The Alphabet XIs: T
The long-awaited latest instalment of the Alphabet XI’s arrives with a T side based around an English core, in tribute to their sensational winter’s cricket. It is not the most talented XI, but with a workmanlike top order surrounding a genius to provide the runs and perhaps the fastest attack of all, they are not to be underestimated.
- *Mark Taylor (Australia 1989-1999) 104 Tests, 7525 runs @ 43.49 Before he was screaming his way through a day’s play in the Channel 9 commentary box, Taylor was an excellent opening batsman. Not only did he score 19 Test centuries, he also took a (then) world record 157 catches at first slip and helped create one of the greatest sides there has ever been. As captain from 1994 onwards he won over half of his 50 games in charge and left Steve Waugh a side which would break all sorts of records.
- Marcus Trescothick (England 2000-2006) 76 Tests, 5825 runs @ 43.79 Perhaps defined the new-look England under Michael Vaughan and often gave his side the initiative with the way he could attack from the outset. He will always have a ‘what if’ air about him, not only because of the way he had to leave the international scene but also because of his tendency to get out when set. Very much a team man, Trescothick always seemed too good a bloke for the top job, but would make the vice-captaincy his own in this side.
- Jonathan Trott (England 2009-2012) 28 Tests, 2319 runs @ 52.70 As a born and bred Englishman, Trott holds Ashes performance above all else. He began his career with a century against the Australians, and continued grinding them into the dust last winter as well. But it isn’t just them; England’s number three is their most reliable and consistent batsman save Alastair Cook.
- Sachin Tendulkar (India 1989-2012) 188 Tests, 15470 runs @ 55.44 You may have heard of him. So much has been said of Tendulkar it’s difficult to know what there is to add. He has been at the absolute top of his profession for over two decades and is one of, if not the, greatest batsman of all time. To have lived with the level of fame and pressure he has for so long and still perform to the very highest level is a remarkable achievement. Despite all that, his lasting legacy may well be that he is the only man in Test cricket to have been out to both Michael Vaughan and Shaun Udal.
- Graham Thorpe (England 1993-2005) 100 Tests, 6744 runs @ 44.66 For so long England’s most dependable man in a crisis, as well as perhaps their best player for much of the late 90’s/early 00’s. If it weren’t for his many personal problems he would have played even more games and have an even better record, and he was arguably at his very best after his return at the Oval in 2003. He definitely should have played the 2005 Ashes, too. But what does Graham Thorpe bring to the party apart from runs?
- Hashan Tillakaratne (Sri Lanka 1989-2004) 83 Tests, 4545 runs @ 42.87 Famous for being perhaps the dullest captain of all time during his year in charge of the Sri Lankan side, he is underrated as a batsman. Spent the early part of his career combining work behind the stumps with that in front, but once he was able to specialise with the bat he became a vital part of a side which turned into an excellent outfit in both the Test and one day arena.
- Fred Titmus (England 1955-1975) 53 Tests, 1449 runs @ 22.29, 153 wickets @ 32.22 Fuckin’ ‘Ell, it’s Fred Titmus, as Half Man Half Biscuit once, infamously, sang. Played first class cricket over five decades, lost four toes in a boating accident and played fifty Tests for England despite having to compete with Ray Illingworth for a place in the side. Also renowned as an excellent judge of a player, as demonstrated by his being on the selection panel which gave caps to Alan Igglesden and Martin McCague.
- +Bob Taylor (England 1971-1984) 57 Tests, 1156 runs @ 16.28, 167 catches, 7 stumpings Back in the good old days, when batsmen were batsmen, bowlers were bowlers, and wicket-keepers were wicket-keepers, Bob Taylor was, in terms of pure glovework, one of England’s greatest ever behind the stumps. Nowadays he would get nowhere near international level and even back then he only got his chance in Test cricket due to Alan Knott’s participation in World Series Cricket. He still maintains a ‘keeper should be picked for his ability behind the stumps alone, unfortunately those days have gone.
- Fred Trueman (England 1952-1965) 67 Tests, 981 runs @ 13.81, 307 wickets @ 21.57 Took seven wickets in his debut match, helping to reduce India to 0/4 in the process, and never looked back. The first bowler to take 300 Test scalps and one of the most outspoken men ever to play the game. Famously suggested the title of his biography be “T’Greatest Fast Bowler Who Ever Drew Breath”. Would lead a devastating pace trio in this XI.
- Jeff Thomson (Australia 1973-1985) 51 Tests, 679 runs @ 12.81, 200 wickets @ 28.00 Another bowler who wouldn’t exactly be classed as ‘shy’, Thomson’s place in history is as one of the fastest ever. Were it not for a recurring shoulder problem his stats would make for even better reading, but even as it is he formed one of the deadliest opening partnerships of all time with Dennis Lillee.
- Frank Tyson (England 1954-1959) 17 Tests, 230 runs @ 10.95, 76 wickets @ 18.56 It takes quite something for Jeff Thomson not to be the quickest bowler in any side, but with Tyson around he may well have had to settle for second. Rated by Richie Benaud, no less, as the fastest he’d ever seen, Tyson destroyed batting line-ups like few others in the history of the game. Unfortunately, he too suffered from a number of injury problems and was finished before he was 30.