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All-Live vs All-Dead

20 February 2011

11:25 PM

20 February 2011

11:25 PM

Jonathan Bernstein has a jolly post attempting to select a squad of baseball players who are still alive to take on Babe Ruth and his comrades on the All-Dead team in some kind of hypothetical celestial match-up. This is the kind of parlour game that can’t be left to baseball alone. So here’s an effort to do the same with cricket:

All-Dead XI:

1 Jack Hobbs
2 Victor Trumper
3 Don Bradman
4 Wally Hammond
5 George Headley
6 W.G Grace (Capt)
7 Keith Miller
8 Godfrey Evans (wkt)
9 Malcolm Marshall
10 Bill O’Reilly
11 S.F Barnes

The batting, frankly, pretty much picks itself. I’d questioned selecting the Doctor on the grounds that nineteenth century cricket – complete with his own, outdated even then, round-arm bowling – is so different that meaningful comparisons are hard to make. Nevertheless, I’m not sure one can quite leave him out. He and Hammond will combine to be the fifth bowler. And since Grace will behave as though he’s captain even if he’s not he might as well actually be the skipper.

Similarly, how do you choose between Evans and Don Tallon? Toss a coin, that’s how. Malcolm Marshall’s inclusion is tough on Larwood and Trueman but I suspect he’s the best fast bowler I’ve ever seen (Lillee being past his best in 1981).

All-Live XI:

1 Arthur Morris
2 Barry Richards
3 Graeme Pollock
4 Sachin Tendulkar
5 Vivian Richards
6 Garfield Sobers
7 Alan Knott (Wkt)
8 Shane Warne (Capt)
9 Curtly Ambrose
10 Dennis Lillee
11 Glenn McGrath

Marshall is the most recently deceased member of the All-Dead XI and Arthur Morris, just turned 90, is the oldest member of the Living XI. He is, I think, the last surviving member of the great Australian side of 1948. Here too, there’s a wicket-keeping dilemma: Knott or Adam Gilchrist? In a side this strong I give the edge, but only just, to Knott on account of his superior glovework.

It’s a pretty good team, especially when one thinks that an alternative attack might include Hadlee, Imran Khan, Holding, Muralitharan, Botham, Garner. Plus batsmen of the calibre of Lara, Chappell, Ponting, Kallis and Gavaskar. Sunil in fact is unlucky not be selected but he may need to wait for Morris to become ineligible for selection. Warne skippers since a) he never got the chance to captain Australia, b) there are surprisingly few effective captains in this side and c) Viv’s captaincy didn’t require much thought, did it?

Who would win? Much might depend upon the conditions and state of the wicket…

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