Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features >

Alphabetical XIs – Anwar, Akram, Amla and Ambrose make it a strong ‘A’-Team!

image_20121121103723

From left to right: Saeed Anwar, Wasim Akram, Hashim Amla and Curtly Ambrose © Getty Images

There is hardly anything as enjoyable for a cricket addict as making up an all-time XI. In this series, Arunabha Sengupta and Abhishek Mukherjee select sides of various kinds – based on players linked to each other through letters of the alphabet, physical features, habits, reputations, or characteristics. In this episode they start with the first of their alphabetical XI, players with last names starting with A.

This particular group of players have always been the first to be chosen – in roll calls, telephone books, team lists and in our series of XIs.

It does pay to have last names starting with A. However, when one looks at an all-time XI comprising of just such players, getting in is not that easy any more. Every place is keenly contested.

There may be better elevens with other letters of the alphabet, but the A’s are a balanced side with perhaps the most aesthetic batting line up, good all-round strength, a fearsome fast bowling unit and support from the spin department as well.

The openers

1.    Dennis Amiss – A solid opening batsman with two double hundreds against the all-conquering West Indies, Amiss scored his runs at 46.30, and as an opener at 53.70. In the Oval match in which Michael Holding decimated England by picking up 14 wickets, he hit 203. Although Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson gave him a torrid time, he played 50 Tests and was good enough to get 11 hundreds.
 
2.    Saeed Anwar – Is there a better man to provide the left-right combination at the top. Anwar’s majestic drives and flicks made him one of the most feared openers of his day. He pulverised attacks and did it with ample grace. The 188 not out at Eden Gardens against a rampaging Javagal Srinath is his very best Test innings, and who can possibly forget his exploits in the One-Day game?
 

The middle-order

3.    Hashim Amla – He may not end his career in the stratospheric level that he is soaring now, but he has achieved enough so far to amble into the side. He can bat at any pace and there is not one ugly swat of the bat when he is at the wicket. Nearly 5000 runs at nearly 50 runs per innings is phenomenal and the indication is that he will keep getting better.
 
4.    Zaheer Abbas – If Amla departs early, the next man to walk in is the very one whose memory the South African batsman so often rekindles. The eternal stylist, Zaheer had aeons of time to play the ball, and his strokes through the cover linked him with the likes of Wally Hammond. Once dubbed the “Asian Don Bradman”, he could bat on and on when in full flow and, apart from the bowlers, no one would ever want him to stop.
 
5.    Mohammad Azharuddin – The last sublime name to make up a magical middle-order. Azharuddin could hit the same ball to extra-cover or square leg – such were his rubbery wrists. Unstoppable when in full flow, a prototype based on which VVS Laxman was perhaps perfected, he was also probably the best all-round fielder ever produced by India.
 
 
The all-rounder
 
6.    Warwick Armstrong – For this team, the all-rounder is almost literal. The “Big Ship” was tall and voluminous, and sailed full mast all his career. The best choice as the captain of this side, Armstrong led Australia to eight wins and two draws in his 10 Tests as skipper, once famously standing at point and reading a newspaper. He scored at 38.68 – phenomenal considering he made his debut in 1902 – and took 87 wickets at 33.59 with his medium-to-slow pace from around the wicket.

The wicket-keeper

7.    Les Ames –The first choice wicket keeper of the English side of the 30s, he was good enough to play as a pure batsman. Before the modern day rise of Andy Flower, Adam Gilchrist and Kumar Sangakkara, Ames had the best batting record amongst all wicketkeepers in history, averaging over 40 for his close to two and a half thousand Test runs. A correct batsman with magnificent drives and belligerent lofted strokes, he was a stumper who could keep to Harold Larwood and Hedley Verity with equal ease.
 

The bowling
 
8.    Wasim Akram – The best left-arm fast bowler ever. Period. Someone who could swing the ball at will – conventionally when it was new and reverse as it got older. And if he felt like it, he could york the best of them. A hard-hitting batsman to boot, who was good enough to score 257 in a Test match.
 
9.    Curtly Ambrose – No one better to open the bowling for a side alongside Akram. Thundering in and sending down lightning-quick deliveries from his towering height, he was either at the batsman’s toe or his chin. One of the last of the great West Indian pace bowlers, he ended with one of the lowest averages and measliest of economy rates for someone with that many wickets.
 
 
10.  Neil Adcock – The first South African quick bowler to get to 100 wickets, Adcock shouldered most of the burden of bowling alone and still managed an average of 21. He captured most of his wickets with deliveries that rose sharply from short of good length.
 
 
11.  Paul Adams – The left arm Chinaman bowler with his eccentric action and even more peculiar celebration of wickets is the spinning option for the eleven. The final exciting splash in a colourful eleven of artists, characters and entertainers. From time-to–time, Zaheer Abbas can turn his leg breaks, but when the wicket is turning or the tailender needs to be bamboozled, Adams is the man to go to.
 

Career averages
Name Tests Runs Ave 100 Wkts Avge 5WI Ct/St
DL Amiss 50 3612 46.30 11 - - - 24
Saeed Anwar 55 4052 45.52 11 - - - 18
HM Amla 62 4946 49.95 16 - - - 56
Zaheer Abbas 78 5062 44.79 12 3 44.00 - 34
M Azharuddin 99 6215 45.03 22 - - - 105
WW Armstrong 50 2863 36.68 6 87 33.59 3 44
LEG Ames 47 2434 40.56 8 - - - 74/23
Wasim Akram 104 2898 22.64 3 414 23.62 25 44
CEL Ambrose 98 1439 12.40 - 405 20.99 22 18
NAT Adcock 26 146 5.40 - 104 21.10 5 4
PR Adams 45 360 9.00 - 134 32.87 4 29
 

Reserves: Mohinder Amarnath, Marvan Atapattu, Gubby Allen, Bob Appleyard.

Note:

  • For the frequently occurring surnames such as Ali, Ahmed, Khan and Singh, the first letter of the first name is considered. Hence, for example, Imran Khan will be considered in the team of I’s and not K’s.

 
 
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix
 
A hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobiac by his own admission, Abhishek Mukherjee is a statistical analyst based in Kolkata, India. He typically looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – not necessarily as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the game with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a rather steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers the sport has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks and googlies in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in)

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 17, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai

More

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 16, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 41 runs

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Australia Women won by 6 wkts

T20 WC 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Sri Lanka won by 6 wkts

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 4, 2014  at Dhaka

England Women won by 9 wkts

T20 WC 2014

Apr 4, 2014  at Dhaka

India won by 6 wkts

Photos

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge play cricket

Videos

Prince William, Kate Middleton meet McGrath, Ellyse

Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Live Cricket Score IPL 2014: KKR beat MI by 41 runs in tournament opener

Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2014 will look to keep integrity intact, says Shane Watson

IPL 2014: Life after Sachin Tendulkar

IPL 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders’ all-rounders hold key to success

IPL: What value does a franchisee owner bring to the side by sitting in the dugout?

Australia BCCI England India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kolkata Knight Riders Lasith Malinga Moments in history Mumbai Indians Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders Royal Challengers Bangalore Sachin Tendulkar

IPL 2014 partners with Twitter to bring real-time experience to fans

Sunil Narine, Jacques Kallis star in Kolkata Knight Riders’ 41-run victory against Mumbai Indians in IPL 2014

Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), IPL 2014: Mumbai Indians 113/5 in 18 overs

Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), IPL 2014: Mumbai Indians 95/2 in 15 overs

IPL 2014: Sunil Gavaskar meets team captains and former players

IPL 2014: Begins yet another Controversy Premier League

Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2014 will look to keep integrity intact, says Shane Watson

IPL 2014: Life after Sachin Tendulkar

IPL 2009: Looking at events that led to T20 extravaganza being held in South Africa

IPL 2014: Top 10 Indian youngsters to watch out for

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

622 Posts | 7 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli's 77 during India vs Sri Lanka ICC World T20 2014 final at Dhaka

Know your medical terms: Edema

IPL 2014: How does the umpire cam work?

Alastair Cook celebrates birth of first child with century

Bengali film Jaatishwar bags four National Awards

IPL 2014: 5 tips to use your smartphones to click pictures in a stadium

How did Kangana Ranaut redefine phasion, fun and gun in Revolver Rani?

Stay healthy with these 8 summer foods (Gallery)

IPL 2014 partners with Twitter to bring real-time experience to fans

Also on cricketcountry.com