The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Cricket's all-time alphabetical 'R' Team

Roar Guru
22nd July, 2013
19

With the pairs of Richards (and sons) and Russells, as well as other high quality players, the ‘R’ Team is perhaps best described as ‘light heavyweight”’– strong and powerful but just below a few of the others. Still, this is a very strong team.

The R Team in full:

1. Wilfred Rhodes

2. Barry Richards

3. Sir Viv Richards (c)

4. Ranjitsihnji

5. Richie Richardson

6. Charles Albert George Russell

7. Jack Russell (wk)

Advertisement
Advertisement

8. Andy Roberts

9. Tom Richardson

10. Sonny Ramadhin

11. Bruce Reid

The middle order of the team is likable for its alternating power and elegance. The bowling too has a mixture of workhorses and strike bowlers and with Rhodes playing, has superb variety.

More poetically, the team is full of trail-blazers and a number of players about whom you lament what might have been.

1. Wilfred Rhodes

England, RHB,SLA, 58 Tests, 2325 runs at 30.19, two 100s, 127 wickets at 26.97

Advertisement
Advertisement

The First Class numbers alone tell the story. 1110 matches. 4204 wickets. 39,969 runs. All compiled over 33 seasons.

He was one of the few players to bowl to both WG Grace and Don Bradman (not to mention Victor Trumper in between).

Rhodes’ Test career is impressive in its own right. He batted every position in the batting order – from 1 to 11.

His 323 opening partnership with Jack Hobbs in 1912 was the first triple century partnership in Tests and remains England’s record Ashes opening partnership.

Bowling-wise, his 7/17 at Edgbaston in 1902 resulted in Australia’s lowest ever Test total of 36. And his 15/124 in the match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1904 were the best Test figures at the time and are still the 11th best.

Rhodes is also the oldest person to appear in a Test match.

2. Barry Richards

South Africa, RHB 4 Tests, 508 runs at 72.57, two 100s

Advertisement
Advertisement

If we can marvel in how much cricket Rhodes played, we can only despair on how much international cricket Richards missed out on.

He showed his class in his brief time at Test level and then repeatedly over many years in County cricket, Sheffield Shield and World Series Cricket (WSC).

His 325 in a day against Lillee, McKenzie and Lock at the WACA in 1970 is part of Sheffield Shield folklore, while his match winning 101* in a low scoring WSC Final in 1979 is similarly revered.

His overall First Class record (which scandalously excludes his 554 in 1979 during WSC) was 28358 runs at 54.74.

3. Sir Viv Richards (c)

West Indies, RHB,ROS, 121 Tests, 8540 runs at 50.24, 24 100s, 32 wickets at 61.38

A Knight of the realm; one of Wisden’s Top 5 of the 20th Century; the greatest ODI batsman ever; possessor of cricket’s ultimate swagger; and the scorer of the fastest century in Tests.

It is almost sacrilege to point out that for the last 10 years and 77 Tests of his career he averaged a “mere” 43.12 without having to face the best bowling attack in the world.

Advertisement
Advertisement

It’s sacrilege because numbers were never part of Viv’s shtick, they were simply the result of what he did better than just about anyone to have played the game.

That is to treat bowlers like a tiger would treat a mouse: play with it, torture it and then contemptuously crush its insignificant life and soul.

That was Viv’s approach to batting. God help you if you weren’t any good.

4. K.S. Ranjitsihnji

England, RHB, 15 Tests, 989 runs at 44.95, two 100s

It is remarkable that we today don’t make more of how remarkable Ranji’s career was. Nobility notwithstanding, he was still an Indian who played Test cricket for England in the late 1800s playing shots, like the leg glance, rarely seen before.

His initial selection for England was not without controversy about his race and eligibility.

However, the touring Australian side of the time welcomed his participation.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Perhaps they shouldn’t have as Ranji’s majestic 154* in the second innings was almost too much for Australia as they limped home by three wickets (with fellow R Teamer Tom Richardson taking 6/76).

Ranji followed this up with 175 in his first Test on Australian soil in 1897. He was less successful in later Tests and he finished his career in the epic 1902 series with scores of 13,0,2, and 4 as financial troubles weighed heavily on him.

His First Class average of 56.37 has only been bettered by a handful of players with more than 20000 runs.

5. Richie Richardson

West Indies, RHB, 86 Tests (24 capt), 5949 runs at 44.40, 16 100s

“Richards and son” was the headline in the local Antiguan newspapers as Viv and Richardson put on 308 against the Australians in 1984.

In many respects, Richie was Viv-lite for much of his career – immensely talented and watchable, preferring to bat without a helmet until very late his career, a devastating hooker (as Jo Angel will attest) but lacking the out and out brutality of Viv.

He was inconsistent early on, once scoring 131*, 154, 0, 0, 138 and 5 in a five match stretch against Australia in 1984, but for most of his career he was simply a high quality player in most conditions and against most attacks.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Australians saw both sides of Richardson. His 72 (out of 146, only one other batsman reached 12) in the 1 run win in Adelaide in 1993 was effectively the series winning innings.

And his regrettable “worst Australian side ever” whinge after losing in 1995 made victory that much sweeter.

6. Charles Albert George  Russell

England, RHB, 10 Tests, 910 runs at 56.88, five 100s

Pop quiz: of players playing at least 10 Tests, who has the best strike of reaching 90 in an innings? Bradman it isn’t (with 29 out of 52). Russell it is with six out of 10.

Now three of those were his last three innings in Tests (96,140,111) but Russell also started his career with an horrendous 0,5,0 and 5 in his first two Tests.

It is surprising that he didn’t play more Tests but with WWI resulting in a late start to his career, an illness in the summer of 1923 (when Russell was 36) left open the door for a younger Herbert Sutcliffe to partner Jack Hobbs and the rest has become history.

He remains the only player to score twin centuries in his final Test.

Advertisement
Advertisement

7. Jack Russell (wk)

England, LHB, 54 Tests, 1897 runs at 27.10, two 100s, 165 dismissals (153/12)

Russell had a quirky personality and a sublime pair of hands all which lead to him being the main victim of England’s 1990s obsession with wanting athletes rather than cricketers.

Ironically, his makeshift replacement, Alec Stewart, had a batting record as keeper far closer to Russell’s average than his own playing as a pure batsman.

Russell of course was more than capable as a batsman, with some gutsy innings for England in the otherwise disastrous 1989 Ashes.

But his finest innings was a mere 29* (off 235 balls) as he and Mike Atherton famously filibustered at the Wanderers in 1995.

What I would give for some of that application in the current Australian side.

8. Andy Roberts

Advertisement
Advertisement

West Indies, 47 Tests, 762 runs at 14.94, 202 wickets at 25.61

Roberts was the first in the new line of great West Indian fast bowlers following their relatively modest attacks of the late 60 and early 70s.

Fast and hostile with a particularly brutal bouncer, he took 32 wickets at 18 against India in his first full series and 18 months later, with 28 wickets at 19, was brilliant against England in the “Grovel” series in which Viv Richards was so dominant.

In between, he was probably as influential as Roy Fredericks in the WACA Test of ’75, dismissing Australia’s top seven in taking 7/54 in the second innings.

Age and the next wave of great quicks eventually caught up with Roberts but many of the players of the time rate him as good as any of his teammates.

9. Tom Richardson

England, RHB,RF, 14 Tests, 177 runs at 11.06, 88 wickets at 25.23

Probably the first great English fast bowler, Richardson’s main claim to fame was his incredible capacity for work.

Advertisement
Advertisement

He averaged 53 overs per Test as a fast bowler. No other quick comes close.

On top of that, he was a genuinely great bowler, once taking five five-fors in five innings as his entire career was played against a mostly strong Australian side.

His 8/94 in his last Test is the best innings figures by anyone playing their final Test.

However, like Reid, it seems that his high workload in Tests contributed to the relatively early end to his career at the age of 27.

Eventually, he died of a heart attack at age 41.

10. Sonny Ramadhin

West Indies, RHB, ROS, 43 Tests, 361 runs at 8.20, 158 wickets at 28.98

It seems strange to think now that the West Indies great bowling partnership of the 50s was a pair of spinners – Alf Valentine and Ramadhin (or “Ramadine”).

Advertisement
Advertisement

Conversely, at the time it would have been strange to see someone from Indian origin playing for the West Indies as Ramadhin was the first to do so, paving the way for the likes of Kanhai and Chanderpaul.

Like Tom Richardson, Ramadhin was a machine of a bowler, averaging 54 overs per Test. He holds the Test and First Class record with his scarcely believable 98 overs in an innings against the stonewalling of Peter May and Colin Cowdrey at Edgbaston in 1957 (having taken 7/49 in the first innings of that Test).

11. Bruce Reid

Australia, LHB, LFM, 27 Tests, 93 runs, 113 wickets at 24.64

There was a fascinating article last year [http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/603419.html] at the height of the rotation policy debate and how Reid’s experience nearly 30 years over was the catalyst for it.

The numbers are compelling, 53 overs in his first Test, at least 30 overs in the first innings of eight of his first 10 Tests as a resource poor Allan Border bowled him into the ground.

Regular injuries thereafter allowing him just 12 Tests in his last five years before playing his last at just 29.

In those 12 Tests, he was dominant, taking 65 wickets at 20, making his eventual demise all the more tragic.

Advertisement
Advertisement