The Alphabet XIs: P
This is more like it: after the depressingly awful Ns and Os, the Ps show plenty of ability and excitement. The depth in batting is incredible, the bowling attack balanced (if a second spinner was required, Monty Panesar could fill in) and Liam Plunkett is left on the sidelines. Hurrah! The high proportion of South Africa-born players is puzzling though.
- Manoj Prabhakar (India 1984-1995) 39 Tests, 1600 runs @ 32.65, 96 wickets @ 37.30 Always a competent opening bowler with swing and a slower ball, Prabhaker moved from the lower order to open the batting in the early 1990s. He opened in 23 Tests, averaging only 35 but regularly contributing to an Indian victory.
- Bill Ponsford (Australia 1924-1934) 29 Tests, 2122 runs @ 48.22 Scorer of two first-class 400s and impressively, from 1926 to 1928 scored hundreds in eleven successive matches in Australia. His Test record was also respectable, even though his average was 17 runs fewer than his first-class average, due to a mix of form, injury and illness in the middle of his career.
- Ricky Ponting (Australia 1995-2012) 162 Tests, 13200 runs @ 53.44 Correctly regarded as one of the all-time great Australian batsmen, this Tasmanian dominated attacks for more than a decade. Although the English might point to his three Ashes defeats, he captained Australia to a record number of victories, has played in a record number of victories and also went 34 matches undefeated in World Cups.
- Graeme Pollock (South Africa 1963-1970) 23 Tests, 2256 runs @ 60.97 For some, the finest left-hander of them all; like so many of his generation – some of whom are in this team – the question ‘what if?’ has to be posed. His international career was sadly brief, but luckily he started early – his first two Test hundreds came at the age of 19.
- Kevin Pietersen (England 2005-2012) 81 Tests, 6428 runs @ 48.69, 5 wickets @ 146.20 More words have been used to try and analyse Kevin Pietersen than any other recent England player; despite a stream of criticism, his record is superb and he is on the verge of being considered one of the greats. You know the pros and cons by now, so we’ll just leave it there.
- *Nawab of Pataudi (India 1961-1975) 46 Tests, 2793 runs @ 34.91 Is this cheating? Mohamed Mansur Ali Khan had a distinguished career, not least at Winchester, Oxford University and Sussex. His right-eye was impaired severely in a car crash, but just months later he was captaining his country. In some quarters, he’s still regarded as the best Indian captain there has been. He was an unorthodox (i.e. innovative) batsman who would surely have had a better record if both eyes functioned properly. For most of his career, he was entered on scorecards as his Princely title, so we’re including him on that basis.
- +Matt Prior (England 2007-2012) 50 Tests, 2699 runs @ 44.24, 149 catches, 7 stumpings A key member of England’s rise to become No.1 ranked Test team in the world, Prior put a shoddy start to his career behind him as he improved immensely behind the stumps. Arguably the best in the world at present, and his counter-attacking batting increases his worth to any side.
- Mike Procter (South Africa 1967-1970) 7 Tests, 226 runs @ 25.11, 41 wickets @ 15.02 Instrumental in South Africa’s twin series victories against Australia, Procter was an awesome all-rounder whose contribution is really only demonstrated in first-class records due to his country’s ban. He had an unusually open-chested bowling action (seeming to bowl of the wrong foot) and was a hard-hitting batsman good enough to score six consecutive first-class centuries. Six wins in seven Tests against Australia, and that amazing average, hint at what could have come next.
- Shaun Pollock (South Africa 1995-2008) 108 Tests, 3781 runs @ 32.31, 421 wickets @ 23.11 Accurate, reliable and consistent, but Pollock was more than just economical- as his tally of wickets testifies. A more than reasonable batsman as well, making him one of the most complete cricketers of the last twenty years.
- Peter Pollock (South Africa 1961-1970) 28 Tests, 607 runs @ 21.67, 116 wickets @ 24.18 Brother of Graeme and father of Shaun, Peter was a marvellous fast bowler himself.
- Erapalli Prasanna (India 1962-1978) 49 Tests 735 runs @ 11.48, 189 wickets @ 30.38 A thoughtful off-spinner who bowled with guile, Prasanna was one of the Indian spin quartet of the 1960s and 70s , but probably the least recognised. He might have played more games and taken more wickets had he not stalled his Test career in order to study for a degree.