Friday, August 31, 2007

Canterbury Tales

The Times are running an interesting feature online at the moment, asking eighteen selected correspondents to pick their respective 'all-time county Xls'.

It's a well known game you often play when rain stops play - the only problem with this particular survey is that the person who has picked the Kent side has seemingly misunderstood the criteria.

Ok, maybe that's a bit strong - but three of the top fifty English players in history have been wilfully omitted, and the sole rationale for doing so is explained thus: -
Tich Freeman, Les Ames and Frank Woolley were more prolific in terms of the record books but their names are generally shrouded by the mists of time and it is so difficult to judge exactly how they might have fared in the present era.
Mark Bristow's reasoning is as explained above in terms of potential performance in the modern game - even though that isn't actually one of the given criteria for picking a side. The Hampshire correspondent has picked Phillip Mead, Jack Hobbs has made the Surrey line up, and only two of the Yorkshire side played after 1970. Interestingly the Glamorgan representative has selected a side entirely from overseas players - an interesting approach to say the least, especially as Viv Richards is included! (I'll let any Welsh correspondents take issue with that!)

For some reason Bristow has limited his choice to players that he has actually seen - seemingly a period from around the early 70's onwards - yet there's an immediate contradiction in his methodology when he chooses Colin Cowdrey. 'MCC' was past his prime by1970 - so surely the decision has been based on reading record books and second hand accounts of Cowdrey's early career - so therefore why not rely on these for the other glaring omissions.

Ok, I'm not advocating a descent into the nineteenth century and the selection of such legends as Fuller Pilch and Lord Harris - but at least there should be some recognition that cricket does have a pre-modern era history, especially so in the case of a storied county like Kent.

Let me declare my interest as a lifelong Kent fan - and offer up my own eleven, with some explanations as necessary.

Bristow's team is - Luckhurst, Denness, Cowdrey, Woolmer, Asif, Shepherd, Knott, Ellison, Underwood, Alderman, Dilley.

My changes would be -

- Wally Hardinge to open - Passed 1000 runs in a season eighteen times, hit 75 hundreds and missed out on international recognition because his prime coincided with that of Hobbs & Sutcliffe.

- Les Ames in for Woolmer - A career average of 43 and 102 centuries means that he's just playing as a batsman, and was good enough to justify the number four position rather than the usual 'keeper at seven' routine. With Knotty available he won't need to don the gloves.

- Frank Woolley for Shepherd - Woolley is considered to be one of the greatest left handed batsmen ever, and is second on the list of ALL TIME runs scored for heavens sake - but Bristow didn't see him play so he's ignored. If the sun rises in the morning but Bristow doesn't see it, does he keep the lights turned on?

- Tich Freeman for Ellison - If Woolley has to go in, then 'Tich' has to be in too. Second in the list of all time wicket takers, over 3700 at an average of 18 - not bad for a leg-break bowler.

Finally, I wasn't sure about Dilley - but then he really has to stay in as there's a dearth of homegrown Kent quick bowlers in the history books. To partner him with the new ball, Alderman is a worthy choice, but I'd rather stick closer to home if possible so we'll go for a fit Dean Headley, who's still piling up the runs in the Kent League by the way!

No place for Godfrey Evans or Doug Wright or Colin Blythe or any of the whole host of recent overseas stars like Carl Hooper, Rahul Dravid, Aravinda Da Silva and Steve Waugh!

Final Eleven

Luckhurst
Hardinge
Cowdrey
Ames
Woolley
Asif
Knott
Headley
Dilley
Underwood
Freeman

I'd back that side against anything any other county can come up with - especially on an uncovered pitch after a cloud burst - 'cos we've got Deadly and you haven't!

3 comments:

Tim said...

Mark, out of interest, do you rate Knott or Ames higher (if you were allowed to pick only one?) Personally I would go for Ames.

Mark said...

Knotty was the keeper my generation grew up with, so the heart would pick him.

But then the head says that he wasn't the best keeper at the time (Bob Taylor was acknowledged as the superior gloveman) and only averaged 30 odd in tests -whereas Ames had a career average of 43, and a test average over 40.

In his obituary, Wisden said Ames was the best batsman/keeper ever - that was in 1990, so Gilchrist might have a word or two to say about that now.

So, yes - I agree. Ames over Knott.

But then Evans was a better keeper than either of them....

harry said...

This lot would stuff that Kent team. With your bowling attack, and our batting attack, you'd be praying for rain. Not so Deadly could bowl, but for acomplete washout.
And your batting would be tested well beyond its limits by the most aggressive bowling line-up any county could have ever mustered!

Read it 'n' weep!

Cyril Washbrook
Mike Atherton
Archie McLaren
Mike Crawley
Clive Lloyd
Farokh Engineer
Freddie Flintoff
Wasim Akram
Johnny Briggs
Murali
Brian Statham