The Alphabet XIs: R
Two of the very best batsmen are the stars of this team, and they’re supported by a good bunch of popular players (and a former Sri Lankan captain). We were torn over who to include as an all-rounder, with John R Reid of New Zealand very unlucky to miss out.
- Barry Richards (South Africa 1970) 4 Tests, 508 runs @ 72.57 Wonderful opening batsman who had to play nearly his entire career outside the international fold. Some, Dickie Bird and Brian Johnston included, considered him right at the very top of all the batsmen they’d seen play. Looking through his feats, we wish we had more space to list some of his achievements.
- Ian Redpath (Australia 1964-1976) 66 Tests, 4737 runs @ 43.45 Victorian player of some mettle, who matured from an attacking player to a very solid, even obdurate, opener. Scored three hundreds in his final series in 1975/76 – against the West Indies no less.
- *Viv Richards (West Indies 1974-1991) 121 Tests, 8540 runs @ 50.23 Few batsmen from any generation have been as swaggering or as fearless, as dominant as Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards. A formidable Antiguan who also represented his country in the qualifiers of the football world cup. Was chosen by Wisden as one of the five cricketers of the 20th century.
- Richie Richardson (West Indies 1983-1996) 86 Tests, 5959 runs @ 44.39 Appropriately enough, Richardson inherited the West Indian captaincy from Viv Richards. To some extent, Richardson was overshadowed by those he followed, but a fine record and a knack of scoring centuries against Australia secure his place in this team. Oddly, probably most remembered for his wide-brimmed maroon sun hat that he wore even when batting.
- Arjuna Ranatunga (Sri Lanka 1982-2000) 93 Tests, 5105 runs @ 35.69 Stocky (fat) left-hander who featured in Sri Lanka’s first ever Test. By 1988 he was their captain and oversaw their rise through the rankings. In 1996 he skippered his country to their World Cup victory. Never far from controversy, his batting statistics aren’t great. But for Sri Lanka, he was much more than just a batsman.
- Wilfred Rhodes (England 1899-1930) 58 Tests, 2325 runs @ 30.19, 127 wickets @ 26.96 This Yorkshireman was born in October 1877; allow us to do the arithmetic: he was 52 and a bit when he played his last Test match. He was a slow left-arm spinner who took a record 4,204 wickets in the first-class game. In his first few Tests, he batted at either 10 or 11; yet he eventually formed a renowned opening partnership with Jack Hobbs.
- +Jack Russell (England 1988-1998) 54 Tests, 1897 runs @ 27.10, 153 catches, 12 stumpings Undoubtedly a brilliant wicket-keeper, but one who never really had a long settled run in the England side due to his teammate Alec Stewart being a much better batsman; nonetheless Russell scored two Test centuries and his spirited defence was never bettered than his undefeated 29* in 235 minutes to help save a Test against South Africa. Also a fantastic painter and a bonkers individual with many idiosyncrasies.
- Paul Reiffel (Australia 1992-1998) 35 Tests, 955 runs @ 26.52, 104 wickets @ 26.96 Australian seam bowler who contributed to Australia’s rise to the No.1 team in the world, although his talent was never quite comparable with the greats who came before and after him. A seam bowler, three of his five ‘Michelles’ came at either Headingley or Edgbaston.
- Andy Roberts (West Indies 1974-1983) 47 Tests, 762 runs @ 14.94, 202 wickets @ 25.61 The first on the conveyor belt of genuinely world-class West Indian quicks in the 1970s and 80s, Roberts could be very hostile with two types of bouncer; he also was masterful with game plans in place for opposition batsmen. Terrifying.
- Sonny Ramadhin (West Indies 1950-1961) 43 Tests, 361 runs @ 8.20, 158 wickets @ 28.98 Trinidadian spin bowler who was chosen to tour England after just two first-class matches. He could spin the ball either way with scarcely any difference to his action, though he was nomily an off-spinner. Bowled 98 overs in an innings at Edgbaston in 1957.
- Bruce Reid (Australia 1986-1992) 27 Tests, 93 runs @ 4.65, 113 wickets @ 24.64 At 6’8”, one of the tallest men to ever play Test cricket; Reid used his height to great advantage, utilising the bounce but also able to straighten or move away deliveries from the batsman. His career was regularly stalled by injury, otherwise he’d have played many more times.