When 51allout was a mere toddler in cricket blog-cum-website terms, we hadn’t developed the cynicism and sheer depression that arises only through endless attempts to shoehorn both Mark Ealham and Noel Edmonds into vaguely topical cricketing gubbins. Admittedly we’re essentially making this up as we go along, but we like to think the gin-addiction and aforementioned cynicism that comes with experience means we are at least able to bluff and blag our way to something resembling sense.
Yet when we bravely decided to select and write about different teams formed from each letter of the alphabet our naivety defeated any notion of sensibility. The A XI was easy. We picked the Bs in our sleep. For the C team we had a vision that a man came unto us on a flaming pie and said “these are the players in your next feature.” But from somewhere around the No. 6 position in the E team, things got more difficult. We just didn’t realise that at 26 letters the alphabet was so long (a bit like Jady Goody running a marathon).
Nonetheless, we’re finished. Quite what we’ll do with ourselves on a Friday night in the 51allout bedsit, we’re not sure – though Matt L has just purchased the Telly Addicts Board Game. Precisely 286 players were chosen, including one woman and 27 who haven’t played Test cricket. They range from Walter Quaife (born April 1864) to Mzondo Xundu (born Christmas Day 1991).
There’s no easy way to compare teams of this ilk, which span generations, continents and gender. What we have done though, is to add up each team member’s batting average to produce a team average. In terms of bowling, we tried to give each side a five-man attack. Therefore we’ve taken the sum of those bowling attack averages and doubled it, to give an average number of runs to take ten wickets, assuming two wickets per bowler. Hey, it’s cricket, not brain science. Mind you, this was not possible for the teams without eleven Test players, so no luck Z, Y, X, U and Q.
Six teams averaged more than 400 runs per side:-
Meanwhile, five teams took ten wickets for fewer than 260 runs apiece:-
Now we knew Mark Ilott was good, but we didn’t realise he was that good…so we doubled-checked and realised three of his team-mates average under 20.00, but from only 22 Tests between them: Ironside, Ironmonger and Iversen. So their excellent averages don’t really reflect their actual pedigree (we don’t intend to demean them, but they are not really of the calibre of Lindwall or Muralitharan, for example). Call it the Ed Giddens factor.
Anyway, by calculating the difference between the bowling and the batting averages, we can devise a way of comparing how good each side is. And so in reverse order:-
And there we have it. The Bs, inspired no doubt by someone called Bradman, stroll to victory – just please don’t tell Geoffrey Boycott. And if you’ve followed our odyessy, why not use our poll to pick the team you think were the best.
And just to prove we really haven’t got better ways to spend our evenings, even when there’s T20 cricket on the box, we’ve also looked at players who didn’t get selected, whether due to such a wealth of competition or through our own oversights (mostly the latter, to be honest), and selected the Leftovers XI. And what a pretty bunch they are.
So that’s that. Until we start over but with first names rather than surnames…