Having set the ground rules for team selection in my earlier article, here are the batsmen for the ‘A’ team.
1. Dennis Amiss (Eng, RHB): 50 Tests, 3,612 runs at 46.31, 11 100s
Those who witnessed ‘74/5 Ashes might think this an underwhelming start. But despite his troubles against Australia (average of 15 in 11 Tests) Amiss was a fine batsman with a superb overall record and probably second only to Boycott among England batsmen of his era.
He could play pace, making 203 at the Oval in 1976 against a rampant Holding. And his overall record of converting 50s to 100s to 150s suggests that once he got a start he was very difficult to dislodge.
In 1972, Amiss became the first player to score an ODI century, and he finished a mighty 28 year First Class career with over 100 centuries and 40,000 runs.
2. Mike Atherton (Eng, RHB): 115 Tests (54 as captain), 7,728 runs at 37.70, 16 100s
Brought into the England side at 21 when Graeme Gooch famously dropped himself during the depths of the 1989 Ashes, Atherton proved his England opening credentials by being lbw Alderman for a second ball duck.
But 16 tons and nearly 8,000 runs in a golden era of pace bowling proved that he was a high quality international opener.
It is slightly churlish to note that his average is the lowest of all players with more than 6,000 runs, as he suffered chronic back pain for much of his career.
Atherton’s career masterpiece was his 185* in 10 hours against Donald and Pollock to save the Wanderers Test in 1995.
3.Hashim Amla (SA, RHB): 70 Tests, 5,785 runs at 52.12, 19 100s
Roarers will be very familiar with Hashim Amla who is one of the modern greats: combining the serenity and elegance of a VVS Laxman with the hunger for runs of a Tendulkar.
He is the only South African to score a Test 300 and if his last few years are indicative of the next few, he will comfortably end up with over 10,000 runs at a 50-plus average. Happily, all this is ahead of us cricket fans.
4. Mohinder Amarnath (Ind, RHB): 69 Tests, 4,378 runs at 42.50, 11 100s, 32 wickets at 55.69
The son of India’s fourth Test captain, “Jimmy” Amarnath was one of India’s bravest batsmen and the hero of the 1983 World Cup winning team with a man of the match performance in the final.
Months earlier he had had the temerity to score nearly 600 runs at 66 against Garner, Marshall, Holding and Roberts.
Unfortunately these two successes were the cricket equivalent of a duck painting a target on its chest during hunting season and he was crushed by the Windies quicks in the return series – managing just a single run in six innings before being dropped.
Strangely, Amarnath rarely had a permanent spot in the Indian side and his 20 year career only yielded 69 Tests.
5. Warwick Armstrong (c) (Aus, RHB, RLS): 50 Tests (10 as captain); 2863 runs at 38.69, six 100s, 87 wickets at 33.60)
The legendary Big Ship was one of Australia’s most successful captains, leading Australia to eight consecutive wins over England after WWI.
He was also one of her finest all rounders, scoring over 16,000 First Class runs at 47 and taking 832 wickets at under 20.
His career was interrupted both by the war and was one of the ‘Big Six’ to boycott the 1912 England tour.
He was not well liked by his English opponents because of his hard-nosed approach to the game, culminating in the Gregory-McDonald bouncer attack in 1921 (which unknowingly sowed the seeds for Bodyline a dozen years later).
Perhaps his most bizarre achievement was at Old Trafford in 1921 where he became the only person to bowl two consecutive overs in a Test match.
He also played for South Melbourne in the 1899 VFL grand final.
6. Asif Iquarterbackal (Pak, RHB, RHM): 58 Tests (6 as captain); 3575 runs at 38.86, 11 100s, 53 wickets at 28.34
A Billy Birmingham favourite, Asif Iquarterbackal was a truly international figure having been born in India, captained Pakistan and Kent and is currently an ICC Match Referee.
Asif played every Test for Pakistan from his debut in 1964 until World Series Cricket, where he was one of the leading international recruits.
He scored a match winning 120 at the SCG in 1977 in Pakistan’s first ever win on Australian soil (the next highest score in the match was 57).
His outstanding series performance was in England in 1967, where in 3 Tests he scored 267 runs at 53 and took 11 wickets at 25.
Tomorrow: the keeper and bowlers.