A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

The Alphabet XIs: S

Posted on March 21, 2012 by in Opinion


Sufferin’ succotash! Such was the strength in depth available, we could probably have picked a very competent 2nd XI with the players we didn’t choose (including a few of our favourites Smiths and three bowlers with more than 200 wickets each). You might think we’ve cheated somewhat by dropping an opener down to No. 3, but c’est la vie as they say in B*Witched.


  1. Virender Sehwag (India 2001-2012) 96 Tests, 8178 runs @ 50.79, 40 wickets @ 47.22 This opening batsman’s strengths are also arguably his weakness: he generally only plays in one manner, i.e. hit hard and hit fast. But when it works, it works magnificently, demonstrated not only by his haul of runs, his excellent average or his strike rate of 81.99, but also his list of highest scores (319, 309, 293, 254).
  2. Herbert Sutcliffe (England 1924-1935) 54 Tests, 4555 runs @ 60.73 A steadfast Yorkshireman whose average stands tall to this day. In partnership with Jack Hobbs he made 15 hundred partnerships, just one fewer than Greenidge & Haynes, but in 109 fewer innings.
  3. *Graeme Smith (South Africa 2002-2012) 98 Tests, 7996 runs @ 49.97 The South African skipper is surely about to reach 8000 Test runs in fewer than 100 matches. His effective run-scoring (generally hefty drives and thumping blows square on either side) should never be underestimated. Captain from his 9th Test onwards (aged 22), his twin double-hundreds (277 and 259) in 2003 are amongst the most dominant we’ve seen in England. We realise he’s opened in all but seven of his Test innings, but we couldn’t leave him out.
  4. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka 2000-2012) 106 Tests, 9347 runs @ 55.97 A long list of superlatives could be used for this Sri Lankan left-hander and former wicket-keeper: graceful, intelligent, well-spoken to name but three. When not keeping wicket (58 matches), he averages 69.22 and he famously shared a 624-run partnership with Mahela Jayawardene against South Africa in 2006. He was also the fastest man, in terms of innings, to reach 8000 and 9000 Test runs.
  5. Bob Simpson (Australia 1957-1978) 62 Tests, 4869 runs @ 46.81, 71 wickets @ 42.26 Although well-known for opening the batting, Simpson also spent some time in the middle-order. It took him 30 Tests to reach a hundred (that he promptly converted to 311), and he hit a further nine centuries in the remainder of his long career. Handy with the ball, exceptional in the slips and respected as captain, Simpson also coached his country for ten years.
  6. Garry Sobers (West Indies 1954-1974) 93 Tests, 8032 runs @ 57.78, 235 wickets @ 34.03 Where to start? Holder of the record Test score for 36 years (365*), the first man to hit six sixes off one over in first-class cricket and quite simply a cricketing titan. He could (and did) open the bowling, or alternatively bowl left-arm orthodox or left-arm chinamen. He was also terrific in the field. And more people should have the first names Garfield St Aubrun.
  7. +Alec Stewart (England 1990-2003) 133 Tests, 8463 runs @ 39.54, 263 catches, 14 stumpings His average rose considerably when not keeping wicket (46.70 compared with 34.92) but it was impossible not to select the man who always did what was asked of him – captain, opener, middle order, lower order, wicket-keeper and general good egg. At his best, he was an excellent batsman especially against quick bowling, as proven by a pair of centuries in Barbados in 1994.
  8. Harbhajan Singh (India 1998-2011) 98 Tests, 2164 runs @ 18.65, 406 wickets @ 32.22 At his best, this off-spinner was nearly unplayable – the most obvious example being the classic series against Australia in 2001 when he took 32 wickets in three Tests. Although his attitude, behaviour and suprisingly high average leads to plenty of criticism, that haul of 406 wickets has taken him into the top ten leading Test wicket takers of all time.
  9. Dale Steyn (South Africa 2004-2012) 53 Tests, 770 runs @ 15.40, 270 wickets @ 23.15 The best bowler in Test cricket for a number of years now, Steyn is poised on the verge of becoming an all-time great. His strike rate of a wicket every 44 balls tells much of the story – he has the tenets that every fast bowler seeks, namely control, movement, aggression and raw pace. 
  10. Brian Statham (England 1951-1965) 70 Tests, 675 runs @ 11.44, 252 wickets @ 24.84 Lancastrian line-and-length merchant – but with genuine pace. He has the 19th most wickets in first-class cricket (2260) – at an average of just 16.37. He had taken most Test wickets when he overtook Alec Bedser’s haul, but only for two months until he was surpassed by his new ball partner Fred Trueman.
  11. Frederick Spofforth (Australia 1877-1887) 18 Tests, 217 runs @ 9.43, 94 wickets @ 18.41Nicknamed ‘The Demon’, Spofforth was perhaps the first great bowler. His most telling contribution came in 1882, when England needed 85 runs to win, but in taking 7-44 he masterminded Australia’s victory by seven runs.



Post a Comment


Matt H

21 Mar 2012 18:08

No Sidearse either.



21 Mar 2012 16:33

Oh my Salisbury and Schofield of long ago


James Knight

21 Mar 2012 15:11

He could certainly fill the Sobers role. And would give good balance to the team by spinning it the other way.


Nichael Bluth

21 Mar 2012 13:22

No Steve Smith?

51allout, I am disappoint.