|Mandy Mitchell-Innes knows a secret and he shan't tell anyone.|
I have to say, this is a list that I never thought would escape the confines of my head, which is where I usually like to discuss similarly inconsequential things with all its other occupants (only three of them actually pay rent). A couple of weeks ago, I saw Scott Oliver's
entry for the Punctuation Shield
, a formidable Apostrophe XI
led by Basil D'Oliveira
, and, upon being challenged (it was more of a suggestion, but one of the head-occupants I mentioned earlier is a former President of the Overreaction Council), I ran to Cricinfo
to compile this lot.
As flawless as Statsguru
may be, it confoundingly lacks a "name quality" filter. Without such a tool, how is one supposed to effortlessly do research for, say, an Innuendo XI
(it would have many Richard Johnsons
) or an XI of players named after cities (like Nathan Lyon
or Michael Hesse
). The point is, I dove into it, despite my fear of jellyfish (so slimy and so lethal), and resurfaced with players who have actually played international cricket. I didn't go into the deeper waters of first-class cricket, so despite my awareness of Surrey's
excellent Rory Hamilton-Brown
, I had to exclude him.
Here we go (the order may be awkward, because I couldn't find any openers):1) Mandy Mitchell-Innes (Eng)
: This stylish Calcutta-born batsman may only have played one Test because he was afflicted with hay-fever, but he racked up almost 7000 first-class runs and almost 100 wickets for Somerset. At one point he was England's oldest living Test cricketer, and parents all over America were clearly so enamored with him that they named their daughters after him as a tribute.
2) Tuppy Owen-Smith (RSA): This man was the definition of the term "all-rounder". Not only was he a Wisden Cricketer of the Year for both his batting and leg-spin, he was also a champion lightweight boxer and England's rugby captain at one point. Oh, and also a doctor. And a lightning-quick fielder. It's quite clear why he was called "Tuppy" (if you know, please tell me).
3) Inzamam-ul-Haq (Pak): The legend needs no introduction. Affectionately called "Inzi" and rather less affectionately called "aloo" (potato), he is the heavyweight (had to do it) of this line-up with his lazily elegant batting against every kind of bowler except Monty Panesar.
4) Shakib Al-Hasan (Ban): The youngest member of this side, who will surely leave the game as one of its greats, is already Bangladesh's best ever cricketer (that we know of, there could be someone better in a jute farm somewhere). In the mold of Daniel Vettori, he is a left-arm spinner who is often the most penetrative bowler in his side, a middle-order batsman who often has to cover for the top order, and an ex-captain.
5) Jean-Paul Duminy (RSA): Okay, I cheated a little with this one - it's his first name that's hyphenated, and not his last. Well, there are no specific rules. "But," I hear you protest, "if we allowed every first-name hyphenated abomination, then we might as well fill up this XI with French people!" No, because we only use the term "French cricket" when the batsman is making a mistake. Anyway, JP's a very handy counter-attacking batsman and a half-decent part-time offie.
6) Frederick Leveson-Gower (wk)(Eng): This right-handed wicketkeeper was born at Titsey Place (giggle) in Surrey. He played 16 first class games in his 15-year career, and is only in this side because he was actually the best keeper I could find. It was either him or Misbah-ul-Haq, and I believe I chose wisely (because Misbah was not born in a place with a funny name, unless you find "Mianwali" hysterical).
7) Pom Pom Fellows-Smith (c)(RSA): Speaking of funny names, here's one. Fictional Fact: pompoms were actually named after him, for his habit of taking his toupee off and waving it about every time he took a wicket or hit a boundary. A legspinning all-rounder with a batting and bowling average of 29, he is unfortunate to have ended his career with 3999 FC runs and 149 FC wickets.
8) Hugh Bromley-Davenport (Eng): A left-arm fast bowler who last played for England the year before the 20th century began, he adds variety to this side, as well as a bit of celebrity, having played CB Fry, Ranjitsinhji and WG Grace.
9) George Simpson-Hayward (Eng): He was bowling under-arm off-spin back when it was still cool (that's right, a Chappell-burn), and mastered it well enough to take 503 FC wickets in 200 matches. He has the reputation of being the best among the lobbers, in fact, and he was one of the last as well. Having been a prominent lobber in my pre-pubescent days, I must say that it takes serious skill (but only at that age).
10) Dave Langford-Smith (Ire): Dave joins Bromley-Davenport as the second new-ball bowler. He is a lively fast-medium bowler who can give the ball a thump. I honestly thought there would be more Irishmen on this list, by the way.11) Chuck Fleetwood-Smith (Aus): Chuck, or "Leslie", as his parents named him, completes my five-spinner attack. Not-so-fun fact: he was a left-arm chinaman bowler only because he once broke his right arm as a school boy. His major achievements include 597 FC wickets, and the creation of the Two Chucks.
|"Come now, Mandy. Tell your buddy Leslie that secret you know."|