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Cricket's all-time alphabetical H team

Roar Guru
29th May, 2013
33

We are now moving on to one of the real heavyweight teams which a number of high quality players aren’t able to make. My all-time H team:

1. Sir Jack Hobbs
2. Sir Leonard Hutton (c)
3. George Headley
4. Wally Hammond
5. Neil Harvey
6. Michael Hussey
7. Ian Healy (wk)
8. Sir Richard Hadlee
9. Harbhajan Singh
10. Sir Wes Hall
11. Michael Holding

Like the Bs, this team has four cricketing knights and is immensely strong. Perhaps its only weaklink is spin (to the extent that 413 career wickets is a weak link).

1. Sir Jack Hobbs
Eng, RHB, 61 Tests, 5410 runs at 56.94, 15 100s

Only Sir Garfield Sobers challenges Hobbs for the title of ‘Second Greatest Batsman Ever’.

His nickname was ‘The Master’ and he was ranked third in Wisden’s Cricketer of the Century in 2000. Such were his feats that in 1953 the new Queen made him the first professional cricketer ever to be knighted.

His first-class aggregates of runs (61,760) and centuries (199, half made after the age of 40) will of course never be surpassed.

It is scary to think that Hobbs was famous for getting himself out once he had done his job of seeing the shine off the ball (a quarter of his first-class tons were under 110) rather than simply pursue more runs.

Scarier still is the thought that, like Bradman, he probably never played during his physical peak – not playing any Tests between the ages of 31 and 38.

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As with many others, his career went on a series too long and, at the age of 47, he only scored 148 runs in his last four Tests as his career average fell from just under 60 to under 57.

2. Sir Len Hutton (c)
Eng, RHB, 79 Tests (23 capt), 6971 runs at 56.67, 19 100s

Another who lost a large chunk of his career to a world war and who probably played a season too long.

Hutton’s last nine tests (at the age of 38) only yielded 307 runs as his career average fell from 61 to 56 although the period did include him captaining an Ashes winning tour.

He is best known among Australians for his epic world record 364 at The Oval in 1938 as part of the then world record total of 7/903 (dec) as well as for being the first professional to captain England (ending a quaint decades-old policy).

Perhaps more interesting is the age old debate as to whether Hutton, Herbert Sutcliffe, Fred Truman, Wilfred Rhodes or Geoff Boycott is Yorkshire’s greatest cricketer.

3. George Headley
WI, RHB, 22 Tests (1 capt), 2190 runs at 60.83, 10 100s

Nicknamed ‘the Black Bradman’, if Headley had played for a strong team and more often, we might possibly be talking about Bradman being ‘The White Headley’.

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Before WWII he played 19 Tests in 10 years and accumulated 2070 runs at 67 – which more accurately reflects how good he was.

He failed in his three post-War Tests, the last in 1954 at the age of 45. However, in 1948 he did become the first black man to captain the West Indies.

Many of his stats like conversion rate, percentage of team runs, innings per ton and so on are second only to Bradman. His first class average of just under 70 is the third highest.

Headley’s son Ron played two Tests for the West Indies and his grandson, Dean, was a fine fast bowler who played 15 Tests for England.

4. Wally Hammond
Eng, RHB, RMF, 85 Tests (20 capt), 7249 runs at 58.46, 22 100s, 83 wickets at 37.81

Yet another great batsman who, if not for Bradman, might be considered the best ever. By the time WWII started, Hammond’s record showed 6883 runs at 61.

Even though in his 40s, he was lured back post war with the promise of captaincy but his powers by then had waned and he was largely ineffectual on his last tour of Australasia.

As it is, no one has scored more Test runs at a higher average. Even though he was an imperious player on the field (his bowling was excellent and his slip catching was brilliant) he was a difficult character off it and had many enemies.

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Even among long term team mates. On top of that, he had an obsession with Bradman who he saw as stealing his thunder as the best player in cricket (Hammond is second on the most FC double and triple centuries lists behind Bradman and was one of Bradman’s two Test wickets).

His later years were spent in relative poverty and personal controversy. His FC total of 50,551 runs is seventh all time and only Hobbs and Patsy Hendren scored more than his 167 FC centuries.

5. Neil Harvey
Aus, LHB, 79 Tests (1 capt), 6149 runs at 48.42, 21 100s

Although often described as one of the truly great players, and despite being picked in the CA Team of the Century, Harvey’s career really was one of two halves.

The first was for 39 Tests from 1948 to 1955 where he scored 3766 runs at 62 which is as good as any of the legends above him in this batting order.

However, starting with the ill-fated 1956 Ashes tour, his next 40 Tests over seven years yielded 2383 runs at 36, which is a Shane Watson career.

And his performances against different opponents varied widely as well: 80 against South Africa; 60 against India but less than 40 against (an admittedly strong) England.

So he makes this team more on the basis of the legend and the views of contemporaries rather than a solid analysis of the stats.

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6. Michael Hussey
Aus, LHB, 79 Tests, 6235 runs at 51.53, 19 100s

If Harvey’s career was in two parts, Mr Cricket’s was in three. For his first 20 Tests up to the ‘Monkeygate’ Test at the SCG in 2008, Hussey scored 2120 runs at 85.

For the next 34 Tests up to the start of the disastrous 2010/11 Ashes (where Hussey’s spot was widely questioned) he only managed 1960 runs at 34.

The last part of his career started with a brilliant 195 at the Gabba and lasted a further 25 Tests, where he made 2155 runs at 54.

He retired as one of Australia’s most admired and most reliable cricketers ever. As if to emphasise the differences across eras, Hussey played exactly the same number of Tests as Hutton and Harvey but those took only six years compared to 18 and 15 respectively.

7. Ian Healy (wk)
Aus, 119 Tests, 4356 runs at 27.40, 4 100s, 395 dismissals (366/29)

Picked in Australia’s ‘Team of the Century’, Healy was just what you wanted from a keeper – highly skilled, highly combative and at his best with the bat when his team needed him most.

His finest innings was 161 not out at the Gabba against Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop having come in at 5/196.

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He’s now an annoyingly partisan commentator on the Nine Network.

8. Sir Richard Hadlee
NZ, LHB, RFM, 86 Tests, 3124 runs at 27.17, 2 100s, 431 wickets at 22.30

New Zealand’s greatest ever player and one of the most skilful bowlers ever to have played the game. Although considered an all rounder, his batting was inferior to his great 80s all rounder rivals and wasn’t much more than ‘useful’.

Hadlee had a brilliant record against all his opponents but Australians were his favourite play things – 23 Tests, 130 wickets at 20.57. His greatest performance was at the Gabba in 1985 where he took 15 wickets including 9/52 in the first innings.

But perhaps his finest all round performance was against England in Christchurch in 1984 where he scored 99 off 81 balls and then took 8/44 in the match as England were dismissed for 82 and 93.

9. Harbhajan Singh
Ind, RHB, RAO, 101 Tests, 2203 runs at 18.36, 2 100s, 413 wickets at 32.38

The combative Indian is well known to Australians for his brilliant performances in the great 2001 series, his apparent dominance of Ricky Ponting and for the Monkeygate scandal in the 2008 SCG Test.

Above all, Harbhajan is a fine and durable offspinner with a particularly strong record in home Tests (55 Tests, 265 wickets at 28.77).

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He’s not quite in the upper echelon of players that the rest of this team contains but 413 Test wickets reflects an outstanding career.

10. Sir Wes Hall
WI, RHB,RF, 48 Tests, 818 runs at 15.73, 192 wickets at 26.38

As much the hero of the first Tied Test as Alan Davidson, the tall and athletic Hall was the prototype for the great West Indian bowlers that followed a decade or so after him.

He was an extremely popular cricketer wherever he played (including in Australia and England); indeed popular enough to be elected to the Barbados Senate and made Sports Minister in the 80s.

He was another whose playing career had two distinct halves – his first 23 Tests yielded 116 wickets at 21.87, his last 25 Tests only 76 wickets at 33.29.

Perhaps his hugely long run up had taken its toll on his body by his late 20s.

11. Michael Holding
WI, RHB, RF, 60 Tests, 910 runs at 13.79, 249 wickets at 23.69

With his smooth action and blistering pace, Holding terrorised batsmen for a decade, often conjuring up masterful and hostile spells on flat pitches simply due to his pace through the air.

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His 14/149 at the Oval in 1976, a pitch that gave up two double tons and eight other scores above 50 is the stuff of legend; as is a single over he bowled to Geoff Boycott at the start of the England innings at Barbados in 1981 ending with Boycott being bowled.

He is now of course an outstanding (and very cool) TV commentator. Holding apparently only bowled two no balls in his entire Test career and nearly 25 percent of his total career runs came in sixes – a record.