The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Cricket's all-time alphabetical I team

Roar Guru
6th June, 2013
30

OK, from the dizzy heights of the ‘G’ and ‘H’ teams, we are now stepping back into the third division – the all-time ‘I’ XI (from a total of 35 ‘Is’ to have played Test cricket).

Here is my ‘I’ team:

1. Imran Farhat
2. Frank Iredale
3. Ijaz Ahmed
4. Inzamam-ul-Haq
5. Lee Irvine
6. Imran Khan
7. Imtiaz Ahmed (wk)
8. Ray Illingworth (c)
9. Iqbal Qasim
10. Bert Ironmonger
11. Jack Iverson

As you’ll notice, it is heavy with Pakistani players, batting bunnies, cult heros and spinners.

I was torn between Imran and Illingworth for captaincy but went with the Englishman because of his success in Australia.

Ironmonger shares the new ball with Imran. A bit more on each player:

1. Imran Farhat
Pak, LHB, 40 Tests, 2400 runs at 32.00, 3 100s

Farhat can probably best be described as the Ed Cowan of Pakistan cricket. They are both lefties, they have virtually identical averages, they have a similar penchant for getting starts and then getting out.

Hell, they were even born only a few weeks apart.

Advertisement
Advertisement

2. Frank Iredale
Aus, RHB, 14 Tests, 807 runs at 36.68, 2 100s

In only 23 innings, Iredale managed to bat in eight spots in the batting order. His six innings as opener, including a stoic 108 against a rampant Tom Richardson in a 3 wicket win at Old Trafford in 1896, qualifies him to open here.

His average for the era was actually quite good.

Iredale Avenue in Cremorne Point in Sydney (close to Murdoch Street, Spofforth Street and Boyle Street) is named after him.

3. Ijaz Ahmed
Pak, RHB, 60 Tests, 3315 runs at 37.67, 12 100s

When researching this article, I was surprised to find that Ijaz’s record was so modest.

The reason for this is that Ijaz performed superbly against Australia throughout his career – averaging 47 in 14 Tests.

Indeed, his six centuries against Australia is the most by a Pakistani (equal with Javed Miandad).

Advertisement
Advertisement

Of these six tons, I saw just about every ball live of his masterful 137 at the SCG in 1995 against McGrath, Reiffel, McDermott and Warne.

His record batting at first drop is also excellent – 1878 runs at 44.71.

Ijaz was also a member of Pakistan’s World Cup-winning team.

4. Inzamam-ul-Haq
Pak, RHB, 120 Tests (31 capt), 8830 runs at 49.61, 25 100s

Due to his counter-athletic frame and laconic approach to the serious business of international professional sport, the mighty Inzi was a cult hero for much of his career.

He announced himself with a number of match-turning innings in the 1992 World Cup but his real forte was Test cricket.

In the end, only a bizarre batting performance in his final Test innings (stumped second ball for three) stopped him from becoming Pakistan’s highest run scorer (by two runs) with a 50 average in Tests.

His 329 against NZ in 2002 saw him outscore all 22 Kiwi batsmen in the match by 10 runs and remains Pakistan’s second highest Test score.

Advertisement
Advertisement

However, he is his country’s highest century-maker.

5. Lee Irvine
SAf, LHB, 4 Tests, 353 runs at 50.43, 1 100

In the hype of South Africa’s whitewash of Australia in 1970 and the supernova Test careers of Barry Richards and Mike Procter, it is easy to overlook Lee Irvine’s own fine performances in what was his only Test series.

In his seven Test innings, he never failed to reach double figures and ended up on a reasonably small list of players who made their only Test century in their final test innings.

Unlike Richards and Procter, Irvine spent his post-isolation career only playing in South Africa, despite having played two seasons for Essex in the late 60s.

6. Imran Khan
Pak, RHB, RF, 88 Tests (48 capt), 3807 runs at 37.69, 6 100s, 362 wickets at 22.81

Pakistan’s greatest captain and player – and Presidential hopeful – the Lion of Lahore is the superstar of this team.

Imran was one of the four great allrounders of the 70s and 80s and was probably the second best bowler after Richard Hadlee and the second best batsman after Ian Botham.

Advertisement
Advertisement

As a total package though he is up there with the three or four greatest allrounders ever to play Test cricket and, if you throw in his remarkable captaincy record, arguably the greatest.

Only he and Botham have taken 10 wickets and scored a century in a Test; and of the select group of bowlers to have taken more than 40 wickets in a series, Imran is the only one to have scored a Test century, let alone six of them.

With the ball, he was consistently good against all countries (including 80 wickets at 21.19 against the West Indies) and with the bat he only averaged less than 30 against the West Indies.

However, India were his favourite opponents, scoring 1091 runs at 52 and taking 94 wickets at 24 against them in 23 matches.

7. Imtiaz Ahmed (wk)
Pak, RHB, 41 Tests (4 capt), 2079 runs at 29.28, 3 100s, 89 dismissals (73/16)

Although he was Pakistan’s first Test keeper, Imtiaz’s most memorable Test feats surround his batting.

He was the scorer of its first Test duck (and indeed, three of its first four ducks) for Pakistan.

He later redeemed his batting credentials by becoming the first keeper to score a double century (although even then he also became the first person to get a duck after scoring a double ton).

Advertisement
Advertisement

8. Ray Illingworth (c)
Eng, RHB, RAO, 61 Tests (31 capt), 1836 runs at 23.24, 2 100s, 122 wickets at 31.20

It took Illingworth 11 seasons to play his first 30 Tests, such was his ‘fringe’ player status. Then, as if by magic once he moved from Yorkshire to Leicestershire and was made their county captain, his Test career also took off.

For the next five seasons (ending in his early 40s) he lead his country during one of its most successful periods.

That era of course included the infamous 1970-1 Ashes series and the retention of the Ashes in the intense drawn series of 1972.

His captaincy career ended with a bit of a thrashing at the hands of the West Indies but his place in English cricket legend was secure by then.

He was a fine allrounder to boot, with his epic 32-year, 787 match first-class career bringing over 24000 runs and 2000 wickets.

9. Iqbal Qasim
Pak, LHB, LAO, 50 Tests, 549 runs at 13.07, 171 wickets at 28.11

Iqbal was a really excellent slow left armer with a fine record against all opponents other than the Indians.

Advertisement
Advertisement

His 11/118 against Australia in Karachi won the series for Pakistan in what was other a dreary batsman friendly series.

Later that year he took 17 wickets at 18 against the strong West Indian visitors.

For Pakistani fans, his finest moment was his nine wickets against India at Bangalore in 1987 (including the crucial wicket of Sunil Gavaskar for 96 in his final Test) which secured a thrilling 16 run win and Pakistan’s first series win in India.

His career overlapped substantially with Abdul Qadir and indeed his average is quite a lot better than his more illustrious spin twin’s.

10. Bert Ironmonger
Aus, LHB,LSM/LAO, 14 Tests, 42 runs at 2.62, 74 wickets at 17.97

It is unlikely that anyone with such a short Test career is a bigger cult hero than ‘Dainty’ – with his unforgettable name and nickname, his utter uselessness as a cricketer other than when he was bowling; and the fact that he debuted at the age of 46 and played after he was 50.

Although he took far more wickets than runs, his most famous batting moment came in the Bodyline series where he saw Bradman to his only ton of the series before being run out second ball.

As a bowler, he had some remarkable spells, particularly on wet wickets.

Advertisement
Advertisement

He took the ludicrous match figures of 11/24 against South Africa in 1932 – the cheapest 10 wicket match in Tests – as part of his 31 wickets at 9.55 for the series.

His record on the MCG was 4 Tests, 33 wickets at 8.58.

11. Jack Iverson
Aus, RHB, RLS, 5 tests, 3 runs at 0.75, 21 wickets at 15.24

Another tragic cricket figure. Due to WWII, which started when he was 24, Iverson played just one series, the 1950-51 Ashes at the age of 35, and only a couple of seasons of first-class cricket.

But that short period of time was enough for something of a legend to develop around this ‘mystery spinner’.

During his time in the army, he developed a way to spin the ball by flicking it with his middle finger and only the position of his wrist determined the way the ball would come off the pitch.

Of current cricketers, the Sri Lankan Ajantha Mendis perhaps bowls most like Iverson would have bowled.

If Iverson bamboozled batsmen with his bowling, he was easily bamboozled by other bowlers himself.

Advertisement
Advertisement

His average is the lowest of anyone to have played at least four Tests and is bad enough to ensure he bats behind Bert Ironmonger!

Sadly, Iverson quit cricket entirely in 1951 to work on the family business and in 1973, suffering depression, he took his own life.