Thursday, February 22, 2007

Spin isn't always bad

Last night I had a fine old time debating cricket with the oracle of all things cricket Googly. Now this man is a true one-off, a phenomenon with an immense knowledge of cricket, we immediately set to discussing what has the potential to be the most exciting development in English cricket since the 2005 Ashes victory. For years and years, England fans have decried the misfortune of not having a world class spinner: Tuffers had his moments but the 90s and 2000s were a barren period. As Australia produced Warne and Macgill, Pakistan boasted Saqlain, Mushtaq (bowling Mushie) and Kaneira, India had Harbajhan and Kumble, Sri Lanka delivered the maestro Murali and even New Zealand turned out Daniel Vettori; England toiled away with such bowlers as Croft; Such; Dawson; Giles; Schofield; Udal; Blackwell; Illingworth and Salisbury. Even John Childs, then aged 123 got his debut in 1988 (or '87 - Googly?)
And then came Monty. And behold he was good. Very good. It's refreshing but the news that caught my attention was that the aforementioned Saqlain has receovered from a career-threatening knee injury, married an English woman and got a contract to play for sussex. Basically put he should be eligible to play for England in 2008 when he will be, a relatively sprightly, 31. Saqlain was the pioneer of the 'doosra' - the one that goes the other way with the identical action to his stock delivery. He was the youngest player ever to reach 100, 150, 200 and 250 One Day International wickets - and reached these milestones in less matches than any other player. He has also scored a test match century. And no less of an authority than Michael Atherton held him to be top, top drawer.
The notion of Monty and Saqlain in tandem (just think of the beards and fingers twirling in unision) with a pace attack of any of Freddie, Broad, Anderson, Harmison, Hoggard or Jones. Oh yes.

On a side note, we also attempted to compile our best ever England and World test XIs (within our living memory). It soon became clear we wouldn't agree on the World XI. Even withstanding Googly's irrational dislike of Jacques Kallis, how can you fit Steve Waugh, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid in a batting line up? Similarly how can you pick a bowling attack out of Wasim, Waqar, Curtley Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Murali, Donald and Pollock?

Anyway we sort of agreed on an England team:

Michael Atherton
Marcus Trescothick
Graham Gooch
Robin Smith
Graham Thorpe
Alec Stewart
Andrew Flintoff
Darren Gough
Andrew Caddick
Monty Panesar
Angus Fraser

Stewart as keeper and probably Gooch (maybe Athers) as captain. This post has made me happy.

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Goughie - a little too tubby, perhaps. Tres - assuming he turns up, of course!

Why not draft in Allan Lamb and Kevin Pietersen to keep Robin Smith happy! ;)
John Childs' couple of tests were against the Windies in '88 - not great success though.

More importantly, Mr Beef, I can't believe that you missed the great Eddie Hemmings out of your list of England spinners: think of the 'tache, the slim-line figure, and the doughty nightwatchman skills!

I love the idea of the Monty-Saqqi pairing - but would you go further and draft one S.G. Law into the side too? ;o)
Law could well squeeze into the One Day Team. Very remiss of me to forget Hemmings, although he did make my worst ever England XI - with such luminaries as Capel, Pringle, McCague et al.

Allan Lamb would get nowhere near my team. KP is a shoo-in providing he keeps his form for a couple more years. Gough - tubby? Not at his best mate. Sheer quality.
I can still remember Richie Benaud's comments at Lords in 1990 "If you need 24 to avoid the follow on, I guess its logical to do it in 4 balls" after Kapil Dev had dispached Eddie Hemmings back into the stands 4 times on the trot to avoid the follow on batting with the number 11 at the other end.

Surely Harmison at his best would provide a bit more firepower and variety than Fraser who's line and length role could be filled by Freddie
Harmison at his best is a good call, but I think your being a touch harsh on Fraser. Back before he did his hip in he was top, top class. A top-form Harmison over Caddick is more plausible I guess.
was that No. 11 Nirender Hirwani?
Bad English spinners: post-Monty I know but Michael Yardy has surely the worst, most pie-chuckingest action ever to be seen for England. We can only pray that his 'darts' never again grace an England side. Shame he's in the A team at the moment...
Yes, it was Hirwani. Just checked cric info and he was out for a duck so good job Kapil did what he did. Also the match where Goochie got 333 and 123.

Not disputing Fraser was a good bowler but the attack could do with someone who can make the batmens jump around a bit. Then again you could argue its a toss up between Fraser and Caddick, with Fraser more likely to keep an end tied up.
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