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Cricket's All Time N/O Team

Roar Guru
8th July, 2013
19

This is my first composite team and as you’ll see, perhaps it needed a few more letters to make it more competitive.

As it is, the match against the E Team and I Team would be pretty tight although I think the NO Team’s bowling attack is actually pretty good. The team:

1. Monty Noble (c)
2. Marcus North
3. Dudley Nourse
4. Norm O’Neill
5. Seymour Nurse
6. Nawab of Pataudi Jr
7. Stan Nichols
8. Bert Oldfield (wk)
9. Chris Old
10. Bill O’Reilly
11. Makhaya Ntini

1. Monty Noble (c)
Australia, RHB, ROS, 42 Tests (15 capt), 1997 runs at 30.26, one 100, 121 wickets at 25.00

The legendary NSW and Australian captain fell just three runs short of becoming the first person in Tests to do the 2000 runs/ 100 wickets double.

As it is, he remains one of the great figures of the Golden Age and only last week, the SCG announced that the new stand currently being built will be called the MA Noble Stand.

He batted all through the order although his highest average was as an opener (38.45) and he was able to bowl medium pace and off spin as required.

Australia lost its first series under his captaincy in 1903/4 although it was scarcely Noble’s fault – he scored 417 runs at 60 and took 16 wickets at 20 in the series.

However, he took his revenge as a captain four years later with Australia ending up only one ball away from a 5-0 whitewash.

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He didn’t tour England in 1912 following the Clem Hill lead boycott.

2. Marcus North
Australia, LHB, ROS, 1171 runs at 35.48, five 100s, 14 wickets at 42.21

Yes, I know. What is Marcus North doing in any of these teams and why is he opening?

All I can say is that, like a NZ selector, I can only work with the cattle I am given.

Amazingly, North is still only 33. And who knows, if he scores a few more runs in County cricket this northern summer and if there are a couple of injuries or suspensions from the Ashes squad, he may even get a call up.

3. Dudley Nourse
South Africa, RHB, 34 Tests (15 capt), 2960 runs at 53.82, nine 100s

Nourse competed with his contemporary Bruce Mitchell for the title of “best South African batsman before Graeme Pollock”.

Nourse’s consistency was outstanding and he is certainly one of the game’s most underrated batsmen who in fact missed his prime due to WWII.

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His finest innings – 231 against Australia at Johannesburg – tends to go unnoticed, overshadowed as it was by the second of Stan McCabe’s three classics.

Nourse was still good enough to score a second Test double ton in his last Test series, aged 40 while batting with a broken thumb.

Sadly, in his next four Tests he only managed 93 runs and his average plummeted from 59.73.

4. Norm O’Neill
Australia, RHB, 42 Tests, 2779 runs at 45.56, six 100s

Norm O’Neill was plagued with “the next Bradman” tag early in his career. But at a solid six foot, with an extravagant array of strokes, and a renowned nervousness at the start of his innings, it’s hard to immediately recall too many top class players less like Bradman.

For the first part of his career, O’Neill lived up to the hype. After his mighty 181 in the Tied Test his career record stood at 1057 runs at 70.47 – all before his 24th birthday.

But injury, wavering form and focus and a little controversy caught up with him and he played his last test at the age of 28.

5. Seymour Nurse
West Indies, RHB, 29 Tests, 2523 runs at 47.60, six 100s

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Nurse had a strange career, debuting relatively late at 26 and then being in and out of the West Indian side for most of his career.

He then finished with a golden spell of 13 Tests in 13 months which produced 1340 runs at 54, including a record final innings score of 258 against NZ in 1969.

He didn’t play again for the West Indies, seemingly due to his own hasty decision to “retire” due to some dissatisfaction with the West Indies board and then due to his pride in not wanting to reverse that decision.

6. Nawab of Pataudi Jr
India, RHB, 46 Tests (40 capt), 2793 runs at 34.91, six 100s

The less well known “Tiger” in this team was, until 2004 the game’s youngest ever Test captain, taking that position just after his 21st birthday.

Just as remarkably, he played his entire Test career only being able to see out of one eye, having lost vision in his right eye  after a car accident when he was 20.

In 1968, he lead India to a Test and series win in New Zealand, the first time the team had won a Test outside of India.

Pataudi’s own record was better in away Tests (averaging 38) and his record against Australia was very consistent – reaching 48 in nine of his first 12 innings against them.

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However his record against the West Indies was the opposite – failing to reach double figures in 11 of 19 innings including his last five innings in Tests.

7. Stan Nichols
England, LHB, RF, 14 Tests, 355 runs at 29.58, 41 wickets at 28.10

You probably wouldn’t have heard of Stan Nichols who played most of his Tests after the Bodyline series due to Harold Larwood and Bill Voce’s exile from the England Test team.

He only played the one Test against Australia – at Manchester in 1930, ironically dismissing Oldfield.

He was performed extremely well as an all rounder in County cricket, ending his FC career with nearly 18000 runs (at 27) and over 1800 wickets (at 22). His career best performances of 205 with the bat and 9/32 with the ball remarkably came in the same season – 1936.

He played in the final Test before WWII, just two weeks before Germany invaded Poland.

8. Bert Oldfield (wk)
Australia, RHB, 54 Tests, 1427 runs at 22.65, 130 dismissals (78/52)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Oldfield, having lived for a number of years in a house that backed on to the Oldfield Oval in Killara.

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Despite not becoming a regular in the side until he was 30, Oldfield retired in his 40s with the dismissals record. He still holds the stumpings record, following a career of keeping to the likes of Grimmett, O’Reilly and Mailey.

It is of course the picture of an injured Oldfield in Adelaide, holding his head after ducking into a ball from Harold Larwood, that is the enduring image of the Bodyline series. Tensions were so high at that point that, as Oldfield was escorted from the field, there was genuine fear of a riot and for the personal safety of the England players.

Oldfield, ever classy, later fully absolved Larwood admitting that he played a poor shot when he was hit.

9. Chris Old
England, LHB, RFM, 46 Tests, 845 runs at 14.82, 143 wickets at 28.11

Old was an excellent seamer who, due to injuries, didn’t play as much Test cricket as he could have.

Notwithstanding that, his career has a number of extreme highlights. In 1978 against Pakistan he took 4 wickets in 5 balls (only two others have done that in Tests).

He was also the only England player to play at both the Centenary Tests at the MCG and Lords.

And his final two Tests were two of the greats – England’s twin escape acts at Headingley and Edgbaston in 1981. In both matches, Old chimed in with crucial 20s late in England’s second innings.

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10. Bill O’Reilly
Australia, LHB, RLS, 27 Tests, 410 runs at 12.81, 144 wickets at 22.59

Tiger was chosen in the Australian Team of the Century as well as various Bradman’s Bests.

Indeed, despite their deep personal animosity, O’Reilly and Bradman each considered the other the finest of their type, hence the widely held view that, until Shane Warne came along, O’Reilly was the greatest ever leg spinner if not bowler.

In many senses, the spirit of O’Reilly passed on to Warne who debuted a few months after Tiger’s passing although they had markedly different styles – O’Reilly being more akin to Anil Kumble.

Post his playing career he became a highly respected and forthright journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald mentoring the likes of Peter Roebuck.

11. Makhaya Ntini
South Africa, RHB,RF, 101 Tests, 699 runs at 9.85, 390 wickets at 28.83

Due to his poor record in Australia, it might come as a surprise just how prolific Ntini was.

Other than various allrounders, only Courtney Walsh and Glenn McGrath played more Tests as fast bowlers. His 380 wickets in the 2000s is only bettered by Murali and is 77 wickets more than the next fast bowler – Brett Lee.

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Fittingly for the first black cricketer to play for South Africa, his home record was outstanding, 249 wickets at 24.04 with a strike rate of 45.24.