In following the excellent M XI, the N’s have rather failed to live up to their predecessor. Often we’ve had trouble picking a bowling attack from an embarrassment of riches, but on this occasion there was plenty of the embarrassment with precisely none of the riches. The wicket-keeper position was a particular tough one and took a great deal of gin, as well as hours of flicking through our collection of Wisdens, before we came up with the right man for the role. On the plus side, we managed to get a couple of our heroes into the middle order.
And now, without further ado, let us present the N XI:
Mudassar Nazar (Pakistan 1976-1989) 76 Tests 4114 runs @ 38.09 An opener who defined the word ‘gritty’, evidenced by the fact he once took almost 10 hours to score a century against England in Lahore. Also a useful medium-pace bowler.
Imran Nazir (Pakistan 1999-2002) 8 Tests 427 runs @ 32.84 Erm… Broke into the side as an exciting youngster and, while primarily a one day player, has scored two Test centuries as well as being an excellent fielder.
Dudley Nourse (South Africa 1935-1951) 34 Tests 2960 runs @ 53.81 Would be particularly threatening if this team was playing England, as he scored 7 of his 9 centuries against that opposition. Famously scored a double-hundred at Trent Bridge with a broken thumb.
Marcus North (Australia 2009-2010) 21 Tests 1171 runs @ 35.48, 14 wickets @ 42.21 A 51allout favourite. A wonderful, flowing player so long as he’s under absolutely no pressure. Otherwise probably not going to trouble some of the bowling attacks possessed by other Alphabet XI’s. Another one who provides a passable bowling option.
Brendan Nash (West Indies 2008-2011) 1103 runs @ 33.42 Will always have a place in our hearts for being a vital part of the 2009 West Indies tour. ‘Dogged’ would perhaps do him an injustice. The sight of him bowling his fearsome left arm medium in tandem with Chris Gayle’s off-breaks was one of the sport’s iconic moments. Would get in the current Australian side had he stayed with the land of his birth
+Frank ‘Nipper’ Nicholson (South Africa 1935-1936) 4 Tests 76 runs @ 10.85, 3 catches, 0 stumpings We did warn you…
Dion Nash (New Zealand 1992-2001) 32 Tests 729 runs @ 23.51, 93 wickets @ 28.48 Another of New Zealand’s ‘might have been’ cricketers. Was never fit for long enough to get a proper run in the side. Captained the Kiwi’s briefly, but the highlight of his career was an 11 wicket haul at Lord’s in the early 90’s.
Mahendra Nagamootoo (West Indies 2000-2002) 5 Tests 185 runs @ 26.42, 12 wickets @ 53.08 Picked as his side’s front line leg-spinner, he once said batting came to him easier than spin bowling. Which says a lot.
Andre Nel (South Africa 2001-2008) 36 Tests 337 runs @ 9.91, 123 wickets @ 31.86 More famous for his personality than his ability, but was nonetheless a dangerous bowler on his day. Could be a valuable weapon if the opposition were particularly confrontational.
Makhaya Ntini (South Africa 1998-2009) 101 Tests 699 runs @ 9.84. 390 wickets @ 28.82 Finally, a genuinely excellent player. His stats alone are incredible – he’s the 12th highest Test wicket-taker of all time – but when you consider what else he stood for as South Africa’s first great black cricketing icon, his career becomes even more impressive.
Ashish Nehra (India 1999-2004) 17 Tests 77 runs @ 5.50, 44 wickets @ 42.40 And back to earth with a bump. Another whose main ‘expertise’ lay in the shorter forms, but was steady, if unspectacular, in the Test arena.