G. Vivian (NZ)
With three spinners like this, the pace attack is almost superfluous. Verity
was no mug with the bat, either. This side wouldn't be a pushover, but the
Vs are definitely thin on the ground after it.
I know this one's already been done to death, but I'm going to have another
crack at it anyway...
W. M. Woodfull (A)
C. L. Walcott (WI)
F. M. M. Worrell (c) (WI)
E. D. Weekes (WI)
C. Washbrook (E)
K. D. Walters (A)
Wasim Bari (w) (P)
Wasim Akram (P)
J. H. Wardle (E) (102 wickets in 28 Test matches at an average of 20.39; who
ever remembers his name now??)
C. A. Walsh (WI)
Waqar Younis (P)
I can't be bothered picking a twelfth man for this XI either. It's almost
unbelievable when you look at the players who didn't get in. Yet another
second XI which would probably give any current Test side more than a run
for its money:
J. G. Wright (NZ), G. M. Wood (A), K. D. Walters (A), F. E. Woolley (E),
Wasim Raja (P), P. F. Warner (c) (E), P. Willey (E), J. H. B. Waite (w) (SA),
M. H. N. Walker (A), M. R. Whitney (who I always thought was underrated) (A),
R. G. D. Willis (E), R. A. Woolmer (E).
Exalted company indeed. You could maybe swap Walker for Walsh, but it's a
near thing. The Waugh brothers didn't quite make it, nor did R. E. S. Wyatt
(E), A. L. Wadekar (I)... but why go on.
And finally, the combination XI:
Zaheer Abbas (c) (P)
P. R. Umrigar (I)
W. G. Quaife (E)
Qasim Omar (P)
J. W. Zulch (SA)
G. N. Yallop (A)
T. J. Zoehrer (w) (A)
G. Ulyett (E)
N. A. Quinn (SA)
D. L. Underwood (E)
N. S. Yadav (I)
Yashpal Sharma (I)
Balance in the bowling could be a problem here, but nevertheless, a side that
could do some damage on its day. I can't help wondering, though, if Underwood
would have been as effective with Zoehrer behind the stumps instead of Knott.
Here conclude the 'X' XIs. I admit I've played a few personal favourites and
wouldn't necessarily disagree with the odd change or two here and there. The
annals of Test history reveal many excellent players who have been forgotten
by time and the present generation of cricket enthusiasts; I discovered quite
a few whose talents have been obscured by the passage of the years and can
only hope that some younger readers of r.s.c. who have taken the trouble to
read my ramblings will take sufficient interest in them to realise that Test
cricket has been around for much longer than any of us can remember, and
that previous generations had their heroes (and some very good players) too.
David A. Wheeler | "There is a widely-held and quite erroneous
Motorola Ltd. | belief that cricket is just another game."
Basingstoke | - HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
England | "Excreta tauri astutos confundit"