Following on from yesterday’s article selecting the all time ‘A’ team greatest batsmen, here are the bowlers:
7. Les Ames (wk) (Eng, RHB): 47 tests, 2,434 runs at 40.57, 8 100s, 95 (72/23) dismissals
The regular England keeper in the 1930s and years before Adam Gilchrist rewrote the rules on wicketkeepers, Ames set a raft of keeper-batsman benchmarks.
He is the only keeper to have scored over 100 first-class centuries and made over 1,000 dismissals (although his mighty Kent colleague Frank Woolley managed the same as a fielder).
He scored more 100s (eight) than 50s (seven) and he even managed to score 123 runs before lunch at Leeds in 1935. His career average of over 40 was unheard of at the time for a long term keeper.
However, his record in Australia was poor (averaging 17 in 10 tests) and hence he probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves here.
8. Abdul Qadir (Pak, RHB, RLS): 67 tests, 1,029 runs at 15.59, 236 wickets at 32.81
Somewhat of a John the Baptist to Shane Warne’s Messiah, Abdul Qadir virtually single-handedly kept leg spin alive during the era of the bouncer in 70s and 80s.
His overall stats don’t do justice to his impact on cricket. To a young cricket fan whose leggie radar had been calibrated by Kerry O’Keeffe and Peter Sleep, his bustling run up, big leg break and wrong ‘un were strange tools of some mystical dark art.
His finest hour was taking 9/56 in an innings and 30 wickets in 3 tests in ‘Shakoor Rana’ series against England in 1987.
9. Curtly Ambrose (WI ,LHB, RHF): 98 tests, 1,439 runs at 12.40, 405 wickets at 20.99
Another who needs little introduction to Roarers, the giant Antiguan terrified world batsmen for over a decade.
He had a beautiful loping, rhythmic run up culminating in a high action that made use of each of his 201 cm.
His pace, accuracy and high bounce made him virtually unattackable and the only tactic better than seeing him off was to get down the other end.
His 7/1 spell at the WACA in 1993 is still used to scare young Aussie cricketers who won’t go to bed.
All this might explain his relatively modest strike rate of 55 (worse than inferior bowlers like Lee, Cairns, Gough and Ntini) but also his wonderful average. One of the all time greats.
10. Terry Alderman (Aus, RHB, RHM, RHB): 41 tests, 203 runs at 6.55, 170 wickets at 27.15
If Alderman had been English and had got to play half his career on English wickets, he may have been spoken about in the same breath as Alec Bedser when history’s best medium pacers are discussed.
As it is, his legend is well established being the only bowler in history to twice take 40 wickets in a series (only six others have done it at all), which he did in the 1981 and 1989 Ashes series.
In that latter series, his systematic destruction of as fine a batsman as Gooch (who a year later scored 456 runs in a match) was medium pace perfection.
And while Alderman was a bit of a bunny, he did play a big part in two of the finest innings played by Australian batsmen.
On Boxing Day 1981 his 10 runs saw Kim Hughes go from 71 to 100* against Holding, Roberts, Garner and Croft.
Two years later, his 21 not out in Trinidad saw Allan Border to 100 not out and their unbroken 10th wicket partnership of 61 was enough to see the match drawn.
11. Neil Adcock (SAF, RHB, RHF): 26 tests, 146 runs at 5.40, 104 wickets at 21.10
When Adcock passed away earlier this year, I took a little bit of time to read up on him.
His modest (statistical) record in his only series against Australia possibly explains why knew little other than the fearsome reputation of the Adcock-Heine fast bowling partnership.
But when you look at his extraordinary average and realise that he was the first South African to take 100 test wickets, it can be fairly argued that Adcock was the first in a line of great South African fast bowlers, including the Pollocks, Donald and now Steyn.
So the full team:
Amiss, Atherton, Amla, Armanath, Armstrong, Asif Iqbal, Ames, Abdul Qadir, Ambrose, Alderman and Adcock.
My sense is that this is a reasonably strong team in most conditions but not one that will challenge the best of the rest.
Perhaps only Ambrose is a genuine all time great as a Test player although Amla’s story is still to play out.