Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Don’t Get On XI

My Blean correspondent and myself squandered many of our best years picking unlikely cricket XIs, among them the Permanently Injured XI, the All-Time Boring XI, the Picked Too Often XI, the Not Picked Often Enough XI, and the Don’t Get On XI.

The latter consisted of players who it was known bore animosity towards at least one of their teammates. It was the easiest to pick. Geoffrey Boycott and ten players he played with or against, selected at random, would usually work.

Evidence of this, and of the consequent case for the inclusion of Chris Old, is contained in the February edition of the Wisden Cricketer. The excellent Eyewitness series, in which participants recall matches of the past, features Durham’s defeat of Yorkshire in the 1973 Gillette Cup, the first time that a minor county defeated a first-class county:

Old, a fine fast bowler for Yorkshire and England (though first name on the sheet for the Permanently Injured XI) was a member of the Yorkshire team that day. In the opposition was his brother Alan Old, England’s fly half (or first five-eighth as we say in this part of the world) at that time.

Chris Old makes two comments that support the case for his inclusion in the Don’t Get On XI. On winning the toss, Boycott, the Yorkshire captain, elected to bat. Old, who had told his brother that the match would proceed by Yorkshire bowling Durham out cheaply before hitting off the runs, explains Boycott’s decision in this way:

“He probably thought that it was the best way he’d have of winning the man-of-the-match award.”

Late in the game, when Durham were closing on Yorkshire’s paltry 139, Boycott told Old that he was being put on to bowl to get his brother out, and threw him the ball. Old’s response:

“I threw the ball lack saying ‘you got us into this mess, you get us out of it’”.

So he’s in. I can’t recall all of the rest of the team, but Tony Greig was certainly there, along with Ian Botham and Ian Chappell, Denis Lillee and Javed Miandad, and Mike Denness (Boycott withdrew from the 1974/5 tour of Australia as he didn’t approve of Denness being captain). Suggestions welcome.

Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket

In the same package as this year’s Wisden , there arrived Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket , co-authored by Stephen Fay ...