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Interested in stadium politics, competition programming, sporting administration, cricket history and trivia

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Leading wicket-takers during 1 Jan 2000-present

Lyon 96 matches, 390 at 31.58, with 18 five-fers
Warne 65 matches, 357 at 25.17, with 21 five-fers
Johnson 73 matches, 313 at 28.40, with 12 five-fers
Lee 75 matches, 303 at 31.27, with 9 five-fers
McGrath 66 matches, 297 at 20.53, with 14 five-fers
Starc 57 matches, 244 at 26.97, with 13 five-fers
Siddle 67 matches, 221 at 30.66, with 8 five-fers
Gillespie 57 matches, 209 at 27.09, with 5 five-fers

The greatest Australian Test XI this century

10 highest run-scorers 1 Jan 2000 (not 1 Jan 2001)-present

Ponting 135 matches, 11,286 runs at 53.48, 35 centuries
Clarke 115 matches, 8643 runs at 49.10, 27 centuries
Hayden 96 matches, 8364 runs at 52.93, 29 centuries
Warner 84 matches, 7244 runs at 48.94, 24 centuries
Smith 73 matches, 7227 runs at 62.84, 26 centuries
Hussey 79 matches, 6235 runs at 51.52, 19 centuries
Langer 76 matches, 5994 runs at 48.73, 18 centuries
Gilchrist 91 matches, 5130 runs at 46.63, 16 centuries
Katich 56 matches, 4188 runs at 45.03, 10 centuries
Martyn 60 matches, 4089 runs at 48.67, 13 centuries

The greatest Australian Test XI this century

Hi Disco,

‘Mo’ ruled the SCG at Shield level, and I picked him as a top-6 bat in my December-born team, ahead of Khawaja, Head, Hodge, Wade, Geoff Marsh and Ross Edwards.

In this particular Test at the SCG, Greg scored 128 himself from only 175 balls. Then in the next innings, he bowled 58 overs (the equivalent of 8 hours straight from one end, which doesn’t happen any more), while Atherton scored 105 in 451 minutes (just over 7-and-a-half hours). On Day 3, Atherton scored 30 runs in the first session, 28 in the middle one, and 36 in the last, to be 94 not out at stumps. And this was his only Ashes ton.

The Calendar Ashes: Sixth Test, March

And he played only the one match, and it took me a while to find him.

Whereas 10 of those 54 wicketkeepers, were born in August !

The Calendar Ashes: Sixth Test, March

Thanks Paul, can’t fault your logic.

Although I would worry that Hill might try to throw the Chairman of Selectors out of an upper-floor window, a la Percy McAlister in 1912.

And maybe it adds weight that when England won by 10 runs at the SCG in 1894-95 after following on, its captain was Stoddart, and this team’s Lockwood and Gay also played ? Plus, on the losing side, Giffen scored 161 and 41, and bowled an amazing 118 overs (43-17-75-4 and 75-25-164-4), albeit not as captain.

(JGK, is that the sort of trivia you’d like to read more of ?)

The Calendar Ashes: Sixth Test, March

Hi Josh, Atherton’s numbers against Australia are really underwhelming.

In 33 matches (66 innings) he scored only one century (105 at the SCG in 1990-91, from 349 balls with 8 boundaries, on a featherbed where England scored 8-469 in reply to 518, with Greg Matthews’ figures 1-145 from 58 overs). He averaged only 29.68 in those matches, dropping to 26.74 when he wasn’t captain. In seven consecutive series he averaged 18.25, 31.00, 46.08, 40.70, 23.36, 13.75 and 22.10.

To be fair, if McGrath hadn’t dismissed him a record 19 times, his figures would read better…

The Calendar Ashes: Sixth Test, March

Thanks Dave J for the corrections, and happy to leave the batting order to the skipper ! Many of these teams have an opening batsman surplus, while others have to improvise. In this match alone, both Wayne Phillips and Vernon Ransford would bat lower, given the choice.

The Calendar Ashes: Sixth Test, March

And I must sincerely thank all Roarers for their encouraging feedback so far.

As I finalise the pen portraits of the 132 players that I’ve selected for the return series in England, what do you most like to read about them ?

Statistics and best performances ? Anecdotes and obscure trivia ? Or styles and strengths ?

The Calendar Ashes: Sixth Test, March

Would Trott have bowled himself half-volleys, or given his wicket away to himself ?

The Calendar Ashes: Fifth Test, February

Hi Dave J,

Would have loved to have seen that 1969-70 team play the ’70s Australians and West Indians. Not to forget Barry Richards, Denis Lindsay, Peter Pollock and Eddie Barlow, and later Clive Rice, Vincent van der Bijl and Garth le Roux. Two World XI series and WSC, was the closest we got.

Poor Lawry never had a chance. Especially given that Australia went straight from five Tests in India on low, slow pitches, to face them.

The Calendar Ashes: Fifth Test, February

Hi Paul D and Paul,

Simmo was very old-school, and made the teams he coached really fit, starting with NSW in the ’80s. He also insisted that the team that scored the most singles in an ODI, would win it. Dean Jones and others made it a priority.

He wasn’t a big boundary-hitter himself, as seen in his biggest scores eg 311 (98 in boundaries), 225 (78 in boundaries), 176 (68 in boundaries), and twice 153 (52 and 48 in boundaries). Nowadays with fast outfields, roped boundaries and more powerful bats, far more seem to be hit.

The Calendar Ashes: Fifth Test, February

Hi JGK, it’s likely that around 90-100 of the 1153 Australia and England Test players were born in February. I’ve only looked into the best 600, which included 53.

But 29 February babies do include Australia’s Gavin Stevens (four Tests in 1959-60 in India and Pakistan, where he contracted hepatitis at age 27, and never played again), England’s Alf Gover (four Tests between 1936 and 1946, and ran a famous indoor cricket school), and NSW’s Sean Abbott (five white-ball internationals).

The Calendar Ashes: Fifth Test, February

Hi matth, your Australian teams won the Alphabet Ashes series, and the Calendar Australians should end up winning this home series at least 4-2, but probably 5-1 or even 6-0.

However, they’ll do well to win three of the six matches in England, and retain the urn. Perhaps we will need to find a further Ashes theme, just in case they return home empty-handed.

The Calendar Ashes: Fifth Test, February

Thanks so much JGK !

The website says available 30 Jun in paperback, I haven’t seen it in retail bookstores, sounds like a must-read. Along with the only book by this historian-

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/22/cricket-historian-writer-surgeon-spy-the-mad-world-of-major-rowland-bowen

The Calendar Ashes: Fourth Test, January

Thanks, DaveJ.

It’s a genuine labour of love, but a really fun project in the absence of live sport and while WFH. Thank God for Cricinfo and dual screens. I just filter data as appropriate, then one click and up pops a player’s bio including birthdate. Plus, I’ve got a good library of old books, and am enjoying dusting them off after probably 30 years.

Finally, the romantic in me desperately wants to believe what Cardus, Warner etc wrote about their Golden Age heroes.

The Calendar Ashes: Fourth Test, January

Self-imposed ! Otherwise, the 12 articles would be collectively the size of a Wisden.

The Calendar Ashes: Fourth Test, January

Thanks DaveJ, maybe an actuarian can explain how the exception proves the rule, and the merits of nature versus nurture ?

January is definitely an outlier, especially compared to each of the two months prior, and two months after.

Two other examples were England’s 54 wicketkeepers (ten were born in August, and the sole March one played only one match), and leading run-getters (6 of the top 26 were born in December, while the best January one came in at 109th).

The Calendar Ashes: Fourth Test, January

Hi Paul,

John Inverarity played 223 first-class matches during 1962/63-1984/85, took 251 catches and made 0 stumpings, and I can’t recall him keeping. He bowled left-arm orthodox, and during WSC could well have led Australia instead of Bob Simpson. During that period, WA’s keeper would have been Gordon Becker, then Rod Marsh. His father Mervyn played for WA during 1925/26-1939/40, but was a leggie.

The Calendar Ashes: Fourth Test, January

Like knowing that a tomato is a fruit, but understanding to not put it in a fruit salad ?

The Calendar Ashes: Fourth Test, January

Good pick-up, JGK. With the word-count so tight, and Morris impossible to sum up in just four sentences, I’ve gone and wasted two words on “not out” !

And I happily claim Hole as the seventh Bluebagger, even though apparently he left for South Australia after just the one Shield match for NSW.

The Calendar Ashes: Fourth Test, January

Hi TLN,

Only 13 of my list of the 250 best-performed Australians were born in January, hence Buggins and Hole got caps. Fortunately, most of the other team members are pretty handy !

And my list of the 350 best-performed Englanders included only four batsmen who were born in January. This is by far the weakest of the 12 English teams.

It would certainly appear that elite cricketers are not born evenly by month, year-round. It can be relatively random. A triumph for nurture over nature ?

The Calendar Ashes: Fourth Test, January

According to Wikipedia-

In 1934, he took 109 wickets at 17.04 in all first-class matches, the best average for the tour and also the entire English season, and was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year.

In 1938, he took 104 wickets at 16.59, again the best average for the tour.

The Calendar Ashes: Third Test, December

Hi JGK,

Unfortunately I don’t have a 1935 or 1939 Wisden, and Cricinfo lists every match scorecard but no overall tour averages, and I have an old book with full statistics for every Australian tour up until the late-1970s but it’s boxed away after a recent move, and the NSWCA’s library is closed until further notice.

So I could find them, but not quickly.

The Calendar Ashes: Third Test, December

Good points, Dave J and JGK.

Especially as 30-plus three-day matches a season, on uncovered pitches, with probably fewer skilled tailenders, enabled Tich Freeman to take 200 wickets in eight consecutive seasons, including 304 wickets in 1928, and 298 in 1933.

Maybe O’Reilly’s Grade cricket statistics are an indication. Wisden’s obituary on him states- “playing for North Sydney and St George, he topped the Sydney Grade averages 12 times and took 962 wickets at 9.44.”

The Calendar Ashes: Third Test, December

Fair enough, matth and Dave J.

I was tempted to pick Simon Jones (trivia- he was born on Christmas Day), but a record in Australia of just one match, taking 7-0-32-1, before suffering that on-field knee injury that kept him out of cricket for the following 12-18 months, counted against him.

I was even more tempted to pick his father Jeff, the fast left-armer whose first-class career ended at age 26 due to elbow and shoulder injuries. In Australia in 1965/66, he played four matches and took 15 wickets at 35.53, including 6/118 in Adelaide. His angle and variety would have been useful.

In the end, I went for the bowler that played 67 matches and took 248 wickets.

And while I found 37 December-born Test players with reasonable records, the only spinner among them was Freddie Brown.

The best non-Test player alternative was Tom Wass, who Cricinfo describes as “right-arm fast-medium, legbreak,” and of whom John Arlott wrote- “Tom Wass virtually bowled Nottinghamshire to the Championship of 1907 with 163 wickets at 14.28; and took more (1679) wickets for them than any other bowler. C. B. Fry said of him that, on good wickets, he was simply fast and straight but that when there was any dampness in the pitch he bowled, in effect, fast leg-breaks, and was all but unplayable. Certainly in his old age the third and fourth fingers were wedged in the palm of his bowling hand from many years of being held aside from his ‘legcutter’.”

The Calendar Ashes: Third Test, December