Cricket’s all-time alphabetical B team: keeper and bowlers

JGK Roar Guru

By JGK, JGK is a Roar Guru

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    Following on from the all time ‘B’ team batsmen listed yesterday:

    7. Richie Benaud (Aus, RHB, RLS) 63 Tests (28 capt), 2,201 runs at 24.46, three 100s, 248 wickets at 27.03

    Best known now as a commentry legend, Benaud the player was a truly great leg spinner and captain and a more than handy batsman.

    He was the first player to reach the 2,000 run/200 wicket double in Tests and in an otherwise dull Ashes series in 1962/3. He, Brian Statham and Fred Trueman were literally neck and neck in the race to break Bedser’s Test wickets record of 236.

    Amazingly, Benaud and Trueman ended the series on exactly 236 wickets each, but Statham had taken the record with 242.

    He is still the holder of the third fastest century by minutes (78).

    But his playing days are highlighted by his attacking captaincy – coming around the wicket at Old Trafford in 1961 to secure a famous win; instructing his team to “go for it” in that momentous last session at the Gabba in 1960; and only losing four of his 28 Tests in charge.

    8. John McCarthy Blackham (wk) (Aus, RHB) 35 Tests (8 capt), 800 runs at 15.68, 61 dismissals (37/24)

    Jack Blackham caused Test cricket’s first ever selection controversy. His selection as in inaugural Test caused Spofforth to boycott the match in protest at his mate Murdoch not being selected as keeper.

    It was a good selection as Blackham became Australia’s first great keeper in the days of standing up to all bowlers with a pair of gardening gloves. He played four years longer than any of the other 21 players in that first Test.

    His captaincy record was less illustrious and in his last Test Australia set a world record that still stands – the highest innings in a losing Test match (586)

    9. Sir Alec Bedser (Eng, RFM, RHB) 51 Tests, 714 runs at 12.75, 236 wickets at 24.90.

    One of the XI in ‘Bradman’s Best,’ the Don was a massive fan of Bedser, which is not surprising as Bedser was the only player to dismiss him for a duck more than once.

    And after being dismissed by Bedser 18 times in 21 Tests, the great Arthur Morris (also in Bradman’s Best) became known as Bedser’s Bunny’.

    He was instrumental in England’s ascent to being the best team in the world in the 50s, and held the Test wickets record for nearly a decade. After his retirement, he was an England selector for over 20 years.

    Perhaps the main criticism of him was that he generally picked and chose his tours and never ended up playing in the West Indies or the subcontinent where his style of bowling may not have been as effective.

    10. Bishan Singh Bedi (Ind, RHB, SLA) 67 Tests (22 capt), 656 runs at 8.98, 266 wickets at 28.71

    Perhaps the sexiest exponent of that unsexiest of arts – left arm orthodox – Bedi is as well known for his belligerence as for his preternaturally long spinning fingers.

    As a player he was prolific, only Gibbs and Trueman had taken more wickets when he played his last Test, and no Indian has taken more First Class wickets.

    But as captain he did court controversy, accusing John Lever of ball tampering using Vaseline; and famously declaring only five wickets down and 13 runs ahead at Sabina Park in 1976 in protest at the Windies’ bouncer attack on his players.

    Post-retirement he is known for his attack on unorthodox spinners – especially Muralitharan who he describes as a “javelin thrower.”

    11. Sydney Barnes (Eng, RHB, RHM/RLS) 27 Tests, 242 runs at 8.06, 189 wickets at 16.43

    If Bradman is undoubtedly cricket’s greatest batsman, Barnes is almost certainly its greatest bowler.

    His Test and First Class records are amazing enough (he held the Test wickets record for 22 years and his seven wickets per Test is still unparalleled) but it was in minor Counties cricket, where he cloistered himself for much of his career, where he was truly jaw-dropping – over 1,400 wickets at an average of 8.

    His style has been described as part swing, part seam, part spin but with great accuracy and guile. In 1928, at 55, he was still good enough to take 12 wickets for Wales against the touring West Indies.

    His career literally linked WG Grace (who he played against in 1894) and Bradman, who toured England in 1930, the year Barnes played his last First Class match.

    The full team then:

    Bardsley, Boycott, Bradman (c), Barrington, Border, Botham, Benaud, Blackham (wk), Bedser, Bedi, Barnes

    Overall, this must be one of the strongest teams and possibly unbeatable in English conditions.

    Four knights, three wickets record holders, two runs record holders, two dynamic allrounders, the two highest averages with more than 5,000 runs and three great captains.

    The potential stodginess in the top order is offset by Bradman and the all rounders. Bradman is captain by default, as it is impossible to imagine him playing under anyone else.

    But the overall strength of this team might be reflected in how strong a B second XI would be. Would anyone care to have a crack at that?

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • April 24th 2013 @ 10:15am
      Julian said | April 24th 2013 @ 10:15am | ! Report

      Excellent team. They’d be very hard to beat. I suspect they’d go well in Indian conditions too. Not sure about Blackham over Boucher though. Weight of numbers would suggest he’s hard to ignore.

    • April 24th 2013 @ 12:04pm
      matt h said | April 24th 2013 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

      Needs another pace bowler and it would be a great team. Can’t think of any off the top of my head though.Maybe Shane Bond to come in depending on the conditions?

      • Roar Guru

        April 24th 2013 @ 12:32pm
        JGK said | April 24th 2013 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

        Bond or Bishop would be alternatives.

        But with Botham in the team I went with Bedi for a bit more variety.

    • April 24th 2013 @ 12:30pm
      Pope Paul VII said | April 24th 2013 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

      S F Barnes a top pick.

      Barnes
      Botham
      Bedser

      would fight like tigers for the new ball

    • April 24th 2013 @ 12:43pm
      Julian said | April 24th 2013 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

      Barnes was in Richie’s greatest test XI. The only player in his team that he never saw. Barens must have been something extraordinary.

      • Roar Guru

        April 24th 2013 @ 12:58pm
        JGK said | April 24th 2013 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

        The 1928 West Indies said he was the best bowler they faced all tour. He was in his 50s at the time.

      • Roar Guru

        April 24th 2013 @ 1:02pm
        JGK said | April 24th 2013 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

        When Laker took all 10 wickets in 1953 (and broke Barne’s record of 17 wickets in a match), Barnes said something along the lines of “No booger ever took all ten wickets when I was bowling at the other end”.

    • April 24th 2013 @ 12:51pm
      Timmuh said | April 24th 2013 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

      I suspect the “C” team might be somewhat more difficult. Not many players of that quality come to mind imediately.
      Two definitely; three probably (one of the probables being a brother of a definite); and one probably not but unlikely to be considered anyway due to issues other than performance.
      Out of those only one probable is a bowler, though as I typed that phrase another came to mind.
      Obviously there are others, some obvious that don’t come to mind and some less obvious but I’m not expecting the depth of some teams.

      Blackham over Boucher is arguable either way, but I like it.

      • Roar Guru

        April 24th 2013 @ 12:57pm
        JGK said | April 24th 2013 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

        Boucher was a serviceable keeper but not a great one. His huge numbers are on the back of a long career standing back to an outstanding group of pace bowlers. With Barnes, Bedi and Benaud in my team (and even Bedser) I liked the idea of a keeper skilled in standing up to the stumps.

        Boucher makes my second team though.

    • Roar Guru

      April 26th 2013 @ 11:32am
      JGK said | April 26th 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

      So, no real arguments with this team then? 🙂

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