Golden Pairs Golden PairsRSS FeedFeeds
Cricket writers on their dream match-ups

The hook's the draw

McCabe and Harvey against Ambrose and O'Reilly

Peter English

Text size: A | A



Clockwise from above: McCabe, Ambrose, O'Reilly, Harvey © PA Photos, Getty Images
Enlarge

The excitement of the hook has, disappointingly, disappeared from the Test arena. Steve Waugh became the world's steeliest batsman after abandoning the shot, preferring to fend or be struck than risk a careless dismissal. For most of Australia's cricket history, though, the hook was an essential, a means of intimidation.

Stan McCabe's status was built on his fearless horizontal strikes during the local highlight of the Bodyline series, his 187 not out against the life-threatening Harold Larwood and an imposing leg trap. Sometimes in that innings he charged the fast men and on other occasions waited to hook boundaries till the ball was millimetres from his forehead.

How would Curtly Ambrose, the most fearsome of modern bowlers, have dealt with the challenge of McCabe at his most flowing? McCabe would have been dwarfed by the 6ft 7in Ambrose, but it is exciting to dream of the eye-to-chest contest between two of the game's coolest characters.

Neil Harvey was another master of the short ball, and his encounter with Ambrose would also be riveting, if less explosive. But watching him deal with Bill O'Reilly would be more intriguing. Apparently Harvey's footwork was borrowed from Fred Astaire, and he could well have skipped down regularly to O'Reilly's medium-paced legspin. Harvey, a glorious and versatile batsman, missed O'Reilly in first-class cricket by a season, but he defused Hugh Tayfield and Jim Laker, and may have been capable of taming Tiger, the best bowler Don Bradman saw.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Peter English

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Peter EnglishClose
Related Links

Sachin to bat for life, Lara for the joy of batting

Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss the impact of Lara's batting

    'We did not drop a single catch in 1971'

Couch Talk: Former India captain Ajit Wadekar recalls the dream tours of West Indies and England, and coaching India

    Power to Smithy, trouble for Dhoni

Ricky Ponting: Australia's new captain admirably turned things around for his side in Brisbane

    Why punish the WI players when the administration is to blame?

Michael Holding: As ever, the WICB has refused to recognise its own incompetence

What cricket can take from darts

Jon Hotten: It's simple, it's TV-friendly and it has a promoter who can tailor the product for its audience

News | Features Last 7 days

What ails Rohit and Watson?

Both batsmen seemingly have buckets of talent at their disposal and the backing of their captains, but soft dismissals relentlessly follow both around the Test arena

Hazlewood completes quartet of promise

Josh Hazlewood has been on Australian cricket's radar since he was a teenager. The player that made a Test debut at the Gabba was a much-improved version of the tearaway from 2010

Watson's merry-go-round decade

In January 2005, Shane Watson made his Test debut. What does he have to show for a decade in the game?

Why punish the West Indies players when the administration is to blame?

As ever, the West Indies board has taken the short-term view and removed supposedly troublesome players instead of recognising its own incompetence

India's attack: rare intensity before regular inanity

For the first hour on day three, despite the heat and the largely unhelpful pitch, India's fast bowlers showed a level of intensity and penetration rarely seen from them; in the second hour, things mostly reverted to type

News | Features Last 7 days