Mike Holmans September 3, 2009

Old timers Twenty20 XI- Part 2

We will have a leg-spinning all-rounder as captain, but I change my mind hourly on whether it should be the great South African Aubrey Faulkner or Richie Benaud

In my last post, I selected an Old-Timers Twenty20 XI for England, old-timers being defined as those whose international career finished before 1970. India, Pakistan and New Zealand had too little history by then to pick reasonable teams, so I went for Rest of the World as England's opponents.

Before we go any further, Don Bradman does not make the team. Many will protest that he could adapt himself to anything, but the successful Twenty20 batsman is comfortable with hitting the ball in the air to clear the infield or the boundary and accepts that he will sometimes lose his wicket cheaply because of the risks he takes. Neither of these can plausibly be seen as traits of Bradman's batting. Maybe he could have adapted, but it would have been through gritted teeth at the gross offense to his principles, and I'd rather pick players who are going to relish the thrill-ride of a Twenty20 batting career.

The first two names are obvious. Twenty20 could have been invented for Learie Constantine. Tearaway fast bowler, whirlwind batsman and a strong candidate for the greatest fielder of all time, he was born 80 years too early to be the Maharajah of the IPL he would have become rather than the king of the Lancashire League that he was. Of course, he would have been in competition with Keith Miller, tearaway, whirlwind and superb fielder in the deep, taking running catches the way Constantine ran batsmen out.

As Les Ames was for England, there is a standout batsman-keeper in Clyde Walcott, who might as well open the batting because he would be excellent in Powerplay overs. Unlike England, though, one of the great Australian openers will be ideal as his partner. Victor Trumper, the legendary stylist, was quite happy to send the first ball of a Test match back over the bowler's head if he thought it deserved such treatment.

Charlie Macartney, the Governor-General, is mostly remembered as the great Australian batsman between Trumper and Bradman, but he was really an all-rounder, since his left-arm spin took over 400 first-class wickets at under 21.

Number three looks like his berth, and six and seven for Miller and Constantine, so I want a four and five. Stan McCabe in particular will be disappointed, but I'm picking Everton Weekes and CK Nayudu. It's just about arguable that Nayudu's big-hitting 153 for the Hindus on MCC's 1926-7 tour of India tipped the balance of persuasion that India were ready to join the ranks of Test-playing countries.

Now things get difficult. We will have a leg-spinning all-rounder as captain, but I change my mind hourly on whether it should be the great South African Aubrey Faulkner or Richie Benaud. At the moment, I favour Benaud as the more tactically astute.

We will want a couple of medium-pacers. Fazal Mahmood will be one, moving the ball both ways and being highly economical, but then there is a choice between Amar Singh and Alan Davidson. Amar was the better bat, but Davidson is a left-armer and will add variety.

Finally, we need an off-spinner, and here I shall plump for Hugh Tayfield, the South African spinner of the Fifties who bowled maiden after maiden after maiden, and who will strangle the England batsmen into false shots just as he did in Tests.

So here is the Rest of the World XI I have finally decided on:

Victor Trumper Clyde Walcott (k) Charlie Macartney Everton Weekes CK Nayudu Keith Miller Learie Constantine Richie Benaud (c) Alan Davidson Fazal Mahmood Hugh Tayfield

Now let battle commence as you tear this side to shreds and propose a whole load of people I didn't even consider!