I had to take a bit of a break from this exercise after struggling to put an E team together, but I am now back on board. My All Time F Team is:
1. Roy Fredericks
2. Jack Fingleton
3. Aubrey Faulkner
4. CB Fry
5. Andy Flower (wk)
6. Stephen Fleming (c)
7. Andrew Flintoff
8. Frank Foster
9. JJ Ferris
10. Fazal Mahmood
11. AP ‘Tich’ Freeman
This is a pretty esoteric team if I’m honest, but also one of my favourites so far. Interesting (and tragic) figures abound and a few old gems have been uncovered.
A bit more on each player:
1. Roy Fredericks – WI, LHB, 59 Tests, 4334 runs at 42.49, eight 100s
Nearly 40 years ago, the tiny (5”6′) Guyanan played one of the great innings in Tests. On a blisteringly fast WACA pitch against Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson at their peaks, Fredericks scored the then fastest ton in history in 1975, reaching it in 71 balls before falling for 169 off 145.
Six months later in the “we will make them grovel series” against England, Fredericks scored 517 runs at nearly 60. He only played one more series (against Pakistan) before defecting to World Series Cricket.
2. Jack Fingleton – Aus, RHB, 18 Tests, 1189 runs at 42.46, five 100s
Perhaps better known as one of Bradman’s primary adversaries and, in his post-playing career, as an astute writer and commentator, Fingleton was a fine opener in his own right.
He was the first player (and still the only Australian) to score centuries in four consecutive Test innings. He compiled a brave 83 in the Bodyline series (ironically down the other end as Bradman scored his first golden duck) but later got a pair in the infamous Adelaide Test and was subsequently out of the side for nearly three years.
Unfortunately his career ended with WWII, but not before he (and Bradman) sat out injured and missed batting on The Oval highway in 1938 as Australia lost by an innings and 579.
3. Aubrey Faulkner – RSA, RHB, RLS, 25 Tests, 1754 runs at 40.79, four 100s, 82 wickets at 26.59
One of the more tragic and underrated cricketers in history, Faulkner was one of the icons of the golden age of cricket before WWI, and was the first of a long line of great South African all rounders.
Against Australia in 1910 he became the first person to score a double century in a losing Test (amazingly Victor Trumper did the same thing seven days later).
Faulkner’s 732 runs in that series was a record at the time. His finest series was earlier that year, at home against England when he scored 545 runs and took 29 wickets. No player has scored more runs and taken more wickets in the one series.
He was cruelly brought back for one Test in 1924 due to injuries in the South African touring squad in England and six years later took his own life.
4. CB Fry – Eng, RHB, 26 Tests (6 capt), 1223 runs at 32.18, two 100s
If Faulkner was an icon of the golden age, Fry was its Mona Lisa.
It’s hard to know where to start with Fry so I’ll quote from Wikipedia: “An English polymath; an outstanding sportsman, politician, diplomat, academic, teacher, writer, editor and publisher,” to which could be added “Nazi sympathiser.”
In between all that, he also found time to score more than 30,000 First Class runs, averaging over 50 with 94 centuries. Only he, Bradman and Mike Procter have scored First Class centuries in six consecutive innings. Needless to say, it was quite a life.
5. Andy Flower (wk) – Zim, LHB, 63 Tests (20 capt), 4794 runs at 51.55, 12 100s, 151 dismissals (142/9)
Possibly Test cricket’s finest ever keeper batsman and by some margin Zimbabwe’s greatest player, if Flower had played for a major Test nation he could well have been in the upper echelons of the runs and centuries lists.
As it is he has an outstanding record and in a 10 Test, 12 month period from November 2000 he accumulated an astonishing 1466 runs at an average of 133.
Included was his twins of 142 and 199* against South Africa, the second highest match total in a losing side. He was only eight first innings runs from making him only the second player after Allan Border to score 150 twice in a match.
His international career effectively ended after he and Henry Olonga wore black armbands in a 2003 World Cup match in protest against the brutal Mugabe regime.
6. Stephen Fleming (c) – NZ, LHB, 111 Tests (80 capt), 7172 runs at 40.07, nine 100s
Although Fleming was a stylish and obviously talented batsman, his career batting record is somewhat underwhelming. This is probably due to his appalling conversion rate (46 50s but only nine 100s).
Ironically, of his nine 100s, he went on to at least 170 five times.
However, he is best known for his captaincy skills and his 80 Tests as captain is only behind Graeme Smith and Allan Border. He was also an outstanding slipper, and his 171 catches were taken at a better rate than anyone with more than 110 catches.
7. Andrew Flintoff – Eng, RHB, RFM, 79 Tests (11 capt), 3845 runs at 31.78, five 100s, 226 wickets at 32.79
England’s talisman during the 2000s, Flintoff’s impact on cricket, like Ian Botham’s 20 years earlier, transcended mere figures due to his personality and his genuine influence with either bat or ball.
For the 32 Test stretch from the South Africa series in 2003 to the Rest of the World Test at the SCG in late 2005, Flintoff scored over 2000 runs at 41 and took 133 wickets at 26.
Like Botham, he was a terrible choice as captain, and injuries and off field controversy blighted the latter part of his career.
However, in his final series, the 2009 Ashes, was still able to produce one curtain call performance, taking five wickets at Lords in what was England’s first Ashes win there in 75 years.
8. Frank Foster – Eng, RHB, LFM, 11 Tests, 330 runs at 23.57, 45 wickets at 20.57
A bit of a left field selection given that his Test career was cut short by WWI, Foster makes the team on the basis of his fine First Class career.
Even in Tests, Foster shone brightly in his limited opportunities, taking 32 wickets on tour in his debut series in 1911/12 against a very strong Australian batting side, let alone producing 226 runs at 32.
Even though his Test and First Class careers were cut short, his all round prowess was enough for him to join an elite group (Grace, Hammond, Hirst and Sobers) to have scored a triple ton and taken nine wickets in a First Class innings during their careers.
9. Fazal Mahmood – Pak, RHB, RFM, 34 Tests (10 capt), 620 runs at 14.09, 139 wickets at 24.71
The first of a long line of outstanding Pakistani fast bowlers, Fazal Mahmood regularly ran through some of the best batting sides in the game in his decade of playing Test cricket.
He was most famous for destroying a star-studded side at the Oval in 1954 to the tune of 12/99 in what was Pakistan’s first ever win over England (securing a series draw in the process). Australia found him just as unplayable on his home matting in the 50s.
At the end of the tour to India in early 1961 Fazal’s record stood at an outstanding 134 wickets at 22. Alas, his last few Tests against England were a series too far as their batsman took revenge for that Oval Test eight years earlier.
10. ‘Tich’ Freeman – Eng, RHB, RLS, 16 Tests, 154 runs at 14.00, 66 wickets at 25.86
Called ‘Tich’ because he was only 5”2′, Freeman’s Test record is also short but is sufficient to make this side.
It is really on the strength of his extraordinary First Class career that he gets in: 3776 First Class wickets at 18, and an average of more than six wickets per match (only Wilfred Rhodes has more in almost twice the matches).
He is the only person to take 300 wickets in a season; the only person to take 17 wickets in a match twice, and on it goes. This was accomplished mostly during the batsman-friendly 20s and 30s.
Freeman’s success against his fellow Englishmen yet his failure in Australia in 1924/5 suggests that the English difficulty with leg spin predates Shane Warne by many decades.
11. JJ Ferris
Aus/Eng, LHB, LMF, 9 Tests (8/1), 114 runs at 8.77, 61 wickets at 12.70
One of several players to play Tests for two countries, Ferris’ Australian career was short but spectacular – capturing 48 wickets in eight Tests against England over four series.
He formed perhaps the first great opening bowling combination with Charlie Turner, and the two of them terrorised England in the late 1880s.
If that wasn’t enough, he moved to England and played a single Test for them in South Africa where he took a lazy 13/91. Alas, South Africa was not to remain friendly to Ferris and he died there in the Second Boer War in 1900.