Alex Massie

The B Team

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After the great success of the first installment of our alphabetical cricket teams, it's only natural that we move on to, yes, The B Team. As always, have your say in the comments.


1. Geoffrey Boycott (ENG)

2. Sid Barnes (AUS)

3. Donald Bradman (AUS)

4.  Ken Barrington (ENG)

5. Allan Border (AUS)

6. Ian Botham (ENG)

7. Richie Benaud (AUS) (Capt)

8.  Mark Boucher (SA) (Wkt)

9. Alec Bedser (ENG)

10. SF Barnes (ENG)

11. Colin Blythe (ENG)

Selection notes:

Tough to decide who should bat number 3 in this largely Anglo-Australian side, obviously. Any team with Bradman is going to be competitive. Apart from the Don, it's not the most exciting batting line-up but that gives him freedom to motor along at whatever pace he chooses. Sid Barnes lost some of his best years to the war (as, of course did Bedser, who only made his test debut aged 28) and he only played 13 tests (averaging 63!) but scored his first class runs at 54 an innings.  A complicated, often disagreeable man I think, he joins Boycott in as bloody-minded an opening partnership as you could wish for.

The bowling lacks an out and out flier but, in English conditions at least, I have no fears for it, especially if we can count on Botham bowling at he did in his first five years in test cricket, before back injuries robbed him of his devastating late swing. SF Barnes, of course is, after Bradman, the second player on the team-sheet.

I gave serious consideration to picking Reggie Bosanquet, the discoverer/inventor of the googly as my second spinner. Romance favours his selection. But in the end Blythe edges out the great Bishan Bedi for the seond spinners' slot. Bedi may consider himself somewhat unfortunate, but some observers considered Blythe the greatest of the pre-1914 English slow left-armers, better even than another possible selection, Johnny Briggs. Others felt that he was surpassed only by the great Wilfred Rhodes. Make your case for Bedi or Briggs in the comments...

Blythe, who was killed at Passchendale, took 100 wickets in 19 tests at 18. His first class career for Kent netted him 2503 wickets at 16. His Wisden obituary called his death "the most serious that cricket has sustained during the war". The game's bible summed him up thus:

Blythe had all the good gifts that pertain to the first-rate slow bowler, and a certain imaginative quality that was peculiarly his own. Very rarely did he get to the end of his resources. To see him bowl to a brilliant hitter was a sheer delight.

So there you have it. I freely admit to being influenced by Cardus and his belief that the post-war game could not compete with the glories of the Golden Age. Most selectors these days favour the new; this series is unabashadly reactionary and in favour of a past unsullied by the ICC or one day cricket.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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