January 28, 2009

XIs

World’s Dullest XI, part 1 (Appendix)

Andy Zaltzman

Tomorrow (here it is, Ed.) will bring the long-awaited announcement of numbers 7 to 11 in the Confectionery Stall Post-1981 All-Time Dullest World XI, putting tedious cricketers and lovers of tedious cricket out of their misery at last.

In the meantime, this is clearly an issue that has stoked the fires of Confectionery Stallers throughout the universe. Many thanks for your responses to this most emotive of topics, and I fully understand the uproar generated by the omission of some of the most negative players of the modern era: men who have driven you to hair-rending, eye-poking frustration with their refusal to countenance the idea of a full follow-through.

Here, therefore, are explanations for the exclusion from the Dull XI batting line-up of some of those you have nominated.

Geoffrey Boycott: excluded purely because this is a 1981-Ashes-and-after team. Boycott therefore only had the final few months of his Test career in which to press his claims. And press them he did, grinding along merrily at 34 runs per hundred balls. Were this a 1964-1981 team, he would be the first, second and third names on the teamsheet.

Rahul Dravid plays a defensive shot, Australia v India, 1st Test, Melbourne, 2nd day, December 27, 2007
 © Getty Images
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Rahul Dravid, Sir Michael Atherton, Jacques Kallis: too classically orthodox and stylish for this team of the awkward, inelegant and pokey. Although each has had innumerable moments of spectacular unspectacularity – Dravid’s 61-ball 3 against England in Bangalore in 2001-02; Atherton’s 11 off 90 against New Zealand in 1999; Kallis’s six-hour unbeaten 85 as South Africa powered towards a declaration against England in 1999-2000, to pick just three especially turgid cherries from a smorgasbord of strokelessness – a soporific scoring rate is not sufficient in itself to qualify for selection. You must be fundamentally unwatchable on every level, even when making your rare sorties into attack. If Kirsten had ever scored a 130-ball double century, it would still have felt like you had taken cricketing Mogadon.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul: too quirky and too good. Disqualified for scoring a 69-ball century against Australia. Reinstated for 11-hour 136 against India. But redisqualified for ethereal timing and heroic defiance of the orthodox.

Jimmy Adams: too influenced by injury. A man who had the patience, nerve and sheer unadulterated rudeness to score a 370-ball century against Zimbabwe (let me confirm that: against Zimbabwe) would appear to be a shoo-in, but it should be remembered that, before having his cheekbone squished by an Andre van Troost bouncer in 1995, Adams rattled along at a relatively jaunty 45 per 100 balls in Tests. After his appalling injury, he squirreled out his runs at a joyless 31 per 100 (and his average sunk from 62 to 29).

Wasim Jaffer: Test strike rate of 48 per 100 balls. Cut the guy some slack.





Kepler Wessels: exciting when he was semi-Australian, less so as a Protea. Quite a lot less so, in fact © Getty Images

Kepler Wessels: unarguable contender on grounds of his sub-zero-frills style, but tonked it around at 50 per 100 in his Australian incarnation, before returning home to South Africa, and winding himself back down to an acceptably Protean 40. What does this reveal about the cricketing cultures of the two nations? Everything.

Mudassar Nazar, Shoaib Mohammad, Mark Richardson: selectorial whim. Formidable candidates, but there is no shame missing out to grinders of the dullness of Edgar, Marsh, Kirsten, Tavare, Shastri and Tillakaratne.

Grant Flower: up against Shastri. Could have done little more to convince the selectors with his unthreatening but tidy left-arm spin and unthreatening but tidy right-handed batting, but up against Shastri.

Brendon Kuruppu: possible flash-in-the-pan. One innings of unimpeachable dull greatness – a 777-minute double-hundred on debut – cannot compete with the years and years and years and years and years of creasebound inactivity which the members of this very special XI have demonstrated. Kuruppu also spanked England around Lords for an hour in 1988, raising doubts about his true grinding status.

I hope this has quelled the seething resentment that your own particular least favourite blockers and nudgers have not received the recognition they deserve. Being a selector is a difficult job at the best of times. When honing down a team of world-class snooze-inducers, with so many outstanding candidates to choose from, it becomes impossible to please everyone.

The wicketkeeper, bowlers and twelfth man will be unveiled tomorrow.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

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Posted by Dwijottam on (January 30, 2009, 10:06 GMT)

Indian openers have always been special. Kicking off against England at Chennai in 1982, Gavaskar got 25 off 135, which was a quick clip compared with Pranab Roy's 6 off 81. Roy significantly improved his strike rate to 38 in the second innings: 60 off 227. Interestingly, this is probably the only father-son combination that would qualify for an Indian blocker's brigade team: Pankaj Roy, Pranab's father, was a reputed blocker.

Posted by Sameera Malinda on (January 30, 2009, 8:29 GMT)

What about Asanka Gurusinghe of Sri Lanka. He was same as Thilakarathne & was a master plodder.

Posted by Vikram on (January 30, 2009, 7:21 GMT)

The International Squad of so called aspiring players who never shined or were never consistent! Should have played atleast 10-15 matches in ODI. May be a couple of test matches.Openers - Adam Bacher (SA), Dion Abraham (Zim), Michael Di Venuto (Aus - Leftie),Salim Elahi (Pak), Matthew Horne (NZ), Craig Spearman (NZ) Number 3 - Wajahatullah Wasti (Pak), Hamish Marshall (NZ)Number 4 - John Crawley (Eng), Lanka De Silva (SL), Dale Benkenstein (SA) All rounder - Mark Ealham (Eng - Medium Pace), Adam Hollioke (Eng), Shane Lee ( Aus) Fast Bowlers - Geoff Allot (NZ - leftie), Nixon Mclean (WI), Alan Mullally (Eng - leftie), Ruchira Perrera (SL - leftie), Suresh Perrera (SL), Heath Davis ( NZ), Kabir Khan ( Pak - leftie),Nantie Hayward (SA),Daryll Tuffy (NZ)Leg Spinner - Cameron White (Aus),Raul Lewis (WI),Malinga Bandara(SL),Mahendra Nagamootoo(WI) Off Spin-Robert Croft(Eng),Gavin Robertson(Aus)WK - Courtney Browne (WI) Left Arm Spinner - (Vacant)Knocking on the doors-Mohammad Akram

Posted by Vikram on (January 30, 2009, 6:55 GMT)

Something funny but unrelated: A team comprising of people who payed very few matches (ODI and Tests) and that too boring people down. Here is a list of such an India XI and World XI. Mostly from 1993 onwards until may be 2004-05. Openers - Devang Gandhi, SS Das, Deep Dasgupta (WK), Vikram Rathore, S Ramesh Number 3 - Hemang Badani (match winner :) ), Number 4 - Jacob Martin (experienced), Atul Bedade All rounder - Sanjay Bangar, Reetinder Sodhi (youngster), J P Yadav Fast Bowlers - David Johnson, Abey Kuruvilla (experienced), Paras Mhamdrey, Debasis Mohanty (for josh), Tinu Yohanan, Thiru

Kumaran, Harvinder Singh Left Arm Spinner - Rahul Sanghvi, Nilesh Kulkarni, Utpal Chatterjee Off Spinner - Ashish Kapoor, Noel David (good fielder and allrounder as well!), Nikhil Chopra Wk - Vijay Dahiya, Sameer Dighe, Ajay Ratra , MSK Prasad, Vijay Yadav, PArthiv Patel Leg Spinner - Sairaj Bahutule

Knocking on team's door is - Sarandeep Singh, Parthiv Patel (for talent)

Posted by V, Rajesh on (January 30, 2009, 6:32 GMT)

Way to go Andy, Please blog on the commentators with some statistics thrown in.:-)

Posted by 01061965 on (January 30, 2009, 3:44 GMT)

As far as Sanjay manjerkar , If his 113 not out was not there in Pakistan against Imran,Wasim and waqar India would have lost the test and then in 3rd test of the series he got run out for 218 for which imran remarked that was the only way he could have got out but have you forget his 105 in 87 balls against south africa in delhi in 1991. more so he is the one commentator with best sence of humor.

Posted by Nick C on (January 29, 2009, 18:58 GMT)

How about Gavaskar? In the 1975 World Cup he managed a truly soul destroyingly tedious 36no in about 170 balls. Remarkable seeing India were chasing over 300.

Posted by TropicalSky on (January 29, 2009, 18:18 GMT)

DIMUTHU RAT Ever heard the word "sarcasm"? By the way, where did I ever mention that I am from the "subcontinent"? Thank you for the wisdom pearls though; will treasure them.

Posted by Khizar Hayat Khan on (January 29, 2009, 15:09 GMT)

There was a batsman in WI: larry Gomes if I'm spelling it right. Where is his place in the list?

Posted by bala on (January 29, 2009, 14:13 GMT)

@akshay ,gandha bhai,amrata, I join you in your demand for the inclusion of the Sanjay Manjerekar in this list of batting sedatives. When it comes to his job as a commentator ,he is mostly honest, unless it is about Sachin.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on ESPNcricinfo.

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